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…
From the moment we saw Liverpudlian outfit Queen Zee supporting Marmozets at Concorde 2 earlier this year, and subsequently with their own headline show and tour with Dream Wife, we knew they were destined for big things. Having just announced their debut eponymous album, out on their very own Sasstone Records, we thought it was the perfect time to catch up with lead singer Zee, to talk everything from touring with Dream Wife, to being a DIY band and the struggles that come with that.
KIN is an original soundtrack album by Scottish post-rock band Mogwai, released on 31st August 2018 on their own Rock Action. Active since the 90s, Mogwai have previously scored documentaries (Zidane, Atomic, Before the Flood, amongst others), but this is their first full film soundtrack. Directed by the brothers Jonathan and Josh Baker, the film stars Jack Reynor, Zoe Kravitz, James Franco and Dennis Quaid, and is a high-octane thriller that gets its UK release November. Following shows at Latitude, Primavera Sound in Barcelona, and the Robert Smith-curated Meltdown festival this year, they’ve got a short UK tour coming up, supported by fellow Glasweigans The Twilight Sad, including a sold out date at the Dome in Brighton. Founder and guitarist Stuart Braithwaite talks to Jeff Hemmings about the film, ‘donuts’, and their penchant for loud music.
“I’m honoured if anyone listens to my songs and I don’t really have any expectations of anyone. How would I describe my music to someone that’s never heard it? Outlaw paranormal pop”. Such is the brilliantly cool and slightly eccentric mind of one of Wales’ favourite sons, Gruff Rhys. Refreshingly original, he is as well-known as the frontman of indie-popsters Super Furry Animals as he is for his solo work, in which many of his releases are proudly delivered in his mother tongue. His accent is pretty amazing if he is speaking in English too. Watch a YouTube interview with him and hope that he says the word ‘orchestra’. You’ll see what I mean. Indeed, in recent years particularly, it seems that there is not much that he hasn’t touched creatively, notably delving into the world of film in 2014’s American Interior project (where he also created an app – that’s right, an app – to compliment the soundtrack and corresponding book), as well as performing with the Wales National Theatre alongside fellow Welshman, Sweet Baboo.
The Brighton-based post-punk grunge trio Projector have been making some serious waves of late, and are upping the ante again with the release of their debut EP How Does It Feel? which was helped funded by the PRS Foundation’s ReBalance programme, aimed at giving women more of a chance in the music making industry. They’ve also lined-up a cracking gig at The Haunt for a launch that also features the recently IDLES name-checked Ditz, and Libra Libra, led by the fantastic voice of Beth Cannon. As well as touring Europe, they performed at this year’s The Great Escape and Latitude festivals, along with supporting Daniel Wakeford on a number of dates. We caught up with two of the three, bassist and singer Lucy Sheehan, and drummer Demelza Mather.
Manchester-based dream duo, Ríoghnach Connolly and Stuart McCallum, are the creative heart of The Breath, creating honest, personal songs as likely to touch on childhood summers and first love as cultural dislocation and grief. Connolly’s deeply soulful vocal coupled with McCallum’s understated brilliance give The Breath a gorgeous emotional depth and, joy of joys, they have just released a new album, Let the Cards Fall, as the follow up to their 2016 breakthrough, Carry Your Kin. Ahead of some select UK live dates, Anna Claxton caught up with singer and founding member, Ríoghnach, to find out why fairies stealing babies and soft rock singer, John Farnham, are amongst her inspirations and why Brighton has a great vibe.
Maybe by name, but certainly not in reality. Growing up in the West Country, brothers Callum and Ewan Merrett have been making music together since their early teens; a combination of daisy-age hip-hop swagger, big funk, and indie-soul-pop, where Beck meets Blur via the loose Madchester sounds of the 90s. They released their first songs in 2015, Annie Mac made ‘Wages’ ‘Hottest Record in the World’, and the brilliant ‘Avalanche’ was also featured heavily on BBC Radio One. The smart money was on Bad Sounds, and this summer they released their debut album Get Better. It’s lived up to expectations, throwing the band further into the spotlight, helped along by their captivating and energetic live shows, supporting Rat Boy this summer, playing loads of festivals, and about to embark on a sizeable headline tour of their own this autumn. They also like remixing, and people like remixing them, such as the recent Everything Everything remix of ‘Wages’. Jeff Hemmings caught up with Ewan.
Davey Newington is Boy Azooga, who released his debut album this year in the form of 1, 2, Kung Fu! It's a joyous ride, full of melody and pop nous, songs such as 'Loner Boogie', 'Jerry' and 'Face Behind Her Cigarette' swinging effortlessly from disco-rock to psychedelia. Already beavering away at the follow-up, he's out on tour this month. He took some time out to have a chat about The Great Escape, Brian Wilson, Hangover Square, and how he hooked up with the legendary Jeff Barratt and his Heavenly Records label.
Elizabeth Bernholz (nee Walling) is an extraordinary electronic composer, musician, producer and performer who trades under the name of Gazelle Twin. Forged in a rural idyll in Middle-England and four years in the making (amidst life-changing events, including a move away from Brighton), Pastoral is the first major release by the artist since her 2014 album Unflesh. It's a fascism-infused hellscape, this time set in deepest Old England. Jeff Hemmings asked her about her artistic vision, child rearing, and her public vs private persona.
A familiar name to those who listen to BBC Radio 6, Tom Robinson been on the airwaves for over 30 years, starting with The World Service in 1986. He currently presents his own show on 6 Music on Saturdays, and on Sundays as Now Playing @6Music, a show that plays songs based on a certain theme and listeners' input. He also has a weekly show which is focussed on music by local bands from BBC Introducing.