PTL 10th Anniversary – Pedro Ferreira

In a pub tucked away in a back street of London, a record producer and a fan sat in a beer garden and talked. These are the bits that got recorded.

OI: Pedro Ferreira is responsible for an awful lot of ‘Permission to Land’. It’s all your fault, isn’t it? Well, the bits that 4 lads didn’t do…

Pedro: Indeed!

OI: So how, when and why did you get involved?

Pedro: It was more than 10 years ago, that’s for sure! I started working for a publishing company called Rondor Music, working in the studios. My first session was with (at the time) Empire, the band before. That’s the first time I met them. Dan was working at Rondor and Justin was published by them. I did quite a lot of work with Justin recording adverts.

OI: Going back to the jingle days?

Pedro: Yeah. We’d spend all night in the studio smoking loads of cigarettes – we both smoked at the time. We recorded the Tango one, and Ikea.

OI: They’re very famous with Darklings.

Pedro: So that’s when I met them. 1997-98, around then. We became quite good friends, because I was working at the same place as Dan and Justin was popping in all the time. Then they sacked the singer, Paul. I knew Justin could sing, because I’d heard him and always thought he was really good. For ages we tried to persuade him to be the singer. He didn’t want to, he refused. In 2000, Justin decided he was going to be the singer – got persuaded. This was a process – everyone talks about the New Year’s Eve thing. That’s when he finally agreed, but me and Dan, we were on him for a while. They couldn’t find another singer for Empire, and Justin would have been the perfect singer. After that we did quite a few sessions at Rondor. They were quite indie then. That evolved into The Darkness.

OI: You did a lot of crewing for them, didn’t you? That’s when I first met you. You were pushing a flight case and we were demanding the return of a stolen feather boa…

Pedro: It all just happened. We were all at Rondor, who got closed down – bought out by Universal, who closed the studios down and we all kinda got the sack. I ended up buying gear from them and set up my own studio. That was where we recorded IBIATCL and LIOAF. I was going to see them play at the Barfly and the sound was always shit! It was like ‘Fucking hell, I’LL do the fucking sound! ‘ Next thing I know, I’m doing the sound. Then they said ‘WE have to go up North’, so I said I’d go with them. Then Sue asked me to tour manage them. So all these things just sort of happened. I was only meant to be in the studio and next thing I know I’m doing sound at Knebworth, and still tour managing.

OI: So when it came round to doing this album that we’re on about, was it a foregone conclusion that things would carry on an you’d do it?

Pedro: We were just having fun!

OI: Did they formally ask you to do it?

Pedro: Yes! 2001 was when I set up my studio. It was a particularly bad year for music. I thought it would be really busy, and it wasn’t at all. It gave me a lot of time for them. That’s why I ended up spending the whole of 2001 developing their sound, the whole year. Recording IBIATCL, LIOAF and LOTR – another version that we ended up not using on the record. We re-recorded it because it was really slow. All that time we spent in my studio, I didn’t have any clients. Perfect for them! It was good, because it gave me time to do their tours, sound, walkabouts, everything – it was fun.

OI: You were steeped in Darkness.

Pedro: Yeah, we had a lot of good times.

OI: When you finally came to actually record PTL, did everyone come in with a really clear idea of what they wanted? Or did it evolve a little more?

Pedro: Basically the whole thing was a process, at least for me, anyway. That year, we developed their sound, that’s all we did. They were a bit indie to start with. My background is rock music and Justin and I would have a lot of chats and laughs about AC/DC and rock. If you like, that year was pre-production, recording the record versions of IBIATCL and LIOAF. Once we’d done all that, it was time and we decided ‘Let’s go and record an album’. I’m sure you know about the IKEA advert and how it gave us enough money to go to the studio and all that. I’d been to the Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire before and really liked it, so I got in touch with them and they gave us a good price. We went over for a couple of weeks – less than that. We did do 3 weeks proper pre-production before that which was good fun. Justin got the nipple piercing – I’ve never seen someone in so much pain ever in my life. During that 3 weeks in Hackney, Jo Whiley played IBIATCL. It was the first time we’d heard it on the radio, especially Radio 1. We all left the rehearsal room because the was not radio – it was underground so the radio wouldn’t work, no wireless back then! Someone called us to say that they were going to play it in about 10 minutes. We ran out of the studio and found an internet café with radio – ‘We’re on Radio 1, we’re on Radio 1!’ They played it and we were like kids. It was brilliant – good memories. That was our 3 weeks.

OI: So when you went to Lincolnshire, you were very ready.

Pedro: Yeah, I’m very particular about all that. I wouldn’t go to spend money on a studio without making sure everyone knew exactly what they were doing. Specially when you have a limited amount of money, you don’t want to waste it faffing about figuring out what to play next.

OI: Was there any disagreement on how to do things?

