Introduction, Review, Rocket From the East

Rocket From The East 2019



ROCKET FROM THE EAST 2019

/mo



BLAST OFF

Launching the profiles of Norfolk’s musicians since 2012, Rocket From The East – presented by The Tilting Sky – saw fourteen music acts contend across two nights of semi-final rounds at Epic Studios on 27 March and 3 April.

From this eclectic pool of age and talent, only eight have progressed forward to 28 April’s finale:

Front Bangs

Pin Ups

Ben Denny Mo

Telling Truths

Like Optimists

Mengelmoes

Purple Doors

and

WRECK.

Their triumphant return to Epic will see them vie for the release of a single (recorded and mixed courtesy of Access Creative College), said single’s headlining launch show (courtesy of Epic Studios and The Tilting Sky) and a fully-styled photo shoot,  simultaneously documented in a ‘making-of’ video (courtesy of Journal East).

Accepting one-song submissions between December 2018 and February 2019, the annual competition required entrants to be independent musicians — writing and performing their own songs — as well as resident to Norfolk.

Those shortlisted were then invited to perform three original compositions with a maximum set length of fifteen minutes, in front of a live audience and panel.

Although just one act will ultimately claim the prize, all acts receive industry feedback and an invitation to play a Norwich show within the year as part of Craig Hill/ The Tilting Sky‘s ’60@60’ programme of events:

“Musicians who had their early experiences performing live under The Tilting Sky banner and are now playing to audiences all over the world include
Ed Sheeran, Let’s Eat Grandma and Ida Mae.”

– Danielle Booden

“Promoter Craig Hill, aka The Tilting Sky, returns to the local music scene with Morganway headlining Norwich Arts Centre”
Norwich Evening News | 23 November 2018

Come down on Sunday, the 28th of April, for what promises to be a top-quality show, and what might just be the birth of something big. It’s just £3 — supporting local, independent music couldn’t be easier. 

Fourteen bands playing EP-length sets across two nights meant I was scurrying back and forth between interviews, reviews and appreciating the sound quality of Epic Studios’ speakers when “Intergalactic”, “One More Time” and “Over and Over” came on – which meant hearing additional layers I hadn’t before. Goosebumps!

Where I couldn’t interview a music act through good-old ambush journalism, I reached out via email. For this reason, some interviews/reviews are shorter/longer than others given the time I had and the length of responses received.

It is always difficult covering competitions – which sometimes feels like walking into an airport and seeing the stark difference between the arrivals and departures. The amount of talent gracing the stage, let alone how much of it is concentrated in this part of the country, is astounding. It was a real treat to witness and experience. Read about it here:

FRONT BANGS

MACIE LEWIS

PIN UPS

CUTBACK

LAZYBOY

BEN DENNY MO

TELLING TRUTHS

BLUX J 

THE CORAL CROSS BAND

BETH HOLBROOK

PURPLE DOORS

WRECK

MENGELMOES

LIKE OPTIMISTS



THIS IS THE END OF SIDE A.

PLEASE TURN OVER TO SIDE B.

Opinions are my own and not the views of Epic Studios.



MO
is a Norwich-based Filipina-American freelance writer and pianist for hire. She is currently working on a three-part mixed-media series about identity, mental health and her relationship with music (spanning the scenes of New Jersey, London and Norwich).

She recently wrote a four-part series centred on That Music Thing featuring Painted Heathers, Young States, HyperFox and Bugeye. The feature touches upon music and mental health, the importance of arts funding within schools, and the music venue crisis in the UK.

For more information please visit her website and if you enjoyed what you read – any donations, big or small, are gratefully received.


Advertisements
Standard
Review, Rocket From the East

Rocket From The East | Like Optimists


ROCKET FROM THE EAST 2019:

LIKE OPTIMISTS| FINALIST

03.04.19/mo



DISCLAIMER:
  My intention comparing bands with other bands is not an accusatory one. It comes from a history of making mix-tapes, mixed CDs and playlists, and thinking in terms of, “where in the flow does this belong?” For me, a mix-tape is mastered by deliberate, contemplated sequencing where the songs relate to each other in some way, shape or form – be it texturally, thematically or rhythmically. So, when I make comparisons and draw parallels, I’m doing it from a place similar to that of a deejay.


Lowestoft band Like Optimists (which funnily enough once played a gig with Pessimist) have a pop-punk early noughties America feel to them without the nasal sound attached (says me, an American).

They started in 2015 with the upload of “I Never Knew”, described as a “demo of a song” between guitarists-vocalists Azza Lambert (lead) and Nathan Cochrane (rhythm).

“After two years of on-and-off writing, five more demos, and other side projects, they decided it was time to enlist the help of James Leach (drummer) and Will Murray (bassist) to make their bedroom recording project a reality. They made their live debut in the summer of 2017 and have since played shows in Norwich, Southend, London and even a gig at Ipswich Town Football Club.”

Their influences include Green Day, My Chemical Romance, Nothing But Thieves, All Time Low, blink-182, Don Broco and Fall Out Boy, and their name couldn’t be more fitting as the finishing act concluding two nights of neck-in-neck semi-finals rounds. Going out with a bang, the contagious, electrified energy that saw the crowd singing and stomping along detracted from unfortunate news:

“It is with great sadness that we are to make this announcement and not one we have taken lightly. Will is leaving us. We can’t thank him enough for everything he has done for the band. The work he’s put into the music and his live performances. Will is a true performer! Not everything in life is meant to be. As a band we’ve had our ups and downs, but it’s important to get the balance of minds right. Especially in a band.

