Yorkshire Rats – Self Titled EP

It is fair to say that since returning from an extended hiatus, UK punks Yorkshire Rats have blossomed into one persistently rousing and creatively tenacious proposition. It is not as if their early years were barren from success and plaudits let alone ear exciting sounds but as their new self-titled EP shows, maturity and a new creative drive has seen them become one of the essential melodic punk encounters on the British if not global scene.

Formed in Pontefract by vocalist/guitarist Don Mercy (ex-Abrasive Wheels, ex-Billy No Mates) in 2004, Yorkshire Rats released a well received 7” and EP in their two years capped by supporting Rancid in 2006. Then the band took that hiatus before returning around a decade after first stepping forward and subsequently released their swiftly acclaimed debut album, Sea of Souls in 2015 via Indelirium Records. It was a release embracing the band’s earlier sound whilst welcoming a broader punk canvas and that new energy, all subsequently pushed again by the Trouble City EP last year and now their new four track offering.

Again the new release sees the band drawing on the seeds of punk rock across the decades and from both sides of the North Atlantic, infusing all into their own individual hook strapped, melody shaped songs. The EP opens up with the irresistible Alone Together, a track “all about the strains of relationships whether that be romantic or political.” It opens up with a delicious old school hook, raw bait surely nurtured from a Ramones/Stiff Little Fingers like inspiration. Soon rhythms are jabbing at the persistent lure, in turn the potent vocals of Mercy flirting with ears and matching the infectious strength of the sounds around him. The melodic boisterousness and craft of lead guitarist Matt Lee only adds richer colour to a song already gripping the imagination and body with its chopping riffs and rousing rhythms.

The following Where Do I Sign? brings a more US styled stroll to ears; its lively body and melodic enterprise akin to Green Day though soon developing its own unique character as the firm beats of drummer Chris Furness and the dark swing of Josh Clarke’s bass unite with the fiery veins infused by Lee. Though slightly more restrained in energy compared to its predecessor it is an equal in catchiness and uncaging lusty hooks as too next up No Way Out. There is more of a Social Distortion spicing to the third track, it again a bold and flirtatious proposal with an addictive chorus impossible to resist. With a bassline to drool over and an enslaving sing-a-long vocal temptation further in, the song hits the spot dead centre.

Final track, Better Days Will Come, is an energetic croon with a Joe Jackson like riff and Elvis Costello scented melodic suggestiveness, all wrapped up in Yorkshire Rats creative theatre. It is a fine end to an outstanding release with Mercy a vocal magnet even as hooks and melodies intensify their weight and  temptation.

The EP is the most rounded and relentlessly contagious offering from Yorkshire Rats yet, its songs relishing the inevitable increase in as suggested songwriting maturity and individual let alone united craft. A must have for melodic punk fans? We think so!

The Yorkshire Rats EP is out now on Northern Ruff Records @ http://yorkshirerats.com/store/ and other online stores.

http://yorkshirerats.com/    https://www.facebook.com/yorkshirerats    https://twitter.com/yorkshire_rats

Pete RingMaster 21/06/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Sharp teeth and rock ‘n’ roll: talking Yorkshire Rats with Don Mercy

YR_RingMaster Review

March sees the release of the Trouble City EP, another rousing and provocative slice of punk infused rock ‘n’ roll from UK band Yorkshire Rats. The successor to last year’s outstanding debut album, Sea of Souls, the new three-track release is further confirmation of a band with anthemic punk ‘n’ roll flowing through their creative veins and a hunger to push themselves and their creative adventure with every song and release. Ahead of the EP’s unveiling; we gratefully took some of band founder Don Mercy’s time to dig into the origins, history, and new phase of the Yorkshire Rats increasing impact on the British rock scene.

Hi Don and thanks for sharing your time to talk with us.

You formed the band back in 2004; what was the spark bringing Yorkshire Rats to life and was there a particular idea for the band?

No problem! Fuck! 12 years ago, I must say I didn’t think we’d be back rolling around, not after we pulled the plug in 2007, I think it was.

