Rupert Stroud: Chasing The Night

It is always great to be hit with surprises and unexpected pleasures and in many ways even more fun when it is in genres and styles of music one does not usually spend many days with. The new album from UK singer songwriter Rupert Stroud is such a release. Chasing The Night is an eager and mesmeric array of thirteen songs which please and share multiple satisfying moments with the ear and infectious musical excursions with the senses.

Chasing The Night is not quite a flawless album, the hold on the focus slipping as it reaches its latter stages though one suspects that is as much down to the play order of the songs as it is a diminish in the sharp creativity on display. Each song on the release holds its own to varying degrees and never let attention or the eagerness to stay within their call wander. It is an album that also offers great promise and firm indication that there is a one sure masterpiece within Stroud waiting to evolve. Saying that Chasing The Night is itself a fine and rewarding collection of songs that puts the majority of similar fuelled indie releases in the shade.

The album is the follow up to the self titled which first brought Stroud to the attention, but is a more mature and defined release. It brings a vibrant blend of light and dark, its warm inviting breath tinged with shadows and hidden corners that light up the senses and emotions. The great thing about it is the sound has a full and rounded body not the expected acoustic only presence and this is down to Stroud bringing in Mick Bedford on drums, Kate Peters with wonderful backing vocals, and even more importantly eminent British producer Will Jackson (The Kaiser Chiefs, Embrace, The Cribs, The Music) who also provided additional guitars and keys as well as backing vocals. Though the music is stripped down and uncluttered as one would imagine it has a rawness that pulsates throughout bringing a depth and character to the songs and one suspects that is as much down to Jackson as the artist himself.

Nothing is over complicated on the album but nor is it just a mix of obvious hooks and invitations. Throughout you get whiffs of familiarity from chords, riffs, and melodies but without a defined source which adds to the pleasure and fine spicery frequenting the release. The opening 40 Days & 40 Nights immediately brings the ear to attention with its micro drum roll and precise guitar teasing in the first few seconds. They step back for Stroud and acoustic to open up the tale before accompanying him on an eager and boisterous b even paced romp. The song takes you into its world with a sure touch and irresistible beckoning with the great voice of Peters adding a sirenesque lure behind the vocals of Stroud.

It is an impressive start followed by the electrified air of Forget You and the monotone hypnotic Take Your Time. Both songs are enjoyable and have energy within their frame that continues on from the first song but they take a step back compared to its compulsive energy.  It is from this moment though that the album unleashes its heart and fullest might with a series of outstanding songs.

Hate To Say is the brightest jewel, a song that wraps around the emotions with a steely beauty and grace that feeds the fires within. Stroud comes over like a mix of Richard Ashcroft and Adrian Borland and it is immense with the incisive melodic grip of the song as captivating as the vocals. Its suggestive driven pulse which never finds its crescendo reminds of Pounding from Doves and just adds to the pleasure.

The equally impressive darkened Heard It All Before with a further stunning dual vocal blend of Stroud and Peters, the stirring almost primitive On The Run, and the pulsating shadowy No Love Lost which ignited passions once laid at the feet of The Sound, leave the heart throbbing with breathless excitement and deepest satisfaction. If with the opener these had made up an EP it would be there as a classic contender. That is not a comment on the rest of the album just how immense these particular songs are.

The album then changes back to the strong and enjoyable stance that the previously mentioned songs that followed 40 Days & 40 Nights brought.  The likes of the unsurprising blues toned Sunday Night Blues, the excellent Hangover with its great boozy strings, and the unexpected and unpredictable Tears for Now which features vocalist Haydn Corrodus from London Hip Hop/Indie/Soul band The Stow, offer up a varied and enterprising continuation to the album. This particular song is imaginative and adventurous though whether it truly fits the album is debatable.

Chasing the Night is an excellent album with a heart of songs that stir up emotions and feelings like so few others manage. When a song brings a wave of strong emotion as it pleasures you know it is something special and there is a handful upon the album. Rupert Stroud has given the area of singer songwriters a new and impressive flavour.

http://www.rupertstroudmusic.com

RingMaster 15/05/2012

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Interview with Adam McKee of Dead ‘Til Friday

The moment the video for The Longest Year from Belfast band Dead ‘Til Friday grabbed our attention with its unbridled fun and enthused aggression further investigation of the band was a no brainer. Their current EP Water further impressed and set the band as one to watch closely over the year ahead with their stirring blend of rap metal and inventive rock sounds igniting a strong anticipation for future sounds from the quintet. Wanting to know more about Dead ‘Til Friday we had the pleasure of getting vocalist Adam McKee to answer our questions about the band and their music.

Hello and welcome to The RingMaster Review

Firstly would you introduce the band and members?

I’m Adam I sing, we’ve also got Conhuir and Steve who play guitar, Jonny on bass and Colin on Drums.

How and when did the band begin?

The band began in around 2007/2008 but there’s been a few line-up changes since then and the band has only really been this formation for the past year or so.

Is Dead ‘Til Friday the first band for you all?

Not at all, we’ve all been in previous bands before, myself and Conhuir we’re in a band called Acidtone, Steve played alongside us in other local bands for a few years, also Colin and Jonny have been in a few local bands before too.

What was the influence for the band name?

The band name came from a random conversation on a night out between Colin and our previous vocalist/guitarist, they joked a bit about it and said it would make a great band name, and hey, it stuck!

