Indieterria Review – San Pedro “The Demon Sessions”

Hello!

Running a music blog is an exciting thing. You get to interview some of your musical heroes or new emerging acts. You meet interesting people, you go out to gigs, festivals or various cultural events. But most importantly (at least for us) you have a chance to listen to the music before anyone else. And if you are lucky, you may discover a next big thing. When we listened to one of the submissions we received last week, we immediately knew that we have found a winner.

San Pedro Logo

San Pedro is a new project of Rikki Turner, the mastermind behind several Manchester electronic outfits such as The Paris Angels, The New Southern Elektrik and The Hurt. A large collective named after the Californian town where Turner’s favourite writer, Charles Bukowski lived out his final days, San Pedro consists of musicians, DJ’s, writers, poets, artists and singers based in the UK, mainland Europe and in America. We are not sure how many people are actually involved (the collective seems to be quite mysterious and fluid) but several names have been confirmed. So far we know about singer/songwriter Millie MacBean known for her ethereal vocals, Suddi Raval (ex member of rave duo Together, best known for their hit “Hardcore Uproar” that went to the top of the national charts in 1990), Simon Wolstencroft (The Fall, Ian Brown, The Stone Roses, Johnny Marr and Freak Party), Keith Higgins (former member of The Hunt), Justin Leonard, Martin McClaren, poet Karl Hildebrandt and Antnee Egerton of The Winachi Tribe.

San Pedro picture by Paul Husband

San Pedro group picture by Paul Husband

Their debut EP entitled “The Demon Sessions” will be released by Blindside Records on July the 5th and every fan of an old school rave, electronica and house music should be on high alert.

“The Demon Sessions” contains only 4 tracks: two versions of “The Things You See”, acid-house inspired “Theme from San Pedro” and “The View From The Drowning Pool”. The first version of “The Things You See” nicknamed the “Original Version” has been chosen as the leading single and features Millie MacBean on vocals. It reminds us of an early Utah Saints meeting 808 State, with strong ambient background beat a la U.S.U.R.A (“Open Your Mind”) or Sven Väth circa 1992 (“Accident In Paradise”). The second version of the single (called “Rikki Turner Remix”) brings softened loops and more house feelings that could have won many hearts at the Hacienda. Again, it has a strong bass beat with ambient influences but its aesthetics are closer to OPUS III and KLF than to Vath. Also, it makes heavy use of samples which gives the track additional depth. “The View From The Drowning Pool” with spoken word by Rikki Turner will probably not receive much commercial airplay due to expletive language, but has chances of become a fan-favourite song.

San Pedro “The Demon Sessions” cover artwork

The Demon Sessions is a must have for everyone who remembers the good old days of Madchester scene. Hopefully, it will introduce new generation to (quite) forgotten genres such as ambient, big beat, house and rave. Also, we are told, San Pedro Collective is planning on releasing additional material in the autumn and we cannot wait to hear what they’ll come up with next.

San Pedro release poster

You can follow San Pedro Collective online:

https://www.facebook.com/sanpedrocollectivemcr
https://www.facebook.com/BlindsideRecordsUK

Articles:
https://www.attackmagazine.com/features/interview/brief-history-acid-house-suddi-raval/
https://jammerzine.com/the-test-drive-san-pedro-the-demon-sessions/
https://www.xsnoize.com/manchesters-san-pedro-to-release-brand-new-ep-the-demon-sessions
https://artvoice.com/2019/06/25/manchester-heavyweights-san-pedro-release-new-ep-the-demon-sessions/
https://baggingarea.blogspot.com/2019/06/san-pedro.html

As usual, please support your local scene (new and old)!
We will see you shortly.
Rita and Malicia

Indieterria Review – “California” by Hey Bulldog

Dear Readers,

We have another single to review from a Manchester band and this one is a belter. If you are familiar with the scene up North – you will surely know Hey Bulldog – either from their energetic shows or their countless national radio plays and high profile festival appearances. This band has Steve Lamacaq at BBC 6, John Kennedy at Radio X and Charlie Ashcroft on Amazing Radio on a speed dial and will appear at Kendal Calling ad Cotton Clouds among other festivals this summer. On June 28th they will unleash their newest gem – “California”  much to the enjoyment of their fans.

The sleeve for “California” single

Mixing stoner rock with distinctive psychedelia made Hey Bulldog underground favourites in the North and “California” is not a radical departure from the sound established by their other singles such as “No Future (Part Two)” or “Al Lupo”. But there is something in the track that we would describe as a nod to Welsh heavyweights Feeder, especially in their “Comfort In Sound” period. Perhaps it is the urgent bass line and the punky yet melodic vocals, or maybe overwhelming sense of loss waved in between the notes?

We had a pleasure to speak to Hey Bulldog`s front man Rob Manton about the band, the new single and their gruelling touring schedule. And this is what he had to say:

Hey Bulldog live at Jimmy`s Manchester – photo by Jo Lowes
https://www.facebook.com/jo.lowes

Please introduce yourself to the readers of Indieterria.  Where are you based and who is in the band?

Rob Manton: We’re Hey Bulldog from Manchester with me Rob Manton on guitar/vocals, Matt Parry on bass/backing vocals and Ben Howarth-Lees on drums.

