The Story Of A Venue – OPEN, Norwich

Venues are often places we rush in and out of with little thought of the story behind the place in which we spend a few hours listening, waiting, moshing, watching, laughing, rocking and generally having a good time. (Ok.. there are some ‘hope they stop playing soon’ gigs as well. Best not talk about those nights.) We look around to locate the important stuff like stage, toilet, bar and merch stall. Do we really care all that much about the place, or notice much? Probably not.  One venue in Norwich, however, is a place worth investigating.

OPEN Norwich, on the corner of Bank Plain and London Street, was for many years a branch of  Barclays bank. Old School in the extreme, it had high domed ceilings of white and gold plasterwork. The presence of cashier desks, glass and corporate logos was made insignificant  by the splendour and size of the place – it was worth going in just for a look, and it was probably in some visitor guidebook, too.
In 2003, the building was bought by the Lind Trust, who established a Youth Forum.  A need had been identified – the SOS bus facility (a seriously excellent thing) was available at weekends to support young people, but there was nothing during the week and that needed to be addressed. Two years later, charity status was awarded and in 2009 the current OPEN Youth Trust was formed. Every single penny of profit made goes to youth charities. OPEN provides early intervention of all kinds to over 4,000 youngsters using the drop-in facilities, supporting the next generation from ages 7-25.

OPEN hosts every sort of event you can imagine – art exhibits, musical workshops, shows of all sorts by young people, boxing, quizzes, lectures, book launches, drop in centre, recording facilities, dance studio, conferences, Body Art conventions, life skills courses, adult education, Christmas markets (a first this year) and awards nights. It is also registered as an exam centre. Several more new things are in the pipeline for next year, too. When I visited there was a weeklong dance workshop for kids going on. There’s a café, a climbing wall, ICT facilities and a wealth of access to advice and support. The vaults are also still in use – secure storage is a steady income.

Regular music events began back in March 2012, in a main hall holding 1400, with the more intimate and rather nice Club room holding 300. The range of music is pretty varied – London Grammar, Belle and Sebastian, Craig Charles’ funk night, jazz, Machinehead and a Queen Extravaganza. This month, The Darkness are welcomed  – the fastest selling gig the venue has seen. Rick Lennox saw The Darkness in 2000 at The Barfly with 150 people, loved them, and has wanted to put them on ever since. It’s only days away…

At the time The Darkness’ tour was being mooted and promoters were ringing round venues for free diary dates, OPEN had a booking for the preferred Saturday night so Monday was arranged – the other booking then fell through, much to Rick’s annoyance – too late to change by then.  Whilst tour itineraries are being finalised, the venues will hold dates as long as possible and chase if another enquiry comes in, but confirmation from the promoter can come in as early as the next day, so things can move very quickly. Dates for official announcements from the band and ticket sales are confirmed for release after the information goes on the band’s website. After that, the venue tech team will have liaised with the band’s production team, marketing will have sent the artwork and any posters, and the venue will have made sure as far as humanly possible that everyone knows where they should buy their tickets from.

OPEN itself is hired by the promoter, Live Nation, so there is no contract direct with the band. Rick is there to communicate, problem solve and make sure that everything runs smoothly (ie not letting Justin see the balconies). Which isn’t always as easy as it sounds…

This isn’t just an excellent venue. It’s a force for good in an increasingly bleak world for the young. If you’re there for The Darkness next week, stop, look around and think. Every venue has a story – some are helping the future happen, not just the now.

OPEN has two facebook pages – one for the youth activities and one for live music, as well as twitter and the website.

Many thanks are due to Rick Lennox and Hayley Gerrard at OPEN Norwich, whose help and time was much appreciated.  Have a look at some photos they provided – it’s an amazing building!

Banking Hall then & now 1 Banking Hall then & now image1

 

Live Streaming Party Win Win Win…

Those most excellent rockers The Darkness are offering you live streaming, party potential and a huuuuge prize just for sending in photos. It’s 1.30 am UK time (a few hours away) but if you miss it you have 5 days to see it.
Let’s hit the link and get down with masters of marvellously mucky rock regalers 😀

Whilst your attention is caught, can we interest you in some Darkness VIP tickets? Includes Meet and Greet, Q&A and soundcheck entry at US, Australia and UK gigs. Enter the code ‘optimumimpact’ at checkout for 25% discount. Well worth it. Trust me. Everyone who’s been so far is very very pleased with their purchase!

The Darkness – Soccer Six 2015

Here’s footage from the periscope stream I did – sorry there’s not more but my phone decided to eat the rest of it. The quality isn’t the best, and I’m trying to watch the game as well as stream it, but you’ll get the general idea! It’s not much help when the sun is reflecting off the screen so I can’t see what I’m actually filming, either.  Anyway, enjoy. That goalie ain’t bad, you know…

Last Of Our Kind – The Darkness album review

The arrival of a new album from The Darkness will always bring something unexpected, no matter how much has been heard, seen live or written about it. It creates a little aura of mystery around the package that arrives on the doormat. As this is the first album produced by Dan Hawkins, it’s even more of an enigma. What have they done? How have they done it? Where’s the air guitar? WHAT THE… cor blimey, will you just listen to THIS…

There’s plenty of that last statement to go round. Open Fire (read more), and I can say that it fits in this album perfectly. Last Of Our Kind is a jigsaw – distinct and different pieces of a carefully fitted whole. Layered tracks – blended subtleties vying with bright rippling counterpoints, ridden by the usual virtuoso solos – are often driven by deep, heavy rhythms so solid you could break a chunk off and eat them. Some songs have gone over the wall of sound and are more of a 3D model of it. 70’s influences add to that sublety of contrast, especially where vocals belie the words. There’s no particular order to what follows:

Barbarian has oft been discussed. An East Anglian history lesson, it is crammed full of blood stirring primal war screams and dastardly deeds,probably destined to be a cult fan favourite forevermore. Open Fire is also much cherished already, offering just about everything the diehard craves with an alternative weave providing extra earworm potential.

