Before their set at Hatfield we caught up with Boston Manor frontman Henry Cox to talk about what’s going on in their camp in the middle of their monumental rise.
So how’s the weekend been so far? Henry: Some of the best shows we’ve ever played. The crowd reaction has been unbelievable, very memorable.
Any stories you can tell us from Slam Dunk? Henry: None I can tell [laughs]. Just a lot of friends drinking too much booze and having too much fun.
What’s been your highlight of 2017 so far? Henry: This has been one of them for sure, but it’s been a pretty whirlwind year. The US tour we just did with Trophy Eyes and Moose Blood was pretty unbelievable, a real experience. We did some little warm-up shows for this which pretty much all sold out which was cool for places we may not usually go to. We didn’t know what to expect but they were amazing. It’s been non-stop but pretty amazing.
Who would you like to support you in the near future? Henry: We’d love to do another tour with Crooks (check them out here) because that one got cancelled, and a friend of mine is in a band called Death Blooms (check them out here) who are a bit like Every Time I Die so I’d love to hook that up at some point. If anyone has any suggestions then get in touch.
What direction do you see your music going in next? Henry: The stuff we’re writing at the moment is a lot more “tried and tested”, people say. A bit more eclectic though; we’ve been listening to a lot more different music since we wrote Be Nothingaround a year and a half ago, so it does sound different. Heavy bits are heavier, soft bits are softer like everybody says. Just a more seasoned vibe is what we’re going for now.
What would you put in a Boston Manor cocktail? Henry: Loads of tabasco… Make it really spicy and horrible. Tomato juice and vodka, but mainly spicy and horrible. Maybe some soil too.
Do you think you’ll ever play any of the Here/Now material live again? Henry: [Laughs] maybe. I don’t really want to at all but maybe one day. We always get asked to play Tiger’s Jaw and stuff but yeah, possibly.
The festival brought some of the biggest and best names in the alternative music world to Birmingham, Leeds and Hatfield as always this year, but the festival also named a lot of smaller bands across the lineup. Bands including Puppy, Too Close To Touch, Casey, Decade, Like Pacific and The Gospel Youth all featured across the weekend of day festivals, not to mention bringing out the big guns with Enter Shikari‘s 10 year anniversary celebration of their debut album, Neck Deep, Tonight Alive and the return of Bowling For Soup. Read on for Musicology’s picks of the weekend’s action!
Opening up the Signature Brew stage were Puppy, a band who are no strangers to fairly hefty crowds by now. The ever-growing Creeper had them out on the road through the UK and Europe this March which gained them a significant increase in fanbase size, which clearly showed in the performance this weekend. A half-hour set featuring fan favourites The Great Beyond and Arabella proved to be the winning formula as the crowd expanded hugely throughout to become arguably the biggest crowd of the stage openers. Closing the set with Entombed showed those at Slam Dunk not aware what Puppy are all about how they do things: grunge/metal hybrid tunes that pack a serious punch. [8/10]
Sorority Noise (Midlands)
After the release of their newest album, You’re Not As _____ As You Think, Sorority Noise returned to the UK to bring their brutally honest and heartfelt songs to the Signature Brew stage. Opening with No Halo and Nolsey, the Connecticut four piece wasted no time in making their presence felt with Boucher’s guitar strap breaking mid song, as he threw himself across the stage. Dirty Ickes and Art School Wannabe get the whole crowd bobbing with the occasional finger point. Slowing it down with Car, the crowd get to catch a breather before Your Soft Blood sees the band bring their set to a dramatic end. [9/10]
Milk Teeth (South)
Female-fronted grunge outfit Milk Teeth hit Slam Dunk pretty hard. Equipped with brand new song Owning Your Okayness, this was one of the last opportunities for the group to expand their fanbase before their new EP Be Nice is released in July and they didn’t disappoint. Playing through a set comprised mainly of 2016 debut album Vile Child proved popular with onlookers at the Signature Brew stage and left a resounding intensity of atmosphere when they left the stage. Very promising for a band looking like they’ll shoot for the stars very soon indeed. [8/10]
Boston Manor (Midlands)
Boston Manor have been at the forefront of UK pop punk for the past year now. A set dominant with songs from their debut LP Be Nothing proved the upgrade in stages from the Fresh Blood to the Key Club Stage this year was justifiable. The whole room filled with both old and new fans eager to witness their progression. Single Lead Feet welcomes a constant stream of crowd surfers which didn’t seem to stop throughout their set. Vocalist Henry found himself amongst the crowd along the barrier welcoming the energy. Stop Trying, Be Nothing erupts into a circle pit, stretching the whole area of the room. A set with a continuous amount of crowd energy is brought to a close with crowd favourite Laika. A packed out room and an energy pumped crowd proved that Boston Manor are changing the face of pop punk, they are definitely one to watch. [9/10]
The ringing of ambient guitars welcomed Virginia dream pop outfit Turnover to the Signature Brew stage; a more conserved band with slightly less energy than other bands on the line up can often mean less crowd interaction. Opening with Cutting My Fingers Off however saw quite the opposite with vocalist Austin being drowned out by the crowd singing back. Crowd pleasers New Scream and Dizzy on the Comedown was welcomed by this continuation of crowd participation and a steady amount of movement. Closing on Take My Head saw an end to a calm yet well performed set by the dreamy four piece. [8/10]
