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Saturday, August 1, 2020

Thee MARTIAN BOYFRIENDS! - Take Over The World

It's been exactly 10 years since the release of Thee MARTIAN BOYFRIENDS self titled debut CD. Things changed radically in this period of time. Eric St John is the only remaining original member of Thee MARTIAN BOYFRIENDS. From a quartet the band is now reduced to a 3 piece. New comers are drummer Paul HAMESSE with whom Eric also plays in the VICE BARONS and Eric's daughter IRIS who is now playing bass.

So it is fair to say that half of the VICE BARONS are present on these recordings.

The sound of the band has also evolved during this period of time. 10 years ago Thee MARTIAN BOYFRIENDS were some frantic 60's garage outfit mainly influenced by the "Back from the grave" compilations.

These days, the fuzz is still there but way more in the background of the songs. On most of the tunes, clean, drenched in reverb guitars are mostly playing in the foreground and they wrap all these newly recorded tracks up in some melancholycal mood. You might even hear some acoustic guitar on "Dance around the fire". This new guitar sounds is really a direction in which Thee Martian Boyfriends want to experiment in the future.

The group is really proud of these new recordings that manage to capture the primitive and melancholical side of their sound. All the tracks on this new album are originals written and composed by Eric St JOHN. No covers on this one.

The cover art of the album, as for the previous one, reflects the band's love for 50's Sci-Fi movies. But this time around you will notice that all ambiguity is gone: creatures from the Red Planet (that is Mars, for you Morons) are REALLY gonna take over the world!


The vinyl version will be release on RAVING POP BLAST on September 7th

To purchase a vinyl copy go to:  

Monday, July 27, 2020

The Isolators

Matt Aquiline from Buffalo, New York is the mastermind behind The Isolators a project born out of quarantine which allows him to promulgate his songwriting, home recording, and delusions.

1) For the viewers of this blog who would not know you, What would you tell about you and your musical background to introduce yourself? Can you tell us why you preferred to use the moniker "The Isolators" rather than use your own name? 

I can encapsulate most of my being by saying I’m your quintessential crotchety record store clerk. As far as my musical background, I’ve been a guitarist for most of my life, later delving into songwriting with some home recordings around the age of 18, but none took off like the Isolators. The project name was clearly rooted in the pandemic’s call for social distancing, but I also felt it had a nice ‘80's garage-punk ring to it. I decided to use the plural in anticipation of forming a band post-quarantine. But, I will not lie: it’s always a slight ego-boost when someone thinks the recordings are by an actual band.

2) About this self titled debut full length album,  what can you tell about the recording process? Was this a track by track recording with lots of overdubs? Do you play all the instruments yourself, including the drums?

The record itself was a very spur-of-the-moment thing. I had first intended to release just a few singles to pass some time in quarantine, beginning with “What’s It To You,” but inspiration struck and I soon had enough songs to fill up an album. As far as the recording process goes, I began by establishing a basis for each song with rhythm guitar and bass tracks. Then I’d decide on an, admittedly, semi-adequate drum track after countless takes, and lastly overdub solos/leads and vocals.

3) Do you use the nowadays digital recording technology or do you only work with analog machines in analog studios?

I used a few SM57s, a cheap audio interface, and Garageband in my basement for the entirety of the album. While certainly far from ideal, I’m still content with the final product. I’m convinced the power of tube amps can breathe life into even the most digital of recordings. However, analog recording is certainly something I’m dying to try and will undoubtedly be attempted in the future.

4) How would you describe the music you're playing? Do you call it "60's garage" or do you consider there is much more to it?

I would say that ‘60's garage definitely reigns as the underlying spirit behind the songs. While, at times, the album deviates from bare-boned rock’n’roll, most evidently in the countrified “Can’t Help But Dream” and the Byrdsy jangle of “Still Standing Here,” I still attempted to inject some stylistic hallmarks of ‘60's garage rock, whether that be a tremolo lead, or an inappropriately overdriven rhythm guitar.

5) What is your favorite topic/topic that comes easily when you write a new song?

Most of the songwriting on the album derives from my time in the school of Nuggets and Pebbles. By that, I mean your typical songs of love, lust, and lack thereof. However, the mental toll of quarantine certainly contributed to the delirium and self-loathing of some tracks.

6)  Do you have a video on youtube featuring a track from the CD?? 

No videos as of now.

7) Are there any bands in The USA today you consider yourself close to musically speaking?

It sounds a bit pretentious, but I truly don’t listen to many “new” bands. I seem to be perpetually stuck in a trend of backwards discovery. However, when I do listen to more recent bands, they tend to be fellow ‘60's garage revivalists such as the Reigning Sound, the Greenhornes, or the Mystery Lights.

8) To what kind of music did you listen to as teenagers? What were your favorite bands as a teenager? Name 3 bands that you consider still have an influence on your own work today.

As a rabid record collector from an early age, my musical horizons stretched quite wide as a teenager. The Shangri-Las, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and the Monkees were, and still are, as important to me as the MC5, 13th Floor Elevators, or the Stooges. The Isolators quickly became a vehicle to explore adaptations of rockabilly, country, blues, pop, and soul with an overarching garage attitude. Moreover, I was galvanized by Buffalo/WNY’s fabled garage rock/punk heritage, including the Good, the Jumpers, the Splatcats, the Ramrods, Girlpope, the Chesterfield Kings, the Rogues, and many, many others. As far as bands holding the most overt influence on the Isolators’ sound, I’d definitely single out the Flamin’ Groovies, the Real Kids, and the Seeds.

