Intrigue and dark secrets: talking with Modern Day Dukes

Pic Holt’s Photography

We don’t know about you guys but there is an instinctive appetite here for music which puts the bass to the fore. There is exactly what you get with UK trio Modern Day Dukes, a two bass, one drum kit combination which creates a web of intrigue, adventure, and imagination many fully instrument loaded bands would kill for. New single Okhrana is instant proof of the band’s invention and uniqueness, a combination which hit our sweet spot. With thanks to Carl Arnfield, the man behind the new single’s great video, we settled down with the band to explore the world of Modern Day Dukes….

Hi Guys, thanks for sharing time to talk with us.

Would you please introduce the band to the readers?

We’re a 2 bass / no guitar band from Yorkshire…Pais ‘n’ Rory on bass and Jordan playing the drums. We all sing a bit.

How did you all meet and tell us about the first steps of the band.

I (Pais) met Rory and Jordan through our old guitar boy Ben Marsden. Jordan used to stand in on drums all the time when our old drummer couldn’t make a gig so when the drum stool was vacant he was naturally the guy to fill it.

We are suckers here for all bass no guitar outfits in particular MoRkObOt and Lightning Bolt. What led you down this avenue with the band?

Hadn’t heard those bands before, just checked them out and we really dig them. I’ll add them to my No Guitar / all Bass Spotify playlist.

We were a normal guitar band, but when our guitarist left, rather than replace him we decided to go for something completely different. Rory and Jordan were playing with being a bassy duo and I’d been doing some guitarless demos so we just combined them both and kept the name ‘Modern Day Dukes’ because we had a ton of unsold merch.

There are not that many bands which explore and weave only with bass and drums, a few which do but add synths too, do you think the music scene still annoyingly look down on the instrument as a lesser cousin to the guitar?

Yes. Bass is best. If you get some decent effects, you can make a wide range of sounds.  It’s weird that bass is looked down upon; it’s normally my favourite part of songs.

Did you find a readymade appetite for your set up in your hometowns of Sheffield and Leeds?

Some people get it, some people don’t. The more we do it, the more we work out what works, so it’s easier to convert people to Dukes fans. It took us a little while to find our feet.

Is Modern Day Dukes the first band for you all?

No, Pais was in Silverjet for 8 years and Rory did some shows with a band called Screaming Eagles. This is Jordan’s first rock band.

What sparked the band name?

Pais has always found posh things kinda funny. So that’s where Dukes comes from. It’s also probably subconsciously pinched from an unreleased Weezer track called Modern Dukes. Thinking about it, it’s pretty much a direct steal.

Casting ears over your Happy Now? EP, through to new single, Okhrana, your sound has not only a potent variety to it but has audibly grown release by release. How would you describe its evolution over the past couple of years or so?

We have a couple of earlier releases (These Sick Swans and PPPEP) which really don’t reflect us anymore due to changes in sound and line-up. We’re easily bored so changing things up is a way to stop things getting stale. Every release we’ve tried to come at from a different direction. When we’ve done this bass-thing for a bit we might end up trying something completely new.

Do you go out to try new things each and every time or just let things organically explore?

Photo by Carl @ Chalkman Video Studios

A bit of both, often people leaving or joining the band has significantly changed the sound because we don’t want to just try to emulate what old members did.

Tell us about the new track, for us your most unique and tenaciously mischievous song yet and the premise to its tale.

Essentially I (Jordan) was having a YouTube history binge and stumbled upon the Okhrana. It’s quite a dark theme considering what they did but for some reason it inspired.

You linked up with those great filmmakers Chalkman Video. How did that link up come about?

We know Carl of Chalkman through Rio Goldhammer from the band 1919. Rio also owns Bunnysnot Records that put out our second EP.

Tell us about the shoot and how you all came up with the idea and feel of the film with its great sinister tone and lighting?

That’s 100% Carl. We went to him not really knowing what we wanted so he did all the creative work and we love him for it. Really happy with how it came out.

Is the song typical of what we can expect in the near future from the band and what is next from Modern Day Dukes?

We’re mid-way through recording an album; the other tracks that are completed are totally different shades of Modern Day Dukes.

Tell us how the songwriting process works within the band.

Normally one of us writes 90% of a song then we work together fine-tuning it. The latest single, Okhrana was written by Jordan and in the practice room we added the middle 8 and changed up some sections a little bit.

