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Posts Tagged ‘london

Stag & Dagger: Round Up

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My lord, festival season is coming thick and fast already this year, and with Camden Crawl, Great Escape, turning Point and various other flashes of pre summer brilliance setting the standard high it is with a sense of delirious expectation that a night roaming Shoreditch courtesy of Stag & Dagger ganders into view. Fortunately those sensational chaps in their booking machines at Vice, and Adventures In the Beetroot Field know their music and have assembled a staggering line up that is bound to cause numerous heart attacks and spontaneous indie boy combustions as people try and master the simply impossible task of seeing every hot band on offer over the course of one manic evening.
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Throwback : Cluster & Chromehoof

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Entering Rich Mix to see German electro-psychsters Cluster is an adventure in itself. The event is held on the fourth floor so we are ushered into lifts and emerge into a darkened, throbbing room that ebbs and flows with pulsing electro and scattershot blastbeats. This is Throwback and tonight we are in for a treat. The unique series of gigs is designed to show the original grandmasters live and then their sonic offspring by bringing together those from the cutting edge of a scene and those charged with starting it. Which is how we end up hidden on the fourth floor of Rich Mix looking forward to a rare live set from seminal German minimalists Cluster and the arch avant London orchestra Chrome Hoof.  Let’s get it on.
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Written by Jonathan

April 5, 2009 at 7:44 pm

Favours For Sailors – Furious Sons (Saddle Creek)

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Favours For Sailors
Furious Sons
Saddle Creek

Love at first listen is something of the emperors new clothes of the music industry. What hits you initially with a sugar high, pupil dilating delirium sounds staid and forced after only a handful of rotations. However, roaring well into double figure plays and I’m still writing up my ‘Records of 2009’ charts with ‘Favours For Sailors’ debut mini album ‘Furious Sons’ teaching Steven Gerrard and co just how to fight for a title.
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The Academy Is…

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This article appears on Subba Cultcha.

The Academy Is are living in fast times. Returning with album number 3 in 3 and a half years, the high school inspired ‘Fast Times At Barrington High’, the Chicago boys followed recording in the the city that never sleeps with a summer on the breakneck, alt, summer juggernaut  The Warped Tour before bringing their summer hair to good old Blighty. Catching up the day after their uproarious Islington Academy show the band cut a frenetic bunch, wired with the departure hall clarity of the constant traveller and an engaging eagerness usually reserved for bands on their debut turn of the promotional roller coaster. With ‘Fast Times…‘ only days old in UK stores there’s a genuine hunger to discuss what exactly the academy is right now and where they are headed in the future.

“It was a great show, we had a lot of fun,” exclaims front man William Beckett looking back to the previous nights exertions, “We’re playing a steady mix of songs of all the records, and it’s fun to play the new songs. Some of the new songs  the energy was actually higher than of some of the older songs, which was very exciting for us.”  ‘Fast Times…’ is very much a coming of age record for The Academy Is, they’ve steadily built on the pop punk foundations of  debut ‘Almost Here’ and follow up ‘Santi’ to flesh out their sound. The songs are up another level, Beckett and co choosing to deal with their own personal coming of age to soundtrack the bands, taking themselves back to the cusp of the real world and those heady last days of school with songs such as ‘Summer Hair=Young Forever’ and ’After The Last Midtown Show’ perfectly sound tracking the fall of youth and that last summer of true freedom. The energy levels are ferocious and ’Fast Times…’ packs a punch like a Chuck Palahniuk script, that in no small part pays tribute to the surroundings in which it was created. “For ‘Almost Here’ we recorded in St Cloud Florida, which is where all the old folks go to retire,” recalls Beckett eliciting a discussion about Cocoon and Cocoon 2 that somehow triggers the age old Gofather vs. Godfather 2 debate, “then for ‘Santi’ we were in LA, but for the whole vibe of ‘Fast Times…’ we wanted to be somewhere more high energy and New York is definitely like that, especially as we were right in the hub of all the movement.” “New York is a very cool experience, it’s a lot like London where you can walk down the street and  hear all these different languages being spoken, much different from Los Angeles,” adds bassist Adam T Siska, “I mean I like Los Angeles as a place to hang out but New York proved to be a more exciting place to get creative and make a record.” It’s certainly a decision that has paid off and the energy that bubbles on New Yorks streets has seeped onto tape and helped fulfil Becketts statement that the most important thing for this record going into the studio was “to create an energetic, dynamic, fun record.” For a band who count 2 countries and four US cities as their hometowns this nomadic existence seems to fit perfectly and the band have no plan of deviating from this notion that they will travel wherever they need to go to capture each record as they hear it inside. “It was perfect making this record in New York, but for another album it could be perfect to record in Chicago, or even here in London I mean that’s been spoken about too.  It all depends on the type of record we’re setting out to make. These days you can pretty much make a record anywhere but we were lucky that we found this great place that had a drum room that we really liked and also another that had some guitar rooms that really captured what we were looking for, but it was a great thing that we got to make a record in a studio like that as day by day these studios are disappearing and folding, so we made an album in some great studios that may not exist next year,” laments Beckett.

