The Since Monroe Interview

One year since their formation UK indie rock band Since Monroe have garnered a strong and enthused attention and just as eager acclaim for their energetic and punchy rock, punk, and garage rock sounds. The Birmingham band is one that whether on stage or with their studio recordings leaves one wanting more, something their debut EP Lost Generation which they released on their own label Younitee fully proves. Seizing on the chance offered to find out more about the band we had the pleasure of asking Since Monroe all about them, the EP and more.

Hey Guys, thanks for talking to us.

Thanks for having us!

Would you first just introduce the band?

Trig – Vocals, guitar (25)

Andy – Lead guitar (27)

Matt – Bass (19)

James – Drums (27)

How did you all meet and what was the inspiration to start Since Monroe?

Trig: Andy and James have known each other a while and they had some ideas to start a band with catchy riffs and also a pop element. They had previously been in a band together before Since Monroe (Paradise Valley). When James realised that his Alan Partridge style vocals were not happening, they asked me to join. I knew the guys through mutual friends. Matt joined when the original bass player Ben left to pursue his music teaching career. Andy and James are the riffs, Matt and I are the melody makers!

So Since Monroe is not your first venture as musicians?

Matt: We’ve all got a wealth of experience. James has been in several bands (Governors of California), as has Andy and they were in Paradise Valley together. Myself and Trig (who is my brother) were in a band called Wiseacre. I also have a solo acoustic project with 2 EPs to date.

Just a year old the band seems to have grown and drawn eager attention at a rapid rate from almost day one. How has it been and felt being on the inside?

Andy: It has been quite overwhelming so far. We cannot believe the speed at which things have picked up, long may it continue!

Tell us about the eye catching and thought inviting band name.

James: Well I thought “Monroe” would have been a cool iconic name for obvious reasons and the rest of the lads idolise her.  But we decided it needed another word to it and “since” was the most interesting one I could come up with rather than obvious one’s like “Dead Monroe” (which is a bit morbid anyways), and many terrible others.  I think there’s only one Since Monroe which gives us a major score on google’s search engine.

Your sound has a deeply varied flavour which sees different people calling it different things. How do you describe your music?

Trig: 90s rock with a modern twist of pop, riffs and melodies. We just want to be the new Weezer! (laughs)

What are the major influences that have helped shape your music?

Matt: Bands like Foo Fighters, Weezer, Nine Black Alps and Arctic Monkeys. We aim to get a mix of pop and hard rock in all of our songs.

And for your personal playing styles?

Andy: Face melter!

James: Loud and energetic.

Trig: Weird chords and lots of feedback.

Matt: Melodic Bass, but can crank it up when needed.

You have just released your impressive debut EP Lost Generation. How has the response been so far?

James: I’ve been impressed with the positive feedback and great reviews we’ve been getting (including the one from yourselves), we find out soon how we are doing sales wise, fingers crossed!

Tell us about the four songs that make up Lost Generation.

Andy: Well DJ was written just as Valley was finishing, the idea came about from overhearing a phone conversation as well as a viral campaign by a fuel named brand of jeans.  The actual meaning of the song is pretty dirty I’m surprised no one has figured it out yet or it may just be our warped little minds.  The rest of the songs are little digs at the state of music at the moment with likes of X factor.      

Where do you get your inspiration for the songs, especially lyrically?

Trig: I like to write fun lyrics, but I also like to have a pop at other bands, people in the music industry and make tongue in cheek remarks. Lost Generation is about how music reality TV shows are getting far more attention and critical acclaim than artists who write their own material, which I think is killing original music.

How does the song writing process work within the band?

James: Well we have different ways of writing, sometimes me and Andy will work through an idea and let that evolve into a song or other times Trig and Matt will bring an idea to the table and that’ll turn into something after a bit of a jam, the basic ideas are always structured beforehand though.  It’s very rare for all 4 of us to be in the studio at the same time and come up with a song.

What is the most often seed to your songs, music or lyrics?

Matt: Definitely music, but we still take writing lyrics just as serious.

