Blaze Bayley-Watching The Night Sky

7 12 2009

Blaze’s new album ‘Promise and Terror’ is out on Feb 6, 2010 and he did a live appearence on a Greek TV show recently and performed a new track-‘Watching The Night Sky.’ It’s a bit raw because it’s live TV and the track sounds like it’ll be a future classic.

Julian Casablancas-I Wish It Was Christmas Today

5 12 2009

Sadly there’s no video, but have a listen here. I LOVE it!

Pocket Billiards Interview

4 12 2009

I interviewed the mighty Pocket Billiards for AU magazine a few issues ago, so here’s reprint.

Pocket Billiards


Members: Savage (guitar, vocals), Chuck (guitar, vocals), Steve (keys), Anto (bass), Jim (drums), Joe Monk (trumpet), Elaine (alto sax), Slow (tenor sax).

Formation: Belfast 2002

For Fans Of: The Slackers, Voodoo Glow Skulls, the Clash

Check Out: Debut album Pocket Billiards is out now.


Ever since their inception at the start of the decade, it was clear that Belfast based ska punks Pocket Billiards were something special. Even during those early days when their line-up had more changes that the Sugababes you could always guarantee that a Billiards show would be a fun night out and over the last seven years they’ve matured into one of the country’s best acts. This month they capitalize on all that talent by releasing their self-titled debut album and it was a labour of love for the nine-piece. Recorded by Oppenheimer’s Rocky O’Reilly at Start Together Studios, the slab of wax took three weeks to record and for frontman Chris Savage it was a huge relief to finally get a record out there on the shelves.

“It was brilliant finally getting a recording that really gets across the energy and sound of the band,” he says. “We previously had only recorded a demo way back at the start and then produced an EP in a bedroom (that sadly didn’t sound so good) and I think we proved to ourselves that we could make a good record. Rocky was great to work with and was as willing to experiment with different effects as I was and it allowed us to capture the sound that we had always wanted.”

With morale at an all time high, Savage and Co. decided to finally take the plunge after meeting Rocky at this year’s And So I Watch You From Afar Mandela Hall show and after listening to the high octane release, we’re glad they did.

“I just thought the time was right to make this album. We took a bit of a break over the last few years as a number of band members, including myself, became parents and after the Billiard’s baby boom, we felt that we wanted to get back to playing shows and having fun.  We picked up some good support slots, had written a load of songs and finally had a stable line-up, so we felt it was time to get the music recorded.

“The actual recording all seems a bit of a blur to me now,” he continues.  “As we were pressed for time we worked pretty hard for most of it. I remember the rest of the guys laughing at me because at times I was really losing my temper and getting a bit of a huff on.  I’m surprised they could put up with me! While listening to a playback after one of the recording sessions Anto [bass] declared that we needed ‘eagle ears.’ Now I don’t know much about birds, but I’m pretty sure that the eagle is not particularly well known for its immense auditory sensory system (I can only imagine Bill Odie would shake his head in disbelief at that statement).”

One of the best aspects of the record is the fact that they write about where we live. Tracks like ‘SPIDE’ and Belfast Town’ are not only kickass ska songs, we can relate to them too.

“I can’t stand it when artists sing in the generic ‘American’ accents or write lyrics about things they are totally detached from, just because it may be deemed cool,” he offers. “I try to write about things I have experienced or witnessed and feel strongly about, such as my daughter being born two months premature, the nonsense of musical cliques, or watching your mate become a drunken fool on a night out. At the same time I feel it’s important for me not to take myself too seriously and a bit of humour is certainly something that goes hand in hand with Pocket Billiards. I suppose that’s where songs like ‘SPIDE’ come from and the instrumental track ‘Don’t Scratch My Soca’ is a tribute to one of my all time favourite comedy shows Desmond’s. For me lyrics don’t have to be sublime pieces of poetry, if they are honest and sang with feeling then it’s more natural.

“To be totally honest I have no idea what people’s reactions to the album will be,” he concludes.  “The record is loud, energetic and catchy as hell and one thing I know is that this isn’t just for ska lovers. The album is packed full of heavy riffs, powerful brass lines and sing-a-long choruses. I just hope that people give it a shot and enjoy it.” Edwin McFee  

This is Tonight!

3 12 2009

Tonight in the Spring and Airbrake there’s a special showcase gig featuring bands from the Newry and Warrenpoint area and it’s headlined by the mighty Beat Poets. Get your arses down as it’s only £6 in.


2 12 2009

As some of you may know, Frank Castle AKA the Punisher is dead. Daken (Wolverine’s son) literally chopped him up into little bits and threw his body into a sewer. Like all good mentalists though, that isn’t the end for him and starting with issue 11, we get the Frankencastle arc which is basically Frank brought back to life as an undead zombie with a big fuckin’ gun. Earlier today I read the issue and not only does it actually work, but it’s great to see the Legion of Monsters back in action. Here’s the cover below and if you see it in a comic shop pick it up.

News from the North week 45

2 12 2009

This fortnight’s Hot Press is on the stands now so here’s a reprint of the previous issue’s NI bands column!


Words: Edwin McFee

On November 30, one of NI’s most promising acts the Beat Poets release their new EP ‘The Making’ via all major download sites and their official online store ( The four track opus is currently played by U105fm and sees the four-piece from Warrenpoint showcase a softer side than we’ve seen before, opting to take their foot off gas for just a moment. The title track is a corker with the (slight) change in direction a welcome one and we heartily recommend you pick it up. The boys are also gearing up for the release of the debut album which comes out next year and features Greg (Manic Street Preachers) Haver, Dave (Foo Fighters, Stevie Wonder) Way and Neal (The Answer, Fighting with Wire) Calderwood on knob twiddling duties and this writer for one can’t wait. On December 3 the band will also headline a special, one off showcase at the Spring and Airbrake in Belfast that aims to promote the best of the Newry/Warrenpoint music scene and the lineup features Ozzmium, Forgetting June, Indy Artworx, This Year’s Black and LTR and admission is only £6 so make sure you head down to support them all. Rumours of free Friar Tuck’s snack boxes and Timoney’s ice cream for those who turn up wearing Beat Poets t shirts have yet to be confirmed from the organisers at the time of going to press…

 Fancy the chance to support the high kings of indie synth pop Oppenheimer for their all ages show at the Spring and Airbrake this December 19? Well, all you have to do is email with your band’s details and some MP3’s before November 30 and you could be the lucky winner. The only stipulation Oppenheimer have put in place is that your group must be in their teens, so if you’re in your 30s we advise that you shave off those beards, buy some guy-liner and pretend you’ve had a tough life. Don’t worry, Hot Press has your back. The winner will be announced on December 1 so good luck.

Congrats to local rockers Swanee River who have bagged the much coveted support slot for the Answer’s Ulster Hall gig on December 14. The band kicked more ass than Jean Claude Van Damme at this year’s Glasgowbury so if you’re planning to go to the show make sure you get down early to see them. Tickets for the Answer’s homecoming gig are selling fast, but there are still a few left and you can get your mitts on one for £17 courtesy of Ticketmaster. We’re already dusting down our leather jacket in anticipation.

Turbo Fruits NME Review

1 12 2009

Here’s a reprint of my review of the ace Turbo Fruits record that ran in the NME last week. I’m particularly proud of this one coz I managed to get in mentions of the Murder City Devils and RFTC.

Turbo Fruits

Echo Kid

(Ark Recordings)


It’s been a decidedly difficult decade for devotees of sleazy rock ‘n’ roll. Thanks to the untimely demise of torchbearers such as the Murder City Devils and Rocket from the Crypt at the start of the noughties, there’s more life round Dracula’s house these days than there is in that once fertile scene. However, all that might change with the release of ‘Echo Kid,’ Tennessee tearaways Turbo Fruits’ second stab at success.

Springing from the over-active imagination of former Be Your Own Pet guitar slinger Jonas Stein, the record is a testament to just how inspirational teenage kicks can be. Comprising of 12 tracks, ‘Echo Kid’ wears its Dead Boys and Marc Bolan influences on its tattered flannel sleeve, but whereas their debut may have been a little too preoccupied with drugs-this one’s all about the hugs (of the sexy kind of course).

Starting with a riff ripped right out of RFTC/Night Marchers mainman John Reiss’ songbook (‘International Language of Love’), the record begins a little bit like a Ritalin fuelled brat and it doesn’t let up for 35minutes. While many of the tracks possess that same spazz-core energy of Stein’s former outfit, it has to be said that they’re also a lot more refined than anything he’s written before (well, he has turned 21 after all…). ‘Naked With You’ is packed with layers of sugar sweet harmonies, ‘Hold Me’ is a loved up, waltzing sea shanty and ‘Get Up Get On Down (Tonight)’ sounds like they whipped out their Ouija boards and enlisted a zombie Eddie Cochran to provide the retro guitar licks.

 Lyrically speaking we’re talking Ramone influences rather than Rimbaud (“What happened girl/You used to take care of me/Now you’ve got a new boy/ Who’s big and scares me” croons Jonas in his best Bolan impression on ‘My Stupid Heart’) and very rarely do we catch a glimpse into the trio’s real lives. But that’s ok, as this record is all about escapism and raising the tempo while lowering the tone. For all its slightly brainless subject matter, ‘Echo Kid’ is still as much fun as watching your worst enemy get punched in the nards by Ricky Hatton  though and by the climax of album closer ‘Broadzilla’ it’s clear that Turbo Fruits have delivered a very tasty treat indeed. So what are you waiting for? Dig in.  Edwin McFee

Download: 1) ‘Naked With You,’ 2) ‘Lotta Lotta Ladies,’ 3) ‘My Stupid Heart’