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LIVE: Viagra Boys @ The Eagle Inn | 24.10.18

WORDS BY ROBERT HUDSON       PHOTO BY PHILIPPE REDMOND

Viagra Boys are a band to be reckoned with and are currently touring the UK forcing fans across the country to have their shows embedded into their memory. The Stockholm post-punks have recently released an album titled ‘Street Worms’, a very worthy album if you seek a strong dose of creative and dark guitar music with interesting lyrics. A lot has been said about their shows to date, mainly including terms such as ‘riotous’ and ‘aggressive’ but those words barely scratch the surface when watching this band. I got the chance to see them in the intimate, characteristic Eagle Inn in Salford for what would cement a memory of a great gig.

First up on the bill is Manchester’s native MOLD who perform a gripping set with their tunes that fall somewhere short of post-punk and some kind of nightmare groove creating a sound hard to pin down. The MOLD manifesto states “MOLD IS AN ABSURDIST REACTION TO THE WORLD WE LIVE IN/ IN NATURE, IN YOUR KITCHEN, IN POLITICS, IN GUITAR MUSIC, MOLD ONLY GROWS WHEN THINGS ARE STALE AND START TO ROT. LIKE DADA AND WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU CALL CAPTAIN BEEFHEART, WE SEEK TO RE- INTERPRET OUR MEDIUM” this becomes fact in their live appearances.

Adopting a theatrical appearance with all members of the band wearing black and red face paint, their performance felt somewhat like a show at the west end, especially during their single ‘Puppet Master’ where singers Dan Caldwell and Shane Dickenson performed as if he was a puppet upon strings. Playing up to that showmanship aesthetic the band amazingly performed a cover of ‘Pure Imagination’ taken from the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film. It would usually sound bizarre for an artist whose music is sometimes dark and serious to perform this choice of song. However, this outlandish rendition proved only to make their set stronger. For the last few songs Caldwell handed the guitar over to the percussionist and synth player, grabbed the mic from the stand and joined the audience for what would be a truly intimate ending to a strong set.

Next up is Viagra Boys. The Eagle Inn stage is tiny, perhaps just 10 ft x 7 ft in size and the venue space is not much bigger. With six members in the band – who seem to turnover at a similar rate as The Fall – the stage is crowded but full of character. Front man and tattooist by day Sebastian Murphy addresses the crowd and starts talking about his diet whilst touring the UK: “Vodka for breakfast and Taco Bell for lunch”, a healthy balanced diet for any touring punk artist.

The room is filled to the brim with anticipating fans. They open the set with ‘Down in the Basement’ a fitting song due to the size of the room. The interesting thing with Viagra Boys is the sheer amount of what is going on. The whole entente playing just comes across like a tornado of sound, in such a small venue this feeling is amplified further. Murphy talks to the crowd in between songs, shortly describing the brief behind each tune such as his description of ‘Frogstrap’ where he says something along the lines of “We’ve all been in an awkward situation involving a frog in a room” I think we can all agree – at least the crowd went along with it.

 

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VIAGRA BOYS 💓 #viagraboys #streetworms

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They play a number of songs from their recently released debut album ‘Street Worms’ as well as their single prior to the release ‘Research Chemicals’. The set list was delivered in an interesting way, playing slower tracks at the start such as ‘Just Like You’ then later building up to tracks such as the disorderly ‘Slow Learner’. The aggression in ‘Slow Learner’ came across boldly, Murphy delivered a passionate performance with his trademark dance moves, sadly the thick-rim black sunglasses didn’t make an appearance on the night, but they make up for this lack of continuity by delivering a remarkable set.

Viagra Boys finish the set in what seems to be a hurry, all rushing out the door, forcing their way through the crowd one by one. But they leave the saxophonist unattended playing solo on stage. Playing just one note for what felt like at least five minutes. He stood comfortably as he did so. A drummer ending the set with a cliché solo is common place for modern guitar bands, but a saxophonist? An interesting way to end a set but that’s just what Viagra Boys are: uncommon.