Pedro: No, not really. There are always the usual ‘creative arguments’, always going to be. We were pretty much on the same wavelength. It was mostly in pre-production. The recording went quite smoothly -everyone knew what they were doing and they did it, you know? We had a great time at the Chapel. Then we came back to London and finished off the vocals. I mixed it at the Roundhouse and the boys came down about twice during the whole process. I would send them the mixes, so they were fully aware of what I was doing. It was good to know that they had full trust in me.

OI: How much did you have to change to get the live sound in the studio? That album is known for being quite raw.

Pedro: I was quite focused on capturing the performance more than polish it up too much. In my opinion that’s where The Darkness is. Go and see them live and there’s this energy that they transmit, which is the brilliant thing. I really wanted to capture that. I made sure I recorded them live and technically I did things that at the time that were quite new. I recorded it to tape, then put it onto protos ,to get the best performance out of that without cut and paste. I don’t like to do that. It was very much trying to get ‘The Darkness’ on record.

OI: Them on stage without the little things that go wrong, and people like me going ‘AAGGHHHH!’?

Pedro: That’s the fun part!

OI: A live album would be great – people would really like that.

Pedro. I think so. They are amazing live. And I think we captured that. We spent a lot of time developing the sound but I really wanted to get that performance out of them. You can really feel that in ‘Permission to Land’.

OI: Yes. What everyone loves about PTL is that it’s as good as you can possibly get to a stage performance without being there.. You can stand at home and jump up and down, if you have it loud enough.

Pedro: That’s the best compliment! Job done!

OI: You cannot stand and listen to ‘Stuck in a Rut’ without joining in and scaring the cat. With singing and dancing!

Pedro: I listened to ‘Black Shuck’ the other day, one of my favourite tracks. It still makes me smile, and I’ve heard it probably a million times. Between all the preproduction, recording and live gigs I’ve done, I can safely say I’ve heard it a million times! I don’t think I was able to listen to PTL for a while after it I mastered it. I was listening to it live every day anyway! I just couldn’t put it on. But that’s the good thing about it – I listened the other day and thought ‘Wow – it’s cool!’. Specially when I remember Dan and Frankie doing the backing vocals, that was quite good fun.

OI: Always great when you remember ‘Hey, I did that!’ Money constraints aside, was there anything that you wanted to do that wasn’t possible? Ideas you had that you thought’ I just can’t make this work’?

Pedro. I’m sure there were a few though I can’t remember any. We did all that we set out to do. There was a clear picture in my head of all we had to do. I remember our first dinner in Lincolnshire and I was obviously very quite and focused on what I had to do – trying to figure it all out. Dan asked me ‘Are you alright? Are you not happy to be here?’ I was very happy to be here! But suddenly the sheer weight of everything we had to do in such a small amount of time – WOAH! But, we worked really hard, I didn’t sleep much, I don’t think. We had a fantastic time, and it all got done. On budget.

OI: Nothing you’d have done differently id you’d had more money?

Pedro: The last mix I did, Dan was there at the Roundhouse Studio and I think we finished about 6 o’clock in the morning, it was daylight. We were waiting in the lobby for a cab and I remember sitting there, both of us knackered, looking at Dan. I could think of about a million things I could have done or would have liked to have done if we’d had the time and the money. We didn’t, but I was really happy. It’s always the same, there’s always something you’d like to fix, get a better performance, a better mix, but it all turned out alright. Not bad – not bad!

OI: Did you use any technical whizzy tricks? (technical term)

Pedro: Nothing, just a whip.

OI: A WHIP? Who needed it the most? Along with Justin’s legendary singing in the nude… I know a lot of people whose entire decade would be justified by that!

Pedro: I just turned round and there he was, and I was ‘aaghhhh! Come on…!’ I don’t need to see that! Any time of day! We laughed a LOT about that. Apart from that technicality, everything was plain sailing! It was a bone of contention at one point, the live recording. Frankie wanted time to get his parts right on his own, but I really insisted on doing it live. It was recorded to tape, that’s as far as technicalities go.

OI: Simple is good?

Pedro: Yup. Simple is good. There’s a bit more to it than that, but essentially, yes. Apart from Justin being naked a few times, that’s about it!

OI: Apart from that, everyone had a good time?

Pedro: Chuckles yes, we had a fantastic time.

OI: Did everyone not just go ‘What the fuck is he doing?’ … but… I guess that happened quite a lot…

There was a trip to the bar and chocolate consumed, at this point. Much needed.

OI: Back on track – This album – what kind of personal and business implications has it had for you?

Pedro: It still is the best selling album that I’ve ever done. It’s still quite big even 10 years later. I have kids coming to me and telling me that they started playing guitar because of PTL and they want me to produce them and that kind of stuff. Makes me feel old! One of them is Voodoo Vegas, huge Darkness/Tokyo Dragons fans. So, I will always be the PTL producer and people will always know me for that.

OI: ‘You did that album, I want you because of that album.’ Cool. Worse things to be remembered for!

Pedro: Exactly! Definitely, even my peers, everyone appreciates the production on it, everyone comments on it, even if they don’t like the band they like the production.