The two most identifiably Darkness tracks (to the world outside fandom) are the current release – Hammer And Tongs (would it have been even more Darkness to spell it Tongues?) and Mudslide. The first is a joyful bouncy romp about the finer things in life, sexy in TD’s innocent yet earthy way. It’s a belter live, too. ‘Mudslide’, in comparison, is TD’s other forte – crazy, dirty rock to mosh your way round the room too. Or fall off your office chair to whilst headbanging. Ahem. You might almost expect to hear a ‘woof’ at the end.

Last of Our Kind is something that’s had unprecedented fan input, both with vocals and with a video that has yet to be seen. It deals with the inevitability of some kind of defeat but always fighting your defiant hardest – Darkness to a T. A comment on the vagaries of the music industry, perhaps? A choral, uplifting anthem to suit many of life’s situations, anyway. It’s Frankie Poullain’s favourite, if that helps…

Further on, Roaring Waters‘ soft vocals deceptively deliver some pretty brutal lyrics over a hard musical throb. Don’t be lulled – it’s metal, not a wander through some nice sharp riffs. In complete contrast, Wheels Of The Machine is the closest The Darkness have come yet to a straight love song, but with a hint of trademark fearful doubt in it. Brightness pulses through rockily dreamy almost ballad. That brightness shared with Sarah O’Sarah, which spangles at the beginning and continues with that pop singalong good time feel hook. Watch out for those lyrics again, though. Well–honed anxiety bubbles through a dogged determination to carry on in the face of perceived pending disaster. Ending on a plaintive note, it leaves a feeling that defeat has been snatched from the jaws of love victory, despite everything – it’ll get you, if it’s played live acoustically.

Conquerors – the last track – is sung by Frankie. It’s a very welcome surprise

for fans of the coolest pirate bassist on the planet. The persuading and arm twisting done to accomplish this was very much well worth it. Frankie’s soft speaking voice gives no hint of the throaty vocals on this track – a little growl and a sting of contempt thrown in for good measure. It’s as slow and serious as a rock ballad, but heaven help you if you’re ever the cause of these words. Whatever has been conquered may or may not of been worth holding on to, maybe? It’s all in the delivery. Nailed.

Finally, here’s the glory. In one song, The Darkness combined Abba, Queen and pure heavy rock to produce an almost elegiac masterpiece. Flicking from tempo to tempo, between genres so fast they blur, Mighty Wings is stupendously flamboyant yet tightly controlled – not a note of any kind is wasted on the operatic flight through octaves. ‘Soaring’ doesn’t cut it – satellite technology is needed to catch the outer reaches of Justin’s vocals. Whatever his voice has been eating, it works. Effortlesserer than usual, by far.

This is an album with a concept – stories of pillage and plunder instantly to the fore. This ain’t no re-enactment, though. Pain is the main impression, whether ancient or modern, physical or mental, real or feared, communal or deeply intimate. It’s the reactions to it that vary wildly in treatment and timbre. The Darkness go much deeper than ever they have into emotional crises and cris du coeur, with a hefty dose of death and sex to round it out. Mixed with outrageous riffs and balanced with Mudslides, they still manage to uplift and encourage. Neat trick. Listen attentively, because as the band have said, they’re the ‘gift that keeps on giving’. Delve as much as you like, there are little discoveries to be made from all angles and at odd times. Everyone has a relationship with certain songs, so there a whole lot of new couplings to be formed over the next few weeks.

There is a certain amount of frisson gained from being a Darkness fan, as the unexpected (good or otherwise) happens at regular enough intervals to be normal. The tension of waiting for the next one to arrive causes a somewhat masochistic pleasure on occasion. There’s no need to beat yourself up unless you really want to… Last Of Our Kind is a very good Darkness album indeed. Better than both Hot Cakes and One Way Ticket… in terms of depth and breadth, never mind style and delivery. There’s so much to explore and say about it that 1000 words is not enough – you can paint your own picture of what it suggests to you.

Enjoy.

Anti-Nasty League – Pop Will Eat Itself

There are few bands who offer solace, social commentary and sober reflection all at once, but Pop Will Eat Itself manage to do so with polished aplomb with their new album Anti-Nasty League.
Solace is maybe an odd choice of word, but it comes to me in several forms. There is the comfort of intelligently vocalised shared views with which to identify. There’s a power current of gloriously blended chaotic sound which will strip away your tensions and affirm your belief in right. Not least, there’s the welcome visit from long admired musicians who believe in what they say and how they say it.
Whatever the society Nasty you dislike most, PWEI combat it in this album with humour sly and dry. Lyrics with a needle sharp point may leave you breathless, but they will make you consider whether you already agree or not. ’21st Century Civil War’ sets the tone with an anthemic list of bigotries and elitisms guaranteed to stir the blood. ‘They Can’t Take (What You Won’t Let ‘Em Have)’ continues the message for a crowd that will be moshing within seconds. ‘Middle East Street Party’s dig at the puppet masters of corporate globalisation is perfectly aimed and balanced. ‘Watch The Bitch Blow’ from the EP will leave you in little doubt of political leanings. You’re assaulted by sound as much as the lyrical target is assaulted by beautifully worded disdainful contempt  – always a strength.
The words are backed by the relentless synergetic communion of samples and instruments – as relentless as the sentiments ‘Digital Meltdown’ is head banging heaven, whilst Mental Pollution becomes hypnotic in the treatment of the vocals. Here and there those vocals lend a calm surreal counterpoint to the music – ‘(War Inside) My Stupid Head’ and poignancy to ‘Set Sail for Death’. ‘Sacrifice and Pain’ has a Kinks/Small Faces influence, with an intro that made me smile – that’s as near as you’ll get to a PWEI ballad. ‘King Kisser’ is the one that struck me most for its change of mood, and if you want a brilliantly evil song for an earworm, ‘Director’s Cut’ is going to do all sorts of things to your memory banks.
PWEI, for the uninitiated, have a history of the highest calibre, which has morphed and turned over the years from 80’s pop grebo to combine more genres and influences, lives and experiences, technology and reality. They’ve never been purely political, but always keenly relevant to music and issues.
So… drown yourself in politics, observations, and fathoms of sound, and retune your social crusade soul. You’ll have fun while the bits of you shrivelled by the world finally die and drop off.
And come to some gigs this month. They are WELL worth it.

