Video :: Fake Problems – ‘Songs For Teenagers’

‘Songs For Teenagers’ might well be my favourite track from Real Ghosts Caught On Tape. Fake Problems’ third record was easily my record of last year, and it’s nice to see those guys finally getting a bit of that mainstream love. This video has been a long time coming, but it’s great and you should all watch it. It might not have John Berna dressed in a nurse’s uniform, but it does have mermaids. And despite what anyone might say, wicker hat’s are super cool.

Check out the video below.

Be sure to pick up Real Ghosts Caught On Tape (or any other Fake Problems releases) here.

EP Review :: The Gaslight Anthem – iTunes Session

“…it shows the kinds of influences that have made The Gaslight Anthem the band they are today”

Though we’ll have to wait until 2012 for the next Gaslight Anthem full length (the band’s first release on a major label, no less), they’ve helped ease the wait with something (sort of) new. The boys from New Jersey have released an iTunes Session – an EP, comprised of covers and alternative versions. It’s their SideOneDummy swansong, but is it as sweet as it sounds?

Usually something like this would come down to if you liked covers or not. Personally I like to hear my favourite bands’ take on other people’s work, but that really didn’t matter here. Each track has that distinct Gaslight Anthem sound that means if you haven’t heard the original version of a particular song, you can listen to it without feeling like you’re missing something. In fact, it might be better if you haven’t heard these songs before. I doubt there’s many out there who’ve yet to experience ‘Baba O’Reilly’, but you never know.

All in all the covers are great. Hearing Brian and co take on stuff from Pearl Jam, The Who and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers was interesting. They’ve made these classic songs their own but, at the same time, done them incredible justice. At the very least, it shows the kinds of artist that have made The Gaslight Anthem the band they are today. Tom Petty in particular stands out as a big influence on Brian Fallon’s vocal style, so it was really cool to hear him covering ‘Refugee’. Not only that, but they might just turn a few people onto a band they might have otherwise dismissed. You never know.

Alongside these covers are two from the band’s back catalog. The version of ‘Navesink Banks’ is relatively unchanged from it’s initial release, but ‘Boxer’ feels like a completely different song on here. It’s more sombre than the version found on American Slang, and that alone has a massive impact especially when it comes to the lyrics. The original feels like the story of a triumphant prize fighter, whereas this version seems to come from someone a little more down on their luck.

Despite how well these covers and alternative versions panned out, I feel the majority of Gaslight fans will be coming to this EP for one thing in particular. Previously unreleased track, ‘Our Father’s Sons’ follows that familiar Springsteen-esque formula that Gaslight have become known for and won’t disappoint those who’ve been waiting to hear a proper version instead of that demo that’s been circulating the internet for some time.

Though it’s not necessarily what Gaslight fans would have wanted this year, what’s here is great. The boys are on top form and, if anything, it’s interesting to see the kind of artists that have inspired one of today’s biggest bands.

Album Review :: Chuck Ragan – Covering Ground

“One minute he’s shouting his songs at the heavens, and the next he’s serenading the listener with soft and sweet ballads.”

If there was one man I could live my life vicariously though, it would be Chuck Ragan. I mean, the guy’s awesome: He tours the world relentlessly, he’s built houses and has a voice that can charm the birds from the trees. Thankfully, there needs to be no voodoo nonsense involved for me to achieve my dream. All I have to do is throw on one of his albums and I’m there, chopping down trees and beating up bad guys.* This trend continues with Covering Ground, with one slight difference, it’s better than anything else he’s put out.

That’s not to say his past releases haven’t been good either. Feast Or Famine helped to establish Chuck’s signature style, Gold Country improved on the formula yet again, and Covering Ground does the same again. These incremental improvements have helped to create an album that rivals any other release this year. However, it still remains consistent with the rest of the Chuck’s back catalog and, from the opening chord of the opening song, there’s no doubt that this record is one of his. If that doesn’t let you know, then I think his voice might just give it away.

