Gig Review :: Against Me! :: Manchester – 02/06/10

© 2010 Abbie MacDonald

I first saw Against Me! in September 2008 in Toronto at V Fest playing to an intense number of thousands, the open air, Lego haired Oasis crowd didn’t seem too appreciative of them and Against Me! appeared a little fish out of water at the indie dominated festival.

They were awesome back then and so I got really excited when I found out one of their three headlining UK tour dates (after playing three dates with Slam Dunk) was at the 250 people capacity Manchester Academy 3 to promote their upcoming album White Crosses, and all for a tenner. Ace!
Getting there at half seven, an hour and a half before the first (and only) support band came on, gave us plenty of time to take advantage of the Student’s Union’s cheap beer as the crowd filtered in.

Instantly bouncing upon stage, Canterbury revved up the crowd within the first couple of songs (dedicated to people who have ever ridden in an ambulance and to anyone who has ever been lost in a basement…yep!) and the academy was soon bopping along to the songs of the pop-rock fivesome, which was pretty hard not to do, they were brilliantly catchy and synced together perfectly; the guitarist’s dancing was particularly special.
All in all, good music, brilliant stage presence and genuinely lovely chaps! Their album is available to download for free at canterburythankyou.com; definitely check them out! Prepped and hyped up, the crowd pushed forward and, pints in hand, lined the stage for Against Me!

The lights dimmed and the sold out Academy roared as they welcomed on the eagerly anticipated headliner. Strolling on stage to Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots are Made for Walking, the crowd erupted and a pit followed seconds later as the Floridian punk rockers jumped straight into High Pressure Low.
Characteristically all dressed in black, Against Me! wasted no time as they rolled straight into song after song, pouring every single ounce of built up energy into the gig upon a crowd of beer-drenched, shouting-along-to-every-single-lyric fans, who had been waiting three years for their return since their last album, New Wave.
The adoring Academy is even treated to a bit of Gabel’s solo stuff, Amputations, which sounded awesome with the full band behind him, a definite highlight of the night!
Against Me! received lashings of sweaty, fist in the air praise throughout the night as they introduced new songs from their unreleased upcoming album White Crosses, including I was a Teenage Anarchist, High Pressure Low, Bamboo Bones and White Crosses.
Marching along to Don’t Lose Touch, maintaining a full blown pit and clapping in unity where applicable throughout, the Academy 3 welcomed back Against Me! leaving the crowd chanting for more at the end of the set.
Introducing the three song encore with a huge grin plastered over his face, telling the fans “this is the best feeling in the world I’m tellin’ ya!” (Tom Gabel) Against Me! dived into Ocean, closely followed by Rapid Decompression, closing the action packed set with “Baby, I’m An Anarchist” and bid Manchester farewell!
Bursting on stage with energy from the support straight on to the encore, the intimacy of the Academy 3 offered a much more personal experience, for both bands and fans, compared to when I first saw them in Toronto. Overall, an amazing gig, worth every penny of my tenner!

White Crosses is released on the 7th/8th June described by Tom Gabel (singer and guitarist) as a “new start” for the band, brimming with devotion, well received by the Manchester crowd and (if this gig was anything to go by) undoubtedly the rest of their European tour.
They’re playing Leeds and Reading festival’s Lock Up Stage too, so if you’re going, check them out! With their energy and raw performance, if you’re an Against Me! fan, you won’t be disappointed!

Gig Review :: Airship, 15th May, Cockpit 3

Manchester band Airship are a band on my radar since they opened Leeds festival in 2009, so when I found out they were playing in Leeds in the cockpit 3 it was too good to turn down.

Leeds rock band Sound Of Sirens were the first support act of the night, and with a audience of 10 it can’t have been the easiest show to play. After a few songs the band loosen up and attempt some rather desperate crowd interaction, however it’s an awkward atmosphere and the bands rather static stage presence doesn’t help. Not that the small stage doesn’t help, this is cockpit 3 after all and not known for its spacious qualities. Music wise it’s a very average feeling performance, there isn’t anything amazing about it, the lack of visible energy in the performance being very notable and a real hold back.

Then next band up are a sharp contrast to Sound of sirens, Soul circus (http://www.soulcircus.co.uk/) are an alternative pop group. The first very noticeable thing is the music, its catchy, infectious and its sung by an amazing vocalist, Lloyd. The performance has so much energy and goes suitably with the music, its difficult to not be amazed by these guys.  Its difficult to overstate how much potential these guys have, and they’re still unsigned. Definitely a band I look forward to hearing more from.

