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

Album Review :: Sundowner – We Chase The Waves

“…this is not an album of incredible studio production, mass-multi-tracked instrumentation, auto-tuned, top ten hit record bullshit. But who the fuck would want that?”

For anyone who doesn’t know, Sundowner is the acoustic side-project of Chris McCaughan, guitarist and singer of the band Lawrence Arms. I was skeptical of using this as an opening line, I didn’t want to give the impression that this was just a side-project and that without the Lawrence Arms link, Sundowner would be nothing. Oh contraire, Sundowner is by all means a project to be taken very seriously, and this second release only continues to clarify that point.

The album has quite a peculiar start, the song The Flicker, is very sombre and not one you would expect to be chosen as an opener. It’s a good song, just one that seems odd to begin with. Less than three minutes in and it is obvious the lyrical talents of McCaughan have not diminished in the slightest. It becomes clear at the end of the song why this was chosen,  as it builds up and slips sublimely into Araby by way of a classic ‘1, 2, 3, 4.’

As far as progression goes, there is nothing intensely different from the first Sundowner record. If anything, this record has been given even more of a stripped down feel, with minimal instrumentation giving it a real home recording effect. Some people might find this a little strange. I personally, think it’s fucking great, as the album focuses far more on the lyrics, vocal melodies and guitar tracks, making this a very personal record with a far more natural flow than previous effort, Four, One, Five, Two.

Making this record was no half-arsed process. Whilst listening through the album, it is clear that a lot of work has gone into the vocals specifically. Both the main vocal and back up sounds have pushed the boundaries for Sundowner. Not so much in terms of range, with a very comfortable array of notes coming from the mouth of this Chicago born singer/songwriter, but more in terms of rhythm. The closing track, What Beadie Said, is a perfect example of the entire albums curious but effective motion.

As said before, this is not an album of incredible studio production, mass-multi-tracked instrumentation, auto-tuned, top ten hit record bullshit. But who the fuck would want that? If you look for deeply intricate lyrics, kick-ass sing along melodies and some good acoustic rocking, then this album might be just what you’ve been looking for.

Check out Whales and Sharks and also Mouth Of A Tiger, personal faves of mine.

Podcast :: Under The Bridge – Episode 5: Lovely, Grovelly, Gravelly Groans

© Matt Volp 2010

“The Blackout are turd…they’ve got, like, two singers and they shouldn’t even have one” – Ian Critchley

Anthony was a little under the weather this week. His sore throat and bastardly, nature combined with a love for The Lawrence Arms, made ‘Lovely, Grovelly, Gravelly Groans’ the perfect subtitle for episode 5. This week we discuss music videogames and what we think of them, our disdain for festivals, how Tupac, Biggie, Elvis and Kurt Cobain are all living on the island from LOST (complete with polar bear!), John Berna brings us more words of widsom and it’s as unsavory as ever. Lovely!

This week’s music is a little different to the usual fare we use as jingles. The soothing tones of the Vitamin String Quartet split up our segments this week, but can you guess which songs they’re playing? All will be revealed at the end of the show. So, go on, have a listen! (The list is also available at the end of the show notes and in the description on iTunes, if you want to cheat).

Under The Bridge – Episode 5: Lovely, Grovelly, Gravelly Groans


  • New Frank Turner EP confirmed for November
    • New full-length in “Early 2011”
    • Album with Jon Snodgrass
  • Blink-182 coming back to the UK next summer
  • Canterbury join The Blackout & Set Your Goals as support for You Me At Six’s next UK tour
  • Meatloaf announces UK tour dates
    • We have to interview Meatloaf!
  • Katy Perry has been offered $340,000 to judge the US version of X-Factor
  • Green Day planning new live album
    • The news was announced during a show in Colorado
    • They also played a new song
  • Axl Rose is in loads of shit with festival promoters
    • GNR turned up an hour late at Reading
    • Gave promoters shit at Leeds – Be safe getting out of here. And for the problems with the promoters: fuck you.’
  • Rod Steward’s 8th child to be his last
  • Leona Lewis is a bitch
    • Didn’t speak to her support act, Gabriella Climi, whilst on tour
  • Susan Boyle has moved house
  • Jacko’s kids are having trouble fitting in at school due to bodyguards
    • No shit, Sherlock!

