Get Yourself A Free Fake Problems Track

Fake Problems, a super cool band from Florida, have got a new album coming out soon. Real Ghosts Caught On Tape is set to be released on September 21st, but there’s many of us that can’t wait to get our hands on anything that Chris Farren and co put out there. Being the nice guys that they are, they’ve released the track ‘Soulless’ free of charge.

If you need your Fake Problems fix, then head on over to their official website and download the song. Trust me, it’s awesome. The new album was produced by Ted Hutt, a man who’s previous works include Chuck Ragan’s Feast Or Famine and The Gaslight Anthem’s The 59 Sound and American Slang. If you’re a fan, you won’t be disappointed. The track is an upbeat punky tune, enthused with a little bit of a retro vibe. If you haven’t heard these guys before, then what the hell are you waiting for? Download it now!

For more, visit www.fakeproblems.com and be sure to check them out on MySpace.

Going Underground :: Above Them

With a minimum of bands to bother (probably due to festival season) I’ve slowly found my clarification for existence slipping away, so decided to start ‘Going Underground’ — A cliché-named segment to promote wicked music that very unfortunately evades the public eye. This will feature on the site weekly/bi-weekly/whenever the fuck I feel like it, I haven’t decided yet.

First on the agenda is a beautiful band called Above Them.


Above Them have been flying just below radar for sometime now, but since the release of their “now-nearly-a-year-old” album, Blueprint For A Better Time, the trio have been well and truly making a name for themselves in the punk scene playing with other greats such as Chillerton, The 255s and even the almighty Chuck Ragan.

The bands sound itself is a hard one to pin: It’s slick, smooth and melodic but at the same time featuring all the rawness of true punk rock or a chapped arse, but in a good way. Above Them have totally found their own sound. They’ve a uniqueness that is so relieving when compared to the many ‘might-as-well-be-tribute’ bands that occupy the punk scene.

As a live act the boys don’t hold back, with high energy, hard-hitting sets and some half decent banter to boot. Go and listen to the boys from Pontefract on Myspace, buy their album, go watch them live, whatever. Just make sure you sample the sweet sound that is Above Them. Oh, and buy a t-shirt, they’re smart as fuck.

I give Above Them 4/5 Special Brews, they lose a point because they’re from Yorkshire.


Above Them are playing an all day festival at the Oxford pub in Manchester this Saturday 24/07/10. Details below:

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/event.php?eid=111334772244725&ref=ts

You can buy Blueprint For A Better Time on i-Tunes by clicking this link:

http://itunes.apple.com/uk/album/keep-smiling/id367479798?i=367479828&ign-mpt=uo%3D6

Gig Review :: Hot Water Music – Irish Centre, Leeds – 22/06/10

Here’s one, of time passed…

We thought it would never happen, after break ups and semi-make ups, Hot Water Music have finally touched U.K shores and are blasting the hell out of some, or what seems like, some old mans social club in the middle of fuck knows where known only as, the Irish Centre. Okay, I’ll do a little run down first, because it’s me writing this and it’s never a straight forward day is it?


We started the day, met in Manchester, got the train to Leeds. My heart was broke at one point when a 5 or 6 year old girl on the train turns to her mother and says, “Mummy, I love you.” I’m such a sucker.

In Leeds, we meet up with the fourth member of our usually 2 strong team, Mr Joe Brownridge. So far we have Anthony Barlow, Danny Rayner, Mr. Joe and myself. Being the ultimate arsehole I am, I decide it’ll be a good idea to walk to the Irish Centre, with not an ounce of knowledge of where it is, after an hour or so of walking through Leeds council estates (big fun) we decide to rely on the bullshit technology that is the iPhone.

So we get to the Centre, eventually get an interview with the lovely Jason Black and as we return to the venue Milloy are part way through their set. They play with such intensity I have to take a moment to think back to when I saw a support band play so well, can’t think of any right now. Next up is the Magnificent, who supported the Lawrence Arms on their Leeds venture, the crowd do not seem interested in the bands songs or on stage banter, but I do not think they played bad. At the end of their set, Chuck Ragan joins them for a full band cover of Alkaline Trio’s “Bleeder” which frankly, was the perfect start to what everyone had been waiting for…

Hot Water Music take to the stage and the crowd, frankly, go ape shit. A brief introduction and we’re straight in there. They open with ‘A Flight And A Crash’ (check the title duh!) and the place explodes. Before anyone can take a breath we’re followed by ‘Remedy’, a fan favourite and the last single (to my knowledge) to be released by the boys. The set continues with other well known songs such as ‘Wayfarer’, ‘Giver’ and the song that gave the album ‘Caution’ it’s title ‘I Was On A Mountain’ (such a tune).

The intensity of the band cannot, or has not been matched by any band I have ever seen. Chuck Ragan’s hard rocking antics, Chris Wollard’s borderline cocky crowd smiles and the deep concentration of the face of one of punk rocks best bassists, Jason Black. I’d say it is unfortunate, and I guess it is, but due to joining Against Me! George Rebelo is not on the drum kit tonight, luckily, Lagwagon drummer Dave Raun, who does exceedingly well (Oh Mr. Kipling!), playing songs that he didn’t write.

The set is a brilliant blend of new and old, featuring old classics such as ‘Free Radio Gainesville’, ‘Just Don’t Say You Lost It’ and ‘Alachua’. After and intense non stop perpetual boner of a setlist, the band retire, leaving the crowd anxious and almost riot bent on just a few more songs, and like fuck they’re not gonna give them to us! The band return to stage, and give a shout out to their good friends, a band called “The Bouncing Souls,”  they tear into a rendition of “True Believers” (much to Sarah Hadfields regret as she was not there) which rivals the original in a way that I’m sure shocked a few BS fans.

A couple more songs, Kerrang! favorite, ‘Choked And Seperated’ and finally ‘Turnstyles’ and the best night of my life comes to a close. Well kind of….

We ring a taxi under the pseudonym  Sebastian DeBlanc, and head towards Santiago’s, the best pub in the world. A lot of Against Me!, Nofx and Black Flag and then a lovely train ride home. Fuck yeah!

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 :: Austin Lucas

Why this man was playing in a pub cellar is beyond us.

© Al Overdrive 2010

It seems Austin Lucas is an unknown commodity on these shores. The, Indiana-born, singer/songwriter has yet to be recognised by UK audiences and it’s a crying shame. We sat down in Leeds’ Royal Park pub (the venue for the night) to have a chat with Austin about his life: Why he moved from the US to Prague (and back again), his ‘double life’ in a crust punk band and missing Saturday morning cartoons as a kid. This is probably the most honest interview we’ve ever done, with the most humble of people. As an added bonus, there’s even brief cameos from El Morgan and a bloke called Sam.


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

Austin Lucas: Good, how y’all doing, alright?

Ian Critchley: We’re good. It’s been a bit hard to get here, but we got here.

AL: Good, good.

IC:  First of all, we found out you’d moved from the US to Prague and you’ve moved back again now. What was the decision behind that?

AL: Which part?

IC: Well, the move to Prague and then…I guess both

AL: *laughs* My brother, he moved to Prague about two years before I got there, he opened a bar and, at the time, I was playing in this band called K10 Prospect. I’d been doing it for about three years, nobody cared. I was getting really bored living in Indiana and, basically, my brother was like “man, I really could use somebody I can trust, because bartenders keep ripping me off, and if you could come here I’d really appreciate it”. So I said “okay” and I went. I was gonna go for, like, eight months and just help him set everything up and I got there and loved it. Eight months turned into five years and then, basically, I was playing a lot of music and touring all the way throughout that. My career started to pick up a little bit and I realised I needed to move back to the states for that kinda sake. You know what I mean? It’s like the place where roots music is traditionally made. So, yeah, I just kinda went ahead, picked up and went back to America and that’s all it is.

AB: Did you join Guided Cradle whilst you were over there or…

AL: I formed Guided Cradle with everyone else. They were a band called, there’s this crust band from Sweeden called Anti Cimex, and they were playing in a cover band called Anti Climax. They were an Anti Cimex tribute band. This was like a side-band, the guitar player/singer was in another band called Dread 101 and the bass player and drummer were in this other band called VIR. Ethan’s band, Dread 1010, kinda folded and I had been living in Prague for about a year and it was just kinda like “hey man, do you wanna play in another band with me” ad I was like “yeah, let’s do it”. That was actually the reason I ended up staying so long, because I started doing that. In Check it took off immediately and, slowly but surely, Europe started taking notice of it too, then America and Asia, South America so it kinda got to the point where, if you’re playing in a crust band, if you’re not paying to play you’ve fucking succeeded. It got to the point where people were flying us places and people were interested. We were playing shows and people were at them *laughs*. People knew who we were so, we just decided to keep on doing it. We’re still doing it.