Airship (http://www.myspace.com/airshiptheband) were the final act of the night. The start of the set has some sound problems but they’re soon cleared up. The most striking thing about the set is the unreleased material that is being played, its entirely unexpected from a band that has just released a Single/ EP but enjoyable. Algebra is well received and the best knowns of Airships songs but newer songs such as spirit party are also enjoyable. Airships are upstaged by their support Soul circus in the energy department but they have their moments. The most distinctive moment was when an extra drum was used in the final song, just a little touch, albeit very memorable.

Overall a very enjoyable night, Soul Circus were the highlight for me; I never expected such a strong performance and from a band I’ve never heard of before. But Airship proved they can perform live and were equally amazing in their own way. Airship and Soul Circus, 2 bands that have incredible potential and equally amazing music to go with it.

Review: Live at Leeds 2010

The Bronx at live at Leeds

Arriving in Leeds you would hardly have guessed that the city was the location of a festival overall over 100 bands are going to play today at 17 venues, the bands range from local upcoming bands to internationally recognised artists such as Lightspeed Champion, Johnny Foreigner and 65 days of static.

After getting a wristband and programme its time to head off to the first band; Stagecoach (http://www.myspace.com/stagecoachuk) at nation of shopkeepers. Appearances can be deceptive but this isn’t the case with stagecoach; the lead singer is sporting a woolly hat reminiscent of ‘where’s Wally’ and Tom’s (mandolin/ harmonies) headband look both give off ‘geek chic’ by the bucket load.  Pop with a twist is the bands forte and they do it undeniably well, it’s catchy and has the ‘feel good’ factor. Think aquabats but without the horns and more mellowed out. ‘everyone love monster trucks, so we put them on our t-shirts’ pretty much sums out the bands laid back attitude, which is infectiously fun.

Arriving at The Wardrobe early I’m told that the first 2 bands had cancelled so over to the nearest venue, Leeds College of Music, to check out what’s going on there. Catching the end of WorriedAboutSatan (http://www.myspace.com/worriedaboutsatan) highlights the diversity of music a available at live at Leeds, at one point playing guitars like violins, all the while producing their techno/ electronica music.

The Heebie Jeebies (http://www.myspace.com/theheebiefuckinjeebies) were the next band on with a tropical ‘vampire weekend’ feeling about their music. They’re crowd interaction was amusing, as they commandeered a pole which was passed up and down. If anything, a truly unique experience.

After getting lost in the Leeds university campus, Castrovalva are just finishing their set. Consisting of bassist, drummer and most notably vocalist Leemun, they produce breakcore music. As the first breakcore band I’ve ever heard they’re not too bad and vocalist Leemun ends the performance with a venture into the crowd. I’m surprised at what can be achieved with just a bass and drums but the sometimes explicit vocals of Leemun are the defining feature of this set. If you too are new to breakcore you can sample it here: http://www.myspace.com/castrovalvamusic

These monsters (http://www.myspace.com/thesemonsters) are next up, the band plays mainly instrumental songs, with few ‘vocals’, which are mainly screams or variations of. The real strength of these monsters is their sax, which works brilliantly to create a dark, chaotic music, which is in all of their songs. The problem is a lack of vocals and that there doesn’t really seem to be much differentiation between each song.  That said they deliver a reasonably energetic performance and are certainly different from most hardcore bands.

Next up is LA punk/ hardcore band The Bronx (http://www.thebronxxx.com/)The Bronx at live at Leeds Live at Leeds is their substitute for playing a show in Leeds. Having seen these guys before its fair to say that they put on a good show and that the lead singer is going to be in the crowd in the second half of the gig. Not to disappoint this is exactly what happens, this seems gimmicky having seen them do it 2 times before, but its still enjoyable and goes well with their music. The setlist itself is good, they play the expected ‘knifeman’, ‘inveigh’ and ‘sh*tty future’. However the setlist ends 10 minutes before they’re scheduled to end. As a fan who wanted to see these guys the most, it’s a disappointment.

At the cockpit Lunar Youth (http://www.myspace.com/lunaryouth) take to the stage after having difficulty with their setup. A up and coming band Lunar Youth play alternative pop very well, defiantly worth checking out. Theres not that much energy in the performance, but this isn’t the kind of music that needs it, all you need to do is sit back and listen to the vocals. A very enjoyable performance and a world away from The Bronx.

