Band Of Holy Joy – The Land Of Holy Joy

BOHJ_A_RingMaster Review

This past year, two singles from Band Of Holy Joy have sparked expectations of something special from their new album The Land Of Holy Joy, simply because of their own enthralling quality. Fair to say the UK band’s new release not only lives up to hopes and assumptions but leaves them looking rather inadequate. The nine track adventure of urban folk and indie rock is a blaze of ear thrilling and imagination igniting tracks ripe with unpredictable invention and the social commentary and honesty we have come to expect from the London band. Admittedly over their three decades of undeniably helping shape the British indie scene, we have not had the pleasure of devouring all of their eighteen previous albums here but of the fair few we have, Band Of Holy Joy have definitely eclipsed all with their finest moment in The Land Of Holy Joy.

The album gets off to a stunning flyer with its title track, the opener an instantly bewitching enticing of off-kilter guitar melodies from James Stephen Finn. Their discord lined twang has ears alert, whilst a swift healthy appetite licks its lips almost as quickly after as an exotic seducing from Peter Smith’s keys, matched by the flirtation cast by the bass of Howard Jacques, dances with the imagination. Like Eastern sent cosmopolitan sunshine over harsh realities hinted at by the plainer, distinctive tone of vocalist Johny Brown, the track is sensational; a provocative soundtrack perfect for the crisis felt right now by thousands upon thousands of people and Europe.

The outstanding beginning continues with the band’s last single Isn’t That Just The Life. The song enthrals like a sixties kitchen sink drama with, still for these ears, a female centred alternative to The Smith’s This Charming Man. With wistful keys, flames of sax from Smith, and great dourly resourceful harmonies, the song is an expressive croon with a swinging canter to its shadowed wrapped but surprisingly warm body, and also irresistible.

Street bred melancholy lines the following All The Girls Are Wearing Desert Boots Of Pale And Subtle Shade. It is a track which from its initial potent and gentle embrace of sombre air and emotion lifts in energy through emotive brass textures and an increasingly rousing incitement thrown by the craft of drummer William Lewington. Maybe a slow burner compared to its predecessors, the track easily has ears and thoughts hooked before making way for the funky carnival-esque theatre of Men Who Display A Different Kind Of Pain. Keys drizzle temptation and festival like drama over the senses in league with a similarly thick and colourful enticing from the guitar, whilst Brown adds rich vocal and lyrical openness in his ever pleasing mix of raw crooning and spoken narrative. More inventive and compelling with every passing minute and certainly each listen, the song is revelry of sound and honest drama coated with eighties warmth.

Another album pinnacle arrives with the brilliant Violent Drunken Strangers. Its entrance sees skipping beats aligning with a moodily captivating bassline and sultry tendrils of guitar which just seep into the psyche as Brown again varies his delivery to fine and impacting effect. The post punk like stroll and tone of the track is delicious, as too the emerging eighties funk kissed guitar and a vocal union which just ignites the passions. There are essences of bands like Bauhaus in atmosphere, Josef K in guitar jangle, and Original Mirrors to its lively revelry, and along with the title track, the song steals the show though great times simply continue as first the reflective melodic caress of Discredited Art Form cups ears and thoughts and straight after, A Good Close Friend offers its own elegant seduction and tenacious sixties fired enterprise up for eager attention. Both songs provide thoroughly enjoyable proposals whilst stirring thoughts, the second eclipsing the first but only by a spicy whiff of keys and one lively step.

A Place Called Home is another track which smoulders in ears and thoughts rather than quickly stirs them but with superb harmonies between Brown and a female vocalist, and a brass breeze which as the song has a shade of The Walker Brothers to it, lingering persuasion is the ultimate and successful result.

Closing with I’m Crass Harry, a bluesy look at a character which never gives up the fight despite enduring a constant tide of adversity, the album ends with a mighty finale. Merging spices found in the likes of reggae, punk, jazz, and other absorbing flavours into its musical tapestry around that tale of defiance, the song is Band Of Holy Joy at their best, what creatively they are and have always been about and another slice of proof as to why we say The Land Of Holy Joy is their greatest moment yet.

The Land Of Holy Joy is out now digitally and on CD via Stereogram Recordings and the Band Of Holy Joy Bandcamp.