09) What are the plans for the rest of 2020 as far as you're concerned?

Definitely writing more material and recording. Perhaps enough to fill out a single or EP by the end of the year.

10) Do you intend to put a "live" band together to play these songs in front of an audience? Are you gonna play any famous cover songs during the gig? 

Yes! A band is currently in the works, including Mark Norris, with whom I co-wrote “Come On to Me.” Covers will definitely be an integral part of the set list, ranging from obscure Buffalo sides to garage-punk versions of ‘60's hits. The covers list has already grown out of control.

11) Anything you wanna add?

Thanks for this opportunity and the interest in the album!

Get it here :

Sunday, July 26, 2020

The Jacob James

In their own words, The Jacob James have their hands on the wheel, their eyes set on the night, and a car stereo blasting loud guitars and killer melodic rock and roll. They are a duo from the state of Maine. Jake Greenlaw on bass/drums/vox & Bill Trevaskis on guitars. With full force drums, high energy vocals and tight power pop and 70's rock inspired riffs, they write catchy songs with a hint of familiarity.

1)  For the viewers of this blog who would not know you, What would you tell about The Jacob James and your respective musical backgrounds to introduce yourselves? How long are you guys together as "a band"?  Who is playing what instrument? Why did you choose the name "The Jacob James", because one of you is indeed named Jacob ....but none is named James.

The Jacob James is a duo from the state of Maine and we released our first album on June 16, 2020. Jacob Greenlaw (myself) on bass, drums and vocals and Bill Trevaskis on rhythm and lead guitars. We started recording together in Bill's studio in July 2019 after I recorded the drum tracks in Portland, ME in June 2019. My full name is Jacob James Greenlaw so that is where The Jacob James comes from. It started out as a solo idea and now has turned into a project with Bill. For right now with this album it feels right to call it, The Jacob James, since the project reflects the past five years of my life.

I started the original project in 2013 as a home recording and as a way to get into songwriting and to explore my love of power pop and rock and roll. I had been playing drums, singing and touring in a cool Americana Folk band called Toughcats for many years and this was a way to try something very different and get loud.

I recorded a lo fi demo album using Garageband called "The Jacob James” in 2013 or 2014 and just gave it out to friends (someday I might put out for fun). Bill played lead guitar on a couple of the tracks and even back then it planted a seed that this is what I wanted it be. The songs with Bill really stood out and we clicked in the studio. It took a long time to finally connect and do something together again!

I grew up and am currently living on an island off the coast of Maine called North Haven. When I was very young, my father for a short period of time was a lobster fisherman and he had a boat that he named "The Jacob James". I always had that in the back of my mind. It seemed more fun than just using my name for a solo album and it still lined up with the music of the 60’s and 70’s that inspired me. The name is also kind of a joke and I’m playing on the "I am the one and only! And of course THE VERY IMPORTANT” type thing.

For a long time I have had this drive to make a love letter to rock and roll. It is something that means so much to me and has helped me during difficult times in my life. It has always been there since I was a little kid watching over me and taking care of me. That is a big part of the spirit behind The Jacob James.

2) About the newly released debut album, what can you tell about the recording process? Was this a "live" in the studio recording or a track by track recording with lots of overdubs?

A majority of this record was made from in-studio arranging and writing. There is a little piecemeal component, but we wanted it to sound as "live in the studio" as possible. I recorded drum tracks before anything else with our friend Ron at Acadia Recording Company in Portland, Maine. Those tracks were then brought to Bill's (guitar/producer/engineer) studio on the island of North Haven, Maine. We envisioned the project "live" as a two or three guitar, bass, drums, vocals band so that it would translate in person as well.

3) Do you use the nowadays digital recording technology or do you only work with analog machines in analog studios?

We did everything straight to digital. Even though we're using old tube/analog gear, we love the workflow of a DAW and have really taken to being able to see and hear the waveforms we've made.

4) Is there a main composer in the band or are the both of you involved in one way or another?

I am the main composer. Bill wrote the great lead guitar parts. I wrote the songs and lyrics and arranged them while recording the drum parts. By the time I got in Bill’s studio with the finished drum tracks, I knew how I wanted the bass and vocals parts to go.

5) What is your favorite topic/topic that comes easily when you write a new song?

I hope I am getting to a place where it’s easier to write a song about happy times and other topics beyond myself. I think I got there a little bit with this album with "Time Moves On”, "Live It Up” and “Never Gonna Stop Me Now" are songs that reflect more of my mindset today.
Usually I write a lot about difficult personal subjects like growth and change, questioning growth, past mistakes, present mistakes, pointing the finger at myself rather then blaming other people, self sabotage, inner peace, fear of responsibility and change, acceptance….Hopefully people will pick up on some of the dark humor going on. I am trying not to take myself too seriously. I am more comfortable with myself than I used to be so I am not afraid to be more honest with my lyrics and questions.

6) How would you described the type of music you're playing. If I were to call it "power-pop", would you agree with this description? Are you proud of it or do you consider there is way more than that?

Power-Pop is a big part of it or one of the main influences for us and myself as a songwriter. I have been obsessed with power pop ever since first discovering The Nerves in 2008 or 2009. I heard “When You Find Out” and “Give Me Some Time” (still my all time favorite song) and it was a BIG MOMENT and around the same time as hearing Big Star for the first time.

