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 :: The Menzingers

“How do you go on tour with a band you stole a whole record from?”

Earlier this month we caught up with Tom May and Greg Barnett from The Menzingers. This was the first UK tour for Philidelphia-based four piece and they seemed to be enjoying themselves quite a bit. We chatted to them, in the bitter cold, outside Manchester’s Tiger Lounge about their new album, touring with Leagues Apart, working with Brendan Kelly and we retire an old favorite.


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

Greg Barnett: Pretty ace man.

Tom May: Everything’s going great, yeah. It’s our first time over here, so we’re really excited.

AB: I was just going to ask how the tour was going so…

TM: It’s been great so far. All the shows have been awesome. Everyone that we’ve met has been great. It’s been very drunken *laughs*

GB: Yeah, it has been very drunken. Wales was really drunk. Southampton was a lot of fun. We’ve had a lot of fun everywhere. The first night was Kingston, that was a real treat. We came over and there was a lot of people there and Leagues Apart are great dudes so it’s really cool.

Ian Crichley: Where did you play in Kingston?

TM: We played the Fighting Cocks. They sold it out. It was a blast.

IC: Manchester’s a ‘home show’ for Leagues Apart, has this date been hyped up?

GB: Oh yeah, they’ve been hyping it up the whole ride. They’re like ‘I can’t wait until you guys get to Manchester. It’s gonna be so much fun. All of our friends are gonna be there.

AB: And now us two have turned up and dragged you outside.

TM: That’s what’s really funny too. You never really get good shows on a Monday night and we’ve been looking forward to this one for a while now.

AB: It’s going to be good. Lots of other cool UK bands playing tonight.

TM: Yeah, it’s a great bill.

IC: It’s been a pretty big year for you guys hasn’t it? You’ve toured with Anti-Flag, Against Me!, The Gaslight Anthem and you’re heading out with The Flatliners and Fake Problems in December. What’s that been like? And are you looking forward to Canada?

TM: Oh yeah, it’s gonna be cold.

GB: That’ll be our fourth time there this year and every time we go there we have a blast. Especially in French Canada, I love it.

AB: You played with Fake Problems on the Gaslight tour as well. Were you introduced to the ‘Mr. Yucky’?

IC: Do you know about ‘Mr. Yucky’?

TM: I don’t think so.

IC: It’s where you lick your hand and put it on the other person’s mouth?

TM: Oh, I heard about that. They never did anything like that on the though.

GB: It’s lucky they didn’t do anything like that

TM: Very lucky

GB: I thought you were talking about those little green stickers they used to put on poison that said “Mr. Yucky”

TM: Oh yeah

IC: You released your new album in April, have you had a good response?

TM: Yeah. I was looking back on this year in the van earlier today, and it’s been a pretty crazy year. With all the tours and everything. I never thought I’d be standing here right now, In Manchester, about to play a show. It’s been a fun ride.

IC: It’s your second album, do you think you’ve progressed as artists?

GB: I would hope so. I mean, we’re not gonna be like ‘we’ve completely changed and made this concept album’, but I really think we’ve progressed as musicians for sure. And the writing, we took a lot more seriously and we put a lot of work into that album, so we’re excited to see that it’s doing really well. People like it. Our friends like it.

AB: You worked with Brendan Kelly on the track ‘So It Goes’, how was that?

GB: It was hilarious, man. He came in and said ‘I’m just gonna find a harmony for it’ or whatever and he did it whilst wearing a guitar, he was looking upward a little bit and he just nailed it. Like every one. He did a whole bunch of different things.

TM: He was just like ‘Listen, I always sound terrible when I do guest vocals for a band. Just tell me if it’s bad’. But no, I think it turned out great.

AB: Is there anyone else you’d really like to work with in a similar capacity?

TM: Yeah, we’re always down for those kind of things. Absolutely.

GB: Yeah, we gotta get some friends in on this next one. Like Ty from Broadway Calls or something like that.

TM: Yeah, yeah. We’ll definitely get some friends in on it.

AB: The first single has been released and the video for that is mostly tour footage. Was that a budget thing or a way for you to show people what The Menzingers are about?

TM: The way that we went into it, I think that it was the easiest bet and the most honest bet to make a music video. We didn’t really want to do anything that didn’t really represent us as people. We really wanted to portray our personalities though the video. We called up a buddy, he flew in from Florida, and he hopped in the van with us for five days and that’s what he got.

GB: It was all Northeast cities too. Kind of record release shows. It was just a lot of fun.

IC: Do you get a lot of naked guys on stage?

TM: *laughs*

GB: Sometimes you get naked guys

TM: That’s our good buddy Andy from Philly

IC: *laughs* Oh, so you knew him then. It wasn’t just some random naked guy.