Pete RingMaster 22/09/2015

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Le Butcherettes – A Raw Youth

photo credit- Monica Lozano

photo credit- Monica Lozano

Contagious and fierce, diversely imaginative and aggressively bold, A Raw Youth is punk rock at its best. In sound it might not always seem so but in attitude and uncompromising nature it is a rebel, a confrontation to match its theme, which is best described by the words of Teri Gender Bender, “The focus of the album is the recurring conflict between minorities (the raw youths) and society: The oppressor and the oppressed,” the vocalist adding “Each song is a different story of a youth from a different time era. Some of them want to die because their faith in humanity has ended, some want to fight the authority, think outside themselves.

The new album from Mexico based Le Butcherettes also roars with a celebratory air and rousing enterprise, a quality ensuring each track not only hits the spot musically and lyrically but leaves a lingering web of temptation for body and emotions. That will not really be a major surprise to fans of the band, their previous albums Sin Sin Sin of 2011 and last year’s Cry Is For The Flies especially, bulging riots of gripping sound and middle finger combat, but fair to say the trio of Gender Bender, drummer Chris Common (These Arms Are Snakes) and bassist Jamie Aaron Aux have pushed the creative intensity and adventure on again with A Raw Youth. The band’s third, and as its predecessors, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez produced, the album is their finest incitement yet, a rebel rousing slice of primal, thought provoking rock ‘n’ roll.

It all begins with Shave The Pride, a growling punk bred encounter quickly availing ears of grouchy riffs and the ever appealing tones of Gender Bender. Common’s beats frame the union with zest whilst Aux’s bass just snarls its way into the passions. The song itself never meanders from a cantankerous tone and infectious stride through ears, leaving greater adventure to those to come but easily makes for a stirring and anthemic start which has ears and appetite wide awake and ready for tracks like My Mallely which follows. Discord kissed melodies from keys opens up the swift attention grabber, bass and guitars again adding their irritable bait before the compelling and ever distinct tones of Gender Bender enrich ears. The infectious swagger of the song, driven by the excellent addictive nature of Common’s rhythms, has a 4 Non Blondes feel to it backed by warm keys which just slip over the senses with emotive temptation.

Le Butcherettes A Raw Youth Cover_RingMaster Review   From one major highlight to another pair in Reason to Die Young and La Uva. The first seduces and bellows like a blend of PJ Harvey and a restrained Lene Lovich, voice and sound effortlessly inciting body and emotions with its tempestuous yet wholly virulent, slightly No Doubt like, blaze. Within it that an off kilter enticing adds a great unpredictability which is fully explored more in its successor. The fourth track on the album is a maze of textures and inventive sound entwining with and bouncing off the superb vocal union between the siren-esque harmonics of Gender Bender and the dark, lordly tones of guest Iggy Pop. Like De Staat meets Bauhaus with the devilment of a 6:33 infused, the track is a gloriously sinister and gripping fascination; a union of dark and light, warped power and innocence.

The outstanding Sold Less Than Gold keeps the lusty emotions inflamed again with its sixties pop meets indie revelry. A song looking on women who are sold into marriages or sex slavery, it is an invigorating flame of catchy rhythms, warm vocals, and bracing horns within a bouncy canter and energy in which potently reflects the resilience in the spirits of those enslaved.

Tantalising tones over a fuzzy landscape provides the next recruitment of feet and imagination in the shape of Stab My Back, its punchy touch and defiant nature ebbing and flowing with greater voracity across its four minutes before the aggression of They Fuck You Over ensures things get even scuzzier and antagonistically fiercer. A storm of punk and garage rock, it brawls with the listener yet has them on the dance-floor too. It with raw zeal uncages a contagion of addiction which in its own distinct way is matched by Witchless C Spot. Atmospherically immersive and haunting, the track wraps the senses like a dry mist initially, the voice of Gender Bender hypnotic in presence and word, before stalking textures and suggestiveness boil over in a fiery but controlled crescendo. It is a tempting repeating again, with the calm after holding more spicy additives second time around.

The Hitch Hiker is a riveting duet between the two protagonists within the narrative of the excellent encounter, Gender Bender taking both sides against saucy keys with an Oingo Boingo essence to them, and the ever welcome trespass of bass and swinging beats. Again the band has bodies out of their seats with ease whilst inciting thought, the lyrical writing and prowess of the vocalist as cutting and potent as the sounds relishing their input. It is a quality of course shown again in the transfixing Lonely & Drunk, a song far more hard hitting than on first appearances and increasingly magnetic with its golden melodies and predatory rhythms.