With Confidence (South)
Aussie pop punkers With Confidence have only been over to the UK to perform a handful of times, but this occasion marked their upgrade from 2016’s Fresh Blood stage to the Key Club stage – a huge size increase. Along with this bigger show came more songs from their 2016 debut album Better Weather which only hit shelves in June 2016 since they last played the festival. Throughout the set, guitarist Luke Rockets made reference to a member of security who was dancing and singing along throughout which sums the set up fantastically: a talented young band with fantastically catchy songs having a lot of fun halfway round the world from home. [8/10]
Battling against Turnover, With Confidence and Beartooth is not an easy thing to do for any band, espacially one that only released their debut album in mid-March and to be fair the crowd they pulled was by no means small. Not put off by the half-full Impericon stage, the band went absolutely all-out for the crowd who seemed up for anything. The pure showman ability of frontman Jamie Campbell Bower was evident throughout, but was put out on display for all to see when he made his first journey out into the crowd where he stood with his guitar and mic stand in the circle pit, with his brother on his shoulders, also playing. Fantastic confidence on display, this band are sure to go a long way. [10/10]
Beartooth had some big boots to fill after both Crossfaith and Bury Tomorrow played the Jagermeister stage earlier on in the day, but they did not disappoint. Opening with the title track off their latest album Aggressive, the four piece from Ohio ensured that their set was going to be 40 minutes of carnage, and that it was. The Lines saw the entirety of the main stage crowd taking to one knee then erupting as the intro kicks in. The frenzy continued as Always Dead found the entire front of the arena turned into a massive circle pit. Hated drew their short yet energetic set to a close. [8/10]
I Prevail (South)
On their first trip across the Atlantic, I Prevail stopped off at Slam Dunk to crush the Impericon stage with their heavy (yet somewhat generic) metalcore anthems which filled each of the three dates’ venues to capacity with people turned away at the door. The first and final UK play of their version of Blank Space proves predictably popular, yet the highlight of their set without a doubt was the closing track Scars which is the first single from second album Lifelines. Suitably heavy yet melodic, the tracks played caused mayhem to a level beyond anything else during the day. [10/10]
Deaf Havana (North)
The boys in Deaf Havana hit the Jagermeister stage in unglamorous fashion, adorned with Hawaiian shirts. They kicked things off with recent album opener Ashes, Ashes which went down well enough but something seems a little off. Lead singer/guitarist James Veck-Gilodi (complete with darkened sunglasses) admitted to being tired and slightly hungover but this never stopped him from belting out tracks Youth In Retrospect and Speeding Cars with maximum gusto. Fans looking for older tracks didn’t find it here, with the majority of the set consisting of newer material and although the sound on the outdoor stage failed to capture depth of the band’s sound, tracks like Speeding Cars sounded right at home in front of the capacity crowd. Bookending the set with recent album closer Pensacola, 2013, Deaf Havana proved that they can still go even when they don’t really feel like it. [7/10]
Frank Iero and the Patience (South)
Ex-My Chemical Romance man Frank Iero is back in the UK with the latest incarnation of his band after the name change last year. Unsurprisingly energetic upon taking to the stage, the band ripped through their catalogue of alternative-punk anthems to a capitaved audience, taken largely from their second album Parachutes. The highlight of the set was .weighted. played with maximum gusto, with crowds surging at every opportunity. [7/10]
Making a return after playing the Fresh Blood stage back in 2015, Ontario feel good pop punk five-piece Seaway were welcomed to a packed-out crowd at the Key Club stage. Best Mistake and Shy Guys warmed up the crowd to a flurry of crowdsurfers as vocalist Ryan took to the barrier to hand the mic to them. Old school fan favourite Sabrina the Teenage Bitch saw the crowd erupt in ecstasy, as it seemed every person wanted to get to the front. Slam allowed the crowd to gather their energy back as Everything Is Cool Man is screamed back at them. With mention of their third album being released at the end of this year, Seaway are proving that feel-good 2000’s pop punk is still alive as ever. [8/10]
Don Broco (South)
Returning to the UK straight from a tour with State Champs, Against The Current and With Confidence in the US to play the three remaining shows before finishing their third album this summer, Don Broco arrived ready to play. They crashed through tracks from both of their albums after the crowd got properly involved with single Everybody, causing dancing and singing along with the mass of Rob masks throughout. Finishing up on brand new track Pretty and bringing in With Confidence‘s Josh Brosezzi, frontman Rob Damiani and drummer Matt Donnelly surfed across the crowd to go mad in the pit while the song punched away to the end. Very exciting band at the moment, the third album and November Alexandra Palace headline show look very exciting! [9/10]
Less Than Jake (North)
Inside the First Direct Arena punters willingly give up their place in the beer queue and dash to the arena floor as they hear opening strains of All My Best Friend Are Metalheads. It’s a guaranteed crowd-puller and sees the audience skanking along to their beer-fuelled ska-punk in no time. Less Than Jake roar through stone cold classics Automatic, Last One Out Of Liberty City and Sugar In Your Gas Tank before proclaiming “Any band who tells you their new stuff is better than your old stuff is lying!”. They go ahead and prove their own point as newer tracks PS, Shock The World and the stellar Bomb Drop receive limited response from the nostalgia happy crowd. Closing things up with a double header of Gainesville Rock City and The Ghost Of Me & You however ends the set in riotous fashion, setting the audience up for more old-school pop punk to follow. [8/10]