Overall Live at Leeds is an enjoyable day long festival, the schedule is well planned so you can catch 2 ‘headline’ acts if you want to, good value for £15. Being over an entire city is problematic and the map wasn’t enough to get to the venues out of the way, especially the college of music and the wardrobe. Still for £15 pounds it’s a cheap day out with a chance to listen to some established bands and new and upcoming bands. So if you’re looking for something to do on the mayday weekend, consider Live at Leeds next year, a bargain not to miss out on.

Gig Review:: The Bronx/ Maricahi El Bronx

After a recommendation from my hairdresser I thought I’d go see California-based band, The Bronx at the Cambridge Junction . I had been told they had a mariachi alter- ego and so I was ready for a fun, slightly out of the ordinary evening.

On arrival at the Junction, I soon realised that they’re not just a novelty mariachi act; it was surreal to see that the audience were all fairly heavy punk fans (even if some were a bit “mature”).

When Mariachi El Bronx swaggered on stage in complete charo, Mexican outfits and  without a hint of irony; I realised that they take their somewhat imaginative, side project quite seriously. The hardcore fans, sometimes said to be a cult following, have responded well to the bands Latino rhythms and have shown, the true spirits of die-hard music fans and learned to love the Hispanic sounds. The running order pretty much twinned that of their self titled album starting first with ‘Slave Labour’ and ending with ‘My Love’ but all songs reeked of the passion and feeling they put into their music. The band played with straight up professionalism and didn’t show a trace of their hardcore punk origins.

The next band were the support, Ghost Of A Thousand. On first appearance these were an audacious band with a true punk spirit, so when singer, Tom Lacey jumped back on the stage after moshing with the crowd, it was a surprise to hear he had the speaking-voice of an I.T. guy. Although Lacey’s voice was juxtapositional it didn’t compromise the music that Ghost Of A Thousand play with that of a striking reminiscence to “Gallows”.

After G,O,A,T,  came the headline of the night as it were, The Bronx, this time lacking the trumpets. The band who were seen before as very serious had now taken off the mask and unveiled their gritty, punk , reality. Although they had been stripped  of their charo outfits they still played with the same edge of excitement and feel to their music and just like Ghost O f A Thousand’s singer, front man, Matt  Caughtrain ended up in the audience and dancing with the admiring fans. With so much going for them and the ability to laugh at themselves, the Bronx are a truly inspirational band and if ever you get the chance, go see them as it’s a night you will remember.

By Choo/Chloe Cooper

The Songs of Nick Drake @ Solihull Arts Centre, 22/04/2010

Keith James (guitar) and Rick Foot (double bass). From keith-james.com

Keith James (guitar) and Rick Foot (double bass). From keith-james.com

For many people, the music of Nick Drake is held in the highest of esteem. There seems to be absolutely nobody who has heard his work who does not elevate it above nearly all singer-songwriters before, during, and after his life.

For myself, the work of Drake is of the utmost beauty. However, for some reason I have always stopped myself writing of his work. This is for a number of reasons, but predominantly because there is no way that I would be able to do him justice.**

On the 19th April, 2010, the BBC broadcasted a glitzy show of “diverse but renowned … modern day troubadours” presenting their interpretations of Drake’s work. This article is not about this show.

Keith James (guitar & vocals) and Rick Foot (double bass), quite impossibly, do justice to the work of Nick Drake. They do not, quite rightly, glamorise Drake’s life, work, or untimely death. Hating to write this, but being the only conceivable way of getting this across to you, Keith James is the closest thing to seeing Nick Drake live that you can get. Both talent and humility ooze out of the two men on the tiny stages they tour round.

The show starts with a film on the life and music of Nick Drake. If there is any criticism to be given of the show, it is centred only on this short film. With interviews from the likes of Ralph McTell and Richard Sanders, it’s credentials are without dispute. However, the film disappointingly seemed to suggest that Drake committed suicide – the narrators exact words were “presumed suicide“. I feel this is misleading, as nobody will ever know if Nick Drake’s death was intentional or not and it is wrong to presume such. The evidence is neither conclusive nor indicative of either intentional or unintentional death. However, this is neither here nor there and is not a debate that should be started.

To the show itself, then.

Firstly, you should know that Drake produced three albums during his lifetime: 1969’s Five Leaves Left, 1970’s Bryter Layter, and 1972’s Pink Moon. Each has it’s own distinct character and charm. It was off Pink Moon that most of James’ and Foot’s tribute show material came from – Pink Moon is a solely acoustic album, and thus suits the two men.