Is the quartet of songs on the EP the first songs you have written? I ask as I know you are writing and working on an album now too.

Trig: They are four of many songs that we have written, but I would include them as part of our 1st era. I think the 2nd era will be a little heavier!

How did you record the EP, as a lot of bands do as live takes to get that raw and energetic power you have on it?

James: You won’t believe this but it was recorded over two days in a practice room at a studio in Birmingham between Christmas and New Year, we made it our home for two days solid, the tracks were done individually but we’re glad we caught the raw element still which is hard to do when you go into proper production.  We have plans in place to try it a bit differently with the next release so we’ll see how that goes.

Tell us about the EP cover, any meaning behind it or just a simple fun picture?

Andy: It was an idea I had and I made it myself out of plasticise, the bear is a bit of an in-band joke.

Does the EP give us a deep flavour of the album or will there be many more surprises and directions involved?

James: The EP is just a taster, the free track giveaway is probably more of an indication of where we’ll be going, the pop will still be there though don’t panic!

And a release date for the album?

Trig:  With how well things are going at the moment we hope it will be the fall of 2012.

As you mentioned you are currently giving away a free track off the forthcoming album. Tell us about that and where people can grab the great track.

James: You can get the free track by going over to http://soundcloud.com/altpr/matchstick-house

From the vibrant and energetic tracks on the EP one gets the impression live you leave nothing in the locker?

Andy: Absolutely! Gigging is the best part of being in a band and we go for it on stage. You find it can take days to fully recover, especially for James with how hard he hits that kit, he needs to calm down a bit!

You come from Birmingham and one assumes there is a healthy scene for new bands there. What is the reality especially in finding gigs to play?

Matt: You’d think so; however, it’s pretty quiet. Birmingham has always been known for its Metal bands and that is the main scene you get.  It’s relatively easy to get a show its just getting the support which is a great effort. There are some great venues to play though like the Academy and the Flapper and Firkin.

Where is the best place for people to find out your upcoming shows?

James: Best place for people to check is out bandage tab over at our Facebook page which you can find by going to http://www.sincemonroe.com

Other than working on the album what have you in store for 2012?

Andy: Just to get our sound out there as much as possible and keep playing the shows, it’s our best chance of doing anything musically anyways.

Do you set yourselves targets or just let things evolve as they do?

Trig: A bit of both really. When we first started we had targets such as writing and recording demos. Then that evolved into the EP and then the progression started and doors opened to other opportunities, i.e. radio play and a festival slot at Gosport on June 3rd.

Any bands you would especially like to share stages with?

Trig: Nine Black Alps and Biffy Clyro are up there. We have enjoyed sharing the stage with our friends the Plastic Glasses on numerous occasions.

Once more great thanks for talking to us. Any last words you would like to share with your fans?

James: Please buy the EP so I can get myself a new pair of jeans (just joking), on a serious note for anyone who has brought the EP we’d like to say a huge thank you and please come check us out at a show, empty rooms put frowns on Trig and Matts’s faces :-(

And finally leave us with a song that has inspired and lifted you the most no matter what the day and life brings.

Build me up buttercup…..

Read the review of the Lost Generation EP @ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/since-monroe-lost-generation/

The RingMaster Review 24/04/2012

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Collisions: Believe In This EP

Just when we thought Irish band iBurn had already wrapped up our EP of the year choice even this early in the year, there comes along UK electro metallers Collisions to challenge and make us just think about our choice. Feeling like a bookie who has already paid out on Manchester City winning the English Premiership title a couple of  months back, the Brighton quartet has shown that nothing is ever clear cut.

Collisions has unleashed a pulsating mesmeric release that shows UK metal is just as vibrant as any where let alone as that of its Irish counterparts. Consisting of five tracks that exhilarate and incite the senses, Believe In This is a feisty cross breed of metal, electro, punk, and drum n bass that eagerly pulls one to their feet and drills them in the way of having infectious fun. The sounds that burst from the EP are tight, energetic, insatiable, and an infection that one just wants to go deeper and linger.

Formed in 2010 the band took no time in making a mark on their local scene which considering the perpetual health and competition in the Brighton area is a CV marker all on its own. Their impressive sharing of stages with the likes of Senser and Floors & Walls led them through an ever growing attention to headlining their own sold out show at The Hydrant and recently a European tour supporting (Hed)pe. It is hard to imagine anything other than a triumphant explosion of attention coming their way once Believe In This is released on May 7th, and maybe exploding onto the UK underground metal scene the least they can expect.

The moment the opening Middle Eastern electro vocal chants swarm around the ear on the opening title track the anticipation of something special is rife. A beckoning riff and electro teasing draws one into big meaty riffs and an irresistible energised punk attack. Immediate thoughts are Max Raptor meets Breed 77 and as the song explores and tantalises the senses that  feeling is imprinted further with touches of Dub War added to a special flavouring that is all Collisions. The song rampages with great vocals from Olly Simmons over moody distorted riffs that rile up the emotions and rhythms that drive with an excitable but controlled enthusiasm.

If this was the only good song on the release compliance is still a given but the band simply slams their quality home with an even better track in Fire Fire. The track is glorious, a feast of dance rhythms, ragga metal, and punk that leaves one breathless and deeply eager to dive right into it again. There is a definite Skindred stamp to it with essences of Billy Talent and Pendulum for extra spicery. From the tight controlling beats of Will Chapman and the brooding bass of Richard Speaight to the blood boiling riffs and melodic intrusions of guitarist Andy Trewin, the song blisters the ear and sends the senses into blissful spasms. Once more the vocals of Simmons  lead the charge magnificently ably backed up by the rest of the band in great group choruses and shouts.

Two down and great heights reached so there has to be a lull or drop in intensity right? Not at all just a change in sound showing the strong diversity the band brings to their music. Chasing Forms begins with an emotive rap metal vocal opening through an atmospheric slow enveloping of the ear, with electro elements to the forth the song then makes its full presence known with intense riffs and sturdy rhythms that expand to include intelligent melodic invention. Again the Pendulum feel flows through the song bringing an inventive form to the Kennedy Soundtrack like restrained slower moments.

Push and  Once Weary Eyes (remix) complete this stunning release. The first of the two is an electro/trance metal lined track that lies somewhere between Pendulum, Silent Descent and Ourfamous Dead. It is a powerful animal that burns itself into the senses with scorched melodies, unfettered rhythms and riffs that strike with a fully intensified metal heart.  The closing song Once Weary Eyes rounds things off perfectly with its drum n bass/metal sounds that wraps around the ear and beyond with a hungry intent.

Believe In This is immense and the finest declaration that Collisions are a band about to brew up a storm and a fresh breath for UK metal.

https://www.facebook.com/CollisionsUk

RingMaster 24/04/2012

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The New Jacobin Club: Left Behind EP

After their deeply impressive album This Treason of 2010, Canadian horror rock band The New Jacobin Club return with a 15-year anniversary release in the shape of the Left Behind EP. It features four of their songs from the nineties which they have  re-recorded and re-orchestrated for this special project. Released in May and coinciding with a tour around Western Canada, the EP might also just give us an insight into the next album from the band, tentatively titled The Mark. In a recent interview frontman/songwriter The Horde explained how the new EP sort of came about by the band looking at the effectiveness of older material after some of the songs from their last album proved difficult to play live. How that will translate to new material only time will reveal but from the great reworking from the current septet of songs written and performed back when the band was a quartet at most on Left Behind, the prospect is exciting.

The EP starts with My Smile, one of two songs that though regulars of The New Jacobin Club live set in 1996 never had an official studio treatment or public release. Hearing the quality of the songs with When Evil Comes Out To Play being the other track, it is surprising this is their first appearance outside of those first live shows. Obviously the band has updated them with their full and immense sound but the core of a song never truly changes and My Smile especially is an easy equal to the recent material of the band. The song is a short  energetic slice of horror veined rock with a compulsive punk vein throbbing within bringing a Danzig like tone to the infectious and energised heart of the song. It is track that feeds the senses wonderfully, its body uncluttered and undemanding as it romps with a breath that is vibrant and refreshing. The electric cello of Luminous gives eager warmth to the song as it gallops across the ear with the theremin conjurations of Poison Candy searching and lighting deepest corners. The band may be looking at removing the complexities of future music a little but as this song proves they still intrigue and ignite the senses with thoughtful and fine craft.

Demon Princess comes next, a song like the closing live cut on the EP that made its first arrival on the self titled album from the band. The track masses around the ear with a weave of expansive synths from  Brother Vitruvius and the melodic guitars of The Horde and The Fury, the combination instigating a slow and assured consumption of the senses. The track offers a menace fuelled by the bass of Swarm and the combative drums of The Rat King that pervades the atmosphere of the song like a creeping evil and is seemingly reluctant to leave as the song draws to a close.

The early Misfits/Danzig like When Evil Comes Out To Play stomps into view with a confidence borne of secure wicked intent, an air that swaggers and taunts with a dark mischief. The track canters with an infectious groove that is impossible to avoid falling in league with and by its final departing note voice and limbs are eager bedfellows to the music before them.

Closing on the excellent live cut of Blood Of The Servant Girl, a track that will easily convince you to go check the band out if they ever pull up their blackened carriages to a town near you near you, Left Behind is a great addition to the already formidable catalogue of The New Jacobin Club and the perfect introduction for newcomers to the band. As a celebration of 15 years it could not be a finer release and as a teaser for future sounds it is a mischievous instigator of impatient anticipation.

    Left Behind is released May 22nd digitally as a pay what you want download and as an exclusive CD with record-style packaging.

www.newjacobinclub.com

Ringmaster 24/04/2012

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Heart of a Coward: Hope & Hindrance

Two years in its creation Hope & Hindrance the debut album from UK metallers Heart of a Coward has been the focus of much eager anticipation. The media and fans alike have been waiting with at times a less than patient gait but the mightily impressive release more than justifies the saying that all good things come to those that wait, and does it with a formidable and explosive collection of bruising anger fuelled defiant and intense tracks.

Formed in 2007 the Milton Keynes based quintet of guitarists Carl Ayers and Steve Haycock, bassist Vishal V Khetia, drummer Christopher Noddy Mansbridge (ex-Enter Shikari and Fellsilent), and ex-Sylosis vocalist Jamie Graham, has fired up much attention and enthused acclaim for their muscular mix of groove metal and metalcore through their live shows, an early demo plus the Collisions EP both 2008, and The Dead Sea EP the following year. It is arguably with the addition of Graham and Mansbridge last year to the band that interest rose even more acutely to ensure an eager definite waiting audience for this first album.

Hope & Hindrance badgers and rampages through the ear from the opening full heart beat of first song Motion through to closing intense cranial investigation of Break These Chains. The album challenges and consumes the senses with tumultuous riffs, technical skill, and ingrained melodic grooves that attach themselves with a compulsive attraction. It is testing and provocative but equally inspiring and infectious. As the opening song also shows the album and band is strikingly inventive. Motion descends on the ear from distance as it invites itself in to then  explode into venomous and  acidic melodies that drip from the violent intent that spines the song. With technical intricacies spawn from the likes of Meshuggah and Uneven Structure the track manipulates and convinces submission whilst the vocals of Graham passionately growls and aggressively spews out lyrics that are as caustic and invoking as their delivery. The balance the band brings between the intense nature of the music and the intelligently crafted progressive and melodic technical invention is perfect making each song a rounded and fully satisfying experience.

As the album moves through its slices of stirring tracks it twists and turns constantly making for a release that is varied and never predictable. From the excellent All Eyes To The Sky with its thoughtful and emotive melodies, the wonderfully abrasive Nightmare, to the Deftones flavoured Light, the album leaves one searching for cover but equally breathless and grinning from the pure power and striking craft that pours from each song. The third of these three songs is a slow brooding creature that consumes with a  dark grace whilst veined with a building ominous tone which is never allowed free rein at any point. The track is majestic and an inspired break from the raging intensity elsewhere.