Everything I was looking for was in this music after being a full on pop and Beatles fan my whole life and I loved the mystery of it; all of the incredible songs that have existed in the collections of deep dive record collectors and music fans for so long. It lead me to find important discoveries like Flamin' Groovies, Dwight Twilley Band, Shoes, Promise, The Shivvers and the GREAT Numero Group label compilations, “Yellow Pills”, “Titan: It’s All Pop” and many others. It all opened up something in me and I just spent many years soaking it all up. Songs like “The Feeling”, “Come Tonight”, “Live It Up”, “Back To My Heart” from our album all come from that experience of falling in love with power-pop and that beautiful sound! Outside of power pop, I also rediscovered bands like X, Mission of Burma, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath. That probably goes into it a little bit. I am also a big fan of ABBA, Robyn, Pointer Sisters and 80's dance hits. New and old, different genres, it all gets in there somehow.

 So yeah, Power pop is most certainly an influence for us, as well as 70s glam, punk, etc. We really enjoy constructing songs in that style. There's an art in crafting 2 or 2 1/2 minute songs that take you on a real adventure! We like to look at power pop/glam/punk as music that borrows and combines elements of ear candy melodies from groups like The Ronettes with intensity and sometimes bubble gum flare of The Ramones. We like to think of our songwriting process as building a model ship in a bottle with tweezers...if that makes any sense.

7) Do you have a new video on youtube  featuring a track from the new mini LP??

We have some short promo videos on YouTube and Instagram. More full music videos will be coming in the future and I am very excited about some of the ideas we have. The pandemic has made it very difficult to make the videos!

8) What can concert goers expect at a The Jacob James gig? Is it only the 2 of you on stage or do you have a steady backing band? Are you playing any famous cover songs?

We have a great group of musicians who play with us live! Generally it's 3 guitars, bass/vox, drums. One of them is even a 16 year old student of Bill's and an excellent musician!
We have covered "C'mon" by Nikki and the Corvettes and "Hold onto yourself" by Bowie.

9) Are there any bands in the USA today you consider yourself close to musically speaking?

Lots of bands but these three come to mind, I am not sure if we are close musically but I think we would all be into the same music! Ex Hex, Sheer Mag, Bat Fangs, Spoon, Giuda, Ty Segal, Deerhoof.

10) To what kind of music did you listen to as teenagers? What were your favorite bands as teenagers? Name 3 bands that you consider still have an influence on your own work today.

We have been influenced by such a wide variety of music as teenagers. For Bill, those have continuously been Queen, Prince, and Television. For Jake, The Beatles (classic answer but I am also #1 Paul solo fan), Fleetwood Mac (Christie Mcvie is my fave vocalist of all time), Stevie Wonder, Big Star, Tom Petty, The Feelies (sorry that's six!) 

11) What are the plans for 2020 as far as The Jacob James are concerned?

Well, COVID has hit us all pretty hard, but we're still trying to get our music out into the world and strategize potential drive-in concerts, which have been popping up here and there in the states. We have a few new singles we might release in the very near future that we are also excited about as well.

12) Anything you wanna add?

Thank you for your interest in our sounds! We really appreciated and loved answering your great questions. Hopefully we can visit Europe someday for a tour!

This is highly recommended for any Power Pop fan. Purchase the Goodies here:

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Nikki Hill - Feline Roots released on Hound Gawd! Records

Feline Roots is the third full length album released by North Carolina born singer NIKKI HILL. All of her records were previously released in the USA on her very own label, Deep Fryed Records and therefore quite hard to find in Europe and at very expensive prices. 

Luckily for us, Berlin based Hound Gawd! Records had the brilliant idea to release this latest offering so it's finally easily available on this side of the Atlantic. This blog took this opportunity to talk to Nikki about her career and this highly recommended latest album. 
Here it goes:

1) For the viewers of this blog who would not know you, What would you tell about you and your musical background to introduce yourself? Can you also introduce the other musicians who participated in the recordings? what instrument are they playing? Are they part of your usual touring band or are they guns for hire?

I grew up in Durham, North Carolina raised by my mom and sisters. I grew up loving to read and wrote
poems, I really admired an aunt that is a poet. I sang in the gospel choir from a very young age. That was my first lesson in seeing the power of music on people and I never forgot about how the people moved and shouted and the tempo of the piano would get faster and wilder until the room lifted! I stopped going to church and singing as a teen and started exploring my own interests, and music grabbed my attention the most.

I started going to a lot of live shows and saw so many styles of music, and eventually worked at a local music venue. One thing I couldn't stop noticing was how familiar the high energy shows felt like what was used to seeing at a young age in church. I started researching the songs I knew from my childhood and through looking into vintage Black gospel which lead me to guitar players like Pop Staples and then into the blues, and it connected back to artists like Little Richard and Sister Rosetta Tharpe and the wildest rock n roll I had ever heard! I was hooked on the energy of this music from the 50's and 60's and felt so inspired as I discovered the stories and songs of artists that had their own style and sound in a time where that was not always quickly admired or recognized, especially for Black artists. It reminded me of more modern artists I admired for similar things, like Bad Brains, or Poly Styrene, or Betty Davis.