Enter Shikari (South)
Enter Shikari are no strangers to the Hertfordshire music scene, and celebrating the final show of their 10 year Anniversary of Take To The Skies was incredibly fitting. The crowd chanting welcomed their stage entrance of Enter Shikari with the lyrics “and still we will be here, standing like statues” and the explosive set began. The atmosphere of the crowd felt like a cross between a political protest and a rave with insane circle pits, moshing and chants below the electric green light show that defines Shikari. The pure energy of the band throughout the set was remarkable as they revisited the album with nostalgia, frontman Rou made particular reference to lyrics in the song Juggernauts “the idea of community, will be something displayed in a museum” before launching into an empowering speech about the importance of voting. One thing that’s for certain, the passion of the band and the audience has in no way diminished and will surely grow on the horizon of a new album and UK tour. [8/10] (Words by Brittany Rutt)
Tonight Alive (Midlands)
Tonight Alive entered the Key Club stage opening with Lonely Girl to a good crowd, despite competing with big stage headliners including Enter Shikari and Neck Deep. The band interacted with crowd who sang along as they played iconic songs like Listening. Vocalist Jenna McDougall made a statement speech about what Tonight Alive stands for and the message she encourages at their shows. It was the message of not being bound by societies expectations which was received well by the crowd who cheered and applauded the vocalist. This led nicely into the song Wasting Away which is one of the band’s first songs produced. Before finishing with their latest single World Away, the band announced that after Slam Dunk they would be going back to the studio to start on a new album. Overall, a Tonight Alive show is an experience you definitely come away feeling a little more empowered. [9/10] (Words by Ellie Slym)
Neck Deep (South)
Kicking off with a new single Happy Judgement Day, Neck Deep set about on their self-depricating pop punk conquest to rule Slam Dunk 2017, despite them admitting there were better bands the onlookers should be watching during that headliner slot. Contrary to their words, the band pulled out of the bag one of the stronger sets of the day as they played through favourites old and new in the way of What Did You Expect?, Tables Turned and new single Where Do We Go When We Go? to the ever-maddening crowd. Finishing up with Can’t Kick Up The Roots brought another successful set to a close, with promises that performances on their huge October headline tour would be bigger and better. [8/10]
Bowling For Soup (North)
Bowling For Soup walked out to the excited screams of a packed out Fireball stage. The hardcore fans were wearing all different variations of Bowling For Soup merch from every tour over the past 10 years. After a brief intro, they kicked the set off with The Bitch Song, with the crowd singing along to every word you knew this was going to be a Slam Dunk set to remember. Their 14-song set packed full of the band’s classics and more well-known songs as well as their lead single Hey Diane taken from their latest album Drunk Dynasty. The band filled their slot with not only their amazing tracks but filled with crowd interaction, jokes and of course BEER! A handful of the crowd seemed disappointed by the amount of joking around between the band and the crowd and voiced their opinions throughout the set. This however didn’t dampen the mood at the Fireball stage, with the band giving it their all and the crowd losing their minds at every song. [8/10]
A lot of people are spoilt for choice or just don’t have a clue to watch for some of this year’s Slam Dunk Festival, so hopefully our picks here will give you a little food for thought.
You Know The Drill (Midlands only)
You Know The Drill may only be on the bill due to being competition winners but it was something that was thoroughly deserved. A band that’s worked hard over the last couple of years put blood, tears and sweat into their lives shows and leave the audience in awe at their musical ability. Catch them at 13.30 on Rock Sound Breakout Stage.
Sorority Noise hail from Connecticut and are comprised of members from Prawn and Old Gray. Together they are housing this indie rock/emo style which has taken the band on tour with Modern Baseball and others. This year the band released their latest full length record You’re Not As _____ As You Think, a record which showcased not only their musical prowess but also the beautiful lyricism of vocalist Cam Boucher. Alongside this release the band last year released a beautiful yet harrowing EP titled It Kindly Stopped For Me which was well received by fans and critics alike. If you are free during their set they aren’t a band to miss. Catch them at 14.15 on Signature Brew Stage.
After the release of their masterpiece album, “Love Is Not Enough”, Casey have grown from strength to strength, making their presence felt in the UK scene. Appearing on Rocksound’s Breakout Stage, this melodic emo 5 piece is not a band you want to be sleeping on. Catch them at 14.25 on Rock Sound Breakout Stage.
Trophy Eyes are one of the best bands to come out of Australia in a long long time. With a mix of pop punk, punk and hardcore they bring something for everyone. Their latest album Chemical Miracle saw the band tone down their heaviness in some parts, but none the less was an amazing record. Expect chaos in a live set, the energy that band bring is second to none. Catch them at 14.35 on Monster Energy Stage.