“Will has chosen to do our next 2-3 upcoming gigs with us until we find our replacement. We’re immensely grateful that Will has chosen to work with us for these gigs. That’s not something you’d usually see coming out from a departure. So we ask all of you who support the band and Will to please come along to our next 2-3 gigs to see Will in action. We hope you all carry on supporting him through his current and next musical endeavours.

“Meanwhile, we will be hunting for Will’s replacement, which will be a hard and hurtful time. Again, this wasn’t a decision that was made easily. We wish Will the very best in the future and can’t wait to play our next gigs together as the original optimists. Stay Optimistic!”

The news came as quite the shock to me upon writing this – as there wasn’t the slightest trace of this evident in their performance (one that transported me back to noughties Jersey Shore). I thought “one last time” held the same weight as “last orders” given they were last to perform.

“Good evening guys!” greets Will, soon to set the tone. “Bring it in, bring it in – come on! I’m not wearing my fucking glasses so I can’t see any of you guys at the back. Get your asses up to the front. Please. One last time! WE ARE LIKE OPTIMISTS!”

Knowing what I know now, it makes it bittersweet to say Will is a rarity given the stereotype that comes with being a bassist (far worse if you’re a keyboardist). He is a frenzied ball of energy that knows how to pump up the crowd, even if it takes a bit of sass. When he isn’t flinging himself across the stage, he’s scaling heights and throwing himself off. That kind of frontman showmanship does not typically come from underlining instruments.

Fake” (flavours: The Ataris and Good Charlotte) starts the harmonic set with lyrics: “It’s over now / We’re moving on / It’s over now”, of which the bouncing band sings and shouts in unison, as if channeling the circumstances that currently face them. The song twists with unwavering chords that resemble a knotted stomach writhing with an admission of guilt.

Nathan’s voice, which has shades of Jim Adkins (Jimmy Eat World) and Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie), exudes a sense of hopelessness about the relationship that’s ending throughout the song. What I particularly like about “Fake” is how it repeats “it’s over now” before the song ends, as if a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Devil’s Game” (flavours: Fall Out Boy, Blu Cantrell, Muse and the faintest drop of Cyndi Lauper) has a mischevious bounce to it like a silhouette shrouded in the mist of a mysterious, phased guitar. The almost gypsy-punk strumming pattern conjures something of the occult – perhaps Dexter Holland (The Offspring), who seems to possess Nathan at times.

“This next song – I want everyone to go fucking ballistic, ok?” says Nathan. “You’ll even get your chance.”

“This is your last chance of the night – can you go fucking MENTAL FOR US?” asks Will.

The crowd whoops and woos.

“Ok, no, that sounds like we got a bunch of pensioners,” says Will, provoking laughter. “I fucking said – will you – go mental – for us?”

The crowd screams.

“That’s more fucking like it, Norwich!” laughs Will.

“Sorry about that,” chuckles Nathan. “He’s not usually like this.”

The final song of the final set of the final band on the final night of the semi-finals sees Like Optimists go all out. Pulling all the stops to punctuate the end of an era with an epic performance, the energy that radiates from them – between them – bounces back from the audience with increasing intensity. Everyone’s enjoying themselves. And just when I think the engagement has peaked, Will pushes it even further.

“Norwich! It’s your chance to have a little bit of a sing-a-long with us! Can you do that?”

The band pauses for the response of their audience: “YEAH!”

“Nathan! Do you want to tell them what the fuck to say? No?”

“If you ask very nicely,” he replies, reeling the audience in “whoa-oh-oh-oh”. They are all too happy to bite when commanded to sing it back – and again.

James surfaces from the drums with his arms outstretched. Cupping an hear to an audience raises its voice.

He is soon joined by Will, who scales the platform to orchestrate the room like a conductor you really wouldn’t want to upset. One look at him and even Azza puts his hands up in the air.

“Nice,” compliments Nathan. “Give yourselves a round of applause.”

“This next one – let’s go hard,” Will says. “You better fucking jump! I wanna see some sort of pit open up – this is our last song!”

The anticipation builds with bouncing and releases with moshing.

“YEAHHHHHHHH!” Nathan shouts. It’s not bad, either.

There’s so many things that I can do,” he sings, spookily synchronising with my present thought. So does Will, who echoes the lyrics. “There’s so many things that I can do.”

It’s all a poetic ending with the full-stop being Will’s bass, lifted high over his head like a raised glass – half-full.

Follow them on Facebook, Spotify and Instagram, and catch their next gigs (last gigs with Will) on 20 April at Mariner’s Rest in Lowestoft and 26 April at Club Uniquity, Somerleyton with Telling Truths, and on 27 July at The Waterfront, covering ACDC, Iron Maiden, Metallica and Guns N’Roses as part of Renegade Twelve’s Big Four with Kaves, Manic Blackout, Apollo Stands and Promise Theory.


FINALISTS OF SEMI-FINALS ROUND TWO

Shortly after, Craig Hill, The Tilting Sky, announces the last four bands to contend in the finale:  Like Optimists, Mengelmoes, Purple Doors and WRECK. “Commiserations to those who didn’t get through, but thanks again.” See it all go down in the finale at Epic Studios on Sunday 28 April at 18:30 for just £3.



THIS IS THE END OF SIDE A.

PLEASE TURN OVER TO SIDE B.

Opinions are my own and not the views of Epic Studios.



MO
is a Norwich-based Filipina-American freelance writer and pianist for hire. She is currently working on a three-part mixed-media series about identity, mental health and her relationship with music (spanning the scenes of New Jersey, London and Norwich).

She recently wrote a four-part series centred on That Music Thing featuring Painted Heathers, Young States, HyperFox and Bugeye. The feature touches upon music and mental health, the importance of arts funding within schools, and the music venue crisis in the UK.

