Interview :: David McWane (Big D & The Kids Table) – Featuring: Owen Drew & Ryan O’Connor.

“There are people who are in bands and there are people who are musicians. Musicians have to keep playing. People in bands deduct if their band is successful, because they want fame”

Surrounded by a sea of ska and crammed into a bathroom, I interviewed David McWane. His band, Big D And The Kids Table have been at the forefront of the ska-punk genre for the past fifteen years and it was great to find out that his passion for music hasn’t deteriorated. We talked about life on the road, the bands new album and the pros and cons of being DIY. He’s also the first to speak and introduces Owen Drew…

David McWane: Alright, let’s do it. Owen is our driver, tour manager slash get us out of jail bail man.

Owen Drew: Hi.

DM: He knows kung-fu, jujitsu, karate and tae kwon do.

OD: I could kill you.

DM: He can kill men. He makes love to women and kills men.

Anthony Barlow: So if I say anything untoward, I’ll be dead in a toilet. Nice. So yeah, how’s it going?

DM: How’s it going so far? Pretty good. This is our first night where we’ve switched to liquor, because we’ve been drinking so much beer. Not that that’s the most poignant point to make, but so far the clothes are smelling like vinegar and the shows have been good.

AB: Good, good. As a whole then, how’s the tour going?

DM: Well yesterday was crazy. It was very intimidating, because we were playing a big festival. What’s it called?

OD: Rebellion.

DM: Rebellion, yeah. I mean, jesus, The UK Subs were playing, The New York Dolls. We didn’t fucking realise we were on a really big stage and we didn’t realise that people were gonna watch us. It was cool. It was an experience that we didn’t think was gonna happen. We don’t understand either. That festival is the coolest festival I’ve seen so far. We played Holidays In The Sun. That’s what it’s called? That’s that outdoor festival, right? And we play Reading and Leeds, which is massive, but this thing just seemed to be very renegade. It reminded me a lot of Detroit, which is just very industrial. Even though it was on a beach, it was just kinda like Jersey, Detroit industrial.

AB: You played one date on this year’s Warped Tour didn’t you?

DM: Yeah, we did.

AB: Why did you not do the whole tour?

DM: Well there’s a couple of reasons. Usually Kevin Lyman, the guy who sets it up, doesn’t want to book the same band, because then it’s the same thing. You’re supposed to play every other year, unless you’re NOFX and you just go: NOFX, The Gimme Gimme’s, NOFX, The Gimmie Gimmie’s. Then you’re always on it. He would’ve probably put us on the whole thing, but when you do the whole summer on Warped Tour, you kinda don’t wanna do it the next summer. It’s so taxing. You wanna be excited to do it the following summer. It’s like a traveling circus.

AB: Am I right in saying you’re going to be on next year though?

DM: I hope so, yeah. I would say so.

AB: You’re new record will be out by then as well.

DM: Yeah. It’s called For The Dammed, The Dumb and The Delirious.

AB: What’s the origin of the title?

DM: It’s basically like, we’ve been doing records since ’96 and then we did a record, Strictly Rude, that was outside of our normal stuff and then we did Fluent In Stroll which was outside of our normal stuff and we toured with some of those songs live and really we just find that some of the older songs are much more fun to play live. So “For The Dammed” means for the ska boys. Because ska is dead, they’re dammed. “The Dumb” is the punk rockers and “The Delirious” are women.

AB: Do you think you’re going to get any backlash for that title?

DM: Because of this? I don’t even understand why. Oh, will probably but 12 dildos up our ass. I don’t know why we would get backlash. It’s not taking the piss. If the punk scene isn’t punk anymore, then I’ll probably get some backlash, yeah *laughs*.

AB: Sean isn’t touring with you this time around, what’s the reason behind that?

DM: Sean Rogan? He fell in love with a woman, but it’s not like a bad story with a band guy. ‘Like oh this fucking skanky whore’. He fell in love with this cute first-grade teacher and he just wants to take some time off touring. He just got married, he just bought a house. He’s gonna be on the new record and everything. Paul and Dan and Sean are all gonna be on the new record. We’re even getting our old singer to be on a couple of songs. Chris Bush too. It’s gonna be the most Big D record. It’ll have the most Big D members on it it of any of our records.

AB: How’s it been playing with Nick then?

DM: Nick’s with us now and, oddly enough, Nick gave us our first show ever in Boston. He was in a band called Big Lick.

AB: That’s a cool little nostalgia thing then.

DM: Yeah. Nick’s a big guy like Steve, so I like the fact that we have two huge motherfuckers in the band.

AB: *laughs* fair enough. It’s been said that Big D are constantly relevant. How do you feel about that?

DM: One of the reasons I like the band is because, like you just said, each year we put stuff that, at least, some people are listening to. Kevin Lyman actually said it the best. One of my ex-girlfriends asked him at Warped Tour ‘Is Big D a big band?’ and he goes: ‘I book bands all the time for the Warped Tour and they might draw 3,000 people for one summer, but then after that they don’t draw 3 people’ and then we’ll draw whatever we draw, but for 15 years. It’s like, do you want to be a flash in the pan or do you want to be something better than that? I just love it. I sincerely love being in the band. It works out for me.

AB: Is touring a lot harder now? After 15 years is it still as good as it was?

DM: I would say I enjoy it more now. I think in your 20’s you get a little skeptical. Like once you hit 25 you’re like ‘oh my god, am I supposed to do something, am I supposed to get my act together?’ and you don’t realise you already have your act together, being in a band. I would say, as I’ve gotten older I’ve enjoyed tour more, but tour will never get harder for us, because when we started going on tour cell phones, MySpace, Facebook and the internet weren’t even really around. If you wanted to call the promoter, you had to go to a payphone. If you wanted to call home, you had to go to a payphone. This is lavish living, for any band on tour. Even before the Euro. Hey, here he is. Ryan O’Connor has entered the room! Did you wanna poop? You can go ahead.

Ryan O’Connor: I just gotta pee, but I can do it later.

DM: Do you like peeing?

RO: I do. It gives me a sense of relief, a sense of comfort.

DM: What about the blood?

RO: Well y’know. I’ve gotta check that out when we get home.

DM: Right, okay.

RO: I hear England has good health care, but I’ll check it out when we get home.

DM: Yes!

RO: We’re okay, we’re okay.

DM: Sorry, what was the last one?

AB: I was asking if you thought any other bands are as continually relevant as you guys?

DM: I would say that no band compares to us with relevance, because we are so awesome. No, I’ll compare some bands to our career. Like how we do our thing. A Wilhelm Scream, have you ever heard of A Wilhelm Scream?

AB: I have. I interviewed Nuno in this very building.

DM: Yeah, A Wilhelm Scream is kinda the same as us. In terms of: they’ve been around as long, never really got over that hump of being a really big band, but still like having fun. No disrespect to A Wilhelm Scream. Anyone else? *laughs*

RO: Well there’s a few bands that we know that’re like, still doing what they do. They’re trying to grow and they’re developing together. The Unseen and The Ashers. There’s lots of bands that’re still trying to grow together. I feel like older bands or bands that have been together a while and know each other well. You can go to different types of places.

DM: It’s true. The Unseen…

AB: How do you guys maintain your fresh approach?

DM: This outlook? I say it often these days, but I just believe it’s the truth. There are people who are in bands and there are people who are musicians. Musicians have to keep playing. People in bands deduct if their band is successful, because they want fame. If it’s not working out, they bail ship and start another band to try and get bigger. If you’re a musican, you’re already content. I mean, we’re on tour. We write songs. Some people listen to them. We get to go to England. That’s payment. That is our thing. It’s a different poison.