Originally it was me and a good friend of mine called Sean Brewin who came up with the idea for the band. We used to hang out together, go skateboarding drink cider, the usual teenage shit. I’d played in various bands before with friends from school but wanted to do something a bit different. I was massively into the punk rock thing but not many of the guys in my school were. Sean was from another school local to me and there were loads of guys who we grew up with that we’re big Fat Wreck, Green Day, Rancid fans. I think we were around 17 when we started the Rats. There was an old pub in our home town of Pontefract called the Counting House. All the local alternative folks used to go in there and they had live bands on every Tuesday night. We’d been drinking in there from the age of 14 and we ended up meeting a few other musicians who were into our idea to start a band. I’d write the songs and we’d kind of share lead vocals. We learnt a few covers and got into a practice room.

I think we wrote our first EP in about a month, recorded it and sold DIY copies to our pals. We played our first shows in the Counting House and they were always great. A lot of people really liked what the band was about, we sang about miners and the working class’ history of struggle in the area.

There wasn’t any big plan involved, we just wanted to have fun and play some music, cliché I know…

Photo by Carl ChalkmanVideo Arnfield

Photo by Carl ChalkmanVideo Arnfield

You had previously played in Abrasive Wheels and Billy No Mates; how did those experiences impact on how you wanted Yorkshire Rats to be, sound like, and differ?

I actually only did one tour with Billy No Mates, I wasn’t a permanent member, I just filled in for one of their guitarists. We had the same manager at the time and they had a European tour booked.

I was 18 and had never been to Germany or Italy. I got a call from our manager, then a call from Duncan. I had a week to get a passport and learn 18 songs; we never even had a rehearsal, we just went straight to Berlin and played a show. It was amazing! It was my first real tour and I learnt so much about how it all works. To be honest I don’t think I would have progressed any further without doing that tour, there’s only so many times you can read about it before you have to grab it by the balls and get out there. I seized that chance and will be forever grateful for that opportunity.

I’m not sure how much it influenced my band’s sound…..

I was in Abrasive wheels for a couple of years; this was before I started the rats back up. It was ok; I was playing with some really great musicians in that band so it definitely raised my standards in terms of what kind of musicians I would want to have in the new incarnation of the rats. I wouldn’t be happy with just anyone now. I’ve always been a big fan of the early 80s UK punk thing so playing with them was fun for a while. They just didn’t tour enough for me and they all had 20 plus years on me ha-ha

The members of Yorkshire Rats were all known to each other before the band was formed; before and post break?

This is a completely new line up from the original. Me and our other guitarist Matty went to school together from the very beginning, good Catholic boys, well once upon a time anyways.

We had to get a new drummer and bass player since we released Sea of Souls because the other guys couldn’t commit to serious touring. So we got Chris on drums and then Josh on bass. We found both of those guys just before German tours. I’d suggest that anyone stuck for band members, book a German tour! You’ll find whoever you need…. eventually.

It was a strong couple of years first time around seeing a well-received single and EP released and the supporting of Rancid live amongst numerous successful shows. Then the band went on a hiatus. What primarily brought that about?

I think we all had different agendas; it went from being fun to being a drug fuelled mess. We’d had various line-up changes because people couldn’t commit and it just seemed no matter what I did, we just kept going round in circles. We were young, maybe we thought that because we had management, a label, and had done some higher profile shows that things were just going to fall into place on their own. I now know that’s not how it works, getting higher profile shows means the band is moving forward and that’s precisely the time to put extra pressure on.

And the biggest spark to the return of the band?album art_RingMaster Review

Obviously Brewins isn’t here on lead vocals, but the plan was for him to be the singer again when we reformed. He’d joined the Army after the band split and I hadn’t seen him for a while, but we met up at a Bad Religion show in Manchester. It seemed just like the old days so we agreed to give it another shot with a new line up of people we could trust to help us do it right. His Army career was supposed to be winding down so we set to work on new songs and rehearsing but it turned out that it wasn’t going to work out so we agreed that I would take over all the vocal duties.

Was it easier in many ways to return to a keenly waiting and expectant fan base than when starting out originally or vice versa?

I didn’t really give it much thought to be honest. I knew that I wanted to keep some key parts of the old band, anthemic songs, big guitars etc., but I also knew that I wanted to bring everything up to date and move forward. There’s always going to be people that say you’re doing things wrong but I usually don’t pay much attention to those guys.

Would you say that anything specifically changed within you for the band through that period away? In sound, the drive of personal etc.?