Buy all yer albums, Tshirts, and gig tickets here. 

 

Emily Dolan Davies – New Projects Beckon

This statement released in the last few minutes from The Darkness:

“…sad to say our fantastic drummer Emily Dolan Davies is leaving for new projects, and so we part ways with fond farewells. Emily played a huge part in the recording of our new album ‘Last of Our Kind’ and makes a final appearance in the video for our single ‘Open Fire’ which is coming to a screen near you soon … Good luck Emily!”

Indeed, good luck.

And… new drummer search starts/has started/is in progress/nearly over. Delete as applicable, I don’t know which is truest.

Open Fire – The Darkness Release First Single From New Album

The Darkness have today released their first single from the album Last Of Our Kind, due out on 1st June this year. The recent issue of ‘Barbarian’ was described as an ‘amuse-bouche’ which indeed it is. It has whetted untold appetites in different ways, to the detriment of several thousand pairs of undercrackers and a few chairs.
None of that quite prepared us for ‘Open Fire‘, though. A 13 second burst of intro at the weekend created a buzz loud enough to set off alarms  at Monsanto’s head office. All Culty and jangly, it promised very many things of the whole.

We’re delivered a bit of an epic musicmeld. Guitars weave over and under each other, both driving and sparkling across the surface of dark rhythms to provide a  classic and more alternative rock synergy. One moment there’s a little bit of indie, the next, adding full on glam, and then, the rockest of solos – it works. They sit and create together like the oldest of friends, giving and taking prominence. Bursts of bright riff fireworks explode every now and again, setting up and enhancing searchlight strength solos. These vocals are not those of Darkness stereotype, though there are moments of finely controlled rock scream. They are lower, different to the extent that Justin’s involvement was questioned, but it is undoubtedly him. The breadth of range and ease with which Justin sings drips versatility and hints at still more unknown vocal powers to come on this album.
We have what looks like a love song – who doesn’t want a hug on a sheepskin rug before an open fire? – but listen. It’s not light and sequins and glass slippers. It’s desperately but willingly holding on to what you have, in the face of what there is without it, and knowing that even that last bastion could destroy you. Opening fire on a heart already damaged almost to oblivion might give bliss, mercy or horror. Take your pick, depending on your mood.
The Darkness do ‘almost love songs’ very well. Just look out for the bite.

When all was revealed today, there was the obligatory ‘shhh, listening hard’ silence – for a few seconds. Impossible to keep up. First the foot, then the air guitar  (what’s it called when you sing it, not airplay it?), first chorus joined in (badly), the odd WAAAAH when deemed necessary, and a full throated warble of any available chorus note and lyric after that. By the end of the first 4 minute round, I was exhausted, because I haven’t mentioned the dancing. You can’t help dance to this. It’s infectious, as Darkness songs so often are, but containing many more infections. It’ll getcha, one way or another. Embracing the darkness is quite easy.

A final note, on Emily Dolan Davies – she has captured the hearts and loyalty of fans during the Eire tour just finished. The Darkness were wise not to replace Ed Graham with like for like, for many reasons – it just wouldn’t have been ‘right’. Emily has a different influence within the Darkness sphere and a different place with the fans.  Memories remain intact with us, and the present and future is emerging to shine in her own unshadowed light.

The Darkness – Voluminously Viking Video For New Single

Talk about Manic Monday… Today saw the release of The Darkness’ new single ‘Barbarian’.  Vikings, legends, battle and gore are all in it, with an animated comic book video drawn by Nick Roche and animated by Phillis. Pause it frame by frame to scan the detail for fan and band references, or just to chuckle at the gloriously serious ridiculousness of it all. It’s The Darkness video at its best. Make sure all your friends see it too, or this week will be a lot duller.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GR35pRz7JQ8

Calendar Update

Those of you who ordered a calendar will know that the project met with unsurmountable difficulties out of our control, and has been postponed until the end of this year.

I can announce that despite this, there were some very generous offers from fans to donate the money that had already been paid for orders. Thank you wholeheartedly for being so kind. The total given was £240.50. It was split equally between Teenage Cancer Trust and The Sophie Lancaster Foundation and paid over.

Refunds have also been made and left the bank, so all is in PayPal’s hands if you haven’t had yours yet.

Many thanks again for everyone’s support, donations, and the preorders I’ve already had for the 2016 calendar!

OI

The Darkness 2015 Calendar

Pre-orders are now being taken for this long anticipated, gorgeous Calendar – created by fans, for fans.  Here’s a preview of the awesomeness…One of the proofs...

To pay simply click on the links to PayPal in the pricing information below.  Pay the amount shown for your location in GBP using the ‘Send to a Friend’ function and the email address emilyalone@gmail.com. Make sure the following details are in the message box:

  • Email Subject: Calendar Order
  • Name
  • Full postal address
  • Paypal receipt ID
  • How many you want!