Nick Drake

Nick Drake, unknown location

James and Foot opened with From the Morning, the final track on Pink Moon. I said previously that James is the closest thing you will get to seeing Nick Drake live. Here I reiterate that statement. A chill settled on the audience of less of 80 seated people, a deathly-respectful but not stifling silence. Everybody took in absolutely every single pluck – the awe was incredible. Drake’s tracks are unique for the tunings he used and it is only the highest calibre of acoustic guitarists that can decipher not only these tunings, but the patterns of both left and right hands.

Running through a number of Pink Moon’s tracks including Place to Be and the awfully haunting Things Behind the Sun, it was Parasite that stands out most vividly. Extending the introduction with a Velvet Underground-esque scratchy sound on Foot’s double bass, the song is given an staggeringly eerie and moving character which draws Drake’s lyrics into the open in a frightfully vulnerable way.

John Martyn OBE was for a time close friends with Drake, who used often to go to the Martyn’s home. Shortly after the announcement of Drake’s death, Martyn composed the song Solid Air, in tribute: “I know you, I love you / And I could be your friend / I could follow you  anywhere / Even through solid air.” As James said on the night, no tribute to Nick Drake would be complete without a rendition of Solid Air. That rendition was stunning.

Other Drake tracks included Fruit Tree, Pink Moon, Northern Sky, Three Hours, One of These Things First and the dramatic Way to Blue, the strings being played superbly on double bass. Black Eyed Dog was particularly memorable, James’ vocals being suited to the track.*** They closed with River Man, a much revered track for both musical talent and poetic lyrics. In addition to these was a rendition of Davey Graham’s famous Anji and, I am appalled at myself for forgetting, a flamenco rendition of a Spanish poet’s work.

The stark contrast between the extravagant BBC tribute and the humble James and Foot tribute is phenomenal. During the BBC tribute, an interviewee (I believe Joe Boyd**** himself, although I am not 100% sure) stated that if Drake were alive to witness the [BBC] tribute, he would be very proud – I do not deny this in the slightest. However, it is my opinion that if Drake were to witness the tribute of James and Foot, he would not only feel proud, but, because the renditions given on the BBC show seem so far removed from Drake’s own work, so much more gratified.

This is, clearly, speculating and I do not pretend to think I know what Nick Drake would make of the two tributes. Maybe it is wrong to compare the two, for they are as chalk and cheese as Five Leaves Left is to Pink Moon. However, if you have an interest in acoustic music, singer-songwriters or any of the mentioned artists, I encourage you to check out Keith James and Rick Foot’s Tribute to Nick Drake. Tour dates and ticket links below.

Songs of Nick Drake | Keith James.com | Tour Dates


Notes
*Unless otherwise stated, information on Nick Drake is extracted from “Nick Drake: The Biography” (1997) by Patrick Humphries.
**Discussing anything to do with Nick Drake is unfortunately a tricky area. No less than twice have I been snubbed by others for my opinion on something to do with his life or work; this pretence should not exist.
***Joe Boyd was producer of all of Nick Drake’s records. He is synonomous with the name of Nick Drake and is highly respected
****Black Eyed Dog was one of four posthumously released tracks, originally ‘tacked’ onto the end of Pink Moon on the Fruit Tree Compilation (1979)

Gig Review :: Lissie :: Liverpool O2 Academy 2

Prior to the gig, I’d done a little research on the act I was about to see and going against every rule of  “New Music” I’d made assumptions that she was a pretty, American, folk singer with a bit of rock twisted in her tracks; she looked and sounded promising but nothing to rave about. I was wrong. I left the gig with a new favourite artist for 2010.

Following a peaceful, sibling folk-harmony trio on stage called “Staves”, Lissie approached the small yet atmospheric crowd with an undeniable presence.  She looked like a hippie, a cool hippie, with a freckly face and summery blonde hair. She had an electric guitar draped effortlessly over her shoulder and seemed comfortable engaging with the crowd.

Her vocal talent is undeniable with such an amazing vocal range and amazing pitch, she soulfully purrs and tunefully roars over great riffs and beats. She manages to be sultry and husky on slower tracks and belt the louder tunes with ease. Alongside her on stage were 2 cool-looking bandmates, one with dreadlocks (Eric Sullivan) on lead guitar and Lewis Keller, sat down with a bass guitar and a small percussion set at his feet.  This set-up seemed a new concept but it worked perfectly. There was no need for a full drumkit; the sound of the guitars, kick drum and hi-hat bellowed seamlessly around the intimate setting of the Academy 2. There managed to be slower, quieter songs followed by real crescendos and toe-tapping tracks.