Having had an extensive European run with Creeper finishing just weeks ago, Milk Teeth are back out on the road for more. They debuted new track Owning Your Okayness from upcoming third EP Be Nice a couple of weeks back on the Radio 1 Rock Show and have guaranteed they will be playing the tune at all three days of the festival which is sure to please fans. The female-fronted four-piece stand as the upcoming emo/grunge band at the moment and have toured with names including Tonight Alive who are headlining Key Club stage at the festival. Catch them at 15.10 on Signature Brew Stage.
Having toured the US and EU extensively, Boston Manor are back on home soil stronger than ever. Their bold yet effective twist of pop punk and alternative proved dominant in their latest release “Be Nothing.” and their live performances emphasis this. Upgrading from the Fresh Blood stage last year, they’ll be hitting up the Key Club Stage this time around and they’re definitely not one to be missed. Catch them at 16.20 on Key Club Stage.
Hardcore Punk quintet Beartooth will be returning to Slam Dunk this year after a year out, bringing their high energy performance along with them. With 2 albums and an EP to their name, these guys have the songs to back up their incredible stage presence. Their latest album Aggressive – which topped at #25 in the US album charts – has proven these guys can do it all, from heavy riffs in Rock Is Dead to a softer acoustic track in King Of Anything. Catch them at 17.40 on Jagermeister (Main) Stage.
Probably one of the most prolific emo bands of recent memeory, Citizen have been a favourite of many since the release of Youth in 2013. As a band Citizen are matching powerful guitars and well constructed vocal melodies together to bring along tracks which are both harrowing but also gorgeous. In 2015 the band released their latest record Everybody Is Going To Heaven. If you haven’t yet check them out and be sure to catch them at Slam Dunk. Catch them at 18.10 on Signature Brew Stage.
The Fearless Records four-piece broke through into the big league with their cover of Taylor Swift‘s Blank Space back in 2015 after releasing their Heart Vs Mind EP in 2014 and succeeding it with 2016’s debut album Lifelines. I Prevail never fail in blending pop vocals with bonecrushing metalcore verses and breakdowns, and they’re here on their first trip to the UK to prove that in front of a brand new audience alongside labelmates Ice Nine Kills and Oceans Ate Alaska as part of their Fearless Invasion tour. Catch them at 18.30 on Impericon Stage.
Getting ready to give the UK their first ever presence, Metalcore powerhouse Sylar have many different ways to get you fixated on what they’re able to bring to the table. Their latest album ‘Help’ is a showcase of their arsenal of low end riffs and a powerful bounce that emanates through the recording and will no doubt power through their live set with tracks such as ‘Assume’ as well as their older tracks from their debut record ‘To Who It May Concern’ which can produce a lot more of their heavier side. A band who will be looking to make a deep mark on the mainland this coming weekend. Catch them at 19.00 on Rock Sound Breakout Stage.
Ocean Grove There’s no denying that the band made quite a stirring with their latest album offering ‘The Rhapsody Tapes’ which helped give off a newer and fresher side of the group. Now they are another group looking to make a lasting first impression on UK soil. It will be an exciting element to see how their tracks flow from one another with a mixed bad set of tracks such as ‘These Boys Light Fires’ as well as ‘Intimate Alien’ with their flavourful instrumentation and the fact that a lot of people enjoy all the bands from Australia due to what they’ve been able to provide musically should put these guys at the top of your list as the underdogs of the festival. Catch them at 20.50 on Rock Sound Breakout Stage.
After a few relatively quiet years, Enter Shikari are back to headline Slamdunk this year for a ten year anniversary celebration of their debut album Take To The Skies. Few are unaware of the group, thanks to the fateful ‘clap clap’ song (Sorry You’re Not A Winner). Due to their unique electronic rock sound, Enter Shikari appeal to the alternative/rock crowd, the heavier metal crowd, and the dance/electronic crowd. They are a sound choice for headlining a festival that appeals to as many people as Slam Dunk does, and their live performance is always a spectacle to behold. Catch them at 21.25 on Jagermeister (Main) Stage.
Bowling For Soup
Pop punk legends Bowling For Soup will be gracing the Slam Dunk stage this year. With fan favourites such as 1985, Girl All the Bad Guys Want and their rendition of Stacy’s Mom this is sure to be a set not to miss. Lead singer Jared is heading out on his solo acoustic tour later this year, so you don’t want to miss the chance of seeing the whole band bringing their incredibly fun live show to the UK. Catch them at 21.45 on Fireball Stage.
Memphis May Fire
Memphis May Fire is one of those underrated groups that have been around for ages and never really broken hugely into the UK music scene. Metalcore is a very under appreciated genre in the UK, but it seems to be the overarching theme this year for Slam Dunk. Coming off the success of their latest album The Light I Hold, Slam Dunk will be one of the last shows of the UK leg of the tour, with a quick stop in Spain before returning to the US.
Opening up Reckless Intentions‘ Lights is Ghost Town which explodes with pop punk energy. Octave chords and a strong bassline make this track what it is, but the vocal style would have benefitted from taking a leaf from The Story So Far or Boston Manor and adding a load more grit into the vocals which would have fronted the energy of the band much better from the very start of the release. The more emo feel to the vocals leaves the punchy and fairly aggressive instrumentation to fall a bit flat, especially in the most whiny parts. Following this comes single Stitches which feels a lot more like an alt-rock song than the previous attempt on the release. The whiny lack of power in the forced-accent vocals actually works well here, and added harmonies through certain lines adds some depth that remains promising.