Chuck’s gruff, yet soulful, voice is better than ever. His gravelly vocal style never fails to impress me, especially as there’s so much range on each of his records. That’s especially prevalent on Covering Ground. One minute he’s shouting his songs at the heavens, and the next he’s serenading the listener with soft and sweet ballads. You don’t often get that kind of range on a record. Chuck’s also managed to compliment his vocals with those of his friends. Frank Turner and Audra Mae help to provide backing vocals, as does Brian Fallon. The Gaslight Anthem frontman plays a prominent role on ‘Meet You In The Middle’ – one of my favorite tracks from the album – his and Chuck’s vocals working really well together.

As always Chuck is joined by a plethora of instrumentalists, all of whom help to make this album what it is. Though all of those featured play an important part, Jon Gaunt is especially impressive here, his fiddle work adding that distinctive ‘country’ element to Chuck’s work that’s been a feature of each of his solo releases. His solo on ‘Nomad By Fate’ is infections and has me jigging as soon as I hear it. It’s clear that everyone plays an integral part on this record and, honestly, it wouldn’t be half as good without them.

Anyone who says you can’t be passionate with an acoustic guitar needs to take a listen to this record: Albums like this are the definition of the word. Chuck has outdone himself again. Covering Ground holds some of his best work, and there’s no doubt that this release is his best to date. If you’re a Chuck Ragan fan, it’s nothing new. Regardless, you won’t walk away disappointed.

*It’s unproven whether Chuck has actually beaten up bad guys but, let’s face it, he probably has. I know he’s chopped down a tree though.

Album Review :: The Horrible Crowes – Elsie

“Elsie is very dynamic, in the sense that it develops, builds, and changes, and it is clear in my mind that it is a collaboration of two different minded people.”

With The Horrible Crowes’ debut album we’re introduced to a new sonic range that isn’t often packed into one album. Brian Fallon has a voice outside of his time. Elsie gives me romanticized thoughts but if it weren’t for those romanticized thoughts I wouldn’t be able to keep going on with something to hope for.

That just a taste of the inspired poet in me coming out from Elsie. It keeps our feelings dark and our thoughts romantic. I have a feeling there will be a cult like following of saved souls produced from this production. It is pretty nice to see the separation of a side project rather than Fallon just writing alone then producing it. So, now, the elephant in the room. Brian Fallon is in The Gaslight Anthem. Congratulations everyone, you correctly identified where you have heard that voice before. Good job.

Elsie is very dynamic, in the sense that it develops, builds, and changes, and it is clear in my mind that it is a collaboration of two different minded people. The instrumentals are so complex that I’m really curious to see how it will be played live, even with bringing in more people. Then I’m hit with almost elementary claims like ‘I’ve got a crush on you’ that doesn’t seem to fit Fallon’s style but, hell, maybe that’s the beauty of it. Shit, I’ve got a ton of crushes come to think of it. The range of this album gives me moderate whiplash. Mary Ann reminds me incredibly of Helter Skelter every single time I hear it. And that’s absolutely ok with me. Because Helter Skelter is a damned good song. The thing about Fallon that grabs me more than the fact that he can be gargling gravel one minute and have a silky smooth voice the next is how he can get over the fact that the public is going to be exposed to his writing, at least enough to have it produced.

Before I get all sensitive, secretive, hopeless romantic private writer and completely off topic of an actual review I’m gonna end this. I’m very satisfied and slightly overwhelmed that The Horrible Crowes record has made in out in 2011 to add to the greatness in music that has already come out this year. Good luck to everyone else with album releases this year. In closing, The Horrible Crowes can be abbreviated to “THC” and that makes me giggle every time.

Interview :: Chuck Ragan

If you didn’t know already, Chuck Ragan is the man.

