A wise person once told me

28 Aug

A wise person once told me: “Only write when you feel the passion to do so. It’s not something you can force. ” And yet every day we see writers putting pen to paper in order to ‘practise their craft’. “You can only get better…” And for a while, at first, I thought the same. But what is art without passion?

I came to terms with realising that I’m not a conveyor belt or a machine which churns out line after line and as someone who much prefers photojournalism or ‘new journalism’ rather than ‘music critic who reviews the majority they are sent, regardless of if they like it or not, to have some sort of power or hold on the music industry.”  I do have to see or hear something that ignites the flame and excites me enough to write it all down as quickly as possible. Like the excitement felt when you witness a police siege and eight riot vans worth of police officers chase after a man.

I’ve been excusing ‘work getting in the way’ as why I haven’t updated this as much as I used to but but alas I think it may be that I am just not getting excited by the majority of punk/hardcore coming my way. I kNOW there are some secrets hiding somewhere. I know it! So I will continue to trawl through PR emails, press releases, blogs, suggestions from friends and online magazines but seriously, we need more street busking, house shows, basement parties in Nottingham. And we need less bands ripping off a punk pop riff heard time and time again ten years ago.  As a result I have found myself much more interested in other music genres such as jungle (the grassroots diy feel of promoting and the idea that the night will never end, in a good way!) and electronica (as I see people being way more inventive with the songs they write) That doesn’t mean ‘get in a dubstep producer while the genre is hot’.

So here are the things that made it past the ‘skip this because it’s BORING’

Makes me want to run around in a circle pit..
New album out in October.

Stream of Two Gallants new record…http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/album-premiere-two-gallants-the-bloom-and-the-blight-20120827 You can sense they probably don’t spend too much time worrying about how ‘new record’ will sound and somehow churn out all these enthused bluesy thrashy songs.

A band that doesn’t take themselves too seriously. Which pays off.

New Minus The Bear. Going all Klaxons 2007 on the album cover but good tunes, this one has some nice ‘proper rock band/grab a whiskey’ guitar in it. Lovely stuff. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=du14ncYD5-M

New Propagandhi. Especially like ‘Status Update’. Bladdy nice blundering drums. More thrash in the air it seems. Apt title for a political album in this age. http://www.punknews.org/article/48672/media-propagandhi-failed-states

More detailed posts on said albums when I’m not busy witnessing police sieges or going to grimy warehouse parties.


Don’t worry…

15 Jul

I’m not about to go all The Killers on your arse in all seriousness. How about I tell you about TRASH TALK playing a show in my living room when they hit up Nottingham a couple of weeks ago? It was all arranged a bit too quickly to take it all in. My friend was supposed to be the local support with his band Huffing Paint but OFF!’s agency said no to which my friend responsed with ‘let me play your fucking show, you cunts’. Trash Talk felt bad and said they’d make up for it and play a house show with him if he found the venue. Well that venue turned out to be my living room and after two holes in the ceiling, the police turning up and a 30 minute set the majority of the house left having a good fucking night. That’s what hardcore is about. Turn up to a house. With Whiskey. Play a show until police come. Fuck off. <3 thanks TT!

It looked a little like this…

15 Jul

Since when did The Killers sound like Gaslight Anthem/Bruce Springsteen? Lyrics about running away Check: ‘Run awaaay’. Anthemic fist clenching singalong Check.

Best of June/July

6 Jun

This month I look at some of the best tracks that have stood out in my inbox and have christened my first listening session with my new sexy headphones ;)

After a two year hiatus, Verse are back with a new album set to be released on July 17th. Here’s a track from new album Bitter Clarity, Uncommon Grace. Verdict:  Insistent chugging riffs with a melody which snakes its way through the shadows. Look out for the eyebrow-raising guitar at the 2.50 mark. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAt35bOCEWY

Holy shit. The Ghost Inside have gone all Hatebreed and finally show us why a hardcore tag has been hanging from their neck since day one. Here’s a stream of the full album http://www.altpress.com/features/entry/premiere_the_ghost_inside_get_what_you_give

The screaming intoduction and blundering drums on ‘Pilori’ from French band Birds In A Row will automatically make your ears twitch. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7ZQoVFm3lc&feature=plcp It ensues with melodic guitar riding through in the background while the vocals are incessantly screamed in a frustrated tone. The new album “You, Me, & The Violence”, where this track is from, will be released  on Deathwish Records. More details soon.