AB: We talked about your new album coming out next year and you guys are one of the largest DIY bands out there still. What’s the process of making a record like for Big D?

DM: That’s a good question.

RO: Well once we’ve toured on the previous record for a while, we’re always thinking about what the next record will be. We just start making a plan. You’ve gotta write the record. You’ve gotta have time off the road to demo and stuff like that. Then you go in the studio and you put it all together. I think we’re almost done writing and ready to go into the studio step of the thing.

DM: It’s also important to put enough time in between. I mean, some bands like to write records that sound equally similar, but if you aren’t gonna go down that road I like to intentionally stop writing and just live your life and just take in some life experiences so that you can be re-molded and re-shaped for the new record. Meaning like, you’ve written a record, you’ve toured for the record. Don’t write, just live. Then slowly start seeing what comes from your new, kind of, shape.

AB: Has there ever been that one day when you’ve thought ‘I wish I could just hand this work off to someone else’?

DM: Every day of my life, I wish I could hand everything off *laughs*.

RO: There’s the battles with everything and…

DM: To answer your question a little bit better, if you go on a tour where everything is done for you… We’ve gone on some tours where it’s been a little nicer. Like opening up for the Dropkicks, we have a really nice room and it’s just bigger. I do find that my character, my personal character is better not on those tours if you know what I mean.

AB: It must be so satisfying to do everything yourselves though?

DM: It’s news to us. Everyone keeps going ‘you’re really DIY’. We do do it ourselves, but it’s weird to get patted on the back for it. Literally, we’re just doing the bare minimum. We’re just doing what you’re supposed to do. I think it’s more of something lost in other people than something that can be shined on us. Every person in a band should know that the work never stops. As a man, you should never say to another man ‘You got it. You gonna do it all for me’. That’s not the way to live.

AB: Finally, we’re actually collecting some serious research at Moon & Back. We’re wondering who would win if Chuck Ragan from Hot Water Music, Henry Rollins from Black Flag and a shark had a fight. Can you weigh in on this?

DM: Henry Rollins would win, right?

RO: Are they in Water?

AB: That’s the thing. There’s no real stipulations.

RO: I’ll say Henry Rollins would win, because Henry Rollins has the best chance of finding me.

DM: So Ryan says Henry Rollins…

OD: I’m going with Chuck Ragan here. Chuck Ragan’s huge across the shoulders and would batter Henry Rollins senseless and Chuck fronted Hot Water Music. Sharks clearly don’t like hot water, so they’d be screwed.

DM: He said scientific, so…

DM: I’m gonna go with the shark, only because after I saw that footage of Danzig being leveled by one punch from that one guy the singers don’t have it for me. I’m going for the brute animal.

RO: One of each.

DM: One of each, let’s see what happens. Bring it!

AB: So thanks a lot guys, that’s everything.

DM: Oh no, it wasn’t recording! *laughs*

AB: You scared me then.

Interview :: Jason Black (Hot Water Music)

Jason Black – a man of very few words.

Just before the gig at the lovely Leeds Irish Centre, situated in the middle of fucking no-where, we got to have a wicked cool chin-wag with How Water Music bass player Jason Black. We asked him about touring, Against Me! and, Ian’s new best friend, George Rebelo.

Ian Critchley: First of all, how’s it going?

Jason Black: Good, well.

IC: Is the tour going good so far?

JB: Yeah!

IC: Is it good to be back in the U.K?

JB: Yeah, absolutely. It’s been a long time. So we’re happy we could over here, we’ve been trying the last couple of times we came over to the mainland, but it just didn’t happen so it’s nice we could fit it in. For sure.

IC: Is there anything happening with the Draft?

JB: No.

IC: So that’s all done and dusted?

JB: Yeah.

IC: We spoke to George on the Against Me! tour, and he told us to say hi to you.

JB: Cool.

IC: Are you totally pissed off that he sold you guys out for AM?

JB: No, because we’ve all been doing other stuff for longer than he has, so it’s kinda like, you know.

IC: That’s actually one of our other questions, what are you doing at the moment, other than HWM?

JB: Oh, I play in this other band called Senses Fail.

IC: Oh! Do you play is Senses Fail?

JB: Yeah!

IC: Aww, no way, I never knew that! I read an article saying that you and George came up with the original style for HWM?

JB: Err, not really, I think it’s different for every song. It’s a pretty organic process, it just kinda depends on the song really. It could start anywhere or end up end where, it just depends on a whole number of things really. Kinda whoever has a good idea, we just take it and run with it.

Anthony Barlow: Speaking of song writing, how do you write the lyrics? Is it collectively?

JB: Nah, Chris and Chuck just handle that. I mean, they work together on stuff to make sure that it makes sense for both of them but I kinda leave that to them.

AB: Do you consider this a full HWM reunion or are you focussing on other projects more?

JB: Both ya know? I think everyone’s gonna keep doing as much other stuff as possible, but we’re gonna keep doing this too, so as much as we can. It’s complicated to get everyone’s schedules worked out but the more we’re doing, it’s starting to get a bit easier. I think we’re making a little bit of headway in figuring out how to do a few more things in the future hopefully.

IC: Are we going to have a new HWM record soon?

JB: Yeah for sure.

IC: Is there any material so far?

JB: There’s a little bit. Nothing that’s very far a long.

IC: So there’s nothing being played tonight?

JB: Oh no, no, no, no. No way. No way. We just really, in the past couple of months, decided we were going to make that happen and now were just in the stages of trying to figure out how to schedule that with everyone too.

AB: You’re playing the Irish Centre, but you were originally playing a different venue in Leeds, why was the venue changed?

JB: I think for size. We needed a bigger place I guess.

IC: How come there isn’t a Manchester date?

JB: We only had time for, originally three shows, then we added the Portsmouth gig on at the end because we were going back down into Europe.

IC: We spoke to Chuck last time, when he was on the tour with Frank Turner, and he said about a collaboration album with Brain Fallon from the Gaslight Anthem, how come you guys didn’t tour together, seeing as your tour schedules are pretty similar?

JB: We just kinda wanted to do our own shows, because we haven’t been over here yet. I think going out with other bands is something we’ll do more off when we get a new record out. Because right now, we’re not promoting anything new, we just kind of playing shows for the people who want songs.

AB: It just came out of the fact that, Chuck said he wanted to do a tour with Brian to promote their thing and then, when we found out you two were touring.

JB: We saw a couple of guys at the show in London, we’ve run into them a bunch of times so far.

AB: Frank was at the show last night wasn’t he?

JB: Yeah.

AB: Thought so.

IC: Has George officially left?

JB: No, no. He’s still 100% in the band.

IC: Is it the drummer out of Lagwagon whose playing with you?

JB: Yeah. Dave’s playing with us, he has been doing as far as we have it planned now, because Lagwagon doesn’t tour a whole awful lot.

IC: I think the last time they did a U.K tour was about four years ago.

JB: Yeah. I know they’re coming back over in July, but I don’t know if they’re coming up here or not. So he’s in a bunch of bands that don’t tour a ton, so it works out. So far it’s worked out well to where he’ll be able to do what George can’t do for the time.

IC: Is he better than George on drums?

JB: They’re both good. They’re both awesome and they’re both different so it’s been cool to play with a different drummer and I mean he’s definitely doing an awesome job and killing it. Everyone whose seen the show has said it’s totally awesome, no ones said that’s been weird or feels different.