When I started writing and putting shows together, I used that inspiration to find my way and try to make a sound of it, taking the tones of the R&B, gospel, and soul that raised me at home, and blending it with the expressions of blues, garage, rock n' roll, and roots that I discovered over the years. I like to do what I want and not follow the rules of what is expected.

I have been lucky to have the band from my latest record touring with me. That band is Matt Hill and Laura Chavez - both on rhythm and lead guitar, Nick Gaitan - bass, and Marty Dodson - drums.

2) About this latest full length album "Feline Roots" newly released on Hound gawd!, what can you tell about the recording process? Was this a "live" in the studio recording or a track by track recording with lots of overdubs? 

The pre-production was very very short, and we only had a couple of days between the band touring with me and doing their other gigs to rehearse the songs. I wrote two of the songs in the studio, but they were very motivated by the live feel we had, so it didn't cause any problems. I really love to do that, but I imagine that would be a big annoyance if I wasn't the one producing the record!
The band tracked the songs together live. We did everything in the same studio, I think we were there for 4 days with everyone together and finished all the tracks. It all went by very quickly, but it didn't feel rushed in the studio. When all the tracking was done, Matt and I returned to the studio and added some acoustic guitar overdubs to fatten up the sound on a few tracks, and some of the solos are overdubs.

3) Do you use the nowadays digital recording technology or do you only work with analog machines in analog studios?

I have used both. I dig the sound of analog, especially if you're working with someone that can appreciate the lo-fi vibe, but still create something that can sonically grab you.

4) How would you describe the music you're playing? 

It's a merge of styles - soul, r&b, rock, gospel, blues, garage - but usually if I explain in one phrase, I describe it as rock n' roll.

5) What is your favorite topic/topic that comes easily when you write a new song?

If I'm not talking about my own life or living, I'm talking about someone else's life or living.

6)  Do you have a new video on youtube featuring a track from the new LP?? 

Here is a video of Get Down, Crawl Live at Cafe Nine!

7) What can concert goers expect at a Nikki Hill gig? Are you playin' any famous cover songs during the gig? 

I'm lucky to have a touring band of choice that also played on my last album, so it adds a special energy to the show as we keep playing together. I have been able to take them on all of my tours since even before the album release, so playing together through so many different shows and experiences, it feels comfortable but we're also in a great push and pull and never let off once we're onstage. We're pushing out that kind of energy, and encouraging everyone to lose themselves in it too!
I started off like many artists surviving and finding their sounds by playing different covers in their beginning shows, then switching to mostly original music. I like to highlight more unknown songs a lot of the time, or songs that I might spot that the audience might like. I've covered different things from 60's R&B and soul, reggae, swamp pop, blues, rock n roll. It's fun making it fit into the show. I have some Bon Scott era AC/DC songs we have done over the years that people go crazy for! I never expected that, but it's so much fun. It's like as a kid going to the playground and screaming and going nuts and it's an appropriate place for it. I love that the stage can be a place for a message, and also be a place for kicking and screaming!

8) Are there any bands/artists in USA today you consider yourself close to musically speaking?

I don't know about that! I feel like that's something that the listeners might do. I will tell you some current USA artists that I'm listening to though! If I pull from a stack of records/CDs of current artists I'm listening to, it includes Lee Fields, The Bellrays, Liz Brasher, Cedric Burnside, Charley Crockett, Daddy Long Legs, Yola, The Suffers, The Black Tones, Don Bryant, Gary Clark Jr., Margo Price, Susu, Seratones, Kelly Finnigan, Delvon Lamar Organ Trio, Sunny War, Los Lobos, and Shannon and the Clams. I would absolutely do a show or make music with every single one of them too!

9) To what kind of music did you listen to as a teenager? What were your favorite bands as a teenager? Name 3 bands/artists that you consider still have an influence on your own work today.

My teenage years, I went crazy with music. I listened to a big variety over the years and just absorbed it all - from rock, to house, to soul, to punk, to blues, to reggae and rock steady. If part of that has an influence on me today, is the idea to keep that kind of perspective - not pushing anything away because there's a chance I might find something I like. And if I don't, it's no big deal, I will keep listening and find it somewhere else. The artists I listened to all through my teens and now is The Fugees, Bad Brains, and The Cramps. Very different in ways, but they all still overlap for me. That part influences me, as well as each band's music.

10) What are the plans for the rest of 2020 as far as Nikki Hill are concerned? Are you gonna tour Europe to promote the album?

Right now, America is in an unfortunate crisis that as long as it continues, the possibility of touring pushes back further. At the moment, touring Europe isn't possible with the current traveling rules, BUT I will be looking forward to the next time we can return! While I wait to hear when we can make plans again, I'll keep writing and making melodies.

11) Anything you wanna add?



Special thanks to Oliver!

Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Speedways - Radio Sounds

Once a moniker for a solo artist, The Speedways have now turned into a 4 piece rock'n'roll band. The quartet has very recently released its brilliant sophomore full length, the aptly titled "Radio Sounds". Matt Julian, good friend of this blog and all around nice guy, tells us all the changes that happened since the release of the debut LP "Just Another Regular Summer".

Read the very interesting answers Matt so kindly provided to our questions and what sets the Speedways apart from any other power pop combo: melancholy. Just one listen to the amazing "This Is About A Girl Who Loves The Sun" and you'll know what we are talking about.

