Steve Mason has decidedly come out of the dark, and into the light. After years of cult acclaim with The Beta Band, and then years of debt, depression, and isolation, whilst living in Fife, Scotland, he’s found a new home in Brighton. He’s even got a three-year-old child to contend with, born and bred here, and he’s still making extraordinarily powerful, moving, and simply brilliant music. With the recent re-release of much of The Beta Band’s back catalogue last year, Mason’s already sizeable following continues to expand, in awe and/or in love with one of the best songwriters of recent times.
Brit band White Lies are one of those bands who have quietly achieved a lot of success. Their debut album made it to the top of the charts, back in 2009, and ten years later they are about to release their fifth album, Five. A classic sounding epic guitar-synth band, Charles Cave, Jack Lawrence-Brown, and Harry McVeigh met whist still at school, eventually forming Fear of Flying. Jack had set up the indie label Chess Club, and Fear of Flying achieved some early success, before they decided that they needed a new name, to reflect their maturation into adulthood. White Lies was the result. Harry took some time out to discuss the new album, San Francisco, the name change, and those early beginnings.
Formed back in 1993, Low are now one of the prime treasures of alt-American rock. The foundation stones of the band remain Alan Sparhawk (guitar and vocals) and Mimi Parker (drums and vocals), who are also a couple. With a succession of bassists – the most recent recruit being Steve Garrington – they are the epitome of slow burn, musically, as well as critically. Often referred to as a ‘slowcore’ band in the early days, their sound has developed and broadened over the years. Last year’s Double Negative album was their 12th studio album, and represented a career high for them, earning outstanding reviews, as well as being named Resident Album of the Year. Jeff Hemmings spoke with Alan Sparhawk about this success, the album, and his Mormon faith.
Australian four-piece Cub Sport are about to ride the high of a third album, following on from Bats, which was released to huge acclaim in 2017. Originally formed by singer-songwriter Tim Nelson in 2010 as a backing band for his solo songs, Cub Sport is also made up of bassist Zoe Davis, keyboardist Sam Netterfield, and drummer Dan Puusaari.
In the summer of 2107, the song ‘O Lord’ marked Nelson’s first song about his coming out, and declaring his love for bandmate Netterfield. The love had been mutual for quite some time, and they got married, allowable under Australia’s new same sex marriage laws. Producing music that combines an r’n’b feel with a pop sensibility, the combination of pop energy with a deeply personal take, has endeared them to a young audience of forward-thinking millennials and Generation Z’ers. While Bats chronicled Tim’s journey of coming out, the new self-titled album is both a confirmation of that coming out, and expressed love, as well as a confident and powerful statement.
Since we last interviewed Pale Waves, in 2017, the Manchester four-piece have been making much bigger waves with their infectious and upbeat indie-pop. Label mates with The 1975, they only performed their first headline show two years ago, and since then their debut album, My Mind Makes Noises, has reached the top ten. Having already performed in New York’s legendary Madison Square Garden with The 1975, they are about to go out on tour again with them, including a date in Brighton. We caught up with guitarist and frontwoman Heather Baron-Gracie, to talk about The 1975, and the whirlwind that has been the fast and furious rise of Pale Waves.
Jay McAllister, aka Beans on Toast, has released an album every year for the last ten years, always on his birthday, 1st December. A Bird in the Hand is his tenth, and marks the first time since his debut album that Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons fame, has produced him. A brilliantly witty, engaging, honest and emotional singer-songwriter, he has spent a great deal of his time singing about festivals, drugs, and politics. However, the birth of a daughter has given him new perspectives, and an optimism that sees him celebrating life and all that is good about it. He talks to Jeff Hemmings about how his music career took shape, working with Ben Lovett, his new daughter, and plastics…
Rebecca Taylor is best known as one half of maverick indie duo Slow Club, who released five albums, with 2016’s One Day All of This Won’t Matter Anymore being the last. Playing the drums, guitar, and duetting with Charles Watson, the band built up a considerable following, but for Rebecca it clearly wasn’t enough. Over the years she has been developing her own creative outlet, as Self Esteem, moving decidedly into urban, r’n’b, pop, and hip-hop territory, a million miles away from the scruffy indie-pop of Slow Club. With Slow Club on indefinite hiatus, and Watson concurrently developing his own solo career, a number of tracks have been released including her debut ‘Rollout’, made with Django Django’s Dave Maclean. Rebecca talks to Jeff Hemmings about her self-esteem, her creative needs, her love of dancing, and what we can expect on the love stage.
Brighton indie-punk duo Blood Red Shoes have announced the release of their fifth album, Get Tragic, out 25th January on their own label, Jazz Life. Laura-Mary Carter and Stephen Ansell had been pretty much tied to the hip since when they first formed back in 2004. However, by the end of their touring commitments following the release of 2014’s self-titled album, and an aborted attempt at recording new material, the duo had finally run out of track. They were badly in need of a break, from each other, and from the cycle of touring and recording they had committed themselves to over the last decade. However, with their batteries now recharged, they’ve fully embraced the absurdity of their life (hence the title of the new album), are about to release their most eclectic collection yet, and a raring to go, this time with a band behind them. They’ve also got a date lined up as part of Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar’s closing celebrations, 11th December. Laura-Mary tells all to Jeff Hemmings…
Formed in 1988, Oxford’s Ride were, just behind trailblazers My Bloody Valentine, leaders of the influential shoegaze movement, and media darlings for a while, before a backlash against shoegaze in general, and Ride in particular, saw a sharp fall off. It was classic build ’em up, and knock ’em down stuff; a mix of media cruelty, the rise of Britpop, and self-inflicted harm, all helping the band to detonate by 1996. However, for a while, Ride were really riding the crest of a wave with their powerfully atmospheric and melodic wall-of-sound guitar music.
One of the original quartet of punk bands – along with The Clash, Sex Pistols, and Chelsea – who set the world of music alight in 1976, The Damned are the great survivors. The ones who released the first bonafide punk single, ‘New Rose’, and who released the first truly punk album, Damned Damned Damned. They enjoyed nine top 40 hits, including perhaps their best known song ‘Eloise’, and earlier this year released their first album for ten years, Evil Spirits, produced by legendary Bowie producer Tony Visconti, which became their first ever top ten album. Not bad for a band that was supposed to implode in punk spirit back in the 70s! 42 years after their formation, original members Dave Vanian, Captain Sensible and co, are about to venture out on the road once again. Dave Vanian took some time out to chat with Jeff Hemmings…