L I G H T S is the third track which is an instrumental. It is the best of the first half from its inherent control over the instrumentation which is honestly very good. This is let down a bit again in fourth track Outcast where the forced accent on the vocals is just not working out well, and the tuning has some issues too. Contrasting this fully is the final track Home which is an all-round brilliant song. Instrumentation and vocals gel incredibly well, and the opening demonstrates the true ability of frontman Matty Halliwell’s voice.
The overarching feeling across the tracks is a lack of inspiration really. The obvious exception is Home, where Reckless Intentions come into their own and this is the main area that has legs to go forward into the next release. Not a bad release, but 4 of 5 tracks are fairly generic and could do with something to set them apart whereas Home has a newfound power and emotion that is lacking elsewhere in the EP.
Opening the EP is the rawest-sounding grunge instrumental track of 2017, titled Maureen. The guitar tones from the very start are crunchy and the development of a glazey tone on the lead smooths over the crashing cymbals to make the track settle into the fabric of the EP. Co-frontman Lloyd Carter-Crosby’s vocals on Home come as a good accompaniment to the instrumentation behind him. The grit in his voice brings added depth to the track, and at the 2 minute mark the harsh tones of Alex Went are added to provide a grounding to the lifting melodies. The song also features a guest lead solo from bassist Sam Durham which demonstrates the versatility of the LOVE BUZZ members. Following this is Take Love which begins in a delayed instrumental before the bite begins with Tim Charlwood’s hard-hit drums. The verses are slightly understated before Lloyd’s vocals shine straight through to make a fantastically beefy sound that will be pit-inducing in the live arena.
Fourth track Feed The Sun is a fast-paced track and remains the weakest on the EP, which is definitely saying something. The octave-chord bridge shows off the instrumental prowess of the four-piece in true emo style before breaking into the final track Babygirl which has one of the most fantastic intro riffs and grooves of any track in the genre in the last 20 years. This is clearly shown every time they play it live with the amount of dancing and bouncing about that ensues without fail. Finishing up strong with Alex’s howls as backing, this song is set to be the head on their arrow to success.
Being named after Nirvana‘s first single shows you’re not mucking about and you know your stuff as well as the clear pedigree of influences, and having your debut EP produced by an ex-member of a platinum-selling hardcore punk band backs that up but LOVE BUZZ have come out with a somewhat unpredictably good EP. They sound like they’ve been throwing out tracks into academies for a decade, and this EP could get them seriously noticed on the touring and festival circuits around the UK.
Opening up Blood Youth‘s London Beyond Repair release show came Holding Absence, a band making serious waves in the rock world currently. The band came out with one of the unreleased songs but quickly broke into Permanent, which featured on their picture disc release for Record Store Day this year. The stunning voice work of frontman Lucas Woodland sets Holding Absence out from the crowd, and the soaring chorus of Dream of Me allows for him to show off – a chance he rarely passes up in the moment and tonight was no different. With only two songs released though, the set inevitably didn’t live up to the quality of the performance atmosphere-wise. That being said, a stunning live band who are definitely set for precedental shows as soon as their new material comes. [8/10]
Next up came the consistently-heaviest band on the lineup in the shape of Liverpool’s Loathe. Frontman Kadeem France made his way through the crowd wearing a Slipknot-esque mask and jumped up onto the stage before breaking straight into their barrage of noise. Playing through songs from last year’s Prepare Consume Proceed EP as well as the upcoming full-length The Cold Sun, which was being sold for the first and only time four days before release date on their merch table. Just to finish it all off, Loathe finished up with The Cold Sun single It’s Yours which featured a guest appearance from Lucas again who provided added even more depth to the 3 vocalist setup of the band alone. The atmosphere turned from awe of Holding Absence to mild hysteria with hardcore dancing all over the place, warming up perfectly for the headliners while playing a fantastic set in their own right. [8/10]
The last week has been big for Blood Youth – the trio have released their debut album, played their first acoustic shows ahead of their release shows and had their first major crowd injury (read more about the latter in our interview with Kaya here). None of these seemed to slow them down in the slightest though; opening track Making Waves was a hard-hitter when they played it on September’s Closure UK tour but it had an extra gusto when the mob watching on knew and screamed the words back.
Older favourites 24/7, Mood Swing and Dead Space all made outings for fantastic crowd interaction as the lyrics were thrown back in the band’s faces, and newer tracks Savanna and I Remember allowed for a lot of mindless mosh. Heaviest track Parasite (somewhat surprisingly) resulted in no injuries unlike the performance the night before in Leeds, but gave a refresher to the tiring audience. Closure provided an emotional end to the main body of the set for a quick breather for everyone in the ever-warmer room under the lights before Blood Youth returned for the traditional scrum-style brawl around the mic for Failure. As ever, it proved the cathartic moment of the show as “I am nothing to no-one and I’ve been running for one day too long” was belted out by everyone around into the one mic – a magical moment that never fails to bring some to tears.