This will ensure that ALL the money goes towards costs and the charities – Teenage Cancer Trust and The Sophie Lancaster Foundation. Thanks to all those who have contributed, helped, listened and encouraged, and to The Darkness (as always!) because they rock in so many ways. If you’d like more than one, please enquire about the postage costs as the weight bandings are different in each location.

Please email any queries to oitd2015@gmail.com.

Thank you!

United Kingdom – £10 + £3 delivery

Europe – £10 + £5.50 delivery

Rest of World – £10 + £8 delivery  

The Darkness – First 2015 Tour Dates Announced

The excitement starts here!

TOUR ANNOUNCEMENT – THE DARKNESS IRELAND 2015  – ACCESS ALL EIRE:

That’s right – we’re taking off to the green lands of wonderful Ireland, the place where a lot of the material for our forthcoming album was written or completed. We’re doing intimate venues to cater for our hardcore fans so contact your local venue directly to obtain tickets as they will sell very fast. – most tickets will go on sale today / tomorrow.

Fri 6th March – Spirit Store Dundalk

Sat 7th March – Nerve Centre Derry

Sun 8th March – Whelans Dublin

Fri 13th March – Monroes Live Galway

Sat 14th March – Dolans Warehouse Limerick

Sun 15th March – Bridge House Tullamore

The Darkness Announce New Drummer

The Darkness today announced via Classic Rock that their new drummer, replacing founding member Ed Graham, is to be Emily Dolan Davies.

Emily has a long drumming career already in the bag, starting to gig at the age of 11. She began professionally in 2008, and seems not to have left the road for very long since then. Her varied CV shows that she has played a huge range of styles with a similarly diverse set of artists – Bono, Brian Ferry, Flood, Tony Kaye, Damien Hirst, Tricky, Emilia Mitiku, Cher Lloyd, Janet Devlin, Becky Hill and Tom Bailey.

The last few years have been incredibly busy touring and recording – let’s hope that it stays that way with The Darkness!

Welcome in, Emily. We look forward to hearing and seeing you soon.

For more Emily Dolan Davies information, videos and audio, see these links:

 http://emilydrums.com/

@Emilydrums

https://www.facebook.com/emilydrums

Sing On Our New Album – The Darkness Offer Fan Dream

This deserves more exposure!

* SING ON OUR NEW ALBUM, STAR IN THE VIDEO AND CREATE HISTORY * Here at The Darkness HQ we want you on board for one of our favourite forthcoming album tracks, and you'll be in the video too - all you need is a camera phone. Simply click this link http://thedarkness.co.uk/merchandise/ - go to SING ON OUR NEW ALBUM - Click FREE - and follow the sign up process - we’ll respond with instructions on how you can play a part in the epic creation of one of our singles. This is open to every last one of our fans and is sure to be huge. The cut off time for signing up is SUNDAY 7th DECEMBER so click on the link now to be a part of rock history.

* SING ON OUR NEW ALBUM, STAR IN THE VIDEO AND CREATE HISTORY *
Here at The Darkness HQ we want you on board for one of our favourite forthcoming album tracks, and you’ll be in the video too – all you need is a camera phone.
Simply click this link http://thedarkness.co.uk/merchandise/ – go to SING ON OUR NEW ALBUM – Click FREE – and follow the sign up process – we’ll respond with instructions on how you can play a part in the epic creation of one of our singles. This is open to every last one of our fans and is sure to be huge.
The cut off time for signing up is SUNDAY 7th DECEMBER so click on the link now to be a part of rock history.

Unofficially 2015 – The Calendar of Darkness

Once upon a Christmas 2004, a 2005 calendar featuring The Darkness was released. Ten years ago. Coincidentally, Optimum Impact was formed ten years ago too, and I think we were on our third issue by then. I decided that to mark these occasions it was only fair to ‘give’ everyone an OI birthday present…

There will be a 2015 calendar featuring The Darkness once again.                                      All profits will go to charity – half to the Sophie Lancaster Foundation and half to the Teenage Cancer Trust. Hopefully you’ll want one?

As to the contents… I can’t just put my own live photos in, and I’d really like you to be a part of it. If you want to contribute, please could you choose no more than 4 of your best live action images and email them to optimum.impact.rocks@gmail.com as soon as possible so that choosing the final 12 can be done. Watermark them, too, so you get credit! That way, this calendar can truly be created by fans for fans as a thing to keep. The front cover will be a work of splendour but I cannot reveal it because I haven’t seen it yet! More to follow on that. STOP PRESS! Analia, of The Darkness Argentina fame, has agreed to create the front cover. OI is honoured!

If you could comment on here, tweet, or like the Facebook post that appears, I’ll get an idea of numbers. Costs will be £10 plus p&p, and details on how to pay will follow. Help me make this fabulous, plus make lots of money for two brilliant causes.

Please note that this calendar IS unofficial.  The Darkness and the charities are not involved in the conception or organisation. It’s just me and all of you… 

Ed Graham Leaves The Darkness

In a tweet just a few minutes ago, The Darkness confirmed that drummer and founder member Ed is no longer working with them.

Sadly, we’re no longer working with Ed Graham. For various reasons, we have all decided to move on. We love Ed and we wish him happiness.

This is not an easy post to write after so many years of Ed-ness. Good luck and much love, Ed. Fare ye well.

Record Store Day Giveaway

Record Store Day 2014 saw the release (amongst very many desirable others) of a limited edition picture disc of Permission To Land by The Darkness.
This couldn’t go past without my queuing relentlessly at two London stores and having lookouts round the rest of the country.
I managed to buy two, so that one of you could have one as well.
Give me a good reason why you should be Holding Your Own copy, and you might well get it in time for a refreshing Friday Night’s dancing.

2014-04-25 19.54.04

Reply to the usual email/twitter/facebook/here places.

Black Roses and Strong Words

Strong – in the sense of passion, commitment and conviction.
On Wednesday this week, I went to Parliament. The Sophie Lancaster Foundation and MP Kerry McCarthy hosted a very special event which started with the emotionally charged radio play ‘Black Roses’ about Sophie’s life and death, then moved on to a discussion about Hate Crime. It was somewhat humbling to be in the presence of so many erudite, eloquent, downright amazing people.  The discussion was tightly focused, yet covered so many areas. Legal, health, educational and social issues were all discussed in depth by experts in their fields, giving valuable insights into procedure or problems. John Robb chaired the meeting with considerable skill.
The room was filled with tears to begin with, but it was also filled with resolve and hope.

I wanted to write a review of it, but John Robb did so rather beautifully. Honestly, I could not have put it better, so I will let you read the master’s words.

The Sophie Lancaster Foundation has aims and goals that make you proud. It also has some damn cool merch.

 

Interview with Fatherson – The Open, Norwich

Interview with Greg, Mark, Ross and Chris of Fatherson

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting these great people from Fatherson, a very up and coming Scottish band.  On arriving at the venue, It transpired that the headline band’s singer had been struck by evilness.  No gig going ahead isn’t great, but it did give me more time to talk to fine people. The album is out on 7th April. Some videos and the website link are at the end of the interview. Many thanks to Rhea and Rebecca! 

 It’s not got off to a great start tonight, has it lads?

It’s not ideal, the sound check was fun but unfortunately it looks like Lonely the Brave’s singer  is really ill at the moment and we’ve had to cancel the show sadly  – which isn’t the best thing but it happens to everyone.  It’s better than doing any more damage.

So when is your next one?

 We’ve been on tour with Lonely the Brave for the last week and a half so tomorrow’s the last show and it’s in Cambridge so it’s not too far which should be good. That show’s sold out.

 Is he going to be okay for that one?

 Here’s hoping!  I think it’s going to be one of the reasons why tonight’s not going on – to make sure he’s fit and healthy.  You got to be really putting on a show – when you’re ill you can end up doing pretty serious damage which isn’t good.  If he’s really bad today and does some irreparable damage then it’s the end of this whole career they’re building for themselves.

It’s not happened to us but it’s happened to a lot of our friends’ bands. They’ve had to take the call and I think that everyone feels really horrible. Yeah they’re all really cut up about it

Well it’s happened in a nice place, and you’re in a nice place tomorrow. You could’ve been stuck in erm….I can’t really say where can I?

Somewhere… a not so nice place…

Let’s get back to where we were going to start – I got an email from a friend of mine asking if I wanted to come and see you. Mike said he’d been working with you for a couple of years, which is a long time. We’ve never heard of you down here, so what have you been doing for two years? And how long has it been going on before that?

We’ve actually we’ve been a band for – me, Greg and Ross – have been a band since we were like kids for years and years.  We actually noticed it was 8 years ago a couple of days ago that we put our first live video on You Tube of us playing this song.  We’ve been Fatherson for a couple of years now but we started working with Mike around about the time we became this band.  We spent a long time in Scotland just building up a fan base there because the UK. Its difficult when you’re – cos we’re not signed or anything like that – to go and take on too much at once so we just wanted to be able to play good big shows across Scotland. So we toured there a lot and did a lot of festivals and last year we recorded an album and this year we’ve just been playing a lot more down south and kind of spreading out throughout the whole UK.  So, it’s been like a kind of conscious thing, cos there’s no point going down and playing shows all about England that are rubbish shows where there’s no one there or anything like that.

Win the battle in your front garden.  If you can win the battle in your front garden then it’s much easier for going anywhere else. If you say ‘Well back in Scotland we do this many tickets here, this many tickets here, this is where we’re getting played’ and then they’ll go ‘oh right, okay’

So it’s definitely a conscious decision to win over the whole of Scotland.

 To an extent yeah but we’re nowhere near the biggest bands, but for an unsigned band in Scotland we’ve been doing pretty well.  That I’m pretty happy with and it allows us to come down and do this tour so it’s been nice. We’ve been wanting to come down and play more shows for a long time.  You can’t play about Scotland forever cos it’s not the biggest place in the world so it’s nice to stretch your legs and get the word out to more people.

What is the scene like in Scotland at the moment?

It’s great.

I’m kind of getting that vibe, but you know better than anyone else.

 It’s really one of those things…there’s just a lot of great bands in Scotland and there’s a community aspect. So everyone kind of helps everyone out and does shows together and stuff like that and it’s nice to see bands take that step that we’re trying to take just now. So they’ve won the battle in their front garden and they’re trying to go down south, or they’re going to America or they’re going Australia and they’re going to do all that so it’s just flourishing – there’s hundreds and hundreds of good bands in Scotland.

It’s a good mix

 It’s several layers of how popular or big the bands are but all the bands are aware of each other, like the big bands know who the unsigned bands are and the unsigned bands know who the big bands are and you see the bigger bands helping the smaller bands out.  There’s a nice community spirit going about especially round about Glasgow and stuff – it’s really helped us for the entire time that we’ve been a band and it just it’s really a nice place to BE in a band.

That’s a really big advantage to Scotland not being a huge place?

Definitely.

What about those disadvantages, are there any particularly?

I guess you’re just further away from London.

That’s not always such a bad thing apparently..

 I don’t necessarily see there being any disadvantage with us being a band based in Glasgow.  I know there are bands that will kind of base themselves elsewhere that have moved from Scotland or whatever but I just find it to be really good.  I think we’ve been lucky with some of the people that we’ve met and some of the stuff that we’ve done up there – but I haven’t really seen that there’s too many disadvantages with being a band that’s based up in Glasgow as opposed to anywhere else in the UK.

