The Beat Poets Q and A

6 04 2011

At the start of the 2011 I decided to do a monthly, year long Q and A with some of NI’s most promising bands for the Big List. Here’s one with the Beat Poets that ran a month or so ago. Expect more of these to be posted up in the weeks ahead!

The Beat Poets

This month we continue our year-long Q and A section with some of NI’s brightest hopes by catching up with one of the hardest working acts on the scene today-the Beat Poets. Enjoy.

 

First off, it’s just been announced you’re playing at this year’s Lark in the Park. The initial line-up already looks fantastic, how do you feel about being booked to perform on the bill?
John Dinsmore (vocals/guitar):
“It’s fantastic. Last year the bill was made up of local acts, so it’s a massive step this year booking headliners such as Athlete, Razorlight and Divine Comedy over three days. However, I think with local artists such as Cashier No.9 and Foy Vance on the bill the festival also promotes the best of what N.I has to offer too. It’s being held in a great location, so let’s hope the sun comes out that weekend and we kick off the festival season in style.”

You guys played the festival last year too, right?
John:
“Yeah with General Fiasco headlining. It was a fantastic event and we really enjoyed the gig, atmosphere, location…so I really hope the big jump this year in size just adds to this.”

Do you have any other festival slots coming up in the pipe-line?
John:
“We have the Temple House Music Festival coming up in October, which we played also last year with Damien Dempsey, The Stunning, Reef etc. It just won best new European Festival at the European Festival Awards and again is another fantastic new rising festival based in Sligo. We have a few more in Ireland provisionally sorted, but will be announcing them next month as our main aim this year is to get the band abroad for touring so we’re just seeing if we can be available to do them.”

John, you’re off to SXSW in Texas soon. How important is it for a band from NI to make the trip over?
John:
“It depends on the act, sound and what you want from it. We feel our sound is well suited to the US and that’s why we keep pushing in this direction, but it’s a tough area to crack. Over the last few years our trips to SXSW have landed us placements on US shows such as the Hills and the Hard Times of RJ Berger, as well as endorsements with Sonicbids, Tascam and Mobile Roadie and now several other possible adventures are on the horizon too. We use it to push forward possibilities internationally (especially in US and Canada) and have been lucky enough to always come away with positive results. But months of preparation go into it (and years of effort) to really get the contacts in place to make things happen across the Atlantic. I’m hoping this year we can take it one more step further.”

We’ve read you’re planning on releasing a new EP down south. Can you tell us a little about that?
John:
“In 2010 the releases did really well up North, but we felt that in the South we hadn’t the chance to properly push the same campaigns, so we are going to release an E.P with the tracks from 2010 (including ‘One By One’) to give the same songs a better push in the Republic. The musical landscape is extremely weird here for such a small island, with bands who are massive in the South virtually unknown in the North and visa versa. We found this something we too have to overcome being a Northern band pushing in the South and hope that releasing an EP targeted specifically for the South will help us breakdown this strange Irish music barrier.”

In terms of radio-play the last two singles have had a great reaction. How important do you think it is for your band to get the music out there on mainstream shows?
John:
“I think all bands-no matter their sound-want as much exposure as possible. For us, day time radio is key and the massive exposure we had on Cool Fm, City Beat, U105 etc up North was fantastic and did so much to expand our fan base. This, added with the exposure on mainstream TV shows internationally, has been a major bonus to raising our profile as well as open doors to new possibilities. These days, with so many bands out there working so hard to get mainstream placements, our success has made us feel that we’re at least doing something right. With no major label pushing us we constantly find the odds for show placement, good gigs, international showcases are stacked heavily against us, but the old working class fight inside means we never give up and when we do get the breaks it means so much more to us.”

We loved the video for ‘Gravity.’ Can you tell us a little bit about the filming?
John:
“Yeah we were delighted with it too! It was directed and written by Marty Stalker of Scattered Images with Rick Trainor from Red Sky Photography adding his director of photography touches. I think it captured the essence of the tune brilliantly and the footage of the band playing on the roof looked fantastic. We shot it just before the release and it was bloody freezing the day we recorded the roof scenes, but it wouldn’t be art if you didn’t suffer for it!”

Finally, how’s the album coming along and what’s the plans for the year ahead? Can you give us any exclusives?
John:
“The album or the holy grail?! It’s definitely been a long road for us in getting together the album. I feel like Brian Wilson somedays when talking about it! It’s been tough because we have went through several sound changes in the space of a few years and are only now happy with what we feel is the sound we want. We also want to make sure we have a good selection of tracks to choose from with this style of sound, so we will be recording again over the next few months and we’re about half way through finishing the whole thing. At the minute we have provisional plans to release and tour in South East Asia, Australia and Canada. We feel that we really need to hit new territories that would fit in with our sound. It’s all coming together nicely but as you can imagine being an independent act on our own self-release label, an incredible amount of planning  as well as long hours are currently being spent shaping this, so hopefully we’ll confirm some positive news in early March before SXSW.”

The Beat Poets play the Lark in the Park festival in Moria on May 1. For more information on the event visit www.larkinthepark-ni.com and for more info on the band check out www.thebeatpoets.com.

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News From The North Weeks 65-66

16 11 2010

Can you believe in another couple of months I’ll have been doing my NI news column in Hot Press for three years? Time flies and all that, so here’s a bunch of recent ones for your reading pleasure.

News

Words: Edwin McFee

Vol 34 Issue 22

As we get ever closer to the unveiling of the Beat Poets’ debut album, the band continue to build up our expectations with new single ‘Gravity,’ which is another superb slice of stadium rock. Released on Nov 15, the four-piece officially launch the track with a gig at the Hideout in Warrenpoint two days before it goes on general sale via all digital platforms and they’re also currently making a video for the aforementioned tune too. Support on the night comes from the Q, Firefly and Brendan Fitzpatrick and admission is £5, so make sure you clear the diary this Nov 13 and go and support one of our brightest hopes.

Speaking of promising acts with bags of potential, the mighty Not Squares release their debut album Yeah OK on Nov 27 and play a launch gig at the Bunatee in Belfast in celebration of the release. These days, the rave/punk outfit have slimmed down to a three-piece, but they’ve not lost any of the intensity that made us fall in love with them in the first place and the record is an absolute belter. Support on the night comes from their Richter Collective label-mates Logikparty and there will also be sets from Deformative DJs and Obscene Strategists DJs too.

Also releasing their debut album this month are the soul punk behemoths that are Dirty Stevie. Nine years in the making, A Beginner’s Guide To Levitation is the culmination of months of hard work and while we haven’t received a copy yet at the time of going to press, we’re sure it’s a suitably raucous affair. The Dirt will be selling copies of the slab of wax at the launch gig at the Oh Yeah Centre in Belfast on Nov 13 and support comes from We Want Blood and Gascan Ruckas.

 Have you always fancied a career twiddling knobs? Are you one of those people who love to take established tracks and mould them into something different? Well, if your answer to those questions is “yo’ damn right” (or even just a simple “yes” for that matter) then you may be interested in General Fiasco’s latest plan to let their fans remix their sublime single ‘Ever So Shy.’ The winning entry will see their version released via the band’s record label Infectious and all you have to do to enter is click on this link http://www.tracksandfields.com/requests.php?request_id=217 for their terms and conditions. You’ve got until Nov 25 to channel your inner Baron Frankenstein, so good luck!

News

Words: Edwin McFee

Vol. 34 Issue 21

Not content with touring around Ireland (and indeed the world) celebrating 20 years in the alt rock business and releasing their first ever live record We’re Here To The End this November to boot, Larne/Ballyclare legends Therapy? are already eyeing up album number 11 in a bid to capitalize on the creative momentum gained with the mighty Crooked Timber. Yes readers, NI’s greatest export (sorry Mr Lightbody) are hatching plans for next year and as I write this very missive they are holed up in a rehearsal studio in Derby and honing their new tracks. Earlier this month, this writer caught up with the band’s frontman Andy Cairns and he had this to say about the new slab of wax.

 “We’re looking at going into the studio in March, 2011. We’ve got the bones of 14 tracks written already. We’re gonna make it a ten track album, and we have some working titles already. We want to keep in the deeper and darker vein. We had a habit over the years of making a really noisy record followed by a poppy, alternative record but we’ve got out of that. If you like stuff like ‘Unbeliever’ it’s down that alley.”

But before all that of course, we’ve got the so-called Troublegum and More shows to sate our thirst for their own unique brand of awkward rock and they play Cyprus Avenue in Cork on Oct 23 and 24 and Vicar Street, Dublin on Nov 5 so if you haven’t got a ticket yet we recommend you get one pretty sharpish for these once in a lifetime shows.

Keeping things slightly alternative, do you remember how last issue I was complaining about the lack of live action in the South Down area? Well, it seems like someone somewhere was listening as a brand new venue called the Hideout has just started operating this month in Warrenpoint. Located above Jack Ryan’s pub, the space was launched in style with a gig from Fighting with Wire last week and upcoming shows include the Vortex (featuring Bonehead ex of Oasis) on Dec 11 and And So I Watch You From Afar on Dec 23 and we’d like to wish everyone involved in the venture the best of luck.

Finally, John D’arcy and his “Great Bunch Of Lads” have released a new single via the infamous Good Vibrations label. Entitled ‘Get Over Yourself,’ the song is the singer’s finest moment to date and you can download it via his Bandcamp page here:  http://johndarcy.bandcamp.com/track/get-over-yourself.





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 52

26 04 2010

Here’s the NI band news from the previous issue of Hot Press. Enjoy.

News

Words: Edwin McFee

By the time you read this, the Beat Poets will be just back from South by Southwest and are currently gearing up to release their superb new single ‘One By One’ on April 19 via all major download sites. Last month we had a sneaky listen to the track and it’s definitely one of the boys’ best, making us even more eager to get a hold of their debut record once they put the finishing touches to it. The band have just confirmed dates at the Square Peg, Warrenpoint (April 17) and the Spring and Airbrake, Belfast (April 23) and are also playing alongside the Saw Doctors and General Fiasco at the Lark in the Park, Moira (May 1) too. For more Beat Poets action check out www.thebeatpoets.com.

Remember last fortnight we were moaning about not receiving a copy of the LaFaro album? Well, while we’re still sans their debut slab of wax, we can reveal that they’ve announced more tour dates, which is great news if you didn’t manage to snag a ticket for their launch on April 26 in the Menagerie in Belfast. The new dates are April 27 at the Menagerie and May 16 at the INF in Warrenpoint and we’re sure there’s more to follow in the coming weeks.

 Good news for anyone thinking about going to the Pigstock festival in Killinchy. While original headliners LaFaro have sadly had to pull out due to touring commitments, A Plastic Rose have stepped in to close proceedings. Taking place on May 29, the bash also features the likes of Swanee River, Pocket Billiards, Mojo Fury, the Lowly Knights, Gentry Morris and more on the bill and it looks like it’s should be a great day out. Tickets cost £20 and are available from the official website www.pigstockfestival.co.uk.





Bye Bye 09, It’s Been Great

31 12 2009

Yes friends, today is the last day of the year and indeed the whole decade. The “noughties” have been a decade of huge highs and lows. I started out in ’02 with people lining up to tell me it was impossible for a working class bloke from Newry with no contacts to make a living as a freelance journalist. It was a really tough few years with literally no money. I was living in glorified squats while dealing with the fact that at that time there were NO outlets for entertainment journalism in Northern Ireland and needless to say it was pretty stressful. Still, there was a light at the end of the tunnel and helping launch the Belfast Telegraph’s weekend supplement 24/7 and giving a hand in founding Alternative Ulster magazine were definitely highlights from those shitty years.

I’ve been at this for 7 years now and in many ways I’m very grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way. In early 2005 I was about to pack it all in as I (somehow) ended up interviewing every one of my heroes (bar Morrissey and Courtney Love…). While it was a huge acheivement for me, I was in a bit of a slump and left in a “what do I do now?” funk. Thankfully I gave myself a metaphorical boot up the hole and got on with things and the last half of the decade has been fantastic.

So what have been my highlights of 2009? Christ, I don’t even know where to start, but I thought it might be good to reprint my favourite piece I’ve written this year. So below is the final draft of my NI scene report for the NME. Enjoy and see you all next year…

United by Noise

A Northern Ireland Scene Report

Three decades ago, Stiff Little Fingers’ Jake Burns first preached from his punk rock pulpit about an ‘Alternative Ulster.’ Since then, music in Northern Ireland has grown and mutated into a visceral and at times venomous beast with bands preferring to give the mainstream a sonic two fingered salute rather than court the industry coke-heads of London Town. You see, for years the Ulster scene has been brushed under the carpet in favour of more geographically friendly areas in both the UK and Ireland. Due to its well documented political Trouble, the media appears to prefer focusing on yet another report from Liverpool, Manchester or wherever rather than sending a scribbler to the formerly war-torn area because it just seems like a safer option. While it pains this writer to admit it, NI will always be haunted by the spectre of semtex and suicide even though it’s been relatively bomb-free for years, but this has ultimately made it’s music utterly life affirming. Every note counts and every song matters. Thanks to sites such as local music bible http://www.fastfude.org, bands like the Beat Poets and Ash-endorsed Oppenheimer can make music and tour under their own steam without relying on hand-outs from ‘the’, ahem, ‘Man’. If you want something done right you have to do it yourself afterall.

Right now there are a gaggle of great acts in NI. Leading the charge are And So I Watch You From Afar. The four-piece craft instrumental music that could easily soundtrack buildings tumbling, world’s colliding and large, green aliens landing from space and eating people’s brains. Plus, any band who can get run over by a car and play a gig later that night has our vote for life

NI’s finest purveyors of indie pop Two Door Cinema Club are also doing great things and peddle tunes that are as catchy as Chlamydia at the Playboy Mansion. Think Deathcab for Cutie embroiled in a knife-fight with Modest Mouse and you’re close.

Not Squares are currently getting local music critics’ collective undercrackers in a bunch and from a quick listen to thrash dance anthem ‘Vita Sackville West’ it’s easy to see why this Julie Ruin worshipping mob are making all the right moves. Their sound is a synth-laden cacophony of boy/girl vocals and shouts and their live show has more kick-ass moments than a night out with Joey Barton.

But it’s not just about hand-claps and keyboards in NI, probably the most historically prevelant scene has featured music from the ‘eavier end of the spectrum. Carrying on the torch from the likes of the Undertones and Therapy?, the Black Bear Saloon are the latest group to give us some new teenage kicks and they sound as venomous as an episode of America’s Next Top Model. The future of rock is in safe hands with this fearsome four-some.

Finally, if there was ever a band that summed up the true rebel-rousing spirit of Belfast then it’s the Tin Pot Operation. They adore putting noses out of joint, have wound up more people than Jeremy Beadle and best of all they’re not afraid to talk about politics and poetry. Their self-released slab of wax ‘Human Resources’ is a beautifully battered sonic manifesto and it sums up their home-town better than any empty-headed politician ever could.

It’s true that NI has had more than its share of ups and downs over the decades but 2009 looks set to be a break-out year for Northern Irish musicians who have been united by noise. Remember where you read about them first.

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.





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!

News

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 (www.thebeatpoets.com). 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 supportoppenheimer@googlemail.com 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.