By Jon Milton
Have you ever been in a work meeting where people talk quickly and aggressively but don’t say very much? Or worked somewhere where people make themselves look busy but don’t do very much?
'Ask me later', the new single by Public Body provides the perfect soundtrack to those workplace scenarios. It’s a relentlessly busy song, with spiky riffs flowing throughout, forming a caustic critique of workplace behaviours.
Racing along at a canter across its three and a half or so minutes, it’s a further missive of sharp observational post punk from the band whose previous output includes the similarly impressive ‘Presenteeism’ and ‘Naughty on My Bike’.
Photo by Chiara Gambuto
According to the band, Ask Me Later is ‘in its simplest form is a ruthless examination of routine. Perpetually stuck in a twisted chain of occupational self-improvement’ with singer Seb scathing in his review of the monotony ‘Morning meeting, weather update / Program shut down, let me out now’.
Production duties on the single sit with Theo Verney, the man behind the new and immense TRAAMS tune, and producer to other favourites of ours, Egyptian Blue and Home Counties. He also plays guitar in the band and appears alongside Seb Gilmore (guitars and vocals), Joe Stevens (bass) and Thom Mills (drums).
Public Body plan to release more music in 2020 before releasing their second EP in early 2021.
By Jon Milton
Lively Leeds based noise merchants Dense have been making impressively loud and rowdy music for a couple of years, touring extensively alongside the likes of Prettiest Eyes, Flat Worms, Crows and Strange Bones. Having self-released their debut single 'Displaced Face' and its follow up 'Fever Dream' on Leeds singles club Come Play With Me in 2019, the band are now set to unleash their debut EP 'Abjection' this Friday (28th August).
Dense consist of Charlie Fossick (vocals/guitars), Dylan Metcalfe (Bass) and Sam Heffer (Drums), and we caught up with them to talk about the EP, the bands influences and their future plans ahead of the EP release.
Can you talk us through the songs on the EP (lyrically/musically)?
Lyrically, the main theme of the EP is tying together short stories telling different narratives on individuals going through suffering. Some songs are more abstract than others such as Dread… focusing more on mental suffering whereas Cleanse/Despair was inspired by Charlie’s tour around the death camps in Siem Reap which are on display, showcasing the atrocities that occurred during the Cambodian Genocide in the 70s. Musically, the songs are meant to take the listener on a journey through these short stories and set the tone for what is being said in the songs.
Your songs seem very much based around the rhythm of the bassline - is that the starting point when you write?
There is no set starting point for when we write, which we find to be the best way for us to create something we feel is unique and provides different flavours for each of the songs. For example, Electric Chair was a riff Charlie presented initially and then Dylan’s creative flow when figuring out the bass’s role allowed him to come up with the arpeggiated baseline for the verses and choruses. For Dread… we started with Sam showing a drum beat he came up with and we based our writing of the bass and guitar around that which gave the song a more percussive feel.
Photo by Sarah Oglesby
Name five records that have shaped your sound?
Wand - Golem
Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Dead
Metz - II
Fuzz - II
Prettiest Eyes - Pools
What’s next for the band - is an album on the horizon?
One can dream of being able to put out an album in the near future! It all depends on how we progress as a band and if anyone is interested to put us out! It could be a year or it could be 10 years before put out an album, you never know how it’s gonna go. What we do know is that we’re going to keep working as hard as we can to tour and keep writing new songs that we’re proud of and hope anyone listening will enjoy!
We'll publish a full review of the EP on Friday. In the meantime, you can listen to 'Electric Chair' which features on the EP and was featured on the Come Play With Me 'Come Stay With Me' compliation below.
This week saw the release of two singles that will undoubtedly be up there with the best of the year. One marked the return of Traams after a 4 year hiatus, and the other from new upstarts TV Priest who also announced details of their debut album, set for release in November.
Traams last single was the frantic, but quite brilliant ‘A House on Fire’ which came out in 2016. Since then the band have been quiet, but this week brought us ‘The Greyhound’, the first of three new songs set for release in 2020. Just under ten minutes long, The Greyhound is a krautrock meets post punk masterpiece that at no stage outstays its welcome, and in fact flies past before you know it. The addition of saxophone toward the closing stages of the track is absolutely inspired, a perfect foil to the mesmeric guitar, bass and drum rhythm section. Proper head music and simply magnificent.
