Bye Bye 2010

31 12 2010

Pound for pound, 2010 has been a pretty decent year. I started writing for Metal Hammer (a magazine I used to always read in my not-so misspent youth) got my first cover for Hot Press, when on tour a few times, checked out some festivals, wrote the liner notes to an album, looked after some longer assignments for  NME and just when I thought I’d interviewed everyone I’ve ever wanted to speak to (bar Morrissey and Courtney of course), I flew out to America to talk to Jim Lee. Yes, the Jim Lee who drew the biggest selling comic book of all time (X-Men #1) that also kick-started my love for the medium when I was  a young fella.

On the other hand, it’s been a pretty unlucky 12 months too and everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Numerous cancelled flights, missing money… you name it-it all happened this year and to top it all off we lost legends like Dio as well. So, from that perspective, I’ll be glad to see the back of 2010.

Still, “what doesn’t kill you” and all that and as it’s the last day of the year, I figured it made sense to post up my top 20 records of the year that I submitted to all the people I write for. It definitely wasn’t a vintage 12 months for tuneage, but there were a few corkers that made it all worthwhile.

Anyway, enough from me. I’m off to get thoroughly trousered. I think I deserve it.

 See you all next year.

Albums of 2010

1 The Gaslight Anthem-‘American Slang’

1 Iron Maiden ‘The Final Frontier’

3 The Smoking Hearts ‘Pride of Nowhere’

4 The Drums ‘The Drums’

5 Blaze Bayley ‘Promise & Terror’

6 Valient Thorr ‘Stranger’

7 Dan Sartain ‘Lives’

8 Timber Timbre ‘Timber Timbre’

9 Therapy? ‘We’re Here To The End’

10 Two Door Cinema Club-‘Tourist History’

11 The Sword ‘Warp Riders’

12 LaFaro ‘LaFaro’

13 Perfume Genius ‘Learning’

14 The Jim Jones Revue ‘Burning Your House Down’

15 Various Artists ‘Pledge: A Tribute To Kerbdog’

16 Trash Talk ‘Eyes & Nines’

17 Tired Pony ‘The Place We Ran From’

18 Gemma Ray ‘It’s A Shame About Gemma Ray’

19 General Fiasco ‘Buildings’

20 Dum Dum Girls ‘I Will Be’





Access All Areas: Jettblack and Reckless Love

30 12 2010

As it’s nearly the end of the year, I’ve decided to post up a reprint of my favourite feature that I’ve written over the last 12 months. This ‘on the road’ piece originally ran in Metal Hammer a few months ago and I had a great time touring around Ireland with the Jettblack and Reckless Love boys and if you like tales of booze, birds and wickedness then hopefully you’ll get a laugh or three. Enjoy.

Access All Areas

Jettblack/Reckless Love

Words: Edwin McFee

Striding onstage in Belfast like a spray-on jeans clad antidote to nu-Thatcherism made flesh, rising stars Jettblack may be nearing the end of their 15 date double header with Finish glam rock types Reckless Love, but that doesn’t stop the self-confessed cock metal crew from popping the city’s gig cherry good and proper. You see the English four-piece are on a bit of a musical crusade against the “evils of emo” and by writing songs about hot girls (Two Hot Girls) and slipping it on (errr Slip It On) they aim to banish the legions of panda-eyed misery-guts from the world for good. Well, providing they manage to keep onto their trousers long enough to play a forty minute set that is.

“That gig was borderline assault,” grins affable bassist and Paul Simonon-alike Tom Wright over a well-earned beer after the show. “The girls in the front row were insane. They were basically molesting our singer Jon.”

“This one girl tried to get my cock out while I was playing,” chimes in the co-frontman as he tucks into his rider. “I had both hands busy, so I couldn’t really stop her. I thought, she’s probably going to take my cock out and start wanking me off as I’m playing and I can’t do anything about it because I’ve got a solo coming up. Basically, it was a situation of shred and ejaculate. I can’t ruin the show. I just have to keep going. I’m a professional you see.”

About an hour before Hammer meets up with Jettblack, it was absolute bedlam in the sold out Auntie Annie’s venue. Before any of the bands played a single note, the paramedics were being called for a female fan who slipped and split her head open on the stairs and the aforementioned coven of horned up hotties on the front row were audibly eager to get a tickle on the band’s love truncheons from the get go. In short, this was our kind of party, but unfortunately, due to an AWOL tour manager, it took us a bit of time to actually meet up with the band.

“Our tour manager fucked off a few days ago to be an extra in Pirates of the Caribbean 4,” explains Tom. “For some reason tour managers can’t handle us. One bloke has refused to get in the van with us ever again. Another bloke we pretty much cracked and had to leave, so we thought fuck it-let’s just do it ourselves from now on.”

After sharing some beers with the boys, Hammer heads back outside to catch spandex-loving, 80s revivalists Reckless Love. Unfortunately three members of the band have been struck down by the sniffles and aren’t quite as up for it as Jettblack and singer Olli Herman tells us they won’t be making the photo shoot at the Guinness Storehouse tomorrow in Dublin. “The doctor in Nottingham told me to cancel the rest of the tour, but I’m not doing that as it wouldn’t be fair to the fans. We are going to get a lot of sleep instead though,” he explains. Righto then…

Still, with a sickly Reckless Love not fit to enter into the spirit of the occasion, Jettblack more than make up for things in the mayhem stakes and are relishing the opportunity of playing in places they’ve never visited before. In fairness, they also probably love the fact that there’s a hapless security guard outside who’s literally battling a dozen backstage-bound ladies too.

“No man is going to say that having his ego massaged like that isn’t a nice feeling, but you can’t be an arsehole about it either,” offers singer Will Stapleton.

With things winding down in Belfast and the ice well and truly broken, we leave the bands to get back to their hotel for a much deserved kip before our trip to Dublin. The next morning, Hammer rejoins the Jettblack tour party in their swanky bus and we’re off to collect our snapper John at the airport. Within about five minutes of getting onboard, the insanely hungover quartet make us feel at home and for the next few hours we talk comic books, music and more while sampling some squishy bananas (insert your own Carry-On style gag here readers).  

A fun-loving bunch, the childhood friends have been together for 14 years and when we suggest that that length of time normally constitutes a life sentence, drummer Matt Oliver laughs, “Basically we’ve fucked all other career options up, so we have to stick with each other.”

The band have great stories to tell too and as we cross the border at Newry and travel to the Republic of Ireland, they share their plans to kidnap (yes, kidnap) their friend in a few months time and leave him in a ditch somewhere.

“We’ve got the whole thing thought through,” explains Matt with a grin. “We’re going to get balaclavas, do fake accents and leave him in a field somewhere and not tell him it was us until six months later. Knowing him though he’ll probably go one step further and have us all arrested!”

With a brief pit-stop made in Swords to buy some over-priced soggy chips, Jettblack create quite the stir with the girls behind the counter and some of them want their photo taken with the band. It seems that the boys are used to the attention and once we pick up our photographer they’re the subject of even more excitement when we reach the Guinness Factory.

With the American and Japanese tourists already going bat-shit crazy for the Blarney, once they see Jettblack posing with their pints it tips them over the edge and inspires dozens of amateur paparazzi to whip out their phones and take a photo. While we all agree it’s a shame Reckless Love couldn’t join us for the guided tour, the shoot is still a blast. Thanks to “responsible drinking” laws, the band can’t be pictured with a half-full pint of the Black Stuff, so they wisely neck their free booze after each break so they can get a refill. Well, it’d be rude not to…

Once we’re finished at the tourist attraction, it’s back on the bus to debate whether Mick Dundee should have featured in the Expendables, why the band want to go on an Axis of Evil tour (“We want to play to the Taliban. Those guys need some fun too,” laughs Tom) and to hear about how the release of their debut album Get Your Hands Dirty a few months ago was the result of a lot of hard work.

“We’ve worked a lot of shitty jobs to get to this stage,” confesses Matt. “I once worked in a morgue and it was terrible. They used to call the dead bodies ‘Rose Cottages.’ It was basically a code-word so people wouldn’t twig what we were talking about. I’ve carried a severed head in a bucket and all sorts of things. It was horrible. The way I see life now is you could be back at work on a building site so this seems like a holiday.”

After getting lost in Dublin’s never-ending one way road system for half an hour, we arrive at the Crawdaddy where Hammer rolls up its sleeves and helps the lads load in. After sound-check we give the band an hour to themselves before meeting up again before the show. Reckless Love are apologetic and regret missing the photo shoot and look a bit shagged out as they sprawl on the couch (we believe that’s the official medical term for it anyway).

“I got three bras last night,” smirks drummer Hessu Maxx. “I also got some panties a few nights before too.”

As the tub thumper puts the pink knickers on a pint of milk, Olli laughs at the respectably sized under-crackers, “Look at them. They’re so huge.”

With Reckless Love still under the weather, we rejoin Jettblack on their tour bus and pretty soon talk turns to their salacious new video for ‘Two Hot Girls.’ We ask them if they think having so many scantily clad ladies in the clip will land them in hot water with feminists and Tom laughs “Fuck ‘em.”

“It’s all a contradiction anyway, as it’s not two hot girls in the video-it’s 22 hot girls. Obviously we’re shit at maths,” adds Jon with his tongue in his cheek. “What’s the big deal anyway?  There’s a lot of male flesh in there as well. There’s something for everyone and I think it offers fashion tips for women. For example-when you’re doing the ironing, that’s what you should be wearing. When you’re cooking my dinner, that’s what you should be wearing…”

“Or when you’re operating heavy machinery too of course,” chips in Matt.

An hour later its show-time and Hammer has been charged with the task of filming some footage of Jettblack for an upcoming single. In a show of solidarity with their label-mates, Reckless Love guitarist Pepe comes on to share a solo with the band before they bow out with an ace cover of Kenny Loggins’ Danger Zone. Jettblack also return the favour by coming out onstage for Reckless Love’s final song ‘One More Time’ as Olli, who’s always aware of the camera, scales the rafters and gives it his best David Lee Roth/Stars in their Eyes performance.

With the tour finished and Jettblack at a loss for something to do, Hammer takes them to the legendary Irish rock pub Bruxelles. The boys love having their picture taken beside the statue of Dublin’s favourite son Phil Lynott (yes, fuck off Bono) and as we spend the rest of the night getting trolleyed on over-expensive booze, we talk about how the band feels about having people join them on tour.

“We like having people tag along,” says Jon. “We’re open to that. We’ve got a dressing room that’s always free for people to come in and chat coz we don’t give a fuck. We’ve noticed a lot of bands can be a bit more cagey though. You can see it in their body language as soon as you walk in.”

“I feel sorry for the people who have to come along with us to be honest,” laughs Tom. “The amount of bullshit that gets spoken among the four of us would crack most people up.”

And with that we bid the band farewell. It’s four in the morning and they’ve a ferry to catch. As we drunkenly say our goodbyes, Matt gives us his take on the resurgence of the hair metal scene a la Jerry Springer’s Final Thought.

“Something is stirring,” says the sticksman, channeling his inner Mystic Meg. “A lot of younger kids are realizing that this music is fun and exciting. I think the resurgence is a kick-back to what everyone’s been listening to for the last 10 years. Emo’s run its course. It’s become generic and dull and we’re here to offer them something else. Hopefully it won’t take too long for people to catch on.”

Sidebar

16

Free pints of Guinness necked by the band and Hammer at the home of the black stuff

3

Members of Reckless Love who were nobbled by a nasty virus

1

Member of security who was left to deal with dozens of horned up hotties in Belfast

 0

The number of sightings of demented X Factor duo Jedward in Dublin.





Happy Christmas

23 12 2010

Right readers, I’ve just filed my last piece of copy, so I’m signing off for the festive season. I’d like to thank all the promoters, pluggers, bands, editors etc that I’ve worked with over the last 12 months and hope you all get nice presents from Daddy Christmas.

I’m back to work this Monday (I rarely ever take off longer than 3 days), so I will post up my favourite feature of the year, records of 2010 and maybe even give a few hints about what I’ve got planned for 2011  as well while I’m at it.

In the meantime, here’s a handy instructional video intended to help you survive Crimbo. Up the Irons.





R.I.P. Joe

22 12 2010

Without Joe Strummer I wouldn’t think the way I do, I wouldn’t look the way I do and I wouldn’t behave the way I do. He died eight years ago today and I’ll be having a drink in his honour later on tonight.

Thanks to the general dickery of record companies, I can’t embed some of the songs I wanted on my blog so check out these links http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pYwPc6UNmo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F10tP5HIpaA

The future is unwritten. R.I.P.





Final Hot Press NI News Column Of 2010

16 12 2010

Here’s a reprint of my final Hot Press NI news column of the year!

News

Words: Edwin McFee

Christmas comes a little early this week for music lovers in the North thanks to a project named You Are Music. Master-minded by the people behind A Plastic Rose and Di Di Mau Records, the travelling showcase tour intends to provide some sonic excitement all across the country as well as hopefully encouraging more people to get involved in the scene in any shape or form they fancy. At the moment they have a nine show jaunt in the works and the dates for your diary are as follows (deep breath):

Dec 4-Mojo Fury, Cashier No. 9, the Jane Bradfords and John D’Arcy play at the Cellar bar in Draperstown while Fragments, Anna Purna, Chocolate Love Factory and the unfortunately named Love Sausage Disorder appear at the Common Rooms in Dungannon. Dec 16-Kasper Rosa, Colly Strings and Once Before Take Off play at the Top of the Town in Omagh. Dec 17-Silhouette, the Rupture Dogs, Paul Shelvin and Kasper Rosa perform at the Oh Yeah Centre, Belfast. Dec 18-A Plastic Rose, Axis Of, Key of Atlas, Colly Strings and Pretty Child Backfire appear at the Mandela Hall in Belfast. Dec 22-Gacys Threads and A Northern Light are in Dicey’s, Strabane and finally, on Christmas Eve Eve (that’s Dec 23 for all of you who didn’t grow up watching Zig and Zag on the Den) Fighting with Wire, Treble M, Echo Falls, Dr Gonzo and Where the Noise Lives are in the Nerve Centre, Derry, Bomb City 7, Before Machines, Jifubuki and Off the Reservation are in the Retro, Portrush and And So I Watch You From Afar, Team Fresh and More Than Conquerors play a very special show in the Hideout, Warrenpoint.

For more information on the events (and for details on how you can become involved) check out their website www.youaremusic.co.uk.

Next up, it’s with a heavy heart that we announce that No Mean City have went their separate ways nearly a year to the day since they first formed. Despite being nominated in this very magazine’s Hot for 2010 list and playing festivals such as Download, Sonisphere and T in the Park, the old “musical differences” has reared its ugly head and they’ve sadly decided to call it a day. We’d like to wish all the members the best of luck for the future and we’re now off to listen to ‘Gone Too Soon’ by Mickey Jackson. Sniff.

But before we leave you, keep your ears out for a new band called Silence Convicts (www.myspace.com/silenceconvicts) featuring members of the Lobotomies and Gacys Threads to name but too. They’ve only just formed, but I’ve a feeling they’ll start 2011 with a bang…





Thor Trailer

13 12 2010

Oooooooooohhhhhhh





Review: Therapy? Live At The Mandela Hall

10 12 2010

It almost goes without saying these days that Therapy? are a very special band for me, so without further ado, here’s a review of their 20th Anniversary home-coming show that ran in Fate Magazine last month. Pics by Mark Leetch (www.wakeuphate.com).

Therapy? at the Mandela Hall, Belfast

In the grand scheme of things, Therapy?’s home-coming show is a big deal. No, scratch that. It’s a huge, Godzilla-sized event all things considered. You see the band are celebrating their 20th anniversary and this evening they’re treating fans to two sets (one “Best Of” and the other is a rare run through of their seminal album ‘Troublegum’) to prove once and for all that they really are the most important band that this country has ever produced (yeah you heard Snow Patrol…).

Kicking things off with their very first single ‘Meat Abstract,’ the trio go straight for the jugular, metaphorically decapitating heads with their inventive beats and berserker riffs. The ever so subtle ‘Die Like a Motherfucker’ is dedicated to David Cameron (we can’t think why….) and frontman Andy Cairns in particular looks like he’s in the form of his life as he belts out classic cuts from the last two decades that include a suitably twisted ‘Fantasy Bag,’ and a rare version of the spiky and paranoid ‘Epilepsy,’ while also dedicating the relatively new ‘Exiles’ to everyone from Northern Ireland.

Just over a 1000 bodies are squeezed into the venue tonight and it’s heartening to see such a turnout for a band that changed the face of music in the 90s and beyond. After bowing out with the one-two punch of ‘Teethgrinder’ and ‘Crooked Timber’ (which sound as nasty as Anne Widdecombe performing a striptease on Strictly Come Dancing by the way) they return for a performance of an album that changed not only this writer’s life, but generations of others too-‘Troublegum.’ And while the crowd go insane for the likes of ‘Knives’ and their mainstream smash hit single ‘Screamager,’ it’s the less heard album tracks that are the real treats in tonight’s show. ‘Hellbelly,’ and ‘Unbeliever’ are especially awe-inspiring as Andy tells his dark tells of isolation that he quips could very well be turned into “Ballyclare: The Musical. ‘Lunacy Booth’ is another gem and sees Cormac from the Answer sing guest vocals for the high notes (which were originally performed by Lesley Rankine fact fans) but the biggest surprise of the night has to be the stabbing ‘Unrequited’ with is as potent as it was when it first came out back in ’94.

After a heroic ‘Brainsaw’ the band return for an encore which sees local singer Robyn G. Shiels and Dutch Schultz’s Willy join in for a rowdy rendition of ‘Enjoy the Struggle’ before they say their farewells with ‘Innocent X’ and ‘Potato Junkie.’ As 20th birthday parties go, tonight’s show is up there with the best of them and proved without a shadow of a doubt that Therapy? really are national treasures. Happy anniversary lads.