GB: He plays in a band called Luther.

IC: On the video you’ve got these blue sunglasses on. Are they from MacDonalds?

GB: *laughs* What? No, there’s tons of those cheap sunglasses in America. People use them for promotional things. They’ll just write something goofy on the side of it…

TM: Yeah, I’m pretty sure Toby from Red Scare gave me those. He went to a basketball game or something and then was like ‘hey, have some sunglasses!’

IC: On the YouTube video, some guy called SuperWhoa97 has commented and said: “One of the dude’s moms is my math teacher”

GB: *laughs* That’d be my mom. My mom’s a math teacher, yeah. It’s funny, she always pimps our band out. Well, she doesn’t pimp our band out… *laughs* Sorry, that was the wrong terminology, but she’s always like ‘you should check out my sons band’ or whatever. Writes it into word problems *laughs* She doesn’t do that, we should write her one though.

TM: Yeah, totally.

GB: ‘If the van breaks down this far from wherever and you only have six beers left”

AB: That’s the obvious problem of course.

IC: Since you guys formed people have compared you to the likes of Against Me! How do you feel about that?

TM: Yeah, sure. I think it’s fair.

IC: I’ve got a quote here as well: “How do you go on tour with a band you stole a whole record from?”

TM & GB: *laughs*

TM: Yeah, that’s definitely my favorite quote I’ve heard about our band. I mean, obviously, they’ve been a big influence on our band growing up. It was definitely a privilege to tour with them this year. It was a blast.

GB: That was one of the bands that we all really came together on after hearing all their music, so it was exciting.

AB: So you guys have been on Red Scare two years now. How’s it been working with them?

IC: Toby doesn’t work you too much?

TM: No, he’s the best.We love working with Red Scare. I think Red Scare is the best independent record label in the states and they’ve been awesome to us and we love them to death.

AB: Do you think working with them has given you a lot more freedom than you might have had otherwise?

TM: Oh yeah, for sure. We can do whatever the hell we want.

GB: Not only that, but whatever we want to do, even if Toby disagrees he knows how to do it. He helps us along. He’s great.

AB: It’s a big thing to think about, but would you ever consider moving to a major label?

GB: This is one of those questions that you hear and you have no idea if you would. At this point, with the way the music industry’s going now, I can’t see it happening.

TM: It just doesn’t seem likely really.

GB: Joe Strummer was quoted in Rolling Stone magazine and he said the one regret he had from the 20th Century is that he’d signed to a major label at one point in his life. When Jesus says something, you kinda have to listen. They’re losing so much power now anyway. Nobody’s buying CDs.

IC: Illegal downloading as well

AB: Has that affected you guys?

GB: It’s bigger. Less money, that’s for sure.

TM: Yeah. There’s two ways to look at it. I don’t think our band would be where it is today if people didn’t get the record for free.

GB: Plus, it’s not like we buy records *laughs*

TM: So it’s a trade off right there, I guess.

IC: As long as you give some back, that’s alright.

TM: I just think that there should be more musicians writing albums, because then we could all share *laughs*

GB: Then we could all share and it’d be an even trade. Even pirated software to record music is used. It’s a strange beast.

AB: Finally, and this is the last time we’re doing this because the results are getting handed in…

IC: We’ve been doing this poll for the past year of every band and every person we’ve interviewed and you’ll be the last ones

GB: Are we a swing vote? Is this close?

AB & IC: No

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

GB: Oh shit.

TM: Are we in water? Are we on land?

GB: Are they on the deck of a sinking boat?

TM: Are we Chuck Ragan solo or Chuck Ragan Hot Water?

IC: Chuck Ragan solo

TM: I don’t know if you’ve seen the pictures that show how good of a fisherman he is, so I think he can beat the shark.

GB: He can beat the shark, but not if he’s in the water

TM: True

GB: He’s a small dude right? He’s not a big dude.

TM: But he’s built.

GB: Henry Rollins is like intimidating

TM: Yeah, I’d probably go Henry Rollins

GB: Yeah, but I don’t want him to win

TM: *laughs*

TM: Let’s go shark

GB: Tim Armstrong…No, let’s go shark. Fuck it! No, I’m gonna say Chuck Ragan

TM: I’m gonna say the shark.

AB: Well thanks a lot guys, it’s been fun.

TM: Awesome. Thank you so much.

Going Underground :: Leagues Apart

“What happened to the scene? We lost it in the pages of the NME!”