Agnostic Front play some shows this year Summer to celebrate 30 years of being one of the most influential East Coast bands and in conjunction  re-release ‘Live at CBGB’S’ in July. Here’s a track from that infamous and influential gig: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epK2RvNt_1g

There’s something quite grimacing about a wrinkled man in an oversized tee shouting ‘I don’t belong’ on a track released on Vice Records, but fuck it, it’s Keith Morris from Black Flag so he gets away with it. Catch Off! with Trash Talk at Rescue Rooms at the end of June.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIJfFwsvUm8

On first inspection of My Iron Lung’s bandcamp I can’t help but notice how the songtitles are pretty lame, but their modern hardcore in the vein of Comeback Kid is worth a listen.  http://www.facebook.com/myironlungmusic#!/myironlungmusic/app_204974879526524 Debut EP Grief to be Released this Summer on Pure NoiseRecords

And last but not least the new track from Miss May I is pretty good http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ZUaQtfnMzdw without the predictable melodic vocal bit and whining vocals which sing ‘how could you just me go’ the marching drums and blustering guitar riffs intertwining will make you want to play it all over again.

RIP Roadrunner Records (UK)

3 May

“It only proves that the business side of things dominates the art side of things and again in my opinion art is what changes the world.” Clown, Slipknot.

The music industry was hit with some very sad news this week. Roadrunner Records, home to some of the best metal and hardcore bands including Slipknot, Hatebreed, Machine Head and Megadeth, has announced the closure of its UK office.

I was in charge of the Roadrunner content for Forge Radio in 2011 and since 2008 I’ve been part of the Roadrunner street team, helping to promote all the artists. Having briefly worked with some of the employees, I can tell you now that they were one of the most hardworking people in the industry. Every week I’d get an email from them filled with so much detailed and interesting information that it was just obvious how much passion these employees had.

Most gutting of all is the fact I was due to start an internship there in two weeks time, with the hope of perhaps working there some day. That dream’s now been crushed thanks to Warner Music Group  buying them out. To be fair there has been no official statement and the reasons for this happening is mere speculation from my part, admittedly.

BUT, what I do know is that  promoting bands can be bloody time consuming. I’ve spent late nights commuting back home after presenting radio shows, spent my days off sending emails , had barely no sleep over the years from reviewing records and shows, and all for no money at all. I can’t imagine the MD’s of these big corporations would ever do that.

The fact there has been no pissed off statements from the employees yet is a testament to the integrity they hold close to their hearts. Despite losing their jobs, they even took the time to email me to apologise that my internship was cancelled and that there  ‘was nothing they could do.’

I’m just really gutted for the UK Roadrunner employees. And as you’d expect, so are some of the bands on the roster:

“I wish I knew who or what to blame specifically, but Roadrunner records just fired some of their best employees,” commented Trivium frontman Matt Heafy via Twitter. “I don’t know if it’s corporate greed or it’s due to the fact that no one puts value in physical art and that piracy created a domino effect, But our friends who are being tossed away so quickly by the label are now out of jobs. These people helped bands get where they are today.”

“Today is a sad day,” states Slipknot’s Clown via the band’s official Facebook. “It has been brought to my attention that many Roadrunner offices around the world have been closed permanently. This means to us, Slipknot, in my opinion that a lot of our very close friends and comrades will no longer be around to help the art and business known as the Slipknot family.

Cradle Of Filth frontman Dani Filth, whose band have also been on the Roadrunner roster, commented; “It feels like someone has stuck their fingers in our pie and pinched a great big slice of metal.”

The NYC office will remain open and will be the headquarters for the label-but with the news that Sonisphere had to cancel this year and now this, the UK metal scene has just taken a huge blow. I urge people to continue with the hard work they put in because now we must work harder than ever before.