OI: What I find about The Darkness is that everybody who doesn’t like them is able to pick up on something they do well. I’ve never found anyone who’s said They’re shit, they take awful photos, don’t like the catsuits or Justin’s voice, they can’t play.’ No one ever says they can’t play! So there’s always something to admire.

Pedro: Oh yes, they can play! So.. yeah, the last ten years of my life has been changed by it. On a personal level, -I met my girlfriend back then, she managed to put up with me and all the madness that was going on. Defintiely on a business level, it’s never been the same.

OI: You were saying about listening to the album again after quite a while?

Pedro: I’ve always been very proud of it. I think it was an achievement, for the reason’s I gave. The fact that it did so well, out of everyone’s expectations. We always believed that it was great and it could do well – we were prepared to give it our best shot because of that. But even when Atlantic signed them, the prediction was to sell about 60,000 copies, and the fact that they sold 5 million just goes to show. For a year after that it was all about The Darkness. Everything revolved about them. I don’t blame them for anything they did, though in hindsight they might have done things differently. I would have done. It was all too full on.

OI: Do you have an emotional attachment, like the fans do?

Pedro: I worked on it for years! I can’t do a record without being attached to it, it’s impossible to do. It’s very close to my heart, for sure. We worked so hard on it, All that time in the studio and that Dan and I spent getting a sound that was different but at the same time appealing. We put a lot of ourselves into it.

OI: Heart and soul – and most of your youth?

Pedro: Hmm.mm.. Yeah!

OI: What’s your favourite track? Do you have one?

Pedro: I thought it was always ‘Love on the Rocks’. I really liked it, even the first version we did, which was slower. I really liked the heaviness and the riff. But.. ‘Black Shuck’! It’s an absolute genius, I think.

OI: It makes me laugh, every time.

Pedro: Amazing, yeah, so I’ll say ‘Black Shuck’.

OI: And that’s not changed? Some people have said that as they’ve got older, other songs have meant more because of things that have happened.

Pedro: No, not really. I know that record inside out, but I can honestly say it’s still ‘Black Shuck’. Does opening bit You can’t beat that!

OI: It’s what you’ve been waiting for, on stage, to hear that and for the place to go wild.

Pedro: What would yours be?

OI: I’ve thought about this, and I honestly don’t have one. Every single track has got something. Sometimes it depends on mood – jumping up and down needs ‘Stuck in a Rut’, ballady mood needs LIOAF. They’ve all got the same favourite level. There are only 3 albums in my whole life I can name that can do that, it’s quite a feat. I like different ones live from in the car. The attachment to where you were and what you were doing last time you heard it live, how good a gig it was, what happened before and after…. Some songs are better for driving to because you can scream along. Some are better for housework! If you need a laugh, ‘Black Shuck’. If you’re thoroughly pissed off, ‘Giving Up’ is about right. Love on the Rocks… you HAVE to do that live ot it’s… you just don’t get the full experience. Rock Epic. You can feel it coming through the floor, not just the speakers.

Pedro: I think it’s up there, and riff wise, in my opinion, it’s as good as ‘Smoke on the Water.

OI: It is instantly recognisable. Exactly whose idea was it to carry Justin for miles, with a guitar, during LOTR? Whose stupid idea was that? Though it wasn’t a stupid idea, it was really good, but…

Pedro: It did become quite stupid, yeah.

OI: He lost a shoe, not long ago.

Pedro: I lost about 2 inches!

OI: The last time I saw it properly, Dan was carrying him.

Pedro: He’s tall enough! It did become quite violent, the walkabout. I’m a strong guy, and I felt like I was going into battle at parts. I remember stamping on bodies and thinking ‘Oh fuck, I’m standing on someone!’ I didn’t have any choice. The crowds were surrounding us, I was just going with the crowd. We had people like bodyguards surrounding us, which wasn’t as much fun. It did get violent, we all agreed it had to stop. We did it at the Astoria without security, the first one, and the Homecoming. Having security wasn’t the same.

OI: I think now it’s become a much loved part of it, everyone’s waiting for it to happen. Not as violent as it used to be. He did have words with one girl on the last tour, I heard.

Pedro: We were in Osaka, the first Japanese gig we did on a mini tour, after the Big Day Out. We decided to do the walkabout, we didn’t know what to expect.

OI: Aren’t Japanese crowds fairly lethal?

Pedro: It was the funniest thing ever. I had to go and pick up Justin from a door at the side of the stage and they didn’t know what was happening. They were looking at the stage. All of a sudden they clocked us at the side. I kid you not, I had about 500 Japanese running towards me. It was dangerous, quite literally they were hanging from is. I’m trying to walk, and the guy who was doing International for Atlantic came and helped me. It was quite full on. It was then I think that we decided to use security. Was quite bruised up after that one.

OI: I remember a few gigs without it. But as soon as there was a comeback, it was reinstated. Good. Everybody wanted it. Perhaps Justin quite likes coming back black and blue? Now he’s diving off balconies and crowdsurfing, he’s getting his danger fix!