I think the sound of the band has definitely progressed. We pulled back on the hi gain guitars and it’s all about the rhythm section. I just try to write good songs. I think a good song will always win. I guess in terms of sound we have a classic rock n roll type sound; I don’t think we’re really that stylised. My songs always start on an acoustic guitar then we beef them up in the rehearsal room.

I never write a song with a particular sound or genre in mind. I don’t know whether that’s a curse right now. It’s almost like if you don’t sound like Nirvana no one cares. But then again when we first started unless you sounded like Arctic Monkeys no one cared ha-ha

Debut album, Sea of Souls marked your return in potent style with its acclaimed release in 2015. Fair to say it poked stronger and broader spotlights your way?

I think it made people take us seriously for sure. I’m not one for doing what everyone else is doing, maybe having a different sound made the album stand out.

It’s still a hard slog and we do as much of the work as we can on our own. Getting the CJ Ramone tour was a big deal for us, and now he’s a fan of ours which is really surreal. I’m a huge Ramones fan so to have someone like that telling us that we’re doing something right is a real boost. We’re hoping to play some more shows together in the near future but nothing is confirmed yet, we’ll have to wait and see.

Now you are poised to uncage its successor in the shape of the Trouble City EP this March. How would you say the two differ in their punk ‘n’ roll sounds and how you approached each in the writing and recording?

I guess both Sea of Souls and Trouble City had the same approach in terms of writing and recording. Sea of Souls has some old revamped songs from back in the day that never came out.

A lot of the songs for the rats seem to write themselves. I dick about with a guitar for a while and sing some nonsense and things seem to come together pretty quickly. That being said I don’t let any old shit through, if a song isn’t working I just throw it away and move on. I think the sound has become more mature since Sea of Souls. It’s the same kind of vibe but it feels and sounds like a band that’s been playing consistently together for a good few tours.

Trouble City art_RingMaster ReviewI believe the Trouble City EP was recorded in Berlin late last year whilst you were on tour in Germany? Was that always the aim to record the tracks over there or more making use of opportunities?

That’s right. It wasn’t part of the plan to start with, but we had a couple of shows that fell through on our last German run so had 4 days off in Berlin. A good friend of mine suggested a great studio; it was an old telecom building or something, every wall in the live room was filled with patch bays. You can just imagine loads of German phone operators flying round on their office chairs transferring calls backwards and forwards. A pretty cool vibe and the place sounded great, we plan to finish the second album there. We’ll just add some more studio time onto the back end of a German tour or something.

Give us some idea to the inspiration to the EP’s tracks and character.

We wanted to lay down some balls to the wall, riff driven tracks. I guess you can hear some Social D, Stiff Little Fingers, Ramones, Springsteen. Me, and our other guitarist Matty are really dynamic players so I wanted to enhance that on these recordings. We don’t have super hi gain amps, they’re relatively clean in all honesty, it sounds great but it makes you have to play better and play with a bit more thought into chord voicing etc.. Anything that makes us better is a good idea in my eyes.

What things and situations spark your lyrics more than most?

90% of my lyrics are true to life. Usually come from people I meet, or conversations I overhear. Trouble City is the start of a story about a prostitute called Amy that I met on tour once. We sat and drank some beers and talked shit for a while, you couldn’t make up most of the stuff she was telling me so that seemed like a good place to start with Trouble City.

Tell about the new video for the EP’s title track which you made with one of the UK’s best and brightest film makers, Chalkman Video.

Carl’s a great guy and he did a great job on the new vid. We didn’t have much time with it so we just got into our rehearsal space, he set up some lights and off we went.

Looks pretty cool I think. We spent 4 hours or so filming it then he had it finished 3 days later, he doesn’t mess around.

The EP is going to be the spark for another hectic year, live wise?

I hope so, we’re working on loads of UK dates throughout the year and heading back to Germany in October, there’s a couple of other things in the works that I can’t mention yet but yeah, we’re trying to keep as busy as we can.

YR Promo 2_RingMaster Review

Photo by Carl ChalkmanVideo Arnfield

What has the band already got in place as 2016 evolves in other news?

We managed to nail down a show with Snuff which should be fun, I haven’t seen Duncan for a while….

We’ve also confirmed a show with The Dictators.

More releases in the pipeline?

Of course! But probably not this year. Who knows.

Once again many thanks for chatting with us Don. Any last thoughts you would like to share?