Lissie was friendly and interactive with the crowd, engaging us in polite, rhetorical conversation before playing her compact yet fulfilling set. She told us how she had recently come to love the work of Kid Cudi and planned to do a cover of his track “Pursuit of Happiness”, which, despite my instant trepidation, was amazing. Being a completely different genre to the one she is used to, the track shouldn’t necessarily have worked, but it did. It sounded as if she had written it herself and she took such enjoyment from performing it.

There were TV screens dotted about the Academy 2, with cameras fixed on centre stage, so when a tall, bushy haired male slid in front of me, blocking my view of the stage, I found myself watching the screens in awe. Lissie looked so comfortable and relaxed and a real natural performer. She’s already supported City & Colour (Dallas Green’s (of Alexisonfire) acoustic side-project) and this gig was in support of Joshua Radin so she’s clearly made a name for herself amongst fellow artists in the USA, I just hope she can do the same this side of the pond.

Lissie’s comparisons probably fall along the lines of Laura Marling, with force. A similar vocal to that of Chrissie Hynde, Debbie Harry, Courtney Love and there is a likeness to the artist I interviewed a few weeks ago, Tiffany Page.

Her set was a hit with the crowd and I certainly felt like I could stand and listen to her all night. She was engaging, powerful and her songs are dead-sets for the summer. Whether you want an easy-listening track for a long drive in the car, a backing track to a summer BBQ with friends or just a happy-go-lucky sound for the weekend, Lissie is the artist you need this year.

She has songs on Spotify and her MySpace is a veritable font of material: http://www.myspace.com/lissiemusic and she has a well established Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/lissiemusic . One of her singles, “In Sleep”, is an amazing track and a live video can be found on her MySpace. Lissie is in the UK until May 31st so I highly recommend you check out her live dates on her MySpace and catch her live if you can! [J]

Gig Review :: The Lawrence Arms @ The Cockpit, Leeds, 31/03/10

Chicago punk trio, the Lawrence Arms, aren’t exactly known for their excessive touring, so their recent short UK tour was welcomed with open arms by fans.

‘Recovering The Opposable Thumb’ set the tone for the evening with the crowd singing along with front man and bassist Brendan Kelly and guitarist/ vocalist Chris McCaughan. The set list followed a general trend of fast paced, frantic songs interspersed with some of the band’s slower material. ‘Rambling Boys Of Pleasure’ and‘Chapter 13: The Hero Appears’ are both prime examples. The majority of material was mostly taken from, the 2006 album, ‘Oh Calcutta’. The most memorable tracks being ‘Lose Your Illusion 1’, ‘Like A Record Player’ (which, fellow Moon & Back-er Anthony wants to point out, was an awesome set closer) and ‘The Devils Taking Names’. All of which had the crowd on their feet and in full voice.‘The Slowest Drink At The Saddest Bar On The Snowiest Day In The Greatest City’ is the only song performed from their new ‘Buttsweat and tears’ EP. It’s a catchy song and follows the tried and tested formula that fans of the Lawrence arms will be used to.

The banter between Brendan and the crowd was memorable.  It broke down the barrier between audience and band and added to the whole gig experience. The only criticism that can be made is the lack of favourites such as ‘100 Resolutions’, ‘The Disaster March’ and ‘A Toast’, however this hardly seems like an issue at all when the set list is strong and performed with so much vigour that sweeps you off your feet.

The Lawrence arms might not tour as much as other bands, but its safe to say that they make up for it when they do.

Gig Review :: Frank Turner @ Birmingham 02 Academy, 21/03/10

It was one of those weeks, or more so, it turned out to be…

Okay, so this is meant to be a gig review, but I thought I’d make a more of a three date diary thing, as I wasn’t actually meant to be in Birmingham at all. It began with fellow Moon and Back-er/Frank Turner botherer, Anthony Barlow, planning on seeing the Frank man in Manchester on the Wednesday, then hitting the Leeds date the following day. The Manchester day went great, we did the interviews with Crazy Arm, Chuck Ragan and Frank Turner and they went really well. The gig itself was awesome. Unfortunately, the following day, I was DEAD. I’m not sure exactly why, I didn’t drink THAT much, but illness was a wash over me, my stomach felt like it was being eaten from the inside, and the anxiety that enjoys me so much was at an all time high, so Leeds, for me, was canceled. Barlow went, and said it was great, Chuck doing an extended set which included his cover of the Alkaline Trio hit, Bleeder.

So what was I to do? I couldn’t go a Frank Turner tour with only one installment, plus the lovely folk involved with Crazy Arm were super nice and I wanted to see them again, so here’s what happened.