A favourite moment of the album comes with Oil The Shoe If The Critter Knew Any Better, a funk punk stroll of garage rock tenacity and psych rock hues which is as masterful prowling the imagination as it is venting its full energy and rapacious intent. The track just hits the spot leaving closing song My Half a tough job to match. Fair to say it does not quite find that success yet with the featured John Frusciante bringing his majestic fingers on steely strings to the bluesy/psyche mix, the album is provided with a thoroughly enjoyable and impressive end.

Le Butcherettes continue to burn the imagination and the issues of the world with their ravenous maelstrom of rock ‘n’ roll and A Raw Youth is their latest plateau of craft and imagination. There is always a smile when something new from the band arrives and their new album shows exactly why; one highly recommended proposal for you all.

A Raw Youth is available via Ipecac Recordings from September 18th via through all digital platforms.

Pete RingMaster 18/09/2015

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The Jackals – People

band_RingMaster Review

Warm hearted and tenaciously welcoming, the sound of Scottish band The Jackals just leaves you with a smile on the face and across the emotions. Its potency is richly apparent in the band’s new album People, eleven tracks of melodic and soulful sunshine which may not ignite a riot in the passions but lingers with captivating tempting for the same kind of success. At times it serenades with smouldering radiance and in other moments has feet and hips in festive mood; in the words of the band, it is cosmic rock ‘n’ roll.

Edinburgh bred, The Jackals quickly earned a reputation for blistering live performances and songs combining “cryptic lyrics with expansive guitars, underpinned with the solid grooves of the bass and drums.” Their double A-sided single Holding All The Roses/L.E.A.R.N of last year was the spark which really began luring greater and broader attention the way of the band. Recorded with legendary producer Owen Morris (Oasis, The Verve), who returns for the new album too, the release was a highly appetising forerunner to People, which in turn provides a full meal of pleasure.

cover_RingMaster Review     From opening track Eyes Awaken, the album is awash with a fusion of psych and surf rock soaked in sixties pop essences. That is of course simplifying their sound as at times it is as much folk toned as it is indie rock as it is all the flavours mentioned combined. It is an engaging mix which can catch fire in a boisterous revelry or just caress the senses with warm temptation and as the first song shows is highly persuasive. Eyes Awaken gently strokes ears initially, crystalline melodies from keys aligning with a similarly glowing kiss of guitar as they await the mellow vocal tones of Scott Watson. His and Gary Quilietti’s guitars continue to entice as darker rhythms begin flirting with thoughts and strings cast slithers of melancholy. Eventually a livelier energy escapes as the catchy chorus looms from where, like waves lapping on ears, all the ingredients of sound and invention entwine to fascinate and seduce. As a few songs on the album, it was not a swift persuasion but grows with every listen into a rich tonic of feel good enterprise within a sweltering psych rock ambience.

The following Raspberry Moon similarly makes its entrance with a slow kiss on ears, those emotive strings returning to compelling effect as skittish beats from Paddy McMaster begin to find their and the listener’s feet. In no time the song is cantering along with a country twang and folkish air reminiscent of Irish band Raglans. We cannot say the inspirations sparking The Jackals’ musical endeavours but it is easy to suspect from the second track alone that possibly The Beatles are amongst them and maybe Scottish bands like Orange Juice and Aztec Camera too.

United band vocals open up Call Out Mellobird next as ears are entangled in melodic enticement from the guitars and flirted with by the darker tones cast by bassist David Panton. It is a magnetic affair equipped with a soulful smile and web of alluring melodies that along with boisterous beats set up ears for the outstanding Ghost Soul Traffic. Straight away the tangy sixties groove escaping the guitar has lips licked, its surf rock breeding and early sixties tone reminding of bands like The Ventures is bewitching and just as alluringly backed by a matching nostalgic climate of harmonies and acoustic riffs. Hips and feet are quickly under the song’s spell whilst an early contented appetite gets hungrier for more which it gets in the equally seducing Can’t Leave the City and its gentle sway within another instinctively melancholic but refreshing atmosphere. Once more a vintage melodic wine runs through the host o spicy grooves and hooks slipping easily from the guitar and again ears and imagination are engrossed.