Ian thought he’d banished me from this domain for good, but he was wrong. With Mr. Critchley in Spain, I’ve stepped in to let you know about another amazing UK punk band. They’re a band I’ve seen many times, and they to never fail to impress. Manchester’s least famous (but most loved) sons, Leagues Apart.


It’s hard to believe that these guys only started playing shows this time last year (almost), but with a year of experience under their collective belts they’ve gone from strength to strength. Their brand of fast paced, grufty punk is just what you need on a night out; there’s no way you won’t want to drink a beer once you’ve listened to these guys play. Jawbreaker, The Lawrence Arms, Dillinger Four and other bands of that ilk have obviously been a big influence on the band’s sound, but it’s far from derivative.

Their debut album To Anywhere was released earlier this year to rave reviews, and rightly so! It’s one of my favorite albums of 2010, that’s for sure. The guys are currently on tour in the UK with The Menzingers and were bound to impress any first timers in Manchester on Monday night. They’ve got two more dates on that tour before The Menzingers ship out, but it definitely won’t be your last chance to see them, that’s for sure:

  • 19th Nov. – The Portland, Cambridge w/The Menzingers
  • 20th Nov. – The Old Blue Last, London w/The Menzingers

Of course, if you’re from Manchester you’re probably quite familiar with these four already. I don’t really know if they need my promotion, because at least one of them seems to be at every gig ever. They must be raking it in! If they’re not playing they’ll be helping form human pyramids, crowd surfing or pinning someone to the ceiling. It’s always a party when these guys are about. If you haven’t managed to catch them this time around, keep a look out. Leagues Apart is a band you don’t want to miss.




Check out their official website
Listen to them on MySpace
Download To Anywhere on iTunes

Going Underground :: Yashin

For this weeks going Underground I decided to do something of a more comical nature. Enjoy!

I’ve decided to write about the band Yashin. A band with a name which is as fucking stupid and crap as their music. This edition has been pretty much lifted from my personal blog, specifically from a post I wrote about the Vans: Slam Dunk Music Night, which took place this past Saturday (23/10/10).

“There’s two rooms, a punk one and a “scene metal” bullshit room. Which would you choose? I chose the shit one. It was fucking hilarious.

A band called Yashin. Total joke. Bunch of skinny jeans wearing, late twenty something arseholes, with more hair products than Tres-Emmé. These beautiful perms that would look perfect on the cover of Vogue. But fuck that! We can have great hair and still be in a tough guy hardcore band. Score!

So this pansy six piece execute their clearly choreographed bullshit while the loyal audience of 14 year old girls finger themselves relentlessly with every fringe flick and low grunty “OH.” I loved it. Better than any “Live at the Apollo” stand up I’ve ever seen.” So if you haven’t had the utter pleasure of hearing, watching and just being part of the incredible musical ineptitude of these fine young gentleman, please do. It will easily relieve any form of depression you may be suffering.

You can listen to them on their MySpace with such hits like ‘Jump The Fuck Up Manchester’ and ‘America Island, Scotland,’ probably. But don’t blame me if you feel like you’ve wasted a small segment of your life that you’ll never get back. Honestly, when will people stop taking a genre called “Screamo” serious? Really? Screamo? What ever floats your boat I guess.

Yashin get 5/5 brews for being that shit.

EP Review :: Well Wisher

If you never thought a “Happy-go lucky” emo record would ever exist. Well it does. This is it.

Well Wisher made their Moon and Back debut in “Going Underground” and now they are back with their long awaited E.P. Four slices of dulcet post-hardcore, with heartfelt lyrics and corny song names. Truly a deadly combination.


This release doesn’t wait around, before the first second elapses on opener ‘Fill Me, Filmy’ the listener is already drawn into the tornado that is Well Wisher. Though probably not intentional, there are a lot of catchy line within this song. Vocal lines like, “I dragged the ocean, under seven leagues of shit,” will surely have a bunch of nerdy comic book reading virgins damaging their vocal chords at future Well Wisher shows.

The intensity decreases momentarily for the most part of second track ‘Pegwarmers’ (what is with these song names?) This track is more reminiscent of early 90’s “emo” which the band clearly draw from heavily for inspiration. The musicality of the band can not be shunned, the guitar riffs are intricate and draw the listener into the darker depths of the sound. As much fun as their is within the band and their music, it is clear they are not just “fucking about,” there is more talent in the art these five guys make then in any other band I have seen in the past few years.

‘Tops Off’ would probably be the single if there was one released. It is the most accessible and ‘poppy track’ on the record, but this is by no means a low point on this four track E.P. Quite the contrary. With a heavy feel of the band Cursive, the third instalment will definitely be a crowd favourite if it is not already. A great sing along track that would easily have been at the forefront of a music scene now unfortunately pushed further underground.

The E.P ends with ‘White Krunk’, a great finale which twists, turns and tickles the cochlea of any who listen. It builds into a mass insanity of beautiful noise and is the perfect end to a bloody good E.P. I was afraid the closing words of the review would be something along the lines of, “it doesn’t quite catch the atmosphere of their live shows,” how wrong I was.

Spot On.

Be sure to check out Well Wisher on MySpace. You can download this EP from their BandCamp.

Going Underground :: Refuse to Lose! (With The Arteries, Bangers & Above Them)

Has it really been 5, 6 or 7 weeks since the last Going Underground? I don’t know, I don’t care and neither should you.

This installment has a bit of a twist as it’s promoting three bands, a gig featuring those three bands and the fucking awesome monthly night this gig is taking place. Intense right? Let’s see how it goes.


Refuse to Lose is a monthly event in Manchester at the Retro Bar, a pub, I’m sure, quite a few are familiar with. If you enjoy good music, good fast hard punk rock music, as I do, then it event is for you. the Anniversary, Lawrence Arms, Against Me! Jawbreaker, Texas is the Reason, the list goes on. In fact, the list never seems to end, with none of the obscure requests I bring to the DJ booth being met with rejection. So if you miss this RTL, there’s always next time.

But don’t miss this one.

It’s this Saturday, 02/10/10, doors are at about 9pm, 21:00 hours soldier! It’s only four pound sterling in and after the bands there’s a party til 3am, will worth 400 pennies.

I’m not entirely sure what order the bands are playing so I’ll just wing it.

Above Them have already been mega vamped within the Going Underground section so go back and read that or check them on their MySpace.

The Arteries are, unfortunately, a southern band, haling from Swansea. I say unfortunately, but it seems to more bands I here from down south, the more I feel like I should live there. To list there influences would be a cliché, repetitious process, so I’ll just say they’re really ace and play some wholesome kick balls punk rock. Check them out.

Bangers are from Falmouth, which is located somewhere in the UK, but I could not tell you were. Google maps it. Another band keeping the groove of 90’s punk alive all the way into the………10’s? Anyway, another is not used in the sense that there are too many bands making this music or that it has gone stale, quite the opposite. There is something very special about Bangers, as there music floods into my ears I imagine Hot Water Music starting out there first tour…….but like, being from the U.K. Fuck it. Here’s their MySpace.

So come down to the show! If you don’t I’ll punch you. All the bands, Refuse to Lose, Retro Bar, everyone involved, everyone who turns up and in fact, everyone on the fucking planet (except Barlow) get’s 5/5 special brews because I love all these bands that fucking much.

Details about the show can be found on Facebook.

The Arteries and the Bangers are releasing a split next month with, the super babe duo of, El Morgan and Kelly Kemp, you can buy that here. Read Barlow’s review of it too.

Above Them’s Album, Blueprint For A Better Time, can be bought here or on iTunes

Gig Review :: Bad Religion – Academy 2, Manchester – 24/08/10

The Only Religion I Can Get Behind

©Emma Stone 2010

It’s hard to review a band that have been around as long as Bad Religion. In their 30 years they’ve influenced countless musicians, released 15 studio albums and helped revive the punk rock genre. It was always going to be special to see these guys play, but I didn’t think it’d turn out to be one of my favorite gigs of 2010. Some might consider them amongst the ‘dads army’ of punk but if this gig showed anything, it’s that they’re far from past it.


With a new album on the horizon, some bands would choose to play their more recent stuff. Not Bad Religion. The setlist was fantastic. It was like being at a greatest hits show. Anything a Bad Religion fan would’ve wanted played was.

Greg Graffin was in fine voice as he blasted his way through songs like ‘Suffer’, ‘New Dark Ages’ and, a personal favorite, ‘Los Angeles Is Burning’. I have so much respect for him – even more now I’ve seen the guy do what he does best with my own eyes. He’s not only a great singer, but a great showman too. He commanded the stage (and the attention of the crowd) better than I’ve seen anyone do it before.

The audience isn’t usually an element of a gig I’d comment on, but I really feel the need to here. Given who these people were watching, you’d have thought there’d have been a bit of energy about them. The crowd may have been the most inanimate I’ve ever seen a group of people at Academy 2. There were definitely small pockets really going for it, as they should be, but the majority of people were stood perfectly still throughout the gig. I’m sure some of that was down to the amount of people packed into one of the smaller venues in Manchester, but my point still stands. This is a punk gig people, a bit of movement would be nice.

There’s no doubt that Greg was on top form, but the rest of the band were too. After a little bit of a shaky start, they really got into it and were really tight through to the end. It has to be said, that this was Bad Religion sans-Brett Gurewitz. I overheard some fans outside who sounded disappointed that he wasn’t there. Admittedly, it would’ve been awesome had he been, but the show was great regardless.

‘American Jesus’ closed out the main part of the show and, at last, the crowd finally seemed in good spirits. The band left stage and it seemed the encore everyone wanted wasn’t going to happen. After a little while, the guys came back out and played more fan favorites. This was the highlight of the show for me. Stranger Than Fiction is my favorite Bad Religion album, so to hear ’21st Century (Digital Boy)’ live was a great thing to behold. It was a great show and I don’t think anyone was doubting it would be. 30 Years and still going strong. I think some up and coming bands out there need to take notice.


Setlist:

  • Do What You Want
  • Overture/Sinister Rouge
  • We’re Only Gonna Die
  • Recipe For Hate
  • Flat Earth Society
  • Before You Die
  • A Walk
  • How Much Is Enough
  • No Control
  • Requiem For Dissent
  • Sanity
  • Atomic Garden
  • New Dark Ages
  • Dearly Beloved
  • Suffer
  • Germs Of Perfection
  • No Direction
  • Los Angeles Is Burning
  • Along The Way
  • Fuck Armageddon…This Is Hell
  • You
  • Infected
  • American Jesus

Encore:

  • Generator
  • 21st Century (Digital Boy)
  • Sorrow

Going Underground :: Well Wisher

This weeks musical cavaliers are, Manchester-based, Well Wisher.

I first heard of the band Well Wisher, working with vocalist Michael Cahill who, in his eternal drunken wisdom, once imparted on me a piece of advice I will take to the grave:

“People need to realise to early 90’s emo music was the best kind of music ever and just start listening to it again.”


It was something along those lines, anyway. This band is exactly that; ‘Emo’ music at it’s best. Reminiscent of sounds before the My Chemical Romancers, before Jessie Lacey and before TBS lost John Nolan and became audio diarrhea.

Well Wisher’s greatest strength isn’t on record, (not that the recorded stuff isn’t wicked!) but during their live shows. They have such an incredible dynamic, you’d think watching Black Flag was a laid back gig. There is humour, great audience interaction and such raw energy in every members enthusiasm for the music they play, not to mention some D.I.Y stunts throughout the set.

Luckily, and the reason this has come out a little earlier than planned, WW are playing at the Oxford this Thursday 29/07/2010 along with half a dozen other awesome bands. No words I write could describe just how cool it is to watch this band play, you can only truly believe it first hand. With such great live sets and an upcoming E.P (which the band aim to have out by late August, if any band was gonna bring back a music scene that truly deserves reviving, Well Wisher are your men.

I give them 5/5 Special Brews, with bonus points for being so damn old school.


Details of Thursdays gig can be found via this link:

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/event.php?eid=126357054069516&index=1

You can listen to Well Wisher via their Myspace which can be found at:

http://www.myspace.com/wellwisher10

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 :: The Gaslight Anthem – Academy 1, Manchester – 24/06/10

We had the greatest expectations…

It was an up and down day really for the Gaslight gig. After seeing a band play as hard as Hot Water Music just days before, it’d be hard for any band to impress me. This wasn’t helped by the exchange Ian and I had with Brian Fallon pre-gig either. All that aside, I’d been told to expect a good show from the New Jersey boys and that’s what we got – a good show. Nothing amazing, but it was far from bad.

Now I don’t want people thinking I’m hating on the band, the music they make is really good and they showed that on stage at Manchester’s Academy 1. A place I’ve not seen that packed in quite some time. The crowd was ready and the band were definitely up for it. The thing is, something was missing. There wasn’t that spark that’s needed to take over a room. There was no energy to the performance. Musically the band were great, but they seemed static throughout. Not to say that they’re lazy, but Brian barely moved throughout the whole set and even had a bit of a moan about his setlist.

Speaking of the setlist, it was great. There was something for everyone in there and, honestly, it was everything a Gaslight fan would want. A good mix of songs from each of their albums, and a lot of them too. There was even a cover of The Who classic ‘Baba O’Reilly’ in there for the older members of the audience. The highlights came in the form of ‘Great Expectations’, ‘Boxer’ and ‘The Spirit Of Jazz’. Three great songs played really well. However, the band seemed fairly sloppy for the most part. Then again, when compared to Chuck Ragan and Co., that seems inevitable.

Overall the show was good and I’d definitely recommend that you go and see them live. However their live show is just that – a show. I couldn’t really call this a performance def. They played ok and the crowd loved it, but I know, and I think they know, they can do better. They’re back touring the UK in October.