We cannot let business and money suppress art and creativity in ways like this.

Good luck to all the former Roadrunner employees and of course the bands with whatever path you choose to take next.

REVIEW: Groezrock Festival 2012

2 May
Groezrock Festival 2012 Day I     w/Rancid, Parkway Drive, Gallows, Hazen Street, Face to Face

Within seconds of being in Belgium I was approached by six skinhead men who dragged me along to join their convoy en route to Groezrock. We jumped in a taxi, which sped it’s way through the Belgian countryside while the guys sang at the top of their lungs,making what had so far been a pretty arduous journey, the perfect way to travel to a festival.

As I didn’t arrive until 7pm I hurried to see the first band I could which happened to be Face to Face. In true pop-punk sensibility it was a set full of good vibes and singalongs. It turned out to summarise what the rest of the weekend would be like. Nostalgic punk. But in a good way.

I was stoked to see Hazen Street just for Freddy from Madball to be honest, not to mention the rest of the lineup consisting of members from H2O and Cro Mags. Call it a supergroup if you will.  Firmly living up to his reputation as one of the best frontmen in hardcore Freddy announces: ‘We don’t know what the fuck this is but it’s not hardcore, rap or hip hop. This is Hazen Street’.  I gotta say I’m not a massive fan of the recorded tracks but live they do  resonate a lot of energy and quickly charm everyone with their fun New York attitude.

Next I was lured towards the heavy blundering bass lines and drum rolls of Heaven Shall Burn but only caught one song as it was time to see long-standing Fat Wreck Chord band Lagwagon who have released TEN albums on the label. Despite being a band so long they still definitley have it in them.    .

This was the first chance to see Gallows live with new frontman Wade from the recently defunct Alexisonfire.It’s really difficult to forget the legendary frontman that was Frank Carter and until the band write some new songs it will take time to embrace the change unfortunatley. The most recent album ‘Grey Britain’  was all the more powerful with Frank’s stage dives and snarls. Only time will tell if Wade can live up to the former frontman. The fact the band have just announced the launch of their own label suggests a big change is imminent.

Obviously I wasn’t going to be at Groezrock and not check out Parkway Drive, one of my favourite bands. Just like a proud mother off I went and smiled at every breakdown I heard. They never disappoint live and the fact the tent was filled with people tightly squeezed together was a true testament to that.

Seeing Rancid is what most people were waiting for and ‘Radio’ was a great choice to start the set with. The tent erupted with people dancing boistorously, waving pints of beer in the air. This year the band celebrate two decades together and the songs chosen painted a decent picture of the discography. Tim Armstrong told anecdotes about certain tracks and introduced all the members one by one- adding that in 20 years together they have always had eachother’s backs. I left the tent with satisfaction that I had finally seen one of the bands that made modern punk exciting to me when I was a teenager. Full setlist here!

Day II     w/ Red City Radio, The Bronx, Make Do And Mend, Dave Hause, Anti Flag, Terror, Motion City Sountrack, 7seconds, Refused and lots moreI started day two watching Red City Radio who impressed everyone with their energetic pop-punk growly songs. They;re certainly one band to keep your eyes on .

The whole time I was watching Make Do And Mend I was hoping to hear their version of ‘Home Away From Here’ by La Dispute but really this set was about their own songs, which incidentally, are full of melodies that give you a warm feeling while maintaining authenticity.  The band’s second album will be released in June and hopefully it’ll do well because they definitley deserve more exposure.  Interview here!

The Bronx were one of the most enticing bands to watch especially since they’ve been galavanting round the world with their side-project Mariachi El Bronx for what seems like years. Although those Mexican inspired songs are certainly beautiful every Bronx fan has been waiting for what they do best. And that’s putting on a memorable punk rock show. Perhaps going soft in his age this time there were no stage dives from delay towers or bleeding noses. Instead frontman Matt  got down on one knee and asked Groezrock Festival to marry him. ‘When I first saw you Groezrock it was love at first sight. Now will you make me the luckiest guy on earth and do me the honour of marrying me?” Playing live favourites History’s Stranglers, Shitty Future, False Alarm and Heart Attack American the band were welcomed back from their love affair with open arms.