Tell us something about the project – are there any goals that you managed to achieve? 

Rob Manton: Opening the2nd stage at a massive festival like Kendal Calling was definitely a box ticked last year and we’re delighted to have been asked back to play again for the second year in a row this July, our first gig abroad playing a festival in Sicily was also an amazing life experience.

We’ve had incredible radio support from day one from the likes of Steve Lamacq 6 Music and John Kennedy on Radio X, Chris Hawkins on 6 Music has been mega to us too. We’re well into double figures for the amount of different songs we’ve had on national radio and the buzz of getting played alongside the best artists in the world never wears off.

We’re currently planning our first vinyl 7 inch release and also our debut album so those steps will also be great ambitions achieved for us.

Hey Bulldog at iconic Manchester venue – The Castle Hotel, photography by Dave Morely

 What inspires you? What artist or genre had the biggest influence on you?

Rob Manton: Great musicians and bands like The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Led Zeppelin who were primarily guitar, bass and drums will always be our foundation but that’s combined with artists like Neil Young and David Bowie, who consistently tried to develop and progress all the way through their careers. Modern acts like The Kills, Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem, Ty Segall, Mogwai, Nadine Shah, PJ Harvey, who combine lots of different musical elements into what they do are also the current benchmark for us.

 It`s all about the music – and we want to hear about your new single. Is there a story behind the song, where and how was it written.

Rob Manton:  Our new single ‘California’ is out on 28th June. It was inspired by a chance meeting I had with lo-fi garage rock legend and now sadly the late great Rex ‘Tatarex’ Thompson. His band The Summer Hits released a handful of singles between 1992-1996 and were played on BBC Radio 1 by legendary DJ John Peel. I met Rex a few years ago in California when he was dj`ing at Burger Records event I was at with my friends who knew him. We got chatting and talked about music and his time in the UK over a couple of days, he was a massive character that anybody who met would never forget so when I heard he had died about a year later I wanted to make a bass driven stoner rock track in tribute to him.

Tour poster

Are you touring? Where can we see you playing live?

Rob Manton:  To promote the new single we’ve got a date in London and a string of festivals over the summer that we really excited to play.

28th June,              Sebright Arms, London                        Event Page                                  Tickets

5th July,                 Not A Cult Festival,  Malvern                Event Page                                  Tickets

19th July,               Blackthorn Festival, Cheshire                Event Page                                  Tickets

26th July,               Kendal Calling, Cumbria                        Event Page                                  Tickets

17th August,          Cotton Clouds, Saddleworth                 Event Page                                  Tickets

If any bookers or promoters want to get in touch – what is the best way to contact you?

Rob Manton:   Just send us an email at info@hey-bulldog.com

Imagine you can record an album with any artist, dead or alive in a studio of your choice. Who would be on your record?

Rob Manton:  David Bowie would have been a pretty cool producer. Working with somebody like Jamie Hince from the Kills or James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem in a legendary studio like Electric Ladyland or Abbey Road would be incredible and really interesting to hear how they would want us to sound. We’d also love to be able to record with our current mixers Boe Weaver at their own Studio Humbug in the Isle of Wight, the dream would be to go out to the Rancho de la Luna studio in the Joshua Tree and record with them their too!

Bringing guitar infused fury to a venue near you – Hey Bulldog photographed by Steve Hampson
https://www.facebook.com/shampson3

Listen to “California”

 

You can follow the band on socials:

http://www.hey-bulldog.com/
https://www.facebook.com/heybulldogmusic
https://heybulldog.bandcamp.com
https://twitter.com/heybulldog
https://www.instagram.com/heybulldogmusic/
https://www.youtube.com/user/heybulldogmusic/
https://soundcloud.com/heybulldog
https://open.spotify.com/artist/5OLxViZI8qMwA9VV3NzsKW?si=lBbyVNGbSi2K-MvMZXclIw

All right folks, Hey Bulldog receives a full stamp of approval from us and we urge you to see them live in nearer future – because we live in a wonderful times for indie music and great bands seem to pop up all over the shop. Tony Wilson was right – best music does come from Greater Manchester area so don`t miss out!

We have more music to discover so please come again!

R/M

Indieterria Photo Review – Cabbage/Afghan Sand Gang/Thomas Haywood at Night & Day Cafe, Manchester

Dear Readers, 

A lot is being said recently about mental health crisis yet it still reminds a taboo. Mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders (bulimia and anorexia) and addictive behaviours (drug use, alcohol dependence) carry a lot of stigma. People suffering from mental illness are often misunderstood, treated badly or even are subjected to prolonged abuse or bullying. hey are twice more likely to be physically or verbally attacked and receive less support in comparison to those who suffer from cancer or other long term illnesses.  According to NHS, nearly 30% of all population of the United Kingdom suffers from or is declaring depression and mood swings. Almost 17% of women and 12% of men are prescribed medication for common and rare disorders. And while almost 80% of all females diagnosed with depression are seeking treatment, only 5% of men are doing the same. This has tragic consequences.