What has the rest of the year in store for the band gig wise?

We’ve been asked to do a few acoustic with Blacklist Saints so it’s mostly that. I’d love to book a few more full-band acoustic shows; it means we get to play a mix of old and new songs with weird stripped back arrangements.

Our big thanks again, any last thoughts you would like to share?

Cheers for interviewing us Pete. Stay in school, ‘cos Jordan didn’t and now he has to play drums for Modern Day Dukes.

 

   https://www.facebook.com/moderndaydukes/    http://www.moderndaydukes.co.uk/

Pete RingMaster 01/11/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Barbed hook and stirring insights: talking Kill II This

A growing and attention grabbing force within the UK metal/rock underground scene from the mid-nineties, with acclaim crowded albums under their belts, it is fair to say that the demise of Manchester’s Kill II This in 2004 left many heartbroken. Their return a decade later though not only re-ignited that following but lured a new wave of fans especially recently through the recently released single Sleeper Cell. The track showed that the quartet of vocalist Simon Gordon, guitarist Mark Mynett, bassist Pete Stone, and drummer Jeff Singer had not only retained their rousing metal and heavy rock blended sound but found a fresh energy and adventure within in. We recently had the chance to explore the past, present, and beyond of the band with thanks to four string slapper Pete…

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

You have just released the video for new song Sleeper Cell but before we talk about that can you give some background to Kill II This and how it all came to be in the mid-nineties?

Mark, Jeff and myself were in a band called China Beach in the early 90’s – we really learned our trade in that band, touring Europe relentlessly, often just living in our van, sleeping on top of the gear….We would probably have been classed as Power metal back then, but we were getting the urge to get a lot heavier as the metal scene at that time was evolving. We decided to look for a new singer and – and that’s how we ended up with Nick Arlea who at the time was living in New York playing in a band called Power.

We had a fair bit of music already written that was just way too heavy for China Beach and so Kill II This was born. We got the album recorded fairly quickly (Another Cross II Bare) and more touring began. We already had a reputation for being a hard working reliable band and I think that helped us get some of those early tours.

Did you have a specific aim and sense of direction for the band at the time?

Just onwards and upwards really…None of us had a job so there was only the band to focus on. Things were comparatively easy back then ha ha! We never purposefully tried to fit into any genre – we started using samples a lot more adding a new dimension to the live shows and our overall sound…at the time nobody was really doing that.

How has that changed, if at all, with the reactivating of the band a couple of years back.

Well we’re a little bit older now obviously, with the responsibilities that brings! I don’t feel as desperate to prove ourselves anymore I guess…we’re not trying to be the next big thing anymore! We are immensely proud of what we do though and are thoroughly enjoying our revival. I’m loving the new stuff we’re doing and Simon has breathed new life into our back catalogue…he kills it every night on stage. I still don’t know how he didn’t end up with us way back to be honest-we’ve been mates for years!

You released a quartet of albums with for us the second in Deviate the moment the band truly clicked within the metal scene and its keenest attention. How did you find it at the time trying to make that breakthrough?

I think at that time the band felt like we had really earned any success we were getting. We had worked hard and made a lot of sacrifices in our lives. We were touring nonstop still and had some fantastic tours with the likes of Slipknot, Megadeth and Machine Head to name a few, as well as headlining in our own right, and it just felt like the natural progression of things…we worked hard and we were starting to see results. Good times!

Would you say that the album was also the moment the band’s true and distinct sound suddenly blossomed?

Undoubtedly…I think Mark had really found his riff writing groove – I think he would agree that DV8 was probably our best album too. There were some internal wranglings through this period – I had left the band for a while, Caroline joined for a while, then I came back – all sorts going on, but the end result was still that unmistakable Kill II This sound.

Fifth album, A New Spiritual Mountain was marked out by the band as being its last but eventually emerged under the moniker City Of God. What is the story behind it and that switch? Was it mostly because of the new character of sound it embraced?

I think really this is a question for Mark as I didn’t play a part in that project, however personally I don’t think it was in in the same vein as Kill II This musically. There was definitely a different feel to it. It was the first time I’d heard Simon sing like that too really-even more aggressive than his Xentrix stuff. Great album though – we often wonder if we should sneak a song or two from it into our live set…

Leaping forward to the now; Sleeper Cell undoubtedly has that signature Kill II This sound and personality but equally a fresh breath of adventure and indeed aggression. How do you see your sound as having evolved since the comeback?

