It's been a long time coming so we're happy that it's finally out. There's lots going on which is great, I don't think we've even yet fully seen the repercussions from it because it's literally only been out for a couple of weeks. The album has had really good feedback, the best response for us so far has been a four star review in Q Magazine which was really, really cool and hopefully will get us lots of exposure. We got a review in R2 Magazine (Rock & Reel) which was great and we're going back for an interview with them which is really cool and of course BrightonsFinest gave us one of the best reviews we've ever received!
It’s great to have our review acknowledged but in all seriousness the prestige of Q must have been a bit of a boost – I picked up a copy myself and was chuffed for you guys…
It was really cool to go into a shop and buy a magazine that's shelved all over the world and see your little square in it. It's really, really nice. I don't think we've had any bad press. I still don't feel like people really get us but really that's a good thing.
Royal Blood, eh? Where did they come from? From nowhere (well, at a tiny Brighton venue in Feb 2013, sandwiched on a bill of 5 indie-rock hopefuls), to making the BBC Sound Poll 2014, to high up the bill at Reading and elsewhere with support slots with friends Arctic Monkeys at Finsbury Park under their belts, a Later… with Jools Holland scene stealing performance, a worldwide tour in motion and a UK leg in November to look forward to.
With their tasteful truckers and beards look, bludgeoning riffing and Bonhamesque meets Dave Grohl drumming, the suitably monikered Royal Blood have been a breathe of fresh air, an air raid siren amidst the saturated landscape of singer songwriters and electro pop acts. There are times – and they are many – when we need to seriously rock out and let our collective hair down. Not that this is heavy metal of the old school, more of an amalgamation of grunge, Black Sabbath, Queens of the Stone Age, and a little bit of Rage Against The Machine, White Stripes/Raconteurs and Muse. Their rise to the top has been incredibly quick, and live they have already nailed it, their very simple set up of bass and drums perhaps not the most difficult thing to synthesise when you aren’t burdened with other players. Nevertheless, the sheer power and energy of the duo’s sound has tested many a venues fabric.
Influenced by the likes of The Birthday Party, Gang of Four, Orange Juice and The Fall, The Wedding Present soon developed a distinctive sound; super fast rhythmic guitar combined with a wall of aggressive noise or some jangly moments, along with almost invariably witty and colourful lyrical narratives, For the earlier part of their career they were at the vanguard of the 'indie' scene, additionally taking on board some American hardcore and punk influences, with the result that The Wedding Present, helped along by Gedge's distinctive baritone voice, had created a fresh and invigorating sound, a style that was later borrowed by the likes of My Bloody Valentine, whose fast rhythmic songs and wall of noise bear more than a passing resemblance.
"It's got a dull origin," claims Stephen Brett, lead singer, songwriter and guitarist with the band, "but at the time Jeff Buckley's 'Grace' was everywhere, and there's a track on there called Mojo Pin. His music caught the imagination of many people, and at the time I was obsessed by who he was and his music."
Stephen has just become a father, and inevitably the conversation takes a detour down that route as it is obviously something that now demands much of his time… "He's adorable, I love it, and I feel a complete addiction to him," he beams.
Since 2006 The Great Escape has established itself as Europe's leading showcase festival and music industry convention, featuring over 350 artists from around the globe over three days. About 35 venues are used including unusual locations such as museums, the beach shop fronts and hidden spaces. In all there are 650 live performances, attracting 13000 music fans and 3000 music industry delegates. The City is alive with the Sound of Music!
Running alongside The Great Escape is The Alternative Escape, which features even more bands and artists representing labels, agencies, promoters and management companies from Brighton and around the UK. Some of the acts play more than once, on both the main Great Escape and the Alternative Escape bills over three days.
Since 2006 the likes of Adele, Mumford & Sons, Haim, Jake Bugg, Tini Tempah, The Maccabees, Foals, Friendly Fires, Laura Marling, Bon Iver, Vampire Weekend, Kasabian, White Denim, The xx, Chase & Status, Warpaint, Ed Sheeran, [Alt-J] and Disclosure have performed at the festival. This year expect to see the likes of Kaiser Chiefs (playing a secret show), Kelis, Wild Beasts, Little Dragon, Dry The River, Future Islands, Clean Bandit and Jon Hopkins performing, spanning almost all genres of music known to man. Just as importantly the Great Escape presents a fantastic amount of new and up and coming acts, all of whom are considered 'ready' to take a further step up.
Hard to believe but Orbital have been at it for 25 years now, the Hartnoll brothers creating some of the most distinctive, beautiful, intelligent and commercially popular dance music of all time. From their breakthrough hit and industry game changer, Chime in 1990, to last year’s excellent ‘comeback’ album ‘Wonky’, Paul and Phil Hartnoll have always been about much more than four-to-the-floor beats, instead always seeing themselves as a band, often using guest singers such as Alison Goldfrapp, in making interesting, intelligent, evocative music, that could be both danced to and listened to and performed live, often improvised. Aided by their distinctive headlights which act as a focal point for their live performance, Orbital took dance to the mainstream, in part due to their legendary 1994 Glastonbury show which was also beamed on television.
Not only that, but almost uniquely amongst mainstream electronic dance acts, they tackled political, environmental and social issues, such as in ‘Halcyon’ (based on their mother’s addiction to tranquillisers), ‘The Girl With the Sun in Her Head’ (recorded entirely using electricity provided by Greenpeace’s mobile solar power generator) and a four minute remix ‘Criminal Justice Bill’ remix of ‘Are We Here?’ which appropriately enough consisted of four minutes of silence in response to the draconian bill that would attempt to repress so-called repetitive beats.
Their story is a brilliant one and I met up with Paul at his Brighton based studio to talk mainly about those early days, but also about the here and now and Brighton of course…