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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EXCLUSIVE: MOLD – ‘The Death Suite’ EP

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER        PHOTOS BY THROUGH THE EYES OF RUBY

Fighting the good fight for a scene often misunderstood, MOLD present their new offering with EP ‘The Death Suite’. Due to be released Friday 5th October on a luxurious white vinyl, we’re happy to share with you an exclusive MCR Live preview of what’s to come from the radical renegades of Manchester’s blossoming music network. Tempted? Hit the link below and be engulfed by MOLD with ‘Apocalypse A – Go – Go’:

Featuring three tracks, the EP presents their politically minded manner, complete with maddening gyrations of guitar, bass, drums and hallowed, manic vocals from both frontmen. The collection of tracks, in particular the opener ‘Sterilise The Nation’ – or even perhaps anything by the act – gives the impression that Alex DeLarge is alive and functioning through the guise of MOLD, as their frenzied lyrics whir about a dystopian future. Menacing words speak of a daunting prospect where the megalomaniacs win.

“MOLD IS AN ABSURDIST REACTION TO THE WORLD WE LIVE IN
IN NATURE, IN YOUR KITCHEN, IN POLITICS, IN GUITAR MUSIC,
MOLD ONLY GROWS WHEN THINGS ARE STALE AND START TO ROT”

A growing collective, the act derive inspiration from The Fat White Family but with an artistic, masterful edge with aspirations to have a fleet of MOLD instrumentalists at their beck and call. In celebration of the eagerly anticipated EP that highlights a clear future for MOLD, they’ve enlisted comrades to join them at Manchester’s Soup Kitchen Saturday 6th October, under their gig promoter form: DENTCHA. The lineup incorporates a swarm of acts that have a footing in the DIY scene, including Slow Knife, The Starlight Magic Hour and Inland Taipan amongst others. With tickets at just £5 online and £7 on the door, where exactly can you go wrong? Support the scene and let MOLD swallow you whole.

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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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: Screaming Females @ Band on the Wall | 07.09.18

WORDS BY BENJAMIN CASSIDY

American rockers Screaming Females are a force not to be reckoned with. With seven full-length albums in tow and members that have played with the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Garbage and Dinosaur Jr – they’re packing a punch. Any band is likely to feel – and certainly should be – privileged to play at Manchester’s iconic venue, Band on The Wall. Once an old pub called the George and the Dragon, that had a shelf-like stage protruding from a stairwell (hence the name of the venue) today it continues to host some brilliant acts, from far and wide, as well as showcasing more local talent.

 

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Screaming Females

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One of Manchester’s fast rising acts, Mold were first to the stage. With their white and red face paint you might have thought that they still thought the World Cup was on. I couldn’t help feeling that the theatricality was reminiscent of Gene Simmons and Kiss. The black clothing worn by most of the band also gave the feel of Kiss and the heavier rock look. But the sound is what seems to dictate the look.

Mold launched right into their first track, with crashing energy. Their sound was somewhere between heavy rock and punk – better described as a fusion of the two. Like a heavy metal version of the Sex Pistols, perhaps Motorhead meets the Sex-Pistols. They sang about slightly dystopic themes, like the entire nation being sterilized. The persona of the group was fun as well as entertaining, in an Alice Cooper sort of way. The thumping beating of drums dominated the venue. These guys brought an extra drummer, who was tucked in a far side of the stage – it certainly gave them an added force!

The lead singer, towards the end of their set, jumped from the stage, came and danced amongst the audience, writhing and involving the crowd. It was clear that this group felt it important that everyone had a good time. It wasn’t hard, as they were a lot of fun and an equivocally energetic opening act.

After a short break Scrap Brain came on. Similarly to Mold – no messing about with them either. They got straight down to business, playing through what were short, but powerful songs. They too had a heavy sound, and bags of passion. The songs ended in traditional rock style: suddenly. They timed their set well and included plenty to get the audience moving and shaking. There’s was a slightly more introverted feel to the lyrics, which at times were hard to hear. But that’s only because the drummer was making their presence known – you might have thought this lot had brought a spare drummer too.

What worked great for them was how they all egged each other on. There was no doubt this was a solid unit of a group, who knew exactly what was coming next, and when it was. They looked like they could have played all night, with enough in their repertoire and enough in the tank to keep them going. After around 30 minutes though they finished up, to make way for the main event.

Screaming Females had a decent turn out, including fans who are followers, donning their T-shirts. With six albums behind them and a seventh just released in February titled ‘All at Once‘, it’s clear to see why they can pull a crowd. As a group they’ve done plenty of hard work to build their reputation as hot property. None of this can be gotten though without the material to build that platform from. They certainly have that, with a sound that fuses different sounds. Bluesy riffs turns into dancing pings of electrically charged gutsy guitar work, backed by a strong, clear vocal from the group’s front-woman.

Marissa Paternoster is extremely capable as a singer, lead and rhythm guitarist. She possesses that rare ability to manage all of the above, at the same time as keeping a dialogue with fans and her group. She delivers the words that this time-served group offer. That’s not to detract from the others, who mustn’t go undervalued; the synergy of this group is what makes it all work. The drumming is sublime; Jarrett Dougherty adapts to the varying speed and grooves of songs expertly – setting the pace for some, with all the perfectly timed fills and solos, as well as some wonderful blistering intros, too.

Mike “King Mike” Abbate didn’t get his nickname for nothing. His powerhouse playing held everything together and provided the pulsing beats, as well as some innovative techniques, making for a combination of raw energy and deft technique. These lot work in tight harmony, to make possible the kind of sound that could easily fill a large stadium. The venue I saw them in though, was able to give a much more intimate experience, in the way that everyone probably knows every song by this group, being “in the know” and feeling a part of something special.

As the night played on the crowd favourites came out. What was enjoyable was the concentration of people in the audience, listening to the brilliant music being payed. Of course, some were swaying and even dancing, but, it was refreshing to see great music be appreciated. For a group able to rock as well as any group, there was a quiet feeling of melancholy, at times, but, without any notion of people being too cool for school. A tacit understanding that the music is special and valuable. The repertoire of songs was impressive. All this was just in the first half, which left everyone, including me, well up for more.

After a short interval, it was time for more of the same stuff, except with a mix of heavier material, that seems to be more defining to their earlier work. Followed by more introverted songs, that show how they’ve developed as a band. That can be difficult for fans, when bands move away from an established sound, experimenting with their music. If it ever had affected the Screaming Females then they certainly weathered the storm, as the fans were an eclectic age group, with older ones likely to have been around since the beginning.

Whatever the views of individuals, the set they chose to play live showed the range of creativity being offered and they all had the skills to make it look effortless. Of course, it wasn’t. The band put in their all to what was a great gig, that they clearly enjoyed as much as we, the audience did. Next time they’re in town, or even playing nearby (this band are well worth going a bit further afield to see), be sure to bag yourself a ticket. You won’t regret and if you’re very lucky it will be as good and memorable as the one we had.

Check out more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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IN CONVERSATION WITH: Through The Eyes Of Ruby

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER        IMAGES BY THROUGH THE EYES OF RUBY

They’re the maverick photographers often seen at the front of a hectic gig, analogue camera in hand, bottle of wine in the other. Through The Eyes Of Ruby are Ste Fletcher and Owen Godbert, making a name for themselves with their unconventional methods of photographing artists (on and off stage) that lands them with distinctive shots. Amidst a brief break in their schedule, we caught up with the pair to learn more about why/how they do what they do best.

Pussy Riot at Summer Hall, Edinburgh

The pair met almost twenty years ago during their teenage skateboarding years. From there, Owen took up film photography as a hobby whilst Ste became involved in music and wound up in “a few dead-end bands” until he craved a new side project back in 2016. “I started with Digital (photography) but I soon got bored of that, all the images look the same.” As regular gig-attendees already and Ste making the switch from digital to film photography, it was a natural decision for them to join forces and shoot together at gigs and music venues. With Owen based in Glasgow and Ste in Manchester, theirs is a working relationship that works, with both being able to travel to either or different cities.

Over the years, one band have seemingly brought them both together. In 2015, a combination of Eccentronic Research Council and Fat White Family members, merged together to create the outlandish rock act that is: The Moonlandingz. A defining moment for both Ste and Owen was when they both, separately saw the band for the first time. Ste at The White Hotel equipped with one of his early digital cameras and Owen at Stereo in Glasgow, both shows ignited their passion for live act photography. “I didn’t know what to expect, it was completely insane” mentions Owen whilst thinking back to the gig that landed him with the below shot of the band.

The Moonlandingz at Stereo, Glasgow

With an organic ethos to not take things too seriously, the pair shoot acts that they admire and would enjoy seeing if they were a regular punter. Most memorably, at the start of the year they shot The Starlight Magic Hour for So Young Magazine at The Five Bells in London. “The most memorable gig, which ended up pretty mental with copious amounts of wine” brought with it a missing camera, a broken lense and a missing passport. “Start as you mean to go on” they joke but even still, some candid, expertly snapped shots survived from the half roll of film that made it out of the weekend. They have a charm and ease that fortunately gets them out of trouble and some how always lands them with stand-out images.

Speaking of their style, the duo commend their ethos as well as a pre-gig pint for their confident nature. “When it’s a band that you like and they’re going for it – your confidence just skyrockets and all boundaries go out of the window” both nod, clearly inspired by the bands that they’re fortunate enough to work with. Difficulties do come into play though when shooting a live performance, with a mention of another time they shot The Moonlandingz at Gorilla. “It was just like a mosh pit, it was too manic – one minute you’re getting pushed, the next you’ve got a pint of Guiness poured on your head.” A frenzy of activity can leave any photographer struggling to work in an environment but also add to that, bad lighting at a venue and it becomes ever harder to get the right shot.

Mold at Gullivers

Over their time together they’ve learnt that the smaller venues are their friends and are part of the method that suits their madness. Going forward, there’s no sign of Through The Eyes Of Ruby slowing down: “the goal for us is to keep going, do more exhibitions and go on tour with bands.” The same as with anyone involved in the creative industry, money in the Arts is an issue which they try to ignore. “Sometimes I do think maybe I shouldn’t have spent ten pounds on some film but what’s the point” is their monetary management programme – one that suits their homespun aesthetic. Coming up they have Psych Festival in Manchester, Strange Waves IV featuring Brian Jonestown Massacre and calendar that seems non-stop when they start to reel off what’s coming up. As we part, they’re off to shoot The Jesus and Mary Chain in at the O2 ABC in Glasgow (after the pre-gig pint of course).

Think they’re easy on the eye? Discover Through The Eyes of Ruby on Facebook and Instagram 📸
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UPCOMING: Manchester Psych Festival

Words by Hannah Tinker

With a fleet of acclaimed bands from across the UK surfacing next month for Manchester Psych Festival, the kaleidoscope twists for the sixth installment of this inaugural, enticing event. Originally set at Night & Day Cafe in 2014, consecutive versions of the festival expanded to Aatma, Soup Kitchen and Band On The Wall with an almost sold out event last year. With their growth, the reach of Manchester Psych Festival has spread too and this edition of the visual feast takes over Night & Day Cafe, Soup Kitchen, Band On The Wall and one of the city’s newest venues: Peer Hat. Set to add a hive of activity to the already bustling Northern Quarter scene, Saturday 1st September sees The Wytches, Mold, Meatraffle and many more acts who come with a unanimous penchant for presenting a spectacle and leaving an audience with a dilated perspective.

pink kink at Manchester Psych Festival 2017

The lineup for 2018 captures all different levels of artistic success and celebrates what should be the norm – as festival organisers recently agreed to contain a lineup that showcases and engages the female audience on an equal platform to that of their male counterparts. To meet this, this years Manchester Psych Festival lineup contains the likes of Glaswegian garage-rock duo and all-female Honeyblood, 3/4 female punk-pop matadors She Drew The Gun, low-fi, female-fronted punksters The Cosmics and other lucrative female-led acts. As well as the musical lineup, Manchester Psych Fest is known for tempting the eye and manifesting the work of local talented artists for the visibly psychedelic event; this year having visual aspects from the minds of artists Louise Rivett, Natalie Wardle and Jane Bowyer.

Using their previous lineups as any guide to go by, Manchester Psych Festival is sure to be anything but ordinary – with the only downside being you’re unable to be in four venues at once – previous acts have included Telegram, Crocodiles, Flamingods, The Lucid Dream, Deja Vega, Menace Beach and many more equally feted acts. Ones to watch this year are the headlining slot – Honeyblood, who are the engaging rockers from across the Scottish border, lauded as the pair set to spearhead the rock genre forward, catching the attention of a new generation with their recently released second album Babes Never Die.

Alongside the arts, there will be a selection of food stalls sourced from local traders so you’re just a pair of wellies and bucket hat away from your classic festival field. The day of praise for the Arts doesn’t die down when it hits dusk, with DJs including The Beat Chics and Panda Palm of Me Gusta taking Manchester Psych Festival deep into the early hours of Sunday 2nd September. The sixth installment of our city’s psych celebration sees a collaboration between the vibrant art world and eclectic music scene.

Caught your attention and want to know more? Read about the success of Manchester Psych Festival 2017 and what caught our attention last year 👀

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PREVIEW: Mold & POSA @ Fuel

What’s better than one DIY promoter? We’re about to tell you. This August sees the union of TWO like-minded event organisers Dentcha and Do Your Best presenting a UK tour to remember, with each date promising a concoction of aesthetically-moulded events in a gig-swap manner. Captioned “music to lose your wallet to”, the five-date tour will see the experimental Manchester-based outfit Mold and London-based POSA at the helm, with gigs and local supports across dates in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Brighton before finishing at Liverpool’s notorious The Jacaranda Club.

POSA taken by Through The Eyes Of Ruby

Speaking of their promotional network, Dentcha founder Shane Dickinson has mentioned that they’re setting their sights high: “We want to open up a network of promoters that actually have a passion for it – rather than just money-grabbers.” With talks with Do Your Best now in fruition, there are further plans to spread their DIY ethos & movement across Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool (and pretty much anywhere else that will take them from there). We have every faith that – hopefully – their movement will catch on, and gone will be the days of “they don’t have the right image for this lineup/venue/festival” *delete as appropriate*.

Mold taken by Through The Eyes Of Ruby

For the Manchester leg of the tour Mold and POSA take to Withington’s Fuel Cafe Bar with comrades The Starlight Magic Hour, with more acts yet to be announced ahead of the date. One thing that has been important for both promoters is securing the right booking on their unique lineups – each act captures an air of something new about them; something unheard of, something unearthly.

Having been in attendance at one of Dentcha’s previous events, there’s a clear artistic influence as music seems to be just one component to the running of the night. Dentcha’s synonymous Chattering teeth and Bogzart‘s one-eyed creatures have been strewn across their (so far) three events. Take the modestly sized – yet feverishly keen – Fuel, and picture Mold’s slurring vocals with faces plastered in garish makeup. Then add POSA’s erratic, dysfunctional/functional punk-performance and top off with the unapologetically chaotic-lure of The Starlight Magic Hour, and you have the Saturday 4th August’s Northern installment of the Dentcha x Do Your Best collaboration. It’s going to be pretty nuts, and we’re quite sure you won’t have been to anything quite like it.

For a feast of the mind, get your tickets HERE

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Starlight Magic Hour

The Starlight Magic Hour – Michael Cunningham (centre) and Dan Caldwell (right), photograph by Through The Eyes Of Ruby

IN CONVERSATION WITH: The Starlight Magic Hour

There’s a lot in a name. The Starlight Magic Hour conjures up the idea of the peculiar kid in class with the double-barrel surname, a lust for bigger spaces and even wilder daydreams. Watching this team on stage only pushes that idea further – the (currently) six-piece boast something new and unapologetically chaotic which grabs at the idea that you’re the fly on the wall of a overtly-friendly madhouse. “We’re in a band with kind, loving people. Opposite to the music we make and the image we perceive.” Michael Cunningham, Elliot Roche, Dan Caldwell, Mike Hughes, Mark Javan and Oliver Harrison are the mad men in question with the Mark E Smith quirk, twisted with a fresh, topical guise forged from friendship.

Front-man/pastor/preacher Michael and guitarist Elliot met at the age of seventeen before a few loops had been spun, with Michael recalling the first time he met Oliver whilst walking his dog past “that corner by Afflecks Palace. We started talking about bands and then I played electric for his (band) and then I quit”. Fortunately, Oliver soon followed suit and the founding fathers of TSMH were born. A medley of different musicians have entered the Starlit world and tried to reach the other side. Dan had only recently put together Mold when upon hearing a minute of the Hour before joining the guys at a practice on guitar & vocals but just as a fill-in-the-blanks space to cover the missing edges. Six months then turned into a year, which saw Elliot, Michael and Dan becoming housemates. This soon followed up with the addition of Mark on guitar; “when Mark came in it was our Christiano Ronaldo transfer, the eighty million pound transfer” and Mike on drums “then Virgil Van Dyke comes in here to save the defence.” Brothers in arms are often drawn together and the fateful Starlight meetings thankfully brought an easy amicable group together. “We’re all more like friends than anything and, whenever we play, the music’s not secondary but it doesn’t feel like just a band – it feels like family.”

Dan Caldwell (left) and Mark Javan (right), photograph by Through The Eyes Of Ruby

Not what you thought you’d hear? You wouldn’t be shoved kicked and booted for thinking that Starlight live up to their raw, turbulent, stage presence but as pointed out by the group: “the more aggressive and transgressive the music is, often the calmer the musician is.” When you hear the appreciative, admirable quips about one another you see the ethos that runs through The Starlight Magic Hour. An ethos beyond the classic ‘music’s-my-life-n-I’ll-deck-u-if-u-stop-that’ ideology of a multitude of musicians vicariously trying to live the ‘rock’n’roll’ lifestyle.

Mike Hughes, photograph by Through The Eyes Of Ruby

The Starlight family is growing and spreading even further – much like Drastic Decline label-mates Mold – the band are putting on gigs with Dentcha & their own outfit TSMH Promotions, having already put on three superb shows with the likes of Locean, Aldous RH and LICE in late 2017. More recently came the launch of their debut single under the guidance of So Young Magazine, which saw the grand introduction of the band through ‘I am the Swan to your Song (Kiera’s song)‘ at London venue ‘The Five Bells’, produced by the talented Margo Broom at Hermitage Works Studios. Looking closer to home (though there is some Northern border being tread) the band have filled a slot amongst the much-hailed lineup of Manchester’s Sabotage Festival, as well as the March warm up gig. The enchantingly and somewhat overwhelmingly ideal outcome/end game for The Starlight Magic Hour is to bring the light and love back to music: “an orchestra, full drum section – everything. No more anti-everything. The end would be putting on big productions – like an extravaganza – something more than being punk and being cool.” But in present climates, the inspiration comes from the mavericks around them, including LICE, H0nkies and the recent success of wild Starlight friends; shame.

Now, the place-mats are laid, the cogs have been set in motion and there are already a whole host of tracks for the band to pluck from their ever growing back catalogue. There are no set roles though – a band with two guitarists, a violinist and two lead singers aren’t apt to playing by the rules. “There’s no set songwriter, it’s an amalgamation of the six of us.” Despite being based in Manchester, they’ve currently got a heavy-focused showcase in London – one show being their upcoming support slot for Phobophobes at the notorious 100 Club – but by no means is this a shun to their hometown. “London’s been kind to us and hasn’t had any pre-conceived idea about TSMH whereas in Manchester there seems to be one.” That shouldn’t be being said. Preconception and whispers are the spikes that will make the music industry meet it’s demise. We’re here for the music.

Elliot Roche (Top) and Oliver Harrison (Bottom), photographs by Through The Eyes Of Ruby

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puppetmaster

TRACK REVIEW: Mold – ‘Puppetmaster’

There’s a glimmer of hope peering through the gaps of posing perfectionists amongst the independent music scene. A flash of incandescent lyrics and avid instrumentals stray away from the usual tried and tested, singer-songwriter-guitar-A-chord-B-chord type and twist heads at double time. Mold are here. A key player in this unaccustomed field, their new track ‘Puppetmaster’ summarises why this new medley of sound is embraced with open arms.

Having graced the music scene only recently, the band have begun a refreshing take to the DIY scene, deriving inspiration from The Fat White Family but with an artistic, masterful edge. More than just the founding duo of Shane and Dan, this collective-like band are pushing boundaries beyond just their genre, with aspirations to have a fleet of Mold-eans at their beck and call.

Released under their own record label Drastic Decline, the latest track is categorised by just the hashtag #MINDCONTROL and no other identification. It says nothing and everything in one sharp stamp. There are dazzlingly maddening gyrations of guitar, bass and drums, electrified by synth and lyrics from their –  currently four piece – howling vocal chords. An anguish towards topical events is the main basis for ‘Puppetmaster’, spoken through satirical smiles and witty lines of ‘I’m a real boy now so cut my strings’ echoed in a menacingly intriguing manner. We’re exactly two minutes in now and a technological sound beeps with sounds that echo the penny machine you tried to beat in the games arcade on Blackpool pier. You’re unlikely to be stood still. It’s difficult to let Mold enter your mind without it seeping through to your outward actions in magnetic dips and jolts. Like their namesake, Mold takes over and brandishes all it touches, leaving a mark that transcends through memory and gnaws at what you think ‘a band should be’.

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Upcoming dates for Mold are:

‘Puppetmaster’ official single launch @ Soup Kitchen – 24.02.18
The 99 Degree @ The Yorkshire House – 31.03.18
Sabotage Festival @ Manchester – 28.04.18
Karma 7th Birthday All Dayer @ The Lending Room – 28.04.18

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MOLD

 IN CONVERSATION WITH: MOLD

There’s a hum and buzz emulating from Manchester’s DIY scene. These artists are a refreshing mixed bag of genres, sampled from punk to pop with a dark edge and a bright-eyed dewy gaze. Amongst them is MOLD, outside of the box, with an artistic flair and set of satirical smiles.

Formed by Shane Dickinson and Dan Caldwell back in 2016 after their meeting at the Fat White Family gig at Manchester’s Academy 2, emanated in swift “imagine-if-this-band-thing-actually-happens” texts, chased by three months of awkward bedroom practices and resulting in the creative collaboration that we now have before us.

Their influence and aspirations are summed up in one swift, divine sentence: “We wanted the energy of The Fat Whites but with the craft of the Beach Boys.” Working ever closer to their goal, the band are seemingly meant to work together – with such kindred spirits and perfectly balanced artistic admiration, it’d be a missed trick if MOLD were to grow stale. Consisting of front-men Shane and Dan, finished off with Sam Hunter and a new member lurking in the wings, there’s no hesitation that their goal is achievable and achingly believable. Describing their own sound as “Mold-y” there’s an air of something new about them, something unheard of, something unearthly. Having watched one of their sets, the art influence is clear. With faces plastered in garish makeup and chattering teeth strewn across their sets like a wildly imaginative performance art piece, the aim is to make their sets something more than just a gig padded out with “hey guys I wrote this on the loo” type fillers.

Their knowledge of the local scene and channeled networks are key in their conceptual idea of spreading MOLD ever further, referencing no major influences other than the intense, surrealist world of Theatre of Cruelty by Antonin Artaud and his manic characters, way ahead of his time in the early 20th Century. Their name itself represents a jocular twist on a typical band name, the puns that can be called and the merchandise that can be acquired from a quaint town in Northern Wales – titled under the same name – adds a witty twist that sets them apart from the others; “you can get Tesco bags for life that have ‘I <3 Mold’ on them, t-shirts that say Mold, it’s amazing.”

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Exclusive shot by Natalie Wardle

Their aspirations to grow MOLD is humorously linked to their namesake. The tricky bacteria that spreads over things that grow stale, is now the alias for a band that’s reaching its arms out open wide and thrusting itself further and deeper into its’ audiences’ mindsets.

The lead men Dan and Shane have collaboratively created their own project – a saluted two-fingers-up at those promoters who thrust the dewy new things all into one mixed bag and spew them all up on to a stage. This project is Dentcha; a collective that holds bands like MOLD close and pairs them with similar, complimentary artists that suit one another. By expanding the MOLD world and introducing similar sounding, independent bands to each other, passing them around the country, a network of like-minded virtuoso’s will be created from Dentcha. When asked what current acts they have cast their ears upon, bands that would fit contently in amongst a Dentcha line-up are offered over in the likes of GangPhobophobes and Slow Knife. We went along to their first night to see exactly what’s in store for you and it was definitely not one to disappoint, with the likes of Slowhandclap and Arrows of Love, the scene has been set for the Dentcha collective to console and provide solace for any new coming act that feels they need to fit a promoters brief.

The future of Mold consists of hard graft and stimulating new ideas, ripping over the ever decaying music scene surrounding them. To start 2018 off as they mean to go on, their first official single ‘Puppetmaster’, under record label Drastic Decline is released on 24th February at Soup Kitchen. Embedded in the new track is the modern day propaganda theme, but with a stimulating new take on the tried-tested-topic of the state of our gluttonous world: “you’ve got to respond to it somehow but, it’s far more fun to write things allegorically or indirectly and get the conversation going from there, instead of being angsty because that’s been done before.” This ambiguous subject is a common recurrence underlying throughout their development of MOLD: the notion that people need to be aware of the decay and erosion culminating in our very idea of society. The people need to be informed: “by holding up a mirror to the world in a ‘MOLD’-like-guise.”

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