Colours of the blues: exploring King Colobus with vocalist/guitarist Stewart MacPherson

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2017 has started with a bang, certainly in regard to introductions to and debut releases from fresh and truly striking bands. One of those making the biggest impressive impact is UK rockers King Colobus. Recently their self-titled first EP was rebooted into national attention, a release to steal one of the lines in our own review providing a “four-track theatre of blues and alternative rock [which] trespassed and seduced the imagination and passions.”

With thanks to Garry at SaN PR we leapt on the chance to learn more about the EP and its creators with King Colobus vocalist/guitarist Stewart MacPherson also touching on their beginnings and other aspects of being in a band…

Hi, thanks for sharing time to talk with us.

Your bio says the band officially began in 2015 but I believe its origins and seeds began long before then. Tell us about its beginnings and lead up to stepping out as King Colobus.

The first ideas started in a 3 piece band called BIBLE JOHN AND THE REPTILES, which included me (Stewart), GRIFTER bassist Phil Harris and former BROTHERHOOD OF THE LAKE drummer Rich Robinson. We spent months rehearsing and just before taking things live, Rich started to have back problems. The whole thing capitulated until James Bailes moved back to the South West. He and I had jammed out demos and worked together on various projects when we both lived in London. We got together and started to share ideas that we thought really deserved a life…and so KING COLOBUS was born.

The re-location to Devon of yourself and James from London seems to have been one of the sparks to the birth of King Colobus. Was that just coincidence or there was something you found down there, apart from meeting Gavin and Simon, which instigated the band?

The main thing that changed for both James and I was fatherhood. We both wanted our kids to grow up in a better environment and having both come from the South West, I guess this felt like the best option. There is also a great opportunity down here to create an alternative music scene. It has been blighted for far too long with tribute bands and folk music and venues like THE JUNCTION are starting to put alternative music firmly on the map again. There’s a lot of talent down here, but it just needs to get its fair share of the opportunities.

kc2_RingMasterReviewIs there a specific meaning or inspiration to the band’s name?

A King Colobus is a monkey that changes colour when coming out of childhood. I found this intriguing.

It is fair to say that your sound is a tapestry woven from a variety of musical textures and styles. How would you describe it to newcomers?

I would say that it is very much rooted to blues, with a heavy dose of trucker rock and grunge. There are so many pleasant, yet sometimes surprising comments we get from people regarding what they can hear in us, we encourage you to listen and draw your own conclusions!

Is there any particular inspiration you would say has helped shape your music as a band and individually?

I think if you heard 3 or 4 of our tracks, you would hear elements of Sabbath, Alice in Chains, Queens of the Stone Age, Clutch, Rage Against The Machine, Soundgarden, Interpol, and Johnny Cash…but to name a few. The likes of Bowie, Radiohead, and Morrissey have always provided a lot of lyrical inspiration, as they tend to tell stories that interest and make you dig a bit deeper into what is being said.

You recently re-released your self-titled EP to swift acclaim it has to be said. How did you approach its uncaging this time around compared to its first outing?

When it was first released, we did it just so that people could have something to take home at gigs if they liked us. After a while, it started to get a great response and people started getting in touch to order it online. It was at this point where we thought that it should be given broader exposure.

Can you personally put your finger on why it has caught the imagination of press and fans alike with great force?king-colobus-promo-shot_RingMasterReview

I think PR has a lot to do with it! You can have the best EP in the world, but it needs PR to get heard…then it needs to sound good for people to talk about it!

As broad as its songs in many ways are in sound there is an intimacy at the heart of the EP which suggests certainly lyrically personal experiences provides their seeds. Where do you draw inspiration most often for your tracks?

Everything I sing about is personal, or it is based upon something I know about. Sometimes looking at personal experiences of those who are closest to me provides for a better story. There’s no point in talking about California if you get me.

How does the songwriting predominantly work within the band?

Most songs are written acoustically at first. I perform solo acoustic gigs around the South West and ‘test’ things out before approaching the band with the idea. It’s a great way to test out the dynamics of a song, without the frills. I think it also helps us all to look at each track from a different perspective, without some massive riff dominating the landscape.

Can you give us some background to the tracks within the EP and their themes? king-colobus-cover-artwork_RingMasterReview

GET UP was actually written around the time of the 2012 Olympics. I lived in Hackney Wick at the time, so it was right on my doorstep. The track was based on the idea of it being used for Olympic Games footage. Needless to say, it didn’t, but it still made for a good track!

The self-titled KING COLOBUS track is based on my teenage years in Plymouth, so it’s a very personal outlook on my experiences throughout the nineties.

TITS AND TEETH is generally about how disposable the music industry has become and how we find ourselves absorbed by TV judging panels, who apparently know what they are doing.