1) For the viewers of this blog who would not know you, What would you tell about the 2020 version of The Speedways to introduce yourself? At the time of the first album, "Just Another Regular Summer", it was mostly Matt Julian alone behind the moniker "The Speedways", it seems that there is a actual band right now. Can you introduce your partners in crime and tell what instrument they play. How did the four of you come together?

The Speedways was a solo thing in the beginning as you say, but for the last 2 years it's been a fully active band. Mauro Venegas is on lead guitar, Adrian Alfonso on bass guitar and Kris Hood on drums. All good friends that I'd made on the London music scene over the years. Collectively they've played in multiple bands, ran Club nights, produced fanzines, designed band artwork and they all DJ too.. A multi-talented bunch! We all compliment each other well I reckon. It came together pretty easily but I got lucky as hell too no doubt about that! We like the same music, we like the same bands, we like the same clothes.

To introduce ourselves, I'd say we're a guitar based hit-machine. We fit into the Power-Pop category for sure, but I think we have a melancholy side which gives us our own little style. Catchy tunes, up-tempo stuff + a few tearjerkers along the way for good measure.

2) And now about the big disappointment of this new record: gone is Diana Dors, replaced by a vulgar radio! ha ha. Why but why? The only thing left is a tiny tiny picture of Marilyn...hardly a consolation prize. We gonna need a serious explanation about that!

haha, well I wanted to change the aesthetic a bit for the second album. We didn't wanna just repeat what we had done before with the 'iconic blonde on the telephone' thing. Josh Clark did the artwork once again, but this time I only sent him a couple of rough ideas and said "make it as bright and as colorful as possible!" We definitely went for an early 80's kinda vibe. For the lyric inlay I had the idea that it could look like one of those old 'Look-In' magazines from the 70's/80's. Josh also used the Weird Tales Of The Ramones comic book as an influence too. I love how it turned out. It's a nice touch I think. Perhaps Diana Dors or Brigitte Bardot will return for the next single cover?!

3) About the new full length record "Radio Sounds",  what can you tell about the recording process? Was it different now that you are an actual four piece?

Yeah it was different in some ways. When you play all the instruments and sing harmony vocals over your own lead vocal (as I did on 'Regular Summer') it sounds cool and everything but it's definitely more rewarding as a writer when other people get hold of your songs  add their own style and flavor, as well as contribute to ideas and arrangements etc.. I think that definitely comes across on 'Radio Sounds'

The recording was done in stages. We had to record the drums separately at a different location, so Ben from the band Los Pepes brought along some mobile recording gear and me and Kris recorded drums together with him at a rehearsal studio. I played a guide guitar through his headphone mix and we both kinda cued each other when the chorus kicked in or whatever. Kris did an amazing job. We got all the songs down in just 2 sessions.

The guitars, keyboards and vocals were recorded with Jez Leather who's a former band mate of Mauro's.We recorded our cover of 'They Don't Know' with him which turned out really well so we were keen to have him involved on the album too. He was the perfect choice because he got involved a lot in the sounds & came up with some great ideas. The guitars were done very basic -  either a Telecaster, a Les Paul or a Strat straight into a Fender Twin Reverb, or occasionally a Marshall combo. The vocals were recorded in the bathroom Joe Meek style. We were all really on the ball with everything - lots of first takes & cool little last minute ideas.

A big link between the 2 albums are the sound clips and effects. I compiled a mix of radio ads and snippets of tunes (Telstar and I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now) and I asked Tommy Unit from Real Punk Radio in the States if he'd record an Alan Freed style intro for me! ..where he says "stay tuned to Radio Sounds..don't touch that dial!" Jez edited it all down and it's a great way to start the record.
I wanted a female voice clip on 'Girl Who Loves The Sun' & for some reason a radio interview with Marilyn popped into my head where she says "if anything I'm generally miserable" - the clip fit exactly in the gap where I wanted it.. It wasn't trimmed at all, it just fit like a glove. The plane leaving at the end of the final song kinda speaks for itself. We wanted it to feel like a real album with a good flow and narrative and I think we did that.

4) Four labels to release this new album. It seems that the Speedways are the hottest thing of the moment and everybody wanted a piece of the action. How was this venture of 4 labels put together? And was one label not enough?

Well, while it's true that we're pretty hot right now! it's actually only 3 labels really because Snap!! and Hurrah Musica work as a team together. It made for a lot of e.mails flying back and forth. Communication was tough at times, especially during these insane pandemic days, but it worked out really well in the end. Snap/Hurrah have been releasing our records for a little while now and they're great to work with, Beluga had been in touch about doing something with us too and also Daniel from Alien Snatch contacted me to say how much him and his little lad loved 'Just Another Regular Summer' and did I wanna release the next album on his label! - that was really cool. So, we went for a multi-label release - which does seem to be a trend these days to be fair.

5) What happened to the famous motto "1 album - 1 gig - The End"? Replaced by "2 albums, a new band and a lot of gigs"? (just kidding..)

A few people have reminded me of that over the last couple of years! I meant it when I said it! I only took it down from the bandcamp page a few weeks ago actually.....

6) What are your favorite topics to write about or the topics that come "easily" when you write a new song?

I tend to write about regret, love and disappointment ..but in an uplifting way! Lyrically 'Just Another Regular Summer' was a concept based on a real time in my life. It was a scrapbook of songs dedicated to the same girl. 'Radio Sounds' is a continuation of that but also drawing a line under it sadly. All my lyrics are honest. They're based on real memories and real conversations. I wouldn't be able to get on stage and sing words that didn't mean something to me.

Love songs are universal, timeless & span genres so even though my songs are specific to my own life I know they translate to other people too.

7) If there is one word that comes to mind to describe this new record, it's the word "radio-phonic", like the aim is really to be played on the radios all around the world. Do you agree with this? Are you proud of it or do you consider there is way more than that?  

Yeah of course, I mean 'This Ain't A Radio Sound' isn't really about getting your songs played on the radio, it's just a metaphor for feeling like a failure. The song's about still being in a band despite never "making it". The "celebrating birthdays" line is about routine and doing the same thing year after year. We all keep playing on because we love it and what else are you gonna do? So calling the album 'Radio Sounds' is a double bluff because maybe we all still are chasing hit records on the quiet.

What was the question again? Oh yeah, so ironically we do get a lot of radio play - the legendary Rodney Bingenheimer has played 9 or 10 different Speedways songs on his shows over the last couple of years, Radio3 in Spain regularly spin the Speedways as does the great Todd O Phonic over in New Jersey + loads of other stations around the world. I'm really proud that so many DJ's and stations have supported the band.

8) Do you have a new video on youtube  featuring a track from the newly released LP?? 

We have a few DIY ones that I cobbled together during lockdown, but here's a proper one for 'Kisses Are History' 

9) Are there any gigs of the Speedways planned for the rest of 2020?

Technically yeah, but with things as they are (the global pandemic and the general collapse of humanity etc..) it's tough to know what will definitely happen. We've only had to cancel 4 shows because of Lockdown, which is relatively few in comparison to some bands, but they were all really good ones and it's hard to take.We had a Festival date in Portugal that had to be pulled + our own album release show, a gig at the 100 Club with Baby Shakes and the Some Weird Sin Power Pop Weekender pt3. This was meant to be our year as the Zombies might have said...but, onwards and upwards, we have a slot at the Fuengirola Pop Festival on October 3rd + a few things penciled in for November/December. We're cautiously optimistic!

10) Anything you wanna add?

I've always been true to you.


Friday, July 17, 2020

Cocktails - Catastrophic Entertainment

Cocktails third full length record, "Catastrophic Entertainment" was very recently released on wizardsandpotions records in the USA and on Alien Snatch! Records, for the UK and Europe. As for every Cocktails album, this one is filled with catchy tunes and their tribute to Bun E. Carlos is certainly  not the least of it ! Without any possibility to play the new songs in front of an audience, the best thing to do was to have a very interesting chat with singer and guitar player Patrick Clos. Here it goes.

1) For the viewers of this blog who would not know you, What would you tell about The Cocktails to introduce yourselves? How long are you guys together as a band? Who is playing what instrument in the band nowadays? How are you doing in these strange times?

So real quick, it's just "Cocktails" – without the "The". Apologies for nitpicking, "The Cocktails" always sounds like a lame wedding band or something lol. In terms of an introduction/describing our sound, I always describe us as a scrappy power pop band. I guess we're not very polished, maybe that's part of the charm? It also depends though on who I'm talking to: For my dad, I’ll just say "we sound kinda like Cheap Trick." If it’s the record store guy, I'll say some shit like "think 20/20 meets fuzzy Apples in Stereo with a little Lemonheads.” Haha, I’m clearly bad at describing us. The short answer might be "Catchy rock."

We've been a band since 2012. So a really long time in band-years. Our first EP came out in 2013 on Father/Daughter Records.

In terms of who plays what: I play guitar and sing, Joel Cusumano plays the better guitar parts, Lauren Matsui plays synth and sings, Rob Goodson on bass, and Phil Lantz on drums.

Pretty much all of this crew have been involved in this record has in some way been with us since our first record. But over the past year, our line-up is kind of rotating. The band is almost like a collective of sorts given everyone’s hectic schedules and life stuff. It's really whichever honorable homies are available that can step up and help us bring our tunes to life!

In terms of how we’re doing - damn, strange times indeed! It’s been a rough several months here in the US to be honest. I almost don’t even want to get into it right now for fear of ranting. But yeah, it’s been real fucked up. That said, we’re healthy at the moment, which I'm thankful for.

 2) About the newly released full length record "Catastrophic Entertainment", what can you tell about the recording process? Was this a "live" in the studio recording or a track by track recording with lots of overdubs? 

It took a really long time! Not like recording, that was actually fast and just a handful of weekends – but the process was spread out I think a little over a year. We all have (or had pre-COVID) jobs and most everyone was busy playing in different bands and the time. We recorded I think 7 tracks in a studio in Oakland, and then we recorded a few more on our own. Phil Lantz does engineering/mixing for a living, so we felt comfortable just finishing it ourselves.

We’d typically get a solid "live" take of just drums / guitar / bass, and then we just build the tracks out from there. We strayed from that process a few times on this record, but generally we'd over-dub all the vocals, lead guitars, and synth.

3) Do you use the nowadays digital recording technology or do you guys only work with analog machines in analog studios?

We use a combination. We get the core tracks down on tape, and I think some of the overdubs too. And then we do the vocals and synth and remaining stuff after we’d bounced the core tracks over to Pro-Tools.

4) Is there a main composer in the band or is everybody involved in one way or another?

I do most of the songwriting – but Joel Cusumano also writes songs for the band and has a couple songs on this new record. And then yeah, everyone gets involved once we have the basic idea down. Sometimes people will bring different arrangement ideas or helpful tweaks and we just kind of work it out live before we tape it.