Ahead of his final UK show with, Moon & Back ‘Album Of The Year’ winners, The Gaslight Anthem I had a chat with Chuck Ragan. Now, before we get to the interview, I’ve got to let you know that Chuck is one of the nicest, most humble people I’ve ever met. He’s such a good guy and I can’t wait for him to be back in October on The Revival Tour. We talked about upcoming solo projects, the stuff he and the rest of Hot Water Music had planned for the future and I even managed to get his opinion on kites (thanks to Jon Snodgrass).

Ian was on holiday in Spain when all this went down, but I had to call him up so he could deliver the results of our ‘signature question’. Despite flying solo for this one, there is a Critchley cameo.

Anthony Barlow: How’s it going Chuck?

Chuck Ragan: Good, man.

AB: We spoke in March last, how’ve you been since then?

CR: It’s been incredible. We’ve been working really hard. A lot of travel. I’ve been writing a lot lately though; I feel like I’ve been writing more this past year than I have my whole life. It’s been inspiring, I guess. It’s definitely opened my eyes to a lot of things. Writing songs to me has always been more of a necessity than something that I feel like I want to do. If that makes any sense? I mean, the only thing I can compare it to is, if anybody were to keep a journal or like a diary. Sometimes you don’t even know why you’re writing, you just have to do it. That’s kind of how song writing is for me. I think, in the event of getting songs out and actually putting them down, it helps me realise things about myself or determine what my direction is, what my intentions are, and it just simply clarifies my life, and my family, and my friends, and everything. A lot of it, even though I’ve been enjoying it and I’ve been writing new songs, there’s been a lot of awakenings, if that makes any sense?

AB: Yeah, definitely. Is this writing for a new solo record, or a new Hot Water Music record, or both?

CR: That and then some, really *laughs*. I’ve been writing a new record, and I’ve got loads of material, I plan on recording in January and February. We’re getting ready to do a tour with Social Distortion in the States, on the West Coast, and we’ll be recording before that tour and a little after. So we’re kinda shooting to have a new record out by next May, a new solo record. Hot Water’s been writing stuff as well. We’re getting ready, right after this tour, I don’t even go home ’til December 12th. I fly to Louisiana and meet up with my wife and we’re there for five days visiting my grandparents for thanksgiving. She brings my electric guitars, I give her my acoustic guitars, and then I fly straight to New Zealand to go on tour with Hot Water Music and The Bouncing Souls for a couple of weeks. So we’re moving quite a bit. Brian Fallon, from Gaslight, and I have been working on some songs and one really cool thing, I’m really excited about, is he just confirmed to do The Revival Tour over here, in the UK and Europe, in October.

AB: I was just going to ask what your plans were for bringing The Revival Tour over here. Is there anyone else you can confirm for that yet?

CR: Not just yet *laughs*. We’re going to try to get as many people as we can involved. Right now, it’s just Brian and I. It’s still a good ways away, so we’ll see what comes together. I can, pretty much, guarantee you’re not going to be disappointed.

AB: Are you going to try and keep with the usual US lineup or are you going to try and get a lot of UK acts in as well?

CR: I would like to get a lot of local acts, because there’s so much great music over here. Livers & Lungs, Sam Russo, Helen Chambers, Jimmy Islip. I’ve got a lot of good friends over here. Frankie Stubbs from Leatherface. A lot of people who are doing acoustic stuff. There’s a lot of other acts too, that I’ve always wanted to get. It might be a stretch, but I would love to see if Billy Bragg wants anything to do with it or Laura Marling. There’s so much.

AB: It sounds like it’s shaping up to be a really cool tour. This tour with Gaslight has been a pretty mad one, hasn’t it? You played in the UK for a bit, then went over to mainland Europe and now you’re back over here. What’s it been like for you?