Boys are raised not to cry or show any emotions that could render them vulnerable. They have to be strong in every circumstances. If they are not, their masculinity and their worth are called into question. In a society where seeking help is considered a  failure, man are dying. The statistics are shocking: three out of four suicides (76%) are by men and suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35. 73% of adults who go missing are men. 87% of rough sleepers are men. Men are also three times more likely to abuse illegal substances in an attempt so self medicate.

Liam Smith fundraiser – sold out!

On Monday, 24th of June, three of Manchester best bands: Cabage, Afghan Sand Gang and Thomas Haywood (representing The Blinders) came together to play a show at the legendary Night & Day Cafe in Manchester, to collect funds for the family of Liam Smith, a young man who lost his battle with depression in Australia.

The statement released before the concert read: “After the tragic death of our close friend and Mossley brother, Liam Smith, we Cabbage along with The Blinders and Afghan Sand Gang are hosting a fundraiser event at Night & Day Cafe on Monday 24th June. Liam lost his battle with mental health and took his own life on the other side of the world in Australia. This leaves his family in the predicament of an astronomical bill for his repatriation and funeral costs. So many people have been kind enough to donate a large portion of the 20k required to Liam’s Gofundme page, currently standing at £15,000. We are hoping our fundraiser can be the final donation required. Tickets on sale now from Gigs and Tours. A huge thank you in advance for anyone that can contribute and come along. This is also an urgent message to encourage people to speak out if they have any problems of their own and are suffering in silence. Cabbage x”

Tickets sold out within minutes and many people went to contribute to the donation page that is still open at: https://uk.gofundme.com/repatriation-amp-funeral-cost
If you’d like to donate, please do so as the family is undergoing an incredibly hard time and they will need a lot of support. Thank you!

Vanadian Avenue teamed up with Steve Hampson, Louder Than War magazine photographer to bring you a photo coverage of the event. We think that words are not necessary at all to describe what was happening. We want to show you the images taken that night. They speak for themselves. We would like to thank Steve for his images and  for the ability to highlight this incredibly important  event. We need to start talking about mental illness differently: without fear or blame. Only then, we can concentrate on fighting the common enemy.

Thomas Haywood (The Blinders)
Set list: “Ballad of Winston Smith”, “I Will Always Be Here Waiting For You” (original song), “Circles” (original song), “Phantom Lover” (third and last original song), “Ramona Flowers” and “Ballad of Tin Man” (Bob Dylan cover).

Thomas Haywood performing solo. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Thomas Haywood performing solo. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Thomas Haywood performing solo. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Thomas Haywood performing solo. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Thomas Haywood performing solo. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Afghan Sand Gang
Set list: “Mantra”, “Scribe”, “Envy”, “White Lies” “Glistener and Descension” and two new unnamed tracks.

Afghan Gang Sand. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Afghan Gang Sand. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Afghan Gang Sand. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Afghan Gang Sand. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Afghan Gang Sand. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Afghan Gang Sand. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Afghan Gang Sand. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Cabbage
Set list: “Uber Capitalist Death Trade”, “Arms Of Pleonexia”, “Terrorist Synthesizer”, “Dinner Lady”, “Kevin”, “Tell Me Lies About Manchester” (dedicated to Ray Boddington of the Piccadilly Rats), “Necroflat In The Palace”, “These Boots Were Made For Walking” (Nancy Sinatra cover)

Cabbage. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Cabbage. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Cabbage. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Cabbage. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Cabbage. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Cabbage. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Cabbage. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Cabbage. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Cabbage. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Cabbage. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Cabbage. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Cabbage. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Cabbage. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Cabbage. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Cabbage. Picture by Steve Hampson, used with permission

Steve Hampson:
Steve Hampson is one of Manchester’s premier music photographers. Music been a passion of his for as long as he can remember, since he was old enough to sneak into gigs down at the local pub. And his camera is something he’s never been able to live without. A Manc born and bred, Steve has been attending gigs in the city for over 30 years, and he is now following in the footsteps of outstanding photographers like Kevin Cummings. Steve loves nothing more than descending the steps into a dingy basement in the Northern Quarter and photographing the next big thing or one of the country’s most iconic acts. From The Who to The Courteeners, Alabama Shakes to Patti Smith, Steve is never far from the music.

https://www.facebook.com/shampson3
http://www.stevehampson.co.uk/
https://twitter.com/rangerpeg

Thank you to all who made this evening a success!
M+R

Indieterria Review – “My Walk” by Pietro Blanca

Dear Readers,

Indieterria continues to showcase artists around Manchester who answered our call to submit their songs. The beauty of project “Hello Manchester” was to allow musicians to speak about their art on their own terms and bring to the light new and upcoming music from the city. It doesn’t matter if the artists were accomplished bands or people who create at their leisure. All music is equal and worth being shared. So far he had the incredible band Hot Minute and electronic indie duo Edits featured as part of our series.

Guitar man – Pietro Blanca is ready to take on the Manchester scene.

Today we meet Pietro Blanca – solo artist and a lead singer of alt rock band Clifftop Empire. And we are so happy to discover Pietro.  Let us tell you why. In March this blog had a pleasure to interview one of the most international acts ever Shiva May Care – where every member comes from different country, speaks different language but all together they create kick ass rock music. Shiva is based in Manchester and was founded by Italian multi instrumentalist and producer Federico Cossu. We are over the moon to discover that Federico is not the only hugely talented Italian artist who chose Manchester to be his home. Pietro Blanca also resides in Mancunia.