Unlike on the September tour, there remained one song after Failure – Beyond Repair‘s lead single Reason To Stay. The combination of melodic chorus and increadibly heavy verses and breakdowns sum up what Blood Youth are all about, and the addition to the setlist made the closing moments all the more powerful. A night to remember by a band you just can’t afford to sleep on. [9/10]
On their trip down to the capital to celebrate the release of their debut album Beyond Repair, we caught up with Blood Youth frontman Kaya Tarsus (and briefly the other two) to talk recording the album, touring with While She Sleeps and dislocated knees…
How are you doing? Kaya: Cool actually thanks, a little tired. Yesterday was really intense because the show got called off… We had three songs left of the set – the three bangers left – and all of a sudden we finish playing a song and there’s just this hysteria at this absolutely ram-packed show. It was nuts. Everyone was looking really worried and crazy, and it turns out that some guy had dislocated his knee which we didn’t know at the time. Everyone was just signalling that he’d broken his leg or something. Our tech came onstage and said to us “let’s just go into the dressing room and let them sort it out” so they put all the house lights on, and [the injured fan] was just getting seen to so we just decided to call it there. It didn’t make sense to say “we’ll play after this is done” – we had to let the paramedics have as much time as they wanted. There was an announcement that the show was over and everyone was really cool about it, they got it. [The injured] was actually in really good spirits about it all, and I gave him a hug getting into the ambulance and apologised. I felt so bad but he was really cool about everything too. I saw him tweet today [Monday] that he’s off to ParkwayDrive later so he’s obviously okay now [laughs].
Back in September you mentioned having parts of the album sorted but it seemed to come together quickly. How did that come about? Kaya: Straight after that tour, we thought we definitely had to finish recording the album in 2016. We had the While She Sleeps tour following Closure tour, but we got in the studio pretty much straight away when we got back. Chris (Pritchard, guitars) and Sam (Hallett, drums) went into the studio and recorded all the music then about two weeks later I recorded all the vocal stuff. I recorded it all with our sound guy Robin who is one of my best mates so it was really cool but pretty intense. Chris was going through some pretty tough times personally and the fact you can hear that emotion, all those sounds we left in there, was really intense for him. Beyond Repair speaks to all of us but for him especially it is a real marker of how he was going through some seriously bad stuff. It was really easy though, really smooth and we just got on with it, then it was released Friday.
How was it doing European dates with While She Sleeps? Kaya: Well, we’ve done some with Architects before, but I think it was our first time out there apart from that.
Sam: Yeah, it was our first trip out there. We didn’t do any “one-offs” because we did [German festival] Destruction Derby around that time.
Kaya: It was. The Sleeps tour was great though, we knew they were going to be great guys because they live really close to us. The first show was in Paris and we went direct there, and they hugged us meeting us for the first time. I used to listen to them literally all the time when I was going to school, on the bus and everything. Loz [Taylor, WSS frontman] asked me to do Crows with him which I did nearly every night, and doing that was just mad. We would just talk and sit with them, it was always that moment where I thought “I really really listened to you guys, I was such a huge fan”. Obviously I didn’t say that but… [laughs]. It was kinda weird in a way. The best show on that tour was in Madrid which was a sold-out show on my birthday. It was the loudest, rowdiest crowd we’d ever played to. We were playing places like Serbia too, and Romania, there were people there that knew the words to our songs. Playing in Serbia, people were singing Closure back to us. We were all looking at each other like “what is this…?”. It was honestly amazing to experience.
How do you think the band has grown then? Kaya: That’s a tough one. I still consider us a baby band even though we’ve been going two years. People are still finding us, plus the album, touring with people like [While She] Sleeps and everything like that. I feel like we get more pro every tour, every single show. We know how to act onstage now, how to talk to people. Every show is a learning process and that means we’re still growing every show.
What was the rationale behind the three release shows as opposed to a Beyond Repair tour? Kaya: We just wanted it to be a bit special. We only did our last UK tour in September so we decided to do three exclusive shows coming down the country. We’ve never been a band who’s toured for the sake of touring, we’ve turned down plenty of tours because our question is “would that help us at this stage?” and any doubts mean we don’t go. Everything is really carefully planned out.
What would you say is the show you’re most looking forward to in 2017? Kaya: Of the ones that are announced, probably Download. It’s quite a “big boy” stage, plus it’s nearly exactly two years on from when we did Download for the first time. We had no songs out then but now we have the three releases with Beyond Repair, so it’ll be good to see what the turnout and reaction will be like. We’re the type of band that don’t bank on anyone turning up and just assume nobody cares!
What’s your album of the year so far? Kaya: I’ve been listening to the new Mastodon one [Emperor of Sand] so maybe that. The Code Orange one is cool as well and honestly Stormzy‘s new album is good. Really, really good. Erm… Yeah, I’ll stick with those three. I can never ever choose just one when people ask me. I really like the new Emmure album as well. Oh, and Beyond Repair.
Have you had any discoveries of other bands or artists to listen to or tour with? Kaya: I’m really really into LANY at the moment. I’ve fallen in love with blink-182 recently, been listening to them a lot. I watched a documentary Tom DeLonge did speaking about how he wrote certain songs driving around California saying “I did this here and this there” and started listening to them thinking “oh these songs are so good”. Nobody really new exactly, just a lot of LANY. Kinda sunshine happy stuff.
