Video Interview :: Jonah Matranga

“It’s really nice to meet you, and I’m not just saying that”

Early last month we sat down for another chat with Jonah Matranga. We’ve established on the podcast that he’s the nicest man in the world and that’s been proven with his latest UK tour. Unofficially titled the ‘Manglefoot’ tour, due to his foot being mangled by a van in New York city, Jonah played a series of small dates in the UK and the one in Manchester was a whole lot of fun.

We talked to Jonah about writing a record with his fans, how best to deal with being heckled and a whole bunch of other stuff. Check out the video – yet another Dicking Around Production – below.

Interview: Sean from Your First Mistake

I took a tour of Edinburgh with Your First Mistake’s lead singer Sean to get the ins and outs of life in the band.

ND: I’ve heard that to get to the final line up of the band it’s been a bit of a tale, so how did the
band form?

S: Me and Stewart were originally in a previous band together with two other guys, when we started taking it a bit more seriously and started to push on we then got my brother Sam in who’s the rhythm guitarist and second vocal because he was doing his own acoustic, singer/song writer stuff and he wanted to get involved. Obviously we knew what he could do already.

After that it was then a case of me, Stewart and Sam really wanted to take things forward with the band and the other members decided they had other things they wanted to do. So we got Matt and (our now former drummer) Ben who were in another band at school and they had just recently split up so it was an easy transition to get them in the band, ‘cause we already knew them and were good mates with them and knew what they could do.

Recently Ben left, because he’s decided he’s really into his extreme sports and he’s going to do a course with that. Another person we knew, Stevie, who’s now our current drummer was drumming for another couple of bands at the time but wasn’t really happy with the style of music and we knew he was a phenomenal drummer, so we got him in. It’s actually Ben on the recordings and Stevie now, so he’s yet to make his imprint of the airwaves but he’s looking forward to it. We’re all in the same boat now and we’re all looking to push on with it now.

ND: You’ve recently recorded and released “Wide Awake and Watching” is that the first EP?

S: Yeah it’s the first EP we’ve done. We had done a couple of demo recordings previously with the
old band members but they were shocking to say the least. You don’t want to hear them.

We done it in four hours in one day. In four hours we recorded four songs, so you can imagine. It
was kind of live recordings but with a wee bit of editing but you can imagine the quality. It was
enough to get us our first few gigs in Edinburgh and stuff and give us that wee start.

ND: What’s your favourite track off the EP and why?

S: Speaking for myself it would have to be Michael It Was Just an Illusion. Purely because I like the
tempo of it and it’s one I really enjoy playing on stage and I really get involved with. Also it’s one of
the songs I did a lot of the writing for so it’s got that wee bit of closeness to me. The end section
when we scream as well is really fun on stage.

ND: How does the song writing go with the band? Is it a solo effort or more of a group contribution?

S: It’s a group effort; we’ve not got a set structure for it. If someone’s got an idea then w try and run
with that and see what comes with it. If anyone’s got set ideas for how the song goes, they can tell
each other what they’re wanting from them and that’s how it goes. It’s always a band effort. Lyrics
are decided between me and Sam because obviously we need to sing the parts but we always run
them past the rest of the band as well because they’re representing the rest of the band. Usually
song titles are decided as a band together, that’s why some of the song titles seem close to the
songs and others are just like… Michael It Was Just an Illusion was decided five minutes before we
went on stage. We were playing at Classic Grand (Glasgow) and we said well we kinda need a name
for this song. Matt and Sam had just been watching Arrested Development for days on end and it
was Gob impressions all day long, “Illusions Michael!” so it came from there.

ND: Have there been any memorable experiences in gigging or recording the EP?

S: We also did a tour off the back of the release. We did Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee.
Sleeping in the van during that was an experience, eight of us in a transit. That was quite an
experience; the whole tour was an experience. Your first tour, there’s just nothing like it. The best
part of the tour, not even the gigs, was us in the pool in Dundee and me nearly breaking my neck in
it. There was a chute about three foot up from the water and I was getting a wee bit too fancy
coming out the pipe, face planted and the rest of my body just went over and almost crippled
myself. I had to just like swim out of the pool like I was fine because my pride was hurt and I couldn’t
show I was physically hurt.

ND: What’s the strangest thing a fan has ever said or done to you, or anyone in the band?

S: I don’t know, I’m still trying to get my head round people asking me for photos after gigs and stuff.
It’s strange.

ND: Who has been your favourite band to play with?