5) What is your favorite topic/topic that comes easily when you write a new song?

I’m not sure I have a favorite – I'm usually at a loss for lyrical content lol. But some interesting topics came up on this new record. "Washoe County" is about a trucker that's addicted to gamblin’ and boozin. "Buried Alive" was a take on cancel culture / internet pile-on / bullying, etc.. "Never Be Alone" was written not long after I got married, and as much as I love to write bummer/cynical/sad-dude lyrics, I really wanted the total opposite of that for at least for this song. I love Joel's song, "Nobody's Going to the Movies" – taking such a simple idea as a love for going out to the theaters and watching action movies and turning that into a song and there's a relationship tie-in, there's something kinda sweet about that. And it was almost prophetic – given that right now we can't go see a movie – I guess we took all of that stuff for granted. But yeah, the topics/themes are all over the place.

6) To what kind of music did you listen to as teenagers and does it still influence your today work? What were your favorite bands as a teenager? Name 3 bands that you consider still have a influence on your own work today.

Speaking for myself, I grew up basically in the middle of the US in a pretty quiet and conservative town. Discovering stuff was difficult! At first mainstream "alternative" radio was huge for me, so of course bands like Nirvana, Weezer, and Green Day – that stuff prompted me to ask for a guitar one year for Christmas.

Later I'd save up cash and drive sometimes hours with friends to go to a cool record store in St. Louis or Kansas City. I got a MAGNET magazine subscription which is how I got turned on to more indie stuff. Luckily I found the other kids at my school that were into stuff like Elvis Costello and the Beach Boys, and we'd make each other tapes and mix CD's. It was hard to find people at my high school that were into stuff beyond like Pearl Jam and Dave Matthews at the time. But I got really into records from bands like Fountains of Wayne, Letters to Cleo, Nada Surf, and Superdrag, along with a ton of 90's Brit-pop stuff.

Weezer was hands-down my favorite as a teenager with those first two records – goddamn! All of those bands still influence Cocktails stuff for better or worse. And then later I went down a deep emo hole and was eventually saved by college radio – discovering all sorts of stuff including 70's punk and more lesser-known rock bands.

7) Do you have a new video on youtube featuring a track from the LP?

No, and it's a total bummer too because I HAD a video shoot completely scheduled and planned for "Bun E. Carlos." I had found an awesome videographer and everything. And then our shoot landed on I think the first day of the year that it rained here in San Francisco and I had to reschedule everything. The following week the government shut down the city due to COVID-19 and I decided to scrap the project. Hopefully we'll get a rad video done for the next release! I did however create a cool little found-footage video for a b-side / rarity called "friend weekend," which was made in early quarantine. The video itself is really corny, but I thought that was funny and I was going for like some 90's MTV buzz-bin feel-good shit.

8) What can concert goers expect at a gig of  Cocktails? Are you playing any famous cover songs?

Ah man, live music seems so out of reach right now due to COVID-19 - especially here in California, but I really do miss it! Concert goers at a Cocktails gig best expect to get ROCKED! Ain't no two ways about it lol. I'm joking – we're not that confident, but you know, we're a noisy guitar band, so we bring a little heat. We really just bash out our songs. It's pretty raw. Maybe some missed notes here and there. Definitely some rippin' solos... It's kind of like a Guided By Voices or Superchunk show except no one is shouting our songs back at us. I need to fix that part lol.

In terms of covers, we've done songs by The Undertones, The Lemonheads, The Primitives, The Only Ones. If/when we tour again, we'll try and bring some fresh covers. I was working out a version of "So Sad About Us" by the Who, but more similar to The Breeders version – maybe we'll bring that one. We also did a recent Fountains of Wayne cover on this great comp/tribute to Adam Schlesinger, so we may bust that out too. We'll bring a few surprises. 

9) Are there any bands in California today you consider yourself close to, musically speaking?

I've been really out of touch with current California bands. Our pal Ray (R.E. Seraphin) just put out a great record. It's really fun guitar pop stuff. While not in California, there's a few new bands I recently discovered: There's a band called 2nd Grade out of Philly, and I really loved that record. There's also The Whiffs – from Kansas City, if you like 70's power pop stuff, they have it completely dialed – it sounds like the Nerves or something. I love their stuff. 

10) You describe your music as being "pop music for nice people". Can you explain?

Oh right, that's from our Twitter account or Bandcamp page. I can't quite recall, but It's basically meaningless lol. I just thought it sounded cool. Kinda like that one Nick Lowe record title "Pure Pop for Now People," which was the alternate name for "Jesus of Cool" - such a sick record!

11) What are the plans for 2020 as far as The Cocktails are concerned?

Well, our plans have basically been crushed this year. 2020 has been a disaster. But while we're not really able to tour or play shows in support of our record, I have been writing some new Cocktails material, so it's great to get that process started, and it's been therapeutic. So hopefully one day we'll be back!

12) Anything you wanna add?

Since we're not able to play shows, I must do the obligatory "we have merch!" shoutout lol.

If you're in Europe/UK, get our new record from Alien Snatch! Records,

or you can buy the record directly from us at Peeace! ✌

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

The On and Ons - Menacing Smile

The On and Ons is a brilliant Rock/Power Pop trio based in Sydney, Australia composed of veterans of the Australian rock'n'roll scene. The band has released in 2015 ‘It’s…The On and Ons Calling’ and ‘Welcome Aboard’ in 2017, both very highly recommandable. 

