Interview :: Louise Distras

“At the end of the day, I’m just doing this for myself. If I get a bad review, it’s not going to stop me…” – Louise Distras

Louise Distras is one of the most exciting, up and coming, artists in the UK at the minute. Her brand of acoustic punk has drawn comparisons with that of Brody Dalle and it’s hard to disagree. Having been bestowed such high acclaim, we thought we’d drop in on her for a quick chat about everything from playing shows with Tim Barry to her fear of fish.

Interview :: The Menzingers

“It’s crazy how full circle it’s come…” – Tom May (The Menzingers)

The Menzingers were in the UK for a little while a few weeks back, so we couldn’t resist going and bothering them again. Having played in London with Make Do & Mend and Leagues Apart the night before, and played awesome sets at Reading and Leeds festivals, the guys were in good spirits. We talked about what playing that festival means to them, their recent switch to Epitaph Records and grilled them about some forthcoming new material.

Interview :: Leagues Apart

“Oh, it’s Moon & Back!” – James Hull (Leagues Apart)

Leagues Apart recently embarked on a short tour in support of The Menzingers. Having already toured with the band last year, the Manchester-based punk foursome were happy to be touring with their friends again, as well as just playing shows. We caught up with the guys to talk new material, ‘side projects’, singing with Hot Water Music at Reading Festival and playing Fest 10. We also found out that they’d, inadvertently, ruined our surprise for Chuck Ragan. Bastards!

Below is either the best, or the worst, interview we’ve ever done. Decide for yourselves and let us know in the comments.

Interview :: The Xcerts

“You don’t want to write a record about being on the road.” – Murray Macleod (The Xcerts)

Before their show with Taking Back Sunday in Manchester, I caught up with Murray and Jordan from The Xcerts to talk a little about the tour, playing to an audience of Charlie Simpson fans, any future recordings and what one man from Plymouth did for twenty quid. You also get a deep discussion about fishing (thank god we’re retiring that question soon).

Anthony Barlow: Hey guys, how’s it going?

Murray Macleod: It’s good.

AB: So, you’re on tour with Taking Back Sunday. How has that been?

MM: Good so far. We’ve only played one show, but it was in our homeland. It was in Glasgow and we were pretty blown away by the response. There was a lot of people singing along, which is kind of unusual for us when we’re supporting a band. Taking Back Sunday were phenomenal last night and they are some of the nicest guys we’ve ever played with. That’s always a plus.

AB: Yeah, that’s always good. How did the tour come about?

Jordan Smith: Well, there’s kind of a Long Island connection: We did our record in Long Island last year, the guy that produced it is good buddies with them from way back and they got to hearing our record. Adam liked it.

MM: I think, at the same time our producer played it to them, one of their best friends, who we had met when we were in New York, also was plugging us to the band. So i think they were getting it from two different people in New York saying “take this band out on tour.” And then, from what we gather, Adam Lazzara bought our record, which is bizarre.

JS: We’re still so pensive about saying it, because it doesn’t seem real. He owns our record and he listens to it. It’s in his collection.

AB: That’s got to be pretty cool?

JS: Very cool.

MM: It feels weird talking about it. He was talking about us on stage and we were looking up listening to him talk about our band. It was like: “What is going on?”

AB: Do you think you guys are received well by the Taking Back Sunday crowd then?

MM: I think so. I don’t think we sound like Taking Back Sunday, but there’s definitely similarities, I think. There’s a lot of common ground there, from what they’re into and what we’re into. I think, from the crowd’s perspective, we’re probably not too far away, as a support band, from what they do. But it varies, in Nottingham it was a cold crowd. And I don’t think they warmed to us all that much. But we played in London and Glasgow with them and both of those shows were great. I don’t know, it’s a tough one. Depends on a lot of things, I guess.

AB: No one asking you to play Reuben covers then? *laughs*

MM: No

AB: *laughs* Just me then. You’ve been on some pretty big tours this year, the Charlie Simpson tour being the last one. It must have been hard on you guys dealing with that kind of crowd.

JS: They are an interesting crowd. Especially as Charlie has a lot to deal with anyway from fans of his previous incarnations and everybody’s at the show. There’s people there who’ve just heard the record, and people who know him as Charlie Simpson. To go up and face that kind of crowd, especially considering that none of them had ever heard of us before, definitely.

AB: You guys played acoustic for that tour too.

MM: Yeah, it was kind of stripped down. I mean, we had electric guitar and some drums and percussion, but it was nice to tour like that. It was a lot more laid back for us, not that we stress about full band shows, but we really want to play as well as we can every single night to whoever.

JS: There’s a lot more to worry about with full band shows.

MM: Yeah, on that one we were relaxed, which was nice. It felt weird, it kinda felt more like a holiday.

JS: It was casual.

MM: Yeah, it was casual.

JS: There was no gear. It was a really easy load in. It was good. We really got into it after two or three shows.

AB: Has it affected your fanbase being on these tours?

MM: Yeah, the Charlie tour was a resounding success, in fact. It was bizarre. We couldn’t really gauge it on stage, it was weird. I did a lot more talking on that tour. On our own sets or these shows I barely talk, because I just want to make noise. On the Charlie tour we did a lot more talking and a lot more interacting with people, which was really interesting for us. And we could only really gauge it by how many records we were selling at the end of the night. But we spoke to a lot of people, a lot of people have joined us on the social networks and that’s really the only big tour we’ve done this year. So it’s weird. We did the Rocksound tour, a headline tour, and Fu Manchu in Europe, but it’s weird that that was a big tour for us and we weren’t even doing what we usually do.

AB: You say that, but would you have rather done that tour as full band?

MM: No

JS: With respect for Charlie and what he’s doing, to come on as full band and blow the roof off the place before he comes on and plays his really sweet, Bright Eyes sounding, acoustic music would have been a little inappropriate.

AB: You could have totally stolen the show.

JS: Yes. We could have.

MM: Only because of noise voice.

JS: Yeah, decibels.

AB: *laughs* You’ve said you’ve seen an increase in people interacting with you online and buying the record, do you think these people will now be expecting a new full length from you or something along those lines?

MM: I don’t know. I think the people who are just getting into us are probably excited about the fact that we have two records out.

JS: Yeah, they can go back and get into both of them.

MM: It’s seems like, from what people have said to us, they’re just excited to be getting into us now.

JS: It’s more the hardcore fans that are badgering us for new stuff.

AB: Well, you’ve released the cover of ‘Drinking In LA’. Is that the new direction? Is drinking in LA just de rigueur for you now?

JS: *laughs*

MM: Basically, we’re re-releasing our song ‘Slackerpop’ and we recorded four tracks stripped down, like we did for the Charlie tour, because a lot of people who didn’t see us on that tour were asking about it. So, basically, when you buy the flexidisc of the single, you get a code to download four stripped down tunes. As an incentive to get people’s email addresses we decided to do a cover and that one came up, and we’re all big fans of that song, and we thought we could do a pretty cool cover of it.

JS: It’s a cool song, despite the kinda nihilistic lyrics and stuff.

MM: The guy raps in the verses, so I didn’t have to rap.

JS: You rap.

MM: I do rap.

AB: You should totally rap.

JS: He’s got mad rhymes.

MM: We did contemplate it. The first take I just had a microphone, and we did it pretty raw, and I was like “should I rap?” I was like no “sing it”.

AB: *laughs* I’m disappointed you didn’t rap now. Aside from that you did release the EP in March, any plans for something like that again?

MM: No. We’re going to release this single, and then we’re going to be touring until the end of the year, with that. Then we’ve got some plans to keep touring in the new year and then we’re going to make another record.

JS: We’ll do the same as last time, just do it whenever we find the space.

MM: The first record lasted, basically, going on a year. This seems like it’s going to last longer, which is cool, because it’s going to give us time for the new stuff. When we went out to the States for the second record we kind of had bits and bobs and loose ends with us. I think this time we want to make sure every song is perfect.

JS: It’s better for you, because it’s such a classic scenario for a band that’s just on the road all the time. When they finish touring they have to record their album there and then, so they try to write songs on the road and maybe that’s why you get shoddy second records, or whatever, because a band has toured to death. They’ve got to rush out ten songs or whatever.

MM: You don’t want to write a record about being on the road.

JS: Yeah, no one wants a road record.

AB: Speaking of writing records on the road, you’ve got this new single coming out and you’ve been saying how your fanbase has grown so me, my colleague and Geoff Rickly from Thursday were wondering if we could get bands to donate a percentage of their profits from releases towards a Chuck Ragan fishing show.

JS: *laughs*

MM: Geoff Rickly?

JS: He wants Chuck Ragan to have his own fishing show?

AB: He said it was “his dream”.

JS: How much are we talking?

AB: Whatever you want.

MM: You’re going to be hard pressed to find a band with any record profits *laughs*. I would love to see Chuck Ragan on my telly talking about fishing.

Interview :: Into It. Over It.

Evan in the Asbury Lanes photo booth with Chris Farren (Fake Problems)

“Koji and I have known eachother since we were fifteen or sixteen years old…coming over here with him is perfect” – Evan Weiss (Into It. Over It.)

Evan Weiss, better known as the key component of Into It. Over It., recently rolled into Manchester on tour. Having just gotten in from Ireland, he was tired and hungry, but still gave us this great interview. We talked about the forthcoming Into It. Over It. record, finally getting to do a ‘full band’ tour and being on the road with your friends. Please excuse the sound of trains.

Interview :: Darren Johns (Crazy Arm)

© 2011 Neil Oliver

“…I eat chips, I’m half way there” – Darren Johns (Crazy Arm)

Crazy Arm embarked on their first acoustic tour last week, and seemed pretty nervous about it. Manchester would be the first time the band had played like this outside of Plymouth, but we had faith they could pull it off (they totally did, by the way!). We managed to catch up with Darren to talk about, Union City Breath, the recent UK riots, and we also show you that you should really think about your target demographic when asking questions.

Interview :: Sam Russo

© 2011 Kieran Kelly

“You must travel twenty legues and farthing” – Sam Russo

Sam Russo is one of the finest singer/songwriters in the UK today. Having had trouble with touring in the past, the man now known as The White Wizard, embarked on a tour of the UK with, Plymouth punks, Crazy Arm. The Blind Faith Tour stopped in Manchester last Sunday, so we caught up with Russo to talk about his latest release, touring the UK and got him to shed some light on the Cory Branan situation.

Interview :: Cheap Girls

“We’ll see if we even sell any records.” – Ian Graham (Cheap Girls)

Michigan-based pop punk trio, Cheap Girls have just completed a tour of the UK with Lemuria. They stopped off in Manchester a couple of weeks back, so we went down and had a chat to them (amidst a sea of technical problems) about touring with their friends, their recording plans, the stillness of a German punk show and much more.

Anthony Barlow: Hey guys, how’s it going?

Ben Graham: Hey. It’s going good.

AB: Are you looking forward to the show in Manchester tonight?

Adam Aymor: Yeah. It’s been two years.

AB: It’s been over two years since you were last here?

AA: Yeah. May ’09 or something.

AB: You’ve toured a little in the UK so far, as well as the rest of Europe, how’s the whole tour been so far?

AA: Awesome.

BG: Yeah, great so far.

Ian Graham: No, we’ve had a good time. It was our first time in mainland [Europe], second time in England. It’s been cool to see new areas. Things are much older here.

AB: Best bits? Worst bits?

IG: Paris. Paris was really good.

AA: Paris, Fluff Fest in the Czech Republic.

BG: In the UK they’ve all been good. Southampton, Bristol, Kingston, Swansea.

Ian Critchley: You’re hearding to Belgium and Germany after this. Do you have a good following over there?

AA: German shows are good.

AB: I’ve always been told they’re very…still.

IG: Yeah, they are. They’re pretty relaxed, but they’re fun. The shows are always good.

AA: Hamburg was great. We hit Berlin after this, and stuff.

IC: And you’re touring with Lemuria. How’s that going? Are they nice people?

BG: Oh, they’re great. We’ve known them for years. We’ve toured with them a little bit in the states, and we’ve been talking about this tour for a long time.

IG: We got that seven-inch together, that just came out. So it seems like good timing.

AB: Has the response been good to that, so far?

IG: Yeah, we like it *laughs*.

AA: People have been nice every night when they’re talking about it.

AB: You said you were last over here in May ’09, was that on the back of My Roaring 20’s?

IG: No. We had just recorded the record, and it was kinda in the period before it came out.

AB: Did you find it harder with the record not being out?

IG: Not necessarily. We put our first record out free, digitally, and that made a huge difference. People who came to the shows were well aware and knew the songs, so it was great. That’s one of the smarter things we’ve probably done.

AB: That seems to be the norm for a lot of bands these days. Do you really think that helped you guys?

BG: Yeah, definitely. When we were in the UK before, it was even on the fliers. “Download the record on Quote Unquote”

IG: For a band that’s touring an area, especially for the first time, there’s not really a better thing to have available.

IC: And you did a split with Above Them too, that must have helped?

BG: Yeah.

IC: You just talked about the new split, but have you any other projects in the works?

AA: We get back from the tour in late August, have a month off, and in October we record full length number three.

AB: So before we have more tech issues I’ll go for our final question. With the new record on the way, we wondered if you’d be willing to donate some of the profits towards a Chuck Ragan fishing show.

BG: A Chuck Ragan fishing show?

IG:Actually, a friend of ours goes fishing with Chuck a good amount. I know he fishes a lot.

AB: Are you up for that? Will we have ‘Cheap Girls’ listed in the credits?

IG: Sure. We’ll see if we even sell any records.

BG: I’ve got at least six bucks on it.

Interview :: Nuno Pereira (A Wilhelm Scream)

“Oh he’s gonna shit talk Blackpool” – Nuno Pereira (A Wilhelm Scream)

After a lengthy tour of mainland Europe, A Wilhelm Scream recently embarked on a few dates around the UK. The Boston-based punk outfit were playing a show in Manchester, so we went down and caught up with, singer, Nuno Pereira. We talked about spending time in Europe, the city of Blackpool, Smacking Isaiah and why the band covered The Outfield’s ‘Your Love’.

Interview :: Nate Gangelhoff (Banner Pilot)

“I think the answer to this question is, “Yes” ” – Nate Gangelhoff (Banner Pilot)

Banner Pilot are a bunch of punks from Minnesota who enjoy long walks on the beach and having fun. With the best band bio known to man describing their music as “if Jawbreaker, Lawrence Arms and Alkaline Trio got in a knife fight and Jawbreaker won – but just barely”, you can be sure that these guys are one hell of a good time. With one of the most glorified albums of 2009 behind them, they are totally just getting started with their take-over of the punk scene. I got together with bassist, and aspiring author, Nate Gangelhoff to share some insight on what the band are all about, to discuss his books and to clear up that whole SXSW situation.

Lucy Joyce: Hey Nate, how’s it going?

Nate Gangelhoff: Very well, thanks for asking!

LJ: For those who haven’t heard of you guys, explain what Banner Pilot are all about.

NG: We’re all about six feet tall. We’re all about drinking Corona when at a bar, except for Corey, who now prefers Bud Light Lime. Also, we’re all about playing melodic punk rock at varying tempos.

LJ: You’re signed to Fat Wreck, which has had some fucking awesome bands on it in the past, has being with them done a lot for you guys?

NG: Absolutely. They’re an amazing label; super great people and they do their job well. Tons more people have checked out our band simply because we’re on Fat, and we definitely feel very fortunate to be able to work with them.

LJ: More than most other labels?

NG: I don’t know much about all the other labels out there (there’s a lot!), but I do know that from day one of the band, Fat Wreck was always the label we most wanted to work with, so it’s been really cool that it actually worked out.

LJ: Your last record, Collapser, was released back in 2009, was there anything specific that influenced the record?

NG: Not really. I think back then when I was writing the basic guts of the songs i was listening to most of the same stuff I usually listen to— Jawbreaker, Lawrence Arms, Dillinger Four, etc. Some of the non-punk stuff I was (and still am) into like Los Campesinos or The National or whatever was way too different to really be an influence. I guess i was getting into Gaslight Anthem at the time but i don’t think that really was a direct influence.
I guess when i think back to that album, I mostly remember working on my demo ideas with Nick and Danny in a tiny ass practice space and turning them into actual songs, and I remember that we were way more excited about the songs as opposed to our earlier stuff. So it was a cool, creative vibe and I guess that was the biggest influence on that album. Just getting in a really creative/productive mode and cranking tunes out.

LJ: When can we expect a follow up?

NG: Autumn 2011.

LJ: Aside from Banner Pilot, you guys have a lot of different side projects. How are those going?

NG: They’re going well. My other band Gateway District released an album earlier this year, and Corey’s other band The Manix have a full length coming out this fall.

LJ: You’ve written two books, can you talk about those a little bit?

NG: Sure. The first one is called You Idiot and it’s mostly a series of articles from fanzines i used to do that look at and poke fun at some of the goofier aspects of American culture. The second book is called Hit the Ground Stumbling. It’s mostly a bunch of stories about a kid i knew growing up who progressed from being a sullen kid in a weird christian family to a drug-using pseudo-satantic lunatic over the course of about two years in junior high.

LJ: You played SXSW earlier in the year and there was some confusion surrounding your show, can you explain what happened there?

NG: Yeah, it was confusing. When we got there they said there would be no bottles allowed; all beer would be poured into plastic cups. But then later, i saw a bunch of people walking around with bottles. So I was pretty confused. Also, apparently someone got punched, but i wasn’t there for that part.

LJ: You’re playing Fest 10 in October and have done quite a few over the years, are you looking forward to playing that again?

NG: I think the answer to this question is, “Yes”

LJ: Any favourite moments from past Fest’s?

NG: It’s always one long weekend of fun, great music, and hanging out with pals from all over the world. The whole thing is always a blast, more so than particular moments here and there.

LJ: Aside from the Fest date are you planning on touring at all?

Nate: We will be touring down to the Fest (look for an announcement soon). And also playing Riot Fest in chicago earlier in October. We’ve got some cool stuff planned for 2012, too.

LJ: Any chance of seeing you in the UK?

NG: Yes, i don’t know when, but we will be back!