The last question, then that I was asked to ask you – what do you really think of the catsuits?

Pedro: He SHOULD still be wearing them! People always asked why he didn’t wear them going around in normal daylight.

OI: Chilly! And his trousers are tight enough, anyway.

Pedro: It’s all about the show, and the show is that. Bands go on stage looking normal, at least he was making an effort! It was different, and it was great. It always puzzles me, people didn’t need to ask these questions in the 70’s or early 80’s – imagine going to Kiss and going ‘Why are you wearing makeup and platform shoes?’

OI: Everyone was wearing it? There’s only one person doing it now.

Pedro: it’s all about the show. The Darkness understood that well. I think that’s what set them apart, you know? Not just that, obviously – musically they were miles apart. The whole show thing was important to them, especially Justin, and I think that’s amazing. I don’t think they should change that all. There’s a fine line – I used to try and show them the line and them decide that the would like to do – but there is a fine line between being cool and being absolutely fucking ridiculous.

OI: SOME have said that there isn’t such a line for The Darkness. And some don’t care about a line, they like it.

Pedro: I disagree with that. It’s all about being outrageous but without…

OI: There’s a thing about being outrageous to shock, and being outrageous tongue in cheek.

Pedro: Yeah, basically. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

OI: Thank you! We’ve never had ‘outrageous to shock’ from The Darkness, because that’s not entertainment.

Pedro: No, that’s not Darkness. It was lyrics, music, what Justin was wearing. It was good fun when I didn’t know what catsuit he was going to wear next. The big leather trousers… they were amazing.

OI: What’s nice now is that a lot of the old ones are coming out – Justin tweeted about getting some out for the November tour.

Pedro: And the flames tattoo… also amazing.

OI: That was very probably one of the best image things Justin could have done. It won him a lot of fans that had never heard a note!

Pedro: I think Justin was quite aware of this!

 

And with that time ran out. Mixing to do and trains to catch. We did still manage discuss my inability to throw rock horns and what the connotations of my goth horns were. They’ll never look the same again!

Many thanks to Pedro for taking a break from work and being very entertaining, brilliant company.

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Darkwatch #lostcount

Best news all year. Some bands are just best in places where the sweat drips off the walls even before the crowd are let in. TD’s announcement:

Its looking like we have many many more of these ahead, certainly towards the end of the year we will. if that hint didn’t land heavy enough, lets make it plain : come Winter time, we will be getting into a bus and setting up equipment in some rooms up and down the British Isles. a majority of these rooms will probably have a bar towards the back / side, and we will then stand at one and and play music songs for those who care to listen.
BE WARNED… after the massive rooms and outdoor spaces of the Gaga tour, and the large-ish rooms that we did in the Springtime here in the UK, we’ve really been enjoying the sweaty rock’n’roll vibe of the smaller USA shows recently… so we’re looking to recreate that for this tour. Rooms will be a little smaller, and a little more off-the-beaten-track than you would maybe expect. Let’s look at it as an Outreach experiment. Spread the word.
we will have news on Tuesday or Wednesday this week coming.
TD x

Tuesday and Wednesday are now taken care of.

The Darkness cancel April 2013 Antipodean Tour.

From the band’s Facebook page.

Hi Australia and New Zealand.
We’re sorry. We wanted you guys to be the first to know this, but the promoter jumped the gun and then we couldn’t get access to Facebook in time.
There’s really not a lot we can add to the below. We hate cancelling shows and letting people down, but this is beyond our control.
Hope we see you soon.
J, D, F & Ed X

“It is with great regret that we are having to cancel The Darkness’ planned April dates in Australia / New Zealand. As some of you maybe aware, Ed has had some prior history with hip problems, which resulted in extensive surgery a few years ago, and caused him to miss some US dates in 2012. Unfortunately, over the course of the past few weeks’ touring, Ed has been feeling that all is not right in that department, and has been advised to undergo some rest & tests before potentially taking a backwards step and making matters worse.

He will continue with the last few European shows and will then take some time out immediately to ensure him back to 100% fitness. This very sadly results in the immediate cancellation of the Antipodean tour. We will of course look to reschedule dates into our scheduling and itinerary as soon as possible but have nothing solid to be able to make work currently hence this being a cancellation rather than a postponement. All ticket holders can get refunds from the point of purchase.

The Darkness also feel that to visit countries which do not get enough shows by them as it is, and not have the full, proper and original band line-up, is simply not the right thing to do. To that end there won’t be any possibility for stand in’s or alternative Ed’s for these shows and we won’t be touring with any ersatz model! We hope to have details of re-scheduled shows very soon. The Darkness sends its most heartfelt apologies to everyone involved”.

The Darkness – UK Cakes, fresh from the oven

Setting out on another tour is a strange and wondrous thing. And, if you’ve just remembered where the important things are hat should be in your bag, a bit annoying as well. It still feels odd to be off on a Darkness tour – brilliant, but odd in a wide eyed and still disbelieving way. Having a Darkness headline show all to ourselves is a something to be held to our collective breasts and cherished. There have been plenty of gigs, mind. Just none (two) of them here, and none (oh ok, TWO) just Darkness.

Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Ball had the lion’s share of Summer and Autumn. I’m not a great fan of stadium gigs as I prefer to be in a dark place, with walls and floor and banging acoustics, not outside with wind dictated sound and even big screens looking like matchboxes, never mind the stage. Gaga views were restricted further by the extended stage walkways – made for a fabulous extravaganza with boundless energy and amazing dancing – but even from the (non monster pit) front barriers I saw all that on a screen. It was an amazing show. I fully endorse Gaga’s stand against prejudices and for the right to be who you are. But… The show will look better on DVD. I’m glad I went, but I ONLY went to see TD. Now, they rocked, from the view available. They did a solid, professional job, got the crowd on their side rocking and singing, and Justin dropped his trousers. They never underperform.

America, then, to fill in a few US gaps after Christmas. That’s where it got back to normal. Reports and videos show the wildest, rockiest shows yet. TD have never been a band to stand idly around, but they seem to have outdone themselves with more energy than ever. Justin hurling himself around and Dan coming to the fore have got people talking, and they love it. Is this new confidence? A conscious decision to kick ass harder? Or a natural reaction to crazy crowds? Maybe there’s a sense of ‘second chance, let’s go do it harder, faster, louder this time’ ? I can’t wait to see it, at last.

Will I, though? Tonight, I’m in Sheffield for the first gig. It’s seated. There will be no crowd surfing or balcony jumps. The crowd walk will be a little tricky. There will be SEATS. If I had known that before I’d bought my tickets I would have thought twice. I’d still have gone because it’s The Darkness, but for ME to even consider not going, unless I physically can’t, is a wrong state of affairs. It’s going to be a strange experience. I’m expecting great music, passion, superb playing, banter and silliness and the sense of being home. I’m also expecting the atmosphere to be a slight step away from the norm.

Oh, what the hell. They’re here. A TD gig is a thing of strange and unconventional beauty, so I shall gladly go and fill my soul with it. More later.

Saxon release new album ‘Sacrifice’

Saxon? The name jumped out at me like a hit from the past. It’s been a long while since I listened to any of their stuff, and the band are most linked with memories of school and my best friend. He was a metalhead, I was an ex-mod goth – we covered a lot between us. Anyway… my good friend Andy was a big fan and it’s down to him that I ever heard them at all.

A new album, their 20th, is being released on 4th March. Sacrifice was produced by frontman Biff Byford, who has plenty to say about the back to Saxon basics approach. ‘I wanted to focus on the raw aspects which made us great in the first place’ he states. Indeed, if you were a fan back in the 80’s, you’ll find a lot that’s both familiar and classic to rediscover. If you weren’t, then you do need to be a metalhead to appreciate it fully. It’s steeped in traditions of lyric, legend and guitar that have wound themselves round several decades and albums. Listen, and ye shall find. New fans should find everything you need to know about the genre right here, given a fresh lick of amp power for the now generation.

Some release formats have extra acoustic/orchestral and re-recorded tracks, so look out for these. Saxon are on a UK tour in April and May – check out their  website for more details. There’salso an offer on there to go on tour with them. Interesting…

 Sleeve Saxon Sacrifice lo res 2

 

Then and Now

This time last year, The Darkness were ready, willing and able to go and give bits of the world a few pieces of Dark to hold on to and cherish. Fresh from 2011’s November UK comeback tour, with a host of new songs and the promise of an album, the plan appeared to be ‘Let’s go strike them whilst the iron’s hot. They’ll never know which direction we struck from, but they WILL remember who hit them’. And so it came to be. America was gloriously stunned by the Samsung commercial, beautifully placed in a prime Superbowl ad break. It was also stunned by several stupendous gigs, over the year and across the states. The Antipodes got their share of the glory and are still Tiswassed by the whole thing too. Festivals were rocked, countries graced, and plenty of headbanging done. Here in the UK we had Thetford and Glasgow as headliners, but we are biding our time.

Video poured from the screens, as Every Inch, Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us and Everybody Have A Good Time were all released and created stirs across Darkworld and beyond. Clever animations and damn bizarre storylines gave things to admire and laugh at in equal measure. Plenty of little snippets of video from on the road were most welcome, too. Music both soothed and lashed the ear with the finest riffs and accomplished vocals. One thing The Darkness never got any grief for is lyrics – they remain as eloquent as ever with the gift of saying a lot with a few finely twisted words.

Finally, the album came. One fine day in August was amongst the finest in 7 years. August was full of excitement, plaudits, fan bundles, apps, tshirts and stickers. And noise! Favourite track choosing is still a minefield, so personally I’ve largely given up trying to choose. Why bother when there are more important things? Like.. which order will they come in, on random? Which is the track that suits the day? That’s an easier choice. Hot Cakes belongs on those ‘Best of 2012′ lists.