Just To Pass The Pleasant Time strolls along with a mix of folk and sixties psych pop after whilst Dancin’ Round The Nails explores a thick emotionally textured landscape, its croon reflective and a touch sombre but with a liveliness which gives it an edge and potency. Both songs satisfy without matching those before them, each joining the list of tracks which just grow and become more tempting over time, something definitely not applying to Two Heads. The track instantly has ears alive with its opening bait of hooks and harmonic vocals, they leading to an alluring jangle and rhythmic shuffle which just lights the passions. Bass and guitars continue to weave their infectious and almost teasing enterprise as beats and voice dance with feet and imagination respectively as the emotions are taken on a feistily feel-good ride from start to finish by almost four minutes of joy.

The more humid air and emotive croon of Where the Face of Angels Lay takes over from the best track on the album next, its smooth balladry emulated but then taken into more intimate and cosmopolitan scenery by Gold Gift from Paris straight after, it’s Hammond seeded kisses additionally pleasing hues in its exotically toned flight of sound. Both songs join those taking time to reveal their full character and persuasion but only impressing with every listen and always setting up the rousing merger of country rock, folk, and indie pop that is Waiting On The Man With the Sun perfectly. The track brings those rich essences into a spicy and addictively boisterous dance with the masterful rhythms of McMaster stealing the show in a glorious anthemic tirade of incitement midway.

Closing song Dust is drenched in psychedelic mystique and low key but open funk grooving for a pulsating smog like rhapsody of sonic and melodic imagination laying on the senses as its title might suggests. It is a fine end to a thoroughly enjoyable release, an encounter which seems to get more absorbing and headier with every passing listen. It is easy to see why there is a fuss brewing around The Jackals, a band which will be surely only creating bigger and bolder things ahead.

People is available from September 14th digitally and on vinyl with an additional cassette release through Burger Records.

Pete RingMaster 14/09/2015

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The Bluebook Project – Hurricane Blues

The Bluebook Project_RingMaster Review

Always carrying a ready to pounce appetite for some punk fuelled rock ‘n’ roll, UK’s The Bluebook Project quickly set our ears a buzz with their new single Hurricane Blues. Simultaneously raucous and inventively infectious, the song is a raw and magnetic slice of rousing, anthemic sound, and the most potent invitation to check out the band’s brand new EP it bursts comes.

Hailing from Bedfordshire and formed late 2013, The Bluebook Project has busily been earning a strong reputation for their presence and music over the past year through touring across the country and supporting bands such as Slaves and Coasts. Last December saw the well-received release of their debut EP Out of the Blue, and even before the dust of its unveiling had begun to settle, the quartet of vocalist/bassist Dan Thorn, guitarists Dan Watson and Jordan Smith, and drummer Benn Davis-Gregory were back in the studio conjuring up the similarly welcomed Take Me Away EP which came out this past July. Drawing on inspirations from Iggy Pop and the Arctic Monkeys through to The White Stripes, The Bluebook Project, as shown again in Hurricane Blues, casts a sound fitting any intimate or grand festivity, or indeed any passing riot.

The single opens with instantly irresistible and bulging rhythms, the swings of Davis-Gregory commanding attention even before the distinctive tones of Thorn and scythes of guitar enter the affray. Straight away there is a sense of bands like The Senton Bombs and The Screaming Blue Messiahs, as well as a seventies punk and garage rock flavouring; all spices in something still predominantly distinctive to The Bluebook Project. With spicy grooves and flowing melodic acidity entangling around its busy stroll, the single is an incitement of attitude and varied sonic colours, and quite addictive.

The Bluebook Project is a band to watch out for, their future, again using Hurricane Blues as well as their Take Me Away EP as reasoning, looking rather rosy as their sound and attention upon it evolves. We suggest not waiting though and go explore another enjoyably appetising new band on the British rock ‘n’ roll scene.

Hurricane Blues is out now as also the Take Me Away which is available @

The Bluebook Project’s first EP Out of the Blue is currently available as a free download @

Ringmaster 02/08/2015

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Rum Thief – Reach For the Weatherman

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Want something to get excited about? Then check out Rum Thief and superb second EP Reach For the Weatherman. There has already been an eager buzz about the band from live shows and especially last year’s debut EP Clouded Mind, but we suggest nothing compared to what will be stirred up by this new outstanding encounter.

Rum Thief is the solo project of Manchester bred Jot Green, a musician who after a decade plus of playing drums in bands decided to bring his own songs to light. He surrounds himself with friends live, currently guitarist Johnny Brown, bassist Iain McGowen, and drummer Chris Hobs joining Green on stage, whilst the EP’s are all the man alone. As mentioned, Clouded Mind awoke attention and helped spark a potent local appetite for the band’s live presence, its sounds and a just as lively and provocative lyrical side luring acclaim and radio play. Now making a roar at a national spotlight, Reach For the Weatherman builds on its predecessor’s strengths and lures, matching its power and success whilst bringing an even more honed and vital breath to melodies, hooks, and simply the open passion fuelling songs.

cover_RingMaster Review   Reach For The Weatherman opens with its title track, a moody yet vivacious bass coaxing aligned to choppy ska seeded riffs marking the swiftly enticing entrance of the song. Just as quickly spicy hooks and jabbing beats join the escapade, whilst the gripping and distinctive tones of Green’s vocals add further irresistible drama to the increasingly contagious proposal. Sonically fiery with a scent of surf rock to its chorus, the song is a multi-flavoured, feverishly coloured stomp; rock ‘n’ roll leading to addictions and lustful inclinations. It is glorious, small but striking twists amidst a tapestry of vocal and musical imagination stirring up body and emotions from start to finish.

The exceptional start is potently backed by Stitch In Time, though it cannot quite reach the same heights and spark the same slavery as its predecessor. Nevertheless with a pungently forceful stroll in gait and rhythms within tangy guitar caresses, the song magnetically swings along leading ears across a landscape of emotive expression and vocals alongside a vibrant flame of melodic tenacity. The Arctic Monkeys essence which only whispered in the first song, is a stronger enjoyable hue here, but just one spice amongst many strands of varied rock flavours colluding to create something unique and again riveting.

New single Dirty Shoes kicks it all up again to epidemic proportions, its initial union of acoustic guitar and the ever alluring vocals of Green, the lead and spark to a precocious shuffle of rockabilly like rhythms and hooks amongst tendrils of melodic and grooved devilry. The track just grows in the ear, its body maturing and basking in the seemingly simple yet skilfully woven fusion of sound and heart driven energy. The song is as the first, an epidemic of contagion and adventure; both tracks stealing the show from the grasp of equally exciting encounters.

The acoustic seduction of My Friend closes up the EP, it also part of the double A-sided new single with the previous song. Keys are soon snuggling up to the vocal and guitar embrace starting things off, whilst emotive and intimate tones line every syllable and chord as the song brews up a fuller and more intensive, though never imposing hug. It is a fascinating end to an outstanding release, another glimpse at the strong and diverse songwriting flowing from the imagination of Green.

Having missed Rum Thief’s first EP, a look back shows it to have been a striking first step for Green and his project but just the taster for the masterful and mighty appearance of Reach For the Weatherman. As asked at the start of this piece, want to get a buzz on? Then this EP will fully satisfy and much more. There are very big things ahead for Rum Thief we suspect.

The Reach For the Weatherman EP is available from July 27th

EP Launch Party, 21st August @ Night and Day Cafe, Oldham St, Manchester in association with Scruff of the Neck Records.

RingMaster 27/07/2015

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Abel Raise the Cain – Black Swans

Picture 31_RingMaster Review

With its video already hitting number one in the Beat 100 music chart, Black Swans, the new single from British indie band Abel Raise the Cain, is already making a potent teaser for the band’s upcoming debut EP, For Strangers Only. The song is an atmospheric embrace but one with a bubbling underbelly and raw intensity which potently captivates. The Northeast band has already lured strong praise and support through their previous release and fair to say, Black Swans is going to do their ascent no harm either.

Picture 33[1]_RingMaster Review   Formed towards the end of 2012, Abel Raise the Cain quickly took inspirations from the atmospheric and epic soundscapes of bands like Arcade Fire, Sigur Ros, and Editors into their own immersive weaves. The double A-sided single Too Late/The Promise in 2013 grabbed the attention of fresh fans and radio stations across the UK, subsequently backed by second single Waiting later that same year. Live the Teeside seven-piece has bred a strong reputation playing with the likes of Happy Mondays, Primal Scream, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Spiritulized, Kodaline, and Skaters alongside their own successful shows. Now with its video as mentioned already setting down a marker, Black Swans, ahead of a highly anticipated EP confirms Abel Raise the Cain as a band destined to welcomingly hit your radar at some point.