This new 6-tracks mini-album, "Menacing Smile", is the band’s third release on Citadel Records and it's a killer collection of fabulous hooks and harmony filled songs. So it was time for this blog to have a nice conversation with bass player Clyde Bramley

1) For the viewers of this blog who would not know you, What would you tell about The On and Ons and your respective musical background to introduce yourselves? How long are you guys together as a band?  Who is playing what instrument?

The On and Ons started life in 2015 when guitarist/singer/songwriter Glenn Morris (formerly of The Screaming Tribesmen, Kings of the Sun) and his drummer brother Brian Morris (Deltoids, Zeros-Aust.) were encouraged by Paul Collins (The Nerves, The Beat) who they had toured with throughout the USA and Australia as Paul Collins Beat in 2012/13, to record their own album of Glenn’s songs. The album was duly recorded and the band filled out with Clyde Bramley - bass (ex-Hoodoo Gurus), Richard Lane - guitar/organ (ex- The Stems), and Jon Roberts - guitar (ex- The Barbarellas).

Richard left the band in 2016 when commuting 3000 miles from Perth to the East Coast of Australia for gigs became too much, and Jon Roberts left in 2018 due to work-related issues. The band considered getting a replacement but decided that playing as a three-piece was their natural configuration, allowing the songs to breathe more naturally, and they have loved being a trio ever since!

2) About the newly released mini LP "Menacing Smile",  what can you tell about the recording process? Was this a "live" in the studio recording or a track by track recording with lots of overdubs?

The tracks for this CD are “layered”, as in, we did the drums first in my home studio (using the ‘Glyn Johns method’), and then overdubbed guitars, bass, vocals etc, etc. but we tried to use whole passes of any particular guitar part, rather than comping together different performances, to give a “close to live” feel. Unless you are gigging regularly, or touring and have ‘match fitness’ to enable everybody to play together at once in a big studio, this seems to be the best method. The cost of going in to a large studio is a little prohibitive as well. The tracks are recorded and then sent to Dennis Wilson (legendary Australian guitar virtuoso of Kahvas Jute fame) to be mixed and mastered.

3) Do you use the nowadays digital recording technology or do you only work with analog machines in analog studios? 

We work in the digital realm almost exclusively, but we try to mimic the analog workflow as much as possible, and of course, we use real guitar amps turned up quite loud! And lovely vintage Ludwig drum kit!

4) Is there a main composer in the band or is everybody involved in one way or another?

Glenn is the songwriter. He does home demos of the songs and then presents them to the band. We like to rehearse and play them live for a while before attempting to record them. He is quite prolific and we have a back-log of songs to learn and record.

5) What is your favorite topic/topic that comes easily when you write a new song?

Glenn writes of day-to-day life, from the the past to the now, and of dreams and hopes for the future.

6) How would you described the type of music your playing. If I were to call it "power-pop", would you agree with this description? Are you proud of it or do you consider there is way more than that?

Power Pop is as good a term as any to describe our music. It’s rock, has lots of guitars, strong vocal melodies, harmonies and hooks, and you can dance to it! If people are dancing you know you are doing the job well!

7) Do you have a new video on youtube  featuring a track from the new mini LP?? 

This is a little clip of ‘Don’t Wanna talk About It’ from Menacing Smile

8) What can concert goers expect at a The On and Ons gig? Are you playing any famous cover songs? 

The On and Ons don’t chat much on stage as we like to get through as many songs as possible during our allotted time. We don’t usually do any cover songs but we have been know on occasion to pull out the odd Beatles or Kinks tune.

9) Are there any bands in Australia today you consider yourself close to, musically speaking?

Rather than discuss bands who may or may not be similar musically, I think it might be best to just list some of the bands that we are compatible with, and have played on the same bill as. So we are like-minded but musically different. These bands would include: Even, Radio Birdman, The New Christs, The Lime Spiders, Mick Medew and The Mesmerisers, The Flaming Hands, The Johnnys. and The Soul Movers.

10) To what kind of music did you listen to as teenagers? What were your favorite bands as a teenager? Name 3 bands that you consider still have an influence on your own work today.

Glenn and Brian grew up in a musical family (we hope to include one of their elder brother Johnny’s songs on our next release) listening to The Beatles, The Kinks, and the Who. Clyde listened to those bands too, and you could throw in almost anything that was on the Australian Top 40 in early 1968. That would include Australian bands like The Masters Apprentices, The Easybeats, Twilights, Zoot, Russell Morris, Doug Parkinson In Focus and many more.

11) What are the plans for the rest of 2020 as far as The On and Ons are concerned?

With no gigs on the horizon for the foreseeable future we are hard at work on our next album, which will consist mostly of new songs that we have already played live, plus a couple of brand new ones that we have yet to learn. We have no shortage of material and hope to have another full-length album out early next year.

12) Anything you wanna add?

Although the world is strange and difficult place at present, we look forward to being able to record and perform music that we enjoy for many years to come. And hopefully one day we’ll be able to take that, live, in person, to other countries as well.

Here is a link to The On and Ons album launch live-stream from Moshpit June 7th ’20. A full set including all the songs on the album.

Buy it from the good folks at Citadel Mail Order: 

Or directly from the band: