The Duel Interview

This year saw one of the more important punk albums in All Aboard The Crazy Train from London Punk Rockers The Duel with songs inspired by and moving on from the 70’s punk and 80’s new wave. With much excitement The RingMaster Review had the opportunity to ask The Duel about themselves, the album and punk.

Hello and big thanks for sparing time to talk to us here at The RingMaster Review, would you be as kind as to introduce the members of the band?

Tara Rez Vocals/ Songwriter

Andy Thierum  Keytar /Songwriter

Chris Mcdougall – Bass

Thanos Guitar

Pumpy Drums

For those still not as aware of you as they should be, could you tell us about the beginnings of the band, how Tara and Rex met etc?

Funnily we met thru an ad in the melody maker. Andy s Manager was auditioning singers for his band & I had just walked away from my then Manager, who wanted me to do ‘pop’. I was in the pub feeling gloomy, saw a melody maker on the table, flicked thru it, spotted this ad that sounded like me, sent them my stuff, got invited for an audition, we both liked each other’s stuff a lot and within half an hour of meeting we wrote an amazing song, and then we both ‘knew’ we were on the same page and we d found what we were looking for. We then literally turned our lives upside down in order to be together and create the songs we dreamed were within us.

As someone who only ‘discovered’ music when punk exploded in ’76, how and when did you guys first absorb the sound that runs through your veins?

Both of us at an early age were obsessed with music and writing. It’s always been there.   Andy was writing music very early and me writing songs.  I spent a lot of time on my own growing up.  But I had the radio & John Peel. The first song I fell in love with as a child was ‘This Is Not A Love Song’ by PiL, after PiL I listened to the Sex Pistols!    Funnily I just found out from Andy it was ‘Love Song’ by The Damned that got him. Typical Duel yin & yang!

What were the strongest influences that help shape your sound to some degree and which band is THE punk band for you? (Ruts is ours)

I guess we are Punks spawn from the Rave Generation. Though we have a vast musical taste it’s the Ramones & Dead Boys that have been a very heavy influence on us.  Their music and songs always scratched our itch & have really helped us not to give up and keep going despite the struggles and opposition we’ve faced. Hence we covered a song from each of them on the first album to pay homage. FOLLOWED BY The Clash and many other well known & more obscure 77 punk bands.

On the surface it feels that apart from a few great exceptions like you that real punk is a dormant sound lost to the pop punk brigade, what is the reality that you guys have found?

Andy: Exactly that! It’s been a pleasure for us hearing bands from ‘77 that made you feel like you were hearing something new.

Tara – the reality is that you can copy the formula and you can copy the clothes, but you can miss the point and (un)fortunately that missed point will also shine thru your sounds.  Punk bands back then had a great way of being able to express themselves in a free, original new way – Every musical explosion that changed the world had its own unique sound – this is what we want to be a part of in our times –that euphoria  – in 2012 !? .. bring it on!!!

You are soon to release your excellent new album All Aboard The Crazy Train, what can people expect from it? 

The unexpected!

Has your sound changed much from your previous albums, Let’s Finish What We Started in 2007 and Childish Behaviour in 2009?

Andy: In one way but the format has stayed the same and the song writing has always been about new ideas.

Tara: Our first official album Lets Finish What We Started – was great fun to make but took sooo long.  We couldn’t get any support from anyone to help us release it despite great reviews of the demos discovered from all over the world!  The music industry especially in Rock and Punk was on the decline so we had to record it our self.  Took forever to work and pay for the studio fees – tho’ we are happy with the album and the whole band as we were – but very frustrating times for us moving at a snail’s pace.

By the time it came to writing the second album, we were like, there’s no way we’re gonna wait years before it’s out.  In hindsight, we should have just released it as soon as we wrote it but we didn’t for fear of getting slated for being too raw. We were trying to be ‘pro’ about it like the first album. It’s hard to get a good perspective of something when you’re living and breathing it with no outside support. We couldn’t strike the balance with making the recordings sound how we wanted ‘cos we didn’t have the money. Especially after touring etc. So we did the only thing we could do, we just re-recorded it all at home with what we had, and gave it to the world. It was a humble release. All within 6 months, we released a double album of brand new songs that were all written in that time.  That attracted more fans from a wider audience and got great reviews from people that could ‘see through and beyond’ the recording quality.  What was also great about this album was seeing punks from different sub genres being turned onto it. Yeah that’s we like! when we all unite! : )

Come ‘All Aboard The Crazy Train’ By now, we’d taken so much shit from nay sayers (why do they always have the most audible voice!) that we we’re now just defiantly walking our own path.  If we hadn’t have made the first two albums, we wouldn’t have learnt what we needed to create the 3rd – both emotionally and technically.

How about the actual recording, what is the difference now to when you first stepped into the studio

We have access to better recording equipment and have learnt a lot about how to record our sound on a shoe string budget. We do the bulk of it at home and finish as little as possible in a ‘pro’ studio.

The songs on the album are strong with social commentary and sense, but do you feel people ‘listen’ to the words and react as they did back in the late seventies?

Andy: It would be nice to think that if enough people heard it would invite their emotions to lean to that way.

Tara : they’re not gonna react like they did in the seventies, ‘cos that was then and our times, tho’ history repeats itself – our times,  have moved on and are more challenging than ever for every generation on all corners of the earth.

If the sound wasn’t right, I wouldn’t want to sing with it so the sound of course is the most important. On this album, I admit I ranted on about the same things a fair few times.  I really annoyed myself. But that was what was in me & it troubled, plagued me a lot and Andy was very supportive of this.  All my poems/writings at the time were sorta on the same track, tho’ once we wrote ‘Two Suns’ the last track on the album, I felt a real sense of release, and I felt free to move on lyrically.  Hopefully the music & lyrics combined will awake, ignite & re-ignite the ones that it is for!  The rest of us can enjoy the ride together on the wave of beats and melodies.

Though studio recordings the songs on All Aboard The Crazy Train come over with a live feel, was this conscientiously aimed at or just a natural thing?

That’s a hard question, it’s definitely a conscience aim to be able to record our sound how we like to hear it, our aim is always to bring across the feel of the song we’re working on.

Talking of live music, you have shared stages with the likes of Dead Kennedys, UK Subs, Vice Squad, Buzzcocks……the list goes on, which show has been your favourite and most personally influential?

All of them have been great honour & experience for sure.  Playing with Walter Lure at The Continental in New York in 2006 was a very special gig for us & the things he came up and said about us afterwards really really encouraged us not to give up being ourselves – as imperfect as we were !

Peter Hook , The Tights, Angie Bowie, Charlie Harper – UK Subs, Knox – The Vibrators , Rebellion Festival, Toxin – they have all played an important role  to our individual growth

Watching the videos on Youtube of your performances at UK Rebellion Festival where you have played for the past five years. It was interesting to see the audiences. Is it a varied audience in type and age that come to see you generally?

Online our larger audience seems to be the under 18s & under 24’s (thanks to the stats on Facebook!) I guess it’s a varied age group at live shows tho’, but it’s real nice to see people coming back to shows who’ve liked us long time 🙂

Coming back to the album and a song’s political and social comment, tell us about what is for us the best track on the album with its Clash, Transplants, Ruts feel, ‘The Way London Used To Be’.

We first wrote that song many years ago, we could probably release an album of just different mixes we’ve done of it!  But this song just keeps coming back to us in different guises so it’s hard to escape its importance & relevance for today.  Now we see the protests and riots around the world its kinda freaky seeing the reality of the words come true!

Your new video is for ‘I’m On To You’, also on the album. Where was that recorded? It looked cold haha.

Video was made in Shoreditch about a week before Xmas last year, and yeah it was ffffreezing!

How will you be promoting the album upon release, live shows planned?

In true upside down DIY style, we did the tour of the album earlier this year, even though the album wasn’t ready, was frustrating but we had some hiccups recording wise and so it couldn’t be released at the same time,  as we hoped and planned.   We will be doing more select shows – we can’t stop gigging – it’s our love! But we are currently making some more videos, as this is the high demand we’re getting from a lot of people around the world who want to see more of us but can’t. If we got a call tomorrow to say pack your things you’re gonna  tour the world  to promote this album, the whole band would be ready & up for it ; )

Lastly, on the album we were reminded by Tara at times of the likes of Pauline Murray, Siouxsie Sioux and Poly Styrene who was her biggest influence vocally?

If you know Tara, you d know she’s really not trying to sound like anyone & you’d know her influences really come from herself and her life so far, but songs/music she loves  and is influenced by  comes from a wide variety of singers that include both male & female.

And Hilly shaking his head, looking confused & replied ‘well which one does she sound like?  She CAN’T sound like all of them!’ he said

And Todd replied incredulous, ‘but she can  …and she does!’

Many thanks for talking with us and good luck with the album, not that you will need it, would you like to leave us with any last thoughts or words?

Yes, thank you so much for taking the time to listen to our new album, for the review and the really interesting questions you’ve asked – was fun answering them.

Hope to see many good things come from this album.  A big Thank you to Gary Hutchinson for helping us promote it, takes the pressure off and allows us to do what we really are.  His support ‘lightened the load’ to the point that we have already started work on the fourth album.  ; )

All the best & big love from The Duel coming at ya X

Oh yes she can and as Todd said does Hilly haha and for more information on All Aboard The Crazy Train and The Duel go to https://www.facebook.com/thedueluk

Review of  All Aboard The Crazy Train @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/the-duel-all-aboard-the-crazy-train/

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The Junk Interview

With sounds more contagious than any virulent disease Brighton ska punk band The Junk released one of the liveliest and infectious albums of the year in Problem Reaction Solution via 12 Step/Bad Mood Records. Renowned for their rousing live shows and heart pumping fevered ska core sounds The RingMaster Review had the pleasure to find out more about The Junk with vocalist Jake.

Hi and a big thank you for taking time to yap with us here.

Pleasure!

Could you introduce the band members and give some history to The Junk?

Sure. So on drums we have Lee aka “butters” and on bass…..Perity. The guitars are supplied by Bill and Skinner and our horn section is made up of Moff on trumpet, Colley on trombone and bean on sax. Oh and me (Jake) on lead vocals. Me and Perity started the band as a side project to an old band early 2008, it took off almost instantly so we dropped everything else and hit the road. We have been touring relentlessly ever since.

Was the band eight strong from the start and has there always been a brass section?

No we were actually very briefly a 3 piece: just me, Butters and Perity, but by the time we played or second show we had found the horn section, soon after that I stopped playing the guitar and Skinner joined. The last addition was Bill, who joined literally 4 weeks before we recorded the album last year. It’s crazy to think how much it’s all changed in such a small amount of time.

Your home town of Brighton is renowned for bearing great bands for decades now, has it had a big influence on the band and sound as one would imagine?

I don’t think that it has affected our sound so much, but it’s definitely given us a lot to live up to. Like you said, Brighton is such a good place for music and I think it has made us all work a little bit harder. I know what you mean about certain places having a sound or a scene but I think Brighton is more a melting pot than and influence….In a good way.

Give us some insight into the most potent influences that has led to you all into ska-punk.

Wow, that one’s tricky! There are the obvious heroes that bare their mark like Capdown, Streetlight Manifesto, Link 80 and Lightyear, but there are so many more that have inspired us. Anyone unlucky enough to be stuck in the tour bus with us would be shocked and sometimes maybe appalled at some of our tracklists. Me for instance I love a bit of gypsy swing, Bill is a metal boy through and through, whereas Colley is into classical. We all love anything with passion though! None of this Radio 1 bullshit (that sort of stuff is really making kids stupid). That being said it is hard to say what influences the other JUNKs to do what we do, but for me I think its older punk bands like NOFX, I remember seeing them when I was maybe 13 or 14 years old and just thinking WOW!” These guys are just having so much fun! That same week my best friend lent me a Sublime album and I was hooked. When I discovered bands like Capdown and King Prawn not only existed but played regularly an hour down the road from where I lived I really caught the bug.

Is there a dedicated audience for your shows and sounds or do you pull in a good cross section of people at your shows?

We have a pretty interesting mix I think. Students, anarchists, young kids, old stinky punks… the list goes on and grows all the time. I recently discovered from a fan that she took her dad to a show and that now he goes without her: I met him soon after at a show in London and was so chuffed that this guy a generation older than us and no former fan of punk or ska had tapped into what we were doing a genuinely loved it! What a ledge! The best thing is we have AWSOME fans and friends wherever we have been. Oh and the after parties have never been a let down either.

How does the songwriting happen with such a large band to bring elements to the songs?

Nine times out of ten I will write the songs and the guys will add their parts and it’s just done quick and easy. Lee has written a couple on the album (Left For Dead and Nick Griffin Is A Cunt) and a beautiful reggae track which is gonna be on our next release. I Really love writing music with the Junk because they are all such talented people. I am always so excited to bring a new tune to practice to see how it will change and grow as each member gets hold of it. I guess it should be harder with more people but we have always just clicked and worked quickly with each other.

You have just released your impressive debut full length album Problem Reaction Solution, what are you most proud of with it?  

Personally, that we kept that ruff edge to the sound and that we stuck to our roots with the songs we put on it. Over the last few years of touring we have met a whole lot of people and they have all had their advice and opinions to give. A common philosophy given to me was that it is a good idea to be a bit more radio friendly with the songs on your 1st full length, we didn’t do that! We made a balls out ska punk record and we kept it dirty the way we like it and the way that our fan base likes us to sound. It was a risk I guess as a lot of bands these days are going for a slightly more shiny production but it paid off and I am glad we did it, loud and simple the way it should be. Also I would like to think it has its own sound you know? But then maybe I have to say that being in the band and all. Too many ‘bands’ write for a specific audience – people that will buy their songs and keep them afloat. With that though, I think you really lose a lot of the passion of writing because you want to. We just let loose with whatever came out, and what we feel passionate about. ya dig (yeah, it is cool to say ‘ya dig’).

How would you say your sound has evolved between your acclaimed 2009 debut EP Novus Ordo Sectorum and the album?

It’s grown for sure. The original sound of the junk is definitely still in there but with new sounds layered in. There Is a more hardcore influence and bits of metal even in places and we didn’t shy away from letting the dub and reggae come through as well. We have already started working on material for the second album and the sound still seems to be evolving it’s very exciting!

Does the album truly capture your live sound or is there more in the live environment that can only flourish there within you?

I think it does as well as any album can but for me you can never truly capture the energy of a live show in a record .Don’t get me wrong I am more than happy with the record we made but there is something magic about a live set that I don’t think you can recreate or even record, it’s just something between the audience and the people onstage: our gigs are usually pretty mental whether you’re in the pit or on the stage and that’s what we feed off as a band

There is a core sound to the ska punk genre but how have you or what do you add to make yours distinctive?

We have our own sound within the genre I think, but what it is that makes that? I have to admit I am unsure .Maybe having 8 completely different people with completely different tastes is the key. One thing for sure is that nothing is off the table when we are writing; we are constantly trying to find new ways of dragging in new sounds and ideas. An example being a new unfinished track which jumps from double time punk into live samba/drum n bass…..That sounds weird when you say it out loud! Basically it’s all about having fun with the music for us and I like to think that comes through.

Your songs often strike aggressively with lyrics about emotive subjects socially and personally, how do you make that seriousness work easily with the contagiously fun sounds without either losing their impact?

Whenever I write lyrics I always find myself leaning towards a slightly sarcastic tongue in cheek place, I think that goes well with ska punk and what we do; even if I am singing about something serious I am always trying to find ways to poke fun at it. It helps that we are such good friends too, if I am singing about something personal the guys all know what it is and get in the mood with me and kind of play that way I guess, it’s hard to explain but it all just seems to click together.

Tell us about your notorious live shows.

I think I can speak for all of us when I say that the live shows are the best part of being in the junk!  Like I said, it’s all about energy and as much chaos as we can cram in, and the more the audience get into it the more we do. I actually have a fair few trumpet shaped dents and scars from our shows. Moff can boast a broken ankle and Lee actually ended up in hospital, and all his finger and toe nails fell out after a show last year in Marseille, France – true story. When we started out we always had the ethos that even if we only had 10 people in a room we would play as if there were 1000. We are really lucky as we always seem to have such energetic fans these days and it just makes us push even harder when we know people are enjoying it as much as we are.

One imagines your sound is universal especially with the tours and shows you have made so far but are there places you have found where it does not have the same impact culturally or any you imagine that would be a test?

Actually not yet. I am sure there are plenty of places that would just think we are noisy crazy people though, happy to give anywhere a go just once. Maybe a RAF base or some old woman’s house in Croatia should be next on the cards….

How has the album promotion gone and what has it consisted of so far?

Really well thanks. There was a nice long press campaign and the reviews that came back were just awesome! We just couldn’t believe it! Got some great pieces in Big Cheese mag and Rocksound too. We have toured both UK and Europe again since the release and plan to do so again in the new year. It has had a lot of radio play and we will be releasing videos for 3 of the tracks off the album around Christmas. Myself and Lee have really plugged it hard through our own label “12step plan” and our label in Switzerland “Bad Mood Records” have done the same the other side of the water. It has all been hard work but the response has been overwhelming and we are all just made up that people are enjoying our music.

What is next for The Junk?

Going to as many water parks as possible- we love swimming. We wanna have the new album out as soon as possible too! It’s mostly all written now and we plan to record and produce it all ourselves. On top of that we just can’t wait to get out touring again so if you see that we are coming through your town, come and say hi!  I have been speaking to various record companies about next year and the album and it all looks really positive. There is talk of a U.S  tour which would be a new adventure so fingers crossed!

Thank you for talking with us it has been a pleasure. Would you like to leave us by revealing the one song that you feel really epitomizes The Junk?

Thanks to you too! Anytime! If I had to choose one I would say “Scream Your Dreams” it’s got all the energy, sarcasm, different styles and sounds in to represent us I think. Also it was one of the first songs we wrote so it’s a special one. Thanks again for having us!

For more info on Problem Reaction Solution go to http://www.thejunk.co.uk

Review of Problem Reaction Solution @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2011/08/26/the-junk-%E2%80%93-problem-reaction-solution/

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Luke Ritchie – The Water’s Edge

The Water’s Edge the debut album from Londoner and singer songwriter Luke Ritchie is simply a startling ‘geographical’ trip through emotions, sound and the heart. One says simply but the music within the album is of such tender care, composition, and emotive design that it is impossible not to be touched and moved by its acoustic beauty and stirring design.

Luke Ritchie’s musical journey as well as the two years that the album took to be realised has been an example of effort and dedication to ones faith with The Water’s Edge the result and proof of belief and determination. The Autumn of 2009 saw Ritchie approached by start-up label Angel Falls with the intention for him to record an EP. The EP Cover It Up was made with Ant Whiting (M.I.A, Paloma Faith, Zero 7) on mixing and production but the deal subsequently fell through with the label and the EP unreleased. Undeterred Ritchie carried on which began with him recording a song a week and the creation of his own podcasts. These podcasts went on for six months and gained around 8,500 downloads.

He then played in bands including The Golden Retrievers who supported Rumer on her Spring 2011 tour and with acclaimed folk singer Hannah Peel. The next step of this journey for Ritchie saw Leo Warner of Fifty-Nine Productions who had heard the podcasts, connecting him with classical composer Nico Muhly (Anthony and the Johnsons, Bjork). From this link up The Water’s Edge sees five Nico compositions for songs on the release adding even more grace to the existing sounds and melodies. The album was finished with Paul Savage (Arab Strab, Mogwai), winner of the Breakthrough Producer 2010 Award, at Chem 19 Studios in Glasgow and soon to be unveiled upon surely what will be amazed and eagerly devouring ears.  

      The album opens with the creative emotion of ‘The Lighthouse’. Lifting from a stirring and touching quiet and slow ballad start it gently hits deeper and more powerfully as it opens up, the additional stunning vocals of Nia Lynn (Jazz Vocalist of the Year nominee 2010, Gwilym Simcock) complimenting Ritchie impressively. She also enhances the next song ‘Shanty’, a foot tapping folk song that canters though the ear excitedly and wonderfully. Immediately it places itself as favourite track on the album though no one song is lacking the same impetus and effect however they deliver their emotive sounds.

Where Ritchie is different to many singer songwriters is that you feel the songs as well as hear them. He has the skill to place the listener within the small world or moment that themes each song, to go deeper and touch further than most other songs no matter their quality. Songs like the ballad ‘Off Your Guard’, the Paul Simon/John Martyn spiced ‘Cover It Up’ and the irresistible poppier ‘Butterfly’ again with Lynn backing, caress and please the ear thoroughly. Even if your musical taste is of a more urgent and meatier tone it is impossible not to be sucked within Ritchie’s musical charms to some degree.

The Water’s Edge is nicely varied within an overall uniform feel to the album with other songs like the Common Tongues sounding ‘Lonely Second’ and closing gem ‘Song To Sundays’ equally essential as those mentioned. Luke Ritchie may have taken time to reach this point but the quest and effort has proven more than worthwhile and with The Water’s Edge he has provided one of the year’s finest releases.

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Xerosun – Absence Of Light

With a sense of recognition alongside fresh vibrant riffs and melodic insurgency comes the debut album from Irish rock/metal band Xerosun. The quartet from Dublin though founded in 2003 are still relatively unknown to many but with Absence Of Light released via Rising Records one suspects that will surely change as its thrusting and impressive sounds find more eager ears to satisfy.

Consisting of vocalist and bassist Ivan O’Sullivan, guitarists Fiachra Kelly and Gareth Jeffs, and drummer Darrin Bell, Xerosun have unleashed ten tracks that though they admittedly do not break down many doors into unknown musical territories but do eagerly and cleverly utilise influences and touches to enhance their own flavoursome sounds and ideas. The songs are varied and play with a slight Foo Fighters /Sick Puppies taste fused with some Metallica intensity and grunge rock spices, each seemingly playing like an old friend with a glimpse of familiarity and all with a striking and infectious energy.

Since their formation the band has gigged extensively across Ireland and the UK and released two well received EP’s and additional videos to coincide with their appearance. Along the way they have also grabbed the attention and support of the likes of Paradise Lost guitarist Gregor Mackintosh when Xerosun covered his band’s classic track ‘True Belief‘. With a TV appearance in Ireland reaching 500,000 also under their belt things are moving upward for the band something Absence Of Light can only accelerate.  

The album opens on a high with ‘Cut Me Down’, the song is an instant pleasure for the senses with the pumping riffs and Hetfield like vocal attack from O’Sullivan an obvious and engaging invitation. The sing-a-long chorus adds to the eager attack and the song is a friend long before it lays down its last note. Though not the most aggressive track on the album it is no less pleasing as can be said about its successor ‘In My Mind’ which though different carries the same rock set up and result.

One of the especially pleasing aspects of songs is the deep basslines and tone again of O’Sullivan. His throbbing and emotive bass a wonderful contrast and compliment to the incisive and robust guitar play from Kelly and Jeffs. ‘Broken’ is an impassioned song rising up off of a dark bass riff toned with a part gothic part grunge almost Pearl Jam like feel. It stands as one of the three stand out songs though all tracks on the album are very agreeable.

Long Way Down’ starts on the best gutsy bass sound heard in a long time under pinning the more melodic direction of the song. The song as with all is well written and thought out, having every aspect a good rock song should in abundance except a sting of originality maybe but when it sounds this good it is hard to level that as a major flaw. The album’s best track ‘Silent All’ is the same, not breathing uniqueness but conjuring and delivering aggression and excitement that the majority of releases fail to find.

If you are looking for solid and exciting rock/metal sounds that attach themselves to the ear with eagerness and extremely well presented thrilling hooks, riffs, and melodies look no further than Xerosun. They may still be yet to find their own distinct sound but they still leave most other rock bands standing in their wake.

http://www.xerosun.com

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