Last question: what would be in a Blood Youth cocktail? Kaya: For me, has to be whiskey. Really like whiskey… Diet Coke too, but Chris would have to put Jager in it.
Chris: I want to get on that Black Tooth Grin vibe, the Pantera one. Crown Royal whiskey, Seagrams 7 and Coke.
Kaya: Yeah, that…
Sam: I’d probably go with some gin-based thing. Little dash of Sprite maybe.
Kaya: Basically the grossest drink you will ever have. It would get you pumped up and make you feel pretty good though.
Sam: Ready to make some waves…
Kaya: Yeah it would be called Making Waves.
As always, huge thanks to Blood Youth for taking time out to talk to us yet again. The debut album Beyond Repair is out now on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify and physical media.
The first track Anti-Anthem starts as a heavy song with a female-fronted Limp Bizkit feel at times that turns into a completely individual sound as it moves through. Frontwoman Sever combines screams and bubblegum-accented singing to form a bittersweet feel that works fantastically throughout until it is thrown away at around the two minute mark where the song turns into an electro-pop song for a while before reverting then changing to a piano ballad for a few bars and reverting again. The inconsistency leaves the song feeling somewhat empty, far from the advice of “keep on keeping on” that is repeated in Durst-style rap vocals panned far out on both sides in the mix. Not a good start.
Bizarre lyrical choices also strike the album down mid-flow like “if you think someone will save you, save yourself. If you think that time will heal you, heal yourself” which falls a bit flat for an otherwise functional chorus, but they have nothing on this: the introduction to fourth track Passengers sounds like Sumo Cyco been listening to a bit to much Absolution-era Muse (you’ll understand when you hear it, it sounds rather similar to a certain song…). It’s just far too obvious or coincidental to ignore, with an identical tone and everything. It’s not like they just use it as an introduction to anything either – the riff is everywhere through the song, including an electronically-butchered rendition in what structurally seems to be the breakdown.
The songs throughout are instrumentally and vocally sound for the mostpart – the issue is the electronic usage. Vocals with so many effects they sound like they’ve been through a Skrillex mix and out the other side just don’t work in the way the band think they should judging by the fact they’re on the album. Electronic instrumental sounds throughout as well do admittedly add a depth to the sound, but a large portion of the time they play it just ruins the otherwise heavy instruments.
Overall, Sumo Cyco haven’t developed all that much from the debut album back in 2014. Describing Opus Mar without using the words “screamo” or “scene” is difficult with raps and copious quantities of electronics, but the album isn’t bad for what it is. The third track Move Mountains ft. Benji Webbe sums it all up – it would sound better as a soundtrack for a new instalment for the Need For Speed franchise than it does as a serious music release… There are moments of brilliance but they are clouded over by the generally poor use of electronics and very, very strong “influences” that are apparent. Let’s just hope this doesn’t work out to be their magnum Opus!
2013’s Fashionably Late introduced a mass of electronic sounds to Falling In Reverse‘s style which proved to divide the fanbase which turned into more industrial sounds on 2015’s Just Like You. It is evident to see from the title track opening the album that this continues through to Coming Home.
The contrast between overly obnoxious F*** You And All Your Friends and I Hate Everyone is fantastic; the large band sound gives way to an acoustic verse that lets Radke’s voice come to the forefront of the piece once and for all – love it or hate it, this works on the track. The acoustic sound then expands into a whole band piece to become what the previous track was trying to be, and while the effect could have been achieved by just placing the one track on the album it sounds instead like a demo and a final version of the song. Come the halfway point of the sing, out comes a giant solo with a fantastic blues overdrive tone that makes the song work on a level above from the tracks surrounding it. Unsurprisingly, the lyrics leave something to be desired as will always come with a Ronnie Radke album but the irritation he causes only adds to the huge atmosphere being shaped in the album which works incredibly well.
As per usual, this album will be controversial by the fact it has come from the minds of Falling In Reverse but this should be far less polarising than 2015’s Just Like You due to the fact it is far more tastefully self-aware. The cheesiness of Coming Home is also toned down with fewer lines like “sexy girl I just fell in love” and “I am aware that I am an asshole” from Just Like You, instead replacing them with “I feel like a loser” and “everybody thinks you’re a f***ing fool” among others.
Not having Jacky Vincent on lead guitar was also a concern for a lot of people for this album with his unbeatable flair and finesse in his solos and fills, but the addition of Christian Thompson has brought a lot more restraint; where Vincent seemed to absolutely nail solos at any opportunity, Thompson adds them where necessary and leaves space where it is effective. This allows the album’s contrast to play neatly to the style of the songs and work out as a whole.
Overall then, a good album that shows a certain maturity has grown into Falling In Reverse that many believed would never have been gained. Having said this though, the album still features Ronnie Radke’s lyrics which keep the album totally class-less and it will provide a good laugh at points. Halfway between a quality album and a so-bad-it’s-good album, Coming Home is one not to miss this year.
UK hardcore/metal crossover kings Malevolence announced the details of their new album Self Supremacy which is due out on the 19th May, a couple of weeks ago. Since then there’s been a new video, a sell out on pre-orders and an insane amount of anticipation for the album to drop – we had the chance to sit down and talk with drummer Charlie about all of this.
