Monday, 20 November 2017

Frank Turner Interview

I'm back people. Been busy lately trying to learn more about the history of music. The Louder Than Words Festival was great stuff. Watched talks from some punk legends including Steven Ignorant from Crass! Even had a good chat with Lee from Cabbage about this blog page!! Anyway I got to have a chat with the excellent Frank Turner and here's the outcome!

Frank Turner Interview

One of the most cherished British artists working in music today, Frank Turner will release a retrospective set spanning his illustrious career this month, 'Songbook' will bring together highlights from across Frank's six albums alongside ten brand new 'Songbook' versions of some of his most well loved tracks. These reimagined versions see some songs re-recorded in full and some stripped down to an acoustic setting. Being no stranger to LTW I speak to him about the album, his own festival and what the future holds after completing a sprawling 2,000 plus gigs in his 12 years of songwriting.

Hi Frank. You're 12 years in now with 6 albums under your belt and a best of coming up. Why have you decided to do this now?

Well a lot of it is to do with the Lost Evenings Festival I did in May​ in Camden and I was trying not to repeat songs over the four nights and ended up playing about 85 different ones, and that gave me a chance to look over everything I've done as a collection and think of myself as a songwriter. It was that and the record I was starting to work on which will be out next year as yet untitled. It's gonna be something of a stylistic departure from the preceding six. It's not gonna be a drum n bass record but it feels like a different chapter to me, so it looks like a good time to look around and sum up everything before I go somewhere else. 

I notice you're releasing a boxset including your documentary 'Get Better' which follows your 2,000th gig. How did you feel that night?

Amongst other things I felt tired, and it's a funny thing that show counting business. Obviously I started doing it to keep a record of what I'd done, and when it came up to 1,000 I made a bit of a deal about it, you know I threw a party and everything and when it came up to 2,000 everyone else was making a deal out of it and like people were messaging me saying 'Where's it gonna be?' So it became a beast that was out of my control and other people knew more about it than me and I didn't want to take it too seriously. It was an excuse for another party. It was one of my favourite shows and I kind of wanted to document what me and The Souls were doing in a venue of that type. I think that was where we kind of excelled. It was a fun night and there was an after party which I didn't get all that stuff into because I was tired!

How did The Lost Evenings Festival evolve?

I wanted to do a festival of some kind due to doing every festival on God's green earth as far as I can tell. We were talking about doing something outside. I couldn't think of doing anything different from 2,000 Trees or Beautiful Days you know. There are people already doing that so what was the point of me copying that? I was trying to look at other ideas of something to do and I was thinking about of like Meltdown Festival with like some of my friends say Wolf Alice. They did four nights at The Forum in Kentish Town a couple of years and I went down to some of those nights and they had different supports every night, and a friend of mine I was having a couple of drinks with said "shit, it's like a mini festival" and i said "Yeah" So we did it and this year it was great because I'd never booked or ran a festival before and neither had any of my crew, so we were definitely learning and that's why we're gonna do it in the same place next year and build on the lessons from this year. But saying that, one of the things we've learnt from this festival is that it's transportable. We could do Lost Evenings in Boston, in Melbourne or wherever we wanted really. We've got a big plan to take it around the world as we go forward.

When you were picking the tracks for 'Songbook', considering your massive output did you find it difficult?

Picking the songs for Songbook there were two elements to it, the acoustic songs and the greatest hits and I also thought I could rework some tracks. I actually sat down and thought right, this is gonna take for fucking ever. I think a lot of people have this idea that popularity and artistic work can go together but I just went for what I feel were the tracks important to the audience and myself personally to make a solid mix.

The acoustic versions on the album have been really stripped down. Do you plan to tour them like this?

That is something on our long term 'to do' list. We done a few shows before when we've done stripped down bits and we've done two radio sessions, and The Souls and I we've really enjoyed it, covering the songs with like mandolins, and brushes and like one drum, we've experimented with some of that. The next album we're gonna do, as I've mentioned will be different and we'll be adding things, not taking them away. We night have to hire a horn section which is going to be interesting. I don't really know how to do that but we'll find out! But yes, in the future there will be some kind of stripped down show which will be really fun, or just a solo tour you know?