Dave Hause played ‘C’mon Kid’ beautifully underneath the candle adorned chandlier on the acoustic stage and within minutes it was obvious why the tent overspilled with people trying to catch a glimpse of the awesome song writer formerly of The Loved Ones. Interview here!

Anti Flag pleased a lot of old fans by playing Fuck Police Brutality and Underground Network which led to one guy climbing up the delay tower and graffiting the cover on the side. Last time I saw Anti Flag I was worried they had lost their punk grit. This time I was convinced that it was well and truly still there.  Interview here!

To say this is Thrice’s farewell tour the tent was only half full. The Artist and The Ambulance was the highlight of the set but to be honest it wasn’t the most excting or engaging of shows. What could have been a memorable goodbye was more of a whispered ‘see you later’.

I caught Motion City Soundtrack play My Favourite Accident which sounded just as good as it did the first time I heard it live when they supported Blink 182 in 2006.

Having never had the chance to see Hot Water Music before I was pretty damn excited and was happy to hear  Paper Thin and Jack of All Trades. I just wish they played more songs from that album. A highlight was obviously Dave Hause joining the band on stage to sing ‘Trusty Chords’. They also played two tracks from new album ‘Exister’, State of Grace and Drag My Body.  Interview here! 

7seconds justified why they’re cited as one of the most influential hardcore bands with people crowdsurfing all over the place. Personally I’d put them in the punk category as opposed to hardcore but having formed in 1980 they’re certainly one of the longest standing bands of that genre. They spoke about how a group of people tried to squash the subcultures of punk in 1984 but failed to do so because they are are still around!

Thank god for Terror for showing everyone how hardcore is done time and time again. Definitley one of the best bands to see all weekend. Most notable was their enraging speech which ripped apart the Refused, calling them a ‘fake shell of what they once were. I do not support Refused. I support Agnostic Front, Sick of it All, Hatebreed, Murphys Law…” This is hardcore. And it’s not going away any time soon. Of course LiveForThis, being massive fans of all of those bands, totally respect Terror and their views, but personally I’m putting the debate to one side to enjoy the festival.

As it turned out, Refused were one of the major highlights of the weekend. In fact 56 seconds in of ‘New Noise; was definitley the best second of the whole weekend.  Rather than lazily play the songs and rely on hype alone, the band who split up for 14 years in 1998 made sure it was a tight and memorable set. What might be surprising to many is the fact that this was the biggest show Refused had ever played. The first time round they never really got much support. Probably reacting to the negative reaction that some people have had towards the reunion, frontman Dennis Lyxzen made a speech about how he feels his bands lyrics have more importance now than ever, before launching into Liberation Conspiracy. It was a great set and not one person left the tent without a huge smile on their face.  Full setlist here! Other bands that put on a great show include Chuck Ragan, Slapshot, Gorilla Biscuits, Zebrahead, Good Riddance, MxPx, Cobra Skills, Old Firm Casuals. Non-music highlights were: seeing drunk naked men on the rodeo and watching a guy smoke a cigarette out of his friends nose! ,

Thanks to Groezrock and all the hard working organisers, the PR guys, the cheap cigarettes, the ‘3 beers for five euro deal’  and of course the bands. See you next year!

PREVIEW: Groezrock Festival

26 Apr

I am so stoked for Groezrock festival I don’t know where to start!  All I know, is a weekend of seeing my favourite bands with cheap beer and cigarettes, sounds good to me. I got the phonecall from Meerhout HQ today confirming interviews with Anti Flag and Hot Water Music and I feel this is a good place to start.

When I first heard Anti Flag I instantly I understood their message and the sound they chose to channel those emotions. That message was one of equality and justice and nine albums later the band are still pushing that message. Sure, it was easier for them to share those views when they signed to a major label but you can’t argue with the fact that they just wanted to share their thoughts with more people. As someone who feels the passion boil inside me when I hear ‘Die For Your Government’ or ‘Utnderground Network’ I have admitedly steered away a little from the band when their sound became more polished, clean,whatever you want to say, but at the end of the day Anti Flag will always be punk through and through. The lyric on the new album ‘I got something to say and I’ll say it again ‘ shows that this band will always express their beliefs. Even if the changes they want to see don’t happen in their life, the fact they help unite like-minded people every night at shows is enough. The band who record and produce their own albums once even had to drink out of a toilet at a squat with no water. That’s pretty punk to me. But the real, juicy, meaningful anarchaic punk message is the fact they keep pushing their enthusiasm, on every song, on every album and in every interview.  They may have experienced hate from nationalists who have, in the past , caused riots at shows with the hope of picking a fight with the band. Some turned their back on them whey they first signed to a emajor despite their anti-corporation beliefs. But the whole point of Anti Flag is to be brave enough to stand up for what YOU want as long as it’s a positive thing. So for these reasons Anti Flag will be made very welcome at Groezrock the only question is what set they will choose from nine album discography.

Next up is Hot Water Music who release their new album Exister two weeks after Groezrock. You can check out a brand new track right here: http://mp3.rollingstone.com/download/5DragMyBody.mp3 Even if you just read about the band on paper without listening to them you’d get some idea of why this will be one of the festival highlights. 1) Chuck Ragan 2) Drummer George Rebelo went back to HWM after briefly joining Against Me. 3) Bill Stevenson and Walter Schreifels have both recorded/produced one of their albums. They also held their integrity when they decided to split only because they realised their friendship meant too much to sacrifice when touring got on top of them. But their melodies, lyrics, song structures is what makes this band worth your every listen.

So with over 100 bands playing it’s taken a while to pick through the highlights but here goes!

Make do and Mend are a band who proved their worth after working with bands like La Dispute and Touche Amore and now that they’ve laid down a release date in June for their new album “Everything You Ever Loved” it should be a great show.

Any band that’s released more than five albums on Fat Wreck Chords will always have a place on LiveForThis and that’s why Good Riddance will be one of the best long-standing punk bands on the lineup, including of course Lifetime, 7 Seconds, Rancid…(Yep I told you it was hard) The band who have always stood up for animal rights and vegetarianism decided to have fun while they had a message to share. And the result is 7 albums worth of positivity fuelled punk which will go down gloriously at a festival.

Then of course there’s Thrice who make one of their last European live appearances before going on hiatus. The band have always shown great respect to their fans by letting them choose which tracks should have videos and now choosing which songs they should play on their ‘farewell tour’. Thrice may have taken an unexpected route  musically when they released the alchemy index including tracks which were in iambic pentameter but atleast they’ve always done things there way.

Other bands  totally worth checking out include:
Terror (one of the best live hardcore bands),http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4BLbIM0E-g
Parkway Drive (some of the BEST breakdowns)
Rancid (as punk as they come teenage nostaligia)
The Bronx (back to destroy the mosh pits after the long Mariachi el Bronx stint. They will never disappoint http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylR9BSp1FKE
Menzingers,( who just released one of the best albums this year)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6Jgmn6r9p4
Lagwagon  (long standing California punk band)
Alkaline Trio (never fail to write a good song or put on a good show)
Dillinger Escape Plan (who literally have people crammed in corners at their gigs)
7 seconds (massively influential punk hardcore) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2LupsLlx1M
(with new vocalist Wade from Alexisonfire)
DYS (relentless Boston hardcore) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hiMAmc-sjg
Miss May I
(One word. Guitars)
The Ghost Inside (due to release their next album soon after the impressive ‘Returners’).
Oh could I sign this post off without mentioning Refused? Nearly did..

I could write something about every single band on the lineup but this has made me excited and I better start packing!

Interviews and reviews from the festival to come.
Albums out in 2012:
Your Demise- The Golden Age http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIapvy0AJag&feature=relmfu
MxPx-Plans Without Plans  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Id0RGDQtDFI
Hot Water Music- Exister http://mp3.rollingstone.com/download/5DragMyBody.mp3
Anti Flag- The General Strike  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFyMk0HsQik
Make Do and Mend-  Everything You Ever Loved
Miss May I- At Heart