Kids on Bridges – Something in the Water

art_RingMasterReview

With a spicy jangle to its warm melodic invitation, Something in the Water is a song which dares ears to ignore it. The new single from UK trio Kids on Bridges knows it is on to a winner though, safe in the knowledge that its electronic enterprise and vibrant rock ‘n’ roll tenacity has a catchiness even the common cold would envy.

Liverpool based Kids on Bridges consists of Christian Bragg, Daniel Rankin and Andrew Culshaw, a trio which, since emerging in 2014, has supported the likes of Beck, Hot 8, LCD Soundsystem, Soulwax, and Friendly Fires, and been Britain’s only representatives to play alongside Stevie Wonder at the Special Olympics in LA. Add working with New Orleans legend Zigaboo Modeilste and Jennie Vee as well as playing a string of gigs in America marked out by sold out shows at LA’s iconic The Viper Room and Tipitinas in New Orleans, it is fair to say Kids on Bridges is on a lively roll.

The successor to their successful previous single When The Needle Drops, the magnetic Something in the Water is looking to stir things up in 2016 the same way. Straight away keys and guitars cup ears in their respective romancing and jangling, bright pulses and eager beats laying potent bait alongside as emerging melodies and harmonious vocals wrap and dance energetically in ears.

It is a captivating start with something invitingly familiar to it at times; a scent of previous synth pop spiced decades mixing with nineties indie pop boisterousness as the song grows. They are spices which only hint without drawing exact comparisons though, essences which add extra flavour to the electro pop revelry that Kids on Bridges have honed as their own.

Spirit lifting songs always make potent singles and Something in the Water certainly qualifies as a moment of rather enjoyable fun.

Something in the Water is released March 11th across most online stores.

https://www.facebook.com/KidsOnBridgesMusic    https://twitter.com/Kidsonbridges

Upcoming Live Dates:

16th March – Highbury Garage, London

22nd March – Liverpool, supporting Blancmange, details tbc

1st -3rd April – Threshold Festival, Liverpool

30th April – Polyfest, London

Pete RingMaster 10/03/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Gazing into the fresh glow of The Cathode Ray with Jeremy Thoms

The Cathode Ray_RingMaster Review

Photo and copyright Peter Tainsh

2015 has provided many treats this year and definitely amongst them was the latest and second album Infinite Variety from Scottish indie band The Cathode Ray. It was an encounter embracing the nostalgia of the eighties through fresh and inventive escapades bred of the now. One of the band’s founders is Jeremy Thoms, he also the man behind the great indie label Stereogram Recordings, and someone who to describe as busy is a big understatement. Nevertheless, Jeremy kindly gave us a chunk of his time to talk about the album, The Cathode Ray itself from top to bottom and more, including an insight to his own musical loves…

Hi Jeremy and many thanks for giving us your time to talk with us.

Ever late to the party, we discovered The Cathode Ray through your new album Infinite Variety which came out a couple of months or so ago to, it is fair to say, swift acclaim. In a music world where it seems increasingly harder to actually get people to part with money or indeed offer full attention to things, did you have any particular expectations or hopes for its unveiling or is it more anything is a bonus for bands right now?

We didn’t have any expectations other than hoping that those who had liked the first album would stay with us for the second. We knew we’d made a good follow up album but, as you say, in an environment when it’s very hard to engage with people, nothing is guaranteed.

Photo by Hugh Womersley

Photo by Hugh Womersley

Originally the band was just you and Paul Haig, famed for Josef-K and his own solo career. The press release for the album suggests this was not originally intended to be a serious band project but a writing collaboration. Was that the case and what brought Paul’s involvement to an end?

Paul definitely just saw it as a writing collaboration – “a bit of fun” was one his quotes – with group recordings just being made to illustrate them. However, the reaction to them was so positive, one thing lead to another and I pushed for it to become a band and take it more seriously, which Paul wasn’t happy with so eventually he left. What confused matters in the press and public eye was that Neil, David and I were his backing band when he did a solo tour in 2008. However the emphasis then was completely on his solo work, and he had no intention of being a member of a band again after Josef K, which in the end we had to respect.