The hugest thanks has to go out to, Xtra Mile’s very own Wonder Woman, Anthea, who has helped us, and Moon and Back in general, so friggin’ much. Once again she saved the day, hooking me up with a guestlist spot for the Birmingham show. But how the fuck am I gonna get there?! Alan Grundy is my dad, an old punker dude, and a God send. I bought him a ticket and around 5pm on Sunday, we were on our way. Once again, the impossible was pulled off with a little help from my friends (fuck off Beatles.)

Now onto the gig. First of all, we’ll get rid of all the negative points, Birmingham’s O2 Academy isn’t a great venue, Crazy Arm once again had a really short set, which is a shame, because they’re awesome, and people would not shut the fuck up during Chuck Ragan.

It has to be said that the Crazy Arm are thieves of the highest calibre, taking our insults from the interview and incorporating them into their set! GREEN ARMY! Plus, the guest vocals by Chuck on Crazy Arm’s International Front, frankly, gave me a music chubby.

Frankie baby takes the stage with a Bob Dylan backing soundtrack before bombing into Photosynthesis, one of my personal favourites, and by the sounds of things, one of the majority of Brummies too.

It seems that every gig, Turner gets a little more confident and his on-stage banter becomes a lot more transient, adding stories, jokes and politics seemingly in-between and even during songs. My personal best for the evening has to be before the song Sons of Liberty, where Turner asks the crowd politely to smash up any CCTV camera’s in their area, an example of just how much Frank hates this new Big Brother government horse-shit that seems to be coming more into effect with each day.

Musically, it’s a good mix from the FT catalogue, a good blend of new and old, with the usual acoustic/Frank solo installation about mid way through, with the full band Long Live the Queen we were treated to last time being scrapped and returning to its roots.

The set closed up with The Road, another of the new Turner tunes that seem to be putting his name up in lights. I can’t help but feel that a lot of the people at the gig were only there for this song specifically seeing as an otherwise stoic crowd seemed to erupt for this one, if only a little. There were no circle pits, but there was some sing-a-longs, with Turner and his band of merry men, as always, on top form.

On a trip to the bar I bumped into some of the Crazy Arm folk, and as the night continued I got to see them all, got a pint of cider in with Bassist Tim, and singer Darren even mentioned him stealing GREEN ARMY as soon as he saw me, damn I’m cool. After that, it was time to head home, filled with beer and cider, many service stops were made.

This turned out more like a blog-post than a gig review…….shit. If you enjoyed it though, you should check out my blog.

Interview :: White Belt Yellow Tag – Glasgow’s King Tut’s

The northeast’s hottest new alternative rock band gives an exclusive interview to Moon & Back Music ahead of their UK tour


wbyt

White Belt Yellow Tag

With their debut album Methods scheduled for release on the 5th of April, White Belt Yellow Tag are currently in the process of a relentless tour of the UK. With the inaugural date of the tour in Glasgow’s world famous King Tut’s, Moon & Back Music caught up with them to discuss their plans, thoughts and personal opinions on their music and peers.

With a growing fan base throughout the British Isles and beyond, White Belt Yellow Tag (WBYT) bill themselves as an alternative rock band hailing from the northeast of England. Comprising of Justin Lockey and Craig Pilbin, they are more than usually joined on live tours with Tom Bellamy on drums, the trio were more than happy to take time out from their busy pre-show and tour schedule to speak candidly with Moon & Back Music.

On the eve of their tour that will take them to numerous locations varying from smaller to mid level venues from Newcastle and Leeds to York and of course London. When asked about the relentlessness of the tour, the band replied with their usual casual swagger. Agreeing that the pressures of the road were indeed something that could not be taken likely, it was merely another occupational hazard and the price that has to be paid when playing in a road band. Indeed, Tom Bellamy when consulted as to his impressions of Glasgow admitted it was relatively hard to get one when he had only been present in the city for approximately an hour. The other members had been present a little longer and all agreed that they found Glasgow, and King Tut’s, more than an enjoyable place to play. The city, and Scottish crowds in general, has certain notoriety for tougher, less easily pleased crowds but this merely added to the excitement and prospect of the evening’s gig for WBYT who relished in the pressure.

When approached about the nature of the band’s direction and potential ambitions of the new album, WBYT took a decidedly more philosophical and more unexpected approach to the dealings of the music industry. Upon the mention that their website described them as alternative rock, Lockey, Pilbin and Bellamy scoffed at the notion that such a broad encapsulation of an even wider variety of music could be used to describe them, or any, kind of music. When quizzed on this notion, the band simply replied with the idea that their music, although certainly more than qualified to be described as alternative and indie rock, was not intended to be bracketed with such a mainstream title. The direction in which WBYT has taken in recent times has not been dictated by corporate labels or indeed what is deemed “fashionably popular”. It has been more akin to a group of musicians who enjoy working, playing and touring together and more than willing to commit their foreseeable futures to a project that has a great promise and is filled with potential.

