As good as a nice cup of tea, and a sit down.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010


Holy State do Beelzebub’s bidding on stage, but I must say, I have never met a set of more fresh faced, polite young men in the flesh.
I meet them just before their set at 2010’s Live at Leeds. Though originally from Norwich, Holy State now call Leeds their home and, like so many other bands before them, they are now the city’s firmly adopted sons.
 They have become involved with the ubiquitous Dance to the Radio, whose new roster of bands, Holy State included, seem to suggest a welcomed creative revival about the place. They are chatty, very funny and empassioned about their music, and happy to share their views on wider issues, including National Express coaches, and their beers. Nice one!

So how long have you been together now?
Rob: Properly about two years?
Max: I was involved from then, we recorded our demo and rehearsed but we didn’t play our first live show for a while.
Victor: Basically it was roughly a year and a half ago.

Where did you form?
M: Well, we formed in Leeds but we struggled to find someone good enough to play drums.
R: We’re all from Norwich originally. Very glamourous place.
We’re based in Leeds but Max drives back and forth.
M: Norwich is lovely but quite isolated, most band tours seem to just skip off that bit of the country.
R: It’s ‘the breast of England.’
Dan: We were all in bands together in Norwich, at one time or another.
R: Dan was in a band called ‘Paradox’! (Laughs)
D: It was a high school band! We don’t have to touch on that, thanks. It’s not that interesting…

You can see many of your hardcore influences. Fugazi, for example.
V: I think they were one of a few bands that we aspired to make similar music to. The first night I came to Leeds, Rob and I got talking, and we agreed that there just weren’t that many bands doing that at the moment.
R:Fugazi have influenced many bands, for us it's their ethics and DIY approach, as well as their music. But there are so many other bands that have influenced us also. When Max and I were 14, 15 we were in his tiny room, practicing Smell Like Teen Spirit.

M: It was the first song I ever played! I’d just got my first drum kit and my dad bought me In Utero and said ‘right, learn that.’  Oh, and we tried to play some Limp Biskit as well.
R: What song was that? Was it ‘Break Stuff’?
M: I dunno, probably!

Tell me about your time at Holy Roar, how have you progressed?
M: They did so much stuff for us. They got us so many shows and were always there to support us.
R: It was a great label for us to work with because they were so diverse at the time, the shows with other bands were always interesting.
V: We were really happy to tour with Brontide, and do the split EP with them.
R: And of course, our split with Pulled Apart By Horses came out on Holy Roar as well.

Is it important to you that your music should progress naturally?
V: It’s really important for us never to become something that we’re not.
R: Well we have done it! I’m sure everyone has tried to force out a song, but for us, it never works. There might be a good riff or two in it, but nothing else.

What releases have you got coming up?
M: The biggest thing is going to be with Dance to the Radio. It’s our first proper EP, really. Our first release with Holy Roar was more like a demo.
R: It was specifically for getting us gigs, something to hand out.
M: It went so much further than expected, really!

You are part of a newer, fresher roster of bands at Dance to the Radio, how are things with the label?
M: They’ve helped us out loads, put us on the stage at Leeds Festival, which was amazing. Several thousand people watching you, kids putting up devil horns. We felt like Aerosmith!
V: We’ve got the release date for the 12” as the 12th July, which is going to be great for us.
R: Their ethos is very similar to ours, the way they want to work with their bands - It’s relaxed. We never feel pressured to do anything.
D: They’re just people who love music and are enthusiastic about what we do, which is the best thing of all.

Have you ever fallen out? How has it been together so far?
M: Well we all have jobs now, the dole isn’t glamorous as it seems!
D: It’s been funny sometimes, sprinting to get the last train out of London with equipment…
R: Getting National Express everywhere, we were the kings of National Express.
V: It got to the point at one time where we were so poor we were forging coach tickets on our mobile phones!
R: One night Dan and I had the worst journey of our lives, because we had to get about 10 different buses, London to Birmingham, Birmingham to Manchester… Manchester to Sheffield. We got back at 6 in the morning, it was horrific.

And finally, any musical skeletons in the closet?
M: I’m quite a big fan of Method Man and Liquid Swords -
D: I like A Day to Remember! I mean, I know it’s shit but… y know, this is what makes music better, knowing the difference!
R: We all know you’re listening to it on the coach home, anyway, because we ask you what you’re listening to and you’re really secretive! ‘Oh Nothing!’ And have a little peek over and it’s like, oh yeah, Bright Eyes!

Holy State's EP comes out on Dance To The Radio in July.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Last Night's Gig


Titus Andronicus, it seems, are a perfect end to a sunny day's boozing in the park. And look at all the people who agree. All photographs by Hannah-Rachel Sunderland (who is a star because they are amazing.)

The full review will be up on This Is Fake DIY in the next few days, so have a peek here.

As for me, I'm packing my bags for sunny Barcelona. I will be back next week with what I hope for (lots of good stories) and probably with what I hope to avoid (sunburn). TTFN!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Getting down, Coming Up

MUSICAL TREATS: Over the last couple of months I have been having dalliances with...

Another perfectly sunny slice of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward. I have friends who spit about the fact that she "looks like a Stepford Wife," but I know you are just jealous of the pretty talented one, ladies. Volume Two review, click on the link.

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy is the subject of one of my most favourite songs. But in a tragic waste of time, I hadn't bothered to delve into any of his work (besides imaginary buggary on train tracks), until The Wonder Show of the World slid into my inbox. Predictably, I am now his belated champion, trawling the back catalogue of the quixotic bearded one. His beautiful baritone will disarm all, and you can see the review here.

As for upcoming gigs, well hello there!

If Titus Andronicus @ The Brudenell this Sunday is going to be a tenth as fun as their new album, then it's likely that folk will be swinging from the rafters with their pants down. The album is called The Monitor and it bowls straight down the alley between The Boss and The Pogues... I'm completely smitten.

Further into the future, but still gleaming with promise, is 21st July @ Joseph's Well, where there will be, deep breath: Friendship, Castrovalva, Sky Larkin, Holy State and many many more! Bargainous.

Speaking of Holy State, I managed to catch up with them at Live at Leeds earlier this month. I didn't quite know what to expect, but I am pleased to report that are possibly the nicest (and cleanest) hardcore young men I have met to date. My interview will be featured in Contact and as ever, I will post it up here as soon as I get 30 seconds to myself.

Over and out.

Thursday, 13 May 2010


THIS IS a busy time of year for the music writer, festival season is getting into gear and I'm finding myself with increasingly less time to think!

So... another summer of swearing off festivals due to funds, and failing miserably. As you know, Primavera is fast approaching in just under a fortnight. Currently in the process of finding out if I can secure any interviews whilst I'm there, keeping everything crossed.

But suddenly sprung up on the horizon, is this beast:

Yes, ladies and gents, I shall go to the ball - or rather, to Download 2010.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm an eclectic sort most of the time. So festivals like Download are usually too much of a muchness for me, I prefer ones where I can sample a bit of everything. But this line-up literally made my eyeballs pop out when I saw it.

I mean, HOLY CRAP! LOOK AT IT! I couldn't have cooked up a bill this good in my wildest dreams. Personal highlights will most definitely include:

The return to British shores of Deftones, with a new (supposedly solid) album.
AC/DCs 30th anniversary show. According to a friend of mine who DJs, anyone who fails to dance to Back in Black is "dead inside." I'm inclined to agree with her.
Seeing how loud Motorhead, The Loudest Band in the World (tm), actually are.
And finally, Rage! I don't care how lame that 'smash the system' Christmas No. 1 jobby was, I'm looking forward to seeing a band that I never imagined I'd see perform. Even though I think I can hear the tills ringing up from here, Cha-ching.

All this takes place 11th-13th June, at Donington Park. Tickets are available from the website (click on the 'Download 2010' link) and start at 75 quid for a day ticket.

Silicone earplugs at the ready.

Monday, 10 May 2010

What the hell has just happened?

The Liberal Conservatives. The Conservative Democrats. The Conservocrats... The Liberatives? "Camlegg Presents: Democracy" ?

Nope, I'm sorry. This just isn't going to work for me, boys. Does anyone else get the feeling that Parliament at the minute seems like a giant, doggedly-adamant toddler, trying to bash a triangle block into a circular hole? It makes me feel uneasy.

Anyway, this isn't going to turn into a political blog, I'm hardly Andrew Marr after all, and not half as good looking. But I just wanted to share my feeling that the world is turning on its head. Exhibit no. 2: Leeds United getting promoted.

As a life long Leeds fan I can attest that we've had our fair share of hardship. If the 80s were considered a bit of a doom and gloom for us, the last decade must have been the Trials of Job: Getting relegated twice, penalised for financial hardship, coming within inches of promotion 3 times, only to have it snatched away - even when we seemed the likely victors. Yet now, after a so-so second half of the season, in a match that would secure us promotion by a point - after Gradel being sent off, Bristol going 1-0 up ... we did it in the most unlikely (and excruciating) circumstances.

This, unlike my first topic, was one of the best surprises I've ever gotten. Beckford's 63rd minute strike caused Elland Road to erupt through my radio speakers (couldn't get tickets, alas), which in turn caused me to erupt on a friend's balcony. I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise to the residents of Call's Landing for the outburst, I was pretty loud.

Drinking ensued, as did singing 'vintage' Leeds songs when we ran out of current ones. Allan Clarke, Billy Bremner: you had your tributes. And as for the swiftly departing Beckford, hey - we'll always have Old Trafford.

So yeah, the universe is in a state of flux. But as long as the Good keeps piling up alongside the Camlegg, I don't suppose I can complain.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

"Never talk about religion, or politics."

THIS IS A piece of advice I received from my parents that has always stuck in my mind. Yeah I know, it's hardly an obscure proverb! And in fact, in my adult years this sentence has become as subtly ironic as an Alanis Morrisette song. I grew up in, let's say, an opinionated household, and when my mum, dad and I get together over a few drinks, all we bloody talk about is religion or politics. Heatedly! General principles we agree on, but we often quibble over the day-to-day running of the country.(Which naturally, none of us envisage having any problems doing - like I said - opinionated.) Call it the generation gap if you like.

I digress. The point of this entry today (6th), on the eve of one of the most historic elections in decades, is that I'm finding it increasingly hard to bite my tongue. Not from blurting out my choice of vote to others, you understand, but from curbing my impulse to tell them to keep their BIG NEBS out of my business.

I don't blame people for general curiosity. We are as a nation of people, incredibly nosy. If I've got 90p and 15 minutes to wait for a bus, you can bet I'm going to buy NOW! and find out about Jordan's new breast operation. I know that many people identify this as what is wrong with the country, or whatever, but I'm not a completely brainless idiot: I just like a bit of a rubberneck from time to time.
But, even as a curtain-twitcher, and someone who isn't remotely spiritual, I feel that some things are sacred. And who I choose to vote for, well, you nosy buggers, that's one of them.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to disengage healthy political debate. In the right forum it can breathe life into a dessicated system. The telly debates this year allowed the PM candidates to finally come under proper scrutiny. Everyone could discuss what they thought about policies, agendas and personalities because it was right there in front of them in their own homes. It's opened politics right up for people to draw their own conclusions. In no way am I saying that this is a bad thing, so please don't misunderstand me.

But once I've got there (my decision), then that's it as far as I'm concerned. I've made my mind up. I'd like to think I'm a fairly politically motivated person: I've read the manifestos, I don't always believe what I read in the papers, so my choice is informed enough. I wouldn't dream of trying to influence someone else's choice, I'm just happy as a woman that I get my own in the first place. So why, then, is there a constant stream of advice being doled out to me? I turn on Facebook this morning and there it is:


Blah blah blah... thanks for your insightful comments. I don't know what I would do without you there holding my hand!

It seems I have finally found a faction that annoys me more than the, "It dunt fooking matter NEway, LOL" Crew. These are folk, who for 364 days a year, are hardly masterful political analysers. More to the point, it's just bloody rude. It's presuming people aren't clever enough to make up their own minds, and it disrespects the basic principle of a free democracy. If these people had their way, we'd all just queue up on one big stage, shout out who we were voting for on a megaphone, and wait for the rotten fruit and booing to come from the various opposing tribes.

The minute you start demanding that people vote one way or another, you stop trusting in the decency of the majority, which I believe (at least until tomorrow) exists in the UK. Which throws up to my mind another tired cliche, but one I think is very fitting this evening:

"Every country has the government it deserves." - Joseph De Maistre

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Bear in Heaven/Juffage, Brudenell Social Club, 25th April.

A quiet Sunday evening, you’ve got to get ready for work. The last thing you’d think of partaking in would be a mad sensory overload, yet here one comes this evening at the Brudenell.
Take Juffage for instance: this bearded chap washed up Leeds some time last year from Chicago, and he may be gone pretty soon from what I hear, so time is of the essence. I urge you to go see him; his shows will leave you slack-jawed in wonder.
To start with, he’s got an almost bizarre amount of technical skill. He doesn’t so much as play his songs as create them right in front of you. Instruments are picked up and discarded again like detachable limbs, interspersed with fuzz and static and at the very centre of it, a driving rhythm.
But what of the songs, you cry! It’s all very well to be experimental, but you need a few melodies. Well, the songs are fine and lovely. Channeling 90s alt. guitar with deep, bluesy vocals, he makes the most of his roomful of equipment. At the end of the set, he places three boom boxes around the room and sets them going, creating a layered harmony that swirls around the whole room. Yes, boom boxes. Magical stuff!

Photograph by Hannah-Rachel Sunderland
There’s a little sense of smugness which pervades in going to see a band like Bear in Heaven in such an intimate setting, like if you’re privy to a great bit of gossip. Praise for the album, Beast Rest Forth Mouth, could not be higher, but tonight’s medium-sized crowd suggests they’re not international superstars just yet. Judging on this performance, success has to be imminent for them. It simply wouldn’t be fair for a band like this to drop off the radar.

Photograph by Hannah-Rachel Sunderland
I was hoping that songs like ‘Wholehearted Mess’ would translate well live, but even my expectations can’t prepare me for how good their set is. The proggy hum which accompanies the album saturates the air, drawing you in to an irresistible, unstoppable groove. Vocalist Jon Philpot’s vocals soar over the melodies and they have a drummer who could give Phil Collins a run for his money. By the pounding outro of ‘Casual Goodbye,’ my central nervous system is pleasantly jellified.
Bear in Heaven could fill rooms a lot bigger than the Brudenell with such exquisite noise. If they are capable of reducing hardened, cynical music writers to quivering wrecks then surely mountain moving is next on the agenda.

A BIG thanks to Hannah-Rachel for the fantastic photos.