If you ever had a chance to listen to Italian guitar masters (Beppe Gambetta or Pino Daniele to just name a few) then you know that the secret of their hugely popular pop and rock music lies in combining classical guitar techniques with ear catching melodies. Continental guitarists don’t just pick up an instrument to play indie – they find their inspiration in folk, medieval, jazz and even flamenco music. Most of them are classically trained. And then bring all those elements into rock music. There is a reason why Sanremo Music Festival both inspired Eurovision and Montreux  Jazz Festival and is responsible for launching careers of Laura Pausini or Eros Ramazotti among countless stars.

The versatility, range of influences from psychedelia to The Beatles and Mark Knopfler (in his Golden Heart era) is evident in Pietro Blanca`s “My Walk” single – dreamy and yet sorrowful song that was just made to be played on the radio on a lazy summer days.  It may surprise you that it lasts just two minutes but such miniature compositions are nothing new in pop music. Just remember “Velocity Girl” by Primal Scream stands at 1:22 minutes.

We had asked Pietro few questions about his music and this is what he had to say:

Pietro during a solo show in Manchester famous Norther Quarter

Please introduce yourself to the readers of Indieterria. Where are you based and who is in the band?

Pietro Blanca: Hello, my name is Pietro. I am folk/pop singer and songwriter based in Manchester.

Tell us something about your project – are there any goals that you managed to achieve?

Pietro Blanca:  I started my current project in 2010, when I’ve decided to create some music on my own. I was 14 years old when I discovered the guitar for the first time. Through the years, I got into different genres: from mixture of folk and pop like Kings of Convenience, The Cranberries and José Gonzàlez, to heavy metal, like Metallica, System of a Down and Meshuggah. After playing metal with my first band for 5 years, my mind went into a totally different direction! (laughs). My first demo came out in 2010 (“Andare Lontano/Nessuna Esistenza”) and the first EP was released in 2016 (“Mirrors Beyond The Sea”).

What inspires you? What artist or genre had the biggest influence on you?

Pietro Blanca:  I`m inspired by many artists but most likely by Kings of Convenience, José Gonzàlez, The Cranberries and Imogen Heap.

It`s all about the music – and we want to hear about your new single. Is there a story behind the song, where and how was it written.

Pietro Blanca: The single is called  “My Walk”. The song has been written right when I was thinking to leave my country to go abroad. Moving away meant a huge change in my life but also a new adventure to embrace.

 

Are you touring? Where can we see you playing live?

Pietro Blanca: At the moment I’m not touring as a solo artist but I am always checking out open mic nights in Manchester and wherever else is possible. I’ve been focusing on another project called Clifftop Empire in my spare time.

If any bookers or promoters want to get in touch – what is the best way to contact you?

Pietro Blanca performing with Clifftop Empire in Sheffield

Pietro Blanca:  The best way to reach me is through my Facebook page – Pietro Blanca Music.

Imagine you can record an album with any artist, dead or alive in a studio of your choice. Who would be on your record?

Pietro Blanca:  I’d love recording some music with Devin Townsend, he is a great artist in whatever genre he plays.

You can follow Pietro on social media:

https://www.facebook.com/pietroblancamusic/
https://twitter.com/PietroBlanca
https://www.instagram.com/pietro_blanca/
https://soundcloud.com/pietro-blanca
https://www.youtube.com/user/pietroblanca
https://open.spotify.com/artist/68TkewCVzLMXtMCpoMtpUn?si=gsTYG0RwSdyANZRKW3ForA

 

You can listen to Pietro`s demos Andare Lontano/Nessuna Esistenza (“Going Away/No Existence”) at this address:

https://www.jamendo.com/album/62053/andare-lontano-nessuna-esistenza

If you would like to check Pietro`s other musical project – alt rock trio Clifftop Empire, you can do so via following links:

https://www.facebook.com/ClifftopEmpire/
https://soundcloud.com/user-434835923

Thank you kindly for reading and there is lots more in Hello Manchester to discover. We will be seeing you soon.

R/M

Indieterria Review – “Magic” by Hot Minute

Dear Readers, 

June is all about reviewing new singles and discovering new artists. We start in Greater Manchester and will slowly move towards different scenes across the county.

We wanted to hear about the music from the artists directly, so we made an open call to musicians in the area. The response was amazing and we are thrilled to be presenting these mini reviews to you.

Hot Minute were the first to get in touch with their music. This all female pop group has been together for only couple of months but their chemistry is undeniable. All three girls are studying and living in Manchester and their first single called “Magic” turned a lot of heads and had many feet tapping.

Hot Minute logo

They call themselves a “synth-pop outfit” and this is a very fitting description. “Magic” is a perfect marriage of the 80’s bubblegum pop a la Bananarama, Alphaville, Sandra and Tiffany with crisp, modern production. There are obvious references to K-Pop/J-pop in their sound and promotional aesthetics. Brilliantly neon pictures taken by Rhian Melvin have a strong dystopian and futuristic feeling to them, a cross between Nar Shaddaa and Los Angeles out of “The Blade Runner”.  The beat of the song is fast, the groove is right and the lyrics are easy to remember – by the second chorus you’ll catch yourself dancing around the kitchen singing along. And this is exactly what you’d expect from a good pop song. It has all the right proportions, it stucks with you for hours and you can listen to it on repeat for three days straight without getting bored.

What’s the most important, the girls can play and sing well. In the last decade, pop music relied more on looks and autotuning than singing abilities and it is  refreshing to see that the talent is being brought back to the mainstream. The harmonies in “Magic” are just magical. Believe us, the song is simply irresistible. In short – this is a proper pop banger. You will fall in love with this track, just like we did. In the first 10 seconds. And if you don’t, then we are sorry to say, but there is no hope for you.

The trio photographed by Rhian Melvin at Jimmy’s in Manchester (or maybe in some dive cantina on the Smugler’s Moon?)

Intrigued by their sound, we asked Hot Minute a few questions and this is what they had to say:

Please introduce yourself to the readers of Indieterria. Where are you based and who is in the band? 

Hot Minute: Hey! We’re Hot Minute, Manchester’s newest all female synth pop trio comprised of Keely Hutchinson on vocals, Courtney Williams on synths and Bella Casson on guitar.

Tell us something about the project – are there any goals that you managed to achieve (festivals, radio plays, meeting your musical heroes, EPs, albums released)?

Hot Minute: This is our debut single release as Hot Minute and for us it couldn’t have gone better! We’ve been playlisted by YouTube Music and had an abundance of really lovely blog coverage and some radio play.

“Magic” front cover. Magic is strong with this one…

What inspires you? What artist or genre had the biggest influence on you?

Hot Minute: Our inspirations are women in the industry, Japan and K-Pop. In terms of bands, we love CHVRCHES, Muna, The Midnight, Depeche Mode and The Human League.

It’s all about the music – and we want to hear about your new single. Is there a story behind the song, where and how was it written?

Hot Minute: Magic is about taking the negative and turning it into a positive. The message of the song isn’t exactly a happy one but the tone and feel of the song is very upbeat. We started this band based off the mutual prejudices we’d experienced separately, taking those negative experiences and making them into something we could use to benefit us and we mimicked that in our first single to get that point across. It’s not the cards you’re dealt it’s how you play them.

Are you touring? Where can we see you playing live?

Hot Minute: We aren’t touring currently, but we have a gig in September with Section 25 in Blackburn!

If any bookers or promoters want to get in touch – what is the best way to contact you?

Hot Minute: You can hit us up on our email itshotminute@gmail.com and you can also find us on our socials:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/itshotminute?
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/itshotminute/

Imagine you can record an album with any artist, dead or alive in a studio of your choice. Who would be on your record?

Hot Minute: This one took a lot of thinking, but we eventually came to the collective decision of Daft Punk and we’d probably go for Alucard Studios. That was a tough one!

 

Or read more hot reviews for “Magic” online:
http://indietronica.org/2019/05/30/hot-minute-magic/
https://anerdyperspective.com/2019/06/05/hot-minute-magic-debut-single-review/
https://thegirlsattherockshow.com/listen-to-hot-minutes-new-single-magic/
https://reverbium.com/2019/05/29/manchester-synth-pop-band-hot-minute-release-new-single-magic/

The trio is probably the first ever pop band that we have reviewd on Indieterria. They are worth every blog post and every review, as we think the girls have not only talent but a huge potential to become something special. Given proper opportunities, they could turn into international stars in a very short period of time! We will be following their progress closely and if any pop music scout is looking for a new discovery, then here they are.

They might be called Hot Minute, but hopefully they will stick around for a long, long time.

M+R

P.S. A big thank you to Pete Eastwood who told us first about the group and who made this interview possible!

Indieterria meets Membranes

Hello!

Forget the saying “never meet your heroes”. Sometimes you just have to meet them! When we heard that John Robb is working on a new material, we immediately knew we wanted to speak to him about it. John is not only a musician, magazine editor (he runs the wildly popular Louder than War magazine) and journalist. He is also a poet, a modern philosopher and an artist. His works have been shaping musical landscape since 1977 and Membranes are considered as one of the most influential punk/alternative rock outfits in the history of British music.

We sat down with John a couple of days before his (sort of) homecoming gig at the Manchester Ritz to discuss the new album, forces of nature, our place in the natural order of the universe and performing with a choir! It was a huge pleasure and priviladge to interview our childhood hero, so if you have one, don’t wait and apporach them. Disappointments happen, but so does the magic. And for us it was a magical experience.

Membranes photographed by jay3008

Membranes
John Robb (vocals, bass)
Nick Brown (guitar)
Peter Byrchmore (guitar)
Rob Haynes (drums)

Official bio: This one comes with their own Wikipedia entry!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Membranes

“What Natures Gives… Nature Takes Away” is your first studio album since 2015 and a follow up to the acclaimed “Dark Matter/Dark Energy”. Four years is a long time. Can you tell us how this album shaped from its conception to the final mixes?