The single gently but keenly sweeps in with synths and keys a provocative coaxing around the plain but inviting tones of vocalist and rhythm guitarist Sean Crichton. As the anthemic beats of drummer Adam Hicks stirs things more energetically and the violin seducing of Saerla Murphy adds more emotive and suggestive hues, the song becomes a compelling fusion of different and you would imagine conflicting textures but everything unites and flows seamlessly. The track continues to roar with melancholic emotion and lively passion with each passing minute, the keys of Gaz Murray a warm and emotive incitement to the sonic enterprise cast by guitarists Phil Bailes and Andy Grange whilst the bass of Gary Hughes tempers it all with a dark tone which reflects the heartbreak fuelled the lyrical and emotive hue.

The track is a symphony of sound and emotional turbulence; not a song which initially grabs as potently as it eventually grows to do and one maybe missing a moment or two of wrong-footing the listener to bring further drama and strength to an already climatic presence. To be fair though that is just nit-picking to please personal tastes, for Black Swans only and increasingly satisfies, suggesting the forthcoming For Strangers Only is going to be something well worth checking out.

Black Swans is available from July 27th

RingMaster 27/07/2015

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Rousing carousels: an interview with Woody Woodgate


woody_RingMaster Review

This past week saw the highly anticipated debut solo album from Woody Woodgate released, a pop adventure lighting ears and imagination at every captivating turn. In Your Mind is an encounter which put a smile on our faces whilst often providing evocative hues to reflect and linger over. We had to delve a little deeper into the album and with the kindness of the man himself we explored one of this summer’s treats…

Hi Woody and many thanks for sparing time to chat with us.

Let us get straight to the main reason for taking a slice of your time, debut solo album In Your Mind. With your long creative career in music it feels a little surprising it has taken so long for a solo project to emerge from you. Has this been bubbling in thoughts for quite a while or something which suddenly erupted inside because of a break in other endeavours?

After releasing the Magic Brothers album The Magic Line with my brother Nick, I wanted to take our songs to another level. Quite simply I wanted to work with other musicians. My brother Nick and I have been writing songs together for years. Songs that are appropriate for Madness, go to Madness, songs that I love, but aren’t appropriate for Madness I’ll work on. It’s no good if they don’t see the light of day. Nothing’s been bubbling; it’s all been coming out for years in different guises.

The diverse tracks and sounds within the album is something distinctly different to Madness and indeed Magic Brothers for me. I think I read they were originally planned for the second Magic Brothers album, is that so and how much did you develop further once they were destined for In Your Mind?

They were destined for the Magic Brothers, but it wasn’t really a Magic Brothers project once I got Dan Shears (vocals) and Tim Maple (guitars, and Keyboards) on board. I also took over all the arranging and producing, so it became increasingly my project.

woodywoodgate_inyourmind-_RingMaster ReviewWere there any particular musical inspirations which might have sparked flavours woven into In Your Mind?

I’m a kid from the seventies so it’s packed with influences from the Beatles, ELO, Supertramp, 10cc, through to Pink Floyd, and Jimi Hendrix. Not forgetting my 37 years of Madness, which is my default setting when writing 3 minute pop songs?

Obviously writing and developing songs within a broad line-up like Madness must be very different to composing and creating in Magic Brothers and your solo release. Have you found there is a kind of freedom coming with writing your own music and songs without having to I guess compromise more?

It’s very rewarding being able to put in rock guitar riffs, solos, multi-layered vocals, and do soppy love songs, but it’s also quite hard in the sense that you don’t have anyone to tell you whether or not you’re going up your own jacksy. Self-indulgence can be a dangerous thing, if not checked.

As much as the songs and sounds captivated us here so did the wave of nostalgia it sparked, memories of being a small excited and innocent kid going on that big adventure on a holiday etc. I am assuming it was those kinds of experience and memory for you inspiring songs and album?

If I can put across my experience, I guarantee there’s someone out there who can relate. I also think that lyrics can mean different things to different people, and that’s the beauty of music. The simple fact that you were captivated, and conjured up visions of “a small exited and innocent kid on that big adventure on a holiday etc.” says it all. You (as a listener) were transported into another world though the music, drawing on your own imagination. Hence, “In Your Mind.”

How personal and intimate are the songs to your childhood and experiences?

It’s a mixture of one’s own experience, and imagination.

Was it easy to expose a real part of you as a person and your experiences in life into the album?

I didn’t know I had? So I suppose the answer is “Yes.”

Music was a big part of your upbringing and your brother Nick’s too?

Very much so…It was pivotal.

One of the reasons behind the album was the time allowed because the second Magic Brothers album had to be postponed because of Nick’s “on-going battle with mental health issues” to quote the press release for the album. May I ask what kind of impact his problems have brought to Magic Brothers and In Your Mind in regards to its tones, reflective depths, and lyrical themes?

To be honest, the only thing that was affected by Nick’s illness was his ability to perform live, and take the new album on the road. Nick thought it was only fair that we try out other singers, as the pressure was getting to him, and pressure can set off psychotic episodes. When I found Dan Shears, the pressure on Nick was lifted, and he was able to go back to what he’s best at, and that’s writing great songs. When it comes to writing songs Nick’s illness isn’t a problem, it doesn’t impair his ability to write, and his lyrics very rarely touch on his psychosis, they’re more about his relationships. In all respects he’s just a songwriter, like anyone else. It’s just he’s a very good one, who happens to have schizophrenia.

So though not to the fore Nick’s creative hand is more involved in the album than we might initially imagine?

The album would be nothing without Nick. He is the catalyst to all the songs. I simply reconstruct the dinosaur from the scraps of bones I’m given. Granted there is a lot of interpretation involved, but all in all we complete each other.

Tell us about the link up with Dan, how did you meet and what inspired you to get him involved?woody_RingMaster Review

I worked in a school ten years ago teaching Music Technology and Media Studies, and Dan was a student doing his A-levels. He stood out from the crowd, and was clearly a special talent, with a great voice, and musical sensibility. A part from that we really got on well, and he made me laugh. When I was trying out new singers for the album the one thing that became apparent was their lack of range. I hadn’t seen Dan for ten years, but he kept cropping up in my thoughts, as he was the one singer I knew could do the job, but I had no idea where he was, or what he was doing with his life. Ironically he contacted me on social media to say that he was releasing a solo album, and would I be interested in giving it a listen? I put it to him that I too was doing an album, and would he sing on it? The rest is history.

His voice reminded us of a mix between Ian Broudie and Ste McCabe, and really stoked and matched the feel of the music and their intimate revelry well.

Interesting? Queer Core Lightening Seeds. Not something I envisaged, but I can see where you’re coming from.

How involved was he, other than vocally of course?

Involved in as much as he was encouraged to be himself, and to put his own inflections into the vocal performance

Is there any particular moment within In Your Mind which gives you a certain tingle of satisfaction or pleasure etc.?

Only that it sounds great on radio…Which gives me a buzz from a technical point of view.

Now it is out luring acclaim and attention, is there a thought inside that you should have done this sooner?

I couldn’t have done it sooner, I wasn’t ready. I had too much to learn. Now is the perfect time. I’m ready.

Time allowing, will exploring further solo adventures possibly be on the cards?


woody and dan from In Your Mind video_RingMaster ReviewI love the video for the song In Your Mind, a song relating to Nick’s issues I believe? Who is behind and created its captivating and evocative look?

Tom Johnson, another of my brilliant students back in the day created the video, but you’re wrong about the subject matter. It’s not about Nick, and in a way you have fallen into the trap of stigmatising him. Just because the video is surreal, and the title is ‘In Your Mind” you are presuming it’s about mental illness. It is in fact about getting lost in your imagination, the way children do when they play, and how we get carried away in a book, or story. We can be transported to another world in our minds. It’s as simple as that.

(In our defence it was the press release stating the song “was an ode to a younger brother battling his demons” which led our thoughts to that conclusion and only in regard to that one track)

Is there a chance any of the songs within In Your Mind might get a live airing at some point, somewhere?

I’m going to try and put in a gig or two, in between Madness commitments. We’ll see.

Once again big thanks for taking time out for us. Is there anything you would like to leave us with?

My advice to anyone listening to the album is to take out of the equation the fact that my brother is a schizophrenic, and judge it on its merits alone. You may hear the album in a new light, and it won’t cloud or prejudice your thinking.

Lastly, I know you are working with the charity Rethink Mental Illness. Would you like to give details/links people can go to learn more and offer their support?

Twitter: @rethink or

Read the In Your Mind review@

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 16/07/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @