Bye Bye 2012

31 12 2012

Yes kids, it’s that time again where we wave buh bye to the year and welcome in a new one. Instead of words this NYE,  I’ve decided to post up some pictures which sum up the last 12 months before finishing off with my top 20 LPs of 2012.

Thanks to all the bands, promoters, PRs and mates who hooked me up with records, gigs and good times.Here’s to 2013.

2012: The Year In Photos (And The Odd You Tube Link)

May 13, 2012. I’ll remember this day until they put me in a pine box.Kinda crazy to think that long after we’re dead, people will still be able to see us on this footage of City winning their first Premier league title. Can you spot me and my Da? Handy hint: We’re under the giant purple arrow….

Chilling like villains backstage at the Odyssey with the WWE alongside my brother and nephew.Also-big thanks to the Celtic Warrior Sheamus for hooking us up and being an absolute hero.

Here’s a clip of Therapy? playing ‘Exiles’ at the Tall Ships in Dublin this summer.Y’know…I might refer to myself as “the wonderful Edwin McFee” for the duration of 2013 (the quality’s amazing, eh…..?). Mad props to the Therapy? boys.

My fanzine, Generation Why, (which started the ball rolling on this mental job of mine) celebrated its tenth birthday.

There was a lot of party rocking in a variety of different places with a number of different people this year.Here’s to more adventures.

I finally got that Iron Maiden mask I’ve always wanted.

…and that Betty Banner tattoo I’ve always been looking for too.

And lastly (but certainly not, um, leastly…) here’s my Top 20 LPs of 2012.It’s been a great year for records and hopefully 2013 will be just as good. Happy New Year and Up the Irons!

1) Therapy? ‘A Brief Crack Of Light’

2) Gallows ‘Gallows’

3) Hot Water Music ‘Exister’

4) Best Coast ‘The Only Place’

5) The Gaslight Anthem ‘Handwritten’

6) Wolfsbane ‘Wolfsbane Saves The World’

7) Triggerman ‘Hail To The River Gods’

8) JD McPherson ‘Signs And Signifiers’

9) Cloud Nothings ‘Attack On Memory’

10) Hour Of 13 ‘333’

11) Cheap Freaks ‘Bury Them All’

12) The Jim Jones Revue ‘The Savage Heart’

13) Bobby Conn ‘Macaroni’

14) James Levy And The Blood Red Rose ‘Pray To Be Free’

15) Mystery Jets ‘Radlands’

16) DZ Deathrays ‘Bloodstreams’

17) Master And Dog ‘Master And Dog’

18) Band Of Horses ‘Mirage Rock’

19) Baby Woodrose ‘Third Eye Surgery’

20) Alabama Shakes ‘Boys & Girls’





Metal Hammer Top 20 Albums Of The Year

13 12 2012

The Christmas/end of year Metal Hammer is out this week and as is customary, the Top 50 albums of 2012 (voted for by writers for the mag like myself) are revealed.Sadly this year, there wasn’t enough room to print the individual lists of all the scribes (boo!) but since I’m awful good to you Dead Horse readers I’ve posted up mine below.

Towards the end of the month I’ll also post up the less genre-specific list I sent to the other mags I write for,but for now, without further ado, here’s my pick of the heaviest records of ’12.

01) Therapy? ‘A Brief Crack Of Light’ (Blast)

02) Gallows ”Gallows’ (Venn Records)

03) Wolfsbane ‘Wolfsane Save The World’ (Cargo)

04) Triggerman ‘Hail To The River Gods’ (Triggerlad Records)

05) Hour Of 13 ‘333’ (Earache)

06) Down ‘Down IV Part 1: Purple EP’ (Roadrunner)

07) Pulled Apart By Horses ‘Tough Love’ (Transgressive)

08) Gacys Threads ‘The Ignorance Of Purity’ (Savour Your Scene)

09) Turbonegro ‘Sexual Harassment’ (Volcom)

10) Trash Talk ‘119’ (Odd Future Records)

11) The Cult ‘Choice Of Weapon’ (Cooking Vinyl)

12) Rolo Tomassi ‘Astraea’ (Destination Moon)

13) Tankard ‘A Girl Called Cerveza’ (Plastic Head)

14) Pelican ‘Ataraxia/Taraxis’ (Southern Lord)

15) Purified In Blood ‘Flight Of A Dying Sun’ (Indie Recordings)

16) Orange Goblin ‘Eulogy For The Damned’ (Plastic Head)

17) Witchsorrow ‘God Curse Us All’ (Rise Above Records)

18) Paranoid Visions ‘Escape From The Austerity Complex'(Plastic Head)

19) Steve Harris ‘British Lion’ (EMI)

20) Corrosion Of Conformity ‘Corrosion Of Conformity'(Plastic Head)





‘Gallows’ Review (Hot Press)

18 10 2012

In a week or so I have to start putting together a list of my favourite records of 2012 for the magazines I write for and this bad boy will almost certainly be up there near the top.

Here’s a reprint of my review of the insanely good new Gallows LP that ran in Hot Press a few issues ago.

GALLOWS

Gallows (Venn Records)

Four and a half Stars

Key Track: ‘Vapid Adolescent Blues’

COME-BACK KIDS STILL THE KINGS OF PUNK

In many ways Gallows’ third record is a massive fuck you to anyone who doubted the band could continue delivering neck-bothering pit anthems in the wake of the departure of their iconic frontman Frank Carter. A snarling, scintillating slab of sonic violence that is so joyously abrasive it should come with a government health warning, new recruit (and former Alexisonfire man Wade MacNeil) effortlessly conducts the carnage throughout 11 tracks, invoking the likes of Poison Idea, Agnostic Front and Sick Of It All yet still sounding like their very own monster. There are numerous highlights on this incendiary release-‘Vapid Adolescent Blues’ is one of the best punk songs this writer has heard in years and ‘Everybody Loves You (When You’re Dead)’ is a riotous mash-up of Murder City Devils’ swagger and all-out smash-mouth hardcore, but pretty much everything is essential listening. Highly recommended.

EDWIN McFEE





Albums of ’09

8 12 2009

As things start to wind down, all the magazines are printing their lists of the year as not much else is happening. Last month you may remember I submitted my albums of the year for NME and Hot Press and as they’re now published I can post up what  I submitted (exciting, eh?). I haven’t seen Hot Press’ list yet, but I have seen NME’s and I think it’s quite similar so I’m on the same page as at least a few folk. Pick up this week’s copy as I’ve written some of the accompanying blurbs.

Anway-enough labbering-here’s my albums of the year (insert drum roll here)

Albums Of The Year (Edwin McFee)

1.      Gallows ‘Grey Britain’ (Warner Bros)

2.      Kasabian ‘West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum’ (RCA/Columbia)

3.      Yeah Yeah Yeahs ‘It’s Blitz!’ (Interscope)

4.      Therapy? ‘Crooked Timber’ (Demolition Records)

5.      The XX ‘XX’ (Young Turks)

6.      The Cribs ‘Ignore The Ignorant’ (Wichita)

7.      Morrissey ‘Years Of Refusal’ (Decca)

8.      Julian Plenti ‘Julian Plenti Is Skyscraper’ (Matador)

9.      Iron Maiden ‘Flight 666 Soundtrack’ (EMI)

10.    Lily Allen ‘It’s Not You, It’s Me’ (Regal)

11.    Amanda Blank ‘I Love You’ (Downtown Records)

12.    Karen O and the Kids ‘Where The Wild Things Are OST’ (DCG)

13.    Rancid ‘Let The Dominoes Fall’ (Hellcat)

14.    Spinnerette ‘Spinnerette’ (Anthem)

15.    Dananananaykroyd ‘Hey Everyone!’ (Best Before)

16.    Kill It Kid ‘Kill It Kid’ (One Little Indian)

17.    Paramore ‘Brand New Eyes’ (Fuelled By Ramen)

18.    Empire of the Sun ‘Walking On A Dream’ (EMI)

19.    Biffy Clyro ‘Only Revolutions’ (14th Floor)

20.   And So I Watch You From Afar ‘And So I Watch You From Afar’ (Smalltown America)





Gallows interview

3 07 2009

Here’s a reprint of my Gallows cover story for AU.

Gallows

Misery Loves Company

Words by Edwin McFee

As Gallows return to the fray bigger, better and ballsier than ever before, we sit down with frontman Frank Carter to dissect their new album ‘Grey Britain’ and talk bloodshed, bad tempers and being spokesmen for the next generation.

“Great Britain is fucking dead…”  ‘Crucifucks,’ Gallows, ’09.

 “For the past three years we’ve been such a cartoon band in the press,” spits Hertfordshire-based hardcore punk Frank Carter. “Everything they thought we were-we weren’t. Everything they made us out to be was wrong. This time around it’s all about the music. The press have had three years of us getting in fights, spitting and having tattoos and I think the general public is bored with it all now. They know we’ve got tattoos, they know sometimes our shows can get a bit raucous and there is plenty of blood, sweat and tears, but now people want to genuinely hear the music and see if there’s substance behind the style and the fact of the matter is that there is. We’ve always been about playing live and living and dying by our music and now we’ve got a really solid record behind us that we’re all extremely proud of.”

If Frank sounds more than a little fucked off, then he has every right to. You see, ever since his band arrived on the scene a handful of years ago with their debut ‘Orchestra of Wolves’ it seems that the five-pieces’ collection of tattoos and craving for chaos has fired more people’s imaginations than their ballsy brand of sonic smackdowns that former WWE superstar Stone Cold Steven Austin himself would be proud of. But that’s all about to change once their sophomore effort ‘Grey Britain’ hits the shelves.

“This record attacks everyone. It’s anti-authority, anti-religion, anti-government-it’s anti-life really. It’s mainly anti-apathy though. I want to try and break the idea that you can’t make a difference. I’m speaking to the kids of the world and trying to tell them that they can change things if they want to. A lot of the younger generation feel worthless and feel like they can’t make a difference but in actual fact they are the future for all of us.”

It’s quite surreal talking about educating children with a man who’s become notorious for busting himself open (albeit unwittingly) at gigs and who can often find himself strangled by his own hatred, but even the most pig headed right wing bigot would admit that he’s talking sense on tracks like ‘London is the Reason’ and anti binge drinking anthem ‘I Dread the Night.’

“It’s time for a change,” offers Frank, warming to the subject. “Whenever anything falls to its lowest point, that’s when the power is really up for grabs and that’s when it can go back to the people. When you’re put in a situation that is just horrendous, they can take the power back and I think that’s what needs to happen and I’m not talking about a revolution of riots-I’m taking about a revolution of fresh education and to help people dream again and start having aspirations. I want listeners to know they can do something with their lives-whatever you want to do-you can do it. Everyone goes through that bad spell of being a fuckin’ raucous teenager, getting fucked up, going down to the park. When you first find girls or boys it’s fuckin’ exciting, but really, the problem is that parents aren’t teaching their children that it’s ok to go through that but to find yourself while you’re doing it.”

“Take that 13 year old kid who became a dad recently,” he continues. “He needs to realise he’s got nothing to offer that child. He may think he can look after it but he can’t because he can’t even look after himself. At that age you can’t even legally get a job, so how can you expect to look after a family when you can’t even work. Parents now are teaching kids that it’s better to claim the dole and benefits than it is to go out and earn a living and that’s really got to change. We have to try and impress on these kids the value of a hard day’s work. It’s difficult for me because I’m in a position where I’m doing what I love to do. When I’m not in the band I try to tattoo as much as possible but that’s still a very easy job compared to most. I worked hard to get there though. These days, the only time now where I feel like I’ve done a hard day’s work is when I’m out in my garden with my brothers. We built a fence last summer because the old one was haggard and we rebuilt it by hand and we really felt like we did something good and I think we need to instill that sense of pride in one’s work to the next generation. We need to make children contribute to society or else there’s not going to be a society anymore. I just want them to have pride in themselves.”

 

And this renewed sense of pride is a theme that runs through ‘Grey Britain’ like the River Thames. The lyrics may be grim and cover a range of topics like the hypocrisy of religion (‘The Great Forgiver’) and politics (‘Black Eyes’) but there’s an over-whelming feeling of catharsis too. A feeling that if we all turn off Jeremy Kyle for half an hour and do something with our lives, then we can achieve something positive. In short, ‘Grey Britain’ is possibly the greatest punk rock record of our generation.

“This album is pretty much exactly what we wanted,” states the singer. “We’ve always been fighting against ourselves but now we want to offer something to people and prove that there’s more to punk rock other than venom. Like look at children now-they are the next wave of prime ministers and police and priests and teachers and you kinda think-what good do they have to look at in the world. There’s nothing there. That’s going to make for a very bleak outlook. If they don’t have something to live for, what can they then offer their children? Hopefully we can provide the alternative.”

The theme of ‘Grey Britain’ is a pretty simple one. It’s Frank Carter saying “the world is fucked and so am I.” However, with lyrics which bathe in images of Union Jacks, does he worry his songs might be misinterpreted? As a way of explaining the point, AU tells the singer that Iron Maiden’s cover for their single ‘the Trooper’ (a tune based on the Crimea War during the 19 century that features a red coated Eddie on the sleeve holding a Union Jack) was adopted by loyalist paramilitaries in this country. They even went as far a painting Derek Riggs’ image on a wall in the Maze prison, thereby totally missing the point of the song and high-jacking the image for their own purposes. Does he worry that the BNP or, on the flipside, anti-British factions may do something similar?

“You’re completely right-I am worried about that. I was very careful when I came to writing the album because I didn’t want it to be adopted by the wrong crowd of people,” admits the singer. “For example-the lyric ‘Great Britain is fucking dead’ is just a line about how I feel and about how a lot of other people feel. It’s not hard to see that the world is fucked but I don’t want anyone twisting my words. I’m not singing for anyone other than myself and the generation of children that are coming now because everything is in their hands.”

As well as a marked musical change (more on that later) Frank has also made a conscious decision to alter his lyrics too. Gone (well, for the most part) are the crude curse words of ‘Orchestra of Wolves’ and obvious as a high-waisted trouser joke round Simon Cowell’s gaff imagery and in its place is a more restrained, yet still utterly pissed off prose.

“I’ve still got the anger in me, but it’s more refined and focused this time around. Beforehand we were quite a messy band and on the last album I was always behind everyone else. The music was always written and I was usually late with my lyrics, but this time I got to sit down and consider the whole concept and idea behind the record. I got to be offensive and completely attack it. I think the lyrics are slightly more intelligent and ten times angrier than the first one. I’ve toned down a lot of the swearing (even though that’s just how I speak) because when I was writing the songs I just didn’t need it. The hatred and the bile was there without using any fucking swear words. Every word I needed was equally disgusting without cursing and in a way they had more venom to it.”

 

To say that ‘Grey Britain’ is an ambitious record is like saying Vannesa Feltz enjoys the odd snack every now and again. The slab of wax is complex (it features a 33 piece string section) catchy (‘I Dread the Night’ is the best Murder City Devils song the band never wrote) and controversial (Gallows perform acoustically on ‘the Vulture Act I’). But perhaps most surprisingly though, it’s a (gasp) concept record. So will the band be breaking out the capes and keyboards for their up-coming tour?

“Fuck off,” he laughs. “God I hate that word ‘concept album’ but you know what? That’s exactly what we were trying to do with the story and ideas behind it. More importantly we just wanted to make the record we’ve always wanted to make. As kids we grew up reading rock magazines and went to Reading and other festivals and followed groups on tour and we were in our own little band that never got anywhere and then this dream of ours happened and it’s happened so fast. We’ve toured the world so many times off the back of a record that was really a compete mistake. To be given this opportunity and be given the last great record deal of probably the rest of time [author’s note-the band signed to Warners for a reported £1 000 000] we all felt like if we didn’t use it wisely and live up to our full potential by doing every single thing we wanted to do, we would’ve felt like we’d robbed ourselves. We got to work with Garth Richardson and Andy Wallace-just complete rock legends and we even got to work at Abbey Road studios-one of the most important recording studios in the world. We did everything live and everything about this record is real. We wanted to hark back to an era when everything was simpler and just go-let’s fucking do it.”

For all of his bravado, Frank is admittedly shitting himself over ‘the Vulture Act I’ however. When we tell him that we think the song (which sees him actually sing for the first time) works really well, he seems visibly relieved.

“I’m really glad you said you love it because I’m a bit nervous about it. It was a risky decision on my part.  I really wanted to do it but didn’t know if I could pull it off and the boys were like ‘definitely give it a try. If it doesn’t work we’ll let you know.’ They seemed happy with it and I feel like it works. Any other time you could say ‘oh Gallows have recorded an acoustic song’ and people would look at you and think what the fuck are you talking about-you are lying through your teeth, but in the context of this record it really works. I’m so proud of it. I don’t listen to that song and cringe and that’s all I was worried about. I didn’t want that one song to ruin the whole album and it doesn’t. It flows so perfectly and effortlessly and it doesn’t disturb the ebb at all. In my opinion we’ve always been about making brave choices though.”

At the time of our interview, Frank is just back from tearing Texas a new bum-hole at South by South West. With yet more images of the singer’s face covered in a crimson mask circulating on the web, we ask him if he’s the clumsiest man in the world, or just a clever PR guy.

“Yeah…” he laughs, slightly sheepishly. “The thing is with those shows, there’s a lot of press there and it’s really industry only and maybe a few fans, so in that respect, because it’s industry only, we go there and destroy absolutely everything-including ourselves-in an attempt to get those industry people to understand what we’re about. At the same time though, if you go on You Tube and watch us perform I can guarantee you’ll see that same fury no matter where we’re playing. It’s tops off, sweating to fuck and completely trashing everything. We’ve never dulled down what we’ve done.”

And does he worry about his band’s success? Gallows are playing somewhat roomier venues this time around…

“We don’t know how it’ll pan out. The stages will be bigger but we don’t plan on changing any time soon. I won’t let anyone put a barrier between me and the crowd. We’re all as one and you can guarantee I’ll be in the middle of them, leading the charge.”

 

Of course, with a band like Gallows, it has to be a concern that their success will inevitably cause a split in the punk community. In the past bands with similar ideals have strayed away from their roots, but we get the feeling from talking to Frank that his boys will always be ones to believe in.

“People message me on MySpace asking if it’s really me and I’m like-of course it fucking is. Who else would it be? I don’t ever want to get to a stage where we’re kept apart from the fans because the way I see it is there is no real difference between anyone. It doesn’t matter anyway, it’s not like we’re going to be around in 20years time, is it?”

A lot has been made of the band’s longevity in the past. A year or two ago, this writer interviews Lags [Gallows guitarist/songwriter] and even then he confessed he couldn’t see the band surviving the decade, so I was intrigued to hear Frank’s take on the subject.

“I’ll put it like this,” he says. “Will the Ting Tings be around in five years? I don’t fucking think so. Most modern bands don’t last that long and most modern bands don’t play at the same level we do. Other groups usually have some sort of drug to keep them going but my brother [Steph, guitar] and me are sober-so we’ve nothing to rely on which means we’ll probably be fucked in two years time, but I still wouldn’t change a thing.”

After spending time in Frank’s company, I’m rather taken aback by the similarities we both share. Apart from the cosmetic traits [we’re both heavily tattooed and we both love the Murder City Devils more than life itself] we view the world in the same way-work hard, keep your principles intact and don’t give a fuck about the people too stupid to understand.

“There’s a song on ‘Grey Britain’ called ‘the Queensbury Rules’ and on it I’m almost harking back to an era that’s completely lost,” reflects Frank, expanding on the point. “Like back to a time where if men had a problem they would sort it out by a fist fight that was governed by the local towns-people instead of talking shit behind their backs. I think things back then were a lot easier. You didn’t need to worry about biological warfare because it wasn’t fucking invented. They were too busy about worrying about the Plague and putting food on the table and working to support their families.”

As we finish up our talk, we go back to his initial outburst about the media in general misrepresenting him and writing him off as some steak headed tattooed thug. Obviously it annoys him somewhat, but if the recent April Fool’s story about him guest starring in an episode of Eastenders is anything to go by (there’s more chance of a zombie Pete Beale turning up and eating Big Mo’s brains than Frank being Barbara Windsor’s bit on the side I’m afraid) he’s willing to see the funny side.

“Yeah, that was hilarious,” he laughs. “I got so much abuse over that and I think what was worse was that people actually believed it!”

By the time you read this, ‘Grey Britain’ will be on the shelves of record shops around the world. It’s an album that sees the band finally live up to their potential and is up there with the greats. Before e bid the singer goodbye, we ask, does the impending ascension to punk rock royalty concern him?

“Not really. I’m happy with everything we’ve achieved in this band and there’s not a day goes by where I’m not thankful and humble about it,” he says finally. “I feel so proud of this band right now, man. I feel proud and blessed. Well, I don’t believe in a god, but whoever’s blessing me I’m thankful for it.”





Gallows Grey Britain Hot Press Review

10 06 2009

Last month I reviewed the new Gallows album for Hot Press. I wasn’t a huge fan of the band’s first record, but I adore the second one. It’s my favourite album of the year so far (hence the 5star review) so here’s a reprint for y’all to enjoy.

Gallows

Grey Britain (Warners)

Five out of five

“And I wanna be/Anyone in the world but me/Trapped in the body of a man defeated/ I am the shape of mistakes repeated” sings Gallows frontman Frank Carter on the biting ‘I Dread The Night.’ It’s a lyric that sums up their sophomore effort Grey Britain perfectly and best of all, the band have now learned how to write a tune so you can sing along with the tattooed tunesmith too (misery loves company, after all). Grey Britain is an extremely brave effort by all accounts. Hell-for all intents and purposes it’s a concept record (the worse two words in any self respecting punk’s vocabulary) and its theme of a dying society flows through all 13 tracks like the River Thames itself.

Largely recorded in Abbey Road studios, Grey Britain stretches the boundaries of the genre and creates something entirely new. Samples of pigs being slaughtered and orchestras under-scoring the still venomous music fits perfectly with Frank’s twisted vision and tracks like ‘Leeches,’ ‘London Is The Reason’ and ‘Death Voices’ pay tribute to their heroes the Misfits and the Murder City Devils while still retaining their own identity. As well as the aforementioned ‘I Dread The Night,’ album highlight has to be ‘The Vulture Act I’ which features Frank actually singing backed only by a battered acoustic guitar. The frontman’s voice sounds naked and raw, yet all the more passionate now that he’s dropped the hardman routine for two minutes.

There isn’t a single note that’s wasted on Grey Britain. It’s hardcore enough for their rabid fanbase, tuneful enough for those who are a little faint of heart and the lyrics would make even the most right wing bigot sit back and admit that Frank has a point. Never mind the bollocks, Grey Britain is the most important punk record in a decade.

 

Key Track: ‘I Dread The Night’

Edwin McFee





AU Issue 56

7 05 2009

The new issue of AU is currently out of the shelves and features Gallows on the front cover, written by yours truly. It’s my first cover in over a year and my seventh in total (not including contributions to ‘top 50’ type issues). As some who read Dead Horse know, I’ve been with Alternative Ulster since (more or less) day one in the winter of ’02. In those days the intention was to launch a website that focused on reviewing/interviewing local unsigned acts who were ignored by the mainstream press, but that ultimately mutated into the magazine we know and love today.

Over the last six and a half years I’ve been a part of some features I’ve been really proud of (my Gossip cover still ranks as one of the best things I’ve written) and some things I really haven’t (my pro-riot grrrl piece didn’t pan out like I wanted it to thanks to a cover photo that totally missed the point of the article and unfortunately ended up looking like some paedo’s wet dream. *Shudder*).  I’ve left a few times but I always seem to come back eventually and I’ll probably be involved with the magazine until it ultimately runs its course.

Anyway, I digress. I’m very happy with how the Gallows interview turned out and despite a few niggling things design/editing wise, I think I can be proud of it so check it out if you get a chance and let me know what you think.