Industry Focus Interview: The Boileroom

boileroom bannerAs regular TMMP readers will know, Guildford-based music venue The Boileroom is currently under threat of closure. To say that this situation stirred up some intense feelings is something of an understatement; artists as diverse as Jamie Lenman, Arcane Roots, Enter Shikari and Ed Sheeran have voiced their support for the small venue, while The Boileroom’s Change.org petition has attracted nearly 20,000 signatures from outraged live music fans.

In this exclusive interview, I sat down with Dom Frazer (The Boileroom’s owner and Director), Lydia Stockbridge (In-House Booker & Promoter), Duncan Smith (Assistant In-House Booker & Promoter), and Pip Ellis (Designated Premises Supervisor) to discuss their venue, its present predicament, and the reality of living life in live music. Continue reading

Artist interview: Chronographs

chronographsChronographs are all about right now. As they approach the halfway mark of their “One Song A Month For A Year” project – for which Chronographs are writing, recording, and releasing one track every thirty days, making each song as relevant to the band’s current life situations as they possibly can be – TMMP got in touch to talk beginnings, creativity, the music business, and happiness (the latter two of which can often prove incompatible).

How did Chronographs come to be?

Tom (Ridley, Guitars): Myself, Jon (Sinfield, Vocals) and Benson (Bass) played in another band together for years. We released a couple of EPs which weren’t very good. We lost some members and wrote and recorded The Outhouse Sessions EP and decided on a fresh start, and actually inherited the name Chronographs from a shelved side-project of Jon’s. We found Jack a short while after we launched, and Finn a couple of years later.

What inspired the ‘Song A Month’ project?

Jack (Pope, Guitars): We had a particularly long lead time between writing our EP Nausea and releasing it to the world. We felt like the material no longer reflected our musical intention. The songs were from us and true but they didn’t say what we felt at the time of release. The message felt inauthentic. Releasing music constantly felt like an instant fix to the problem and also gave us a target to steer towards which kept us working hard and efficiently. We also felt that the gimmick of the whole monthly release schedule might draw attention to the music, which at the end of it all is what we want.

Tom: Like any business, artists battle to remain in the public eye. Particularly online, bands will publish things which aren’t especially interesting or relevant just so people don’t forget about them (I’m not sure that actually happens, but I’ve fallen foul of that myself in the past). By having regular output and content, we’re hopefully a more interesting band to follow.

How does the experience of writing, producing, and releasing a song a month differ from more traditional release schedules? What are the challenges? What are the rewards?

Jack: It’s hard for us and harder for George (G1 productions) who mixes and masters everything. We work as much as we can in between our day to day activities (university, night jobs and drinking coffee for me). We get the track done in the nick of time and then send it all over to George who manages to shine our tracks into little gems (sometimes within 24 hours). The rewards are the constant feedback from fans, constant ability to change and bend to our hearts’ whims, and the ability to produce a track that shouts “This is me, right now”.

How do you deal with the extra pressure involved in such an intense and compressed writing and release schedule?

Tom: It can be hard. We’ve been stressed at times, because the last thing we want to do is miss our deadline, or put out something that’s below the pretty high standard that I think we’ve always maintained. But it’s cool, we’re more prolific than we’ve ever been, and we’re enjoying the journey. Bands have a tendency to keep reworking old material until it’s perfect, or even re-releasing music with a better mix, new vocalist, etc. I hate that. Like when a band’s first album is the previous EP with some filler tracks added. I don’t see the point.

What’s your creative process like? How does a Chronographs track go from idea to reality?

Jack: Almost all our tracks start with a guitar riff (or three). We get a melody and a feel from the riff and Finn writes drums which he feels match that. This then snowballs down with the drums and guitar bumping off each other. The song is then arranged and sent to Jon who can put his words and melodies down. Finally we’ll record it, and add extra layers or remove weak ideas, which are decisions that can only be made when everything has been tracked. Sometimes the riff that started the whole song (as with D.O.T.S) gets lost along the way.

You first made your name as a tech-metal act; in 2014 you’ve adopted a lighter, progressive math-rock sound. What motivated that stylistic shift?

Tom: We didn’t feel like writing metal. It’s super aggressive, fast, and a little bit juvenile. We have more to offer than flashy guitars, blastbeats and breakdowns. I guess the other thing is that clever ideas are kind of lost in the whirlwind of distortion and shouting. The Nausea EP had some really cool bits on there, but I’m not sure they came across that well.

Techy metal was actually pretty easy to write; what we’re doing now is way harder. Suddenly a much larger palette of sounds are on the table – there’s way more ground we’re able to cover. We haven’t found the definitive Chronographs sound yet – we’re still experimenting. Doing a new song every month is a great vehicle for us to hone in on what will define us musically.

Describe each of the songs you’ve released so far in a single sentence.

Losing Light: Loop pedals and big riffs.

The Hunter: A bit slow but lots of tasty harmonies.

Porcelain: Happy accident.

Flat White: The Wombats meets Foals.

D.O.T.S: Long and hard.

Your band blog is somewhat exceptional, in that it takes a far more positive and optimistic tack than most modern music business commentary. What first drove you to start that blog? How has the blog impacted your career? What could be achieved if more bands communicated with their audiences in a similar manner?

Jack: The formalisation of a “blog” came from Tom when he was designing our beautiful website. We all agreed that we loved hearing from bands we admire, and (to quote a cliché) that you should always follow your heroes (and then stand on their shoulders). I read. Lots. I also have big opinions and a bigger mouth, so for me the blog is really good fun.

The positive nature of the blog was an accident, and I think is just a reflection of how lucky I feel to be out touring, or releasing or meeting fans etc. All of my posts are written in one go on a long rant. Some posts get better receptions than others but there are always a few who seem to respond well. That being said, I would say TMMP’s response is the first sign of a career enhancement from our words!!

As long as bands don’t use their loud voices to shout about how little money they make, or how smelly their van is and that they want a hotel then I think all bands should blog. Actually, maybe some bands should just stick to their music (Lamb of God falls into this category).

Tom: I felt like social media didn’t provide the means to share our thoughts and ideas properly – we have a lot of them! So I built the blog. Even if you do write a thousand words on a topic and stick it on Facebook, it disappears off the bottom of the feed within an hour and is lost forever. The blog lets us actually write and lay out small articles to effectively capture our ideas and get a point across. I hope people enjoy our brain dumps.

What makes you happy?

Jack: Beauty that exists without practical purpose and espressos in the sunshine with a good French novel.

Tom: People. Some people.

Beyond the next seven months, what does the future hold for Chronographs?

Tom: Lots more music. I want to keep it regular, but maybe we’ll start looking at bundling stuff together into little EPs, and eventually an album – not because I think the album format is particularly important, I actually think it’s pretty redundant for a growing band like us. But I’d like to produce a single body of work with a cool theme at some point.

I’d also like to collaborate, be it with other musicians, artists, labels, friends. Maybe fans! I’ll have to have a think about that one.

Sonic Boom Six – ‘The Boom Needs You!’

sonic boom six the boom need syouSome of the catchiest pieces of music ever written were conceived as advertising jingles. Whether it’s Go Compare’s opera singer or McDonalds’ I’m Lovin’ It campaign, we can all think of at least one jingle that we instantly regret remembering because (in the cases above) it either makes us want to kill ourselves, or was used to sell addictive products that could potentially kill you. Thank fuck, then, that Sonic Boom Six’s PledgeMusic campaign is being pushed out into the world via The Boom Needs You! – a song that I didn’t originally plan on reviewing, but which became so lodged in my brain that I felt compelled to write these words.

Whether this is due to the fact that Sonic Boom Six make life immeasurably better and are a healthy addition to our culture, or due to some kind of Satanic subliminal message hidden behind this bouncy and masterfully-crafted ska tune, I’m not sure. All I can say is that you need to hear this song, get involved with Sonic Boom Six’s PledgeMusic campaign, and help them get fifth album Operation Boombox in the can.

Meanwhile, I’m going to see how this song sounds if you play it backwards…

Links / Video

Get involved with Sonic Boom Six’s PledgeMusic campaign here.

Download the ska mix of The Boom Needs You! here.

Sonic Boom Six official website.

Artist Interview: Flash Bang Band

FBB Press ShotDiscovering a new favourite band is always fun – and finding out just how deeply passionate they are about music, culture, and life in general through a great interview is equally awesome, if not more. Read on for a short journey through noise-pop merchants Flash Bang Band’s hectic and diverse world – and check out TMMP’s review of their latest single Art History if you’re new to it all. Insight, excitement, and several words I had to look up on Google – it’s all going on here.

Hey guys – thanks for taking the time to do this. So…what excites you?

Traveling around playing music to people, having new experiences, making new friends, having fun with friends, reading books about overindulgent rock stars, documentaries, learning about wars and history, Peregrine falcons, Tardigrades, making inroads to the music worlds, discovering new bands, Albatre.

What bores you?

Generic art, art for art’s sake, TV, poor quality food, bad environmental management, sheep-type people, repetitive occupations, thoughtless parents, war, everything sometimes ha!

How did Flash Bang Band come to be?