IC: Is it hard to keep doing it now you’ve moved back?

AL: It’s a little bit more difficult, because we’re not rehearsing every weekend. We still do stuff, we get together. We were living in the same place for four years and rehearsing every week, at least, once a week. After a while the songs are second nature. The only thing that’s suffered as a result is writing new stuff, but we’re starting to write a new full length and it’s meant to be coming out by the end of the year, or we’re gonna record it by the end of the year. Next year maybe.

AB: Is that the reason you’re touring the UK when you are, because Guided Cradle have got a gig in London later this month?

AL: We were meant to play at Scumfest, yeah, but unfortunately, about two or three weeks ago, our drummer was diagnosed with a tumor in his testicles and, really luckily, it turns out it wasn’t malignant. He had the operation to remove it and he can’t play drums for two months, so we had to cancel that. Actually that show was a bi-product of this tour, because I was already going to Finland and when I realised I was going to Finland I thought I should come to the UK too. I’ve only toured here once before, so I figured I might as well try it again, because I’m touring the whole of Europe again in October and November. But I kinda wanted to work it in, so I worked it in and then we got the call about doing Scumfest and we realised it could work out, but unfortunately it’s not going to work out.

IC: Musically, Guided Cradle is a lot different from your solo stuff. Do you like having that ‘other side’?

AL: Well, It definitely speaks to both sides of my personality. The truth is, I’m a country singer because that’s what I’m supposed to do, that’s what I have the voice to do. Being a folk musician or an americana artist or whatever is really what my family is…that’s what my dad did and I come from a family of singers. It’s kinda like the thing I was born into. Playing in a crust band is like the thing that I love, becuase I’ve been involved in the hardcore punk scene since I was seventeen. I been involved in the punk scene since I was twelve. It’s just kinda the thing that I’ve always been into or have been for fourteen/fifteen years and I just never really got out of it. The majority of my friends are all in that circle. In a lot of ways, if I quit playing with Guided Cradle or quit playing that kind of music, it would be like cutting off a limb. It gives me the opportunity to go and see all of my friends. Playing a festival, like Scumfest or, like last year, we did Play Fast Or Don’t, there’s all these people that I know. Some of them come and see me when I play solo, but not all of them, not the majority. So it allows me to actually visit friends. That’s actually one of the biggest things about playing in Guided Cradle, I get to play with these friends of mine that I love playing music with. Then I go on trips and see my friends that I wouldn’t normally get to see. I get to see my friends doing this [playing solo], but it’s a different group of friends. I mean, they’re both really important and they do both allow me to have a different kind of outlet. It’s always fun to fucking rock *laughs*. My favorite thing in the world is to sing. People always ask me what my favorite thing to do is and I always say singing. Whilst I’m singing I’m never happier.

IC: So which do you prefer then? Singing or…

AL: Well, like I said, my favorite thing to do is to sing *laughs*. Playing solo allows me to sing, but there’s something to be said about being able to fucking rock. Just going out and having a full stack and loud distorted guitars. That aggression is something that I’ve always gotten off on and I always will.

AB: You talked about your background and having a musical family, what was it like having your dad and sister work with you on the last album?

AL: A lot like working with them on the other albums *laughs*.

IC: We didn’t realise they worked on all the albums

AL: Yeah, they were involved with Bristle Ridge. Putting The Hammer Down was recorded at my father’s house. Common Cold was mostly recorded in Prague, but my father and my sister both came to do sessions on the recording. I mean, since I started doing this, I’ve been working with them. I’ve been working with them since I was born. A recording with my family is like, we all get together and we play and we sing and we talk shit.

IC: *laughs* good times.

AL: But, that’s what my life with my family is like anyway so it’s not especially different from any other familial gathering, except we have microphones up and we’re specifically focused on certain pieces of music instead of just kind of playing.

AB: So you don’t find it hard to me more personal on a song with your family around then?

AL: Do I think it’s hard to do that? I take for granted that me and my family are really close, so, in a lot of ways, it’s easier to do that. Some of the songs I feel uncomfortable around my mother, but I don’t record around my mother. My parents separated when I was five, so it’s two different familial bodies. There’s my mother and my stepfather and my two stepsisters over there and then, like, my father, my stepmother, my stepsister Chloe and my stepbrother Zach. Two seperate family entities, so if me and my brother go and spend time with either one, both experiences are vastly different. If I go and hang out with my dad’s side of the family, we’re just hanging out, we’re friends. Some people complain about how their father or their mother is their best friend and it’s not like that. My dad is very much my dad. We just get along really well and we really click. It’s not like this appalling experience to go and hang out with your family. Some people really hate their families or they love them, but they can’t handle them. That’s not how it is, going to work my dad. It’s absolutely awesome. It’s something that I look forward to. Just like I look forward to going out on tour and hanging out with my friends. I’m particularly excited about that, because it’s something particularly special that we get to share. It’s something that’s really comfortable. It’s sweet, y’know?

AB: Yeah, definitely.

IC: You said your favorite thing was singing, you actually joined a choir when you were younger…

AL: Yeah, that was totally against my will.

IC: The question was, is that any kind of religious thing?

AL: No, it was the Indiana University Choir.

IC: Oh right, okay.

AL: The Indiana School Of Music is a very prestigious school of music. It’s ranked almost the same as Julliard. It’s not as high, but it’s very high up there, their program is incredible. It was absolutely free of religion. Some of the songs were religion-based, but that’s a different subject all together. But, like I said, that was absolutely forced upon me. My father, he learned how to sing in the church. His whole family are god-fearing Christians. They learned how to sing from hymns and singing gospel music. My dad realised that, if I was going to learn how to sing, I needed to sing in a choir and since he’s not especially religious he was like ‘what can I do, I’m not gonna force my son to go the church and listen to all that hellfire and brimstone. I’m gonna send him to this’. Which is awesome, it was great that we had that option where I lived. That being said, I missed saturday morning cartoons for all my childhood life. That sucked, it was awful.

IC: *laughs* Do you try and catch up on it now?

AL: I think I’m pretty much beyond it. Not to say that I don’t like watching cartoons. I’m a huge science fiction and fantasy nerd, so there’s definitely things, that I’m making up for now, that I missed during my childhood. For me it’s like, I’m so glad that my dad made me do that and I’m so glad I got that opportunity to sing in choirs and do opera and stuff like that. But, at th time, I was going to school on Monday and my friends were like “did you see what happened on He-Man?!” and I’m like “no, I did not see what happened on He-Man, becuase I was stuck in this fucking choir”. Yeah, it was a huge bummer, it sucked, but I’m very happy that I did it. I don’t know if I’d make my children do it. Actually, I would as a matter of fact. Just out of spite.

All: *laughs*

AL: Anybody who knows me knows I have a very big love for an inside joke, and I think that would be the biggest inside joke for me. Also a very black, evil thing to do. “I had to do it, so so do you. Little bastard, get in there!”

All: *laughs*

AB: There’s definitely a large country and western influence in your music. Do you think this has this lead to you having a wider appeal than most ‘folk punk’ artists?

AL: I think marginally. There’s definitely americana and folk fans that come to my shows that no idea what folk punk is, or anything like that. Honestly, the majority of my fans are still punks. That’s something I would like to change. It’s something I’m working on changing and trying to get into a broader audience. I have nothing against punks. I love punk obviously, but this is my career. This is the only skill I have. A lot of the guys I know, a lot of guys I tour with, guys like Chuck Ragan and Mike Hale, for example, they’re master carpenters. Mike Hale can make stairs!

IC: *laughs*

AL: That’s a really hard skill for someone who’s a carpenter. He can make beautiful stairs. He’s got that to fall back on. Not to say that he wants to, because his passion lies in music, but he’s got that. Chuck’s the same, he’s a master carpenter. They’ve got skill sets. I have no fucking skill sets. My whole, entire life has, basically, brought me to here. The only thing I’ve really ever got any formal education in, aside from grammar school and high school, was in music and singing. I have to work this really, really, really hard. That’s why I tour more than any of those other guys do. I work ten months out of the year, a lot of the time with one week/two week breaks in between. The only time I ever really have a large amount of time off is from December to January. I tour up to Christmas, almost, and then I start again in February. So that’s like the only time I ever have a big block of time off. A lot of people, if they’re this or they’re that, that’s what they work at. A lot of people go for years to become doctors or lawyers. What I’ve done is basically dedicate my life for years and years and years to become a singer.

IC: That’s not a bad thing to do though, is it?

AL: No, it’s a great thing to do, but there’s no guarantees. It doesn’t matter how good a musician you are, how good of a singer, how good of a songwriter. Some of the best songwriters I can think of, died in complete and utter obscurity and nobody gives a shit. A lot of the time, they didn’t give a shit until those people died. Those people were scraping by their whole entire lives. I mean, my father, when I was growing up, he didn’t have any real success in music. He had a bunch of near misses. He was almost famous all through the late 60’s and through the 70’s. He kept getting these development deals and almost getting discovered, but nothing ever really happened. He didn’t have any real success until he was in his 40’s and well into his 40’s too. So he was bar-tending, he was doing construction and he was doing anything he could do, just to feed the family. That being said, I have to work really, really, really hard, even without a family, just to keep myself going and there’s no guarantees so I could do all this build up just to end up bar-tending again. In January and February, I was living in Gainsville, Florida and I was bar-backing, not even bar-tending. I was bar-backing and working the door, because I needed money and I needed some shifts, and that’s what I did. That’s what I’m saying, no matter how hard I work, I could end up completely on my ass. If you go and get a medical degree, you’re gonna have a job at the end of that. Whereas, with what I’m doing, there’s nothing. Fans can wain and go away completely and I could end up playing to the same 30 or 40 people that I play to almost everywhere I go. Sometimes I have a lot more people. There’s certain towns where I do really well, certain towns where I do really badly. It’s easy for people to lose interest and kinda start trickling away. I see it all the time, with other bands and musicians. You start getting someplace and start moving forward, the next thing you know, nobody cares.

IC: Yeah, I know what you mean. You did the split, Bristle Ridge, with Chuck Ragan, have you got anything else like that coming up?

AL: It was more of a collaboration with him. I did a split with Frank Turner, a split with The Takers. I’m doing a split with Yarko Markakainen – (sorry, that’s definitely not spelt right) – from Finland. He sings in Finnish. He’s a very successful folk singer in Finland and we’re doing a split seven inch together. Me and Mike Hale are always talking about doing a collaboration record. We’ll see. It’s really, really hard. I know a lot of people…Like Chuck is writing songs and writing songs all the time. My friend Jon Snodgrass writes, like, a song a day. It takes me months to write a song. I recorded Somebody Loves You in December of 2008 and I’ve written seven songs since then. Part of that is because of how much I tour, but part of it is that I’m a really big perfectionist, I don’t leave a song until I’m absolutely happy with it. Also, I’m not as creative as other people are, it takes me a lot. It’s sometimes like pounding a hammer against a board, without a nail or anything like that, and hoping it’ll stick to the wall *laughs*. I do everything I can, and try and make it happen. A lot of the time I have to wait until I’m actually inspired, and sometimes I’m not inspired. It takes me, sometimes, six months before something inspires me. Especially because I write a lot of sad songs. That’s where I really want to write songs, is in those sad moments, because my favorite songs are sad songs. I have a pretty good life and, mostly, I’m really happy. So, sometimes, I have to wait for a serious trauma to put something out there.

IC: Are you wishing for one?

AL: No, I’m not wishing for one actually. Sometimes, when I’m trying to write, I’m like “oh, if my dog could just die, it’d be ok”. I’m thinking about getting a goldfish, because they’re fragile. If I get a new one every month…*laughs*. I don’t think anyone would buy an album that was dedicated to twelve different dead goldfish.

AB & IC: *laughs*

AL: So, no, I’m not looking forward to those things. I don’t want trauma in my life. I’m thinking about going into hypnosis, because there’s probably a bunch of stuff buried in my past that, maybe, I could write about. But that’s only gonna go so far too. I don’t know. Sam, punch me so I can write a song.

Sam: I could drive us off a cliff.

AL: Oh, I could write a song about that if I survived. Someone else would have to write it if I died.

El Morgan: I’ll get out and write the song.

AL: Ok, that’s a good idea. Are you sure that you couldn’t die though and I can write the song?

EM: No, I’d have to write it.

AL: Dammit!

AB: Well you’re releasing The Collection this year, aren’t you?

AL: Yep.

AB: What’s the reason behind putting that together?

AL: To have new merch to go on tour with *laughs*. What? That’s an honest answer. I mean, I live off of selling merchandise. I don’t get paid that much for shows, I mostly just make money off of selling stuff. There’s only so far you can get with one release, before all of your fans have that release and, basically, I wanted to have something new to sell. The other reason, the sweeter, nicer reason is, a lot of those songs are really rare and hard to get hold of. Especially the At War With Freak Folk ten inch, there was only 500 of those and a lot of people haven’t even heard those tracks before so I figured it would be good to put that stuff together.

IC: Who designed the cover art for that album?

AL: Of At War With Freak Folk?

IC: No, The Collection.

AL: Oh, the face. That was my friend Jeremy Clark, Hush is his art name. He did the cover of Somebody Loves You. I also have a live record coming out, Live At The Little Rock Tavern in Little Rock, Arkansas and he did the cover for that. He’s gonna be doing my next full length too.

AB: Were you on The Revival Tour in Little Rock?

AL: No, I was on the tour, just not on those particular dates for either year.

AB: What’s it like doing a tour like that?

AL: Awesome…do you want me to elaborate? *laughs*.

IC: Any tales? Any good stories?

AL: A lot of good stories. Well, first off, it’s the best tour that I’ve ever been on. Emotionally and, I guess that covers spiritually I’ll leave that one out. Everything, like the amount of camaraderie on the bus is absolutely incredible. Plus, it’s on a bus, which is pretty cool. I mean, everyone’s collaborating, so you actually get a chance to get to know people. Like, sometimes you can go on tour and it can take weeks before you warm up to people. If you even warm up to people. I was on tour with, this guy, Langhorn Slim and, this other band, Dawes in November and it wasn’t until the last three days of the tour that we started being like “what’s up!” and really getting along. The Revival Tour, like, I met Tim Barry and Ben Nichols on the first day of The Revival Tour, for the first time, along with Todd Beene the pedal steel [guitar] player for Ben Nichols and Lucero and, the first day, I became friends with them. We just got together and were like ‘alright, let’s play some songs together. what’ve you got?’. Everyone starts joking and drinking together. So, litterally, from the first moment we’re all buddies and we’re all hanging out as equals. It’s a lot different than the: headliner, main support, second support kinda tour. In that way, it’s the best package tour that was ever invented. At least, in the world of punk.

IC: It’s supposed to be coming over to the UK soon, isn’t it?

AL: Well…there’s been a lot of talk about the UK and Europe. I mean, they just did Australia. I actually asked Chuck, because me and Drag The River and Corey Branner are coming over in October and November and the talk was that Revival Tour was gonna be happening around October or November time. I wrote Chuck and I was like ‘hey, is The Revival Tour happening in Europe’ and he wrote me back and was like ‘no, it’s not happening this year’ so maybe next year. I know that it’ll come, it’s just a matter of time.

IC: I hope so, yeah. Finally, it’s been said that you learnt to sing before you could talk, how does that make you feel as a vocalist?

AL: That’s what my mother says. It makes me feel like I cried a lot as a baby *laughs*. I don’t know, it makes me feel good. Mother’s always have the thing that they say about their child. ‘Oh, you were always doing this’, and that’s the thing that my mom says about me. So, it kinda makes me feel warm and the fact it got used in the press release, that’s pretty sweet. I think that it’s kinda true. My dad always tells me that I was singing songs almost before I could even speak, and I don’t know if that helped me develop my language skills as a child, but, if so, because my first love was The Beatles, it means that The Beatles are responsible for me learning how to speak English *laughs*.

AB: *laughs* Well, thank you very much Austin. That was great.

AL: No, thank you. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

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 :: Chuck Ragan

Seriously, this interview doesn’t deserve to be on a music website. We’re off to work for Woodsmith Magazine!

Ian & Chuck

He might be best known for being a part of Hot Water Music, but Chuck Ragan is a man of many talents. He’s bringing his brand of Floridian country music to the UK in support of Frank Turner and, some might say, he’s outdoing the Winchestrian troubadour…just a little.


Ian Critchley: Because of Hot Water Music, I got into a lot of stuff. Charles Bukowski and Mark Twain just to name two. Is there anything, be it music literature or film that you’d like to recommend to the readers?

Chuck Ragan: Well, you named off a lot of categories there *laughs*. Theroux, he’s a brilliant author. That would definitely be a top choice. What else did you ask for? Music? What have I been listening to lately? There’s an incredible band called The Low Anthem, that’s fantastic. They’re from Rhode Island in the States. There’s another band I’ve just been starting to get into that’s pretty brilliant as well. The Devil Makes Three. Man honestly, since my wife and I have been doing the Revival Tour, I feel like the influx of music around our house has just quadrupled, because not only are we getting a lot of submissions from people who want to play it, but it’s kind of just the way the networking has come together it’s been so much easier to just find incredible music out there. It’s just constant around our house, but yeah those two are fantastic for sure.

IC: There’s this tour, then there’s the Hot Water Music tour is there ever gonna be a Rumbleseat tour or is that as the album implies?

CR: Is Dead. Yeah, but right now I’m writing a record with Brian Fallon from The Gaslight Anthem and we’re planning. He may, most likely, do the Revival Tour in the States early in 2011 and our goal is to bring it over here to Europe and to the UK. I hope he could be on it. We’d love to play shows for the record and tour on the record as far as I know, but I don’t know how much or the extend of it all. Gaslight is putting out a new record in June, so they’re gonna be pretty busy.

IC: How did it come about, this new project?

CR: I just called him up and said “Hey, you wanna write some tunes?” *laughs*.

IC: What kind of stuff is it gonna be?

CR: Well, mostly it’s gonna be all acoustic and maybe along the lines of Gold Country, the last record. We’re recording it in the same studio and producing it ourselves. The songs are really relaxed and just a lot of fun. We’ve been sending them back and forth to each other for a little bit. We have ideas for some real good friends, and really talented artists, that we want to bring in and see what kinda sounds we get. Who knows, man? I just couldn’t be more excited about it.

Anthony Barlow: Just to go back for a second, you’re taking the Revival Tour to Australia this year aren’t you?

CR: Yeah, we are. In April. We’re gonna have Frank Turner on that one, Tim Barry from Avail and Ben Nichols from Lucero.

IC: It’s great. I really hope it does come over to the UK, because it’s basically like all my favorite artists in one place.

CR: You wouldn’t believe it too, the show’s so different from probably any show you’ve seen. It’s just non-stop music. It goes for three, three and a half hours, sometimes four hours long. It actually stays interesting all the way through, so it’s a good time.

AB: You’ve been doing a lot of charity work too?

CR: Not enough man, never enough. At the end of this tour I’m doing a Haiti relief benefit

IC: Is that the one with Jonah Matranga?

CR: Yeah, yeah. In Los Angeles, but we’re kind of in the works of trying to do a lot more with the Revival Tour. On the past two Revival Tour’s we’ve done little things like we bought a guitar and had a guitar raffle and all the proceeds went to an organization called Musicares. Years ago, I cut my hand really badly.

IC: Yeah, was it on a wine glass? I remember reading about that somewhere.

CR: Yeah, it was a broken glass. I was at a point where I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to use my hand again, but Musicares was an organization who we found. Man, they just really stepped up to the plate for us and helped out, along with my mother-in-law, with helping make the ends meet whilst I wasn’t able to work. I do two things to make a living, I play music or I do carpentry work and both I need my hands.

IC: That was actually one of our questions, we weren’t actually sure that you were a carpenter. I’d read it before, but I wasn’t sure. I’ve got a quote from you down here. I’m not quite sure whether I just made it up, or dreamt it, but there was something you said that went along the lines of: ‘There’s something amazing about writing a great song and playing it to a crowd, but there’s also something great about crafting a great piece of pine”. Words to that effect.

CR: *laughs* Yeah, I’m definitely not the best carpenter out there at all. I started working with wood when I was a young kid, building skateboard ramps with my brother and over the years, being in a band, it was always tough to hold down any secure job with any company. I’ve always been some kind of independent worker. We’re musicians, we do all kinds of stuff. Working from restaurants, to garbage, all different kinds of construction and I got into construction at a young age and just really kind of got interested in building and carpentry work from there. Once a family took me in when I was going through a tough time. He was just a brilliant, fine wood worker. I lived above their cabinet shop and I helped him build his home. At that point I’d only built a couple of homes before, but helped him build his home. We worked on it for about three years and did it the old school way. Most of the wood we milled ourselves. It was mostly, in those days, a lot of hand drives rather than using pneumatic tools. It’s just a once in a lifetime experience. People don’t build homes like that anymore, because it’s not cost efficient unless you want that look.

IC: It’s a lot more personal isn’t it

CR: Oh yeah, but after meeting him and building that home I got really into just, simple, fine wood working. Doors, windows. Like making custom doors and custom windows and that’s kinda how I made most of my living, doing carpentry work. Wood floors whatever, crown molding…

IC: Surely there’s a big contrast between your carpentry work and playing on stage?

CR: Yeah, but in all honesty, I’ve always had just as much passion and that’s probably what I was getting at with that…whatever I said *laughs*. I’ve always had just as much passion working with wood as I have writing a song, because to me they’re kinda one and the same. Whether I’m building for myself or I’ve been hired on to do a contracted job or whatnot. When you look at a space or whatever and you have to design something. That’s what I love about that kind of work, is doing design build stuff. When I sit down with someone, it’s like “ok, what do you want? How do you want to use it? What kind of material?” and you basically create this idea and then you source materials and then you materialize that idea and then you utilize that idea. To me, that’s the same as sitting down as sitting down with an inspiration for a song and writing a story, kind of mapping it out, coming up with parts and then writing that song, putting it together, going into a studio, putting it on tape, having that record materialized and then holding that and utilizing that, playing it.

IC: Is that why you self-produced Gold Country?

CR: Yeah, a little more fulfilling, but a lot of reason is for years all the sessions I’ve done have had a very strict time frame, budget, everything and it was like ‘go, go, go, go’. There was a lot of stress. It was just kinda chaotic and sometimes that’s good, because it kinda puts a fire under you and you just go right at it and whatever happens, happens. That’s great, but I just wanted to do a record that was more raw, stripped down and just kind of relax more doing it. Having control of the budget and the time frame, I was kind of able to space it out and go into the studio and just truly want to be there every time I was there working on it.

IC: How do you feel the response has been towards it?

CR: Oh, it’s been brilliant. I could never ask for more. Everything I’ve ever done, I feel like I’m just completely blessed to even be sitting here talking with you guys.

AB & IC: *laughs*

IC: That’s a bit…

CR: I mean, I’m just being honest with you. I mean, to have these opportunities. I never dreamed this as a young kid at all. I had no idea. Y’know, I just wanted to learn how to play some chords. Man, to me, I fulfilled everything that I’d ever dreamed a long, long time ago and I just feel like everything that has happened and everything that’s happening is just another blessing along the way and I don’t take it for granted.

IC: Do you feel playing solo is a more personal thing then and the full band thing is more, not fun, but more rowdy, if you know what I mean? A ‘guys in a band’ kind of thing?

CR: Yeah, yeah definitely. I mean, I’ve been bringing along some great musicians with me, doing my solo stuff and, definitely, a lot of the songs a lot more personal. A lot of that just comes from the writing. Not that they weren’t personal in Hot Water Music, it was just the fact that we wrote more all together. We would write individually, but we were also a collective. One person would bring a song in and we would just rip it apart and put it back together, where four of us would agree. There’s a lot of great things about that and then, at the same time, there’s pro’s and cons to both. Playing wise, I love it both. Even the acoustic stuff, it’s high energy, but my acoustic guitars are a lot lighter than old Les Paul’s, easier on the back.

IC: You’ve had your own custom guitar made haven’t you?

CR: Yeah, yeah.

IC: Was that exciting for you?

CR: Yeah *laughs*

IC: Does it make you feel like a true rock star?

CR: *laughs* I don’t know how it made me feel. I opened it up and I was pretty, like, “do I deserve this?”. It made me want to take more guitar lessons, to be honest. Yeah, that was a huge honor, a huge honor. Eastman has been very kind to us and have been very supportive of the Revival Tour. We had them donate the guitars that we raffled off for Musicares and also the Society Of Singers. Yeah, that was pretty insane. The first time I opened that up and saw it, wow.

IC: Well, we’re pretty much out of questions. Thank you

AB: Yeah, thanks a lot.

CR: Thanks so much for making it out.


Thanks a lot to Chuck and everyone who helped make this happen. However, I think there was one obvious question, what with all that carpentry talk, that we think was missing – “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”. Then again, Chuck’s a big guy, we wouldn’t want to piss him off, would we.