News From the North Week 109 (Hot Press)

20 10 2012

Here’s a reprint of my NI music news column that runs every fortnight in Hot Press.

News

Words: Edwin McFee

Fresh from kicking many an ass and taking their respective names at Glasgowbury, the incendiary Empty Lungs continue their rise to NI rock royalty this fortnight with the news that they’re set to support San Franciso punks Dead To Me on their up-coming Irish tour.  Kicking off on Aug 18 at Fibber Magee’s, Dublin, the four-piece also share the stage with the Fat Wreck Chords signed Americans in the Warzone Centre, Belfast on Aug 19 and both dates are recommended for anyone with even a shred of interest in impassioned punk and rock. Generous souls that they are, Empty Lungs have just recently made their ace single ‘Identity Lost’ (plus two other songs) available for free too and you can snag them at emptylungs.bandcamp.com. Doooo iiiiittttt.

 

Next up, irrepressible alt-rock trio Axis Of have just unveiled their plans for their total domination of Ireland. Dubbed the 32 Counties tour and inspired by Irish artists, poets, writers, creatives and musicians through the centuries (nope, I’m don’t really know what they mean by that either), the band perform at least one show in each county over the next three months or so and some of the key dates for your respective diaries include Harrison’s, Dundalk (Aug 10), Voodoo, Belfast (Aug 11) and the “we’re not sure how they’re going to manage it” four gigs in four counties on one day event that takes place at Essaness Music, Kilkenny, TBC, Wexford, John Palmer Music, Waterford and Belly Bang, Tipperary on Aug 25. The boys will also be announcing extra gigs over the next few months to tie in with their up-coming release of their debut album Finding St. Kilda and for more details visit axisof.co.uk.

 

Snow Patrol frontman and all-round local lad made good Gary Lightbody has confirmed he’s just filmed a bit part for Sky Atlantic’s battles and boobies TV show Game Of Thrones. Filmed in the north, the popular (though slightly pervy) programme is a bit of a hit with the general public and while the singer didn’t dish too much dirt on his role he took to Facebook to post up a suitably muddy looking photo of himself. Nice…

 

Finally this fortnight I’ve just enough room to tell you noise rockers Comply Or Die and Mudbitch have teamed up to play three dates down south this August. Kicking off on the 9th at Fibber Magee’s, Dublin, the bands then play Fred Zeppelin’s, Cork on Aug 10 and the Blind Pig, Limerick on Aug 11 so if you’re in the area check them out as they rule the proverbial school.

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News From The North 109

22 09 2012

Here’s a reprint of my NI music news column that runs every fortnight in Hot Press.

News

Words: Edwin McFee

Fresh from kicking many an ass and taking their respective names at Glasgowbury, the incendiary Empty Lungs continue their rise to NI rock royalty this fortnight with the news that they’re set to support San Franciso punks Dead To Me on their up-coming Irish tour.  Kicking off on Aug 18 at Fibber Magee’s, Dublin, the four-piece also share the stage with the Fat Wreck Chords signed Americans in the Warzone Centre, Belfast on Aug 19 and both dates are recommended for anyone with even a shred of interest in impassioned punk and rock. Generous souls that they are, Empty Lungs have just recently made their ace single ‘Identity Lost’ (plus two other songs) available for free too and you can snag them at emptylungs.bandcamp.com. Doooo iiiiittttt.

 

Next up, irrepressible alt-rock trio Axis Of have just unveiled their plans for their total domination of Ireland. Dubbed the 32 Counties tour and inspired by Irish artists, poets, writers, creatives and musicians through the centuries (nope, I’m don’t really know what they mean by that either), the band perform at least one show in each county over the next three months or so and some of the key dates for your respective diaries include Harrison’s, Dundalk (Aug 10), Voodoo, Belfast (Aug 11) and the “we’re not sure how they’re going to manage it” four gigs in four counties on one day event that takes place at Essaness Music, Kilkenny, TBC, Wexford, John Palmer Music, Waterford and Belly Bang, Tipperary on Aug 25. The boys will also be announcing extra gigs over the next few months to tie in with their up-coming release of their debut album Finding St. Kilda and for more details visit axisof.co.uk.

 

Snow Patrol frontman and all-round local lad made good Gary Lightbody has confirmed he’s just filmed a bit part for Sky Atlantic’s battles and boobies TV show Game Of Thrones. Filmed in the north, the popular (though slightly pervy) programme is a bit of a hit with the general public and while the singer didn’t dish too much dirt on his role he took to Facebook to post up a suitably muddy looking photo of himself. Nice…

 

Finally this fortnight I’ve just enough room to tell you noise rockers Comply Or Die and Mudbitch have teamed up to play three dates down south this August. Kicking off on the 9th at Fibber Magee’s, Dublin, the bands then play Fred Zeppelin’s, Cork on Aug 10 and the Blind Pig, Limerick on Aug 11 so if you’re in the area check them out as they rule the proverbial school.





News From The North Christmas Special 2011

21 12 2011

Here’s a reprint of the festive edition of my fornightly Hot Press column. Readers may be interested to know that despite writing it in November, I managed to make it as Christmassy as possible.Yes, I am THAT good.

News

Words: Edwin McFee

By the time this latest missive from the North reaches you, no doubt you’ll all be getting ready to whip out your chestnuts in order to give them a ruddy good roasting on an open fire, so this issue I’ve taken a leaf out of Cliff Richard’s book, donned an over-sized reindeer themed woolly jumper and dug out some stories of NI acts who are getting into the festive spirit.

First up, rising Derry-based alt rockers Intermission are hosting a Christmas party in Mason’s  in their hometown on Dec 2 alongside Play On The Day North winners Mojo GoGo. The promising three-piece are also launching their debut EP ‘Escaping Dharma’ on the night and you can get a sneak peak of the slab of wax here: intermission.bandcamp.com. Produced, mixed, mastered and designed by multi-talented frontman Glenn Rosborough (who you may recall used to be a member of the well thought of Kharma 45) the record should help establish the boys as one of the North’s bigger players next year and we’re expecting great things from them in 2012.

Next up, the legend that is Mr Ralph McLean is broadcasting a special Christmas show on Radio Ulster on Dec 14 between 8pm-10pm and he will be joined by some ace local acts (which include Gareth Dunlop, Isobel Anderson, Matt McGinn, Paul Casey and Ruby Colley) who will perform some of their own songs as well as some festive favourites. Taking place on location at the Bronte Music Club in the Bronte Homeland in Rathfriland, Co. Down, the programme promises to turn even the most Grinch-like listener into a real-life Buddy the Elf, so make sure you tune in.

Sludge-loving noise rockers Comply or Die indulge their inner Kris Kringle for a show on Dec 15 at the Menagerie, Belfast and they’re promising a performance that will make Shakin’ (‘Merry Christmas Everyone’) Stevens’ legendary love of the Yuletide season pale in comparison. Backed by Larne’s the Burnt Reynolds, admission is £4 and rumours of free entry for anyone dressed in a Santa Claus suit could not be confirmed at the time of going to press…

Finally, one of NI’s brightest hopes Rams’ Pocket Radio rounds off a fantastic year by playing a gig at the Stiff Kitten, Belfast on Dec 23. Currently touring in support of the sublime ‘Dogs Run In Packs’ EP, Peter McCauley and Co. aim to cap off a great 2011 in style and the gig is a must-see for anyone who loves left of centre alt-pop. Miss it at your peril.





Comply Or Die Interview

5 09 2011

Here’s a reprint of an interview I did with Comply Or Die for the Big List. Their new album  ‘Depths’ is out today. Check it out.

Comply Or Die

Continuing our year-long catch-up with some of NI’s latest and greatest bands, this month we meet Michael Smyth, singer/guitarist for local noise rock anti-heroes Comply Or Die. Enjoy.

Hi Michael and welcome to the Big List. First off, your new single ‘Shanghaied’ is currently out and about in the realm of the interweb. Can you tell us a little about this virtual slab of wax?

“‘Shanghaied’ is taken from our forthcoming album ‘Depths,’ which was recorded at Einstein Studios with Mr. Frankie McClay. We put it out ahead of the album to wet people’s appetite and generate some buzz around the band. It’s a pretty straight ahead track for us compared to say ‘Nyl’ off our ‘Invocation’ EP. I guess its pretty hooky and maybe even catchy, but don’t expect any bubblegum pop from us!”

 

Why did you decide to offer it up as a free download?
“For a consumer, free is the best price! We really just wanted to reach as many people as possible with it. Again, it helps to generate a buzz around us and the album and since we are marketing gurus, our research showed that this was the best way to generate revenue for our end product…Bill Hicks is probably spinning in his grave…”

 

Your previous release before that was a split cassette-only single with Slomatics, which in many respects couldn’t be any more different to an MP3. Why did you choose to put out an ep on this format?

“It was really just an opportunity to do a split with our friends in Slomatics, I think it was really Matt [Crothers, drums] from our band and Dave from Slomatics that liked the idea of a tape and they just ran with it. It features ‘Vermin’ from the album ‘Depths,’ which is one of the heavier songs of the album and we thought it would sit well alongside the Slomatics’ songs. Putting it out on tape makes it a bit special as well. In saying that, we did include a free digital download code so people could put it on their MP3 player, see there’s that marketing genius again.”

 

We understand you’ve finished recording your second album ‘Depths.’ How’s it sound?

“It’s been done since October or November last year, we’re just getting the printing and duplication done now. It sounds loud and vicious and huge. Frankie did a great job with it. We had worked with him before on the ‘Invocation’ EP, so he had an idea of our sound already and he was able to build upon the work we did together on the EP and just step it all up for the album. It jumps out of the speakers at you, like an angry mountain lion.”

 

Can you give us any exclusive news on it? 

“There are 8 songs on the album and its ordered as though it were a vinyl record-so it’s split into two sets of four songs. Each ‘side’ ends with a long song, the first side ends with ‘Vermin,’ and the second side ends with a 15 minute long instrumental song named ‘DMT.’ If you’ve heard ‘Shanghaied’ and ‘Vermin,’ you know how different those songs are from each other and that continues throughout the album. There are no two songs that are the same. They all touch on different ideas and sounds, so hopefully it’ll keep people interested. The album is 45 minutes, which might seem long for eight songs, but it bounds along so it never gets dull or stale. The art was done by Glyn Smyth. He did an amazing job with it. It’s a really strong aesthetic to compliment the music. Turning the art over to someone else was a huge thing for us, as up until now we’ve done all the artwork within the band. We basically gave the album and the lyrics to Glyn and just said ‘go for it.’ We wanted to see what someone else’s take on it would be and we’re all very happy with the outcome. The album should hopefully be out in August, but that’s not set in stone…”

 

Finally, do you think this will be the album that helps the band book bigger dates? (Personally we can’t understand why you guys haven’t been included on the line-ups of some of the larger local festivals).

“You and me both! It would be great to get some festival slots or even just some bigger gigs around Northern Ireland. We’re in a difficult position in that the music we play doesn’t necessarily slot nicely alongside most bands. We’re not punk and we’re not metal, but there are elements of both in our music and that seems to be difficult for people to get their head’s around. Hopefully the album is as well received as the single and people pick up on it. We’re constantly sending stuff out to promoters and it’d be good to see some of them come back on it. We play probably more often than most bands in order to help sustain ourselves and reach more people, but it would be great to get out of the smaller bars and into a big gig setting.”

For more information on Comply Or Die check out www.diecomply.com.





News From The North Week 68

4 12 2010

Here’s a reprint of my NI news column that runs every fortnight in Hot Press and as I led the piece with news about Gacy Threads I’ve also included their video for the immense ‘Sieving Secrets’ below. The clip was made by Red Cap Productions and looks fucking ace.

News

Words: Edwin McFee

Avid readers of this very column will already be aware of this writer’s love for the mighty Gacys Threads and with that in mind it gives me great pleasure to let you all know that the riff juggernauts are about to embark on a tour of Ireland and (quite possibly) beyond in the near future. Having just released their ace ‘Wolf Bridge’ EP (which is available via www.gacythreads.com alongside a plethora of lovely T-shirts designed by Chris from White Dragon tattoo studio) the boys bring the noise to the likes of Limerick, Derry, Dublin and everywhere in-between from this Dec and the exact dates on where they’re performing are up on their website as we speak.

Possibly the north’s best party band Here Comes the Landed Gentry get the Crimbo vibe started early with the news of a Yuletide show in Gweedore, Derry this Dec 23 (or Christmas Eve Eve as Zig and Zag used to call it). The so-called “Annual Xmas Explosion” is sure to be a fun night and the venue of choice is the handily named Gweedore Bar. The band are planning to make copies of their debut album available on the evening too, so if you’re in the area make sure you check them out as they’re one of the best live acts in the country bar none.

Those lovely (and charitable) people at Common Grounds café in Belfast are once again on the lookout for acoustic performers for their Friday night gigs. At the moment there are a couple of dates free this month and next, so if you fancy letting your inner singer/songwriter free for the evening email the organisers at rentaghost31@yahoo.co.uk for more details. As all proceeds go to charity you won’t be paid, but we’ve been assured that you’ll get fed and hey, a free meal is the best kinda meal, right?

Sludged up heavy types Slomatics have just re-emerged from Start Together Studios in Belfast with five brand new tracks under their arms. If rumours are to be believed the new songs feature accordions, moogs and bicycle wheels so it should sound interesting if nothing else. Two of the cuts are ear-marked for an up-coming split cassette with Comply or Die and the other three are for a split 12”/CD with Liverpool band Conan and both will be released early next year via Head of Crom Records and Aurora Borealis. For more news of Slomatics check out their MySpace (www.myspace.com/slomatics) for future gig dates and a sneak preview of ‘Hold The Skull.’





News From The North Weeks 61 and 62

7 09 2010

News

Words: Edwin McFee

Belfast-based riff behemoths LaFaro continue to steamroll their way to the top of the NI band food chain this fortnight with the announcement that they’re set to play at this year’s Reading and Leeds festivals. The four-piece will appear at the BBC Introducing stage and perform at Leeds on August 28 and Reading the following day. Also playing on those days are Blink 182 and Weezer, but since both those bands disappeared up their own bum holes years ago you’ve no excuse not to check out Johnny Black and Co. In other LaFaro news, the boys have been chosen to support seminal post hardcore heroes Helmet on their first European tour in yonks. Taking place over the months of November and December, the boys play Belgium, Holland and more and we can’t think of a better support act for Page Hamilton’s crew.

Turning our attentions to festivals at home, the always entertaining Joe Echo (plus full band) are slated to appear at this year’s Electric Picnic. After wowing the crowds at Oxegen, Mr Echo is all set to repeat that success with a performance on September 3, which also just so happens to be the release date of his new single ‘Tilly’s Cowboy’ and mighty fine it is too.

 If the recent gig by Iron Maiden and upcoming Irish dates by Guns ‘N’ Roses have whetted your appetites for destruction (see what we did there?) then check out the brand spanking new rock night called Hanger 18 which launches in the Pavilion bar in Belfast on August 20. Promising a slightly heavier music policy (think Pantera rather than Poison) the night begins at 9.30pm and rumours of a reduced cover charge being offered for anyone turning up in a patch-laden denim and leather outfit aren’t confirmed at the time of going to press (we joke because we care). The organisers are also planning another rock night called Redeemer (which is sponsored by Scuzz TV and Metal Hammer magazine) in the same venue and that kicks off on August 28 too.

News

Words: Edwin McFee

Sludge loving post punks Comply or Die have re-entered the studio this fortnight to begin work on the follow up to their epic self-titled debut album. Early reports indicate the band are experimenting with longer song structures-albeit delivered in their own unique louder than everyone else fashion-and bassist Ian Pearce tells us that some of the new material is being ear-marked for an up-coming split cassette (remember them? No? Just me then…) with the Slomatics. Comply or Die are also gearing up to play a secret gig in a half finished bungalow which boasts an adjoining medieval graveyard in early September too. At the moment the trio are keeping the exact details to themselves, though we do know that it’s near Ballymoney and if you bribe their singer Michael with enough Icarus Line singles, then he’ll sing like a canary.

The mighty Trucker Diablo have just released their new record The Devil Rhythm and you’ll be pushed to hear a better classic rock album all year. Already a hit with their faithful followers, the album can be bought from the band directly at www.myspace.com/truckerdiablo. In other TD news, the boys have featured in a recent Facebook campaign to get them to support Thin Lizzy when they play in Belfast next February. Click on http://www.facebook.com/TruckerDiabloSupportPage if you’d like to see the riff monsters share the stage with Ricky Warwick and Co.

This September, the North Coast’s Under Stars & Gutters aim to beat those back to school blues by re-releasing their whole catalogue for free via American label Death To False Hope Records. While there are no official dates available at the time of going to press, keep checking www.myspace.com/deathtofalsehoperecords for punky goodness.

Speaking of new releases, the Beat Poets have penciled in October 4 for the launch date of their new single ‘Gravity.’ While we haven’t heard the recorded version of the tune yet, we’re sure it’ll repeat the success of their mainstream breakthrough track ‘One By One.’ The Poets’ VM Records labelmates Silhouette are also celebrating the news that their superb single ‘Volume Destroyed’ has just been added to Cool FM’s daytime radio playlist. Shauna Tohill and Co. will be joining the likes of Lady Gaga, Kings of Leon and the Killers on the airwaves and we can’t think of a better act to show the mainstream pop/rock world just how it’s done. For more news on Silhouette and the Beat Poets check out VM Records’ website at www.myspace.com/vexedmusicrecords.





News From The North Week 47

8 02 2010

Would you believe this week marks the 2nd birthday of my NI band news column in Hot Press? Mad, isn’t it? Two years on and I’m pleased to report that bands from my neck of the woods are starting to get the recognition/breaks they deserve and I’m still as fired up about writing about them as I ever was. This fortnight’s issue of Hot Press is out on Thursday, so here’s last issue’s piece.

Support your scene. Cynicism is for dicks and rich kids.

News

Words: Edwin McFee

This fortnight has been mostly spent recalling the heady days of summer 2009 and more importantly the local band love-in that was Glasgowbury. Why is that we hear you cry? Well this week we’ve received word from the organisers that they’re now accepting submissions to take part in this year’s festival. If you’re in a band and want to feature on the bill, then post out a press pack (including an up to date biog and CD) to Glasgowbury Music Group, Unit B1, the Business Centre, Tobermore Road, Draperstown, Co. Derry, Northern Ireland BT45 7AG. We don’t know about you, but we’re looking forward to revisiting the noodle bar that ran out of noodles and the always entertaining campsite already.

Congrats to And So I Watch You From Afar and the Duckworth Lewis Method who have made the shortlist for the Choice Music Prize. While this writer feels that there should be a few more NI names on that list apart from the customary token few, it’s always nice to see hard working bands get some recognition. The live show takes place on March 3 in Vicar Street and we’d like to wish everyone good luck.

Fancy yourself as the next Steve Harris, Phil Lynott or even, er, yer man from the Jonas Brothers who sometimes plays an instrument onstage? Well, you might just be in luck this month as Delirium Tremens are on the hunt for a new bass player. Eager the fill the hole left by DT’s mainstay Brian, the band are urging anyone with an appetite for destruction (and by destruction we mean good old fashioned alternative rock) to email glennlyall@hotmail.com if they want the gig.  

Comply or Die have made a video for their thunderous track ‘Love Under Will.’ The clip, which was directed by Ron from the Black Bear Saloon (more on him in a minute) features enough fake blood to give Rob Zombie himself the willies and you can view it here-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3Kuo9LD9Q8. Comply or Die also have a shed-load of dates coming up so check out their website www.diecomply.com to see if they’re playing in your town, village or mud hut.

Finally, as most of you already know-a huge earthquake decimated Haiti recently. Keen to do their bit, the NI music scene have banned together for a gig on January 31. Organized by Ron from the Black Bear Saloon, Anto from Tin Pot Operation and John from Bruised Fruit, it features 50bands including the Answer and General Fiasco. For more information take a look at the HP news section and for up to the minute info click on www.twitter.com/belfast4haiti.