So this next album will be like a closing chapter to your previous stuff then?

Sort of. I don't wanna get too excited about it. It's not like I'm killing off Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars. The thing with some of these new songs is we're sort of like gonna entrench a bit, go back to like first principals. I've been definitely trying to make some new noises this time around. I like to think this will be different but the jury will be out. Like Neil Young with Trans. I really respected him for doing that. I think it was cool as fuck. He simple went out and made a synthesiser vocoder album. I don't think it was very good but he didn't give a fuck, There's only one ACDC in the world and good for them. There are a few bands that are allowed to do that!

You seem to be constantly touring. Is this still the plan for the future?

We are gonna be touring but in the collective of my band and crew we've got three kids in there, and as you've noticed I've got a kitten (plenty of "What the fuck are you doing cat?" throughout the interview!). Everybody's in their mid Thirties now and it's just like, that thing we did in our Twenties when we toured  for 14 months straight and did 400 shows a year and all that sort of bollocks, you know first of all none of us can physically handle it any more and we don't really need to do that any more, and we've got a reason to go home. I think to go forward, I mean we're gonna tour hard for album seven when that comes out, but I think we're not gonna spend more than four weeks from home. There was a time in my life when I thought that was regarded as weak in some way and I've now kind of realised that nobody else gives a shit other than me and I need to relax.

Frank is currently recording his 7th album in Texas due for release in 2018. The Lost Evenings Festival will also be returning next year. Songbook will be released on digital and CD on Friday 24th November, with a vinyl and deluxe boxset edition following on Friday 15th December.

Wayne Carey.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Benjamin Clementine Album Review

Benjamin Clementine - I Tell A Fly - LP / CD / DL - Behind / Virgin EMI - released September 29th.

The barefoot Mercury prize winner is back again with his anticipated follow up. From a strict catholic upbringing to living on the streets of Paris this self taught classical, sometimes quoted as genius has been cooking up some beautiful stuff delving into electronica, breakbeat and even a bit of opera! He has a distinct vocal which is stunning and unique and the clever wordplay tells you that this guy is serious. He is in his own realm and one those artists who cannot be pigeonholed into one genre. 

I Tell A Fly is the reverse of his last work At Least For Now as rather than looking inwards and backwards it looks forwards and outwards. His tales are all about the concepts of aliens, migrants, strangers and refugees. Starting off with Farewell Sonata on a classical note he enters the world of life in a Calais refugee camp and the reality that faces the occupants. He has this unique way of using samples and twisting them with his own take on electronica which can't be compared to much really. Jupiter his first single from this is really good stuff and he knows how to use a breakbeat or two at his advantage. Paris Cor Blimey is his take on a twisted nursery rhyme which you can tell is something to do with his own personal struggles as a street vagabond. There are some stand out tracks like Better Sorry Than A Safe and the brilliant Awkward Fish which is almost Drum n Bass. The closing track Ave Dreamer could have been written for a clever piece of theatre and the lyrics "Barbarians are coming!/Dreamers stay strong" is telling you that everyone is welcome as all his characters come together as one. An interesting album which takes a couple of listens to finally click (always the best for me). The fact that he recorded this album in Damon Albarn's studio and he wrote, played, sang and produced everything himself shows you that this guy has an amazing talent and will be around for years to come. You can check out more about him on He embarks on a large UK tour soon.

Frank Turner - Live at The Ritz, Manchester.

Yes, I'm alive!! Been busy lately doing other stuff so I'd better post some new / old stuff!!

The last time I saw Frank Turner live was at The Apollo in 2011 with his band The Sleeping Souls, so tonight was going to be special being a smaller venue and for all the right reasons. Manchester has seen a massive rise in homeless people over the years and something needs to be done. Andy Burnham our Mayor is on board as is the wonderful Frank Turner who is a staunch supporter of The Big Issue and has come here tonight to raise some money for their cause. The venue is bursting at the seams for this sold out gig and the mood is great. I turn up to catch the support band Felix Hagan & The Family who get the audience going with their punk twist of Rocky Horror Show theatrics melded with The B52's, Boots Electric, a bit of Riot Grrll and lots of hints of LCD Soundsystem. They are funky, catchy and infectious. Certainly a band to keep an eye on!! Frank comes on armed with just his guitar and no backing band and he proves he can pull it off alone. He does a sprawling set of 21 songs and the audience know every one of them. He only does four numbers from his last album including the brilliant Get Better and The Next Storm. He eggs on the crowd with his between song banter and gets everyone singing along to some of his punk folk classics including Peggy Sang The Blues and the brilliant I Still Believe. His energy is amazing for a guy who has been constantly touring forever and you know he enjoys every minute of it. There is no treading the board feel going on here and you can see he genuinely loves what he is doing. He goes off to a mass roar of approval then comes back on with FH & The Family to a great cover of Queen - Don't Stop Me Now and Basket Case by Green Day which tops the night. He ends the set with the top Four Simple Words and stagedives into the crowd and is pulled along from front to back with a big grin on his face! An excellent night and all for a good cause. More musicians need to get on board as the punters will gladly turn up for nights like this knowing their readies are going somewhere useful. Cheers Frank!

Friday, 4 August 2017

Cabbage - The Extended Play Of Cruelty EP - Infectious Records

Still in the midst of a massive tour and post their excellent homecoming Ritz gig in July (where they aired a couple of tunes from this) they release their new EP to keep us guessing what their debut album will actually sound like when it hits the streets. I must admit I am clueless to their direction after hearing this which sounds miles away from the brilliant Gibraltar Ape single. They kick off with a rockabilly riff on the opener Celebration Of A Disease which has inklings of that Johnny Marr sound on How Soon Is Now melded with lyrical references to masturbation including an excellent line about tissues and wiping your nose... Hilarious and infectious like a disease! Fraudulent Artist has a pop at shit fake bands and sounds like John Lydon's doppelganger has been roped in on vocal duties to create a post punk stormer. A Network Betrayal is going to be a future live anthem after I witnessed the crowd going bonkers to this at the Ritz gig. Joe Martin has a spoken word rant about train conductors and apparently uses quotes he's actually heard at train stations in the North. All this over a smart chugging bass line and clever chord changes before the addictive chorus. Ertrinken sounds like they've gatecrashed a Beta Band soundcheck with members of Can and sounds quite strange and displaced from the rest of the EP. They like to throw a curveball now and again! Asa Morley is a punk ode to their drummer of the same name and doesn't disappoint with it's wonk punk madness to bring this new collection of gems to a crashing end. It's anyone's guess what the album is gonna sound like. Bring it on!!

You can get this now on DL from the usual places. Released on CD and 10in Vinyl on 25th August.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Cabbage, The Blinders, Strange Bones - Saturday 1st July 2017 - O2 Ritz, Manchester

The Cabbage boys have been touring hard and have returned to their home town on a wave of success after their two Glastonbury appearances. They have arrived just in time to be part of The Manchester International Festival and play a big part with their Mossley roots.Tonight they bring along Strange Bones who get the crowd going with their indie punk sound. their set wins over some new fans and you can see why they were supporting Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes. They pack a punch and you can sense they are going to do quite well and could well be headlining The Ritz themselves quite soon! I last saw The Blinders at this same venue earlier this year and they return much tighter and menacing than before. They perform a blistering version of Ramona Flowers which becomes more powerful each time they do it. Swine is as excellent as ever however the highlight has to be Brutus which hammers the audience with it's punk blues brutality. This band is so tight and you can see them being a force to be reckoned with. Expect to see them on the main festival circuit soon. Cabbage have been fucking around with their set list lately by doing past encores first and starters last. It works! Kevin gets the venue bouncing before they launch into one of their newies. Fickle gets the chanters out of the bag as does a great Dissonance. Terrorist Synthesiser gets everyone chanting the now famous Jeremy Corbyn anthem to the delight of all of us Labour voters. Dinner Lady crashes in and then the new tune Network Betrayal is unleashed on everyone with it's Fall like guitar riff and a killer bass line topped off with a great chorus which is going to be a Cabbage anthem. To top it all they do Tell Me Lies About Manchester for the first time in a while and everyone seems to know the lyrics by heart! Necroflat does the trick as does new tune Asa Morley (a bizarre tribute to their drummer!!) They then do the usual calm down tune Because You're Worth It before ending the set with Uber Capitalist Death Trade to everyones delight. Another great gig from the Mossley boys with no gimmicks, just pure skill as usual and a sense of a band that just keep growing. They could just keep releasing EP's for me but an album must be on the cards soon?? What will it be like? Hopefully a great debut to join the ranks of great Mancunian albums.


Sunday, 28 May 2017

The Courteener live at The Emirates Old Trafford May 27th 2017

This was a gig that should never have happened after the terrible events on Monday night but went ahead with 50,000 people turning up in defiance of terrorism and making me proud of Manchester and the resilience of the people who choose to live in this great city. The line up is some of the best Manc talent around at the moment and the mood of the crowd is in party mode! Cabbage kick of the show with an excellent set as ever proving they can come to a big stage and nail it. They do a short set of six songs starting with Uber Capitalist Death Trade followed by Necroflat In The Palace and Dissonance which has people throwing shoes in the air, a hat and a coat! Dinner Lady gets a great reception and Gibraltor Ape is awesome as is Kevin. They must have convinced and converted a few fans with this performance. Blossoms have never really floated my boat but win me over with a great set of pop gems, especially Blown Rose which is a great song showing the Stockport boys have a great songwriting talent and can perform to a large audience like it's in their DNA. The last two tracks Blow and Charlemagne whip up the atmosphere and prepare everyone for the legends that are The Charlatans. Tim Burgess has a back catalogue to kill for and they kick off with the excellent North Country Boy and the timeless Weirdo which is a fan favourite. Good Times gets the Manc approval with it's great summer groove and the audience dance like maniacs. They just had to play The Only One I Know but the highlight was a stellar rendition of Sproston Green which ended the set and they left the stage to a mass roar of approval. I could have watched them all night. Courteeners enter the stage, Liam Fray wearing a white trenchcoat. He starts the gig by reading the beautiful Manchester poem by Ryan Williams which they did at the Halifax gig and I swear people are crying with emotion all around me. They launch into their set with Are You In Love With A Notion, their anthem Cavorting which is sang back to them tenfold by the crowd. Lucifers Dreams shows their rock credentials with the true dynamics of a band destined to be on the big stage. Summer has the same effect as when The Charlatans did Good Times everyone losing it to that Manc groove. Sycophant is a corker and Take Over The World is blasted out by most of the 50,000 crowd word for word. Liam does a few acoustic tunes including The 17th and Please Don't but the highlight of the night by far has to be their cover of Don't Look Back In Anger which has everyone in the stadium singing along and could probably be heard in Middleton! People are hugging each other and showing their emotions with no shame after the scenes in Albert Square a few days ago. This will be remebered as the song that defies terrorism and how the Manc people came together and didn't crack. They finish the set with Not 19 Forever and the flares are set off which I was amazed about considering the high security. The big event ends with What Took You So Long and everyone leaves the place on a high after witnessing a great Manchester gig by four great Manchester bands. The bees were definitely buzzing tonight in the face of adversity.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

The Membranes & Friends Live At The Ritz 29th April 2017

After a pre show drink in The Solsbury I ambled over towards The Ritz for this interesting event that has been on my must see list for a while. I arrive inside the venue when the first lot of heads are arriving. A lot of old school punks are already here and the atmosphere is probably one of the friendliest I've seen for a while. A lot of old friends meeting up for a great gig with bands new and old in the line up. First band on are a late addition to the line up and obviously John Robb saw the potential in them. The Empty Page are a treat. I feel like I've been transported back to the early nineties when the likes of the Riot Grrll movement was up and running. They start the evening with Cracks in The Surface which reminds me of an early Manchester I knew called Solar Race. Wardrobe Malfunction comes across with a Hole / Babes In Toyland vibe juggling with Kim Gordon. They only play five songs but totally impress and the brilliant Deeply Unlovable with it's Breeders feel wins over the early punters. A band destined to be big. 
Next up are a band I've been told to keep an eye on due to their incendiary live performances. They hit the stage and belt into Gotta Get Through which has a grungy Doors feel to it. The guitarist manages to break a string straight away which tells you how hard he is playing. 84 reminds me of The Arctic Monkeys for some reason and goes down great with the punters. Ramona Flowers is a cracking tune and brings back the Doors comparisons with it's grungy blues tones. They blast through their set with confidence and stage madness. Their last song Brutus is fucking brilliant. The two guitarists totally assault the drummer with a mass guitar attack which leaves me gobsmacked! Another band with big ambitions.

Dubsex need no introduction. They are that great lost Manchester band fronted by the brilliant Mark Hoyle and do a set for the original fans of the band who followed them back in the day. He howls his way through the tunes with his gesticulating mannerisms mimicking the drum beats and guitar riffs throughout. They have that unique Manc sound off to a tee showing flavours of Joy Division, New Order and A Certain Ratio to their own talent. Their white noise punk sound enthralls the crowd and they end their set with the corking Tripwire to a great applause.
Same goes for the next band The Nightingales. Hailing from Birmingham in the lates seventies they are still as relevant now as they ever were. Fliis the drummer deserves an accolade for her excellent drumming style which is the backbone of the band. Robert Lloyd is funny as fuck. He is like a cross between Elvis Costello and Jarvis Cocker and very entertaining. They have a few belters in their set including Dumb And Drummer which is a standout track. Real Gone Daddy sounds great as does Divorce That Never Was and Too Posh To Push as the closer. Definitely a band I'm glad have reformed and look forward to seeing them again.

Evil Blizzard are not right. They are wrong. They want the crowd to hate them. They really do. But it doesn't work. We actually fucking love them. They come on stage to a massive applause in their weird outfits. You have Blizzpig wielding his machete, Filthy Dirty x 2, Prowler and Side being not normal. Sacrifice kicks off the set with it's menacing punk prog sound hitting you in the face like an evil cult. Stupid People is awesome and the 4 pronged bass machine with the added drum assault sorts your head right out. Early stuff from their debut album is next and just gets the place jumping. Slimy Creatures is brilliant, especially when Filthy Dirty brings out his doll with a theremin in it! Funny as fuck!! They end the set with the amazing Are You Evil which whets everyone's appetites for the last two bands. Evil Blizzard are a unique phenomenon and I'm not surprised they are signed to LTW!

I have always been a massive Fall fan and Brix was on some of their best albums. She comes on stage all glittered up and ready to pack a punch like a 2017 Blondie. Something To Lose marks the set with brilliance and she punches the air like a prize fighter who has just retained the title. Put it one way, I wouldn't like a scrap with her! They air a new song tonight Valentino and it goes down really well with everyone. The Fall stuff gets an air tonight too with US 80's getting the Brix treatment to great effect. Sometimes it's like watching a Fall revival with the best members when they were at their prime. Fair play to Brix for pulling this off and remaining a true talent. A great set to remember and an integral part to the whole event!

And so it ends but begins. The homecoming show for John Robb's excellent Membranes comeback. Whilst writing this review I've been listening to the excellent boxset and highly recommend it to anyone into the post punk scene. I was too young when they were first around so never discovered them until my late teens. The new album pushes the boundaries in experimentation and live they are a wonder to behold. They come onto the stage and start off with the dynamic The Universe Explodes. The backdrop film is amazing as is the accompanying BIMM Choir who add to the punk sound of John and the band. I can't believe how energetic John is. He is like a dynamo running up and down the stage as if he is still a teenager! Dark Energy is a great tune with hints of Joy Division brewed like a teabag in a Membranes mug. Do The Supernova does the supernova and has everyone moshing at the front. Space Junk is fucking great as is In The Graveyard. The Hum Of The Universe is probably my favourite track off the album and comes across as classic with the choir in full voice and the brilliant backdrop. I've only just started listening to the back catalogue and in all honesty didn't realise that the last song was Myths & Legends! Still brilliant though. Welcome back to a great band who have reinvented themselves for a new audience to enjoy! A great night and I hope this becomes a yearly event to showcase old and new talent as it has tonight.