S: There’s been quite a few, we’ve been quite lucky. Obviously a lot of our gigging has still been in
Edinburgh, we’re still waiting to make that step out but we’ve played with a lot of my favourite
bands in Edinburgh. We played with Young Guns, they were a really good band and it was a really
good gig in a really wee venue. That was really good; we played with Yashin as well, we’ve played
with Yashin a few times. We played with them one time and the lead guy, Mike, had just left Yashin
and the lead guys from Deaf Havana that did the vocals. That was kinda cool to see, it was two bands
merging into one, it was quite a cool experience. But probably the biggest one for me has to be
playing with Senses Fail because that’s one of the bands I’ve listened to for years and they’ve
influenced where I am just now, the type of music I listen to and the type of music I’m making. That
was a really big one for me and just the fact that we’re sitting backstage with them like normal guys.
Buddy asked me if I wanted a cigarette, I said “no I didn’t smoke”, but I really wish I did right now. I never thought I’d be as fanboy as I was right then but yeah, that was really cool; they were a band I
never thought I’d get to play with and the chance came up, it was unbelievable.

ND: If you could play with any band who would it be?

S: Ooh, any band… I could probably give you the answers for around the band too. Sam would be
Pearl Jam. Stewart would be Blink 182. Stevie would be A Day To Remember. Matt would either be,
probably Jimmy Eat World or, he’s got a really big fixation right now with The Dangerous Summer.
For me, it’s probably the hardest one… I don’t know whether to go big or… I’d probably say either
The Blackout or Paramore, just because Paramore would probably be the chance of a lifetime.

ND: What’s been your favourite venue to play?

S: I don’t know about picking one out, we played Classic Grand in Glasgow; that’s a really cool venue.
It’s deceptively big, the stage is deceptively big. When you look at it, it doesn’t look like that big a
stage but when you’re on it, it’s huge. We headlined at Cab Vol (The Cabaret Voltaire) as well, packed
the place out which was really good. Probably my favourite though would be Studio24, because we
played there quite a few times and the sound tech seems to get our music. The sound, clarity in
there is always top notch and it has perfect proportions for fitting our band. I’ve saw so many
brilliant gigs there as well, I’ve seen You Me At Six, Twin Atlantic and Fightstar and stuff there and
when we first came to play there that was when it first felt like we could do something here.

ND: So if you could play any venue or festival what would it be? The one that would make you think,
“We’ve made it”.

S: Festivals, the problem is you want to play as many festivals as possible; ones that suit our music. I
would love to play Download and I would love to play Leeds and Reading.  It has always been a dream of mine to play on the Vans Warped Tour though so I’d have to say that.

ND: Are there any bands or artists that you feel influence your performing and writing as a band?

S: We all kind of draw on separate influences. I’m a lot more inspired, more recently anyway (I’ll
basically listen to anything), I’m more inspired by A Day To Remember, The Blackout, Deaf Havana. I
quite like the singer/screamer kind of thing. I’ve been listening to a lot of heavier stuff recently as
well, like Architects and stuff like that. Whereas Stewart will listen to You Me At Six, the Welsh
Attack!Attack!, Paramore and Twin Atlantic; Stewart has really been influenced by Twin Atlantic. I’d
say within the band we can take influences from everywhere; Kerrang genre type things. Stevie is
into heavier stuff; you can even tell by some of his drum parts, his double bass is phenomenal. Sam
is a lot more classic with it. Sam always listens to Pearl Jam and stuff but his main one would
probably be Jeff Buckley, especially with him doing the singer/songwriter stuff. Earlier on he used to
be inspired by Damien Rice, a lot more indie than rock. Matt was massively inspired by Kings Of Leon
for quite a while but his main inspiration now is Jimmy Eat World and Paramore.

ND: So what’s in the future for Your First Mistake?

S: We are, at the moment, in the process of booking recording time for our next EP. I can’t drop any
names of who we’re speaking to in case they get disgruntled, but it looks like we’re going to be
working with some big names, people who have worked with various big artists –bands that we
really like and really influence us so it should be a brilliant thing for us to do. Also we’re also
recording a video for the first single of the EP, which we’ve already got Okayed for getting on music
channels and stuff.

We are also going to be embarking on our first ever UK tour in March which will be a very daunting and scary experience but one we will never forget. 2011 is going to be a busy year for Your First Mistake.

There you have it, some insight into what looks to be the next big Scottish band. I had a lot of fun wandering around the many venues of Edinburgh trying to find a half decent place to have a conversation, if anyone else finds themselves in that situation just do what we did. If all else fails, just go to the park.

Your First Mistake | Last.FM

Interview :: Jason Black (Hot Water Music)

Jason Black – a man of very few words.

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

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

Jason Black: Good, well.

IC: Is the tour going good so far?

JB: Yeah!

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

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

IC: Is there anything happening with the Draft?

JB: No.

IC: So that’s all done and dusted?

JB: Yeah.

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

JB: Cool.

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

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

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

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

IC: Oh! Do you play is Senses Fail?

JB: Yeah!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JB: Yeah for sure.

IC: Is there any material so far?

