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The Flame That Keeps Burning: Keith Flint

WORDS BY BENJAMIN CASSIDY

The Prodigy were cool in a different way than other bands that found mainstream success during their reign as unique figureheads of the alternatives and dissenters – as well as being a crucial part of the soundtrack to the last pre-internet-generation of music fans. They’d established a dedicated following well before that though – via desire to listen to them, dance and nothing else. Being part of a movement back then happened without online chat-rooms, or, any other form of internet based-promotion. People came, heard and told everyone else what they were missing. This often took place in old, industrial areas at illegal raves, or at within the networks of parties, that people had. Spaces simply had to be found, because the thought of not getting together to celebrate what being alive is really about – shaking off the drudge of the working week and the stifling constrictions of nine to five just wasn’t feasible.

The big sound, packed full of fuck offs and meaty beats, injected the power of being alive into you. The party well and truly started as soon as people heard those unmistakable sounds of The Prodigy. Mayhem and love met. They brought people together, as the experience was always better shared. Many wild nights were made more-wild by watching your mates take it all in – it was as if you needed to observe someone else, at times, just to make sense of the sheer power and force occurring. They watched you too. It was reciprocal; the magic of it kept the wonderful self-fulfilling loop of it going. A rocket-fuelled ceremony on repeat.


Even when they hit big, and were at their commercial peak, The Prodigy still maintained a status as separate. They celebrated many punk attitudes both in their sound and image: raw energy, individuality and sheer love of the music, amongst other attributes that never fail to mobilise new listeners within a generation. So much more than that though, they reached people of varying tastes, penetrating clicks and usually closed off clubs. If you were Oasis or Blur didn’t matter. The Prodigy offered something else entirely and were too likeable to not enjoy. They were immersive and immediate. Everyone knew. Contemporaries watched and learnt, even if they didn’t give the praise The Prodigy deserved. It didn’t matter to them. The sound and the fans did – making as much of an impact as possible, whenever and wherever they could.

Their enigmatic front man, who originally joined as a dancer, epitomised what music can offer, exploiting perfectly via the electronic sermons, that he was the divine instigator of, harmony, happiness and collective expression. Keith Flint achieved the rare accolade of being the coolest person in music without any accusations of selling out. The man simply wasn’t capable of that. Yes, he changed, but only in so much as the party got bigger and better, and he adapted for that. He dressed for the occasion, but not for marketing purposes or to sell an image.

He was genuine, and that’s what people wanted to emulate more than anything. He was adored, but not with sycophantic adulation. His achievement was the total respect of those who knew how dull and flat life can get without someone to get things blazing. Keith wore the uniform of self, proudly, and taught others that they could too, and should. He wasn’t interested in being shocking or making statements. He was too intelligent for that, and simply not interested. He just liked to dress that way, so he did. Of course, there was some theatricality in his peerless performances, but that was the music flowing into him and pouring back out. He caught the energy of the crowd – a filter for the moment. It was clear he loved making people happy by doing what he loved.

One way to measure bands, a method that separates forgettable from legendary, is how they hold up in a live performance. The Prodigy were made for performing, and if they were there, so were their army of followers – many from the early days – Keith was well known as “that dancer”, at the parties that stemmed from the early nineties’ own Summer of Love. First up and last off the floor, no doubt. Some of the future crowd probably spent time alongside him, although none could compete. He was the public talisman of the group, the face that let everyone knew they were creating something. Bonding. Mattering. It was the Holy Grail for many, to go and see The Prodigy live.

The inclusion of their track, Mindfields, from The Prodigy’s seminal 1997 album, Fat of The Land (it was a landmark record that stands up today and paved the way for so much) on the soundtrack to The Matrix (1999) is entirely unsurprising. It shows how culturally relative they were, somehow tuned in to what people needed, not just wanted. If anything is going to jolt you out of a fugue-state it’s Keith’s sneering vocal, to the backdrop of an impossibly clever array of noises that collectively, could cure zombification in an instant, by the sheer musical excitement.

His delivery incites a sort of static-shock, absent from mainstream music today. If you’re ever unsure of what’s real and what’s not, then listen to that and watch the hairs on your arms start tingling and dancing. It’s honestly just not an option to stay still when you play their music and hear Keith make the announcement “This is Dangerous”. Indeed, in the best possible way. You can’t ignore it, even if it’s not for you. The stuff it’s made of won’t let you. Those crashing battering rams of drumming, the sublime, synthesised sonics of reverb and bent notes.

Following news of Keith’s death, even with him gone from mortal form, his light will continue to make many sparkle and fizz with heat and never want to be extinguished, for even a second. An absolute icon and cultural phenomenon. He’ll be much missed. Though his death may cause many, for a while, to feel that a flame within them has been extinguished – for older fans perhaps seemingly snuffing out that eternal burning combustion that is youthful reminiscence, the inevitable tears won’t stop him starting fires for long. They mustn’t and can’t. There are too many parties yet to first discover him and the petrol of his song. Once they do, like so many before, they’ll burst to life, ignite and make the night go boom.

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IN CONVERSATION WITH: Cory Wong

WORDS BY: JOEL MALLEN

Funky, fun and full of cartilage, Cory Wong is fast becoming a global leading light in a renaissance of uptempo funk. A consistent collaborator with Vulfpeck (to the point where they have a full track reserved just for him as an album closer), he is making a noise with his giddy, positive vibe and bafflingly loose spider hands, somehow sounding tight and rich in musicianship. I had the honour of catching up with him over a vegan burger and sweet potato fries, just before his headline show at Gorilla.

What would be your blurb? How would you describe yourself?

I am a musician that plays music to spread joy to the world. A lot of guitar-led bands, it’s about the guitar player – it’s about “look what I can do”. For me, my guiding light is not about showing off flashy moves. If those come out, great! But my guiding light is to leave my show and listening to my records thinking “Oh wow, that was really fun”, or “oh wow, that put me in a good mood”. It might sound cheesy, but that really is a thing for me.

How does your right hand just, like, do that? Is it dislocated?

Well, I am able to have it very loose but in control – I have a very flexible wrist, and I guess I’ve just practised a lot.

Growing up in Minneapolis, you’ve mentioned how Prince was a real influence on you – did that influence your style from a very young age?

Yeah, I mean I started as a punk rock and ska kid: Green Day, Red Hot Chili Peppers, that sort of thing. But Prince is just kinda everywhere; it’s in the water, it’s in the air, you can’t really avoid it. It’s just how it is.


Was your main source of development rooted in experiences with rhythm bands growing up, or more from discovering artists like Prince?

It’s more from discovering artistry. Even developing my own sound and style was a by-product of learning so deeply the catalogue of Prince, Pat Metheny, Earth, Wind & Fire. Learning it so intimately, and then completely abandoning it to find who I am. I had some mentors that were like “Dude, you gotta stop sounding like Prince, you’ve gotta sound like you. That’s what people wanna hear – nobody’s ever gonna be as good as Prince at being Prince, just as no-one is gonna be as good as you as being you”.

What’s your main impression of the Manchester scene and the UK scene? I know you do a lot of work with the RNCM, masterclasses and the like.

It’s fun to see that there are so many scenes, from all over the world, that have a vibrant arts culture and music business culture as well. The UK in general is such a thriving area for musicians. It’s fun to experience and see this music college that reminds me so much of my own school; it’s very global now.

Your last album The Optimist came out last August – what was your favourite moment or song to record?

My favourite one on there is 91 Maxima. It was a fun song to record, I had an idea of what I wanted to do video wise. I just had some fun little tricks I wanted to do, I didn’t think I would pull it  off, but I did! I really enjoyed Jax and Light As Anything, because I was able to pull off the palindrome, a two drummer drum-kit, a lefty and righty with one kick in the middle. That was a fun, cool thing.

What’s the next step in terms of your recorded music? Are you planning on getting more adventurous with your sound?

I have a bunch of music already recorded for my next record that I feel really good about. Some of this upcoming record is some more collaborations, which I’m really excited about: some that have already happened, some that are coming up which I can’t believe are going to happen. I don’t wanna jinx it, but there’s some big ones, some heroes of mine. I wanna continue to step out as a guitar player led ensemble, in general that’s adventurous to me as a non-shred guy.

Your music seems a very positive force, would you consider that more of a release from you and the music justifies the means, or would you consider that just your outlook on life?

I consider myself a positive person in most areas, but yes I do believe there is a bit of that feedback loop thing, it grows and grows. But I’m mainly just a positive person.

 

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#airbud

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You’re famous across the pond for your jam night in Minneapolis. How important is jamming? What would you say to any young player that is a bit tentative to get on stage?

I’d say it’s formative to them. The word “jamming” can mean a lot of different things to different people.

Because in the higher jazz circles for example, it’s viewed as more like a “cutting session”. Do you think it should be competitive?

Well I’m always out for blood, but I’m not gonna cut any heads. I’m always looking for great musicians to play with. I try to push myself and others in those situations to see how great of a moment we can get. But I think it’s a good thing for growth. The other thing is just to go and hang and be part of a scene, I think that’s the most important thing, and finding a scene that you belong in musically and personally, seeing who you align with.

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ULTIMATE PLAYLIST – Sleaford Mods

Sleaford Mods are one of the most important, politically charged and thought-provoking duos making their mark on the music scene today. Renowned for exhilarating live shows, sharp commentary and minimalist beats, the band have spearheaded the post-punk renaissance of the last five years.

Emerging onto the UK music scene in 2013 at a time of political and creative austerity, the Harbinger Sound released breakthrough album Austerity Dogs caught the moment. Described by The Quietus as ‘a brutally brilliant slice of working-class culture… soaked in the impossible realities of the everyday’, the success was a surprise for many, not least Andrew and Jason who had been making music individually twenty years to no acclaim.  

Fast-forward to 2019, and there are few other bands who can lay claim to such a prolific schedule, yet here we are a year later and Sleaford Mods have released their fifth studio album in six years, Eton AliveReleased on 22 February to yet more critical acclaim the album went straight in at number 9 in the UK Albums chart, number 1 in the UK Vinyl Chart and number 1 in the UK Record Store chart. The album, which features twelve new tracks, was recorded in Nottingham and is the first release on Andrew and Jason’s newly formed label ‘Extreme Eating’; the first album since amicably parting with Rough Trade Records.

We asked the Sleaford Mods to put together a list of tracks which have influenced the new release. Featuring an eclectic mix of artists including Giggs, Pet Shop Boys and Nina Simone, this is Sleaford Mods Ultimate Playlist.

Jason…

Lizz – Chacal

Andrew got me onto this woman. Really good this tune. It’s from her EP ‘Imperio Vol1’  which I’m still getting my teeth into.

Burzum – Channeling the power of souls into a new god

I’m interested in early black metal at the minute. But only with its originators, Burzum being one of them. The idea that people from time to time reinvent music genre purely through passion is such a powerful thing. All that horror bollocks is irrelevant to me. It’s Just the motivation and ideas. Why? Brilliant.

Dat Oven – Icy Lake

Again I got this from Andrew. (Sorry mate haha) it’s Really nightmarish innit, quite cold.  But wicked. Odd.

 Giggs – Baby

The chorus is really good. His delivery. I really like Giggs.

Jody Watley – Looking for a new love

Just started listening to JW. Im trawling the RnB Soul timeline for decent shit constantly.

Andrew…

 Pet Shop Boys – Two divided by zero

Always reminds me of touring especially when we are in Europe.

 Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprosy – Everyday life has become a health risk

The lyrics still seem relevant today.

 Nina Simone – Hey, Buddy Bolden

This song will inspire anyone who is creative. Hairs on the neck go up.

Angelo Badalamenti – The Pink room

I watched the new series, which made me watch the movie again, it’s excellent.

Massive Attack V Mad Professor – Moving Dub (better things)

I already had it but my copy was scratched to fuck so I bought it again.

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ALBUM RELEASE: Foals- ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost (Part 1)’

WORDS BY: EVE WHITESIDE

This record is one of the most eagerly anticipated in recent years, as the Oxford alternative indie-rock group return with a vengeance after their four year break from releasing music. With the suspense bubbling over during their silent period, the bar was set very high for their comeback. Returning for this year’s tour, with a borrowed bassist from Everything Everything, things are visibly different this time which aptly reflects the state of the world portrayed through this album. The focus is direct and clear: doubt and caution for our threatened planet are saturated throughout the record, and intertwined through every track and lyric.

Our very first glimpse of the record was standout track, Exits, which encapsulates the current state of crisis our planet is in. Front man Philippakis’ brooding vocals echo throughout regarding how completely upside down and fated our world has become as he remarks “I wish I could figure it out, but the world’s upside down”. This track is a statement, possessing the band’s signature sound that sets them apart. With this track and the rest of the album still featuring an array of their familiar confident plucky guitar riffs that were ever-present in What Went Down and Holy Fire – there is a definitive move onto something new and futuristic.

Throughout Syrups there is a prominent striking bass line and slow burning melody, whilst the overall air of the track is ladened with the disappointment of the world. The landscape of the track hinting at the way digitisation has developed and our cities decimated around us – “all the kids have left the towns, foxes howl and preachers bow down”. Similarly, On The Luna features the ominous bridge “we had it all, we didn’t stop to think about it” which echoes the naivety of our nation when facing the issues of climate change – particularly fitting with the tropical February we experienced just a week ago. This is also reflected in the album title itself, with the underlying message to make the most of what you have while you have it, and save it. Despite this underlying message the track itself is simultaneously a classic, feel-good indie anthem.

 

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The mighty Q @qmagazineuk Photo credit: Alex Lake

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In particular with the high-tempo, urgent and punchy tracks White Onions and In Degrees, there is a certain familiar energy that would sound incredible in a live set. In Degrees stands out as it shows signs of something new from the group, almost as if it could be played in a nightclub. This track in particular showcases Foals’ new sound and versatility, with synthesised grooves featuring heavily throughout. As you reach the end of the record you find yourself experiencing a much more pensive note that exists in Sunday and I’m Done With The World (& It’s Done With Me), both featuring serene melodies and with melancholy piano whilst Philippakis’ vocals take centre stage.

Only Foals could take on the current anguish and frustration currently felt in the world and transform it into something wonderful and euphoric, taking the listener on a journey from beginning to end. As front man Yannis said, we will not witness the full impact of the album until we hear the second part, so until then, to be continued…

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IN CONVERSATION WITH: Maggie Rogers

WORDS BY EMMA LANGFORD     PHOTOS BY MANC WANDERER

It is tempting to imagine how Maggie Rogers’ career would have rolled out, had she not found viral fame from Pharrell’s patronage. This student at the Clive Davis Institute had just started incorporating electronica into her folky songwriting when the visiting producer poured lavish praise on her class project, “Alaska.”

It is ironic that a song about a recent personal reclamation (“And I walked off you/And I walked off an old me”) led to a renewed loss of control in Rogers’ life, one that she has likened to a violation, or, in the naturalistic songwriting she prefers, a bout of freak weather. Now in the twisting and turning world of her career, Rogers is meeting the demand for her. Sold out shows popping up all over the globe and a social following that skyrockets on the daily, there’s no stopping her. Luckily for you though, we managed to catch her for a few minutes…

Are you excited for your show?

Yes, I’m super excited. These are the first shows I’m gonna play with my album out and so it’s cool cause it is the first time the audience has the chance to know the words like I’ve been touring for the past two and a half years it feels like I’m throwing a party now.

What’s been your favourite show on the tour so far?

Every night seems to just get better and better but we did get to play Dublin on a Friday night which is just pretty awesome. I was playing my song ‘Falling Water’ and for anyone who doesn’t know this song it is kinda like an intense emotional ballad and some girl got on her friend’s shoulders and took her top off it was proper rock n roll nothing that I’d expect to see.

When did you first realise that you were gonna become a musician?

I think that’s something you decide for yourself. I started writing songs when I was 13/14 but I think I decided I really wanted to be a musician when I was 17.

Which artists did you listen to when you were growing up?

When I was really young I listened to a lot of classical music as my first instrument was the harp. So I listened to lots of Tchaikovsky and Vivaldi. In high school, I got into listening to mid-2000s Indie music Bon Iver, Vampire Weekend and then I discovered Nick Drake and The Talking Heads.

How would you describe your musical development as you are known for your original sound of folk infused with electronic influences?

It has always been about my own experimentation with production cause I feel like I’ve been writing songs the same way since I was thirteen. It’s just like really narrative and me just in my bedroom trying to understand the world and trying to produce them in ways that keep me creatively challenged. So at first it was folk music then I played in a few rock bands and then I was playing bass in a Punk band for a while and did some DJ stuff. On my EP I did some folk – electronic hybrid but now it feels good cause      I feel like I’ve come round to something that feels more true to my background. It’s really nice to have these real instruments back in the mix.

Would you say dance influences your music?

I don’t think so it is just something I do really naturally. I’ve always loved to move and if you don’t move when listening to music I think you’re subconsciously holding yourself back. My favourite type of music is kinda like dancing while crying it is something you can move to and feel to and I think that is what I’m always trying to do with my music. I think in doing that you can give people different ways in.

What would you say ‘Heard It In The Past Life’ is about and why did you decide to call it that?

I had the title before I had anything else. It is mainly about the last two years of my life where I graduated from college and had this transition. Basically, my private life became very public and I became a professional musician straight out of college and there is just a lot of change. When that change happens different people have different ways of dealing with it or explaining it and my way has always just been writing music.

 

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girls to the front . . 📷 @mlownsphotography

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How would you describe your process of making music as a songwriter and as a producer?

It depends what I am creating on if it is on my guitar. Back In My Body happened that way I wrote it on guitar in my childhood bedroom in Maryland then went to the studio that I had in my parent’s barn and sorta decided what I wanted the sonic architecture to look like. But sometimes like ‘Falling Water’ I’ll just start making a beat or making a track on my computer and then write on top of it so it can happen in a couple of different ways but I think no matter what I always go back to guitar and piano where I really check on the structure of the song because the song is the most important thing.

What’s your favourite song on your new album?

It depends on what kinda mood you’re in. I don’t know if I have an answer to that honestly. Falling Water is the song that took the longest but that’s not always a sheer sign. It really taught me to edit in a new way that I hadn’t before and musically I am probably the proudest of it but lyrically I really love Past Life and from a production standpoint I’m really proud of Overnight. If I wanna dance Say It is probably my favourite. I spent a lot of time with the track listing, thinking about the way I wanted the songs to run into each other. I really love the way the record flows.

What made you want to write Alaska? What headspace were you in at that point?

Alaska was the first song I wrote two years after writer’s block and the last thing I had done when I stopped writing was to go on a hiking trip to Alaska the song isn’t really about the place as much as I was processing the things as I was walking in the place.

How was your experience performing on Saturday Night Live?

It was insane. I just walked in and started crying like I was just really overwhelmed that that was even happening. Even you asking me that question I guess I still can’t believe that even happened. I feel like it is in the realm of dreams you don’t say out loud. It is just like crazy. I grew up watching this TV show and I never thought it was a possibility that I could be on it one day. It was really an honour to be a part of that.

Who are your favourite up and coming artists?

I really love Rosalía and Phoebe Bridgers and this band Big Thief the lead singer in that band Adrianne Linker is one of my favourite songwriters. Phoebe is a friend of mine… I don’t know Rosalía but I think her music is amazing.

Are there any artists that you’d like to collaborate with in the future?

I really love James Blake and am constantly drawn in by his production. I’m a giant Brockhampton fan and would love to work with them but I don’t know if they are open to that cause I know they’re such a collective and I have so much admiration for that. I don’t know maybe Dolly Parton if I’m really dreaming I think that’d be cool.

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COMMENT: The New Wave Of Psychedelia

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER       PHOTOS BY THROUGH THE EYES OF RUBY

The first album to define its own contents as psychedelic was the debut album by Texas garage rockers The 13th Floor Elevators, in October 1966 (The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators). Within a year, psychedelia had exploded across the music scene like a giant paint bomb, turning everything from monochrome to technicolour almost overnight and inspiring 1967’s epochal Summer of Love. The reverberations of the scene staked out in the Summer Of Love, are continually making waves in the pool of new musicians.

Four years since the first one, Manchester Psych Festival is now a fully fledged institution. With a selection of gigs promoted across the city each month under their moniker, it’s surpassed itself as a festival. Going beyond the boundaries of art and music the festival brings a like-minded community together in the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Psychedelia is making a re-imergence into the scene, leaking through the dusky cracks of post-punk and indie-rock and oozing into the forefront of the music scene.

Slow Knife at Manchester Psych Festival 2018

As one of the most prominent festivals in Manchester with a massive influence on the music scene, Manchester Psych Fest is a clearly dedicated to the cause. Taking over 4 dedicated venues, the festival embraces the new and unique. Recently, the festival saw it’s 6th edition and of course, we couldn’t miss it. Starting early, Slow Knife scoop up the crowd and place them on a level playing field: knowing exactly where the day is headed. Saxophone, keys and strings at the ready, their post-punk sound makes for an entertaining first viewing for the day. Spoken word at it’s greatest in ‘Nuke The Moon’ echoes through the Soup Kitchen basement and out through the door. All hail the knife. This is what psychedelia is about.

A quick switch over to Night & Day Cafe and we’re with MOLD for their well-anticipated afternoon slot. The five piece bring a theatrical onslaught to the stage, equipped with face paint and satirical smiles. The psych genre is set to take hold of the scene and is breathing deeply through bands like MOLD that set the stage alight and stand for something new.

MOLD at Manchester Psych Festival 2018

But what exactly is psychedelia? The Oxford English Dictionary describes it as “music, culture or art based on the experiences produced by psychedelic drugs” which is a little reductive for such a grand institution. LSD might have been the original inspiration, but it doesn’t explain why psychedelic music is still being produced and enjoyed by people who’ve never dropped acid in their lives. Psychedelia is appealingly vague and open-ended – a merger of philosophies, colours and styles all happening at once. It’s about opening your mind to the myriad possibilities that we’re met with each and everyday. It’s about reconnecting branching out, seeing clearly and letting go. It’s exciting, but also a little bit scary. Psychedelia isn’t a destination; it’s all about the journey.

The type of bands that are connected with this new unearthly scene of new age psychedelics are the type that set apart from the ordinary and bring a whole new offering to the table – whilst simultaneously not giving a shit about what the rabble think. With this year’s Psych Fest as an example, it’s not just a simple one-trick-pony movement. The festival comprises one day of such musicians – with artwork featured by local artists who are set to break the mould – and sounds from guitar-bass-drums outfits stretching the possibilities of the standard rock band set-up to electronic artists. There are so many acts that it raises the question: is all music, if it’s doing its job right (experimenting, blowing minds), psychedelic?

Madonnatron at Manchester Psych Festival 2018

The classic music of the psychedelic heyday was rooted in social opposition, a countercultural vibe that resonated with baby boomers, students and protesters. The music was not exclusively political or related to your everyday stoner, but in a climate of diverging identity, these new sounds flourished hand-in-hand with the changing landscape. Evolving through the present day, psychedelic music and social commentary are mutually exclusive. With politics a common topic, the psych collective consciousness seem to weigh on the side of identity and social preservation.

It’s been a long, strange trip for the genre that came to fruition through various different routes, starting with the whir and buzz of the 60s and 70s and not showing any sign of stopping, having become embodied by a myriad of current acts like Madonnatron, Yassassin and Meatraffle. For the remainder of Psych Fest, we caught the likes of the Wytches, Baba Naga, The Cosmics, Holy and Josefin Öhrn, each with their own unique take on the psychedelic movement but with a refreshingly new twist. Psychedelia is moving but at it’s own pace, in a strong, independent movement that’s reaching the nook and cranny of each and every musical alliance – whether you like it or not.

Meatraffle at Manchester Psych Festival 2018

Already keen to go to the festival next year? Keep up to date with the latest news about Manchester Psych Festival 2019 over on their Facebook page 🌀

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LIVE: FREE VIBES x SABOTAGE –
Dylan Cartlidge, Slowhandclap,
Scruffy Bear, Octopus | 29.08.18

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER        PHOTOS BY MANC WANDERER

Following on from the success of the debut Sabotage Festival back in April, the gig promoter has continued to conquer Manchester with another enviable lineup. Wednesday 29th August was a partnership with Free Vibes – another promoter set to ignite new artists. Now a classic amongst those in the know, FV is a monthly slot at Band On The Wall that pulls together a host of talented new acts and sets them up on one of the city’s most renowned stages.

Free Vibes x Sabotage is an ideal pairing that brought together an amalgamation of likeminded folk interested in the movements of the new waves in music. Setting the scene on the evening were self-proclaimed ‘Tentacle Rock’ act Octopus with their infectious shoe gazer sound that oozes a level of experience beyond their years. Britpop at it’s finest and then some, Octopus welcomed the fast-filling main room of Band On The Wall with open arms.

Following on and keeping up the pace – if not heightening it – psychedelia hits and Scruffy Bear appear. Theirs is a sound which is equally transcendent of their years but in a different manner. It’s the melodies themselves, the riffs and hooks with their psychedelic haze. Blues and psych merge together entangled in a rock n roll shell, equipped with a mesmerising stage presence that can’t not catch your attention.

Bringing the outright noise are SlowHandClap poised and ready to go just ahead of the headliner. If you’re fortunate enough to have seen them yourself, you’ll know they’re not a band to be reckoned with. Raw energy and passion erupts from the trio for a mystifying performance reminiscent of fuzzy early Nirvana gig videos. If you’re a Dinosaur Jr fan, keep your finger on the pulse with SlowHandClap – you’re in for a treat.

Last but certainly never least, alternative rapper Dylan Cartildge hosts as the headliner. He’s making waves in his field, with Huw Stephens a notable fan, as well as having had the famed musician Jamie T accompany him on hit track ‘Up & Upside Down’. Notably Dylan is a multiple instrument player – paired with his charismatic stage presence it makes for a live set that hums with an easy solace. His vocals echo, along with that of his backing singer, to a completely entertained Band On The Wall that’s singing every word back to him. He’s just done Reading and Leeds and you can be sure there’ll be no stopping him soon.

Want to see more? You’re in luck. The next Sabotage curated gig takes place at The Castle Hotel on Oldham Street, Saturday 29th September. It’ll be the first headline set from Manchester favourites La Mode, hot off the heels of their recent EP release which fuses modern indie with 60s rock in an eclectic manner that’s not often found. Oxford-based Self Help present their twist of garage and punk that cuts an original figure, whilst the fresh and fledgling Thin-Skinned who only have one track released are set to introduce themselves. Tickets are only available on the door and at just £5 a pop, we’ll meet you at The Castle.

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TRACK: Giant Boys – Clap Your Hands

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER

Fast-moving and true to their form, Giant Boys introduce their new EP: ‘Clap Your Hands’. Since forming in 2017, the Salford-based duo stormed into the studio; equipped with their fresh, organic ethos that the first take of their recordings is the published sound. In Manchester alone, the pair have seen success that’s thrust them forward into the limelight, including a debut a gig supporting for Hyena Kill‘s EP launch back in April this year. Since then Giant Boys have amassed a UK-wide following, with feature performances at London’s ‘Old Blue Last’, Tramlines Festival and Band On The Wall’s FREE VIBES.

Post-punk gets a callow, minimalist refresh from the band, with a sound that entwines a Slaves-like level of recognisable Brit punk with something fresh and DIY, comparable to The Foetals. A sound like theirs feels pivotal in the shift of a music genre like post-punk that’s begun to become such a prominent style in the music world.

For their debut EP, the namesake title track of ‘Clap Your Hands’ is a hardcore ode to the darker side of post-punk. It’s set with a pacing drum beat that sets the tone and gets the basis for an anthem going, backed with echoing vocals by both members. The feel is one of a main character falling into madness with a calm, soothing voice narrating his descent – but is it too late? Other tracks on Giant Boys debut EP are ‘Product Recall’ and ‘Down To The Quick’ with the latter igniting reference to The Prodigy’s ‘Firestarter’ opening with a similarly invigorating sound that gets the pulse racing.

With an organic attitude, Giant Boys present their hedonistic post-punk sound in it’s rawest form and after listening to the EP, the instant thought is “when’s their next live gig”. With upcoming dates such as Stay Fresh Fest and an evening at Salford’s Eagle Inn: we’ll meet you at the front.

Set to be released for streaming on 7th September this year, with a tangible format on cassette for this years official Cassette Store Day. Like Giant Boys on Facebook to keep up to date 👀

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Blackthorn festival

PREVIEW: Blackthorn Festival 2018
Photography – Trust A Fox, Words – Hannah Tinker

Celebrating a fifth birthday with Pete Doherty in attendance is a sentence you’d be forgiven for never thinking you’d hear. The Libertines front-man is set to be the main-stage headliner on Saturday 21st July as part of the Stockport-based 3-day event, Blackthorn Festival. Now celebrating half a decade since the event first started, this year sees possibly their grandest line-up yet with Joy Division and New Order legend Peter Hook fronting his accomplished self-made band – Peter Hook & The Light – in the headline slot on Sunday 22nd July. Blackthorn has hosted an array of acts, with previous names on the bill including the likes of Reverend And The Makers, The Enemy and Maximo Park, amongst many others. Each year Blackthorn seems to mature and flourish further, surpassing the intake of vivacious revellers from the year before and filling Whitebottom Farm out to the brink. It’s clear the masterminds behind Blackthorn are taking no prisoners in delivering this year’s festival line-up.

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In amongst the achingly superior headline acts are sets that are equally likely to wet the appetite. Amongst our top picks are the likes of grunge enthused, Stockport-local (and MCR Live resident) Findlay who will be warming up for NYC indie rockers We Are Scientists on the Saturday evening’s main stage. Ahead of this, the feisty, underground and quickly-rising newcomers The Blinders are set to pulse their growing fan-base with a slot on Saturday afternoon. The Doncastrian trio have recently shot to local fame, and a fast-growing reputation outside this, thanks to their modest penchant for raw, pacing and wholly unapologetically political verses.

On this year’s Blackthorn bill, celebrating the wealth of exciting talent of the North seems to be a trend with Saturday also holding host to Manchester’s favourite DIY riot grrrl act – Witch Fever – who will be showcasing their acclaim to the sub-genre by way of eclectic vocals and post-punk, grunge riffs. And a throwback to the past, Saturday’s Paddock stage headliner sees underground Mancunian legends Twisted Wheel take to wrap everything together. Having formed in 2007, the punk-revivalists have garnered approval from the likes of everyone from Liam Gallagher to Paul Weller and in their lengthy career have even supported The Courteeners, Kasabian and Happy Mondays. With a wide, diverse and loyal fan-base, Twisted Wheel reformed last year complete with a new lineup and new album and after missing their set in Manchester earlier this year, we can’t wait to catch them live again.

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Twisted Wheel will be playing at Blackthorn 2018

Kicking everything off, however, Friday 20th July sees an opener freshly encompassing the best of Manchester’s elite new coming acts. Tribute acts galore headline the evening including Inspiral Carpets very own Tom Hingely fronting the eulogy to his former band as The Kar-Pets host the main stage late into the first night. Ahead of this, Happy Mondaze honour Salford’s own alt-rock band with a comparably vivid set reminiscent of the Haçienda days. However, before this nod to the nostalgic, comes a host of Manchester’s radical new-wave talent for which the city is known for. Leading this are three-piece desert-rock outfit Afghan Sand Gang who boast atmospheric, synth-led tracks with a DIY edge that have enticed the likes of Cabbage band member Lee Broadbent: “They are infectious to the point it’s indescribable…” What more could you ask for?

Deja Vega lead the alternative Meadow stage on Friday. Hailed as elitists engaged in the music scene, the trio present modern Brit-psychedelia with an almost Gothic-like edge which stands for something new, diverse and wonderfully original. Fellow Mancunian brothers in arms (with a like-minded sound), Hey Bulldog, bring an intense sound that thrusts the trio ahead as one of the best acts to leak out of the cities flourishing psych-rock scene – keep your eyes and ears on them.

But it doesn’t stop here. Those who make it through to Sunday are rewarded with the likes of the aforementioned cultural legend Peter Hook, as well as 90’s maestros The Bluetones. Reaching acclaimed commercial success in their hay-day, the band reformed in 2015 and have been touring the UK (almost) ever since, beckoning an indie-rock throwback whilst still managing to garnish their masterful musical skill-set.

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Pete Doherty – will be playing at Blackthorn 2018

We’ve named just a few standout acts here, and not nearly all the talent that Blackthorn offers in 2018. So, with all of that, there’s only one thing for it… what are you waiting for?

Thanks to Trust A Fox for the photos from the Festival from 2017, and the snaps of those playing in 2018.

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foetals

Photograph by Walk>Talk Productions

IN CONVERSATION WITH: The Foetals

Notorious for their limited run of live gigs yet adored by those who’ve stumbled across them, The Foetals present an alternative approach to achieving status. There’s already a debut album – Meet The Foetals – for you to purchase but, having only played a handful of gigs, how would you stumble across them?

It’s in part due to having members that already have their own individual fan-bases – from past and present circulation around the tight-knit Manchester music scene – and, of course, complimented by the sound that the three-piece offer with Americana vocals, fast-paced, eloquent drums and an entanglement of bass and guitar that combines for their opulent take on alt-indie with a 60s edge. Speaking of having band members that are successful musicians in their own right, at Sounds From The Other City they’re joined by the synonymous Aldous RH on bass. The Foetals live performance line-up often sees Tom McClung – who was at a wedding on the weekend of SFTOC18 – merging with Aldous RH on strings. Andy mentioned the one affliction of the Manchester music scene: “It’s nice that everyone in Manchester plays in each other’s bands but it means you’ve got to coordinate and time things right.” Foetals’ lead singer and ringleader Jolan Lewis – formerly of Temple Songs – and Andy Richardson, who have both worked with Aldous on his solo work, alongside other starring roles with the likes of Drugdealer, Francis Lung and Sean Nicholas Savage, make up the band. With each of their solo projects taking up most of their time, now there is finally room for the PNK SLM-signed Foetals: “I’ve been busy with Aldous, and Andy’s been busy with other things, and now Aldous has gone to do some recording so we’ve come back together.”

Image may contain: one or more people, people playing musical instruments, night and indoor

Photograph by Teletarts

The Foetals commendation amongst the Manchester music scene means they’re often requested ahead of bands that play more frequently than not. Before SFTOC18, the last gig they played was at Common for the nationally celebrated Record Store Day – but before that, it was way back in January 2017 that their last live performance came to light. Having met at college over a mutual appreciation of punk music (& Andy spotting Jolan’s ‘Dead Kennedys’ t-shirt whilst Jolan reluctantly admitted it was his brothers and “the only clean top available”) – the two have known and worked with each other ever since. Perhaps building up their rapport with the industry led to audiences being all too ready for what the musicians would bring together collaboratively? In terms of the inspiration behind The Foetals, the likes of Nick Lowe, Ray Davies, Andy Partridge and “of course Lennon & McCartney” are who turn the cogs for head honcho Jolan: “there’s a kind of British song-writing where it’s portrayed, you learn it and you sit down and you’re like ‘I’m going to write five songs today’ and that’s that. Pop songs essentially.” An appreciation for the underbelly of British music can be seen in the works of Foetals , as well as a dedication to their craft. The Foetals started out as a solo project began by Lewis in 2015 when the musician released the self-recorded, performed and mastered album ‘Meet The Foetals’ under the label PNK SLM, with all proceeds going to Cancer Research UK having been diagnosed with the disease just after the release of the album.

Recording album #2 📷 @coralie.monnet

A post shared by The Foetals (@thefoetals) on

The decision to go with PNK SLM was a rather spontaneous move, as having recorded the album, Jolan sent it to notorious indie label Burger Records & the aforementioned PNK SLM – “they got back to me in 10 minutes after I’d sent the email and have been great ever since – we weren’t able to tour the record (due to Lewis’ recovery) and they’ve been really great with all that.” Now with Jolan on the road to full recovery, The Foetals are half-way through the creation of their second album and intriguing things to come “I’m happy with it, it’s going really well. It makes the first record feel like practice” comments Jolan. Whether it’s with PNK SLM or not is yet to be announced, but the musicians have nothing but positive feedback for the record label. With more shows promised, Manchester’s under-the-radar super collective The Foetals are coming out of the woodwork and are no longer common folklore – keep your eyes peeled.

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