As the main thrust of The Darkness’ year was sent on its way, The Darkness were also being thrust forward. The real big shock of the year was their support slot on Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Ball world extravaganza – or a good part of it. Since the beginning of August until December  they were out on the road playing to tens of thousands every night. It seemed like a travesty to some, but it would have been a travesty had they not done this. I saw two of the gigs, and they were superb. The Darkness were perfect for their slot. The crowds were responsive – in some areas, mental! and took to the rock in front of them like ducks to water. It was a great feeling to see another, entirely different, artist’s fans singing and dancing to your own favourite band. Pretty damn fine to see them wowing huge crowds. I’m not a fan of  big stadium gigs, or of seeing The Darkness in daylight, but I couldn’t fault their performances in those arenas to those fans. I’m glad that so many fans got to see them in places that they won’t or can’t visit as headliners for some time, and their comments showed their own delight.

Tonight, a new year’s work starts in Ft Lauderdale, Florida. From now until April, there’s another long road across 3 continents to cart 4 men what do rock, some guitary things, many big speakers, lots and lots of wires, and some other fine men who know what to do with it all. Let Them Eat Cakes is ON (I like mine with lemon and sugar, please). Good luck, and may your tourbus WiFi never fail.

 

 

 

 

O.W.L.S. – Fiddlers Elbow, London 16.11.12

A little time has passed since my ears were last beautifully dirtied by the nice people of O.W.L.S. , so this night out was well anticipated. A four-band dose of live music is not to be sniffled at in any event, but when it features this band, the night’s going to be a good one. Even if I had lost myself, my nose ring and my oyster card in the 400 yards between tube station and venue…

First up were Evacuees, just after I got there. Perfectly reasonable band, reminded me a little of  Glasvegas. Can’t say they hit me where it hurts, but that’s not to say they weren’t any good – just maybe I was nattering too much.

Next were Zodiac N Black. Before they came on, I was told they were well worth watching, and Mr Macfarlaine’s words are usually to be heeded on these subjects. Off my bum and into the crowd… Well, of course he was right. They rock like heck, with energy and aplomb, and are REALLY GOOD.  What more do you want me to say? They know perfectly well what they’re doing musically and venues definitely need to be filled with their metalling. A little video… and more details at the bottom.

That’s the better quality of the vids – my camera is broken so filming done on the iPad – but see OI’s channel for the other.

A short break for vodka, guitar lead/cable/wire swaps and it’s time for O.W.L.S. I’ve described their approach to the cleanliness of sound before, and I can’t say that’s changed at all.  Starting with Only Joking, we were straight into hardness. No pussyfooting around here (Toby’s footwear excepted)! Go To Your Happy Place is a singalong of dark proportions, Hurt Janine an oddly delightful, joyous thing, Vitamins and Kibosh as moshy and headbangy as I remember. She Can Open Doors is below. I just watched it without sound, accidentally, and the rocking still shines through.

The sound pouring forth was something with a harder edge than back in February, with a surer performance. This had more punk and more assurance. February was no means lacking anything, but after a longish break, such a great performance was brilliant. O.W.L.S are brilliant, in a darkly shining way.

Get your vinyl copy of double A-side single Hurt Janine/Vitamins as soon as you can, as it’s a strictly limited edition.

Velvet Star were on last. Hmm. Sorry… not my thing.

Let’s get everyone out there to see both O.W.L.S. and Zodian N Black. You can see the former on 9th Dec at Emma Scott Presents, The Flapper, Birmingham.

Contact Info:

Facebook –  O.W.L.S.HQ    Zodiac N Black

Twitter – @OWLSHQ  @Zodiac_N_Black

 

 

 

BritRockArmy

Phillip Rogers is a dedicated sort of man. Earlier this year he took his convictions in his hands, examined them closely, and found them worthy of doing something about. What followed was just a bit of a whirlwind…

Finding little joy in the UK music scene, he decided that it needed a bit of  an arsekick. Where on earth was a home for unknown and unsigned bands? Who was championing the cause of the talented but largely unheard?  Hmm… and in the best traditions of those blessed with vision, courage and a bit of madness, he did something about it.

BritRockArmy is the result of the musings, and the start of something else. Reviews and interviews are breeding like rabbits on the blog.  Just a few short months after the first post, there’s an event showcasing bands, including acoustic sets, happening at the Birmingham Roadhouse on Sunday 11th November (see flyer below). A compilation album of donated tracks is in progress  – the tracks are being whittled down, and this is proving to be a hard job.  ‘BritRockArmy – Uprising’ (temporary title!) is to be a double album, and voting for the 15 bands to appear on Part 2’s People’s Choice is underway on Facebook .

BritRockArmy marches on behalf of everyone in music  – we are all in it together, and one part can’t exist without the other.  If you have anything to say, need a place to play, want to praise/promote/play your trade, then there’s room to do it.

A great example of following your dreams. Long may BritRockArmy fight for music’s unknown soldiers.