CR: This tour has been so special, man. It’s been incredible. I’ve known a lot of these guys for a while, but this is the first time that we’ve ever actually got to sit down and get to know eachother, to spent time with eachother. John Gaunt is with me on this tour, we’re just playing as a two-piece: just acoustic guitar, singing and his fiddle. They [Gaslight] were gracious enough to let us ride with them on the bus. So we’re living with The Gaslight Anthem, and you never really know someone unless you’ve toured with them in that environment. There’s not much personal space, so you really have to get along with people for it to work. We knew it was gonna be cool, but you’re always a little bit apprehensive when you’ve never toured with someone and you’re just going, especially with it being such a long tour. I can honestly say, they’re just a big group of lovely, lovely people. There’s not a negative bone in the bunch. Everyone is extremely positive, they know what they’re doing, they’re happy to be here, they don’t take any of it for granted and they’ve earned all of this, they’ve truly earned it. To me, I’ve toured for a lot of years, and I’ve seen all kinds. They’re doing it for the right reasons, and I have all the respect in the world for that.

AB: You’ve said previously that you wanted a tour with Gaslight to come together so you and Brian [Fallon] could try out material from your new collaboration. Are we going to hear any of that tonight? I know you like to play with the other acts on a tour so…

CR: Yeah, we may. We might throw one out. Why not, y’know? We’re all here together. The Sharks have been a lot of fun on this tour. They’re a great, young band. I had a birthday on this tour and they said: “make sure you come out and watch us tonight, we have a present for you”. They went up and they started playing this song, and I didn’t even think anything of it. It was one of their songs, but they had enough thought to completely change all the lyrics into a Hot Water Music song. It was a Sharks song – ‘Glove In Hand’ – but they changed all the words to ‘Rooftops’. They’ve been playing that every once in a while and I’ll go out and sing it with them. They’re a bunch of special kids as well, they’re doing great.

AB: I expect there’s a lot of people coming here tonight to see you, as well as Gaslight…

CR: I don’t know about that man *laughs*

AB: Well, working on that assumption *laughs*, how have the crowds taken to your stuff?

CR: I’ve been, honestly, pretty amazed at the responses. It’s always tough to get out and do a support tour. For one it’s tough anyway, for any band supporting a headlining act, because no ones there to see you anyway. What we’re doing is, John and I are getting up and playing an acoustic guitar and a fiddle and we’re getting infront of a band who’s getting ready to blow the roof of the joint. So it’s rather intimidating. I didn’t know what to expect, but I’ve been absolutely amazed at the response, and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that Gaslight has really expanded their age groups over the past couple of years. There’s a lot of older folks at the shows, and I feel like they pick up on what we’re doing. They get it. I mean, younger kids too. I’ve been completely overwhelmed. I’m amazed by it.

AB: We talked a little about Hot Water Music before and the UK tour, what was it like being on the road with those guys again?

CR: It’s great. Nowadays we don’t tour that much as it is, and when we do tour it’s just kinda been short runs. When we come back together it’s kind of like a little family reunion. We’re not stuck in the machine like we used to be. Like Gaslight, or Against Me!, or some of these bands. You get into a cycle where you record a record, then you go on tour and you do a whole circuit. That’s Australia, Europe, UK, US, a couple of support tours, Festival gigs and usually a touring cycle can be a year and a half to two years long. Then you take a month off, you start writing and you record another record, and you start all over again. It’s great, it’s a wonderful thing, but it can definitely weigh heavy on you. For us, Hot Water toured so much as it was that it weighed us down quite a bit. Nowadays, now that we have all this time between these tours, it’s more relaxed. It’s not killing us, and it’s nice like that. We don’t have a record label right now, we don’t have any managers, we don’t have anybody telling us what to do. That’s why we’ve been enjoying writing again so much: There’s no stress, there’s no pressure, we just want to make new songs and do it when it feels right.

AB: Was it a shame that George [Rebelo] wasn’t on tour with you?

CR: Yeah, of course. We had Dave Raun with us, and we wouldn’t have done it without George’s blessing anyway. Dave’s been a good friend of all of us for years, and he’s an animal behind the drum set. It just made sense, y’know? We wanted to go and play these shows, and we even asked George, “what should we do?”, and he said get somebody else, man. We called Dave and we did it *laughs*. Yeah sure, we miss him. He’s gonna be on this Bouncing Souls tour – in Australia – that we’re doing. We’ll be back together soon.

AB: You’ve been playing a lot of charity shows recently too. How have those panned out?

CR: The one we did for the refugee children turned out fantastic. We didn’t really know what to expect and there wasn’t as much communication as we thought there was gonna be between us and them, and there were some language barriers. We just thought ‘well, we’ll just try and get the word out’. And the whole point was to benefit, not only the children themselves and the actual organization that schools, feeds and houses them, but to try and benefit their music and art program. So what we did is we invited people to come and play the show and we just said, beside the kids and the workers that are gonna be there we have room for fifty or sixty people, so you’re more than welcome to come to the show, but please either bring money to donate or bring an intstrument to donate. I can’t even tell you how many instruments showed up. We had a table, like this massive table, and it was just full of guitars and drums and amps and percussion stuff and everything. We raised a load of money for the organization as well, and it was a beautiful thing. All the kids were anywhere from three years old, up to fifteen years old, and we just passed out all the instruments and we played and we let them play along. It was just utter chaos *laughs*. They were banging on guitars and tambourines, and just loving every minute of it. It was a beautiful thing, and we’re definitely gonna be doing a lot more of that. I think it’s important, man. For any artist in the positions that we’re in to do something more than just show up, play a show, get paid and go to the next. There’s a lot to be done out there. We’re definitely going to be driving to do more of that down the road.

We did the interview in a pub, and a fan of Chuck’s comes over to talk to him…

AB: Do you get that a lot?

CR: No always, no.

AB: Do you like it?

CR: It’s overwhelming sometimes. To be so far away from home.

AB: You seemed to get good reception in here when you walked in.

CR: Good people, man. We were talking about the benefits…I just think, especially in Europe, it kinda clicked with me where we play a lot of these youth rec centers, and at night it turns into this big club. They’ve got shows and a bar and the adults come, and the people drink and whatever. We show up sometimes at twelve, one in the afternoon and they have a kindergarten and families there it’s like a proper youth rec center. Then they turn it over and it turns into the club. So I thought ‘we’re here, why not come during the day and play some shows for the kids’. Get the fans involved, get the families involved and try and benefit these local communities, and then play a show for the big kids in the evening *laughs*.

AB: It’s a nice idea, where did it originally come from?

CR: Man, I don’t know. I don’t know. Ever since we were all kids just growing up in the punk scene we would always do benefit shows, or food drives, or do something to give back to a local community. Over the years we’ve been invited into so many cool communities, it feels right to do something wherever we can to give back to all these communities that have been supporting us over the years. Because if it wasn’t for you folks, we wouldn’t be here to begin with.

AB: Yeah, definitely. We’re about done, but I do have a couple of reader questions. The first one comes from an anonymous email, it says: “You’ve worked with a lot of people on both your solo records and with Hot Water Music – guys like Matt Skiba and Austin Lucas – is there anyone you’d really like to work with again on new records?” I know Austin did a lot of backing vocals on Gold Country, didn’t he?

CR: Yeah, yeah. He came in. He passed by. He was just passing through town and I said “come on in”. There’s so many good friends and amazing artists out there that I highly respect and love that, not only am I a fan of, but I love them as people and as friends. I’m always up for [collaborating]. One of the the coolest things about music to me, is sharing it with the people around you.

AB: I noticed that. You’re records have got that kind of community, ‘everyone’s welcome’ kind of feel about them.

CR: That’s cool. Good.

AB: Jon Snodgrass wanted me to ask: “Do you like kites?” I assume this is some kind of ‘in’ joke.

CR: Kites? I love kites *laughs*. That’s not an in joke.

AB: Awesome. I hope Jon’s happy with himself, making me look like an idiot *laughs* . I don’t know if you remember, but last time we spoke, I had Ian with me. Unfortunately he’s in Spain and he’s gutted he couldn’t make it today. So I’m going to give him a call, if that’s ok? He just wants to ask you something.

CR: Spain’s not a bad place. Is he on holiday there?

AB: Yeah

CR: Well I’m sure he’ll be fine!

Ian Critchley: Hello

AB: You’re on with me and Chuck Ragan, how’s it going?

IC: Hi, how’s it going?

CR: Hey Ian, how’s Spain?

IC: It’s alright. It’s raining.

CR: Well you better keep your pants on, you don’t wanna get cold ***

IC: *laughs* I had a hangover, so I walked up a mountian

CR: *laughs*

IC: I thought it’d help me sweat the alcohol out, but now I’m just hungover and I smell

CR: *laughs*

AB: Ian, you’ve got some results to deliver to Chuck, have you not?

IC: Yeah, a while ago we started a tally – it was just after we interviewed you last time – we had a few beers and started thinking about who would win in a fight, you or Henry Rollins. After that we added a shark in as well, for fun, and we’ve been asking every band we’ve interviewed: ‘Who would win in a fight: You, Henry Rollins or a shark?”.

CR: *laughs* Wow.

AB: You won by a landslide. Everyone seemed to think you’d take them both *laughs*.

IC: The thing is, I asked George [Rebelo] and Jason [Black] and they both said Henry Rollins. So you might want to have words with them.

CR: *laughs* Yeah, I’ll have words with them. Maybe Henry Rollins and I will gang up on both of them, and the shark too.

IC: *laughs* Now that’s something I’d want to watch.

CR: I’ve lost a lot of fights to sharks though.

AB: We got some pretty good reasons from people about why they’d chosen you. A lot of people said about you being a good fisherman stuff like that. All of this factored in. We’ve retired that question now.

IC: Yeah, we’ll have to think of another one now, involving you, and we’ll give you the results next time.

CR: Well, for the record I have no bones to pick with Henry Rollins.

AB: That’s good. I’m glad there’s been no Hot Water Music/Rollins Band gang fights. I’m using Naomi’s phone, so I’m gonna have to let you go man.

IC: Alright. Have a good gig Chuck!

CR: Thanks man, and enjoy your holiday. We’ll see you soon!

AB: That’s about all I’ve got for you Chuck. Thanks for doing this and have a good show tonight.

*** This is a reference to Ian sending Chuck a message on Facebook earlier in the year. In his profile photo, Ian was pantsless and showing his arse to the camera.

Moon & Back Music Presents :: Album Of The Year 2010

And the winner is…

With the year quickly coming to a close, Ian and I felt it only right that we do some kind of end of year awards thing. I asked every member of the M&B staff what their top 5 albums of 2010 were, and the results were pretty surprising. There’s something here for everyone Whether you want futuristic R&B, tales from New Jersey or politically charged punk anthems, look no further.

After dealing with a debilitating addiction to prescription drugs, Eminem is back with Recovery. The rapper’s seventh studio album still isn’t a patch on his early work, but it easily beats out the likes of Encore and Relapse. The new record hearkens back to the old days, with Marshall being increasingly self deprecating, even going as far as commenting on the poor quality of his recent releases. Recovery is a gem in the sea of shit that is modern hip-hop.

Since signing with Sire Records in 2005, punk fans have reacted pretty harshly towards anything with Against Me!’s name on it. With the release of White Crosses earlier this year, the cries of the band ‘selling out’ continued. However, it’s hard to see why this is being aimed at Tom Gabel and co. Both this record and it’s predecessor New Wave may have been released on a division of Warner Music, but the music remains very similar to everything before that. As Ian would be quick to point out, it’s the same chord progressions and lyrical content as ‘old’ Against Me!, it’s just better produced. It’s Moon & Back’s fourth favorite of 2010 and I think fans should take a second look before dismissing the band outright.

Janelle Monae was the artist that most surprised me in 2010. Her debut full length The ArchAndroid: Suites II & II was the soundtrack to my summer, and it’s good to see that it’s not just me that took notice (cheers Jodie, for pushing this into our top 5). Miss Monae is, without doubt, the most exciting woman in R&B at the minute and this record is a soul-filled throwback to times passed. This is real R&B and I for one am tipping the 25-year old, Kansan songstress, for big things in the future.

Coming in at number two, sadly -because I think it should have won – it’s Fake Problems’ new record Real Ghosts Caught On Tape. The Floridia-based indie/punk four piece have wowed many with their fresh, upbeat sound and off the wall antics, both on and off stage. 2010 has been a big year for these guys: RGOT released to rave reviews, they’ve toured all over the US on the Vans Warped Tour and even did a stint with the winners of this years award. With catchy lyrics, great production (Ted Hutt is a genius) and a fun, retro take on ‘pop punk’ I can’t help but think this record has been a tad overlooked. These guys best tour the UK next year!

This year’s Moon & Back Music Album Of The Year goes to…American Slang. The Gaslight Anthem’s third album seems to have had an effect on the Moon & Back staff (though Ian remains adamant of their ability to bore him). The New Jersey group’s tales of murky cities and urban saviors might not be for everyone, but the follow-up to, 2008’s, The ’59 Sound has secured messieurs Fallon, Rosamilia, Levine and Horowitz a place as one of the best bands of recent years.

So there we have it. That’s Moon & Back’s verdict on the top 5 albums of this year. If you don’t agree, you’ll have your chance to vote on all the albums picked by the Moon & Back staff in the ‘Readers Choice’ award coming later on this week. This will be followed by the ‘2009 Album of 2010’ award – awarded to the albums of last year that we only got around to in 2010.

Advance Album Review :: Fake Problems – Real Ghosts Caught On Tape

This is my attempt to put a huge grin into words

It seems those in the know are already anticipating the arrival of Real Ghosts Caught On Tape, and I’m happy to tell you that it’s been worth the wait. If, like me, you’ve been itching to get your mitts on the album since the release of ‘Soulless’ a few weeks ago then you won’t be disappointed.

I know I talk about Fake Problems a lot, and maybe some people out there will see this as me, yet again, bigging up one of my favorite bands. There’s no doubt that’s exactly what I’m doing, but you won’t find any false praise here. Real Ghosts Caught On Tape is one of the best albums of 2010. Fact.

Right from the off, it punches you in the face with a plethora of sounds, all of them building up and easing the listener into a fantastic audio experience. The album perfectly encompasses what Fake Problems are all about – great music, great lyrics and a great time. It shows off the serious side of the band, but is still filled with music to dance to. Each track also bares the trademark introspective nature that I’ve always appreciated about the music these guys make. It’s been a hard album to review, but I think I might’ve cracked it.

Fake Problems brand of indie-punk has always been different; quirky might be the best way to put it. Musically their records are ever changing and you can’t accuse them of repeating themselves or re-hashing songs. There’s a definite retro feel to this record that sets Real Ghosts… apart from their previous work and the work of their peers. It’s a highly influenced record, but no track seems derivative of anything that’s gone before. Overall, the album has a very 1960’s sound, but I noticed nods to The Cure amongst other bands in there too. I like the fact that it’s thematically similar to their previous albums – there’s still mentions of religion and the occult – but there’s a lot that sets it apart from How Far Our Bodies Go or It’s Great To Be Alive.

Fake Problems’ music definitely relies on personal experience a lot, but it’s on this record that it really shines through. ‘Songs For Teenagers’ is a perfect example. The subject matter is personal, it’s definitely more serious, but it’s also one that many will be able to relate to. Throughout the album there’s minor pieces of percussion that really make it the sonic tour de force that it is. There’s no doubt in my mind that Ted Hutt had some part to play in these subtle inclusions. He seems to have brought the best out of  the songs, and Fake Problems as a band. Ted is definitely one of the best producers out there, and he seems to understand where each band he works with is coming from. He takes what’s good and improves on it. He’s made a band with a big sound, into a band with a huge sound. Tracks like: ‘ADT’, ‘Done With Fun’ and, of course, ‘Soulless’ show this off perfectly. Those slower songs aren’t neglected either, something that will please a lot of fans.

There’s always been a unique-rawness to Fake Problems’ music. This is definitely still there, but is less prevalent. Chris’ vocals are quite a bit softer in comparison to previous efforts. Whether this was a conscious decision or not, I don’t know. What I do know is that it’s a non-issue. It’s different, but the effect is still as powerful. I want to allay fears that something is lost or the album is over-produced. Believe me, that’s not the case.

It’s safe to say this will be the band’s most mainstream effort to date, but that’s not a problem. There’ll  be a few out there who slap on the ‘sell out’ sticker – as there is with every band when they put out something new – but Real Ghosts… just shows that, as a band, Fake Problems are evolving and their music is too. It’s a natural progression and one that will be welcomed with open arms by the majority of their fan base. So, if you’re a Fake Problems fan then you’re not going to be disappointed. If you’re looking for something new and interesting to listen to, then look no further. This Floridian four-piece’s quirky, brand of indie-punk could be for you.

Real Ghosts Caught On Tape is released September 21st.

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

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

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

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

Owen Drew: Hi.

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

OD: I could kill you.

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

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

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

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

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

OD: Rebellion.

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

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

DM: Yeah, we did.

AB: Why did you not do the whole tour?

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

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

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

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

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

AB: What’s the origin of the title?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DM: Do you like peeing?

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

DM: What about the blood?

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

DM: Right, okay.

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

DM: Yes!

RO: We’re okay, we’re okay.

DM: Sorry, what was the last one?

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

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

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

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

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

DM: It’s true. The Unseen…

AB: How do you guys maintain your fresh approach?

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

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

DM: That’s a good question.

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

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

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

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

RO: There’s the battles with everything and…

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

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

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

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

DM: Henry Rollins would win, right?

RO: Are they in Water?

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

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

DM: So Ryan says Henry Rollins…

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

DM: He said scientific, so…

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

RO: One of each.

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

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

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

AB: You scared me then.

Get Yourself A Free Fake Problems Track

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

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

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

Podcast :: Under The Bridge – Episode 2: Real Idiots Caught On iTunes

“If You Don’t Like James Brown, You Should Fuck Off” – Ian Critchley

We’re back for a second episode. That’s right, we didn’t get canceled and Paul still hasn’t chucked us so all is well. This week we’re ‘Real Idiots Caught On iTunes’. We got some beers and a better set up and hopefully this is a little bit more listenable than it’s predecessor.

We’ve tried to tidy up the show a little bit more. We couldn’t help, but give a few more mentions of Frank Turner. This episode was really all about Fake Problems. The, Florida-based, indie-punk foursome provided us with music for this week and we talked up their new album, Real Ghosts Caught On Tape, and their support slot with Gaslight Anthem on their US tour. We also try and find out which new/recent artists we’ll be listening to in 50 years time and discuss the niceness of, Against Me! frontman, Tom Gabel.

We’ve also got a new segment that comes courtesy of, tour manager extraordinaire, John Berna. He’s provided us with some ‘Words Of Wisdom’. Under The Bridge is a podcast you can live your life by. Fact!

Prepare to listen to us getting drunk. Also: We mean “stalk” in the nicest possible, non-creepy, way.

Under The Bridge – Episode 2: Real Idiots Caught On iTunes (Featuring Fake Problems)

As I mentioned, music this week comes courtesy of Fake Problems. Here’s the tracklist for this week:

  • Sorry, OK, Sorry
  • Alligator Assassinator
  • Diamond Rings
  • Born & Raised
  • Rumble In The Jungle
  • Heart BPM

Disclaimer: Apologies to anyone offended by this episode of Under The Bridge (especially you, Chris Farren). Everything said was said in jest and is not meant to be taken seriously. I mean, when do you ever take us seriously and, honestly, why should you? We’ll try and curb the drunkeness, but it’s highly unlikely this show would exist without the help of a few Scrumpy Jack’s. – Barlow x