IC: Leatherface (though I actually said Leatherhead like a fucking moron) are kinda like a major influence, is that the main influence for Hot Water Music?

JB: No, I think, we came into even a few years after we started the band. I mean, everyone listens to drastically different stuff. I think the whole kind of deal with our sound is that everyone’s coming from pretty different worlds, as far as our “go to” stuff is to listen to.

AB: A lot of bands say that Hot Water Music are an influence, how does that feel?

JB: It’s cool!

IC: There’s a band from near us that must be about 10, 20 years older than you but are totally influence by you. They’re called the Great St. Louis. Does it now feel weird influencing people older than you?

JB: Yeah, that’s a first I think!

AB: A lot of people say that your version of Radio is better than the Alkaline Trio version?

JB: I don’t know about that. I think their version is pretty good.

IC: Why was Till The Wheels Fall Off released on No idea and not Epitaph?

JB: We’re out of contract with Epitaph and we’d put most of that stuff out on No Idea over the course of the years so it was easier to kinda throw it together.

IC: Who does the artwork for Hot Water Music?

JB: Our friend Scott Sinclairs done all of them.

IC: Even on The New What Next because that’s kind of a different style

JB: Yeah, it’s the same guy though.

IC: Is he a just a friend of yours, is that how it came about?

JB: Yeah, we’ve known him for for a long time and he’s a super killer artist so it’s works out really well.

IC: Finally, we’ve got kind of like, a joke question.

JB: Okay!

IC: We ask everyone.

AB: It kind of ties in with what’s going on actually.

IC: If Chuck Ragan, Henry Rollins and shark had a fight, who would win?

JB: I think I’m gonna have to go with Rollins on that one.

IC: Really?!

JB: He’s straight edge! He’s definitely got the edge on everyone else.

AB: Is this some kind of Hot Water Music backlash on Chuck? You and George both said Rollins!

IC: This is mutiny!

JB: Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s be a nasty fight, but I’m gonna to go with Rollins on that.

AB: You all secretly hate Chuck is what it is.

All: *Laughs*

IC: We’ve got two readers questions as well and then we’re done, a guy called Ralph said, what do you feel about Georges drumming on the new Against Me! record? Do you like it?

JB: I think it works really well with the songs. If he played that for us, I’d kill him! Like dude, spice it up a little bit! But I think that’s the nature of their band. It sounds great and it works really well with the songs and I know he worked really hard on it. I think they made a really good record and I’m stoked for him!

IC: A guy called Dan asks, are you playing any covers tonight?

JB: I don’t know. I haven’t seen the setlist yet, we do a little bit different every night.

IC: Well thank you very much!

JB: Yeah yeah! No problem!

Interview :: El Morgan

We first saw El Morgan when she played with Austin Lucas in Leeds last month and she blew us away. When we heard she was going to be in Manchester and at Refuse To Lose, we jumped at the chance to see her and have a chat.

After a few Facebook messages, we were sorted. Sat in a place commonly known, in Manchester, as Vimto Bottle (due to the giant wooden bottle of Vimto on it). We chatted to Miss Morgan about her first time in Manchester, getting to play with her heroes and her possible inclusion on The Revival Tour.

Ian Critchley: How’s it going?

El: Morgan: Pretty good. I’ve been in a car for a long time, but it’s pretty awesome.

Anthony Barlow: You drove up?

EM: We got driven up here from Portsmouth today.

IC: You’ve just come off a tour with Austin Lucas. How was that?

EM: Yes. It was brilliant. It was really good. It’s really good to tour with such an awesome artist. I met him last time and he’s sort of a bit of a good mate now as well,

AB: I was going to ask how the tour with Austin came about actually

EM: Well, I’m in a band called Livers & Lungs as well and we played with Austin at The Windmill in London, in Brixton, and sort of met him then. Our friend Lloyd booked his first tour, that we played with him on. Then in Swansea, we were supposed to play with him again, but some of the other band members couldn’t go, so I went on my own. Which meant I met him one on one and…

IC: You’ve played with some pretty high profile people too. What’s it like playing alongside your heroes, as such?

EM: Pretty awesome, because you kind of look it and you go “oh my god, I love these guys” and then you meet them and they’re really cool, normal people, really down to earth. It’s like, you can only be a fangirl for so long *laughs*.

AB: You’ve played with Chuck Ragan as well, haven’t you?

EM: Livers & Lungs did, yeah. We played with him when he did the Frank Turner tour. He came and did a show for the lovers of Chuck in Swansea. He was really cool.

AB: Nice. We missed the Leeds one.

IC: Yeah, we missed his secret gig in Leeds.

EM: Apparently, that was crazy. It was so much fun.

AB: Well, it was in Santiago’s. The best place in Leeds

IC: Speaking of Chuck Ragan, The Revival Tour is supposedly coming to the UK. Do you think you’d be part of that if it did?

EM: I think I might lose my shit if I got to be apart of the Revival Tour *laughs*. I dunno. I doubt it. I can’t wait to go and see them when he’s over with the Drag The River guys and Austin and Corey Branan. I’ll definitely be at some of those shows. I can’t wait.

IC: Your music has been put into the pigeon-hole genre of ‘folk-punk’. How do you feel about the rise of folk punk?

EM: I think a lot of people get tarred with folk-punk. I really like some folk-punk. I like a lot of artists who get told they’re folk-punk. I think that if you like punk music, but you happen to play an acoustic guitar you get put in folk-punk. I get the ‘folk’ tag a lot as well, so I dunno. It’s a bit of a cliche to say this, but tags are so annoying. You know what I mean?

AB: Yeah, definitely. You’ve been compared to acts like Laura Marling and Emmy The Great as well, how do you feel about that?

EM: The last one I got was Lily Allen. It’s amazing. I’m not sure how much I’d go for that myself. I think they’re amazing, but…

AB: Do you think it’s because you happen to be female and play an acoustic guitar?

EM: Yeah, a little bit. Occasionally. There’s a lot of really amazing artists and I think people try and find the closest thing. If they’re gonna use your gender to do that, then I’m not gonna hold it against them. It’s not always that close is it. People like to say ‘oh, it sounds like this. It sounds like that’. It’s just a matter of taste isn’t it.

AB: Of course, smooth talker over here (that’s Ian, by the way) compared you to Ani DiFranco in Leeds.

EM: Yeah. Well, that’s probably the nicest thing anyone’s ever said about me. I’m not sure if I’d go with that. I think she’s stunning.

IC: You’ve been getting some pretty high praise recently, we’ve got a great quote here: “If you don’t like El Morgan, you’re a dickhead”. That one’s from Austin [Lucas].

EM: *laughs* whiskey will make you say things like that.

IC: Against Me! played on Wednesday and we went drinking with them after and well… (Here’s where Ian, not so casually, glances at me – Anthony.)

AB: Oh yeah, I started bigging up your cover of ‘Sink Florida, Sink’…

EM: You didn’t?

AB:…to Tom Gabel whilst doing shots

EM: Whoa! *laughs*. What’s he like?

IC: He’s nice. He’s really nice. Everyone involved with the tour, all the crew and everything were all super friendly. George Rebelo is now my best friend.

EM: *laughs*

IC: The album Fight Or Flight is dedicated to Nick Morgan, who is that?

EM: That’s my dad. He died last July. He brought me and my sister up, singing since we were very small. We were a very musical family, so we were very close. It’s been a pretty tough year.