I had The Greyhound down as song of the month, and then along came ‘This Island’, the new single from TV Priest. Having been mightily impressed by the band after hearing their debut single ‘House of York’ we interviewed the band here in June at the time of their equally impressive second single ‘Runner Up’ and I delighted to say that the new single maintains their high standard of output.
The band describe ‘This Island’ as ‘a song about feeling under prepared in your responses yet powerful in your convictions’ and about ‘nationalism, fearmongering, hate, anger, sadness, loss’. Musically the song also blends krautrock and post punk, but errs more on the latter in the vein of artists such as Public Image Limited and Echo and the Bunnymen. The guitar, from the point that it kicks in on 50 seconds is absolutely sublime, the star of the show that really elevates the song, making it the pure joy that it is. It’s the lead single from their debut album ‘Uppers’ which sold out of its initial run of coloured vinyl within 24 hours, prompting them to release some more, such was the demand. Everyone that I have spoken to about this band seem to have been similarly blown away, so expectations are naturally going to be high for the album, but if they can sustain this level of excellence ‘Uppers’ will undoubtedly be one of the albums of the year too.
Also out this week was the new single by The Schizophonics, the follow up to last years’ immense ‘Steely Eyed Lady’. ‘Black to Comm’ is a cover of the MC5 song, with this version adding punchy garage rock edge. Its rather good.
There was no round up last week due to a mixture of bad internet and holidays, but our choice of tunes was ‘Dead Beat’ by Mush, 'Turbulence' by Lord Loud, Infinity x2 by Magick Mountain and The Sheets by Lumer. Mush's Dead Beat is another excellent tune from the band and taken from their forthcoming EP (which also features previous single Fear Index). The Sheets shows some real progression in Lumer’s song-writing, and an almost Morrisey like element to the vocals. Infinity x2 rocks beautifully, undoubtedly taking inspiration from Osees who are also a key influence on Lord Loud. On Turbulence however there’s a bit more influence from Jimi Hendrix and Red Hot Chilli Peppers at their most reflective.
By Mark Glenister
‘Not just a good bread maker’
The beginning of the year for music fans and bands alike, was full of optimism and hope for the year ahead. A year of tours, festivals, album launches and merch, lots of merch!
However, a certain virus came along and since March the music scene has looked like an episode of the ‘Walking dead’, tours cancelled, albums put on hold and the future of live music put to Defcon 1 and we still really don’t know when the threat level will decrease.
So, what have bands done during this time, some are probably still sitting in their plush tour bus in an alcohol and drug induced haze from their last tour. Some bands have done live streams to varying levels of success, some have released cover versions or new singles, some have released lots of singles and then a full album, all accompanied by a social media frenzy that by the time the album arrives you have heard most of the tracks already and the old pleasure of hearing fresh for the first time is somewhat tainted.
Some though, say someone like John Newton from South London Rock Gods JOHN, have done things in the quiet methodical fashion that you expect from them (quiet and methodical is not the sound the band produce, trust me). John left London and went back to his parents in the Cotswolds, here he continued to look at new tracks for the next JOHN album, distanced socially from the other member of the band Johnny Healy, ideas swapped by the medium of technology.
John also perfected the art of baking, I know this as we have spent the past few months sharing recipes and photos of our latest bakes with each other, who said Rock N Roll was dead. He also did some live Instagram interviews with various bands, all of which were highly enjoyable. Various new pieces of merch appeared, which meant lots of bank accounts suffered. Not satisfied with this, and destined to take the prize as the hardest working man in rock, he also wrote a solo album under the guise of Total Wkts (reference to sign he saw on his daily run – yes, he ran as well during all this creativity, hence the album name), the album is called Running Tracks and is stepping up from a digital release to an actual real life vinyl version, which can be pre-ordered via:
The album is 8 tracks long, all of which sound nothing like JOHN, however if this was a recipe the ingredients would be as follows:
150g LCD Soundsystem
50g Nine Inch Nails
The overwhelming influence of Mogwai seeps through every fibre of this album, it needs to be listened to a few times to appreciate the subtleties, the almost ominous sound effects and snatched moments of spoken words. The album demands to be listened to, quiet room, good sound system and the lights off, maybe with a suitable beverage and some nice crusty bread. The tracks themselves are about day to day life, mundane things like printers, spam mail, vivid dreams. The all come together to produce a fine solo album, and possibly an insight into where JOHN may go next sound wise.
It’s safe to say that John Newton had a very productive lockdown, and we can all enjoy the taste of that hard work.
By Jon MIlton
Its been a while since our last interview in this series (June in Fact with Egyptian Blue since you asked), and its hard to know whether we are still classed as being in lockdown, although obviously some major restrictions still remain in place, ie gigs.
Nevertheless, these interviews do provide some great insights into how artists are managing whilst having their art stifled, and that's certainly the case with our latest subject, The Howlers, who were the last band that I saw play live on a cold February night in St Albans.
The band burst on to the scene last year with their cracking debut single 'La Dolce Vita', and followed it up with the equally impressive 'Matador' in November. The excellent 'Badlands' was scheduled for release prior to lockdown, with the band hoping to grow their fan base further through planned media coverage and gig activity, but things changed overnight for them in March, as it did for everyone else.
I spoke with front-man Adam Young about the challenges the band have faced at such a crucial time in their development, and about how they're remaining optimistic about the future.
Firstly, how are you? How are Guus and Cam?
We are all well, thank you - all things considered at least.
How has lockdown been for you?
Erm...it's been a real mixed bag of experiences and emotions I guess. On one hand we have put together the best material we have ever written together, and we have had some real positives in terms of things we have planned and who we are working with on the next lot of records. But then in the other hand we have had some real hard times to deal with, I personally lost a family member to Covid-19 - it's been rough but we have each other, and that's what matters and pulls you through.
Have you picked up any new hobbies along the way?
Well, I've been learning Piano - I managed to rob a cheap leccy piano from my brother at the start of lockdown so that's kept me sort of busy, and stopped him from learning Lewis Capaldi numbers or whatever drivel he was attempting to play,
Cam is learning Guitar which is nice, as its meant as a band our song-writing has come on leaps and bounds collaboratively, and Guus is learning how to deal with having longer hair now, takes time to learn how to use Brylcreem properly.
You’ve managed to start a management company, tell us about that?
I have indeed. One of my close friends in my hometown of Portsmouth had the idea for a while, and he sort of said over a pint one day, 'fancy helping me do this'. I had been lending him a hand in the live side of the business for a while so it was an easy sell to me, so we started Brutalist Management before lockdown, kept it a secret and then started pushing it recently.
The company was named after the old shopping centre 'The Tricorn', which was a brutalist structure in the centre of town. Portsmouth doesn't have any infrastructure really for music aside from a handful of music venues, 90% of which are not fit for purpose, and owned by pub's where the landlord just doesn't get what music needs if it is to thrive. It's just a wasteland, so from our success and experience in our band, it's meant that I've been able to offer advice and guidance to artists we are working with.
To be honest, most bands self-manage anyway for a long time so it's nothing new to me, but it's been nice to see bands in our local area and my hometown achieve. I've already put a word in with people i know from around the country we've met on tours and worked with and we have already roped in a load of managers to be part of the Brutalist Management Family. It's really exciting to see a community come together - something I've always wondered on tour - why there isn't more stuff like this!
Have you found listening to much new music or discovering different artists (old and new) during lockdown?
I haven't. I've really been getting back into Ty Segall during lock down - 'Manipulator' is a great album and Kurt Vile has some great albums to his name. I did recently pick up my old Amazing Snakeheads LP and gave that a spin. I forget how great that album is - in the early days of this band we took a lot of inspiration from Dale and co (God rest his soul) - still do to some extent, so that was nice to listen to that, plus it was my birthday a few weeks back and I got given 'Manipulator' on LP so that's been nice to play through the old Technics.