It’s never really been in doubt that one of the key differences between UK and US bands is the sheer audacity of the work ethic that US bands have impressed into them from inception. Whilst many UK bands know that if you conquer London you conquer the country US bands are faced with the sheer scale of their own country from the off. The Academy Is are no exception and they have set a blistering album, tour tour album tour album tour tour tour schedule for themselves that they have thrived under, yet for all this they still seem to be able to write progressively developing albums. “Well we had some ideas kicking around after (‘Santi’)…and Michael had a bunch of music floating around, were any of those musical demos from before, before?” Enquires beckett swivelling round to guitarist Michael Guy Chislett. “No, I don’t think so, ‘Automatic Eyes’ we’d had around for a while,” notes the affable Aussie guitarist. “It’s crazy to think back that far, like some of the early demos Michael would send me a music file,” enthuses Beckett before cracking a wry smile, “not like a manila envelope!” “The thing about ‘Fast Times…’ is that whether a song was a result of a musical idea that Michael had or Butcher (Drummer) had or I came up with on my own, regardless we stripped it down to acoustic for the song writing for melodic purposes. I wanted to make sure each song could stand on it’s two legs, alone as acoustic tracks. Which is pretty similar to how ‘Almost Here’ was written where as ‘Santi’ was a more jammy album,” continues Beckett, “this ones more focused, not to say anything bad about ‘Santi’, just this in it’s nature is a more focused album, and the songs from every guitar note to every drum beat, it’s all very much intentional and we spent a lot of time having those conversations and perfecting our own parts separately. There was a lot of trust on this album as far as how much we trusted each other as musicians.” Asked if they feel that ‘Fast Times…’ is a step closer to a perfect album in The Academy Is collective head and Beckett quickly responds, “absolutely, yea,” before Chislett explains how the band are already well into the process of creating ‘Fast Times…’ successor. “We handed this in like 4 months ago now and so we’ve already been  talking about it (Where to head next) and there’s already a whole bunch of stuff I’d take to another level if I had the chance. It’s funny because we started the initial ideas of  or at least conceiving the ideas of this album maybe 2 or 3 months after ‘Santi’ came out There are so many good bands releasing albums once a year now that it’s very important for us to keep in that creative mindset. But, yeah, I definitely think that we are getting closer and closer to what we’re trying to ultimately achieve musically.”