It is hard to pick a highlight from this persistently high quality release but Around A Girl (In 80 Days) definitely makes a good shout for it. The song plays against and with the insidious intensity that takes the ear by force with smoothly compelling vocal and warm yet sharp harmonies. As always there is never a moment of complete safety from the adversarial intent and sounds but the band knows how to temper this with imaginative skill as the corrosively urgent We Stand As One shows.

Hope & Hindrance is an excellent album that endorses and elevates all the hopes and expectations that were laid before its arrival. Heart of a Coward has stated with strength and the undeniable proof of their album that they are a band that should and surely will become a major part of UK metal.

RingMaster 24/04/2012

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.damaged: Road Trip EP

If you are looking for some unfussy straight forward strong rock sounds then you should go checking out the new EP from German band .damaged. Consisting of five tracks that rumble through the ear to party with your senses, the Road Trip EP is a satisfying and more than decent slab of rock music as it should always be, pure, highly charged, and honest.

      .damaged had its beginnings in 2008 formed by guitarist Alex Staschko, bassist Florian Schmitz, and drummer Sven Dirkschneider, the son of metal legend Udo Dirkschneider (Accept, U.D.O.). With the line-up soon completed by second guitarist Christian Meinke and vocalist Phil Werbelow, the band set to work on writing original songs with a punk flavouring. Finished, self recorded and produced these became the first offering from the band though by the dying embers of 2009 the band decided they were not up to their evolving standard and re-recorded them. Success and good progress in the Emergenza Contest 2010, plus a continual series of gigs including supporting David Reece followed before the band sat down to work on new material. What emerged were songs that had naturally removed themselves from the punk genre into a defined rock fuelled area. Redefining their whole set and direction the band then approached U.D.O. guitarist and producer Stefan Kaufmann, with whom they recorded the Road Trip EP in the Summer of 2011.

Road Trip is an accomplished and fulfilling release that gives strong pleasure but also lays down great promise for the band ahead. It comes without frills or indulgences to simply rock out with each and every new friend who comes across it. The EP plays like a mate, a buddy that you know well and without trying have a strong affection for. It does not make one work through startlingly new ideas and sounds to get to know it but instead feeds from familiar rock elements to make a companion that one can enjoy life with and sink beers alongside easily.

The first two songs on the release are the strongest and has one recruited instantly to the band and their sound. Liquor & Poker is a smoky whiskey soaked slice of rock n roll. With rhythms that poke and incite alongside a bass that growls wonderfully the song unveils dirty riffs and suggestive melodies. Vocalist Werbelow has a great gritty delivery that compliments the sounds around him. The song does not explode preferring to saunter through the ear with a calm presence whilst holding a sense of menace suggesting get it riled up and watch out.

The title song is the best thing on the release, a track that bristles and cruises with high octane energy and muscular power. By the first chorus it has all joining in as if we have known it for years, fists clenched and emotions flying in its wake. As mentioned the release does not venture down new detours but what is given as proven here is accomplished and very digestible rock music. As the song plays the guitars whip up feelings and the pulse rate whilst the rhythms lead one in energetic enthusiasm, the combination irresistible.

The remaining tracks Long Gone Creed, Given Up To Praise, and Never Leaves My Mind, continue the pleasing and very agreeable sounds. The first retains some punk elements though still firmly a rock n roll track with anthemic qualities whilst the second of the three is an instantaneous stomp that engages and gets one again fully involved. By this point on the release it is impossible to ignore the excellent individual contributions, especially bassist Schmitz, his grumbling prowling riffs a constant dark pleasure that gets the juices flowing.

Road Trip is not the most original release to come along but it is one of the most satisfying and easy to become at one with. In future output from the band maybe we will be looking for more distinct and original ideas but right now the EP firmly shows .damaged as a band to follow and keep a close eye on.

https://www.facebook.com/damagedmusic

RingMaster 24/04/2012

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