Did you find yourself writing much new stuff during lockdown?
Yes, I had to stop myself actually. I was writing so much i was forgetting the stuff I had written at the start, so I've had to go back and retrace my steps and teach my self what I wrote, which is a mental experience. Out of these songs we've got about 6 - 7 we are going to record at the end of this year but there was about 30 I wrote down, and then we locked ourselves away for 5 days right in the middle of lockdown during the London protests. That was crazy as we would drive ourselves to the lock up every day, passing protestors and mask clad people queuing everywhere, then be in our little bubble for 9 - 10 hours in a window-less box, then drive home during the protests to a chorus of sirens and all sorts - it was a strange time.
How pleased were you with Badlands’ reception?
Well we released in right at the start of lockdown so it was the most badly timed release in history, but we had no choice. We were already down the rabbit hole in terms of the campaign and it was to late to postpone it then. Overnight, two thirds of the campaign was wiped out. Our publisher was frank and said we can't do anything now as the industry is in shut down, so it took a massive hit.
Saying that, we have continued to get BBC Radio 1 support, making it all 3 releases to debut on the station in under 10 months which is an unparalleled achievement for an unsigned band, and we have continued to get BBC 6 Music, Radio X, Clash and Louder than war coverage, so that has been great. Lammo is always in our corner as is John Kennedy, Robin Murray and the girls and guys at Louder.
Streaming-wise not so much as that was hit hard - people don't release how much the morning commute and stuff like that affect's streams, as people just stopped their normal routine over night. It was mad - everyone thought it would go the other way and pick up but how wrong were we! It's started to get back to some form of normality but it's nothing like it was.
With gigs delayed until March next year, does it feel like the pandemic has stunted the band’s progress?
100%. You need to remember, this year is a right off, so any plans we had, or opportunities coming our way, have been halted or postponed to next year, which then means next year is a right off in terms of festival and tour opportunities, as that has all been postponed with the same line ups to 2021.
It's a massive blow for a band like us on the cusp of emerging out of the breaking band phase but we will find a way! But 2 years down the pan is shit. All our September shows are being postponed to next year although London, Brighton, Manchester & Portsmouth are all strongly tipped to sell out, or on the verge of selling out so if you haven't got a ticket ... get one! We will also be releasing an EP next year accompanied by 12" vinyl and new merch etc so in some ways it has fitted together nicely, this postponing.
How much have you missed gigging?
A lot. In our first year as a band, we did 50 shows. We're still under 2 years as a band so it's been a huge change in routine. I don't miss sleeping on floors mind! We've only been releasing music for a year so it's been a mad old ride. but our March 2021 dates we've got a lot of stuff planned to make them special for everyone and us at the end of the day, we love what we do and i think that shows through on stage!
What positives can you draw from your experience of the last 4 months?
Reflection - being able to reflect on all we have done in 10 months to a year is sometimes the best thing to do!
We have always been hard on ourselves, striving to achieve and be better after each show, and that won't ever change. It's why we are often tipped as one of the best live bands around, you know that, you caught us in St Albans, and we beat ourselves up for 10 minutes after that show, but in reflection we put in a good show in a city we had never played in before (the gig had a relatively low turn out).
Lockdown has allowed us to pump the brakes and look at all we achieved and go ... right that's F***ing amazing ... but we know we can step this up another gear, and that's exactly what we've done. This band works because we have each other to pull us through and pick us up when we need it.
We are a bat shit crazy little family, but we are family, and anyone who comes down to see us is part of that. We always give everyone our time, any place any time, no matter who they are, and that I feel is something that's rare these days, so if you are reading this and want to reach out, do it, we don't bite! If you want to say hello at a show, do it, you will probably get some free merch and a beer from us (Depending on how pissed we are!).
2021 tour dates
18/03 - Manchester - Yes * Very limited tickets remaining
20/03 - London - The Lexington * 50 tickets remaining
27/03 - Brighton - The Rossi * Very limited tickets remaining
01/04 - Portsmouth - Edge of The Wedge *Over Half of Tickets gone