IC: Yeah, definitely. Where did the name of the album come from?

EM: I, literally, woke up at five o’clock in the morning and knew that’s what it was gonna be called. *laughs* It was one of those inspiration things.

AB: Speaking of names, the name El Morgan is spelled so many different ways.

EM: Yeah, I know.

AB: *laughs* Is that your fault?

EM: I got nicknamed ‘L’, the letter, when I had just started sixth form, because I didn’t like being called Ellie. I just said call me L and they went “what? like L”. It just stuck, but when you’re nearly thirty you can’t really have a single letter name. When you’re at work and all that kind of thing. It’s just El for Eleanor.

IC: You’re a big supporter of the ‘Saafsee’ punk scene. Did I say that right?

EM: Yeah boi! *laughs*

All: *laughs*

IC: Do you know anything about the Manchester scene? If you do, how do you feel the two compare?

EM: Well, I love the 255 boys. When they came down to Southsea, it was really nice to meet those guys. I’m more of a newbie to it than Tim or Jack or other members, but it’s been really nice to meet a lot of people. I look forward to getting to know a little more about it, because I’ve never been to Manchester before, so this is my first time!

IC: Yeah.

AB: Serious question now. If Chuck Ragan, Henry Rollins and a shark had a fight, who would win?

EM: Chuck Norris.

AB: Chuck Norris? Chuck Ragan.

EM: Chuck Norris would win in a fight against anyone. That’s the punchline.

IC: *laughs*

AB: Well don’t I feel like an idiot now.

IC: When you played in Leeds, you drew a heart on your album cover when you signed it for me, does that mean that you’ll be my girlfriend?

EM: I’m afraid not, but it does mean I think you’re very nice. I’m afraid I’ve already got a boyfriend.

AB: You’ve crushed him now.

IC: I know, yeah. I’m not coming to the gig now.

EM: *laughs*

IC: We thought you and Austin were gonna drive off a cliff, so that he could write some new material.

AB: How did it go?

EM: We’re planning on it. It’s in the pipeline. We were busy *laughs*. We found other things to write songs about. I stubbed my toe, it was a bit traumatic.

IC: That song, is it on the set list for tonight?

EM: Yeah, it’s where I’m gonna get the power for tonight from. My achey foot.

IC: Finally, you said it’s your first time in Manchester, is it going to be your last?

EM: Definitely not. Unless they kick me out and don’t let me back in.

AB: We’ve not been kicked out yet.

IC: Well, not for a while

AB: There was that one night…

EM: *laughs*

IC: I think that’s all we’ve got so thanks a lot

AB: Yeah, thanks for doing it on such short notice

EM: It’s alright, cheers.

Check out El on Myspace.

Interview :: Tom Gabel (Against Me!)

“Hi, I’m Tom”

“Like we don’t know who you are!”

Fresh out of playing songs in a bathroom, we interviewed, Against Me! frontman, Tom Gabel. Sat in the wonderful Manchester sunshine, burning to a crisp, we talked about the fans, the new album, the leak and how that affects a tour.

For this one we were joined by our friend Abbie MacDonald (have a guess which one she is in the photo). She’s a massive Against Me! fan, so we couldn’t really say no. Plus you get more than just us two, which must be a bonus.

Ian Critchley: Did you say you’ve just been playing songs in a bathroom?

Tom Gabel: Yeah, I guess it’s for that magazine Rock Sound. They do some kind of in a toilet feature so…*laughs*

IC: *laughs* How’s the tour going so far?

TG: It’s been great. I mean, we’re just over here for a short little run. We did a couple of shows in Germany and we did a couple of those Slam Dunk Festival dates.

Abbie MacDonald: Yeah, we went.

TG: Oh, awesome. Which day did you go to?

AM: Sunday.

TG: Which one was that? I don’t know what day it is.

AM: It was the Leeds one.

IC: Speaking of Slam Dunk, did you have fun?

TG: I did. It was a little disorganised at points, it felt like. There was some moments I thought I was going to be in a riot, but it was fun playing.

AM: Were you there at the Hatfield one, where they wouldn’t let anyone up the stairs?

TG: Yeah, I was at the top of the stairs. It was scary. If a fire had broken out or something, who knows what would’ve happened.

Anthony Barlow: You’re playing a lot of festivals this year, aren’t you?

TG: Yeah, we always do a fair amount.

AB: So what do you prefer then, doing your own shows or the festival scene?

TG: I think that playing venues is always more fun. Festivals are either the best experience ever, or the worst experience: You don’t get a sound check, you’re not on your own equipment so you’re just jumping up there and hoping everything goes well, but sometimes it doesn’t.

IC: You’re a family man now, Tom. Is that making touring harder?

TG: It is definitely a drag being away from home and stuff like that. Technology these days makes it a little easier. We both have laptops and we can chat and stuff like that.

AB: Skype?

TG: Exactly. It helps, you know, with the small stuff.

IC: Is there any chance of you doing a solo UK tour?

TG: I would love to, but I don’t know. Nothing planned at the moment, but hopefully.

AB: The new album’s out next week…

TG: Yeah, on the 7th here right? Although it’s already out on the internet *laughs*

IC: It was kinda nice of you to give people the lyrics.

TG: Yeah man, I encourage it. If you wanna download it, go for it.

IC: Do you think it’s helped, because touring in support of an album that hasn’t been released yet must be harder? It’s been leaked, so people can be more enthusiastic about it at shows and stuff like that.

TG: Exactly. It’s more fun to play songs if people know them, as opposed to deathly staring at you *laughs*

IC: There’s been a lot of stuff on the internet, over the years, about Against Me!: People giving you a ‘sellout’ label for touring with The Foo Fighters, changing your record label excetera. What do you say to those kinds of people?

TG: I mean, that’s the point, I learned a long time ago that there’s nothing you can really say. It’s not like I could write out this big long explanation that told everybody Like, “ok everyone, here’s the reasons this made sense to do or reasons why we made these choices”, so that people would be like “oh ok, I got the point, Tom. Thanks for explaining”. Everybody’s gonna have a problem.

IC: I was talking to someone about how Alkaline Trio released their own shoe and he was saying similar things. The thing is, if you’re listening to a band on the basis that they’ve released a shoe or not…just don’t fucking buy the stuff. Seriously, just stop listening to music.

AB: Tom, if someone said “we’ll give you a load of money to promote you band and you can have your own shoe”, would you do it?

TG: *laughs* to do our own shoe? I don’t know man *laughs*. Doing a shoe seems a little weird sometimes. We’ve had the offer and stuff, but I don’t know. It doesn’t really have anything to do with music necessarily but, if it makes a band happy, I don’t see any reason to criticise them.

IC: On the subject of the whole ‘sellout’ thing, Brendan Kelly from The Lawrence Arms seems to have your back a lot. Are you guys tight? Are you bro’s?

TG: *laughs* I let him tattoo that ‘B’ on me right there.

IC: Really?

AB: That’s awesome

AM: Well done.

AB: *laughs* Who’s idea was the ‘I Was A Teenage Anarchist’ video?

TG: It was mine.

IC: There’s a story behind it isn’t there?

TG: Yeah, I got beat up by the cops pretty bad when I was a kid. I was 14 or 15 years old and it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as that video or anything like that, but it was still pretty brutal. At the time it definitely seemed to be the case. It seemed like a fun idea for a video, as opposed to like, a lot of times in videos you’ll be lip synching along to the song and looking totally fucking stupid and ridiculous. It’s a lot more fun to be like, ‘ok, let’s do a video where I’m just gonna run, someone’s gonna chase me, they’re gonna tackle me, I’ll get up and run some more’, something more physical.

AM: How many bruises did you get from that?

TG: Well I was wearing elbow pads and knee pads underneath my clothes but, definitely, the next day I could barely walk *laughs*.

AM: You said you did forty or fifty takes of it or something…

TG: Probably more. It was like all day long, just doing it over and over and over again.

AM: I think I’d have cried and gone home.

TG: *laughs*

IC: In another interview, you said you look up to Hot Water Music as a touring band. How’s it been working with George Rebelo?

TG: When we all moved to Gainsville, they were the band that were already touring, who had records out and they were Hot Water Music.

IC: Have you been friends with George for a while then?

TG: Yeah, yeah. Well we toured with Hot Water Music in 2002 and then we toured with, another band, The Draft a couple of years ago. Gainsville’s a small town so…

AB: You’ve released demos of As The Eternal Cowboy and New Wave, is there going to be something for this album [White Crosses] as well?

TG: Hopefully, I don’t know. I figure, with stuff like that, it’s if fans are interested in it and want to hear it, we’re happy to share it. We always do demos for records and stuff like that and we’re working on re-releasing some stuff that’s long out of print. Eventually it’ll come out, when we have time.

IC: Do you think Alkaline Trio stole the song name ‘Piss & Vinegar’ because you stole their merch lady?

TG: *laughs* I don’t know, maybe. Fair trade! I would’ve given them every song name *laughs*.

IC: We spoke to the guys from The Lawrence Arms a few weeks ago and we were asking them if Heather [Hannoura] is taller than you, because I thought you were really short and I saw you before and I was like “no way, the guy’s like super-tall”.

TG: *laughs* When she wears heels she’s taller than me.

IC: How’s the bet going between you and Andrew?

TG: Which one, the Blackberry bet?

IC: and the haircut

TG: Well the haircut one’s still going, I can’t cut it until October, but he won’t take me up on the Blackberry bet. It’s boring sometimes on tour, so coming up with stupid bets like that is an entertaining thing to do and I just really wanted to convince him to eat something. You know the TV show Alf?

AB: Yeah

TG: We had a big, life-sized, stuffed animal of Alf that I was trying to convince him to ear. Just bit by bit over a long period of time. I just want to see if his digestive track can make it. Just a little bit a day and he can mix it with anything he wants.

AM: He won’t even need to know, just put a bit in.

IC: Hide it in some mash.

TG: I just want to start slowly feeding him something without him knowing it, that’s a great idea.

AB: *laughs* do it! Do you think it’d be good if someone made a movie about Against Me!?

TG: I don’t know *laughs*

IC: If they did, do you think Chris Farren out of Fake Problems could play you?

TG: Play me? I’ve definitely been told we look alike before so, maybe. We’re both from Naples to, so…

IC: We spoke to him and I was saying he looked like someone and Derek [Perry] said “Elijah Wood”.

TG: Elijah Wood could definitely play Chris Farren, for sure.

AB: We’re actually making a film, it’s called ‘Dicking Around With Against Me!’

TG: That’d be awesome.

IC: Alright, we’ll start filming tonight!

AB: It’s the second in the ‘Dicking Around’ series.

TG: Can we fuck off down to the pub for a bit too?

AB: Yeah, definitely.

IC: It’s gonna be like Big Brother, but on a road.

AB: We’ll ‘Dicking Around’ with Fake Problems is first on the agenda so

TG: Oh really, so this is a franchise?

AB: *laughs* ‘Dicking Around Productions’

TG: Well the second one’s always better than the first.

AB: *laughs* If Chuck Ragan, Henry Rollins and a shark had a fight, who would win?

TG: I think Chuck Ragan.

IC: Is there any reason behind why you chose Chuck?

TG: He’s just a manly man. I can just picture him chopping wood somewhere.

All: *laughs*

IC: Finally, what’s next for Against Me!?

TG: Touring, that’s kinda the main thing in the near future. We’re playing in Birmingham tomorrow and then we go back to The States. We’re going out there, doing some summer festivals and stuff like that and then we’ll be back in August for Reading and Leeds and stuff. Hopefully in the fall, we’ll be back again for a full headline tour.

AB: Thanks Tom, that was really cool.

IC: Yeah, thanks a lot man.

TG: Yeah, thanks for waiting around. I appologise for taking so long.

Interview :: Steve Choi (RX Bandits)

Steve Choi…you sir, are a liar!

On their whistle-stop tour of the UK, we managed to catch up with, RX Bandits guitarist, Steve Choi. We asked him a few questions about the band’s new look, Lord Byron, touring without a horn section and a bunch of other cool stuff. You know us, we’ll never fail to come up with the goods.

By the way, Steve’s a liar because they totally played ‘Overcome’. Thanks for not spoiling it for us, dude.

Ian Critchley: Hi Steve, how’s it going, are you ok?

Steve Choi: Yeah man. A little sick, but I’m alright. I’m living.

IC: How’s the tour been so far?

SC: It’s been good. We’re only at the fourth show in. The weather’s good man, we’re not used to this sunny weather in England.

IC: I know, yeah. Now that you haven’t got a horn section in the band, how does the live experience differ?

SC: I don’t know man. I guess you’ll have to figure that out during the show and you can tell me.

IC: Does that mean you won’t be playing any older material?

SC: We play a little bit but, since we’re still doing this world tour for the new record, we’re still focusing on that mainly. Obviously there’s some older stuff in the set still.

Anthony Barlow: Mandala is your first album as a four piece band, how did the recording experience change from previous albums?

SC: Well, I think it differed. It definitely differed, but I don’t think it had to do with the lineup so much as it did just being older. Like every record. The next record is always different from the last. Not necessarily so much because of the set up, just because of your musical growth, your growth as a human being and growth in general.

AB: Have you any word on the Mandala DVD?

SC: No. Not yet.

AB: You decided to distribute the album for $2.99 on Amazon. What was the decision behind that?

SC: It’s just marketing. It’s just promotion. It’s great for exposure. Amazon does that with a lot of groups, we weren’t the first to do it. A lot of bands do that sort of thing.

AB: How did that work out for you?

SC: It worked out really well. It was number one in sales for Amazon and stuff so…

IC: This might be a bit of an awkward question, but was there or is there any bad blood between the band and Chris Sheets?

SC: No bad blood.

IC: Was it all totally friendly?

SC: Yeah, we see him here and there. There’s no bad blood. We don’t roll like that.

IC: Who’s idea was the video for ‘Hope Is A Butterfly’?

SC: It was a treatment written by an Italian director, his name is Andrea Giacomini. He’s done a Gnarls Barkley video and stuff like that. It was his idea, it was his concept.

IC: It kinda reminds me of The Mars Volta’s Frances The Mute artwork

SC: Yeah, I can see that, just because they have stuff over their head, but those were like velvet bags in cars and stuff. It’s a little different.

IC: So you’re not paying homage or anything?

SC: No. It has nothing to do with that. A lot of people wear suits with different things on their heads *laughs*

IC: *laughs* You left Drive-Thru Records for “unspecified reasons”. Can you talk about that, or are the reasons still “unspecified”?

SC: We don’t even think about it, dude. Honestly, it doesn’t even mean anything. The fact that people in England or anywhere would still even think about that just shows that they’re not keeping up to date with us. That was so many years ago and it was never a big part of our identity. Who releases our music and who we do our business with, for RX Bandits as a band, is seriously, totally, not our priority. Obviously, it’s there, but it. by no means, defines any part of us whatsoever.