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

IC: So there’s nothing being played tonight?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JB: Yeah.

AB: Thought so.

IC: Has George officially left?

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

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

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

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

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

IC: Is he better than George on drums?

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

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

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

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

JB: It’s cool!

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

JB: Yeah, that’s a first I think!

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

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

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

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

IC: Who does the artwork for Hot Water Music?

JB: Our friend Scott Sinclairs done all of them.

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

JB: Yeah, it’s the same guy though.

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

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

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

JB: Okay!

IC: We ask everyone.

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

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

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

IC: Really?!

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

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

IC: This is mutiny!

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

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

All: *Laughs*

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

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

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

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

IC: Well thank you very much!

JB: Yeah yeah! No problem!

Interview :: 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.

Doll & The Kicks Interview Coming Up

Hey guys, I just thought I’d let you know that myself and Ian will be interviewing, Brighton-based, indie-pop foursome, Doll & The Kicks this coming Wednesday. If anyone has any questions post them in the comments below.

The guys supported Morrissey on his last two tours and have gained quite the fan base. I urge everyone to try and see them live this year as that’s when they’re at their best. Be sure to check them out, they’re coming to a town near you very soon.

:: Tour Dates ::

8/2 – Boileroom, Guildford

10/2 – Ruby Lounge, Manchester

11/2 – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham

12/2 – Korova, Liverpool

14/2 – Barfly, Cardiff

18/2 – Mad Hatters, Inverness

19/2 – Woodlands Centre, Stornoway

20/2 – The Arch Inn, Ullapool

21/2 – The Tunnels, Aberdeen

24/2 – The Doghouse, Dundee

25/2 – Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh

26/2 – Greenside Hotel, Fife

27/2 – The Classic Grand, Glasgow

2/3 – The Dutchess, York

3/3 – The Cellars, Portsmouth

4/3 – Camden Barfly, London

6/3 – Audio, Brighton

For more info and extra tour date’s check out the band’s MySpace page. You can buy their, self titled, debut album here.

– Anthony

Interview & Promo :: Two Spot Gobi

Put your hands in the air! Like you just don’t care! Now never do that again. Instead…welcome yourself in to the world of the Two Spot ::

It was little over three years ago that singer songwriter James Robinson and cellist Rob Lewis bumped heads with guitarist Dino Randawa, a funk-wristed drummer by the name of Ben Matthews and trumpeter Matt Ellis to form the roots of Two Spot Gobi. Fast forward to 2009, and with the addition of bassist Matt Harris, their ‘Melodious Star’ EP (and a whole lot of love), the ‘Two Spot’ have started injecting ears and turning heads with their debut album ‘Everywhere You Should Have Been’.

Not only did it see them float across the U.S with Jason Mraz- and play at the first ever Leeza Gibbons Oscars aftershow party in LA- but it’s allowed them to return to the West coast once again to record their much awaited second album, due for release in the better half of this fine year. I caught up with a few of the guys a for a chin-wag before they hopped on stage at Shoreditch’s Cargo to do what they do best…with a little help from their friend Bushwalla.

Nick Pryke: Well, first of all, congratulations on your continued success as Two Spot; how does it feel to be back in the U.K after basking in the Californian sunshine and recording the new album?

James Robinson: Yeah, we didn’t feel that great about it! We obviously knew we were coming back to some shit weather, but actually September turned out to be alright. Having some fun, getting on with the new album, and getting back into the gigs and stuff… and loving it. Living it, loving it, bringing some new songs into the set, re-arranging some old ones and just trying to have fun with it all.

NP: The U.S seems to have understood your sound a lot quicker than the UK have. Not that I’m suggesting a lack of love here, but why do you think that is?

JR: Well the thing is with the UK is that what’s hip in London at the time is hip everywhere because London is the natural epicenter for the music scene in this country. So in terms of that, we don’t really fit in into the London scene too well, so we do love going over to California because obviously the vibe over there is very open; people are very open minded to what music they’ll listen to. A lot of people appreciate turning up and seeing musicians who can really play and get involved. Whereas, often in this country, I think a lot of it is based around the wrong principles of image and everything connected with that.

NP: Yeah, definite agreement there. Who you are impressing seems to be given too much credibility this side of the pond. That said, one who you have managed to impress rather a lot over the past eighteen months or so is Monsieur Jason Mraz, who describes the Two Spot as “…being able to perform their music swimmingly”. What do you have to say to that, eh?

JR: Haha! Ye it was because we did a gig in a pool naked for a..lot… of people!

NP: Really?

JR: No, we didn’t unfortunately! But that is very nice of Mr. Mraz to say so, and we really appreciate him letting us use his studio all summer, and giving up his house and his car. And his cats. And his girlfriend *pause for a cheeky eyebrow*. And his avocados. We ate all of his avocados from his avocado farm.

NP: That’s a lot of avocados. And I don’t believe you.

JR: OK, maybe we didn’t eat all of them, but we were hunter gathering…mostly gathering, so we made a strong dent.

NP: So has the avocado farm helped you out a lot with the new album? California is enough inspiration as it is; being at Mraz’s casa of tranquility must have served you well, no?

JR: Yeah man. We went out with about half of the album written, about 5 or 6 tracks, and then with the rest of it we thought, well, there are things that are half finished, a couple of old number that we thought- ok, we need to jump on them and get them all up to scratch to stick on the new album. Then when we got out there, we started working with a guy called Niko Bolas who’s worked with Sting, Neil Young and all sorts of people, and then, you know, he got involved and got us bantering. The way he worked was to turn up at the beginning, leave us alone for a bit, we’d get some tracks down, then come back later in the day to hear what we’d put down. He really found in us the essence of what we’re all about. We were all recording in one big room, in a live situation, so obviously when you open up those doors its full of natural beauty all around that cant help but inspire.

NP: So did being in that different environment help your writing?

JR: Yeah, it really helped.

Matt Ellis: Completely. The fact that we were privileged to record where we did, with no time constraints, allowed the vibe to happen, as opposed to having to force something that would inevitably destroy that vibe.

NP: So you think that when the new album comes out, that inspiration will be noticed?

JR:  Yeah, without a doubt. You can hear the sun setting, the shoreline is in there somewhere; it sounds cheesy but it’s a really positive sound.

NP: Compared to ‘Everywhere you should have been’?

JR: No, not necessarily. We’re all very proud of that album, but with the new one we’re all much more together. Since we’ve got Matt (Harris) on board we’ve gelled both musically and as a band. California has definitely helped the cause, of course.

NP: And it certainly shows. Since hearing your first EP back in 2004, your sound has matured at lightening pace, but so too have your lyrics. How do you guys work lyrically? Is there a go-to man, or do you write collectively?

JR: The lyrics often come from myself and Rob, but I’ve had plenty of input from these guys with songs on the new album; the Two Spot ethos reigns true that anyone is always welcome to contribute. What we usually do is have a bare-boned structure of lyrics and chords, take it over to rehearsal and let everyone add what they’ve got. More often than not, you can tell whether something is going to work or not pretty quickly.

NP: So is it more of an add lyrics to a work in progress scenario, vice versa? An amalgamation of the two perhaps?

JR: Yeah, it’s most certainly an amalgamation of everything. What I tend to write songs about are usually based on personal experiences, and so if I find that there’s something particular to say then perhaps the melody might find the lyrics afterwards. But to be honest it’s quite random and anything that fits, goes.

ME: If I was trying to do it, I’d probably try to write a poem then add a melody to it, but Robbo seems to have that ability to think of the two collectively.

NP: Spot on. I would no doubt go about it the same way- think of lyrics and try and squeeze instruments around it- that I’m certain wouldn’t get me very far. But bar the process, how important are the lyrical storylines to your songs?

JR: The content is so integral to a good song. If you don’t write something that is really honest to yourself or how you feel about something, you and everybody around you will know that you’re faking it. And that’s only because lyrics are so powerful; people will connect to them and will want to take their own interpretations away from that. I’m sure my favourite songs mean something completely different to me than from the artists who wrote them, but that’s the genius of it all.

NP: Seeing as we’re on the subject of favourite songs- you guys must have had smiles slapped on your faces when Air Australia decided to add ‘Sunshine Lady’ to their music menu? It says a lot about the feel of the song.

ME: You know what, I forgot that had even happened. That’s one of the most pleasantly strange and weird things that has happened to the Two Spot. It all came from some guy we met in America- who turned out to be a pretty ‘original’ thinker to say the least. He worked with us for a few months and grabbed us some weird deals, but Air Australia seemed to be one of the good weir things. That’s fine- it’s the bad weird that you have to look out for.

JR: Although, I don’t know how many people will actually listen to it. *Putting on an Aussie accent* “Ah! Two Spot Gobi. Jesus Christ…who the fuck are they?!”

NP: Ok. But for those who do listen- question time; ‘Let’s Get Lost’- the original, or featuring Mraz?

JR: Difficult one…tut, tut! Well the thing about that night was that it was really cool for us because it was the first time we’d played with him, so having him featuring on the track was definitely wicked, and the whole crowd went mental as he stepped out- you cant help but latch onto that buzz. So I’m not sure, we all really enjoyed that moment, but then again I love that first recording because we didn’t really know what we were doing at the time, and that was the one song we felt really strongly about. Which is why its still in our set list today.

ME: I think that song represents Two Spot Gobi in so many ways, it’s really no surprise that we’ve kept it on our set list for so long.

NP: Moving on to an issue of annoyance if we may- sticking labels and genres onto music seems futile at the best of times, but the Two Spot sound seems to be notoriously difficult to pin down. At the risk of being a pain in the behind, how would you define your sound?

Matt Harris: Its funny you should ask that. The other night I had some friends round, so went to stick some music on my ipod but scrolled down too far on the genres list, and right next to ‘unknown’ was another genre called ‘unclassifiable’. I was thinking that’s a bit odd as there was only one album. Low and behold, give it a little click and it’s Two Spot Gobi. I was going, what does that mean…maybe that we’re post-genre somehow.

ME: Yeah, we’ve had our share of those in the past: ‘post pop’, ‘organic- soul’, ‘alternative pop’…and now you’ve done it with ‘post-genre’. Nice.

NP: And the list goes on and on! To smack an analogy in here, its almost as if you’ve bumped through this whole arena of music, flirted with some jazz, pop, ska etc. on the way, then walked out the other side thinking where do you even begin trying to explain your sound?

JR: That’s an imaginative view but, yeah, it is really difficult to explain our sound to other people. I end up trying to liken us to other bands until I get a confused “oh yeah” and end up going off on a tangent of other bands. Rhianna. Yeah. Scouting for Girls. Definitely. We’re just like Scouting for Girls!

MH: Sometimes I tell people we’re hardcore Belgium trance, just to see the reaction.

JR: I usually liken us to the Dave Matthews Band, The Police. Actually, we all agree on very few bands, so The Police is one we can stick on in the tour bus without everyone retreating back into their own stuff.

ME: We all like a bit of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers; you’ve got to love a bit of the Chilli’s!

NP: Indeed you do. I saw them a while back and admittedly they looked pretty tired, but squeezed what they could. Quick salute please! Anyway, what would you want a debut audience at a Two Spot gig to leave thinking, if anything, or is it just a case of come and don’t think, eh?

JR: Basically we’d just hope people feel part of what’s gone on, and have enjoyed the songs that they know- and go home feeling part of the Two Spot connective. Then that’s cool man, ‘cause we love it. I mean, being in a creative situation with five other individuals is intense, but essentially what we’re doing it for is that feeling of playing live to people who want to come and see our stuff. And that’s all we want to do.

MH: If they don’t know us as a band before they come down, I want them to leave thinking “yeah, I want to know more”, and going to check us out because they’ve maybe never seen a band like ours, with a cello or a trumpet or whatever.

NP: Do you think that has helped you hit such a wide demographic of fans in such a short period of time- sparking inquisitive minds with this eclectic mix of instruments?

JR: Ever since the band formed, Rob and I have had this idea of the music appealing to as many people as possible. If you stick on a Two Spot Gobi album, I reckon some of its not for some people, but it’ll be hard for those who listen to it to dislike anything, I think. The songs are so vast and different that there’s something for everyone. Different genres, different influences, the sound is really warming…its just good time music really. I thought it might appeal to enough people, I hope so anyway.

NP: It certainly conjures that weirdly worldly sound- and ‘Otherside of the World’ is testament to that. The intro is exceptional- who was the culprit behind that one?

JR: Rob! Actually, a lot of that song is Rob’s doing because he came up with that cello riff. Then with the chorus, we just sat down and tried to figure out the melody. But the thing is, I like knowing what Rob was thinking when he comes out with these riffs and lyrics and things, so the fact that he was on this whole thought process of when he was traveling and thinking about the ‘usual’ that really got us focused on taking that song on board that little bit more in order to nail the intro.

Rob Lewis: I teach the cello, so what often happens is I end up getting into the habit of bringing out my phone in the middle of a lesson to record some little riff that has just popped out so I could take it home and sort it out properly. That’s really how a lot of the new stuff has come about, especially in songs like ‘Try Again’. It just seems that is how it works, I don’t tend to sit down and think about it too much.

NP: Well thank you for having the foresight to press record- who would have thought the phone would get recognition from this! On potentially the most random change of pace known to man- for ten finishing points- if Two Spot was a superhero, would it have gills, breathe fire or fly?

JR: It would have to be flying man!

MH: Yeah, flying would be the one, would have to be.

ME: Gills, you’re all wrong. Think about it.

NP: I have to agree with Matt on this one, gills win- just think about the insane places you could explore. And on that note, I think I should stop bothering you all and say a hearty thank you for taking time out of your sound check to have a natter with me. God speed Two Spot Gobi.

Check the Two Spot sights and sounds out at Download album and songs from iTunes

Interview :: Henry Rollins

Singer, activist and spoken word artist Henry Rollins is coming to a town near you very soon. He took time out of his day to answer our questions.

Henry Rollins is off on his travels once again. The former Black Flag frontman is doing a run of spoken word shows across the UK and although we couldn’t sit down face to face with him, he was more than happy to answer the questions via the power of the internet. We talk to him about the BNP, entertaining the troops and, of course, Black Flag.

Anthony Barlow: You once said that, and forgive me if I misunderstood, you saw the conducting of interviews as selling out. Do you still feel the same way today?

Henry Rollins: No. At that point, I probably thought it was better to do than to talk about doing. I don’t see any problem in elaborating on something at this point.

AB: Your work is, quite often, tinged with humor. This has lead some to compare it to that of stand-up comedians. How do you feel about that?

HR: Sometimes life is funny and I try to deal with it. I don’t know how much of a comedian I am as I think that’s a real skill and that I don’t posess it. I see some things humorously though, it’s true. Rendering it as such is not easy for me though.

Ian Crichley: Greg Ginn is quoted as saying about you: “We couldn’t do songs with a sense of humor anymore; he got into the serious way-out poet thing”. Thinking about the previous
observation, how do you feel about that? do you feel you’ve changed as a person?

HR: Greg Ginn should have fired me if he didn’t like what I was doing, it was his band. I can’t evaluate myself from something Greg Ginn said about me.

AB: Of course, you put across serious messages too. From experience, how well have they been received by those who come to see you?

HR: They’re still showing up after all these years so I guess something’s registering.

AB: You started doing these shows before the break up of Black Flag. What made you want to do that?

HR: It was a gig offered me by a local promoter. I got ten bucks to talk for ten minutes and ended up liking it and went further into it. I liked being onstage and not being tied to a song all the time.

AB: US politics is often a subject in your shows, will you be changing that to suit UK audiences? Will you include anything on UK politics?

HR: I tend to lay off the US political stuff outside of America unless it’s a global issue. I don’t know much about British politics and wouldn’t want to insult an audience by making them think I did.

IC: You’re a respected human rights campaigner, how do you feel about the policies employed by the British National Party?

HR: I think it’s the same old nationalist bullshit. The foreigners are taking our jobs, white power and all that. It’s sad that it still draws and audience.

AB: You’ve done, to my knowledge, four USO tours now. Have those experiences changed you as a person? Is this why you got involved with the IAVA? – I should’ve really done my research here.

Seven. I saw a lot on those tours as well as the many visits I made to the military hospitals. I saw a lot destruction in Afghanistan and Iraq and a lot of mutilated young people in the hospitals. Definitely made me want to work with IAVA.

IC: Is ‘the buzz’ different to performing in a band? Is it better or worse?

HR: Neither. It’s just different. The talking shows are far more difficult.

AB: Have you got any more music-based projects coming up in the future?

HR: Nothing planned.

IC: You and Ian MacKaye are good friends, but to my knowledge you haven’t done any musical projects with him (aside from him engineering stuff for Rollins Band). Is there any reason for this?

HR: To my knowledge, we have never really discussed it.

AB: What do you think of the state of the music industry at the moment?

HR: I think the major lables are getting what they deserve for all their greed.

IC: You seem to be an ‘old school’ guy, but, do you own an iPod, or are you still rocking the cassette player?

HR: I have seven iPods I think. There might be another one around somewhere. They are very handy if you travel a lot. I have several cassette decks for different uses.

IC: Millions of bands have been inspired by Black Flag, out of all the ones you’ve heard, who are your favourite?

HR: There are perhaps a few bands that were inspired by Black Flag but I think it’s more due to Greg Ginn’s excellent song writing than anything else. I don’t know of any one band that fits that particular bill. You would hope that a band wouldn’t want to sound like anyone else.

AB: Are there any bands today you think represent what Black Flag did/does?

HR: I think any band that’s going out every night and knocking themselves out getting the music across is doing what we did because that’s all we did.

AB: Have you heard Dirty Projector’s album Rise Above? If so, what do you think about it? (question comes courtesy of of Robert Ashley)

HR: I have never heard it.

AB: Have you anything to say to those that try and falsely replicate what you guys did?

HR: What did we do? All we did was hit it hard every night. That’s happening all over the world all the time. The thing that made the band unique was Greg Ginn and his songs. Past that, the rest of us were just slamming ourselves against it every night.

IC: Speaking of replicating the band, have you seen the film Lords of Dogtown? If so, do you think Rise Against did a good job at portraying Black Flag?

HR: The scene was at least twenty seconds long, I don’t remember.

IC: Finally, do you feel today Black Flag are more of an inspiration ideologically or musically?

HR: I have no idea. I do know that the band broke up twenty four years ago.

As per usual, we took questions from the good people of the internet and here’s what they had to ask.

How do you think you’ve managed to age gracefully, whilst managing to avoid the “sellout” label that haunts many musicians (question comes courtesy of Arthur Gies)

HR: I do what I want. I think I have a pretty good sense of right and wrong.

Are you aware of the British TV show ‘Peep Show’? If so, what do you think of it? (question comes courtesy of John Berna, tour manager extraordinaire)

HR: Don’t know it.

Thanks a lot to Henry for taking time out to answer these questions. He is currently touring the UK and you can buy tickets here. A lot of his spoken word albums are available on iTunes. For anything else Rollins related visit –

Interview: Nick Cook

Moon & Back Music is pleased to announce an interview with soulful acoustic artist Nick Cook

Nick Cook ©

Nick Cook ©

So far, Nick has had two full releases: ‘uncooked’ in 2006 and ‘mistaken’ in 2008. Playing with just an acoustic guitar and with occasional piano, his songs are soulful, personal and beautiful. ip info Nick is currently working on a new record, which we shall of course be enquriring about, and thus hopefully a tour. We have yet to see this fellow live, but we are confident that it would be a memorable show.

Gig Review: Hafdis Huld

photographed by Johan Eckerström; from

photographed by Johan Eckerström; from

Performing to scarcely more than 25 people can hardly be the biggest boost to your confidence; however, a consistently professional Hafdis Huld wasn’t daunted as her almost brash confidence infiltrated the audience to even get a few tapping their feet and waving their arms slightly.

For starters though, it’s not very often you’re impressed by a main support slot, but everybody has to start somewhere I suppose. To say the least “Tim And Sam’s Tim And The Sam Band With Tim And Sam” stood out; so much so, we grabbed front-man Tim McIver for an interview afterwards and will be combining this with a full live review of their own later on. Make sure you check back later for that. So, back to that minx of Iceland, Hafdis Huld.

Giggling about the Bar Academy and boisterously exhibiting an almost child-like innocent persona, you somehow know straight away that there’s more behind this charming lady than meets the eye. Confidently strutting on stage with a keyboardist, acoustic guitarist and a distinct lack of percussion, she opened with Dirty Paper Cup’s opener Ski Jumper. To say this was starting to feel like an intimate show is a bit of an understatement. After reeling through a few classics off Dirty Paper Cup and a couple of songs off the up-and-coming album, (a particularly memorable one about overly-controlling people as robots) she played charming new single Könguló, written about French urban-climber Alain Robert aka Human Spider (check out our interview with Hafdis as to the reasons behind writing this song). This song promises some decent material off the coming album, which we are expecting to be a much fuller and funky sounding record.

Finishing with a cover of Lou Reed’s Who Loves the Sun, an encore genuinely didn’t seem to be going to happen. But much banter and debate with the crowd and they were breaking into Fucked Up Mind – not the most encore-friendly song, but beautifully performed by Hafdis.

Overall, it has been three years since Dirty Paper Cup in 2006 and new single Könguló promises a different direction for Hafdis Huld. We know she is a very accomplished, dynamic and adaptable musician (check out her collaboration with Tricky) so we are expecting alot from her new album. At the end of the day, we are not so much dwelling upon her performance last night, but anticipating her new record.

You can catch Hafdis Huld at a few more venues on her tour; for more information and records, go to

Interview: Hafidis Huld

Hafdis Huld

Hafdis Huld takes time out to chat to Moon & Back Music about Iceland’s music scene, her up-coming-album, collaborating with Tricky and Grandpa Harald’s car aka the tour bus.

To say we were slightly nervous to be interviewing somebody described by Phil Jupitus as ‘my craziest guest ever‘ would be an understatement; displaying an innocence as sweet as her records and a heartwarming sincerity for everything, we thought we fared quite well…

M&BM: Forgive my pronunciation, Könguló is your new single and is about French climber Alain Robert, aka the human spider. What on earth made you write a song about him?

HH: Because, i was um, chilling at home, with a cup of tea…*banter over Iceland not doing good cups of tea!*….and i was watching TV, and i saw a documentary about Alain Robert and he looks bonkers, [chuckles] takes one to know one! I thought this man is brilliant he deserves a song you know? he was climbing buildings, in his trainers and he’s afraid of heights and he’s on like the 86th floor and he knocks on this guy’s window and says “can i borrow your coffee i’m really cold?” I just thought this man is a legend. …. It was just brilliant and when it all came about for him he got some kind of deal to talk about hair products on chat shows!

Its just like when things are so wonderfully random you cannot make them up, it was beautiful so i wrote him a song and i sent him the song and i said “My name is Hafdis, I am from Iceland i wrote a song about you”. And I got a reply from him and he’d signed it with ‘Spidey’ so it was actually from himself. So I was already having fantasies about my next gig in Paris with Mr Spidey on a little rope above going “la la la la laaaa” and it would be hot!

But, just before we filmed the video Spidey got arrested in Australia….He can’t not like it i’m writing about him being the hero you know and i wrote it in that old fashioned kind of like Spiderman, Superman TV shows it’s written in that style so you know, i’m writing him as the hero here!

Have you seen the video!?

*pulls out iPhone to show video*

Have you seen the Tomoko video?

M&BM: yeah of course!

HH: My friend Alfie [the blonde one in the video] has had actual marriage proposals from men in Sweden, in Germany, in England come through to the management office saying “I want to marry that girl”. And somebody said they want to marry her, take her to Ikea and have 2.4 kids with her…that was somebody in Sweden.

M&BM: The album was recorded in Yorkshire, why there?!

HH: Because I wanted to do it in a really old water tank in Iceland but it was too expensive to get all the strange instruments I wanted to take with me and all the legendary people i wanted to work with to come all the way to Iceland so we went to Yorkshire for a week January it was freezing and i took my Dad with me to cook us fish and potatoes to give it an Icelandic feel you know?

M&BM: No sheep’s head?

HH: No i don’t like it; it stares up at you…

M&BM: Considering the size of Iceland, why is there just such a good music scene at the moment?

HH: I don’t know….4 hours of daylight in the winter, nothing better to do springs to mind? Loads of darkness, Icelanders drink alot of hot chocolate you know by candlelight. Make out and make music. And with 20 hours of darkness you can have time to do all three, believe me.

M&BM: It’s a remote country, do you try and reflect this in your music?

HH: yes, yes i think so. With Dirty Paper Cup (2006) I very much went for less is more. I’d been in dance bands which was just all “weeeee!” and I wanted to, tell my stories in peace on my first album. And now i’ve livened up a little bit on the second album.

M&BM: So you’ve got some weird and wonderful instruments coming up on it?

HH: Yeeeeeah some little noise makers making their way back. As you said Kongulo is much fuller than Dirty Paper Cup.

M&BM: You’ve been in the industry since you were 15, what sort of changes have you seen?

HH: Um, there were much bigger labels, and much more money. Whereas now, it’s much more do it yourself atmosphere now. Back then you’d never have talked to your fans yourself through like myspace and facebook and twitter and it’s become a bit more personal because you’re doing it yourself they can find out what you had for breakfast this morning if they’re really interested.

M&BM: What did you have for breakfast this morning then, I didn’t have time to check your Twitter!

HH: [sheepish] um, chocolate biscuits….

M&BM: Your fellow GusGus member Emiliana Torrini is playing here next month, do you keep in contact with her?

HH: No no we don’t. Obviously I follow her music still now, but she moved abroad here full time unfortunately.

M&BM: Would you consider doing anything with her in the future?

HH: Of course I’d consider it. You know I’d consider working with any good musician.

M&BM: You worked with Tricky not long ago, how was that?

HH: He wanted to find…somebody who sounded like Jesus. That’s what he said to me. He said this song was about Jesus and he wanted to find somebody who sounded as innocent as Jesus and he was watching TV and Tomoko came on and he said “that one sounds as innocent as Jesus” so he called me and i met him he tried on my pink mittens we sand the song and I left.

M&BM: What’s your favourite venue to play, you’re obviously a very personal person so do you prefer smaller, intimate venues or larger, more theatrical ones?

HH: In Iceland we play these little like opera houses, and I like that because it seems to suit what we do. So that means the people are comfortable to sit down and listen to the music and stories so that’s nice. But, it does mean it depends on purely on the audience, just how reactive and the atmosphere that they give them. Usually it’s like the medium-sized ones which are the ones that have a bit of magic about them so they seem to suit us most.

M&BM: You’re obviously a very good story-teller, where does that aspect of your music come from?

HH: Um, I suppose listening to alot Icelandic folk music. And it sounds like an Icelandic cliche but that is what people do you know read and tell stories and listen to each other so of course that’s going to influence you whether you like it or not. I always found it quite magical and even though i’m not writing “I’m a little Elf with a Viking helmet” I think that’s just the whole story telling and allowing yourself to have that bit of imagination.

M&BM: I imagine you’ve got a big sexy tour bus?

HH: …no. When we’re driving between gigs we’re in Grandpa Harald’s car…It’s black and it fits us all in. It’s blinging. My brother gave me like a naked woman to put on the front of it, but Grandpa Harald would not like that; you cannot mess with things like that it’s Grandpa Harald’s car aka the tour bus.

M&BM: With GusGus, it was very electro dancy type stuff, was it a conscious effort to move away from that or did it just happen?

HH: Um, I took a break, i did some acting and I decided to go and study music so that I would start with a clean slate and decided not to do something that every body expected me to do because that wouldn’t make me happy so i took the time out and I made the music that I wanted to make.

M&BM: So finally, what kind of bands are you listening to at the moment?

HH: Um I’ve just got the new Sia album, aaaaand, um, Kings of Leon at the moment and just some good old ones.

M&BM: And anything you’d like to say to anybody who hears this?

HH: …..Have a nice day!