Main Topic

  • Music videogames: a discussion
  • Festivals: a discussion.

What Anthony’s Been Listening To:

  • Vitamin String Quartet
  • Real Ghosts Caught On Tape…still
  • Dan Andriano/Mike Felmulee split

What Ian’s Been Listening To:

  • Loads.


  • Email anthony.barlow (at) gmail (dot) com to submit your questions for us or visit our Formspring

John Berna’s Words Of Wisdom

  • “Ladies, Being Pregnant is a problem, having your period is a blessing, so stop complaining about how bad it is.” – John Berna (2010)
  • John Berna’s Twitter

Where Can We Find You On The Internet?


  • Go and read our stuff at Moon & Back Music
    • Films of Color – ‘Actions’ advance single review by Jonathan Whitelaw
    • Fake Problems – ‘Real Ghosts Caught On Tape’ advance review
    • Going Underground – Special Agent Set
    • Iron Maiden – ‘The Final Frontier’ album review by Jonathan Whitelaw
    • Dave McWane (Big D & The Kids Table) interview
    • We Were Promised Jetpacks gig review from Edge Festival by Natalie Deans
    • Blink-182 gig review from Glasgow SECC by Natalie Deans
  • Coming Up
    • Bad Religion gig review from Academy 2, Manchester
    • Get Up Kids gig review from The Dog & Partridge, Bolton
    • Matt Skiba – ‘Demos’ album review
    • Next installment of Going Underground
  • @Mandbmusic on Twitter
  • This week’s music is provided by the Vitamin String Quartet
    • Can you guess which songs they’ve covered?

Interview :: Brendan Kelly – The Lawrence Arms

Insert drunken interview here…

Brendan (alongside Chris) during our interview - Joe Brownridge©

As Joe pointed out in his review, The Lawrence Arms grabbed the Leeds crowd by the balls and blew the roof off The Cockpit. However, unlike Mr. Brownridge, we have a bit more of a story to tell. A story that lead to the funniest, most confusing interview we have ever done. We arrived in Leeds with no idea what was going on. We didn’t even know if we even had this interview. We were doubting it would happen and it almost didn’t. After some persistence (persistence that didn’t seem to go down too well) we finally managed to snag 10 minutes in a corridor with, lead singer/bassist of The Lawrence Arms, Brendan Kelly. One problem…the guy had just come off stage, he’d been drinking pints of vodka (he told us in the pub afterwards) and was drunk. To make matters worse, we were ‘on our way’ too and security were trying to kick us out. Awesome!

Anthony Barlow: Hello Brendan, how’s it going?

Brendan Kelly: Umm…it’s going really, really well.

AB: Good stuff. Did you really know about this interview?

BK: Yeah

AB: No, I mean, when we showed up outside before did you know?

BK: No, but that’s not standard policy that, like, a band knows what interviews they’ve got. A band assumes that there’s always possible interviews.

AB: Oh, ok.

BK: You know what I mean?

Ian Critchley: Yeah, it could happen but you never know. You guys, The Lawrence Arms as a whole, but particularly you, have been, quote unquote, notorious for speaking out against other bands. Has anyone challenged you for anything you’ve said?

BK: Speaking out against other bands? I don’t know if I think that’s true, man.

IC: I don’t mean in a negative way, but more a humorous way. I can see some people taking it the wrong way though.

BK: Fuck. I don’t know, like exactly, what you’re even referring to. Like me saying the The Broken Side is terrible? It’s because they’re terrible. I don’t think I’m the only one saying Broken Side is terrible.

AB: You’re just being a genuine, honest person.

BK: I’m not out here to talk shit about anything or anyone. I’ve said this before and I will say it again because I think it’s relevant and important, the notion that an industry, and it is an industry, that’s know as punk rock is supposed to stand for idiosyncratic rebellion. The notion that when I see a band that stinks and I can say that they stink, that brands me as a shit talker is absolutely ridiculous. Y’know, I don’t say anything more than…Here’s the thing, in the world of music we all work and me talking shit about Broken Side, that’s industry jargon. It’s like, what’s your job?

AB: I’m a journalist

BK: You’re a journalist. Really? Great. So, you read other publications and you look at them and you critique them. You go ‘this guys good and this guy sucks’ and among your friends you’re like ‘this fucking one dildo who writes fucking op ed pieces that’re like financially based in the Leeds daily he doesn’t know his ass from a hat’. You say that to your friends and that’s fine because it’s your forte. It’s the business you’re in. Cool. I really like that. It just so happens that the business I’m in involves, like, publicity and people that arrange for things like this to happen and the result is that my views kinda get broadcast, but it’s like why aren’t everyone’s views a little more broadcast? The reason? Because people are afraid to do anything. What I’m saying is, the notion that an insurgent genre has people that are shittalkers and people that aren’t.

Here’s the point in our tale where security rudely interrupts us. Apparently we need to leave on managers orders. So Brendan goes off to speak to the manager. Upon his return he looks confused, but we can now continue as we now have passes to be upstairs.

BK: I, don’t have any memory of what the last question was about.

IC: You were talking about the whole punk rock scene.

BK: Oh yeah. The world in which there’s a punk rocker that is singled out for talking shit about other people is a bizarre and sad world indeed because that is the genre of punk rock. So it doesn’t make any sense. That’s like a turd that’s singled out for being brown and coming out of someone’s ass, you know what I mean? It’s in the definition.

IC: Yeah definitely. I was reading your blog and you had a big rant about the, quote unquote, old Against Me! fans and overly dumb anarchistic views. I’m not saying anarchism’s dumb in any sense, but this was over the top. Do you feel that a lot of bands get labelled ‘sell outs’ just for developing?

BK: It’s not a question of it. It’s like, the thing is, journalists, no offense to you guys personally but…

Once again, security took umbridge with us and we had to venture further upstairs.

IC: Leeds has an attitude, doesn’t it?

BK: No, it’s fine. It’s like bureaucracy, there’s no boundaries and I’ve worked both with and without it and it’s hard. Like, that guy personally doesn’t give a fuck and that chick personally doesn’t give a fuck, but there’s rules and it sucks. Anyway, point being…ummm what was the question? Oh, Against Me! Say the question again, because I knew what I was gonna say and now I don’t know.

IC: You had the rant on your blog about old Against Me! fans and over the top, dumb anarchistic views and within the punk rock genre a lot of bands get labelled ‘sell outs’ just for developing.

BK: Right, yeah. Exactly. The notion of selling out, and I’ve been saying this in interviews ever since I wrote that fucking blog for fuck’s sakes. It’s like no one ever read my blog until I fucking wrote about Tom Gabel and all of a sudden it’s a big deal. The fact is, the notion that a label influences you to change your sound is so naive. It’s a notion that’s held by fans. It does not exist in the industry. Like in the same way fans of pornography believe that the women getting fucked are enjoying it.

All: *laughs*

BK: You know what I mean? That is like what it is. If a band signs to a major label, they’re desire is to attract more people. They made that desire clear and public and explicit when they signed to a major label. When their next album sounds more polished and more major, it’s a result of their desire and their intentions as a band not the label. Let me tell you something, man. Fat Mike says things like ‘these songs suck, they don’t belong on the record’ and that’s a very helpful thing. He never says something like ‘what you need to do is write big, humongous choruses’. I mean, he works under the exact same fucking model that any other label head works under, any other A&R person. There is no such thing. I’m telling you right now. It does not exist, that you sign an unkown band and go ‘I’m gonna need you to change your sound’. The reason you signed the band is because you don’t want them to change their sound. Y’know? The band. It’s the people in the fucking band that go ‘you know what I want to broaden our appeal. We’ll sign to a major label, because that’s an opportunity we have, and we are going to write songs that are more populist as a result of our new found ambitions’. That’s great, that’s fine. How do I say this the right way? The motivation for making art is always an issue, but it’s the most irrelevant issue in the whole universe. I don’t care what Dostoevsky meant when he wrote Crime And Punishment. I don’t care that he meant it as a, sort of, Christian parable. That’s not what it means to me. In the same way, the new Against Me! record doesn’t mean what Tom meant it when he wrote it. Art is art. It’s not beholden to it’s creator.

IC: Are you saying “the new Against Me! record” meaning White Crosses?

BK: Yeah.

IC: The thing is, when New Wave came out, a lot of people were saying to me ‘Against Me! have sold out’ and I was like ‘at the end of the day, it’s the same fucking chord progression and the same lyrical subjects. It’s just in a studio, not in a fucking garage or some shit’. People getting pissed off because it’s clean.

BK: The guy who just walked through, his name is Jim. Tom expressively spoke out about hating what he’s become. To that, I would rejoin, listen to Screeching Weasel ‘When We Become What We Hate’. Because, we do and you will  and everybody will and it sucks and, yeah it’s not good, you don’t have to love it, but it fucking happens, man. It’s like, you’re a kid and then you get to be a man and there’s nothing creepier than a man acting like a kid. You have no choice, but to act like a man.

Once again security shoo us away and we end up in a ‘green room’ of sorts and are met by Mr. Brownridge. Also: listening to this back me and Ian are reffered to as “fucking dorks” by Toby. I take umbridge with that.

BK: Knock out the big questions that you really want to ask because it doesn’t look like there’s too much time. Sorry, I’m the verbose dick I know it ruined everything, but…

IC: You’re latest EP is Buttsweat & Tears. It was meant to be the band’s first release. Why wasn’t it?

BK: It’s not like we wrote it back then. It’s like, back then the CD industry was huge and it was easier for us to write a CD than do a seven inch, that’s why. That’s not a good last question. Is there something that you really wanna know?

IC: I really wanna know, on more of a personal than professional level, what actually happened at Tom Gabel’s wedding? Who was the best man? There was a fight? Creepy things were said?

BK: No, no no. I’ve actually talked about this before. It’s actually in the liner notes of my acoustic CD with Joe McMahon, but like the song is about our old roadie Sean Nader. He’s a visual artist, a painter. He’s a genius for sure.

Chris McCaughan: He’s a genius, that’s for sure.

BK: He really is a genius. He’s also like the biggest, most messy, awesome, unexplainable, uncaterorizable, unboxable human being that you’ll ever meet in your life and he went to a good friend of his’ wedding and when he showed up at the reception he was

IC: Too fucked?

BK: No, no no. There was like half an hour between the wedding and the reception and by the time everybody else showed up at the reception he was shirtless and prancing around and just being like ‘yo, what’s up man? Sean Nader, in the house!’, which is totally his style. The thing is, that’s a beautiful example of living life to it’s absolute god damn fullest and he does it. I don’t have the nuts to do something like that, you know what I mean? Tom Gabel’s wedding. Everybody said it was about Tom Gabel’s wedding, because I played that song and said ‘I got pretty drunk at Tom Gabel’s wedding so this song is about you tonight’, but in truth I got drunk at Tom Gabel’s wedding and I passed out at 11:45 and everyone else hung out until 4 in the morning.

IC: One other really super quick question, is Heather taller than Tom Gabel?

BK: That’s a good question.

So there you have it, the best drunken interview ever. We did eventually find out that Tom is taller than Heather, along with a bunch of other stuff in the pub after the gig. I’d like to thank everyone for making this happen. Especially Toby because we pissed him off all night and he still helped us out.

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

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

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

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

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