WAIT is borne from a political platform. We keep on telling ourselves that if we vote a different way, things are going to change for the better. We need to believe this to keep going, but it’s far from the truth.

Live you have shared stages with the likes of with Sea Sick Steve, Band Of Skulls, Crazy Arm, and one of our favourites De Staat and that alone shows the diverse appeal of your sound. What is it you think about the band in sound and live which tempts such an array of artists and their fans into the world of King Colobus?

I think good music will always be just that and hopefully we have gained some new fans through doing our best to put on a good show when we play live. All of these bands are genuine, as are we.

Talking of Sea Sick Steve, the last time we saw him highlighted the trend it seems of people going to shows not so much to watch the artist but to socialise, certainly at higher profile events and venues. The sound of chatting often intruded on the music. If you have come across this, how as a band do you mentally deal with it on stage?

I think it’s our job to try and capture the audience’s attention. If we don’t, we need to do something about that! Sea Sick Steve was a really nice guy to talk to and he gave us so much great advice; I wish I brought a notepad! At the end of the day, you are in a bubble when you are in a band, so audience chatter really doesn’t bother me if it happens…but it rarely does!

What is next for King Colobus live and release wise?

We are just starting to branch out of the South West, as we are really keen to get involved in other musical pockets around the country. We’ve been busy scheduling this, as well as festival dates. As we deal with this ourselves, it is quite challenging. We also go into the studio again this Summer to record another 4 track EP, so this will be out way before the end of the year.

Big thanks again for talking with us. Anything you would like to add?

If there are any towns/cities which would like to see King Colobus, let us know!

Check out our review of the debut King Colobus EP @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/king-colobus-self-titled-ep/

http://www.kingcolobus.com/    https://www.facebook.com/kingcolobus/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Raglans – Self Titled

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A dance for feet, imagination, and emotions, the self-titled debut album from Irish band Raglans is a magnetic introduction to a band which has already brewed up approaching feverish attention around home city Dublin and the wider landscape of Ireland. That spotlight is sure to be expanded as the infectious adventure of their album takes the hands of UK passions and leads them in its thrilling melodic waltz. The eleven song blaze of captivating sounds and insatiable energy provides all the reasons as to why the indie-folk quartet has swiftly made a major mark back home and will soon have wider fields spellbound you suspect.

Forming in 2010, Raglans took little time to create a potent following and reputation for their live performances and sound, an encounter which charges up the passions as much through its flavoursome breeding from the varied heavier, punky, and folkish tastes of the band’s members as it does from the virulently addictive hooks veining the release. Multi-instrumentalist and lead vocalist Stephen Kelly linked up with bassist Rhos Horan first before enlisting drummer Conn O’ Ruanaidh and lead guitarist Sean O’Brien soon after as the band took its first steps as Raglan, its name taken from a famous Patrick Kavanagh poem, On Raglan. The first year saw their demo track Down make its entrance before the band was invited to spend a week producing and recording with Boz Boorer, renowned for his collaborations with Morrissey. That spawned the eagerly received Long Live EP of 2012 as well as a couple of videos with young filmmaker Finn Keenan to accompany songs on the release. A pair of singles, Digging Holes and Natives drew even greater acclaim and hunger for their sound helping the foursome to land support slots with the likes of The Courteeners and HAIM.

Produced by Ivor Novello nominee Jay Reynolds (Elton John, Pulp, The Verve) and mastered by Grammy award winning Brian Lucy (The raglans coverArctic Monkeys, The Black Keys, Beck), Raglans’ album is the next step on the rapid ascent of the band. As soon as the rhythmic and vocal revelry of opener Digging Holes seizes ears, thoughts and emotions similarly come under the spell of song and band. Almost tribal and certainly anthemic, the track is under the skin within seconds, continuing to forge a deeper toxicity with the rhythmic enterprise of Ruanaidh rampant within the emerging melodic guitar and keys colouring of the festivity. Vocally the band is just as potent, the great tones of Kelly perfectly backed and aided by the rest of the band. As the song evolves through changing gaits and twists around its core infectiousness, it provides one of the best rock pop encounters to bounce into and flirt with the passions over recent years.

The irresistible start is soon backed up potently by both (Lady) Roll Back The Years and the following Fake Blood. The first is again a melody soaked flame of insistently persuasive hooks and teasing rhythms aligned to sonic adventure and punchy imagination. With whispers of blues and folk rock to its feisty energy and weight, the track is an insatiably compelling stomp with a keen swagger to match. Its successor brings a more relaxed attitude to its suasion though there is still a purpose and passion to it which is of a heavier rock base, and though it is less dramatic and insistent than its predecessors, the song still adds another layer to the immense satisfaction welcoming the album. Another pleasing aspect to the songs, certainly to this point, is how the band ends them, each stepping from the ear as vivaciously and dramatically as at any other point in a track to add an additional lingering thrill in the mix.