For more information please visit her website and if you enjoyed what you read – any donations, big or small, are gratefully received.


(if there’s an ad below this i’m probably skint.)
Standard
Interview, Review, Rocket From the East

Rocket From The East | Mengelmoes


ROCKET FROM THE EAST 2019:

MENGELMOES| FINALIST

03.04.19/mo


DISCLAIMER:  My intention comparing bands with other bands is not an accusatory one. It comes from a history of making mix-tapes, mixed CDs and playlists, and thinking in terms of, “where in the flow does this belong?” For me, a mix-tape is mastered by deliberate, contemplated sequencing where the songs relate to each other in some way, shape or form – be it texturally, thematically or rhythmically. So, when I make comparisons and draw parallels, I’m doing it from a place similar to that of a deejay.


A soft-spoken introduction throws the audience off-guard:

“You probably don’t know what we’re called,” says the frontman. “People have a lot of trouble pronouncing our name. Mango Juice. Mangled Noise. Men Kelly Mo. Mango. Moes. But anyway – to clear it all up – we are: mmmmMEH-EH-EH-eh-EH-EH-MEN-GHEL-MOO-OOOH-OOHSE!”

He belts out their name over a theatrical blast of Phantom of the Opera proportions – Mars Voltan/Karmic Juggernauty voice like a wailing saxophone until the quiet trickle of keys returns him to speech. The crowd is stunned. There wasn’t a transition between song and speech.

“Love the reverb. That’s lovely,” he says, before singing again. This time it’s Freddie Mercurial and Michael Jacksonian. “I know it can’t be this easy / I know I haven’t settled down / But there is nothing suspicious going down!” Suddenly everything goes quiet. “Oh, look at all your bewildered faces,” he notes.

It gets even more bewildering when the band erupts like a confetti popper – spraying the audience with modulating jazz-infused funky grooves, math-rock rhythms, fluid, proggy tempos, and bold textures – including the xylophone, harpsichord, organ and clavinet tones of two keyboards (as a keyboardist myself, I was chuffed to see a keyboard-driven oom-pa beat in the last song as we are often swept to the side of the action).

There is scatting. There is shredding. And within the contest itself, a sub-contest ensues between members of the band – who each showcase their abilities in solo sections I later learn to be improvisational.

Their stage presence is engaging and as lively as their sound. Even keyboardist and bassist, notoriously stereotyped to be the less energetic members of bands, are showmen – moonwalking across the stage or else lying down and kicking like an upturned beetle.

Mengelmoes (Men-ghel-moose) consists of Tiago Dhondt Bamberger, (lead vocalist and bass guitarist), James O’Donnell (keyboardist, who, I’m told, doesn’t even play keyboards, miscellaneoust, and backing vocalist), Jake Brown (drummer) and Taegan Venner (guitarist and backing vocals).

They are like those posts you scroll past in your newsfeed – the ones that you’re pretty sure are click-bait – and claim likenesses between profiles, usually a photograph from the present and a portrait from the past, with a caption that suggests reincarnation.

Their individual and collective talents are like watching a supergroup formed from long-established bands of critical acclaim. Something or someone from another time is channeling throughout the “quirky quartet” whose interests are, “being alright”.

Which is another thing that stands out to me upon interviewing them.

I keep eyeing around, looking for a couple more members I’m sure I missed, but didn’t – each member produces the energy and sound of two or three members and they are each multi-tasking between me, friends, family, the event itself, and each other.

I even doubt myself, asking the same question twice to the same person. With so much going on and off stage, I have to ask how they get in the headspace to write a song made up of complicated, kaleidoscopic sections and how long it takes to conjure up, let alone tweak and solidify those sections.

“Not long,” says Tiago. “Too many strong personalities and ideas to ever work properly, but somehow it’s still going. We have a garage where we can make lots of noise and the neighbours are too deaf to complain. Sometimes, we remember to pick up our instruments. Most of the time, one of us has a song written and we work on it together. Other times a jam will do the trick.”

Influences behind their songs include Queen (any album or concert), The Police (see Oli of HyperFox), The Feeling, David Bowie, Corey Henry, Hiatus Kaiyote, Snarky Puppy, Tom Misch (Geography and any live jam), Paramore (any album), Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stevie Wonder (Songs in the Key of Life and any live performance), Prince (all of it), Ray Charles, Electric Light Orchestra, Jamiroquai, Thunder, James Brown, Pink Floyd (Wish You Were Here), the earlier Beatles albums, Talking Heads (Stop Making Sense – see Josh from Pin Ups) and family.

Tiago credits his love of slap bass to his “unorthodox” bassist father, for whom he wrote “His Charm Got Stuck in the Nineties”. The “scathing tribute” of an ode received airplay on BBC Radio Norfolk as a BBC Introducing Track of the Week.

“For more insight on lyrical lampooning, you’ll have to listen to our EP The Aredonk Re-Demos on all major streaming services,” teases Mengelmoes, who thank me for taking the unapologetic plug (you’re welcome).

Like Tiago, Taegan also ascribes his instrument to his dad – who is both a lead singer and acoustic guitarist. Although he received his first acoustic (aged nine), and electric (aged thirteen), it was what happened between the two events that motivated him to be a musician – listening to rock music over a road trip holiday.

Jake, who will be contending against a sibling in the RFTE finale, attributes his affinity for drums to seeing a past incarnation of Front Bangs on YouTube (his brother, Brad, is the guitarist). “After a brief flutter with guitar, Jake decided that drums were a better pen for his musical statements. They were also much louder…”

“James is still not entirely sure how he got into music, and will never be sure why, but it just happened and he decided not to question it and plays as many instruments as he could fit in the back room of his house,” said the band, in an issued statement. “He never decided which his favourite instrument is, but was introduced to his instruments in a domino effect which started with the piano by chance after an eventful bass lesson.”

A “deep, fiery, romantic passion” and a “general love for creating music that makes everyone think you’re a bit nuts” are the forces that brought Mengelmoes together. Also, when Tiago and James heard Jake playing drums and decided he was in their band (with or without his consent) and then suggested the same guitarist to each other without realising they were “talking about the same good-looking guy”. Since then, it’s been a mixed journey of heavy metal, folk, funk and jazz.

Just then – Craig Hill, The Tilting Sky, takes to the stage to announce the semi-finalists of round two. Menglemoes is among them. Scattering across Epic Studios, thanking organisers and supporters alike, we continue this interview via email.

Is there a music crisis in the UK? If so, how does Norwich fare?

There is a general lack of funding/awareness in music, especially having witnessed the crisis in musical education in schools. It is often disregarded as a novelty that is easily achieved, therefore, the extent of funding time and commitment that is required is often overlooked. However, Norwich fares fairly well in terms of the original music scene, though the further out into the countryside of Norfolk you venture, the less likely you are to get booked unless you’re a pub band that plays 60s and 70s covers, a point made earlier by Cutback.

Who’s fighting your corner in Norwich?

BBC Introducing have been a massive support, from giving us radio play, interviews, gig plugs and a performance as part of the Lord Mayors Procession. Annie Catwoman has also been a major player as our contact to Norwich Arts Centre through Sonic Youths. The B2 are also extremely supportive, letting us gig there whenever we wish! Our main focus is building up our reputation with Norwich audiences to increase our following so that we can get the groove to as many people as possible.

How can we save Norwich’s music scene?

There needs to be a bigger promotion of local acts into the public consciousness rather than just the limited number of followers that each band has. People should appreciate new music because it is new music rather than just because a certain band have made it. There also needs to be more dialogue between venues, promoters and musicians in order to increase the marketing outreach of all three and get more people into gigs.

Why is music important to you?

For a brief moment, you can just do a stank face and jump up and down or lose yourself in something that has nothing to do with whatever might be happening in your life at that particular moment. You can express things you wouldn’t have even thought you could express through songwriting and performing just as well as just feeling happy hearing it. Music is very important to each of us for very different reasons, but one thing we can all agree on, is it gets us away from revising.

What are you up to when not making music?

Procrastinating mainly, although James sometimes chooses to read some maths that he’s going to study at university. Tiago tends to dance as a way of forgetting the struggles of life as a performer with girls throwing themselves at him, while Jake dedicates a lot of his spare time to his current girlfriend. Taegan’s free time away from playing guitar is often taken up by simply playing more guitar, or if he’s really looking to relax, he may pick up a ukulele.

What’s coming up for you in the future?

Their next gigs are 8 June supporting Mondatta Funk at Norwich Arts Centre; 21 June supporting Front Bangs at OPEN and 14 July at Tribe Festival. Their debut album Igniter will release in June.

For more information follow them on: Facebook | Instagram | YouTube


FINALISTS OF SEMI-FINALS ROUND TWO

Shortly after, Craig Hill, The Tilting Sky, announces the last four bands to contend in the finale:  Like Optimists, Mengelmoes, Purple Doors and WRECK. “Commiserations to those who didn’t get through, but thanks again.” See it all go down in the finale at Epic Studios on Sunday 28 April at 18:30 for just £3.



THIS IS THE END OF SIDE A.

PLEASE TURN OVER TO SIDE B.

Opinions are my own and not the views of Epic Studios.



MO
is a Norwich-based Filipina-American freelance writer and pianist for hire. She is currently working on a three-part mixed-media series about identity, mental health and her relationship with music (spanning the scenes of New Jersey, London and Norwich).

She recently wrote a four-part series centred on That Music Thing featuring Painted Heathers, Young States, HyperFox and Bugeye. The feature touches upon music and mental health, the importance of arts funding within schools, and the music venue crisis in the UK.

For more information please visit her website and if you enjoyed what you read – any donations, big or small, are gratefully received.


(if there’s an ad below this i’m probably skint.)
Standard
Interview, Review, Rocket From the East

Rocket From The East | WRECK



ROCKET FROM THE EAST 2019:

WRECK | FINALIST

03.04.19/mo



DISCLAIMER:
  My intention comparing bands with other bands is not an accusatory one. It comes from a history of making mix-tapes, mixed CDs and playlists, and thinking in terms of, “where in the flow does this belong?” For me, a mix-tape is mastered by deliberate, contemplated sequencing where the songs relate to each other in some way, shape or form – be it texturally, thematically or rhythmically. So, when I make comparisons and draw parallels, I’m doing it from a place similar to that of a deejay.


Just before the next band takes to the stage, I nip to the ladies’ and find myself in the twilight zone between the nineties and noughties. The alternative, grungey side of it:

White knee-high Adidas socks paired with white platform shoes. Tank tops layered over tee-shirts. Chains dangling from hooped belts. Loud colours. Abstract prints. The only thing that’s missing is the smell of cigarettes and the sound of the bell.

I feel the sharp pang of nostalgia, longing for a time when a president could string together a sentence using two or three big words. Making a bee-line back to my husband, I report what I’ve just seen with the excitement of two Marys fleeing an empty tomb.

The source of this phenomena soon becomes apparent between did-he-just-break-out-of-prison Diogo da Silva (vocalist and bassist), Kurt-Cobain-double-take Matty Kennedy (guitarist) and perfect-hair-forever Sam Sezarin (drummer). COUNTRYSIDE PUNKERZZZZ, WRECK, YA NAN’S FAVOURITE BAND. The opener to their opener already tells us what’s about to go down.

“Go Home” (flavours: “Fortune Teller”, The Strangeloves, Klaxons, Ming Tea, Deep Purple and The Clash) shakes things up with a pulsing room of pierced and inked and dreadlocked bodies of all ages, all banging their heads and stomping their feet.

My eyes dart up and down and across the engaging triangle that’s on stage. It’s like a compelling advert for hair – blonde curtains sawing a red guitar against a grey cardigan, red streaks cutting through black locks that accessorise an orange jumpsuit, and the foamy thicket that jiggles with each percussive vibration.

It’s fun to watch the three of them (although it fries the vision-mixer behind my eyes). Whether in their own zones or playing off each other – it’s very evident that they’re having fun and enjoying themselves. Especially when both guitarists crouched down like vultures and crept steadily towards each other only to fling back.

One of my favourite parts of the opener is when lyric “But I can’t be ON MY OWN” sees a shift in tone, taking the song with it from passive observer to assertive protagonist. The audience, in turn, goes from listening and watching to jumping and moshing with each other.

“Oh, do you feel out of place /
When I’m BREATHING IN YOUR FACE /
AHHHHHHHHHH!”

The scream evolves into a raw, melodic lead into the chorus.

The stop-start song is dotted and dashed with distortion, crashing with cymbals and hole-punched with drums. It ends with the rumbling engine of a getaway car that is the guitar. Diogo’s vocals blend speech, singing and shouting. There’s a pedal in there, sustaining choice words with force.

In the instrumental between songs (a grimace against the machine), Matty starts a playful exchange with Diogo over a whistling crowd. “Keep it plugged in! What you doing? Yo – stop!” A tiny touch worth noting is the continuation of music, which reminds me of radio deejay filler. “We’re WRECK. You wanna hear our new song, right? The convict over there is Diogo. Mr. ACDC over there, making all that fucking sound, is Sam. You don’t need to know my name. It doesn’t matter. This song’s called ‘Drowned’.”

The bookends of “Drowned” (flavours: R.E.M, System of a Down, Social Distortion, Sex Pistols and White Stripes) are slower, conjuring an empty bar serving warm beer on the side of the highway, next to a deteriorating motel parked with motorbikes and tractor-trailers, and flickering with neon lights.

The song rocks in slow, sad sways (that aren’t meant to be sad – just stuffed down like “Shiny Happy People”) of repeated stop-start sentences until Sam raises both arms and clicks drumsticks together over his head:

1-2-3-4!

It’s bass-snare-bass-snare-bass-snare-snare-snare, flashing that advert again over a raging sea of bobbing heads. Their hair is louder than them. I can feel the vibrations in the ground. They rise up in me.

The silhouetted crowd is bouncing and jumping and skanking along. I see them better through the strobe light effect of metallic breakdowns, wondering which member of the audience will inevitably get lifted and passed up to the stage like a sacrificial offering.

The guitar solo escapes the jaws of a sharky bass, riding the crest of a wave to shore (where the flared finish of stadium concert finales awaits). But the real finale is “Six Hours In”, which continues to shuffle through a range of effects and tempos.

“Thank you all for comin’ out,” says Diogo, over the feedback. “Good to see so many people here. It’s sick. If you like any of these songs they’ll all be available —”

The pause that ensues generates an innate feeling that they do – and that they’re hanging on his words, wanting to know where they have go to get ahold of the songs.

“Nnnnnnnnnext month!” he reveals, over the cheers. “Yeah! It should be fucking sick. Hope you have a great night and a good time.” The little C-G-C-G radio filler ditty that follows returns that panging feeling. I’m back somewhere in the twilight of the millennium, listening to that same succession of notes being plucked on a guitar with that same rhythm in a Jersey Shore rehearsal studio.

Six Hours In” (flavours: Dead Pirates, Bad Religion, Pennywise, something off Smash Brothers Melee and Savlonic)  begins with ominous undertones. Its announcement appeases a crowd that erupts in screams.

“It’s about acid,” says Matt, in a tone likened to Richmond of IT Crowd.

The sound that escapes the guitar is like a game of chicken with the oncoming headlights of a lurking vehicle. It turns at the last minute, only to resemble a stretch limo without end. Infinitely duplicating like the bellows of an accordion.

A menacing bass lurches forward to the beat of a death march leading to a hanging.

Of ten.

The song drops onto a surf board, riding a wave that rises in a clapping build-up from the audience, and crashes in a release of punk that ends with metal. “SIX HOURS IN!”

Their lean steak of a sampler set ends with cravings for second servings, but is packed with the same energy of a full-course gig. They’re a little bit Nirvana, but sped up. A little bit Sex Pistols, but louder. A little bit Leftover Crack, but lighter. A little bit Fidlar, but heavier. A little bit Bad Religion, but rawer. A little bit Social Distortion, but British. In other words, in a genre where you’ve most likely heard it before, WRECK is hard to pin down between eras, countries, genres and their own spin.

One of the first things I learn about WRECK during an ambush of post-set questions is that WRECK became WRECK when three bassists drew straws to determine one and only one, forcing the other two to pick up and learn other instruments. The band has only been together for six months.

Bearing this in mind, it has already established a sort of cult following in and around Norwich, gaining a fan base from playing friends’ parties. This makes me think of an earlier time in my life that includes New Brunswick, New Jersey – specifically the secret shows that took place in the basements of its rented student homes.

Here, in modern Norwich, and despite an illustrious punk rock history, I’ve heard from bands and music acts that the grittier the sound is, the harder it becomes to land a gig.
An underground scene that includes invite-only parties becomes the alternative.

For WRECK, it’s already the norm across Norwich, Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge, Attleborough and Scoreston (which has to be spelled out for me).

“We try to create a ‘party’ atmosphere at venues,” says Diogo, referring to the sort of atmosphere present at grunge and garage band gigs.

“What are your influences?” I ask. “Not just what you listen to – anything. Including what influences your stage presence.”

“We’re naturally like that,” Diogo smiles with an innocence betrayed by the prison uniform he’s wearing. “We watch a lot of videos of performances. A lot of grunge and garage bands.”

“American punk,” adds Matty. “A lot of Australian punk, too.”

“What led you to punk music?” I ask.

“The energy,” says Sam. “It’s accessible.”

“The rawness,” says Diogo. “It’s not pretentious.”

“It’s friendly,” says Matty. “When you have a shitty day and you get on the bus and put on your headphones – it’s not.”

“A lot of cathartic holes and dents in the walls?” I ask.

A half-suppressed laugh escapes Sam.

“Yes.”

“Where do you get to make noise in peace?”

“We practice in a friend’s shed,” says Sam.

That friend turns out to be Jesse Baker, drummer of Pin Ups – who’s recording their EP in his studio. Their debut EP “Dusty Knees” will be released on 1 May.

Catch their next gig on 3 May with Pin Ups and We’ll Be Detectives at OPEN and follow them on Facebook, Instagram and SoundCloud.


FINALISTS OF SEMI-FINALS ROUND TWO

Shortly after, Craig Hill, The Tilting Sky, announces the last four bands to contend in the finale:  Like Optimists, Mengelmoes, Purple Doors and WRECK. “Commiserations to those who didn’t get through, but thanks again.” See it all go down in the finale at Epic Studios on Sunday 28 April at 18:30 for just £3.



THIS IS THE END OF SIDE A.

PLEASE TURN OVER TO SIDE B.

Opinions are my own and not the views of Epic Studios.



MO
is a Norwich-based Filipina-American freelance writer and pianist for hire. She is currently working on a three-part mixed-media series about identity, mental health and her relationship with music (spanning the scenes of New Jersey, London and Norwich).

She recently wrote a four-part series centred on That Music Thing featuring Painted Heathers, Young States, HyperFox and Bugeye. The feature touches upon music and mental health, the importance of arts funding within schools, and the music venue crisis in the UK.

For more information please visit her website and if you enjoyed what you read – any donations, big or small, are gratefully received.


(if there’s an ad below this i’m probably skint.)
Standard
Interview, Review, Rocket From the East

Rocket From The East | Purple Doors



ROCKET FROM THE EAST 2019:

PURPLE DOORS| FINALIST

03.04.19/mo



DISCLAIMER:
  My intention comparing bands with other bands is not an accusatory one. It comes from a history of making mix-tapes, mixed CDs and playlists, and thinking in terms of, “where in the flow does this belong?” For me, a mix-tape is mastered by deliberate, contemplated sequencing where the songs relate to each other in some way, shape or form – be it texturally, thematically or rhythmically. So, when I make comparisons and draw parallels, I’m doing it from a place similar to that of a deejay.


The hinges of Purple Doors consist of bassist Alex Gill, drummer Miles Clark, and guitarist and vocalist, Ross Wilson. To form this bluesy Norwich trio, all three members came from different parts of the UK — Alex from Hertfordshire, Miles from Essex, and Ross from Wales.

“I was looking for a band all through uni,” says Alex, of their origins. “At an open mic night, after hearing Ross call out he was looking for a bass player, I stumbled up to him. Very drunk. I hadn’t been able to hear what he was playing properly, but thought he seemed pretty cool and we agreed to jam the following week.”

Of his own beginnings, Alex says he started out on the guitar.

“I was always surrounded by music. When my older cousin invited me to one of his gigs, it made me want to pick up and play the guitar. He taught me “Seven Nation Army” and I was hooked and in my own band in secondary school. When they needed a bass player, that duty fell upon my shoulders. I borrowed my cousin’s bass for our first show and loved the feel of holding the beat with the drummer.”

His current influences are a mix of Bootsy Collins, Royal Blood and the “best concert” he has ever been to — Guns N’ Roses at the Olympic Park.

Purple Doors’ sound dabbles in various shades, yet retains a smooth finish united in an emphasis of build-ups and story-driven lyrics with female leads.

Charlotte” (recorded at “top-notch” Ashwood Studios), a 12-bar blues number with funk elements, evokes a dingy bar atmosphere complete with sticky floor, cheap rounds of rum and coke, and suggestions of sneaking around.

Train of Life” (faint whispers of Deftones and Smashing Pumpkins) is decidedly more pop-rock with an intro that mimics a chugging locomotive and a guitar solo that is warm and fuzzy like a sparkler.

“When I’m writing a song, it’s usually from noodling around on the guitar or bass, and if I come up with a riff I like, I’ll work it into a full song and take that to the band and see what they think. Alternatively, if I hear a specific riff in my head, I will need to work it out until I can play it and work it into a song. When I bring the ideas to the guys, I show them the main riff and chorus and we jam on that, getting a feel for the music. Then, I give Ross the lyrics – and we make magic (:P) .”

Gone” is a waltz. It’s in ¾ time, but an extra beat is added to every 4th bar – creating a discordant delay that feels like missing the last step on the stairs or somebody going through life, distracted. An energetic chorus moves into 4/4 time – the release of energy building up inside our narrator.

“I wrote ‘Gone’ as a way of dealing with the passing of my father,” says Alex. “I tried to keep the real meaning slightly mysterious and let the listener come to their own conclusion.”

In the first song of their set, Purple Doors exit stage left shredding. The lurching blues-rock opener, (flavours: Led Zeppelin, Lenny Kravitz, Michael Jackson/Alien Ant Farm, and White Stripes with vocals reminiscent of The Fray’s Isaac Slade) is laden with stop-start riffs like a wild horse bucking and rearing.

The lyrics have an almost Hamlet effect – watching a “boy and his guitar / playing songs that he made”. The way in which Ross owns authorship to the lyrics – describing in real time the very scene that’s before the audience – makes me second-guess for a moment whether his request to be taken away from here is part of the act or not.

The second song, “Walls”, has an entirely different feel to it – one that’s jazzy with elements of contemporary R&B (vocal styles: Jack JohnsonBruno Mars and James Blunt). The lyrics bounce. The rhythms groove. The chorus echoes.

Mimicking a sauntering stroll down the same stretch of street over time, the bass line observes an insatiable subject whose restlessness and recklessness renders relationships a series of walls springing up in place of former ones. The other side of these razed relationships doesn’t even get acknowledged, as if blocking out the damage.

Third and final song, “Astronaut” (flavours: Incubus, Train, Guster and Finch), is studded with cosmic imagery and choice silences that reinforce a theme of waiting:

“I’m screaming out for mission control / To send me back home /
Is this how it ends? / Help me down /
I’m stuck on Mars / From up here I can see Earth /
She’s out of reach / But she looks so good.”

That latter lyric sung like a sigh of stubborn determination.

Its recording is almost tropical. An astronaut sitting at a Hawaiian beach hotel bar – cymbals crashing like waves, palm leaves brushing against the hi-hat, guitar receding into the sea only to phase out.

“This is gonna be the jumpy bit,” Ross says, to an audience that’s clapping along to a build-up.

It builds and builds with a throbbing intensity, like a re-entry capsule burning through the atmosphere.

“Music is my biggest passion,” says Alex. “I love to create. And the instant gratification of making a riff is very appealing. I have no idea how to save it, but I’d love to see more bands playing in more venues. There are definitely less places to see bands play, but there are some great and supportive venues around that always welcome new bands. I’d like to shout out to Gringo’s for always giving us a spot to play.”

When he’s not gigging or practicing at Plug and Earth Studios (“great studio spaces”) with the band, Alex is photographing musicians.

“I studied photography at uni, so Norwich has helped me grow as an artist in that sense. It’s had an effect on the band as I can do the artwork exactly how I envision and has allowed me to meet some incredible musicians in the photography I create. If you want some photography done, hit me up!”

Follow them on Facebook, Instagram and SoundCloud, and catch them on 27 April at The Waterfront with Front Bangs and 14 July at Tribe Norfolk.


FINALISTS OF SEMI-FINALS ROUND TWO

Shortly after, Craig Hill, The Tilting Sky, announces the last four bands to contend in the finale:  Like Optimists, Mengelmoes, Purple Doors and WRECK. “Commiserations to those who didn’t get through, but thanks again.” See it all go down in the finale at Epic Studios on Sunday 28 April at 18:30 for just £3.

 



THIS IS THE END OF SIDE A.

PLEASE TURN OVER TO SIDE B.

Opinions are my own and not the views of Epic Studios.



MO
is a Norwich-based Filipina-American freelance writer and pianist for hire. She is currently working on a three-part mixed-media series about identity, mental health and her relationship with music (spanning the scenes of New Jersey, London and Norwich).

She recently wrote a four-part series centred on That Music Thing featuring Painted Heathers, Young States, HyperFox and Bugeye. The feature touches upon music and mental health, the importance of arts funding within schools, and the music venue crisis in the UK.

For more information please visit her website and if you enjoyed what you read – any donations, big or small, are gratefully received.


(if there’s an ad below this i’m probably skint.)
Standard
Interview, Music & Mental Health, Review, Rocket From the East, Women In Music

Rocket From The East | Beth Holbrook

ROCKET FROM THE EAST 2019:

BETH HOLBROOK

03.04.19/mo



DISCLAIMER:
  My intention comparing bands with other bands is not an accusatory one. It comes from a history of making mix-tapes, mixed CDs and playlists, and thinking in terms of, “where in the flow does this belong?” For me, a mix-tape is mastered by deliberate, contemplated sequencing where the songs relate to each other in some way, shape or form – be it texturally, thematically or rhythmically. So, when I make comparisons and draw parallels, I’m doing it from a place similar to that of a deejay.



Solo singer-songwriter act Beth Holbrook is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist who plays guitar, ukulele and saxophone, and is currently learning how to play piano and incorporate loops and pedals into future performances on top of “forcing [herself] to find time every day to write something”.

“My influences are my friends and family,” she says, citing also her mother’s taste in classic artists.

Her soothing bell of a voice sings lullabies to the fuzzy guitar she openly strums and rocks gently back and forth in cradled sways. Occasionally, it babbles back in crackles and pops.

Likewise, the three original compositions she has chosen to perform resemble bed time stories that transition in and out of a fairground dream.

Her voice is a carousel horse that rises up and down over an organ-like guitar and lyrics that sigh with nostalgia for places and people. I feel like I am watching her stories pan out in front of me, sitting by a window in a cafe that overlooks a promenade.

After finishing a sincere set with “Pine Trees”, she shows me a tiny tattoo of one on the palm of her hand, and tells me she moved to Norfolk from Hertfordshire five months ago. “I knew I was near Norwich because of the pine trees,” she says, referring to the drive up from London.

“The first verse of ‘Pine Trees’ is about the journey to college. I went to an all-girls school for six years and hated it. I had mental health troubles. Hertfordshire is very academic. It wants As. It doesn’t really push creativity.”