A few years ago Simon and myself were in a band with a couple of the guys from Xentrix called Hellfighter, which I guess had some thrash undertones and I’m hearing some old school influences in our new stuff here and there – but I wouldn’t say there’s a massive difference. We’ve used far less samples in the new track than earlier stuff, there’s some aggression in there vocally, but importantly there are melodic hooks.

Has everything within the band been an organic shift or something you all deliberately aimed for when planning your return?

I think fairly organic really-we have no deadlines to live by these days so we can take our time writing – something that we never could in the old days. We haven’t deliberately set out to sound one way or the other to be honest – we’re just going with the flow creatively. We’ve all been playing together in various guises for years and it’s a bit like putting on a pair of comfy slippers when we get together!

And the return of the band, how easy was it for you all to come back together and start creating again?

For me the timing was just right. Hellfighter had just split as the other guys were reforming Xentrix, Mark and Jeff had been informally chatting about reforming at this point. I think the push was being offered a headline festival slot at Fiesta Du Rock in Belgium, even though we weren’t strictly in existence at that point. So we rehearsed and we were made up with how good it sounded. It just came together so fast, and the songs still sounded fresh and relevant. So we thought let’s do some new stuff…

Sleeper Cell is a hint to the kind of sound and imagination we can expect from future releases?

That’s a hard one to answer. Yes I think you’ll hear things in a similar vein but don’t be surprised if we throw some curveballs in there. We’re not writing for the music industry anymore. This is for ourselves as much as anything. Obviously it would be nice if everybody else likes it too….

Tell us about the single’s video. It was recorded by Carl Arnfield of Chalkman Video, who has persistently sparked visual pleasure with his films over the past few years. How did you come to link up with him?

Through friends of friends I think-he needed something to complete a show reel – we needed a video! It’s such a small world really -he was good friends with Xentrix- was actually in them briefly I think! He put us in touch with a chap called Johnathan Santry who arranged all the fight choreography and is actually in the video…Great bunch of guys.

Carl was a great – he worked really hard for us – we’re made up with the video.

What inspired its striking narrative and guerrilla like strike on the senses?

Well I think the lyrics and subject content speak for themselves. I think it really suits the aggression of the verses then the melody of the choruses adds a great hook. Then the outro is just huge!

Unfortunately on the same day, several hours after releasing the track and video the atrocity that was the Manchester Arena bombing happened. Given the subject matter of the track we have pulled back its proper release for obvious reasons.

Where did the filming take place; and a lengthy shoot?

The band shoot was done in a day at a studio in Preston, and the fight scenes were shot in Manchester over a couple of days so not too lengthy. Carl really worked hard to get it finished for us….in fact we’re still humbled by effort everybody involved put in.

What is next for Kill II This; The chance of an album being planning?

We intend to keep writing for sure. Whether or not we release an album or just drip feed one track / video at a time I’m not sure. We are looking already at festival appearances next year, plus a few more shows this year. I’d love to get back out to Europe too…it’s been too long.

Big thanks again for chatting with us; any last words you would like to add?

Thanks for showing an interest in us and we really hope you enjoy the new video…you can watch it on our website where you can also download the new track Sleepercell for FREE.

http://www.kill2this.co.uk/    https://www.facebook.com/pg/kill2this    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsrVYMExsQyYNt0h4WU1lRQ

The RingMaster Review 13/06/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Shadowed reflections and bright legacies: embracing the heart of 1919 with Vocalist Rio Goldhammer

Photo by Carl Arnfield

Bloodline is an album which is destined to not only leave a striking creative fingerprint on the year but the decade as a whole for not only post punk/gothic rock, but simply rock ‘n’ roll. The new outing from 1919, a band inspiring generations of artists from their emergence in the late eighties, Bloodline is not only one deeply rousing slice of musical adventure and imagination but also a major last triumph from founding member and guitarist Mark Tighe who sadly passed away virtually days before its release. It is a stunning part of the legacy the musician left global music. With deep thanks to vocalist Rio Goldhammer and also drummer Mick Reed, we had the pleasure to talk about Mark and also delve into the future of 1919, the fabulous Bloodline and much more…

Hi Guys and thanks for taking time out to talk with us.

A pleasure.

Before we talk about your album, could you please just say some words about band founder and guitarist Mark Tighe who so sadly passed away recently; about him as a musician and friend.

It’s hard to put into words really. His legacy will be one of sound… it already is. He was an artist and trying to explain his craft in a few words would do it an injustice – it took him a lifetime to do what he did. If you look through his old online posts (something it seems we all do quite regularly), his words are very few – usually to punctuate an image. He lived and breathed art. His eulogy reflected this well. It was mainly music…Exactly what he would have wanted.

As a friend… well, he would have been blown away by the tributes that came for him. From the music press, from fans, from bands we’ve worked with and many that we haven’t. He was a humble guy who always thought of others first. He’d bring chocolate to rehearsals, even when his illness meant he couldn’t eat it himself. He looked after the merch for the band right until his last day – always with a hand-written note. He wanted to do his bit and never took our supporters for granted. I could go on for days about him. Anyone who met him, even for a moment, knows he is a huge loss to the world, and we’ve lived on top of each other for 2 years. It’s still hard to accept not seeing or talking to him

His untimely passing must make the release of your new album Bloodline, the saddest joy possible?

Of course. You know, the label called up after the CDs arrived saying “the album is too good not to be on vinyl”. I wish Mark had heard that. He was desperate to get a vinyl release. Sadness and joy are, yes, perhaps in equal measure. But the prevailing emotion is doggedness. We know what we have to do now, and we know who we have to do it for.

Do you know what the future of 1919 might be without Mark, or is that a question you have yet to ponder?

We’ve had to ponder it for a while but we’re determined to finish what we started. Mark insisted we find someone… he’d wanted to teach them the guitar parts himself but he deteriorated so quickly. He insisted “no one was irreplaceable”, but at the time we were more concerned with being there for him as friends. And indeed, we now have someone in the unenviable position of trying to learn the guitar parts without Mark’s tutelage! We’re determined to honour him, and we will. Humans are mortal. 1919 is not.

We do have someone on board though [Sam Evans]… Someone who met Mark a couple of times. We didn’t want a hired gun because the band is a family. It will be a new chapter for us of course, but we had a good idea of our future direction from our final months with Mark. There are a couple of finished tracks and a handful of demos from the last 6 months so we have a good base to work from. But I don’t think its right to say we’re “without Mark”. He will always be with us, and as long as 1919 is alive, so is he.

It is fair to say that for gothic/post punk fans who knew you first time around, 1919 was one of the most important and inspirational propositions in the eighties. Is that a feeling you found in people if not then when 1919 re-emerged a couple of years or so ago?

Absolutely… 1919 never performed outside of the UK the first time around, but we’ve found a lot of love from across the world. Particularly in France and Germany (and of course our favourite place, B52 in Eernegem) we’ve had some amazing audiences, and they tend to be a lot younger than our audiences at home. The band obviously means a lot to people and we take that very seriously.

Obviously the time between has seen original members grow as artists and people, can you describe how creatively 1919 evolved from those early heady days seeing chart breaking singles and an acclaimed debut album?

Mick Reed: Well, as you say we’re a lot more refined now in terms of musicianship. But you know, in a lot of ways nothing’s changed at all. The writing process is similar; as is the way we rehearse and record. There are no egos in this band and it’s just so easy to get on with it. This incarnation of the band has actually been the most stable line-up in our history. I honestly can’t see anything other than mortality come between us.

How did the link-up with Mark and Mick, of course the band’s original drummer, with you Rio and bassist Karl Donner come about; how did you all meet?

We hit the ground running really. Mark and I had been doing Circle of the Absurd and put the Revenge demo out as 1919. Mick and Karl had been doing some work together on some lost Ship of Fools material… Once Mark and Mick were in touch again we just brought the two pieces together.

Mark’s poetically haunting melodies and grooves showed they had lost none of their invention and evocative touch within the new album but there is a bold new freshness to the whole 1919 sound, more than maybe would be expected with simply maturity and experience involved. How would you assess its new character and body?

It feels fresh. We’re simultaneously an old band and a new one… but aside from that I think you’ve said it yourself. Mark spent a lifetime perfecting a sound that was completely his, and Mick’s drums – the tribal power – has always been a signature of the band. We’re not going through the motions though, we mean every note we play and every word we sing. We’re a tight unit and the music means everything to us. Anything else is up to you to discern.

Can you tell us about the recording of Bloodline? Was it an easily flowing process?

