We have recently reviewed an incredible Manchester band Weimar and now we return with equally amazing gem from the underground. It is our pure pleasure and privilege to welcome Hull`s Bunkerpop to our blog. We sat down with guitarist Paul John Sarel to speak about the bands spiritual home venue (The New Adelphi Club), their genre bending debut album and their cost friendly videos. Bunkerpop consists of living legends of Hull`s music scene and the tunes they produce are brilliant. Wit, talent and strong DIY ethics – everything that we love at Indieterria.
Bunkerpop is a band after our own hearts! You describe yourselves as “self-managed, self-released, self- promo, self everything”. At Indieterria we absolutely adore people who uphold DIY ethics. Please introduce yourselves!
Paul John Sarel: Bunkerpop are a collection of like minded lazy fluke artists. None of this is designed to be a success but we seem to have managed to become a cult like phenomenon as we all uphold a genuine desire to entertain, make music and uphold core values that are inclusive. It’s not a coincidence that as day jobs we all work with people. We connect and we offer support in our day jobs which we try and carry across into band activities. We are Trevor Simpson (teacher), Carlos Macklin (barman), Jonathan Wainberg (mental health nurse), Mark Blissenden (youth leader) and Paul John Sarel (youth leader).
You probably will cringe at the expression but Bunkerpop is practically a supergroup! With a huge chunk of Hull musical history attached to it. You formed in 2016 and all members come from massively influential local groups such a Fonda 500, Baby Mammoth, Nyam Nyam, The Schoolgirls or Black Delta Movement. The amount of experience, records and Wikipedia pages between all of you is stunning! Tell us how did the band start? You obviously known each other for years, but was there ever a moment where you met one day in a pub and decided – let`s form a band?
Paul John Sarel: We all knew each other from either being in bands, attending gigs or just from our local community which is based in quite a artistic and cultural zone of the city.
Some of us had played gigs together in the same bands or attended each other’s gigs in the past. Some of us played veterans football together. We’ve been around for a long time as musicians and our age span ranges from 30 years old up to 58 years old. We’re pretty energetic for a bunch of middle-aged geezers. I like to think we’re quite open to new ideas…that’s how it all started. It was just something to do, to start with but it became very exciting as we’re all from different musical backgrounds but at the same time we all enjoy taking musical risks. We had nothing to lose and it became brilliant.
Bunkerpop material has been recorded at the Gorilla Studios in Hull with sound engineer Bob Wingfield, and then mastered by Pete Maher (The White Stripes, U2). How do you remember the studio session? Were any songs prepared prior the recordings – or were you leaving it for the time when you were already in the studio?
Paul John Sarel: The album took about a year to record. Initially we had Bob engineer three different live sessions for us where we just played our set. We then had the basic live tracks and took them to our own studio. This is where the majority of the work and overdubs was done. Mark took a lot of the responsibility on with input from the rest of the band. Some of the tunes needed a lot of changing, cutting, throwing in the bin or re-thinking. We decided quite early on to take a different approach to the live version of the band. Because most tunes we do are instrumental we knew we had to create a narrative running through the album in some way. We took a lot of time finding dialogue that wasn’t clichéd or that was trying to be cool….cause that’s not cool.
You released your double debut album in July 2019 to critical acclaim. Louder Than War lauded you as “unique and brilliant”, BBC Introducing said “Everything they send is incredible”, other blogs and magazines compared you to Neu, Devo, Brian Eno and Flaming Lips. Were you expecting such a positive reactions to your material?
Paul John Sarel: The album has a very Hull feel to it. It’s not trendy, it doesn’t conform and it refuses to take the twists you expect. It’s a bit of a “fuck off” to anyone who wants a hit record. We like a good metaphorical fight. We have a giant Hull chip on our shoulders and we’re quite feisty. I think a lot of folks can relate to that in the current political climate.
We need to ask you about the video to “(Are You Ready) For Something” because it`s the best surrealistic video we have seen in a long time. A boxing match meets eating contest is an incredibly funny idea but we also heard that the band spend a whole £18.80 on the props and costumes. If that is true, Bunkerpop deserve a recognition for not only being incredibly creative, but also efficient.
Paul John Sarel: The video did cost £18.80. We did it on a cold February morning with hangovers. Our friends Mark Richardson and Anna Bean shot it, edited and added extras. They’re both central to creative things in our community. We got Viki to be the referee. Again she’s an energetic force in the local area. When you can work and play with such talented people like them you don’t need a big budget. You just all drawer from each other’s creativity and energy. Carlos and I look very grey in the video. That’s booze for ya!
The band members are funders and curators of Fast & Bulbous’ Festival. It`s been running for the last three years raising funds for The New Adelphi Club in Hull. The venue is known for supporting young and emerging artists, but also hosted legends such as The Cranberries, Manics, The La`s and Kaiser Chiefs. How important are independent venues such as The New Adelphi for indie circuit?
Paul John Sarel: The Adelphi is our spiritual home. It’s shabby and brilliant. In the last month it’s hosted everything from Fat Boy Slim to a youth music gig with all the performers playing being under 18. This speaks volumes about the place. A superstar millionaire DJ to kids playing their 1st gig in the space of a fortnight.
This week there is grime, folk, post punk, country blues and high octane rock on the billing. The Adelphi is one of the most important venues in the world. It’s fiercely independent and ugly. That’s how we like it. Long live independent venues up and down the country!
There are also plans to turn Fast & Bulbous’ into a proper label. You released your own material as Bunkerpop via Fast & Bulbous’ Records. Do you have any other releases coming up or are you looking for bands and artists to release their material via the label?
Paul John Sarel: The next Fast & Bulbous release could be out in Spring 2020. We’re hoping to put out a double 7″ gatefold with four different artists on. Each artist takes up one side. It’s quite an ambitious project but the quality of the artists means it’s gonna be a belter. It’ll Bunkerpop, Bitmap (former Salako Chap Luke), Holly Blackshaw (Crooked Weather) and Nicholas Broten (Fonda 500). We’re all top notch artists….I’ve heard the tunes already and it’s going to be a beautiful release.
We are almost at the end of the year so what can we expect from you guys in the 2020? Another album? A Tour?
Paul John Sarel: Bunkerpop have quite a few gigs lined up and we’re booked in to play Scunthorpe, Barrow, Nottingham, Hull, Sheffield, Manchester and Leeds. They’ll be a few festivals in 2020 too. We’ll possibly start recording a new album too. We have the demos for 4 songs already and we’re writing new tunes all the time. It’s all very exciting.
Last (in)famous question – if you could book the biggest stars of pop music into The Adelphi for a all nighter. What bands would you book and who is headlining?
Paul John Sarel: Gosh….if we could choose to book an Adelphi all nighter with our heroes and inspirations it’d probably look something like this (with the aid of a time machine):
Talking Heads big band line up as headliners. Sly & the Family Stone, Fela Kuti, Kraftwerk, William Oneyabor, Can, Velvets, Roxy with Eno, Flaming Lips, Fonda 500, Bunkerpop.
You can follow Bunkerpop on the socials:
We are so excited to be discovering acts like Bunkerpop and cant wait to see what they will produce in the future.
Good luck guys.