The second verse of the song is about walking around at night, exploring Norwich with friends:

“In this lonely town / The people here may be a bit odd /
But they’ll love you nonetheless / And the pine trees /
They whisper to us / We’re together in this mess.”

“It’s very different to here,” says Beth. “I’m much happier here.”

A genuine smile forms on her face, reinforced by a shirt that reads: I wouldn’t lie to you.

Follow her on Instagram.



THIS IS THE END OF SIDE A.

PLEASE TURN OVER TO SIDE B.

Opinions are my own and not the views of Epic Studios.



MO
is a Norwich-based Filipina-American freelance writer and pianist for hire. She is currently working on a three-part mixed-media series about identity, mental health and her relationship with music (spanning the scenes of New Jersey, London and Norwich).

She recently wrote a four-part series centred on That Music Thing featuring Painted Heathers, Young States, HyperFox and Bugeye. The feature touches upon music and mental health, the importance of arts funding within schools, and the music venue crisis in the UK.

For more information please visit her website and if you enjoyed what you read – any donations, big or small, are gratefully received.


(if there’s an ad below this i’m probably skint.)
Standard
Review, Rocket From the East, Women In Music

Rocket From The East | The Coral Cross Band



ROCKET FROM THE EAST 2019:

THE CORAL CROSS BAND

03.04.19/mo



DISCLAIMER: 
 My intention comparing bands with other bands is not an accusatory one. It comes from a history of making mix-tapes, mixed CDs and playlists, and thinking in terms of, “where in the flow does this belong?” For me, a mix-tape is mastered by deliberate, contemplated sequencing where the songs relate to each other in some way, shape or form – be it texturally, thematically or rhythmically. So, when I make comparisons and draw parallels, I’m doing it from a place similar to that of a deejay.



“Bold choice,” my husband nods, referring to the in-between music (it switches from LCD Soundsystem to Nick Drake).

He proceeds to tell me the latter was known for his dislike of performing for audiences. “He didn’t like people.”

This little aside soon synchronises with the next act.

“I’m Coral Cross,” says the inked, bespectacled singer, whose red hair glimmers in the light. “This is the band. You don’t need to know their names.”

But their names are Tony Baldwin (bassist), Simon Evans (lead guitarist) and Richard Stone (drummer). Together, they form The Coral Cross Band (not to be confused with the black metal band of the same name).

“This first song is called, ‘I Don’t Like People’,” smiles the inked frontwoman.

Strumming a black electric acoustic guitar against red plaid to bluesy bass, Coral sways with relaxation before a percussive delivery of conversational lyrics in the style of Lily Allen.

“So, why is it when you walk into a bar /
The girls that are practically wearing a bra /
Look at you like a piece of shit /
Why do we have to put up with it?”

Without getting tongue-tied, Coral proceeds to rattle off a lengthy list of attributes that repel her from other humans.

It almost sounds as if this is being confessed to the drum sticks clicking against the rim of the snare, waiting to punctuate every bullet point with a nod of affirmation.

I don’t like people,” she sings. The chord shift that immediately follows is an extremely satisfying musical grimace. “But I do like you.”

The Shoop Song”, which has a Counting Crows and “Low Rider” kick to it, is driven by a round-and-swaggering-but-jolly-and-benign bass and staggering descents. It feels like the closing credits to a heartwarming early 2010s indie film.

Brought to my attention are the youngest members of the audience. This may very well be one of their first gigs (if not the first). Seeing the way in which the music makes them smile and shoop across the floor raises my spirits about future music scenes.

Glancing back at the stage, a wordless conversation transpires between the bassist and drummer that speaks volumes about enjoying the moment, however fleeting. Especially when sometimes there can be sorrow behind the songs.

Little Fighter”, for example, was written for Hannah Coffill, 20, “who, after twice being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour over the last decade, died peacefully at her home in Lowestoft on 11 December last year.” The song recently ranked on the top 10 UK tracks list of an Australian Internet radio station playing unsigned indie bands from all around the globe, and the band is slotted to play a number of concerts raising funds for cancer research and support groups.

Sea Shell” (flavours: Gogol Bordello and early Muse) gets a flamenco introduction. The stylish gypsy-punk romp of a song is a wandering caravan pursued round and round by a treble-driven police siren guitar, ripping through low bass frequencies in the chase. Its storytelling lyrics conjure images of fate – tarot cards, palm-reading and fortune-telling.

Catch their next gigs on 19 April at William IV Inn, 22 April at Rock The Ribbon at The Brickmakers, 6 May headlining The Blueberry Bank Holiday Bash, 11 May at PBL Fest at The Brickmakers, 21 May at Blueberry Music House and 10 August at Beccles Harvest Moon Festival, and follow them on Facebook and Spotify, where you can listen to additional songs “Standing Tall” (flavours: Foo Fighters and Duran Duran), “Woman” (flavour: Meredith Brooks), and “You’re Not Listening” (flavours: Live and Radiohead).



THIS IS THE END OF SIDE A.

PLEASE TURN OVER TO SIDE B.

Opinions are my own and not the views of Epic Studios.



MO
is a Norwich-based Filipina-American freelance writer and pianist for hire. She is currently working on a three-part mixed-media series about identity, mental health and her relationship with music (spanning the scenes of New Jersey, London and Norwich).

She recently wrote a four-part series centred on That Music Thing featuring Painted Heathers, Young States, HyperFox and Bugeye. The feature touches upon music and mental health, the importance of arts funding within schools, and the music venue crisis in the UK.

For more information please visit her website and if you enjoyed what you read – any donations, big or small, are gratefully received.


(if there’s an ad below this i’m probably skint.)
Standard