100%. When we recorded The Madness Continues…session in 2015, we did all 14 tracks in a day. For Bloodline we took a little more time, of course, but the core of each song was still recorded live in our rehearsal room. We’re just comfortable there. Live music, a little overdubbing, and then vocals. Then of course we have an excellent producer in James Reid, who does the mixing. Mick sits with him for the most part and he’s got an excellent ear for texture, but it definitely flows.

The rhythmic adventure of the songs with Bloodline is for us addictively invasive, bound in almost tribal persuasion as you just mentioned, and more than matched by the web of sound round them. Mick and Karl have an instinctive understanding it seems, creating a tempting core for the goodness. How did the songwriting work for the album; those dramatic rhythms first, suggestive melodies, or variety of things breeding what it offers?

We jam! A lot of bands don’t… sometimes someone brings an idea into the room and we play with it… I try to scribble some lyrics out on the spot when possible. But there’s no definitive method. We just make noise and the best bits start to structure themselves.

Can you give us some background to the themes within Bloodline?

The label called it “the soundtrack to the end of the world” in their press release. I like that.  There’s a lot in there really… Life, death, environment and architecture, violence, peace, power, philosophy, representation… a touch of nostalgia. There’s a political element, sometimes abstract and sometimes more direct. But I won’t feed you the minutiae. I prefer to leave room for interpretation.

You have also released a great video for the album’s title track. It was created and filmed by Carl Arnfield of Chalkman Video, the producer of a string of striking videos and films. What brought you guys and him together?

He’d done a video for The Kingcrows which I liked – they’re friends of mine and put me in touch with Carl. He’s done all of our videos now and there will be more collaborations with him without a doubt. We do butt heads occasionally, but only because he has such an artistic vision for his work. He’s in it for all the right reasons and a real asset to be able to call upon. He’s also a top bloke and worked his socks off to get the C.O.T.A video out in time for Mark to be able to see it. Can’t recommend the guy more highly.

It is hard to imagine your emotions as Bloodline sees itself being devoured by fans and lauded by so many,  your proudest moment musically?

Mick & Karl: Watching Joy Division was incredibly important in our lives.

Mick: John Peel too. When he announced he was going to bring 1919 in for a session I couldn’t believe it. To have done two of them will always be something I’m proud of.

Rio: The first time we played Paris (at Le Klub). The power blew in the middle of the set… it felt like the building was going to collapse during the rest of it. It was perfect.

Once again my biggest thanks. Anything you would like to add?

Just some words from our Captain:

 

I work life like it is worked

The moon shimmers red

Cherry red

The glow distilled into exploding fireflies

Roads are long

Fields pass

The blue twilight comforting

I am dazed and even confused

But I realise that I love this life

On the road

My band

High on life

Twitching to go

To play

The electricity overwhelms me

It is immeasurable

1919……….. Forever

A. Tighe

Image by Scott Ford

 http://www.1919official.co.uk/   https://www.facebook.com/1919official/   https://twitter.com/1919official

Read our review of Bloodline @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2017/03/06/1919-bloodline/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 23/03/2017

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.

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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

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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

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Yorkshire Rats -Sea of Souls

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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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The Vox Dolomites – Self-Titled

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British punk has been at a feisty high for a couple of years now and just gets more potent which each emerging band and release. At the heart and criminally not getting the attention deserved is The Vox Dolomites, a quartet which turns the seeds of punk rock and ska into lyrically and musically gripping dramas. Their songs and EPs have proven the band has an instinctive knack at inciting feet and thoughts with energy and skill. Just recently the Stockport based band released their self-titled debut album, a release which surely will finally draw the keenest spotlight upon their presence.

Formed in2011, The Vox Dolomites is a tenacious and voracious creative stomp driven by guitarists/vocalists Ant Walsh and Will Farley, bassist/vocalist Chris O’Donnell, and drummer Simon Dunnington. The band soon grabbed attention, including ours, with the release simply called First Demo 2012. Their introduction was a blaze of punk and ska revelry which instantly made with its raw and inventive presence, an instant and lingering impression. It was a success subsequently emulated by tracks like No Split Ends and the Down For Three / Joan & Frank single of 2013. Live too the band has earned a renowned reputation for their ferocity of sound and drive, playing acclaimed shows not only at home but across the globe where especially in Japan, the band is feverishly devoured. This was no more evident than in The Dirty Work Tour 2012 movie which came out last year. Filmed by Chalkman Video it honestly followed the band on tour out East, revealing everything about the connection between band and their fans. Working hard on their first album through the first half of 2014, The Vox Dolomites has now opened the cage to a stomping release which declares that the band has hit their sweet spot creatively and unleashed their most adventurous and eclectic songs yet.