The band have spent 3 moths on the Warped Tour carousing across the States for a relentless schedule of shows, but this year like 2004 before it is election year and whilst not overtly a political band The Academy Is, like every US band currently touring are almost obliged to confirm their opinions in regard to the upcoming election. In 2004 there was a massive groundswell of musicians trying to energise the young vote against the Bush regime spearheaded by Warped Tour associates such as Green Day and Blink 182 and whilst they did encourage more young people to the ballot the ultimate result is recorded in the history books. On the cusp of one of the most divisive and important elections in history The Academy Is got to observe the mood across America. “Well there wasn’t much support for the Republican candidate,” says Beckett, “I mean you pretty much only say people openly supporting Barrack Obama. I think most young people are rallying behind Obama.” “I think just creative people as well,” notes Chislett. “As a musician I was reading the article about whats on their iPods, and Barrack Obama talks about how much he loves that song ‘Maggies Farm’ by Bob Dylan, and you know I’d much rather vote for guy who’s the Bob Dylan fan and a fan of Rock and Roll,” adds Siska before Beckett sums up why the mood of hope is back, “it was difficult in 04 because there wasn’t really a candidate. I mean John Kerry, are you really going to get behind John Kerry? The thing about Barrack Obama is that he’s such a symbol for youth and for change, I think it’s very important that people are hopeful  about the future and it’s very hard to be hopeful about the future when you have the potential to have what would be the oldest President in History coupled with the most conservative people period in Sarah Palin, and there’s such  contrasting opinions on so many issues it will be interesting to see what happens, and we can only do as much as we can to influence that. But overall with our album and everything we didn’t want to talk about politics because it’s such a fleeting thing. All we can do is stay as well informed as we can, it’s so far beyond our control that all we can really do is try and stay focused on the things in our own lives that we can control and we can deal with and that’s what the album is really about.”

As far as those things go for The Academy Is they include such activities as filming videos at the same High School as movie namesake ‘Fast Times at Ridgemount High’ and maintaining the vital and intimate relationship with their fans through their websites brilliant vidcast TAITV. With their most accomplished album to date in the bags and the seeds of the next record already in play there’s no danger of the times slowing down for The Academy Is.

A trip to the arctic to find some virgins.

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Another day on the cobbles of that London town and some interesting discoveries. The first being that if you sleep beyond 9am you will almost certainly have emails informing you of the fact. Several phone calls this morning involed with organising the bands planning to storm 333 as part of the impending Who’s Jack? extravaganza: the Shoreditch Shuffle.  Never work with children or animals, so goes the saying goes, but where was the mention of not trying to organise bands whos gear is locked inside a studio as part of an ongoing recording bill dispute? Never a dull etc etc. You can read about just how incredible the Shuffle is going to be…here! This coming weekend 13/14th September it’s just what you need to chase away those deathofsummer blues.

Matt Helders...enjoying his Late Night Tales mix...possibly

Matt Helders...enjoying his Late Night Tales mix...possibly

First excitement of the day involved high tailing it down into London Tubey warren and zipping up to Angel in order to find the Old Queens Head pub on the Essex Road where that Arcitc Monkeys rhythm machine Matt Helders was waiting to wax lyrical about his new contribution to the Late Night Tales compilation series. Rekindling his teenage love of the wheels of steel it’s an eclectic party mix that takes in Italian horror movie moments, Modeselektor and disco drum heaven courtosy of those cow-bell kings, The Rapture. The fruits of this interview will be appearing in the pages of Who’s Jack and then latterly here.

Arriving just in time to witness a representative of a certain music weekly being reprimanded for deciding that instead of asking anything about the relevant mix album it would be more fun to adopt the baseball bat to the head school of journalism and repeatedly demand release dates for the 3rd album from ‘the day job’. Now from a pure cold hearted journalism point of view you can understand how that’s of interest…but this isn’t Hard Talk, the object is not to crack the subject and make him confess the unmentionable…especialy when they are there for entirely other purposes….still.

Looking after Matt were the very cool Ben from Outpost Media (who couldn’t be more helpful if he offered to come round to your front door and piggy back you to the interview Badly Drawn Boy stylee) and Sarah from Matts management company Wildlife Entertainment. Some interesting chat including very enthused noises about new prospects Detroit Social Club who you may or may not have already heard but peddle a gloriously swaggering blues soaked cacophony. They are currently playing the length and breadth of blighty so catch them whilst you can still taste the sweat in the air.

One interview down it was off to the Dublin Castle to hunt down some Virgins and get my foot trodden on by Steve Lemacq as he skulked around to Narration…. but a full review of the night will be posted in a mmoment!