The double ‘A’ sided single What’s It All About? /Mind was released in 2006; I believe this was meant as a one off release?

Not initially but it ended up like that. Certainly with Paul participating. When we made the agreement with Pronoia Records in 2006, the album had been recorded with Paul’s full participation, but by the time we got around to discussing getting it released he had changed his mind. So he asked us to remove his lead vocals, which we did, although some of his guitar and backing vocals do remain on the first album.

At what point did that spark the appetite to push things further; as a full band and with more releases?

The point that changed everything was bumping into Steve Fraser at a TV21 album launch in 2009. I told him what had happened and he was keen to get involved. The minute we started talking music I knew he was the man. We didn’t even bother with an audition. I knew the songs were strong enough to survive without Paul’s involvement. That opened so many doors, being able to play live (which Paul would never have done as The Cathode Ray) and generally move things on after quite a difficult start.

Were some of you all already old friends and maybe previously worked together before uniting for The Cathode Ray we know today?

Neil Baldwin and I have known each other for 34 years (!) and have played in bands together intermittently since 1986. David Mack and I had been working together since 2000 so, yes, there was a certain chemistry. Steve was the “new boy” although we’d all known him on the Edinburgh scene previously.

I have to admit for once, and not intentionally, I read about the band and its background before hearing a note for a review, and to be honest once seeing a list of previous projects for members of The Cathode Ray2_RingMaster Reviewthe band which had been indelible pleasures in my personal soundtrack, subsequently luring a revisit to old favourites records after finishing the review too, there was an increased anticipation and eagerness to explore the band and album. Do you think having your musical histories has helped draw awareness to the band or not?

Well obviously there’s going to be a certain amount of that, but I do believe, hopefully without sounding conceited, that The Cathode Ray is more than the sum of its parts. But initially I guess it did help getting people interested through our various previous involvements.

There were whiffs of all some of your previous bands at times across the songs and often nostalgia blessed air of Infinite Variety, The Bluebells and Scars maybe most notably in our ears. You are a band unafraid to draw on previous adventures and spices to hone new and fresh exploits, as potently shown on the album?

The songs that I write aren’t consciously drawing on any of our past exploits, but I guess where you’ve come from does influence where you’re going. In any case, it’s probably coincidental, as Steve only toured with The Scars as a depping bassist so wasn’t involved in their creative process, while Neil only contributed to arrangements with The Bluebells. But inevitably, as we all come from that post-punk background, some of the sounds and styles of these bands are going to rub off.

How would you say The Cathode Ray has evolved over time and specifically between Infinite Variety and its predecessor, your self-titled debut album?

I would say the vague initial brief of merging post-punk Manchester with New York has simply broadened to the point where I regard ourselves now as a band that isn’t easy to pin down musically. Our original press release mentioned 60’s Garage, Soundtracks and Northern soul, to which one critic added Psychedelia, Glam-Rock, Euro-Disco, Krautrock and 90’s Alternative Pop when reviewing Infinite Variety. So it is definitely evolving. I’m currently demoing material for the next album and there’s even more interesting musical areas I’d like to explore. It’s good to surprise people.

TCR cover_RingMaster ReviewGive us some insight into the thoughts and intentions going into the writing and recording of Infinite Variety? Do you build a release on particular aims or ideas or predominantly let things organically evolve?

Things do tend to evolve organically. If you put too much pre-conceived thought into it, the music loses its spontaneity. Although I suppose one particular aim is not to repeat ourselves. Each album needs to be a significant progression from the previous one, so a certain degree of thought does go into that. Also, apart from melodies and lyrics, I’m always interested in rhythms and try to be as adventurous and varied as possible in that area too.

We described the album as a “kaleidoscope of fun, sound, and adventure”, a fair hint we think at the array of flavours and inventive spices fuelling and shaping the songs within Infinite Variety. In the hands of many bands it might be an incoherent mix, but you manage to seamlessly blend all spices and individual characters of songs perfectly. Where do you and the band start when composing songs?