I guess the only thing is that like how far apart things are so obviously if you’re driving to do a show in London we’d go further than if we were a band in the Midlands if we were driving to London and also wanting to go to Glasgow.  It would be great if we were in the centre of the UK.

 Living in Norwich I think we’ve kind of got that because the road links aren’t  great really – we’ve got two roads out and you have to go a hell of a way to get anywhere out of here.

Exactly.

The genres in Scotland is there a really good mix of that or do you tend to find that everybody…

 Yeah well you can see like if you look at the big bands in Scotland just now you’ve got like Framed Rabbit, Total Antic. Framed Rabbit are a bit more folky, Total Antic who are a bit more rocky and Churches who are electro.  It ranges from really traditional to off the wall and it’s quite creative all over there’s lots of different bands doing lots of different things so no one’s really – I don’t know, it seems that weird way where you can always colour it with Scotland you kind of know it’s Scottish but it doesn’t have to sound like every other Scottish band if that makes sense.

It sounds Scottish but it’s not The Proclaimers it’s not like that. It’s you just hear it, there’s an influence, you hear that sounds like.

It’s funny, we went over and played a couple of shows in America and people went what kind of band are you,  everyone kind of asks that and we say we’re kind of Scottish band and everyone just went ‘oh, stuff like bagpipes and fiddles and stuff like that.’

There is a guy that quite often on a Saturday plays bagpipes in town, in full regalia… we try and walk away. It’s quite loud if you walk right past. Offensive is the term I think we meant.

 It’s the drone…

If you walk past it (it’s normally on street corners ) when the drone’s going it’s not so bad but when it starts again right in your ear that is kind of distressing.

Anyone who comes to see Fatherson will not hear bagpipes…. yet!

That’s always a blessing. So there’s not a national identity to Scottish music apart from that little lilt?

 He sings with a Scottish accent.

Most people do now sing with an accent and it’s become a lot more at the forefront of Scottish music because English bands always sing with an English accent or American.  Just sing in your own accent I think – just when it became more popular and Scottish bands in the charts it became a thing you could do, to sing in your own accent, which I think, is a huge benefit to Scottish music.

It made everything a bit more honest I think maybe the one thing I’d say to the sum of Scottish music is there isn’t much fake Scottish music going on everyone sticking to their guns.  People are singing about what they want to sing about and the way they want to sing it.

They’ve gone away from that ‘we must sound like this and this to get anywhere.’

Absolutely I think it’s a nice idea.

It’s working now though – 20 years ago you did that and that worked and you got accepted in America or whatever. Although I was listening to something on the radio this morning about Cliff never getting accepted in America and I thought that was hilarious… and nobody can work out why!

 The album is coming out soon and that’s self-financed.

With help from Creative Scotland

That’s cool. I was going to ask you why you didn’t go through pledging or crowd sourcing or something like that.

 It kind of goes back to what we were talking about earlier with the way that we’ve kind of done it by playing a lot of shows in Scotland and stuff has managed to get us to the way where it kind of actually is fan funded because we are able to play bigger shows in Scotland. So therefore, we get some more money in which we’ve just put straight into this album.  Basically we’re all still struggling away even though the band gets some money from bigger shows and we’ve just put it all straight into doing this. It’s been like the big focus all last year – we went in and recorded the record and then played about  with it, went down to London, met a whole bunch of people and got a really great team around us to help do it and put the album out. It’s meant we’ve kind of been able to do it on our own terms and our own way and stuff like that.  I like the way we’ve done it and it’s given us lots of control and allowed us to take time on stuff. Cos if you put something up and you go on to pledge music for an album and people are putting all the money in and it’s like people are expecting it at a certain time. And we’ve managed to get this finished article that we’ve taken our time on that we’re really happy with and really proud of and we’ve kind of done it ourselves but with the help of everyone that come to any show.

Anyone that’s bought our t-shirts effectively put money in to make this album which is quite a nice sentiment it’s nice it’s been made by everyone and by us and everyone who likes the band.

Did you have to apply for the grant?

 Applied for it and that paid for a certain percentage of recording and then e just got the money to do everything else.

 No strings attached?

No strings attached.

That sounds good.

It really is – it’s quite amazing cos they help quite a lot of Scottish bands it’s not like an impossible thing like let’s get this grant they give out different amounts of money to different projects.

Is that a necessary thing?

 I don’t know…you obviously get ‘we’ll give you this amount of money this year and you spend it” sort of thing with government stuff. It’s not means tested but there’s a limit to the amount of money that can be given out and I dunno how they work it out I dunno if it’s how good your application was or whatever but say it’s like they’ve got 20 grand max they can give out they’ll give out anything between…

So it doesn’t just go to a couple of bands, they just say right okay we like you, and you…

 So you can get £500. So that’s the deal really.

They’ve been really, really helpful.  We’ve played a creative Scotland showcase at the Great Escape last year and stuff like that. So it’s been very kind of working with their help bit bits and bobs which is the kind of thing you need when you are doing something yourself you need a little bit of cash injected in so you can get the ball rolling which has been great and it’s all worked out really well so far.

So now you’ve done that and it’s all going very well and you’re starting to filter down here.  I’ve met some bands that have got a 5 year plan and that’s that , and I’ve met bands that are going with the flow with a little kind of idea of where they’re going – what’s your balance of stuff?

We’ve got a 5 month plan – a 5 minute plan!

Some are like we are going to do this next month and in 2 months time we’re gonna do this and in 2 years time we‘ve got to be here… I think they might be setting themselves up for…

There’s a kind of unspoken plan.  I’m quite happy to get this album out and see what happens and then do another album.  I’m quite happy to just go “I wanna write music and make albums” and as long as people are coming to the shows and buying the albums.