Choppy riffs make an instant potent tempting as opener Backtrack steps forward, their lure accentuated by the stroke of piano which sparks a flavoursome stroll of shadowed bass and keys wrapped in expressive melodies. A breath is swiftly taken before vocals and songs rouse up the imagination with their spicy enterprise and punk tenacity. It is a riveting mix, raw punk and melodic rock colluding for an infectious proposition equipped with essences of Rancid and NOFX for extra flavour. Making a striking start to the album, the richly pleasing track is surpassed by the outstanding Battle Scars, a feisty roar with thicker sinews and predatory intent compared to its predecessor, cored by the gripping throaty bass of O’Donnell amidst an acidic blaze of guitar. One of the band’s early songs which graced a previous EP, the track has been revamped and given a new antagonistic tenacity so it stomps as a new beast

Both Down For 3 and Alone In Mexico keep the adventure and quality of the album flying, the first of the two a ska rock dance with the crisp beats of Dunnington coring a flirtatious bass enticement and the radiant devilry of keys. Vivacious and exhaustive for feet and emotions, the song is a virulent bounce infused with sixties garage rock seduction and insatiable melodic charm. The second of the pair explores a sterner old school punk attitude and sound, the switching of two vocal attacks an alluring graze to compliment the similarly harsh sounds. The song still develops an imposing catchiness though which is as irresistible as the brooding fury within its depths and narrative.

The brilliant No Split Ends comes next, a pop punk provocateur with ferocity to its jangling riffs and punch to its intimidating rhythms. Again the busy energy and intensity of the track is a breath-taking onslaught but also it is ripe with a seriously addictive lure and temptation which snarls as it seduces. As the previous older song, the track has been revitalised and twisted into an even greater slice of punk alchemy to take top song honours and reinforce reasons why those in the know wax lyrical about the band.

As mentioned there is strong and highly pleasing variety to the album as shown by the melodic and hard rock infused 6AM Rain. Fiery but simultaneously a gentler stroll, the track comes with skilled melodic endeavour and blues rock imagination whilst still showing its punk breeding. Whereas the previous song had a sense of Russian punks Biting Elbows and also [Spunge], this whispers a calm Turbonegro and Bad Religion fusion whilst still sounding distinct to the Brits. Without sparking as certainly its predecessor, the track is an intriguing and pleasing different side to the band’s evolving sound, as is the more ruggedly bruising ALA where again heavier rock riffs and that increasingly delicious carnivorous tone of bass bind attention and appetite. The stirring and muscular brawl of punk ‘n’ roll is an inescapable imposing setting up the passions perfectly for the impossible addictive Horrorshow. Ska punk with a growl to vocals and riffs tempered by the melodic seducing of keys, the track is one of those stomps which once infested by never leave thoughts and passions. Bands like Face To Face and Operation Ivy have helped drive the style of music employed, but whether either has crafted a track as potent and irresistible as this is debateable.

I Fought The Lawyer brings us back to old school punk fury with Clash like attitude within raw rock ‘n’ roll whilst the gnarly Kojak With A Kodak with stabbing riffs and a rumbling bass lining, takes ears into yet another new aspect in the band’s punk ingenuity and exploration. A slow burner compared to other songs on the album, even with its eager gait, the track reveals itself to be a fascinating and richly creative persuasion unveiling a little more to its depth and lure with every listen.

The album goes out with a bang through firstly the mouth-watering aggressive stomp of Break Down The Walls, the song another long-term lust in the making, and lastly the ridiculously contagious and body igniting Losing Hands. Punk does not come any better than these last two songs, well apart from the other tracks on this excellent rampage of an album. It seems we are praising The Vox Dolomites more and more with every release and there is no reason to change with this seriously impressive album. They are a band which deserves the keenest spotlight and hopefully now they have found the trigger to such attention and recognition.

The Vox Dolomites is available now via STP Records @ http://www.stprecords.co.uk/page4.htm on CD with a vinyl version scheduled for 2015.

http://www.thevoxdolomites.com

RingMaster 06/11/2014

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