In the current financial climate with its frivolous uncertainty and equally harsh commitment to any great future investment it is difficult for bands like White Belt Yellow Tag to flourish on talent alone. However, with their excellent attitude and fierce loyalty to their cause it is no surprise to find that WBYT are now on the verge of being booked for several major summer festivals throughout the country. In an industry as volatile as the music one, especially in today’s climate, it can be an almost impossible task to stand out amongst the crowd. White Belt Yellow Tag, however, may just be about to disprove that theory but only time will tell

Jonathan Whitelaw


Check out the band’s official website and MySpace accounts for upcoming tour dates and releases: http://www.myspace.com/whitebeltyellowtag and http://www.whitebeltyellowtag.com/

Interview & Review :: Tiffany Page

Prior to seeing the Noisettes live at the O2 Academy in Liverpool, I went to meet their main support act and currently little-known, but dead-set future star, Tiffany Page.

After entering the Academy, I was taken through the tunnel-like rooms and lead to Tiffany’s dressing room, where I found her chilling out on her computer, surrounded by her male bandmates who departed to set their instruments up for the evening. It was in the dimly lit dressing room that we had a chat about her influences, the release of her single and album and her plans for 2010.

Jodie (Moon&Back): So, it’s the penultimate date of the tour with the Noisettes tonight, have you enjoyed it? Have you had a good time?

Tiffany Page:  Probably some of the best times of my life! I don’t want it to end! I think we’re all a bit sad ‘cause we’ve been getting on really well with all the guys including Tinashé, the first support act… Awww, it’s really sad!

J: Sorry! I didn’t mean to upset you! So, it’s sad but you’ve had good reception everywhere?

T.P: Yeah, incredible! Towards the end of the tour we’ve been getting really good at getting the crowd involved with us. Before, we were completely new at this, you know, we’re very new as a band, and it’s getting more and more fun.

J: Awesome. How are you feeling about your debut single release/launch on the 15th March?  Are you excited?

T.P:  REALLY excited! Bit nervous, but really excited because obviously I don’t know what people are gonna think of it, but, I’m not expecting anything from the first one, usually it’s the second or third, but I hope it does well!

J: I’ve heard it, I think it’s really good! I like it!

T.P: Aww, Thankyou!

J:  I read that the album you’re going to release was recorded in LA and London; that sounds very “Rock ‘n’ Roll”, how was it?

T.P: Yeah, well, to be honest we recorded most of it in the UK but I wrote alot in LA and we used some of the demo vocals from the States and actually from the UK aswell because when I’d just finished writing the music, and I’d been co-writing, I started to lay it down and I really started the songs then because sometimes you can’t replicate, so mostly we used the demo vocals and they were fine, but in the UK I had a hand in, you know, saying what I wanted.

J: Do you have a favourite track on your album or do you like them all equally?

T.P:  I do, it’s probably the one that means the most to me, it’s called ‘You Won’t’,  I think the ballads are probably the simplest songs on the album and we had real strings on it aswell which was incredible to watch.

J: That sounds really good! Do you write most of your songs yourself or do you have other people helping?

T.P: Yeah, well, with other people. We’d go in and I’d be feeling a certain way or something would happen, I’d have an idea… I prefer co-writing, I’d been writing on my own for about 2 years, ‘cause I learn alot more, I can learn from other people who are more experienced than I am. It’s like, instead of going to school ‘cause I’m still learning.

J: Are your songs based on real life experiences?

T.P: Yeah, definitely, it’s mostly what’s happened to myself.  Yeah, I’m 23 but I think I’ve done quite alot already and I’m just starting to be settled now.

J: Obviously apart from your single and album etc, what else do you hope to do in 2010? Have you got many plans?

T.P: More tours, I think we’ve got a University tour coming up and a few tours, no dates are confirmed yet, loads more gigging and hopefully festivals!  Just being the best live band that we can possibly be.

J: If you could play any festival, which one would it be?

T.P:  READING, because I’ve been 4 times and I love Reading.

J: So to play it would be amazing!

T.P: I know, and not having to sleep in a tent!

J: I was wondering, being female do you think it’s important to encourage more and more girls to kind of take the lead? Especially in rock and punk music?