No problem, I guess if people could just keep supporting us like they did last year that would be awesome, we really appreciate it.

And finally, give us an insight into the records and artists which could be claimed to have most inspired your own life and creativity.

RamonesPleasant Dreams, Stiff Little FingersGuitar and Drum, Green DayNimrod, Drag the RiverYou Can’t Live This Way, Ryan AdamsHeartbreaker.

I love all these records; you can probably hear these influences in the rat’s songs. I guess my songs start as simple folk songs then turn into anthems when the band gets hold of ‘em.

Read our review of the Trouble City EP @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2016/02/16/yorkshire-rats-trouble-city-ep/

http://www.YorkshireRats.com/    https://www.facebook.com/yorkshirerats

Pete RingMaster

RingMaster Review 19/02/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/

Yorkshire Rats -Trouble City EP

YR Promo 2_RingMaster Review

Formed in 2004, going on an extended hiatus two years later, UK punk ‘n’ rollers Yorkshire Rats soon showed through debut album Sea of Souls, that their return around a decade after that first step was equipped with even greater energy and passion, not forgetting creative adventure. Instantaneously impressive but equally revealing itself a slow burner that only increasingly impressed and thrilled as regular company for ears, the album was the mark of a band fuelled with a fresh fire and determination aligned to their renowned no punches pulled lyrical and musical snarl. It also hinted that the band was destined to create bigger treats ahead, a potential certainly confirmed and built upon by the Trouble City EP. A three track punk ‘n’ roll stomp sharing contagion soaked choruses, spiky hooks, and forcibly engaging dynamics, the EP is unashamedly anthemic punk rock to swing bodies to and breed greedy appetites for.

Created by Don Mercy (ex-Abrasive Wheels, ex-Billy No Mates), Yorkshire Rats definitely made a potent impact first time around marked by a single and EP, as well as a live presence which at its height saw the band supporting Rancid before going on that hiatus. Fair to say the quartet did not waste time in echoing its earlier success upon returning either, then easily eclipsing it with the release of Sea of Souls via Indelirium Records in the March of 2015 to fan and media acclaim. Now building on the album’s success and a tour with CJ Ramone, as well as shows around Europe last year, the foursome of vocalist/guitarist Mercy, lead guitarist Matt Lee, bassist Josh Clarke, and drummer Chris Furness are poised to stir up an even bigger fuss with the Trouble City EP.

Trouble City art_RingMaster ReviewThe EP’s title track, and new video single directed by Chalkman Video, opens up the release. Straight away rhythmic bait and fiery guitar strokes entice as the song’s infectious rock ‘n’ roll begins to blossom alongside the strong tones of Mercy. Never ones to hang around, the band soon uncages a keenly catchy chorus surrounded by spicy hooks. It is a seriously rousing moment in an increasingly anthemic proposal which easily takes body and attention in its Stiff Little Fingers scented hand to feed them and the imagination the ever potent emotive strength and heart of the band.

The following Amy strides in with a heavier air and emotion next, though it too shows early glimpses of bold infectiousness and tenacity as it expands. Naturally woven into the Yorkshire Rats sound are seventies punk and eighties new wave/power rock textures. They are essences which especially flourish on this song though equally a Tom Petty-esque blues hue escapes to add more appealing colour to a song swiftly lighting up ears.

Nothing But A Liar brings the release to a mighty close. Emerging us our favourite song, it is a warmly enticing confrontation with thumping beats and a sonic jangle that alone pretty much ignite greed. The grouchy tone of Clarke’s bass and the spiralling tapestry of craft and endeavour from Lee only reinforce the thick bait working away around the boisterous lures of Mercy’s vocals and the song’s heavily persuasive anthem. There is definitely a whiff of The Jam in their early days to the track too, another spicy ingredient in the merciless virulence of the song.

Ending on its highest point and only leaving ears and emotions eagerly aroused from start to finish, Trouble City cements Yorkshire Rats as one heftily rousing and thoroughly enjoyable protagonist; the purveyors of undiluted rock ‘n’ roll to improve any day.