Your sound is a feisty blend of rap metal, muscular riffs and infectious melodic choruses what are the influences that have added shape to your music?

Feisty? Haha, cool! Yea, I myself have been singing and rapping like this for years now. We listen to a VERY large spectrum of music between us all. The metal side of things isn’t normally what I would listen to myself in my free time. All in all it’s a great thing because when it comes to writing we’re never stuck for ideas, melodies or riffs.

You and another great metal band Gacy’s Thread come from Belfast so what is the metal and rock scene like there for bands and fans?

The metal scene at the moment is great! We’ve also recently proved it by heading a short distance outside of Belfast and the amount of bands looking to play Belfast is exciting. The bands and band members look out for each other, which is awesome; we definitely all help each other and do our best for the scene.

Is there a bond between the bands in Belfast that bands in other cities especially in the rest of the UK do not have with each other?

Yes and no, haha, we would definitely be more tight knit being on an island with other bands compared to the likes of America or Europe where everyone is so much further apart. We can also relate to the same struggles you go through trying to get touring and travelling overseas as much as possible. If we don’t all help each other out then we all kind of lose out at the end of the day.

As you mentioned you formed around 2008, how has the band evolved over the subsequent four years or so?

Our sound is one of the big things that has definitely evolved, especially through the line-up changes I mentioned earlier. A different vocalist and song writer definitely changed things up a lot, but this line-up and sound is very solid now, it takes any band a little time to find this and we’re excited! 🙂

The last two years appear to have been the biggest to date for the band, touring alongside bands Your Demise and Lower Than Atlantis, sharing the stage with the likes of Skindred, And So I Watch You From Afar and Forever Never, plus a prestigious slot at the Tennent’s Vital Festival to name a few notable moments. Has this time felt like a sudden intense elevation for you as a band in the same way that it appears to us on the outside?

Definitely, it’s a whole world of emotions all at once, fear, excitement, joy etc… but the key thing it has given us all is the hunger for it, every one of the opportunities and shows you mentioned gave great clarity to why we’re doing what we’re doing.

Tell us more about the Tennent’s Vital Festival; I believe you played to 50,000 with a slot between Jimmy Eat World and The Kaiser Chiefs?

Yea, we were nervous, but I think we certainly held our own. It was both surreal and exciting all at once, it’s a little hard to put into words almost! We got an amazing response to our heavier sound we have was great! We’d do it all again in heart beat! Haha!

Last year saw the release of your excellent EP Water, but I am led to believe there was an earlier release before that?

Thank you! Yeah there was a few EPs previous, but they were from a previous line-up or formation of the band, it certainly doesn’t represent us now.

Water grabs the attention with its great hard hitting insatiable sounds; did it exceed your expectations response wise?

Every time new ears hear it with touring we’re overwhelmed by the response! We love all our fans and it’s amazing to see it mean so much to people we don’t even know. Even simple things like people taking off work to come to one of our shows just blows our minds.

The Longest Year is the song from the EP which really grabs the listener by the throat and wonderfully demands attention; it must be a big crowd favourite at your live shows?

It definitely gets a sing along that’s for sure. We found the video release helped immensely for people to identify with it live.

Can you tell us about that video of the same song?

Sure. We shot the video with the very talented Darren Lee of Maverick Renegade Productions in an old abandoned warehouse in Downpatrick. We spent a day of filming close up, slow-motion and all the band shots, then to top it all off we even brought down some of our mates for the crowd shots and made them go mental.  We must have heard the same song 200 times, haha, but it was a lot of fun.

Turning back to the Water EP, you usually seem tagged as a rap metal band but the release shows a much more diversity to your sound. Do you feel frustrated at the more limiting tag you seem to be generally given?

Not at all, we find people need to give a name or tag to something these days so we just tend to go along, we’ve seen it called many different things, which is great cause it shows us people are taking an interest at least.

How does the songwriting process work within Dead ‘Til Friday?

Our guitarist Conhuir usually starts the ball rolling with a good riff and initial structure then ideas flow from there. We all then help out with structure, lyrics and other wee ideas usually.

With the band having a strong reputation and following across both sides of the border in Ireland it seems, is the UK the next centre of attention for you or are you looking further afield for 2012?

Definitely! We travelled to the UK last year and done a few days and met some new friends on the way, we could only hope we can keep going back and making strong connections and see some interest grow.

You are known for a firm DIY approach as with the EP release, is this something you always intended or simply the only option available to you right now?

A whole lot more of the first, we are lucky to have such a talented producer (Conhuir) in the band already we didn’t really feel the need to splash out on studio time etc.

I believe you are working on your debut album? How is that going and when are we likely to feel its pleasures?

We are indeed! It’s going great and we’re spending a lot of focused time on it at the moment. You can feel some of its pleasures now in our live show, but for the actual release we’ll be aiming for sometime mid to late 2012 after our over the top quality control gets a look at it, haha!

What is next for Dead ‘Til Friday as we move further into 2012 apart from the album?

The album is our main focus at the moment, but we have a few other things planned for around that time too.

Have you given yourselves any aims or objectives as a band for the coming year?

Haha, other than knuckling down and keeping doing what we’re doing not really. We’re going all out on the new album and focusing all our attention to it to try and make it the best it can possibly be!

Thanks so much for talking to us.

Would you like to finish by telling people who find you in a venue near them why they MUST come watch you?

It’s a no brainer! We’ll wreck the place and let them join in on the action! 😉

The Ringmaster Review 29/02/2012

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