I met Rodney on Gumtree through an ad; he was living in South Africa and I used to live there. Rod moved over to start the band after I sent a bunch of demos to him that I’d made with a friend in Brighton, and he knew loads of the songs already. We met Rob after a couple of people had come and gone, and he fit the bill really well. He was a local dude and we all sort of went at it…it evolved over time into the fatter noisy fun pinky pinky boing boing noise thing it is today.

Your latest single, Art History, is the third and final single release from your debut album Bite Your Tongue, which was released a year ago. If you had to pick a single moment as a highlight of the past year, which would it be?

Ooh…very difficult to answer that. I’d say not getting arrested or fined in France when I got breathalysed in Amiens was a definite contender.

You’ve toured Europe a couple of times now. How do European audiences differ from British ones?

Euro audiences have been really amazing to us. The first tour was a month long – and as we travelled around, we could almost feel the anticipation from place to place and watched the profile grow online. We now have firm followings all over Europe. Folks out there seem to get more excited by what we do than in the UK. It seems as though folks are more open to offer to help you out more, it’s normal for them to offer to let you stay at their house, or feed you or whatever – whereas here in the UK maybe folks are a bit more kinda cold… but hey, it’s still cool in the UK too and actually we want to concentrate on getting around the UK a bit more now!

What’s on Flash Bang Band’s bucket list?

Tour the UK more…also, we’ve just secured a new practice space, so we’re going to stop gigging so much and as autumn rolls in, focus on writing the rest of the material we need for album number 2. Once we’ve got that down, we’re going to record and just go hard at finding a nice labelly home for it. After that, more touring, try to get to South Africa, Scandinavia, USA, Japan. It’s really a big part of what we all want to do. I guess it’s like that for everyone in the world though too, right?

What’s your creative process like? Any rituals / habits to declare?

Since we started writing stuff for the new album (which happened all the time from just jams and things at practice), we have committed to a process by which we just write together in the practice space. Songs which have evolved this way, organically with us all present, seem to always get a better response from audiences than when I bring in a song for example, and then add the drums and bass parts etc. It’s just so obvious that the dynamic you create equally is going to have a better result and translate better than any other way round.

Habits: I would have to say going to the shop is a pretty big one for us. That and me and Rodney like a drink or ten. (Rob is a big sober).

What does the future hold for you?

Write songs, record album, find label, do traveling, enjoy life and being a part of music stuff, meet more lovelies in bands and get drunk. Yay!

Links

If you got overexcited and forgot to click the link to TMMP’s review of Art History, click here and don’t worry about it.

Flash Bang Band can be befriended and / or followed on Facebook & Twitter.

The Levin Brothers – ‘Levin Brothers’

levin brothersThis review could be summed up in a single word: Wow. However, I’m sure you want more detail that that – so here you go:

Given the back-stories of Tony and Pete Levin, it goes without saying that the quality of playing, tone, feel, groove, and so forth on Levin Brothers is almost unparalleled – but this LP is more than just a muso’s wet dream. It’s a vibrant and enchanting listening experience that will make your foot tap, set your brain to ‘hyper-focus’, and even make you laugh from time to time.

Although Levin Brothers is a collection of cool jazz tunes custom-composed to evoke a 1950’s vibe, it’s not merely a CD you can use to play in the background at murder mystery dinner parties. Each player on this long-player – not just the Levin brothers themselves but also Jeff ‘Siege’ Siegel (Drums), David Spinozza (Guitar), Erik Lawrence (Sax), and Steve Gadd (Drums) uses his instrument to speak without words and demand the listener’s full attention. Whether it’s joy, sadness, anger, frustration, relief, or even ambivalence, there’s hardly an emotion in existence that Levin Brothers will not make you feel.

Overall, this is the kind of album that results not just from study and practice, but living. Too many jazz musicians hide behind scales, arpeggios, and extended chord theory, afraid to reveal their true selves. Thank God, then, that releases like this are there to point clearly and insistently in the right direction.

Deep listening is rarely this fun.

Links / Preview

Levin Brothers will be released on September 9th, and can be pre-ordered via The Levin Brothers’ official website and Lazy Bones Recordings.

Kyshera – ‘Break This’

kysheraWhen I saw Kyshera support LA alt-rock legends Boy Hits Car in Camden, I was blown away by their relentlessly aggressive, self-consciousness-free energy. That same energy forces itself unstoppably through headphones and screen on this track and its accompanying video.

Raw, hard-hitting, and insistently catchy, Break This is but a sign of things to come; look out for Kyshera’s October-bound long-player Circles once you’ve been converted via the YouTube box below.

Links / Video

Kyshera official website.