Well I compose the songs and demo them first with the key riffs, chord progressions, lyrics etc. all in place. At that stage they often do sound fairly disparate. I then present them to the band in the rehearsal room and that’s when it starts to sound like The Cathode Ray. Steve, Neil and Dave all contribute parts and arrangements until we arrive at the finished article. Some songs like The Eyes Are The Window took a long time to come together and changed quite considerably from my original demo. Others end up fairly similar to the original template, but all manage to sound cohesive owing to the fact it’s the four of us playing them, I guess.

The album’s tracks manage to be rich and at times expansive in texture and flavour yet also ‘slim’, i.e. no excess baggage or indulgence. They manage to be an open evolution from your first album but also reveal a bolder leap in aural colour and character; how do you hear their relevance to older propositions as one of their creators?

Well obviously it’s difficult to be completely objective about something you’ve created yourself, but I see their place in relation to the first album as a natural progression. The leap in colour and texture which you describe is simply a way of moving the band forward, without cluttering things up unnecessarily. You use the word ‘slim’ and I suppose that comes in at the production stage – cutting off any excess fat!

How long in the making from first note to paper or thought through to last note laid down was the album?

The boundaries are always blurred as we always tend to have songs left over which were either written too late to make the cut or simply didn’t fit at the time. For example, This Force Of Nature had its origins as a completely different song dating way back to 2006. It had never sounded right so was left on the shelf. I went back to it in 2014 writing new lyrics and melodies and it quickly came together then. Eureka Moment and Buck the Trend were written in 2009 when Steve first joined. But the bulk of I.V. was written and recorded between 2012 and 2014 – around two and half years.

Our review stated spices of bands from around the eighties as rewarding aspects but over time sixties/seventies tones have emerged. I sense your own inspirations and musical loves go far back?

Oh yes – my musical tastes stretch way back! How long have you got? Songwriters have always been key to me. From Lennon & McCartney, Brian Wilson, Smokey Robinson, Jimmy Webb and Bacharach & David, through Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Scott Walker, Al Green, Bowie, Joni Mitchell, Robert Wyatt and Neil Young to Costello, Paddy MacAloon and Rufus Wainwright, the song is always key. Then there’s the bands I love – The Stones, The Velvets, The Doors, Faces, Roxy, Yes, Kraftwerk, Television, Talking Heads, Buzzcocks, Chic, Wire, Magazine, Pretenders, Joy Division, Dexys, Scritti Politti; Cocteaus, Talk Talk, Teenage Fanclub, High Llamas, Flaming Lips… the list goes on.

There is no mistaking that Scottish bands and rock ‘n’ roll of all styles and design bred there, has something unique to it, and we could go on a long list of examples. Can you define what it is in ‘the

Photo by Jez Curnow

Photo by Jez Curnow

water’ which helps breed such distinctive and so often inspirational bands from that part of the UK, as ones yourselves?

I think there’s an open-mindedness up here. Maybe Scottish bands tend to draw from a wider pool of influences than other parts of the UK. Or maybe it’s to do with being distanced from what’s happening down south – even in the age of the internet. It’s certainly true that scenes of their own do seem to crop up here around labels like Postcard, Fast, 53rd & 3rd, Creeping Bent and, possibly, our label Stereogram too, which has attracted similar kindred literate spirits. Either that or we all seem to be obsessed with the Velvet Underground!

What comes next for The Cathode Ray?

Firstly, we’ve got two more live shows coming up this year as part of The Stereogram Revue in Edinburgh and Glasgow, plus a new track called It Takes One To Know One on a compilation album. Then there’s a new video shot earlier this year at the Kings Theatre in Edinburgh by Jez Curnow to go with Saving Grace, our other featured track on the comp. After that we’ll be knuckling down to working on the follow up to Infinite Variety. I’ve got five or six new songs written and demoed, plus a couple of leftovers, so we’ll be getting on with them. Expect some new directions.

Your releases come out on Stereogram Recordings, your own label which seems to have out grown and blossomed far more than its original intent I believe. Can you tell us a little about it and what is ahead for the label too?

It has indeed outgrown its original intent which was simply to facilitate a release for the first Cathode Ray album, plus any other projects (The Fabulous Artisans) or archive material I had kicking about. But over the last couple of years it has been growing steadily with first Roy Moller signing up, followed by James King & The Lonewolves, Milton Star, St. Christopher Medal, Lola in Slacks and, Band Of Holy Joy. The critical and public response has been great which is hugely encouraging. As previously mentioned, we’re rounding off the year with two Revue shows which will feature the entire roster in some form or other (minus Milton Star who don’t have a live set up at present). These gigs will be accompanied by The Sound of Stereogram, a budget compilation in the spirit of New Wave in ‘77 or Pillows and Prayers in ’82, featuring both new and old tracks from all eight acts on the label. Next year promises some new signings plus new material from the existing acts.

My big thanks to you again for chatting with us; have you anything you would like to add?

Nothing to add except thanks very much for your support over the last year.

Lastly and looking at band’s influences on your Facebook profile, a list of bands littering my own record collection I have to say, can you indulge me and give us a few of the bands/records which inspired you to get into music and then as a musician push yourself further?

Well I’ve already mentioned a whole bunch of artists who’ve inspired me, so here’s some records that have been key: “With The Beatles”; “Motown Chartbusters Vol.3”; “Pet Sounds”; “Piper at The Gates of Dawn”; “Forever Changes”; “Loaded”; “Scott 4”; “What’s Going On”; “Exile On Main Street”; “Never A Dull Moment”; “Close To The Edge”; “Aladdin Sane”; ”Houses Of The Holy”; “Quadrophenia”; “Rock Bottom”; “Country Life”; “Zuma”; “Songs In The Key Of Life”; “Trans Europe Express”; “Marquee Moon”; “My Aim Is True”; “Never Mind The Bollocks”; “Risque”; “All Mod Cons”; “Love Bites”; “Fear Of Music”; “Closer”; “The Correct Use Of Soap”; “You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever”; “Rattlesnakes”; “Steve McQueen”; “Don’t Stand Me Down”. Again the list goes on…

Read our review of Infinite Variety @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/the-cathode-ray-infinite-variety/

https://www.facebook.com/thecathoderay   http://www.stereogramrecordings.co.uk

Pete Ringmaster

The RingMaster Review 23/11/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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

Interview with Greg Cargopoulos of Absolace

From the unlikely place of the United Arab Emirates has come one of the most impressive and impassioned albums so far this year in the refreshing and stirring might of Fractals from Dubai quartet Absolace. Like a breath of fresh air within rock music the album is full of boisterous riffs, melancholic atmospheres, cultured songwriting, and emotive melodies. With the feeling that things could be on an even greater rise for the band, we had the pleasure of asking drummer Greg Cargopoulos about Absolace, their new album and more.

Hi and welcome to The Ringmaster Review. Big thanks for taking time to talk with us here.

Firstly for those unaware of the Absolace could you introduce its members?

Hey guys. On bass, from Australia, we have Ben Harris. On vocals we have Nadim Jamal, from Lebanon.  Jack Skinner, from UK, is our guitarist. And my name is Greg Cargopoulos. I’m the drummer of the band, and come from Greece.

Could you begin by telling us about the beginning of the band?

It all started when Jack and I were just jamming out a few tunes that I had written. We were trying to form a full band. We were looking for a drummer first of all to jam with. I was actually supposed to be the bassist originally, but it was so hard to find a drummer, that I ended up playing drums just to jam. I really loved the drums from the very start so I stuck with it. We were also originally supposed to have a female vocalist. But that idea eventually faded away for some reason.

After a while of writing bits and pieces, we realized there was enough material for an album, so jack and I booked a studio to record drums, and put down the tracks. We then started to track guitars and bass at my place. Then approached Nadim to be our singer, and tracked the rest of the album. After the album was complete, we approached Ben to be our bass player. The rest is history 🙂

Is there a story behind the band name or a relevance to it for you?

Yeh big time. I’ve always been a fan of bands that switch from a heavy sound to a mellower atmospheric sound, so that’s what I really wanted to do.  Absolace is a mixture of the words Absolute and Solace. Both words referring to the two sounds we move between. The heavier sound and the ambient sound.

You are the first rock band we have come across from the United Arab Emirates, is there a thriving rock scene there and in the Middle East in general?

No unfortunately there isn’t really. There’s a bit of an underground scene, that’s about it. It is getting better though. More and more bands are pushing further and going overseas. The biggest problem here is the lack of venues to play at.

One imagines it is much harder to be noticed as a band from that region worldwide than if a UK or US based artist. Have you found that to be the case so far?

Yeah definitely much harder. Not so much to get your music out, because we all have the internet, which gives you unlimited access to the outside world for our music. The problem is we can’t tour as easily as bands from Europe, UK, or US, which means we can’t promote our music as well.

You have just released the brilliant album Fractals, a release we love here. How long has it been in the making?

Writing for fractals started about January 2011 I believe. It took, on and off, about 4 months to write. In June we started tracking the album, which finished in September or October, with 1 month off in the middle. Then mixing and mastering at the end of the year. So yeh, about 4 months writing, and then, on-and-off, about 6 or 7 months production.

The songs within Fractals are beautifully crafted and presented but with an edge that stirs up emotions, suggesting a care and attention to every detail of your music  is as deep a part of your  songwriting as any organic evolution, is that so?

Yeah we definitely paid a lot of attention to detail with this album. We literally completely dissected some songs to get them as good as we possibly could. You have no idea how much time was spent on this.

How does the songwriting process work within the band?

Some songs differ from others. Some songs are written by one person, on pro tools, using programmed drums. Other songs are written as a result of a jam. It all depends. We don’t really have a specific formula.

The new album follows up your acclaimed and again rather special debut Resolve[d].How has the band and music evolved between the two releases to you?

Yeah it has definitely changed in some way, as it is a group effort now, rather than a single person’s writing. But that’s a good thing. A band’s music needs to change, it needs to keep evolving.  We’ve all changed as well. Everyone’s keeping healthy and happy. We’re all at a good stage right now.

You have been compared musically to the likes of Porcupine Tree and Tool and we threw in the flavours of Karnivool and Sunna in our review of Fractals, but what are the influences that have firstly made the biggest impact on you as people and secondly on the music of Absolace?

As people, we have so many influences there are just too many to list. Also musically, we are all influenced by so many bands including the ones you mentioned (Karnivool, Tool, Porcupine Tree). These are just the ones people are picking up on the most.

Tell us about the apparent theme within the songs on Fractals, the link between chaos and every day details of life.

It is all about relating the chaos theory to everyday life. Our lives, essentially, are chaotic systems, that are affected largely by initial conditions.

That link can be looked at either positively or negatively, and you combine both in your songs from the calm inspiring sounds that at times challenge and raise the intensity and your lyrics. What is the underlining impression you are hoping comes over in the album?

This album really speaks out the truth. Whether its happy moments of realisation, or harsh reality. It depends how you take things really. A lot of the lyrical content is sad-but-true topics in the world like modern-day slavery, tyrants, etc… It is supposed to have a bit of a shock effect.

There is a depth and expanse to the songs within the album that feels organic, like the songs dictated their own evolution is that so?

Yes that is definitely true. We try and write in a natural way. Not sticking to traditional structures. Also, we look at all of our instruments as a whole when writing, rather than individual parts. It is more of holistic way of writing.

 Do you feel a greater maturity to your songwriting and music has grown in the two years or so between your albums?

Yeah definitely. Songwriting, musicianship, showmanship. It has all grown in my opinion. It’s a natural course for musicians as long as the passion is still there. Also, more importantly, I think we’ve all become more familiar with each other musically.

Resolve[d] was mixed and mastered by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Katatonia, Paradise Lost) and I was led to believe Fractals too but since I noticed production on the new album was down to you and U.S. producer Joshua F. Williams (Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Flo-Rida), could you clear that up for us please?

I actually produced both albums, using Jens as the mix and master engineer for Resolve[d], and Josh Williams as recording and mix engineer, and also to co-produce it. Both guys did a fantastic job. The obvious advantage of Josh is that he is in the same country. I think it is good to keep working with different people, keeps albums different from each other in terms of sound.

 Has the album turned out as you envisaged going in to the recording or did it bring some surprises to you along the way how it evolved?

Actually we pretty much had most of the songs nailed before going in, so no surprises there. However, Chroma Mera and Wade 2.0, we pretty much made it up as we went along. They turned out awesome considering.

How did the actual recording differ this time around, were there lessons learned the first time to make Fractals an easier experience?

Fractals was definitely put together easier than Resolve[d], but still a few frustration along the way. But it only get easier with every record…..I hope

 Is there any part of Fractals that gives you an especially deep satisfaction and glow inside?

Chroma Mera….FUCK YEAH!!! Also, the production turned out awesome. I’m so happy with it.

Going back to your homeland and Dubai where there are known social restrictions does that have an impact on music and what you are allowed to bring into a song lyrically?

Ummm, I dunno really….Our lyrics are never really a problem. They are not too provocative, and we don’t swear in our lyrics. Maybe if Rage against the machine were born today, and happened to live in Dubai, there might be a problem 🙂

You have played some high profile shows, like supporting Anathema in Beirut and playing in the Formula 1 celebrations in Abu Dhabi as examples as well as playing the Byblos Festival in Lebanon, so I have to ask how has the rest of the world not been fully aware of Absolace before now haha?

Probably cause we have yet to Tour. It is quite hard being from a place so isolated from the rest of the world. We’re working on it though, having PR campaigns to raise our awareness in EU, UK and US. We shall see 🙂

Do you ever see a time where you may have to relocate to find deserved recognition?

Some people have suggested that, but it is much easier said than done. We all have jobs, girlfriends, and commitments in our lives, and it is not always easy to drop it all to move country for the band.

So you have real lives to live alongside the band and if so do they make a generally seamless fit?

Yes we are all very busy people in our professional lives, and most of us have girlfriends. Ben is even expecting a child soon. It does get difficult sometimes to find the time, but as I see it, if the passion is there, you can always find enough time.

Tell us about your video for the brilliant I Am, So I Will (our fav song on the album).

We are super happy with the video. The shoot was really fun, really cool people to work with. It was a great experience overall. The director, Cyrile, he came up with the concept of visuals and screens. It looks pretty catchy, and I gotten us some good exposure. Youtube is a huge way bands are getting discovered these days, so our video presence is essential.

Once the wave of acclaim and attention we foresee coming over Fractals, have you any plans for the rest of 2012?

To start writing again 🙂 Not many gigging plans this year, but hopefully a new release by early/mid next year, so we’ll be busy writing for the rest of this year.

Thank you for joining us to tell us about Absolace. Good luck with the album. 

Would you like to leave us with any last thoughts?

Thanks for giving your time for reading this interview 🙂 Please check out the tunes, and the video, and leave some comments for us, join our mailing list, etc…Hopefully see some of you at a live show one day 🙂

Lastly tell us the one song or release that you would say truly inspired you to make music.

Hard to nail down to one album, so can I name 3? Pretty please? This will also give you a hint as to which years I started writing our stuff 🙂

–          Opeth – Ghost Reveries

–          Porcupine Tree – Fear of a Blank Planet

–          Tool – 10,000 days

Thanks so much for the interview. Take care 🙂

Read the Fractals review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/absolace-fractals/

The RingMaster Review 04/05/2012

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