The Trouble City EP will be released March 15th on the band’s own Northern Ruff Records.

http://www.YorkshireRats.com/      https://www.facebook.com/yorkshirerats

Pete RingMaster 16/02/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/

Yorkshire Rats -Sea of Souls

yr1

It is with thanks to Carl of the excellent Chalkman Video that UK punk rock ‘n’ rollers Yorkshire Rats and their debut album Sea of Souls recently and firmly hit our radar. He gave us the heads up on the Leeds quartet having recently shot a video with the guys, and led us to one of those albums which lights ears initially but equally simmers away in the psyche to emerge as one thrilling riot of temptation.

Yorkshire Rats began in 2004, formed by Don Mercy once of Abrasive Wheels and Billy No Mates. Soon into their aggressive stride the band subsequently released, in the words of their bio, “a rabble-rousing 7” and a hooligan fuelled EP.” 2006 saw the band support to great success Rancid but then go on an extended hiatus. They have now returned fuelled to the top with contagious rock ‘n’ roll tenacity, punk confrontation, and potent lyrical incitements, all found to great effect on debut album Sea of Souls. Consisting of Kurt Alexander, Matt Lee, and Chris Furness alongside Mercy, Yorkshire Rats confront, incite, and thrill across thirteen tracks of bracing punk ‘n’ roll antagonism.

There is an instant stirring up of ears and appetite with album opener Hurry Up and Wait, the rolling heavily jabbing enticement of the drums swift persuasion. Raw guitar caresses need little prompting to add their lures, or the swagger lined bassline which jumps in at the same time. It is a feisty and contagious uniting topped by expressive vocals with a delivery which is part challenge, part invitation. The song is the kind of attention grabber all albums should start with, a song revealing the heart of a band’s sound and encounter’s intent with anthemic guile.

sos album artThe following Glory Days opens on a juicy stroking of slim but pungent riffs before opening up into a dusty rock stroll still driven by the initial hook lined guitar bait. The track does not quite have the bite of its predecessor but compensates with a catchiness and blaze of sonic enterprise which again has an early appetite fed well before making way for the album’s title track. Sea of Souls shows a whisper of the Californian punk influences which also colour the band’s sound, whilst the track itself gently but firmly embraces ears and thoughts with infectious rock sounds and lyrical suggestiveness.

The pair of Everyday and Mary Comes First offer fresh variety to an already flavoursome encounter, the former infusing a Flogging Molly lilt to its guitar endeavour whilst rhythms cast an anthemic baiting and the latter with a smell of Tom Petty to its riffery, in a striking landscape of emotive contemplation and rock ‘n’ roll contagion. Both songs have feet and emotions fired up, the first especially incendiary with its magnetic mix of flavours and almost predatory hooks, but as great as they are, they find themselves shaded by the Green Day-esque Lawful Civil Rights. Guitars and bass bring even stronger glimpses of the Cali scene whilst spinning their own anthemic and addictive proposal around punchy beats and expressive vocal reflection.

The opening dark and predatory bass resonance bringing Struck Down into view is one of those invitations only the deaf can resist, especially once guitars add their sonic scythes to the portentous air. Erupting in a tempest of rhythmic aggression and hostile attitude driven by belligerent vocals, the track weaves in strains of psychobilly and blues tinting into its punk roar, creating one of the most momentous and memorable exploits upon the album.

The calm and inviting balladry of You Don’t Know Anything entices ears and emotions next before Only the Rich Men stomps and rumbles with its raucously engaging sounds. Each again shows a different colour to the Yorkshire Rats sound, not major side steps but hues which reveal the strong variety to the bands creativity and tone.

No Freedom as the previous song is another rock ‘n’ roll romp, but with more rigour in its energy and infectiousness in its punk devilry. Rhythms brew up an inescapable slavery for feet and emotions whilst riffs and vocals blaze over deviously addictive hooks. Though not quite the final song it still makes for a mighty finale before Sea of Souls closes with a trio of excellent acoustic demos of Mary Comes First, Only the Rich Men, and the title track.

You cannot quite call Yorkshire Rats a new band, even with their prolonged absence, but they take ears with a freshness which makes their debut album play like a starting point for the band. A base for bigger and just as enjoyable things to breed from we suspect.

Sea of Souls is out now via Indelirium Records @ http://indeliriumrecords.com/releases-carousel/idr067-yorkshire-rats-sea-of-souls/ and most online stores.

http://www.YorkshireRats.com/     https://www.facebook.com/yorkshirerats

RingMaster 26/04/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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