IC: Alright, that’s fair enough.

AB: Is there any chance of a Sound Of Animals Fighting UK tour?

SC: Well you’d have to ask Rich [Balling], who’s the mastermind, but I don’t see it happening any time soon.

IC: Is that because of lack of demand?

SC: There’s probably a lot of reasons. I mean, everybody’s busy so…

IC: A lot of people I’ve spoken to know who RX Bandits are, but don’t know The Sound Of Animals Fighting.

SC: Yeah, right. They know who Circa Survive is and don’t know The Sound Of Animals Fighting is.

IC: It’s a shame really. The album name And The Battle Begun, that’s a Lord Byron reference isn’t it?

SC: That kind of mixed with this Watership Down type story that we had written originally, conceptually, before the album had actually been recorded. It was this kind of story that we wrote, that we didn’t end up using for the record. Yeah, it’s somewhere between those two. You guys are the first people to ever, ever catch that reference.

IC: Yeah? When I looked into it, it said that it’s repeated in a lot of his work. I’ve been reading through some of it today and it’s not popped up yet, but I’ve only just started reading it so…

SC: We don’t idolise Lord Byron or anything.

AB: Speaking of influences, you appeared on a Bob Dylan tribute album.

SC: Yeah, we recorded ‘The Death Of Patty Carol’ for that.

AB: How much of an influence is Dylan or RX Bandits?

SC: I know Matt is a big fan. I would say we all appreciate him. Musically, obviously there’s a lot of political lyrics and subject matter and I guess he’s been an influence in that. Like, we want to use the influence we have to say something and bring issues to people’s attentions. I don’t think he’s the first, we’re not the last and it’s something that musicians even feel a responsibility to do or know, you know?

IC: You were saying that you try to be socially outspoken, has anything changed on this record?

SC: I think that the lyrics definitely went more introspective, rather than talking about the climate of the world and people in general. I think, especially Matt, had more of a personal focus on these songs lyrically.

AB: We heard you recorded in Matt’s basement, is that true?

SC: Basement? Garage. We record all kinds of stuff there, we used to practice there a lot and he still does a lot of recording there.

IC: It seems insane that it’s recorded in a garage with such high production values.

SC: Well we haven’t recorded anything we’ve released fully in the garage, but there’s been stuff here and there. It’s not about the studio, it’s about the person’s ear. If they can hear a good sound, they can get it anywhere. Whether that’s in a bedroom or in an expensive studio.

AB: You record all of your songs live because, you say, bands should be able to play their songs live. Do you think there’s a lot of bands that get lazy when playing live?

SC: *laughs* i think there might be. There’s some out there, yeah. I mean, we don’t try to judge other people or think we’re better than other people because we choose to do what we do. We just do it because that’s the way we want to do our music. We do it because we want to get that feeling and that approach. I’m sure there’s lazy people in every aspect of art and life. We’re not really thinking about it when we do that, we’re just thinking about ourselves and our listeners.

IC: We’ve got a question we’ve been asking everyone we interview. We want to make a tally of it really. If Chuck Ragan from Hot Water Music, Henry Rollins from Black Flag and a shark had a fight, who do you think would win?

SC: A shark?

AB: Yeah.

SC: Probably…I think the shark would probably give up after Henry Rollins talked it’s ear off, yelled at it and berated it until the shark felt so sheepish and nothing. All the while Chuck Ragan would kinda be sitting at the wayside.

AB & IC: *laughs*

IC: Cool. You said that there’s only a few older songs being played tonight, is one of those ‘Overcome’?

SC: We’ve been playing it here and there. I don’t think  it’s on the set list tonight, just because we’ve been playing that song at every show for so many years and, of course, people ask for it because it’s a popular song of ours. Eventually a band has to decide between doing what they want to do and pleasing people. We’ve played it a couple of nights on this tour, I’m not quite sure we’re gonna play it tonight. We can’t play for three hours. Well, we don’t want to play for three hours. So some songs are going to have to be sacrificed for other songs.

IC: Alright, thank you very much.

SC: Thanks guys. Cheers.

Interview :: Darwin Deez on Latitude Fest 2010

I love Deez’s debut album.  It’s summery charm and innocent tones banish the current bad weather. Anyway, here’ 5 quickfire questions regarding his thoughts on Latitude Festival 2010.

When you think of Latitude what 5 words spring to mind?
Tents, beer, sunrise, waking and baking.

If you could only see one performance at this year’s festival what would it be?
It would be between Grizzly Bear and Laura Marling I think.

What 5 items will you be bringing to Latitude?
Picks, earplugs, my glasses, my guitar and a smile of excitement.

Do you have anything special planed for your performance at Latitude?
Not yet, but it’s still a long way away.  We might do.

Latitude is 5 years old, how did you celebrate your fifth birthday?
Unknown, captain.

And as a special treat to you lovely people, here’s the awesome video for Radar Detector.

Interview :: Sean Rowe

Sean Rowe, by James RobinsonAmerican singer-songwriter Sean Rowe recently supported Noah & The Whale on their UK tour. On the back of this, he released his debut album ‘Magic’ to the UK. Moon & Back Music caught up with him for a quick chat

Moon & Back Music: Hey Sean, cheers for taking the time out to chat to us.

Sean Rowe: Hey man, no worries.

M&B: How long you enjoying the sunny UK weather for?

SR: About two weeks; the bulk of it is in London and Brighton, then I’m off to Paris.

M&B: The tour going good then?

SR: Yea yea, we’ve played [Brighton’s] Great Escape festival. That reminded me of South by South West, it was cool. Then I’ve got an um, instore tomorrow which I’m looking forward to at Pure Groove Records aswell.

M&B: And Paris?

SR: Well Paris is um, really interesting actually. I’m performing for the release of ‘Magic’ at l’INTERNATIONAL which I’m looking forward to.

M&B: I bet that’ll be pretty awesome. You opened for Noah & The Whale for their UK tour recently, how did that go?

SR: It was amazing, amazing: the audience were really receptive to my songs, it was just, um, surprising for me to play overseas to such an audience. And with Noah and that, we became great friends and they’re great people to know. So yea, it was a good time.

M&B: How did that come about? They …. ‘spotted’ you didn’t they?

SR: Yeah; well it was very unplanned and what happened was, my um, my CD [Magic] got into the hands of Noah’s booking agent. So he, he had a listen to my songs and essentially I had about four days notice that I was coming to England. Clearly I wasn’t going to turn that down. Totally unplanned.

M&B: Awesome, so totally in promptu then.

SR: Yea yea very.

M&B: Now, I’ve been asked by a lot of people to…describe your sound, and the best I could come up with was a cross between Bonnie Prince Billy and Tom Waits. Would you tend to agree?

SR: Well, I haven’t heard of Bonnie Prince Billy, but definitely the Tom Waits bit. When I was a kid growing up, I wasn’t really listening to the same genres as my peers were. I was more into old blues, like John Lee Hooker and Robert Johnson and ya know, soul singers like Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin and…at the same time I was getting into Iggy Pop and The Velvet Underground and of course Leonard Cohen and Johnny Cash. They all came in at the same time so, ya yknow. I’m influenced by a lot of musical character I guess. But um, I also draw from things that are coming out now. But what it comes down to for me is, is music that has a real quality to it ya know, a rawness. It’s not in everything you hear.

M&B: What are you listening to at the moment?

SR: Yea, in terms of music that’s coming, I’m  a big fan of Regina Spektor and um, Feist and…there’s alot of music coming out in the genre of alternative-folk, which seems to me a very….loosely descriptive term really. Like, Fleet Foxes; I’ve been listening to them since their first record. But, I never tire of my Leonard Cohen records or Ray Charles though really.

M&B: How was the recording of ‘Magic’?

SR: Yea it was good: the studio that it was recorded in was essentially an, *laughs* an old beauty school building that had been for years closed down; it was very old by American standards at least not European. We recorded the record in this room that wasn’t designed for recording it was essentially a room with paint pealing off the walls and pigeons and all sorts of craziness going on there. But I suppose that added a rustic simpleness to the record.

M&B: Tell us about your naturalistic and edible-plant side.

SR: *laughs* Well, there’s been sort of, um, a duality in my life with music and wilderness living. But that sort of parallels my musical learning ya know, as a kid I was always in the woods and I grew up around the mountains. I was constantly outside and getting into trouble. I’m very interested in the, the original inhabitants of the land, the way they eked a life. It’s an interesting paradox, performing up against a thousand people, ya know in cities like London.

Sean Rowe’s debut album ‘Magic’ is available to buy from his website,

Interview :: Dan Andriano (Alkaline Trio)

“Never give up. Never, never give up!. We shall go on to the end.” – Winston Churchill

We may have failed in our attempt to get a full band interview and our proposed phoner got canceled for reasons that’re best not discussed but, as always, we persevered. Trio bassist, Dan Andriano, agreed to answer some of our questions via email. Cool. We talked a little bit about touring, new projects and got him to answer the all important question. Our thanks go out to Dan for taking time out of his day to answer our questions.

I’ll tell you something, this went a whole lot better than our last email interview.

Anthony Barlow: How’s it going?

Dan Andriano: Going pretty well, thanks. Trying to get in some relaxation here in Nottingham, before soundcheck and all that.

AB: How’s the tour been?

DA: Our shows have been really fun, but it’s also been really long. Three weeks in Europe, two in the UK, then back to Europe for a few days. I’d be lying if I said I
wasn’t feeling a little drained. Being overseas is a great time for us, but it’s harder for me to stay in touch with home, which makes touring a little more taxing
mentally. I get crazy homesick, but our shows are great here so it’s definitely worth it.

Ian Critchley: Do you find touring hard now that you’re a family man? Being away from them for extended periods of time must be hard.

DA: It definitely adds a whole new dynamic to being on tour. My daughter is changing everyday and it kills me to not be around for some of it but, this is what I do, it’s
what I love to do, so I think I’ll be able to do both for quite a while.

AB: What do you think to the reception of the new album?

DA: So far, so good. People seem to dig it. We had a really good and easy time making this record, I think that translates well when listening to the record and people seem to be responding well at shows.

IC: Which Trio album is your favorite and why?

DA: That’s kind of always changing, but right now This Addiction is my favorite because it’s still new and exciting.

AB: Derek mentioned something about the possibility of a “covers album” coming in the future. Can you elaborate on that?

DA: We’re always talking about different stuff we can do just because we love to play music, who knows if that will ever come together or not. We hope so.

IC: You have had quite a few split releases. Are there any new ones on the way?

DA: Nothing currently, but you never know. We’re always making new friends that we may try and team up with in the future.

IC: Is their any possibility of a Falcon UK tour? How about some new Falcon material?

DA: The Falcon is pretty much entirely Brendan Kelly. He writes the songs and organizes the shows and all that. I’m not even really in the band right now, it’s kind of a revolving cast of characters, whoever’s available at the time ya know? I would love to do more stuff with him at some point though.

IC: Is there any news on The Emergency Room?

DA: Unfortunately, no. I want to turn it into a band sooner than later, and I haven’t really had time lately to get that together.

IC: Do you think there’ll ever be a ‘Dan fronted’ Trio single?

DA: I don’t see why not, but, at the same time, that’s not the kind of thing that’s very important to us. We’re not concerned with who’s singing the singles, that’s just a distraction.

AB: Do you ever see yourself getting too old for punk rock?

DA: I’m already too old for punk rock… But I’ll never be too old to do what I want with my life.

IC: Is there any music/film/literature you would like to recommend?

DA: Anything by Wes Anderson, Ryan Adams, John Steinbeck, Alfred Hitchcock, Led Zeppelin, and Yo Gabba Gabba.

AB: If Chuck Ragan, Henry Rollins and a Shark had a fight, who would win?

DA: That’s ridiculous… Chuck

AB: Finally, what’s next for Alkaline Trio?

DA: Lotsa shows. Come on out and see us.

Interview: The Sunshine Underground

The Sunshine Underground singer Craig Wellington spared a few minutes from his busy schedule to tell us about the band’s new single ‘Spell it Out’ taken from their critically acclaimed second album, and their plans for a busy summer touring.

Sam Taylor (ST): Your new single ‘Spell it Out’ has a Muse-esque sound. Is that an avenue you’re keen to explore?

Craig Wellington (CW): It wasn’t a conscious thing, but we wanted to make a big, ‘in-your-face’ anthemy sort of album, so it does share similarities with the big sound of Muse. But it’s a good thing; there are worse bands to be compared to!

ST: The video for it is very Gorillaz-like in its animation. What was the idea behind that?

CW: We just picked the most interesting pitch from all the ones we received. We wanted a visual representation of the song that wasn’t just a band in a room. It’s really difficult to pick an idea from just a pitch, so we thought why not do something ridiculous?!

ST: Where have you taken your inspiration for the album from?

CW: We wanted a bigger sounding, more guitarry, riff-heavy sound. We also wanted a change on every album. We all write our songs together, so when lots of different personalities come together you get a different sound.

ST: Your debut was labelled as part of the ‘new rave’ movement, but your new one has more of an indie sound. Is that a conscious move on your part?

CW: We didn’t really want to be part of that ‘new-rave’ scene. We didn’t want to capitalize on that sound; we wanted to make more of a band album. However, saying that the new material we’re writing which will probably make up the third album has more of a dance-y feel to it.

ST: It’s got some good reviews; do critic’s opinions bother you? Do you think about this when writing?

CW: In a way, but I think that if you’re happy with it yourself, and your friends like it then that’s all that matters. We felt like it excited us and that we were onto a winner, so any critics opinions didn’t matter really.

ST: Did you feel the pressure of writing the ‘difficult second album’?

CW: Yeah definitely! We felt that album no.1 was more of collection of songs we’d written over a while, it almost wrote itself really. But album no.2 felt like more of a project to make an actual ‘album’, so there was definitely pressure with that.

ST: Moving onto the tour, you’ve got lots of upcoming shows. What can people expect from coming to see you?

CW:  Playing live is our favourite thing to do, it’s where we feel most comfortable. We put everything into our shows, so people can expect something really high-energy.

ST: You’re playing in Mexico City aswell. Looking forward to that?

CW: Yeah sounds great, we love to travel to as many places as we can.

ST: How do foreign fans differ from English ones?

CW: We’re quite popular in Japan. They seem to appreciate that you’ve travelled far, and are extra thankful because you’ve come a long way to play for them.

ST: Can we catch you at any festivals this year?

CW: We’re playing at T in the Park, and some smaller ones too. It’s always nice to play festivals because we get to hang out with people we know or haven’t seen in a while, and see our mates in other bands. We toured with The Maccabees in 2007 so it’ll be nice to see them again over the summer because a lot has happened for them in the past few years.