We’ve got like as much as we know we’re putting the album out, we’ve got tours planned. We’ve got the rest of this year all sorted out and then we just start off as pessimistic as we can possibly get everything’s planned and the worst possible scenario and then it’s nice. It’s exciting its kind of how we’ve always done it cos things do take longer especially if you’re doing a lot of stuff yourself for it so we just take it as things come but with a general plan.  We know what we’re doing for the rest of this year.

It’s nice when you can go in with certain expectations and then it’s nice when you get the wee surprises like one or two come up in the year or whatever something you didn’t expect to happen and that just makes it even better.

You don’t mind having plans blown out of the water for that, do you?  So a year is kind of long enough?

 It’s all you can really realistically plan for, I mean you can’t plan for outcomes you don’t know are going to happen yet.

No but I’ve met people like that – they’re really driven and they know where they want to go and they really do have –  and I wonder ‘what are you gonna do if….’ it must be so stressful.

 I would personally find it so self-destructive because i couldn’t handle that.  I tried to  – like cos I’m quite –  I like to do a lot of things are going to happen. But we’ve been in a band for a long time so we’ve kind of had ups and downs and stuff like that even in just doing what we’ve been doing for the past few years and you never know what’s going to happen in music and it’s stupid. It took me a long time to realise that, that you can’t plan and work out what you’re going to do cos you have no idea.

At the end of the day it’s about how people react when they click on you and your Soundcloud link and whether they enjoy it.  At the end of the day the most exciting thing I think we’re ever going to do to date in this band is release this album and see what people think of it – what our fans think of it what new people think of it – cos its awesome!

We’ve made our favourite album – we’ve done everything we can to make it as good as we can so it’s just a case of…

Are there gonna be any surprises in there for your hardcore?

 I think so.

We’ve kept some songs – it’s difficult when you’ve been working on an album for so long and playing about and we’ve only released a couple of songs and you just have to play songs that you’ve got on the album because you just have to. You’ve got hour and a bit long sets and we’ve gone to headline tours we’ve made sure consciously to keep a good wee handful of tracks from the record pretty much secret. There’s one that’s never been played live to anyone and another one that’s been played once and that’s it.

It keeps it interesting… we release this album on 7 April we’ve been playing all the songs on it for the last year and a half you’d be like oh it’s great the albums out and you’re doing this exact same set.

We’re all itching to play these new tracks as well.

We’ve done them in sound check a couple of times and gone will we put it in the set and we’re like no, we’re just gonna wait.   The 7th April’s the day and after that they can be played every single show from then on.

You’ll self combust on the day.

 That’s it. It’s going to be the best day ever.

And you pick things up to play out the first time you go ‘oooh.’ (scared voice)

 I think it’s important we made the album we wanted for us to enjoy I remember like when we were younger and thinking about making albums and I was listening to albums, “I wanna do that!” And we’ve managed to translate some of that onto our album, which is really nice and I hope people have that reaction when they listen to it.

Do you take into account what you know the fans like? Cos there’s a balance with every band. They know what fans like and some of them don’t go away from that.

 I think it’s definitely stupid..

Well, you can’t pander to…

 We’re quite a spontaneous band. What happened with this album was we got to record it over March and April last year and we demoed everything in December and got to March and went, “It’s not good enough” and finished it with new songs.

We were like “this is what we could do, it’s acceptable, people will like it, they’ll be listening to it, but let’s just take a chance and add a couple things.” And the one they actually released as a single is the first one that got a good response. And that was not finished until 12 days into the studio.  So it’s like ‘pandering’ is a really hard concept to have when you don’t have an album out yet.

Having said that, I do know a band have been going thirty years and only just released their first one. I think they kind of got the gist of what their fans like.

 You get a sense of playing live, and we played a lot of the songs live, but the songs we’ve had about that we know people like that would be out on the album, cuz we’ve not done a track listing yet. It’s still a secret.

I think it’s unfair to put songs on that have been around for a couple of years but not released that people know onto an album, because they’ll go “I’m not getting anything new here.” (pauses to tie his shoe…hee!) You gotta keep it interesting if people are gonna pay money which, you know, they might not…

I’ve been quite heavily involved in fandom with two or three bands, and I know what it’s like on the expectation and the general excitement side from this end, from the other end to you.  I know that perhaps if a band release an album, there would be a couple of songs that fans would really, really want on there because they haven’t been on an album before, no matter when the next one came out. They would really want it to be there, you know. There as many different opinions of a band as there are fans. (Note, dear readers, this isn’t necessarily TD related)

 It’s about like meeting expectations but also surprising people as well.  I think it’s a very fine line to stand on.

We spent a long time working on the track listings. There’s been quite a lot of people that have heard it that are friends or family that are people that we know like the band and have liked the band for a while and kind of got feedback with that. And on board as well, in terms of what was on the record. I’m pretty confident that we’ve got the right mix on it. I think when people hear it, they’re gonna enjoy it, hopefully.

There’s no songs there I’m sad aren’t on it, if that makes any sense.  It was quite, not brutal, but the way the album turned out is the way that it turned out – I’m happy the songs went on it.

Is it sounding to me like it was a smoother ride than it was?

 I remember we were dreading it for so long cos we were in an argument and we sat down, I made some…

Yeah, it was just one of those days, I was just  like “are we gonna have a massive argument? I don’t have an argument.”

Yeah, but I made homemade chips that day.

They were pretty good.  These chips can make…

Chips always make things better.

 They do! We just wrote a list of every song that could possibly go on our album and then we all numbered them.

You just kept putting the number of chips it was worth.

 That one didn’t have any chips next to it. And the one with the most chips…

Actually it took about half an hour at the end of the day, and we made a couple of changes which is, I think, a good sign, hopefully.

Unprecedented. That’s quite a feat.

 We’re all on the same wavelength when it comes to like…

 Well, I think perhaps maybe you put it off so long and feared it for so long, it wasn’t quite as bad as you thought.  

 Yeah, maybe it was. Maybe it was so passive, we didn’t realize.

Or maybe we’ve made a horrible mistake and now the track listing’s terrible.

That’s 7th of April, it’s out.

 The album is called “I am an island.”

That’s it!, I clicked on it earlier.  I was looking at all your stuff. I’ve got written down here about genre and whether you have genred yourself in your heads or whether you just don’t care or whether it just evolves through things.

 I don’t really care. The way I see it is: listen to it and take what you want from it. That’s it. If you think it’s death metal…

(laughs) it’s definitely not…

If you listen to the songs and you think it sounds folky, that’s cool, that’s absolutely fine.

Well, some love the music that they listen to and they want to play it so much, it’s  “right, that is what we are.”

 I think there’s a lot, and it’s great. There’s not two tracks the same on the album, but it’s all the same band.

We didn’t start this band with an idea of how we wanted to sound. We started a band with the songs; we didn’t know we wanted to be a rock band. The songs just kind of turned out like that.

When I explain to relatives, like aunties and uncles, I just say we’re a rock band, a guitar band.

I’d say there’s not really a point trying to explain it to aunties.

 We always just say we started off playing Stereophonics covers when we started as a band and it doesn’t matter.  It’s kind of weird.

It’s just…Scottish.  Scottish, honest music.  Honest, that’s a good genre.

Honesty rock!

But which Scottish bands would you like to be considered alongside?  Not that you are ‘the next one of…’ But what would be on your roll of honour? Who would be on that with you?

 

 Idlewild would be in that.  Framed Rabbit, for me.

Needs to be up there with Biffy (Clyro) as well.

Deacon Blue.

I saw Deacon Blue in Glastonbury. By accident.  They weren’t the headline. They did the Sunday headline. We were all wet.

 I’d love to be as big as Calvin Harris. That’d be good, wouldn’t it?

That’d be awesome.

I always think that you always get ‘you’ll be the next big band’ ‘you’ll be the next [that] band.’ I’d just like to be the first Fatherson.

Yeah, but you know, it’s not like comparing yourself to them, it’s just who would you want to be up there with?

 I think, like, I mean Idlewild.

I’ve seen them, they’ve been here!

 I think people will appreciate those bands for what they do. I think that’s basically all you really want for being in a band. They’ll do it for a living and know that people like it. Even if one person likes it and ten people hate it, if that is the ratio I’d be happy with that, cos like one person likes it.

Or at least they’re paying you attention. It’s the middle bit you want to avoid.  They don’t care.

 No such thing as bad publicity.

I’ve been listening to the news today. David Cameron’s put his foot in it again with Scotland.  He made a speech in London. He’s telling people to ring and text and talk to their Scottish friends and tell them to vote ‘no’ and say ‘we want you to stay.’ It’s like, please don’t interfere with other people’s political processes. How do you feel about the Independence thing? Would it be a good thing for the Scottish music industry or are you pretty independent up there anyway?

 We’re a Scottish band, we live in Scotland, that’s something that we have spoke about quite a bit. I don’t necessarily think it would make that much of a difference in Scotland in terms of the music. It might do, but it’s one of these things it’s all speculation at the moment.

You never know, if it goes independent more of the music industry would move to Scotland, if that makes any sense. So that London wasn’t a powerhouse.

If.  Nobody really knows cos it’s not happened yet.

What would you like to happen?

 I would like people to read more about it and come up with their own opinions.

Both sides are obviously very biased.

And very passionate.

 There doesn’t seem to be a good overview of any of that yet. So you’ll get people who’ve read the White Paper and they’re like ‘yeah!’ And you get people, you know, have an argument about that, but not enough…

The one thing I have heard on Radio 5, which is very English, they’ve talked to a lot of young people and they seem to know what they’re talking about whatever side they’re on. And that is impressive, really, and kind of heartening.

 I think that like it or lump it, it’s the most important political thing that’s happenning to Scotland for the past three hundred years.

I think people not voting would be the worst thing.  You can vote either way, however you feel about what’s going on, but at the end of the day, I think it’s important that people vote.

It’s always an interesting thing with music and politics. We’re just not having too much to do with that. We’ve always spent a lot of time just getting to know both sides of what’s going on and making up our minds.  I think that we should vote and make our own mind up and have an idea.

And deal with what happens after that.

 Yeah, either way. It’s not the end of the world. Something will happen.

We’re still joined together. Sorry about that, it wasn’t my fault. I don’t think people hate the Scots nearly as much as they think we do.

 To me, it comes down to nothing to do with liking or loving or hating or anything to do with that, which is stuff I’ve always read. I think it just comes down to people doing what they think is the most sensible thing to do.

Let’s hope they do that. You need to vote with your heads.

 That’s why I think everyone should just read more about it, even if you have made your mind up, find the facts out. Just learn about what it actually means. There’s manipulation on both sides and I think it’s important that you learn what’s going on.

And be very wary of both sides as well. Yeah, you don’t get to be this old without being cynical about both sides. Even the one you support, really.

 Yes, exactly!

 Well that’s all I’ve got. Is there anything you’d like to add, say, promote, divulge to anybody? Say to your aunt?

 We’d like to thank Scott, who’s packed away all our stuff.

(To Jo) Thank you very much.

We’ll come back down as soon as we possibly can. We’re in Cambridge tomorrow, then we’ve got a couple of months, just doing a lot of stuff for the album, and we’re going to be going on tour when the album comes out, and then festivals and stuff like that. We’ve got some announcements coming up. Watch this space.

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