The video for Slave to Satisfaction has been shared loads since you released it, how has it been? “Exciting and a little bit scary to finally release some music after three years or so with a new twist and see what people have to say about it. We were banking on the internet booting off and expected much more hate and negativity to be honest but everyone just seemed to love it. I saw the odd comment saying they hoped the album wasn’t all in that particular style but that’s it”.
What’s your favourite track from Self Supremacy? And what song are you most excited for people to hear? “I like Outnumbered the best personally, but that’s definitely not anyone else’s. Self Supremacy the title track is a game changer however”.
The pre-orders for Self Supremacy went live on BDHW and the most limited variant sold out within half an hour, how does that feel? “It feels great that people still fuck with us. You can never know how it’s going to go after leaving the amount of time that we did without releasing anything but after such anticipation I’d have been disappointed with anything less. We see it as ‘only 100 copies’ but it’s a start. I would have liked to keep one of those to frame for my wall though!”
It’s been three and a half years since Reign of Suffering was released, how excited are you to finally get a new album out and show people how much Malevolence have developed musically? “I don’t know, it’s been so long it’s hard to comprehend now. I spent the first 2 years absolutely gassed for it and now it’s just surreal. The annoying thing is we developed musically ages ago… wrote the whole thing ages ago and then by the time it’s actually recorded and dusted, we’ve all personally moved on and the record is old in our minds”
What can we expect from the new album? “Take all your favourite bits of the last album and multiply it by 3, with more hooks than a curtain rail”.
In Slave to Satisfaction, we see Konan (lead guitarist) has taken on a lot of the vocal duties, is this consistent throughout the album? “There’s more of Konan, but it’s another diverse album. Each song is different”.
What made you go with the guest vocalists that you’ve got on Self Supremacy? “We got Kevin from the Merciless Concept because he has one of the hardest voices we’ve ever heard, his band are absolutely sick and also surprisingly unheard of, therefore our unique guest! (Check them out ASAP) He kindly put us up when we played near his town in the USA and he is one hilarious dude.
Andrew from Comeback Kid’s voice is also outstanding but it gives a great contrast to that of Alex’s, Kon’s and Kevin’s. Those guys took us on our first ‘legit’ euro tour in 2013. They’re one of the kindest, most supportive and fun bands we’ve ever befriended so we are honoured he agreed to feature. We knew he’d come through with something sick but exceeded all expectations”.
Talking about guest vocalists, do you think that some hardcore/beatdown bands have too many on their releases? There’s been a couple of EP’s in the last six months where 4 out of 5 songs have had some featuring on it – do you think it stops the band being able to show their full potential, especially when it’s bigger names featuring?
“No, the more guest vocalists the better! Although that is pretty funny and I know what you’re talking about. If you’re serious about your band, you may not want to fully take the focus away from your actual singer, unless he’s dogshit”.
What would you say has the best guest feature on any album ever? “The old school Nasty albums have some ridiculously hard ones from 6 ft Ditch for example. That time the Oceano singer did MVP live with Despised Icon back in the day is the winner for me though”.
In the past you’ve said that Crowbar have been a massive influence for the band’s sound, who else would you say influences you? “Each member has their own personal ones. I suppose the core influences comes from Hatebreed, Lamb of God, Crowbar and Chimaira but I could just go on forever, then add in every other thing we’ve been into at some point and you have our sound.”
Talking about your sound, do you mix multiple genres into your music on purpose, or does it just happen? “We just make metal that we like then try to make it flow despite throwing in a fucked up mix of genre. So it ‘just happens’ really. John writes a riff and I come up with a beat, then we try and get to the next riff in the sickest way possible. But these days we take a step back and actually look at the structure whereas previously we used to veer off on mindless tangents. Lyrics come second in the process but not in terms of importance”.
Going onto shows and touring, how was the USA tour with Jesus Piece and Kublai Khan last year and what was the craziest thing that happened on it? Mustangs and guns seemed to play a big part.
“Absolutely sick! Very interesting and eye opening to experience things over there as it was also the first time for some members. Quite rough in a way too as the open armed hospitality that the Europeans bombard you with just doesn’t happen over there (bar Texas) – they go hard as fuck in the pit but at the end of the day you’re just some lads in a van to them. The UK is similar in that sense..
Yeah, guns and Mustangs for sure! And maybe the first show in Orlando which was a new level of violence we’d not experienced”.
Last time we spoke with you, the band said their favourite place to play was Sheffield, is this still the same or has it changed? “I suppose it is because it’s still where we draw the biggest crowd somehow, our families come out and we know everyone”.
If you could arrange a tour and have any 4 bands, active or not – who would you pick? “If I had to personally spectate then: Lamb of God, Despised Icon, Dying Fetus, Cold Hard Truth.”
Thanks to Charlie for taking the time out to talk to us, grateful as always!
Malevolence embark on a month-long tour supporting Self Supremacy starting on the 26th May in Glasgow. They’re taking along No Zodiac and Revulsion as support, full dates on the poster below.
You can pick up pre-orders for Self Supremacy on vinyl, CD and with merch packages over at BDHW Records.