T.P: Definitely, there are loads of girls coming out at the moment; I think it’s really good. The competition aswell is really good because it makes you want to do better! But, also, I guess with more alternative music, people usually associate it with just being guys; I mean we’ve got people like Courtney Love, we’ve got bands like L7 but now I don’t think there’s that much. I mean, there’s Florence and the Machine… I think it’s quite nice girls doing alternative music. I aspire to be like my idols, you know, like Dave Grohl for one, hence my tattoo… [shows arm] I’ve got one like him [Laughs].

J: I was going to ask who are your idols? Are there any female icons that you look to?

T.P: Definitely Courtney Love, she was definitely one when I was growing up. Um, Cat Bolan. That’s probably it… more…grungey sort of people, but I guess because I’m not a loud person really, because I’m not them and they’re someone I’d love to be if I could be someone.

J: That’s cool. So who are your favourite bands and musicians at the moment, who are you enjoying listening to?

T.P: Loads… I’m listening to Wu-Tang Clan at the moment!  Just got back into them. Also a bit of old Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, Belle and Sebastien, all sorts of bands, I love music; a bit of The Smiths in the van today actually which was cool!

J: Awesome! So, I’ve read alot of comparisons and reviews about your music, on the Guardian website today actually, I read that people are comparing you to the likes of Chrissie Hynde and that must feel amazing for you… but for people who aren’t familiar with your music, how would you introduce and describe it?

T.P: I’d say it’s very pop-rock, I’d say on the album I hope there’s songs for everyone, my favourite songs on the album are the darker songs because that’s the kind of music I like to listen to. I’d like to say there are songs, hopefully, for guys and girls of all different ages. There’s some happier songs and some darker songs, heavy songs and lighter songs, so hopefully something for everyone!

J: Yeah, cool. Do you think at the moment it’s difficult for lesser-known indie bands to get noticed by record labels? Is it hard work promoting yourself to get that recognition?

T.P:  I think it’s alot of luck and putting yourself out there but I used to live by this book called “The Unsigned Guide” and the first thing it says in the introduction is that if you’re talented you will get spotted…it’s whether anything comes of it or not, but you know, you will get spotted. It’s all about gigging but also the internet is a great tool that people trawl. You’d be surprised. Just gigging as much as possible and getting yourself out there.

J: Yeah. I know it’s really tricky and everyone always struggles but if you could name 3 of your top albums of all time, what would they be?

T.P: Phwoar, hmmm…. hmmm… OK….I’ll say; Radiohead – Ok Computer, bloody brilliant album! I’ll say; Hole – Pretty on the Inside, love that… and I’ll say… Wu-Tang Clan – 36 Chambers.

J: Good choices! Right, I think that’s everything covered…

T.P: Yeah?  Awesome. Thankyou!

J: Thankyou for your time! Have a great time tonight and all the best!

After the interview, Tiffany had a few hours to chill-out, warm up and do whatever it is debutant rockstarlets do before a gig. She, and her band, followed a great act called “Tinashé” (well worth checking out! www.myspace.com/tinashemusic)

Walking on stage after her 3 male band mates, there was no doubt Tiffany Page had the right stage presence to pull off the grunge/rock material expected of her. With an apparent attitude but gleaming personality, evident from her smile and comfortable demeanour on stage, she began her set.

She shook a maraca and played both acoustic and electric guitars throughout her set. She interacted with the crowd, and received a great reception from everyone in the room. I think people weren’t entirely sure what to expect and were pleasantly surprised to hear a vampish purr-like voice seep out of the petite brunette. The band sounded tight and full with great acoustics in the Academy. I got the impression that every guy in the room wanted to be with her and every girl wanted to be her, myself no exception!

Her set was full of grungey, rock, angsty tunes that all had some lyrical depth. She roared, sang and purred over great guitar riffs and their performance of the debut single received great reception and applause from the audience. Said single, “Walk Away Slow”, is out on the 15th March and is available to listen to on her MySpace (www.myspace.com/tiffanypage). The single has received critical acclaim already and Tiffany has received airplay on Radio 1, thanks to Fearne Cotton.

I think she’ll be huge in 2010 and beyond. She’s fresh and new, a nice break from the synth-ridden, electric ladies of the moment, such as Ladyhawke, La Roux and Florence and the Machine. Her music will reignite your love for grunge and remind you of an old sound if you were once partial to the likes of Hole, Nirvana and Radiohead, or introduce you to a fresh take on pop-rock if you weren’t interested before.

Check her out on MySpace www.myspace.com/tiffanypage and give her music a listen! Her single is available to download on the 14th March. Her music is also featured on Spotify, just search “Tiffany Page”. [J]