ST: What would your dream line-up be for a festival?

CW: I’m really into 90’s indie, so probably Blur, Radiohead and Chemical Brothers. We supported LCD Soundsytem a few years ago so they’d be good to see aswell.

ST: You’re from Leeds. What’s the upcoming music scene like there? Any new bands you’re into at the moment?

CW: There’s a band called The Spexhalls who are really good. They’re very Phil Spektor and 60s in their sound. Also Wild Beasts who were the last band to really cross over into the mainstream. Leeds has a brilliant music scene, there’s loads of really cool music venues considering it’s such a small city.

ST: If you weren’t in a band what would you be doing?

CW: We’ve all been really focused on music since we met at college and school aged 17 and 18, so I’ve never really thought about anything else!

ST: Finally, is it true you’re named after a Chemical Brothers track?

CW: Yeah, we used to go see them a lot at the start of the band, so we kind of adopted that. We always used to end with that track too when we played. I didn’t really like it for about the first year, but I really love it now.

The Sunshine Underground’s new album ‘Nobody’s coming to save you’ is out now, avaliable from itunes and Amazon, amongst others, and they are touring the UK throughout the summer. More information can be found at their myspace page:

Video Interview :: Derek Grant (Alkaline Trio)

One out of three ain’t bad.

After a day spent out in the sun, watching and waiting we (“we” being about nine of us at the time of this interview) and not getting anywhere we were greeted by the presence of, Alkaline Trio drummer, Derek Grant. The plan had originally been to speak to all three of the guys (a plan that may still go ahead), but due to some last minute scheduling issues it wasn’t to be. Thankfully, Derek obliged and we have something special for you, dear reader.

Courtesy of, our friend, Jodie Weatherley’s new production company, Trust No One Productions, we have a video interview. That’s right, you don’t have to read a wall of text. Although, if you want to, it’s been transcribed anyway.

This was in Derek’s own time, hence why it’s only a quick one. Massive thanks to him.

Ian Critchley: On your new album you’ve returned to your roots. Was that a conscious decision, or did you just start jamming out and it just kind of happened?

Derek Grant: It just happened, it was more coincidental. We knew that we wanted to work with the producer that the band used to work with and record at the studio, do something in Chicago, and I think it was just a matter of those elements and where we were at as people and, like, the songs that we were writing. So it just came out that way.

IC: On the Heart & Skull Records front, it’s a partnership with Epitaph, what was the decision behind that entire thing?

DG: Well, we were gonna self release the record, so we started our own label, and then Epitaph, basically, we’ve been friends with them for a long time and they said: ‘we know a lot about the business, we can help you out with some of the details’, so we licensed the record to Epitaph.

IC: Good for that, Epitaph, aren’t they? Do you think there’ll ever be a Dan-fronted single?

DG: You never know.

IC: There never has been though.

DG: Yeah, I mean, there hasn’t been and it’s a mystery to me why that hasn’t happened. A lot of times, the singles are picked by the record label.

IC: Right.

Anthony Barlow: I really like the horn section in ‘Lead Poisoning’, but it’s somewhat of a point of contention with fans.

DG: Sure.

AB: What do you personally think of it?

DG: I think it suits the song just fine. When I first heard the idea, I was a little surprised but…

IC: Did you not write the horn section?

DG: No. It was all Matt.

IC: I thought you did, because you did the orchestral thing on ‘Sadie’

DG: Yeah, it was all Matt’s idea.

IC: No way.

DG: Blame Matt.

IC: You and Matt, apparently, bought each other Church Of Satan memberships and then, kinda, went back on it.

DG: A long time ago. I didn’t.

IC: Did Matt?

DG: Maybe a little bit, but I think he shy’s away from talking about it.

IC: It’s nothing like…

DG: It wasn’t the most serious decision to begin with. You know, in my opinion, being a part of any sort of organisation is kinda foolish.

IC: Yeah, yeah definitely.

DG: Especially an organisation that preaches free thought. To be part of a group mentality doesn’t make a lot of sense. So it was more of a, I don’t want to say it was a joke, but it was more of something that was a bonding experience for us. It was pretty early on, once I’d joined the band, and one of the first things Matt and I bonded over was Satanism. Like, I grew up, my mother was a follower of Anton LaVey and LaVey and Satanism, and Matt was into it from an early age as well. So, when we first started hanging out, we didn’t know each other that well and we were trying to find things in common and that was one of the the most outstanding things.

IC: On that same level, you have a pentagram on your nipple. Could you show that to the camera?

DG: No.

IC: No. Are you not gonna do that?

DG: That’s a tattoo for my mom.

IC: Oh right, ok.

AB: You’ve done some pretty surprising covers over the years you’ve been going, is there anything like that coming in the future? *

DG: Yeah, we’ve been talking about doing a covers album for some time so…

IC: Is that Those Crooked Vulva’s?

DG: No, that’s a totally different project, but maybe some of the same songs.

AB: You’ve been playing Ramones covers as well

DG: Yeah, we haven’t played any Ramones covers in a while. We’ve been doing some Misfits songs lately.

IC: Is any of that gonna be played tonight?

DG: Probably.

AB: Nice.

IC: Good stuff, yeah. What’s your favorite Trio album as a drummer? What album do you feel you’ve played best on as such?

DG: Well that’s interesting actually, because my favorite Trio records are the ones I didn’t play on. Which is, maybe, becuase I’m a fan of those records and it’s a little bit easier to be objective about things. As far as records I’ve played on, I’d have to say this one.

IC: Oh yeah, right. If Chuck Ragan, this is kind of a joke question, if Chuck Ragan, Henry Rollins and a shark had a fight, who do you think would win?

DG: Oh man, I would say Chuck. Chuck’s pretty tough.

IC: Everyone goes for Chuck.

AB: It’s four nil!

DG: I like Henry Rollins just fine, and he seems tough enough. To be honest, I’ve never seen Chuck in a fight, but I know what lies beneath. Henry Rollins seems like kind of a nice guy. As is Chuck, but Henry seems like, I don’t know, like he wouldn’t fare well in that situation.

IC: *laughs* he’d kinda separate himself.

AB: We talked a bit about the setlist, is there any songs you refuse to play?

DG: No.

IC: None that are boycotted, as such.

DG: No. As far as I’m concerned, I’ll play anything. The other guys might have different opinions.

IC: Do you find it hard choosing a setlist, because you’ve got seven albums out now and a load of other stuff as well?

DG: Yeah, it’s impossible. You can never please everybody.

IC: Finally, is there anything you’d like to recommend: music, film or literature? Because there’s a lot of stuff I’ve gotten into through Alkaline Trio.

DG: Oh man, so much stuff. House Of Leaves, the book is amazing. That was very influential for all of us actually. House Of Leaves is an amazing book. I’m trying to think of, as far as films are concerned. There’s a film called Martyrs that’s pretty interesting. We just watched that one. Bronson, you’ve probably seen, I think it did pretty good over here. Musically, I listen to, mainly, older stuff. I don’t listen to a whole lot of new music.

IC: Is there not any new bands you’re into at the moment?

DG: Not really. I mean, I’m always looking for new stuff, but I tend to be disappointed.

IC: Have you heard a band called Crazy Arm?

DG: No.

IC: They’re from round here, and they’re really good.

DG: Ok, I’ll check them out. I appreciate the suggestion.

IC: Right, thank you very much.

DG: Sorry it took me so long to get out here.