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On The Road With The Darkness, Part 2: The “Riding the Wave of Nostalgia Tour”

(BTW, this is not officially Darkness-sanctioned! – Laurie)

Day 1 – Nashville, Tennessee, May 22

“Long-distance information , get me Nashville, Tennessee…” – Yup this is Music City, indeed!  I have flown into town after a weekend in El Paso, TX and am ready to get my Darkness groove on. My friends Dre and Becca arrive at my hotel to get me for the road trip, and soon we’re off on a venue-finding mission and then off to our friend Patti’s house.

The gig is at an old auto manufacturing plant, hence the name Marathon Motor Works. We’ve taken quite a long time to socialize/have dinner/get ready, so we arrive while opening band Black Box Revelation is on. This is a two-man band from Brussels consisting of a singer/guitarist and drummer, and they are not Foxy Shazam, but they will do. Their songs are very White Stripes meet Led Zeppelin.  My friend Leslie and her bestie Phil arrive late as well, and soon we are parked second row ready for THE DARKNESS!

I’m sorry, Nashville, but part of the crowd seemed like they were too cool for school. Even Justin had to coax them to make some noise by saying Dan wouldn’t play a note until they did, and the only time everyone seemed to let loose was for IBIATCL and the encore, which has been revised to  Hazel Eyes and LOTR. But for us hardcore fans, this was a stellar show from the boys!  They include a new song called “With A Woman,”  and other set list changes were dropping Can’t Believe It’s Not Love/Out of This World, She’s Jut A Girl Eddie, Physical Sex and Bareback, and adding Every Inch of You and Everybody Have A Good Time.  Justin’s dive into the crowd and crowd surfing prompted him to announce that someone had grabbed his testicles and any misshapen children would be named “Nash” (and Leslie, Dre and I happen to know the culprit! Hahaha!)  Justin and Frankie also drop on bended knee to Dan as he plays on the riser at the end of Hazel Eyes, and that was new and fun to watch!

I know some really devoted TD fans who waited years for The Darkness to return to Nashville (Leslie, Tyler!) and they were not disappointed.  I’m really happy that they got to meet the band afterwards. YAY! Frankie informs us that the band will be doing a photo shoot for Q magazine in New Orleans’ French Quarter, so be on the lookout for that, kids! Now it’s time to get back to Patti’s and wake up early for our drive to New Orleans.

 

Day 2 – New Orleans, Louisiana, May 23

Urgh. It’s raining as soon as we get outside of town, but luckily it all clears up by the time we get to the venue, which is the House of Blues. Dre,  Becca and I meet up with Dori, Sam and Missy, and then it’s time to RAWK!!

It’s a no-brainer that New Orleans knows how to party, so the vibe is immediately electric and the band is awash in adoration from the get-go.  The whole band seems to respond in kind and are just what can only be described as “on fire!”  J  I think this is one of my favorite gigs on both U.S. Tours this year. Justin opts not to crowd-dive this gig, but after his walkabout he decides to pose directly on the barrier and have fans help hold him steady during the sing-alongs on LOTR. Let’s just say some fans got a glimpse of him up close and personal! 😉

We have a day off the next day, and enjoy the sounds and sights of New Orleans. We make a side stop at the Royal Orleans hotel, which Led Zep once wrote a song about on the album “Presence.” That was way cool and one of the workers there let us go to the rooftop pool and observation deck to check the city out. What service! Then it was time to hit the road once again. Quite disappointingly, the only alligators we saw were in the gator bites we had at a restaurant on Bourbon Street!

 

Day 3 – Austin, Texas, May 25

Why hello there, Texas! Austin also has a reputation for being a party city (this seems to be a trend!)  AND it has a big music scene as well. The gig tonight is at a place called Stubb’s, which is a BBQ restaurant with an outdoor amphitheatre. We’ve not booked a hotel yet, so it’s straight to Stubb’s for some BBQ and drinks and waiting and waiting.

The radio station sponsoring the gig is having a meet and greet and three of our new friends are picked to go, and one of them wins a signed Epiphone guitar!  Sweet!  I also learn that Justin had asked the meet & greeters that if he climbed on the balcony, would they catch him if he jumped?  I say I can totally see him doing that. We’ll see….

We and all of our new friends all score a place along the barrier, so we’re all happy. It’s hot and there is no breeze at all but that’s part of the fun. The opening band is an all-girl band called Girl In A Coma and they’re a pretty decent punk-ish band, but everybody wants THE DARKNESS!  If I thought New Orleans was electric, Austin had them beat by a country mile.  At least 15 people got thrown out for crowd surfing, and there was lots and lots of pogo jumping, and what can I say but it was a hell of a set!

The boys were dripping with sweat by the end of the first song, but it was oh-so-fun!  Every Inch of You has become a fun song to rock to and scream “Suck my cock!” along with Justin.  Concrete is easily my new favorite, though. There’s just something about that song performed live and in your face and makes me want to bang my head. There was a touching tribute to a friend of the band’s named Fred before LOTR, and Justin has since Tweeted asking if anyone has video of this tribute to let them know. I didn’t have video as my phone died, sorry lads! And Justin DID climb onto the balcony and dived into the crowd…not surfacing for long enough for one to think “Oh geez, I hope he’s okay!” before merrily popping up onto the crowd and crowd-surfing to the stage. Thank GOD!