John Robb: We got busy. We didn’t expect the last album to go as well as it did and we were sidetracked by touring and life. All the time though the idea of the next album was germinating (ha!) like a seed. There is no rush for a band like ours, we are not a teenage hit machine. This stuff is art and art takes time. Just create when you are ready. Don’t wait for permission on how and when you create. When it was ready, it was ready. There were always ideas and when they had a grand scheme to fit into to with the nature thing then it all fell intom place. Making a record as epic and ambitious as this is, of course, a gamble. The underground scene has lots of rules and you are expected to conform by them! In many ways underground music is even more tightly regulated by what you are perceived to be allowed to do than the so called mainstream. Alternative music is often not that alternative, is it?

The album’s title, quickly brings connotation to the famous Bible verse “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:21). Was it something you wanted the listeners to notice and think about? Are we, as human beings, at the mercy of the forces of nature?

The front cover of “What Nature Gives”

John Robb: Yes, the album is about the beauty and violence of nature. It’s also about how we are the nature and as you say we are at the mercy of the forces of nature. We are at the mercy of its ebbs and flows. We do our best to try and break away but we are just chimps in suits. We like the idea of biblical preachers against a stormy sky shouting at nature. Like the good book can even have any control on the mighty forces already unleashed way before a god was even invented. As human beings, we are merely navigating this swirl of wildness and hoping for the best.

The “natural theme” is omnipresent on the record. Looking at the song titles, one cannot miss multiple references to animals (“Murder of Crows”, The City Is An Animal”), plants (“Demon Seed/Demon Flower”) or forests (“Deep In The Forest Where The Memories Linger”). Are we looking at concept album, or “dark rock opera” as one of the reviewers called it?

John Robb: “Dark rock opera” is a pretty cool term! There is a concept running through the album but it’s not as literal as it sounds. The songs take the themes of nature but each song is its own entity but the tracks run in an order. For me, it’s very much an album with each piece in place and not loads of tracks chucked together. Like a book with chapters! “A Strange Perfume” is about the power of pheromones and the powerful primal instinctive urge of the perfumes of our own scent whilst “A Murder Of Crows” is about the dark power of crows – their mystical power, their smartness and their cunning cruelty. The song also looks back on the roots of the word “murder” back to the plains of India where it is an actual Hindu word. “Demon Seed/Demon Flower” is a dark dub built around the themes brought up by Baudelaire – it’s a Baudelaire dub! It’s about how sex runs right through nature and we celebrate the voluptuous flowers trying to attract each other’s attention in the battlefield of life. “Deep In The Forest” is a celebration of the tomblike silence at the centre of the darkest first, a place where you can hear nature sigh in its eternal woody silence. It’s also part of a theme for the perfume we are working on with Lush which will be called “A Strange Perfume”! It smells of the erotic dampness, leaf mould and autumnal richness of the forest – a place where your memories linger for eternity.

Back cover of the new album

Two songs, however differ from the rest, thematically and musically. “Pandora’s Box” and “Mother Ocean/Father Time” seems to be inspired by classical Greek mythology.  Can you tell us more about them?

John Robb: “Pandora’s Box” is the apocalyptic end piece of the album. It is about the power of love and lust and the curveballs that nature throws at us in life and that moment in time when you have to jump in and open the box.

“Mother Ocean/Father Time” is about the ocean and it’s also about my grandfather, a French Canadian who used to work on the cable ships as they crossed the Atlantic in the early 20th century. They used to call it the most dangerous job in the world. Eventually he stopped over in London for a couple of days and had the briefest of dalliances with my grandmother and was never seen again. I liked that mystery to their brief affair, that intensity of the moment against the backdrop of the mighty ocean. The music was written to reflect that with the riff being the churning of the waves and the salt stained seas, another celebration of the sheer power of nature. I used to live by the sea and loved that line between suburbia and the wild ocean. On one side the thin veneer of civilisation and on the other the wild and mysterious depths.

The record, which is set to be released on June 7th, is a double album full of intriguing guests: Chris Packham, Kirk Brandon (Spear of Destiny) and even a 20 – person choir. You have previously worked with Estonian female choir Sireen for festival slots and BIMM choir for a tour in the UK. Which choir have you employed on this occasion?

John Robb: I like working with guests. I think rock bands don’t have to be so rigid. We have done so many collaborations over the years. We played in Mexico last night and did a live collaboration with a local band who are called Descartes A Kant (who are really worth checking out). We had one rehearsal and a get on stage kind of affair and that is the kind of risk taking that always creates great art. The choir we used on this album is recruited from BIMM – we can’t afford to fly an Estonian choir around. It’s the price you pay for having ideas bigger than your budget. I put the call out on Facebook for a choir and Claire Pilling, who teaches singing at BIMM college came back to us and recruited the choir. It was great working with the Sireen choir who I saw play a festival in Estonia 5 years ago and asked if they wanted to do a gig with us straight after. They said yes and we played two amazing and brilliantly received gigs in Estonia with them which is where this album really started.

We want to ask you about another person who is featured on the album – dame Shirley Collins, the force behind English Folk Revival of 1960s and 1970s. What an incredible woman. She is 83 years old this year and just released her new album herself. Was it hard to convince dame Collins to appear on the record? It does look a bit like Metallica/Marianne Faithfull collaboration!

John Robb: Shirley is amazing. I met her through filming stuff for Lush, the cosmetics chain, who have created a media channel which I film content for. She was in Lush one night at the launch of a film about her and it was great to meet her. She is a wonderful woman. I asked her if she wanted to do a piece for the album and an hour later she was reading this great piece about the South Downs and the power of music and how it comes out of the very soil of the surrounding hills. Her description of the flowers and birds in the Sussex hills is so evocative and perfect and one of the highpoint of the album for me.

“What Nature Gives” comes with an incredible sleeve artwork that is actually a Gothic Victoriana painting by artist Valentine Cameron Prinsep, a relative to Julia Margaret Cameron, Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell. The title of the painting does sound like something Nicky Wire would come up with: “At The First Touch Of Winter Summer Fades Away”. How did you come across this piece?

John Robb: I did a Google search! I was putting key words from the album and then searching through images and hoping something powerful and evocative would come up. What I needed was a piece of artwork that would reflect the themes of the album: the transient nature of nature, life and death and the passing of the seasons and the second that image appeared I know it was perfect. I like it because it is the seasons and death and also because its quite erotic and tragic and full of flowers and lingering and tragedy – just like the album!

The release is being promoted by leading single “A Strange Perfume”, where the band members are shown singing among the ballet dancers clad in black. The video is surprisingly dark and has some sort of nervousness to it. It was directed by Anya Cinnamon Machin – visual artist and cinematographer based in Manchester. Please tell us more about the story behind the video.

John Robb: The song itself was about the erotic power of scent. A celebration of the sensuality of all five senses like in the Kama Sutra where all the subtlties of attraction are celebrated. The idea was to have a ballet dancer as we hate mimed band videos and prefer something a bit off kilter. I think the world is a bit too full of blokes pretending to play guitars in videos and we didn’t want to throw another one out there. Anya is a brilliant young film maker from Manchester and it was a pleasure working with her. We are collaborating on a new video with her now – an animation. We wanted “A Strange Perfume” to be dark and shadowy and also to take an influence from the film Black Swan. That edgy tightrope walking film about the nature of intensity and madness – all themes that we are fascinated by.

Not sure if somebody else observed it before us but there is a strong representation of females on that release: from the Persephone/Demeter figures on the cover, to guests such as dame Shirley Collins, to video director, choir members and ballet dancers in the videos. Its very uplifting in the male dominated industry.

John Robb: Yes! Great that you noticed. We wanted to make a record that broke down the traditional “4 blokes against the world” nature of rock music. There are many bands that are great at that and some of them are my favourites but there’s no point in us joining that eternal queue. We were bored of that macho conservative world and thought of ways to break it up. Using the choir was one. The human voice in harmony is one of the greatest sounds imaginable and to hear that harmony in a modern world that is full of shouting and not very much listening, is quite something. Having that many women around, changes the dynamic of things and the sound and texture of the music. It was great to have guests like 84 year old folk singer Shirley Collins on the album, firstly, because we love her music and, secondly, because we want to celebrate age and wisdom and the beauty of older people. Jordan is on there because she is one of my best mates and an iconic presence who defined punk with an artful brilliance that made her so key. She had inspired us when we were growing up.

Right after the release of the record, you embark on a tour that will take you all over the UK (Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool among other dates), Europe and even to Mexico. What can we expect from you on stage?

John Robb: The music is still physical and will be played in a physical way. There are many epic moments but you can still dance to it. We will bring the choir to as many gigs as we possibly can and try and make something spectacular if we can.

In an recent interview with GigSluts you jokingly said that Membranes can only operate on a grand scale. Here’s our last question: imagine you have no restriction of any kind (financial, timely or artistic) when it comes to the production of your upcoming gigs. What do you go for? Las Vegas residency, grand opening at the Carnegie Hall or Michael Jackson-like world tour?

John Robb: I would love to play epic events like the Carnegie Hall! We did check how much it would cost to hire once and it was a lot! (laughing) We’d love to play at the Griffiths Observatory in LA, The Royal Albert Hall in London or the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics in Moscow. All brilliant locations with the choir and a sense of the spectacular. I love off-the-wall locations. We played the top of Blackpool Tower a couple years ago and we love cinemas where we can use the screen to play a film! I would also love to play caves or in the middle of a forest. Or have this 3D immersive light show that I have been working on. Just need the money to make it all work. Of course, it’s all very ambitious but ambition is the driver in breaking barriers in art, isn’t it?

Listen to Membranes on their official Spotify chanel:


And follow them on their socials:

http://www.themembranes.co.uk/
https://twitter.com/membranes1
https://www.facebook.com/themembranes
https://www.instagram.com/themembranes/

Membranes new album is available at:
https://louderthanwar.com/shop/the-membranes/the-membranes/

Membranes will play Ritz in Manchester on Saturday the 8th of June with supports from Glove, The Pack (Theatre Of Hate), Liines, Queen Zee and HENGE.
More information about the event can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/events/226440181569176/
Last remaining tickets  can be purchased from: https://www.seetickets.com/event/the-membranes-henge/o2-ritz/1308269

We will be in the front row, so expect a detailed review from the frontlines!
Till then,

Malcia and Rita

Indieterria review – Burn by Edits

Dear Readers,

Liv and Chris aka Edits (self portrait)

After reviewing excellent single from Manchester trio Hot Minute, we are back with more new music to discover. We are so happy we decided to do an open call for bands in Merseyside area to send us their songs and describe them on their own terms. This month we are publishing those mini interviews and learning how diverse and absolutely amazing scene up north is!

Edits were the second band to get in touch with their music. They are childhood friends who combine studying with recording and writing their own material. Described as atmospheric electro pop, Liv and Chris cite MUSE, Royal Blood, The 1975 and even Nine Inch Nails as their influences.  Their debut single “Don’t Speak” came out in 2017 and was followed by self produced/self released EP “Re – Surface” a year later.  The band rounded up 2018 by releasing another single “Cold”.

On their new single “Burn”, there is more than just electro -pop to Edits. Firstly, what catches your attention is the vocal range of Liv Westhead who is first dramatic mezzo-soprano on indie circuit we came across. Think Amy Lee of Evanescence meeting Lisa Gerrard. Liv could hold her own in any genre really, from folk to Viking metal and even opera without missing a note. But then her type of voice is not called dramatic mezzo soprano for nothing.  Chris Abbot comes in with guitars to create melodic lines that range between indie outfit to industrial noise.

Edits place themselves comfortably among new coming  electronic indie bands such as White Room, The Ninth Wave, Drusilla or La Mode. Burn – came out on June 14th is opposite  o previous single “Cold”. We think it would be a good idea to have both songs pressed as a Double A single on a 7 inch in the future. Just imagine crystal clear vinyl with “hot” and “cold” side – who would not want that in their record collection? But its time to let Edits speak for themselves:

Burn – single cover

Please introduce yourself to the readers of Indieterria.  Where are you based and who is in the band?

Liv Westhead:  We’re Edits: Liv (vox /synths) and Chris Abbot (guitar) and we’re based just outside of Manchester in Northwich, Cheshire.

Tell us something about the project – are there any goals that you managed to achieve?

Liv Westhead: We’ve known each other since we were 15 but we really got serious about Edits whilst we were at The University of Salford studying Popular Music & Recording, which is why Manchester feels like home to us. Highlights for us have been playing at Warrington Music Festival and Chester Live and just some of the great reactions we’ve had to our music from blogs which makes you feel super proud.

What inspires you? What artists or genres had the biggest influence on you?

Liv Westhead:  Growing up I was obsessed with the band Muse so I think they have a much bigger influence on the band than some people think. I’ve also always sung in choirs so a more classical/choral sound has always influenced my vocals. Nowadays, I love bands such as Mew, Biffy Clyro, Interpol, The Twilight Sad, Chvrches, Daughter, Radiohead, Everything Everything and Nine Inch Nails. We both love guitar driven music but often with some electronic elements.

It`s all about the music – and we want to hear about your new single. Is there a story behind the song, where and how was it written.

Liv Westhead:  Our latest single Burn was written very quickly actually, which I think is how the best songs come about. Chris had this idea down in Cubase and then I just started singing the melody over the top. Every song for us is different, sometimes I write at the piano and have chords and melody for a whole song, sometimes Chris writes an instrumental and then the vocals are added afterwards.

I wanted Burn to be the opposite of Cold which was our last single back in November. Cold was all about the inability to feel and bottling up all your feelings. Burn is about finding that raw spark inside of you and the feeling of invincibility I get whenever we play live. It’s probably our heaviest and angriest song so far.

Are you touring? Where can we see you playing live?

Liv Westhead: We have a couple of gigs coming up, firstly at LiveBars in Warrington on the 20th of June and then at The Salty Dog in Northwich on the 4th of August. We’re currently looking for a Manchester date so fingers crossed!

If any bookers or promoters want to get in touch – what is the best way to contact you?

Liv Westhead:  You can contact us at: contact@editsband.com

Imagine you can record an album with any artist, dead or alive in a studio of your choice. Who would be on your record?

Liv Westhead:  I would have to say the band Mew. They do some gorgeous harmonies and vocal layering and I would love to sing with them. Also, my favourite producer is Rich Costey who’s produced some of my favourite records ever (including Mew’s Frengers) so it would have to be with him! It terms of studios I don’t really know but I’d love an excuse to go to New York!

Edits are just warming up. Can you take the heat?

Listen to “Burn” here:

http://hyperurl.co/burn-edits

You can follow the band on social media:

http://www.editsband.com
https://twitter.com/editsband
http://edits.bandcamp.com
https://soundcloud.com/editsband
https://www.youtube.com/user/editsband
https://instagram.com/editsband
https://open.spotify.com/artist/6fwe92CcXSydfsBqpZRAfD?si=Fzlpd1m7QgWpuc6oiAfDHw

 

We are going to keep an eye on the band and so should you! This project – despite being still very young – has already shown a lot of potential. A seal of approval from us as A&Rs.

Much love for the band for sending their music in!

Mal+Rita