Before Tonight saunters in next with a melodic smile in its heart, its folk pop stroll a warm summer chorus of harmonies and elegant hooks, whilst Natives uncages another anthem of virulent pop with a reserved but fully loaded temptation of guitar hooks, rhythmic enslavement, and vocal enticements. As with many songs there is something familiar playing with ears and thoughts but only to the benefit and potency of the rich thrilling bait.

The album continues to incite greater pleasure and allegiance to its inventive charm and melodic grace, the likes of the rigorously catchy blues kissed rocker White Lightning and the emotively sculpted Not Now raising more appealing weaves of thoughtful craft and delicious melodies whilst the more than decent High Road, if without sparking similar depth of ardour, pushes a wider gape to the grin inside the release and listener.

Keeping another pinnacle for its latter stages, the album then launches the brilliant romp of The Man From Glasgow on ears and passions, the track a vivacious rival to the first for best song. It is an energy pumping feast of guitar and bass endeavour alongside perfectly incendiary rhythms and similarly enslaving harmonies all drawn into a tempestuous pop song with more than an essence of pop punk breeding to its rampancy.

The album is closed out by firstly Down, the song another merciless proposition of harmonic enterprise and crafty indie coaxing stealing more of the passions, and lastly the refreshing Born In Storms, a track which does not spark the strongest rapture but certainly confirms album and band as something to loudly recommend. It is easy to see why the release of Down way back in its demo state awoke attention in so many whilst the last track simply reinforces the clever seduction of the band’s songwriting and sound. Raglans will be a small name making big impressions on the lips and thoughts of the UK as their album works its inevitable way into the hearts of a great many, becoming a presence as full and voracious as their sound.

https://www.facebook.com/Raglans

9/10

RingMaster 24/03/2014

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Spies – Distant Shorelines EP

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If you merged The Smiths and Echo and The Bunnymen with a dash of The Mighty Lemon Drops and The National you get Spies, certainly on the evidence of the Distant Shorelines EP alone, though admittedly it is still not the whole story. Consisting of two scintillating and ridiculously compelling expanses of sonic and melodic ingenuity, the release is a breath-taking, imagination firing seduction which provides the evidence of one fascinating emerging tour-de-force. As their recent single November Sun, the release out November 18th via Trout Records, is a dramatically absorbing and invigorating sculpting of sound using essences of post punk, eighties indie, and noise rock. It instantly seduces and tantalises the senses never relinquishing its grip until the final ounce of its atmospheric evocation has caressed the passions.

From Dublin the quintet of Michael Broderick, Neil Dexter, Conor Cusack, Hugh O’Dwyer, and Jeffrey Courtney soon had attention and acclaim coating their early releases, the Liars Call Me King EP of 2010 and the Barricade single the following year. With radio play and attention, media coverage, and successful festival appearances surrounding Spies they soon built a strong and growing fanbase which will only accelerate in size with Distant Shorelines.

Opening with a raw and scuzz kissed guitar stroking of the ear soon joined by an intensive surf rock like melodic hook; Distant SpiesShorelines has little difficulty in igniting a healthy appetite, one which has a hunger on its hands just as soon as the strolling anthemic drum temptation lays down its intent. The magnetic vocals of Broderick only increase the bait as his smouldering and expressive tones begin their emotive narrative within an increasingly enchanting and incendiary weave of aural fascination. The delicious pulsating throaty basslines and anthemically persistent rhythms hold an irresistible grip throughout but given a stage to drive the songs potency home with only the Morrissey like tones of Broderick for company, they enslave the passions for the song to exploit and treat further. The track is sheer sonic beauty; a haunted post punk unpredictability and emotionally intense melodic toxin permeating ears and thoughts virulently whilst the vocals weave their own expressive design to seal a spellbinding provocation.

Mint And Lime immediately offers a darker shadowed clad presence, the gnarled bass and drum webbing creating an addiction forging lure for the noise fuelled jagged guitars to conjure a psyche lit blaze. Like Joy D vision meets The Gaa Gaas with some Cabaret Voltaire for good measure, it is a hypnotic entrance which only piles on the persuasion with The Smiths like vocal lilt and melodic enticements. Chilled yet sultry, the song is incendiary manna for the passions, a presence which evolves a soundscape like no other and a sirenesque call which is epidemically efficient.

Together the two tracks provide all the imagination and incredibly potent evidence needed to culture a lustful hunger for Spies and their sound, something which the single November Sun just as powerfully endorses with its melodically flaming and atmospherically entrancing presence. Just receiving its video launch too, the song is another sensational urging upon the passions to embrace and succumb to Spies, one of the most exciting and aurally stunning bands to come along over the past couple of years.

https://www.facebook.com/spiesdublin

10/10

RingMaster 16/11/2013

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