Not only was it an awesome way to end my part of the tour (Dre and Becca went on to Dallas), but I also got to see THEE one and only Rock Blonde AKA Angie, and her new husband Bill. We’ve always known that Angie was spiritually Texan anyway, and it was great to see her so happy in her new home state of Texas, ya’ll!  I’m also really happy that she and Bill ran into Justin outside of Stubb’s and they got to say hello to the lads, minus Ed  J

I was supposed to have gone on to Rocklahoma and Dallas, but duty called and I had to return home. And just so you know, guys, my friends and I are NOT the only U.S. fans who hit more than one gig. There were quite a few people met on this tour who went to as many shows as they possibly could in February and May, and that speaks volumes to the dedication of fans who have waited 8 years to see you perform in our country again. Thank you, The Darkness, for returning once again to the good ol’ USA and we hope to see you again soon!

I remain,

Laurie

Motörhead – The Wörld Is Ours Vol 2

Recorded at three different 2011 festivals, this DVD and/or CD set is a memento of, an introduction to, and an ‘arse, I couldn’t make it to’ Motörhead’s live performances. With an 80,000 crowd quoted for Wacken, they’re not exactly small and insignificant ones, either. Wacken’s dominates, being the whole set, and by virtue of its production. The film isn’t in parts, the sound wavers a little – but it gives an accurate idea of what it’s like in a festival crowd and  from stage. It’s real, just like it really was, and works for me. I’ve seen footage of gigs before and thought ‘it wasn’t like that at all’ so it’s rather refreshing to see something more honest. Reality gigging! It’s a long set in the rain for fans, but there are thousands throwing horns all the way through and their enthusiasm is unflagging. Opening with Iron Fist, there are 17 songs – Metropolis, One Night Stand, In The Name of Tragedy, Bomber, Ace of Spades and Overkill being just a few. It’s quite a thing to see, legends in action.

Both Sonisphere’s and Rock in Rio’s sets are much shorter, with much slicker film production. A good contrast, especially as Sonisphere’s set is in daylight, which seemed… unusual. Motörhead are a band for the dark, with afternoons a hidden, lost place – surely? It seems not! Both sets look and feel as good as Wacken’s, in a different way. Ste he could not have had. But let’s not get bogged down in video production details. Both approaches have a place, and show Motörhead’s performances in equally good lights. Good hard solid rock throughout, delivered without frills or fuss but with consummate ease. No pretence, no need of any. Sonisphere’s gig was the day after ex-member Wurzel’s death, as announced by Lemmy, so must have been rather a strange day for band and fans alike, but a greater tribute he could not have had.  It was a good watch, and the CDs will make damn fine driving music on those dark rainy nights. Look out for the Festival Impressions W:O:A extra – it made me laugh, has lots of beer and a few interviews.

Watching HAS made me want to go and see them live, as I’ve never had the chance. So, job done! Oh, and I’ve fallen in love with that bass.

Out now, from the usual places.

Tour dates 

FB fan page 

Win a DVD/CDs pack

 

 

 

 

 

Motörhead – Win Live DVD and CDs

Motörhead, noisemakers extraordinaire, are releasing a second live extravaganza on DVD and 2 CDs on 24th September.  The Wörld is Ours Vol 2 – Anyplace Crazy as Anywhere Else was recorded in 2011 at Sonisphere (July), the headline appearance at Wacken Festival (August) and Rock in Rio (September).

If you want to get your rock mitts on this little package of mayhem, just answer the following questions.

1. Who designed the iconic Motörhead logo?

2. What is a motörhead? (Oh come on. That one you can do in your sleep.)

3. Hawkwind released ‘Motörhead’ as an A-side single. What was the B-side?

Easy as headbanging, innit. Send your answers to optimum.impact.rocks@gmail.com, pm OI’s Facebook page, or DM me on Twitter. Lovely. Ready for a bit of the hard stuff?

Anyone wanting to also experience this in a more physical way can get dirty in person on the European tour in November and December.

 

Entries are restricted to the UK, and my decisions are final, etc.

 

The Darkling Sonnet

Just a bit of fun that grew out of a tinker – bit tricky sticking to the original scansion. I liked it so I thought I’d keep it somewhere safe.

How do I love thee? Let me count the riffs.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
Justin’s voice can reach, when soaring out of sight
To the ends of hearing and highleaping grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most rocking need, by volume control found.
I love thee freely, as men strive for sound.
I love thee surely, as men turn from crap.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my dancing, and with my singing out of tune.
I love thee for a rock we seemed to lose
With rock’s lost saints. With my breath I love thee,
Smiles, tears, of my fandom; and, if Hope choose,
I shall love thee better after album three.

Many apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning.