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Friday, September 4, 2020

Blues Pills - Holy Moly!

Originally planned for April 2020,  NUCLEAR BLAST Records finally released at the end of August, "Holy Moly!" the third and long-awaited studio album of the Sweden's rock sensation BLUES PILLS. 

This new full length is certainly the band's best record to this day, displaying a fantastic range of psychedelic tunes, soaring soundscapes, emotional hymns and Elin Larsson's powerful soul voice!

So it was time for this blog to talk to guitar player and founding member Zack Anderson.

1) For the viewers of this blog who would not know you, What would you tell about Blues Pills to introduce yourselves? How long are you guys together as a band?  There have been various changes in the band over the years. Who is playing what instrument in the band nowadays? 

We are a rock band with blues/soul/psychedelic influences.  Elin and myself formed the band in 2011, and there’s been various line up changes over the years.   Currently our lineup is: Elin Larsson - Vocals; Zack Anderson - Guitar; Andre Kvarnström - Drums; Kristoffer Schander - Bass

2) About the latest full length record "Holy Moly!", 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 recording process was somewhere in between.  It was important for us to get a live feeling, but since this was before Kristoffer joined the band it was just Me, Elin and Andre in the studio, so totally live wasn’t really possible. The three of us played together to track the drums and get as much live feeling as possible.  Then I would go back and add a bass, and more guitars.  And finally vocals.  The downside to recording this way is sometimes you don't know if you got it right until your at the end of adding everything, so some songs we would be done, then trash it all and start over up to 4-5 times.  Not because we felt it wasn't "perfect" technically, because we don't care so much about that, but if the feeling wasn't right or the emotion wasn't coming across right.

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

The first two albums we recorded and mixed totally analog.  The newest album  Holy Moly! was a hybrid because it was all analog on the front end during tracking, but then everything was put to the computer and the files sent to Andrew Scheps for mixing. There is a lot of analog and vintage equipment which I love and wouldn't want to record without, but for me the question about analog vs digital is more about workflow than the sound for me.   My main concern is getting the source right.  I used to be firmly in the analog camp because my first experiences with digital were not that great, but nowadays there is some really good sounding converters, and my opinion is it's a lot more important the choice of guitar, amp, microphone, high quality preamp, etc.  If you get all that right, and use nice converters, its going to sound great, and I would choose a high end digital setup vs, a shitty tape machine any day.  Don't get me wrong though, I still love to record on tape.  It can be a lot more fun and exciting to see the tape machine running vs, looking at a computer screen, and it forces you to make decisions in a different way which I like.  At the end of the day it's all just tools and great sounding albums have been made on both.

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

Elin and I formed the band, and have always been the main songwriters.  That said the others are definitely involved as well.  Usually it starts with me or Elin, having a general idea or some kind of outline for a song, then we show it to the others and finish as a group.  In some cases, like with the song Proud Woman, it was actually born from a jam.  We just started to play and stumbled upon it, it kind of just happened, so every song is different.

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

For me, I definitely get more inspired to write lyrics by negative emotions like sadness, anger, heartbreak, things like that.  I don't know, I am not a depressed person, but it just feels a lot easier for me to write songs when it gets triggered by those things.

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.

In my early teens I was interested in music I was sort of searching and listening to different styles of music to see what I liked.  The thing that changed it was when I was 14 I first heard Seven Nation Army by the White Stripes.  I had just started to play guitar and I learned that song, and pretty much from that moment I got hooked and wanted to be in a band.  At that point my music tastes started to shift towards more "vintage" styled music.  Soon I bought a Jimi Hendrix greatest hits CD, and I listened to that constantly.  By the time I was 17 I discovered Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, and from there I just continued down this path of discovering more and more music from that era.  Even though it's old music, as a teenager in the early 2000's it felt like something totally new and fresh to me, because it was so different from what you heard on the radio.

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

Right now there is three, Proud Woman, Low Road, and Rhythm in the Blood..  We also have plans to make at least one more.

8) What can concert goers expect at a Blues Pills? Are you playing any famous cover songs during the gig? 

The set is basically 98% our original songs, but we have sometimes done covers.  Some of them were more obscure unknown songs.  Although we did a cover of "Somebody to Love" by Jefferson Airplane...  The festival goers always liked it.

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

There is quite a lot of bands playing music inspired by vintage rock, etc. in Sweden, so the list could go on forever.  But some of the more well known ones are Graveyard, Witchcraft, Spiders, Horisont, Troubled Horse...

10) How would You describe the music you're playing? Is this strictly blues, like the name of the band might suggest or do you consider there is way more than that?  

I think when some people think of the blues they think of more pure blues like BB King or something... and we are far away from that.  In comparison it's almost like hard rock, but for sure there's always this undertone of blues in our music.  When the band was formed we were so inspired by Peter Green and wanted to get a similar feeling into our music.  So our idea of blues when we named the band was more this progressive British blues, like Black Magic Woman, Green Manalishi, and Rattlesnake Shake type of songs.   I think of us more of a rock band in general as a base, but then pulling in other influences and adding them, like soul, psychedelic, blues, country... etc.

11) What are the plans for the rest of 2020 as far as Blues Pills is concerned?
We are just rehearsing and waiting to be able to tour and play live again.  It's about all we can do now in these corona times unfortunately.

Purchase the goodies HERE:

Special Thanks to Markus.

Monday, August 24, 2020

The Reflectors - First Impression

The REFLECTORS are a power pop/rock'n'roll four piece hailing for Los Angeles, California. Influenced by the likes of Buzzcocks or, closer to their hometown, The Plimsouls or The Nerves, the quartet has released the most utterly perfect debut album, the aptly titled "First Impression". And never was a first impression so convincing. Just the right amount of crunchy guitars, hooks a plenty and instant melodies.

The expression "All killers and no fillers" is often used but in the case of The REFLECTORS, it is the totally true. Purchase immediately two copies of this brilliant album because this record is so good that your first copy will very quickly be worn out! 

This blog had an interesting conversation with James Carman, singer and guitar player in THE REFLECTORS.

1) For the viewers of this blog who would not know you, What would you tell about The Reflectors 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?

Greetings - We are The Reflectors and we are a Los Angeles based punk and power-pop entity. Formally known as "Images", The Reflectors have now been together for 2 years. We have been a band ever since our childhood, each one of us listening and loving the same music. It's what ultimately inspired us to begin our journey.

The Reflectors are: James Carman (guitar/vox), Johnny Reyes (drums), Ryan Miranda (bass), Nick Faciane (guitar/vox). We are doing pretty good during these strange and Orwellian times. Every day there is a new challenge but as a society we need to recognize and be aware of our surroundings and the people that occupy them. Treat one another with respect and dignity, be the change that we all speak of. I hope for the best outcome after this is all said and done.

2) About the full length record "First Impression", 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? 

We recorded "First Impression" at Jazzcats studios in Long Beach with Jonny Bell. He has an incredible set up with analog tape machines. It is eventually processed into ProTools Digitally - but the charm is always there. We always record live and then overdub what we need to. We like to keep the process as simple as possible.

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

Always prefer Analog first - we haven't experimented outside of it but we may in the future.

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

James and Nick are the main songwriters but everyone has a massive role on how these songs pan out. We have been playing so long together that we can sort of read each other's minds when it comes to songwriting.

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

 Anything that is troubling, really. Most songs stem from a way a person feels or a message they are trying to get across. It's also fun to create a narrative in songs - something people can recognize and relate to. And almost every song sounds better with some good harmonies!

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.

We grew up listening to all things punk, new wave, rock n roll in all shapes and forms. 3 bands that we loved as a teenager and still inspire us today: 1) Buzzcocks 2) Exploding Hearts 3) The Cars

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

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

Well don't expect a gig for a long time! But we like to play with pure excitement and energy. For all of us, there's no better feeling! We hope to get back to gigging soon. Once in every blue moon, you'll hear us playing "Ever Fallen In Love" by Buzzcocks. A tribute to the great Pete Shelley.

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

The Tearaways featuring Clem Burke, Exploding Flowers, Adult Toys, The Resonars (from AZ), Mogg.

10) Can you explain what the beef is with Burger records and why you choose to longer continue your partnership with Burger Records? Here in Europe we did not get the full explanation and we really would love to have it.

Sexual allegations against some of their earliest bands signed to the label and within some of the staff as well. Once we learned of these allegations, we decided to separate all ties from the label immediately.

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

We have plans to track our second album with a single. Stay tuned!

12) Anything you wanna add?

Hope everyone is well and safe! These troubling times have been detrimental to our souls - we need to be stronger inside as well as outside. Make sure to support locally and not large corporations who are turning a massive profit at the expense of our lives. Keep up your faith, good health, and be kind to one another! Over and out.

Purchase this flawless album HERE:

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Psychotic Youth celebrates 35 years in 2020

Despite Corona and the lack of a live stage, 2020 is the year for the Göteborg band 
PSYCHOTIC YOUTH to shine. The band turns an incredible 35 years old and celebrates this by reissuing two of their most famous full lengths, by releasing a brand new album and by streaming a live show.

The band arose in 1985 and by 1989 the label Radium Records released the album "Some Fun" which would become style-forming in its genre of hard fast guitar-pop with voices that would make Beach Boys jealous. Surf, punk and power-pop have been mentioned in the band's wake. 

And with additional albums in the 90's like "Be In The Sun", "Juice!" and "Pop" these gentlemen made their mark on many bands around the world before dropping the guitars (temporarily) in 1999. 

On July 1, the cassette "RETRO" was released with 14 newly recorded songs in the true garage rock spirit and printed only in 60 copies. 

This is to celebrate their very first release in 1985 which was a - cassette, which was also printed in 60 copies. Sold only through direct contact with the band to affectionate fans.

First up is a streamed concert through the streaming company QTech (broadcast on Friday 28 August 20:00 via Facebook and

"STEREOIDS REVISITED" will be released on 29 AUGUST 2020

And the very next day, a remixed version of "STEREOIDS REVISITED" will be released in
transparent green vinyl. This version will feature a new mix by Christian Jacobsen - the Norwegian wizard who is internationally known for working with bands like Yum Yums, The Dahlmanns etc. 

"FOREVER AND NEVER" will be released on October 30 

This will be the 14th album by PSYCHOTIC YOUTH  and  it's featuring new material of driven Power pop that mixes with heavier Detroit punk, fuzzy garage and a slew of 50's influences. The vinyl will come in a tasteful turquoise vinyl.  

Waterslide Records in Japan will release a CD version that will include 2 bonus tracks.

"BAMBOOZLE" will be released on November 6

This is the second reissue. This album is best know for its covers of the hit "Japanese boy" and for its brilliant rendition of "How long will it take" originally by the Plimsouls.

The record will  be pressed on a beautiful red transparent vinyl.  

For more information about the various reissues or about the brand new record you can easily go to:

Sunday, August 16, 2020

The Yum Yums - For Those About to Pop

Since the release of their first single "Girls Like That", in 1994, The Yums Yums have always been a band dear to my Powerpoppers' heart. 6 years in the making, but finally here is their latest release, the aptly titled "For Those About To Pop!" And it was certainly worth the wait because this is probably their best offering so far. 

It's got everything one loves so much about the Yum-Yums: instant vocal melodies, powerful playing, bubblegum backing vocals, hooks a plenty and endless stories about girls, girls and girls. 

There are many versions of this new album but this blog choose the Japanese version released on WATERSLIDE Records

Today Morten Henriksen is the only remaining member of the Yums-Yums yours truly witnessed at the Pit's way back in the day. So it was a pleasure for this blog to have the opportunity to interview him. Here it goes:

1) For the viewers of this blog who would not know you, What would you tell about The YUM YUMS to introduce yourselves? What was your musical background? Who is playing what instrument in the band nowadays? 

Well. The Yum Yums are a power pop / pop punk band from Norway, who has been around since 1993. We have released 5 albums, a 10’’ mini album and a bunch of singles and toured all around the world!

2) One quick look at the names of the people who played on "Girls like that" and the ones who play these days on "For Those About to Pop" and it is obvious those are totally different musicians. So are YOU the Yum-Yums? Could you play the same music with anybody filling in on bass, drums and 2nd guitar?

Ha ha… yes, I think we can say that I am The Yum Yums as I am the only member of the band from the start, plus I am the songwriter and singer of the band. We have had lots of lineup changes, but the sound of the band seem to be consistent. We actually just got a new bass player, a good addition to the band! A good back-up singer, too!

3) Usually the voice of a singer tends to get deeper and deeper in tones with the age. Iggy Pop is a fine example, he started out, ....well like Iggy... and now he has the voice of a Baritone. So my question is: From one grandpa to another, how do you manage at your venerable age to still have the voice of a 16 years old teenager?

I don’t really know. I haven’t done anything to keep it this way. I didn’t start singing before I was 30, so the voice wasn’t worn out already. That may have something to do with it. I write songs that don’t need a graspy rock’n’roll voice. Nice pop songs do the trick! I remember, at a very early age, that I would never be Noddy Holder (Slade) or Paul Stanley (Kiss), anyway.

4) About the newly released full length record "For Those About to Pop",  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? 

We actually spent 6 years writing songs and recording them. It was when the Covid thing hit in the middle of march, I found time to draw the line and finish the album… We really had too many songs to choose from, but I am really happy with the choices we made. A little bit of pop punk, a little bit of standard pop, a little bit of glam rock and hints of doo wop and surf music thrown in. I think it’s our best album so far! So, we sent the files to our mixer, who also suddenly had time to mix. Luckily Perry Travolta also had time to master it!

Usually we record the drums in a real recording studio, with click-track demos. The guitars we did in our practice place. The bass, vocals and percussion I did at home, on my mac! I have to give it to our mixing guy Christian Jacobsen, who did a fantastic job! He is also my son in law, and helps out on keyboard!

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

Being a Mac guy, I LOVE recording digitally! I like being in control of the process! I got to have real drums and real guitar amps, though.

6) 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?

I can name one. The Ramones!!! Well, actually the whole punk rock movement were a huge influence, and so were the late 70’s power pop bands. I also have to mention the glam/glitter wave of the early 70’s, who I still listen to and steal ideas from! Oh… and 60’s bubblegum, of course!

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

I’ll give you one guess…

8) If I were to describe The YUM YUMS as a "power pop band with a lot of power and a little bit of bubblegum pop", would you agree with this description? Would you be proud of it or do you consider there is way more than that?

It’s a pretty good description, and I would be proud to claim that. There is more though. I get inspired by all kinds of music with good melodies. Standard pop, vocal surf, girl groups, doo wop… and more!

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

No, we don’t… The Covid situation put a stop to that, but we’re looking into it! We absolutely should make something.

In the meantime, here is some live footage at Punk Rock Raduno 4

10) What can concert goers expect at a The YUM YUMS gig? Are you playing any famous cover songs during the concert? 

It’s hard for me to say what to expect. A good time, I guess! We always do some covers, especially some from our early recordings. Out Of Luck, Chewy Chewy, Valerie, Wig Wam Bam, All Kindsa Girls, Walking Out On Love, We Just Wanna Dance, Rush Hour… We have too many originals to focus on, these days. And a new album doesn’t make it easier… but we may surprise you…

11) Are there any bands around the world today you consider yourself close to musically speaking?

With Lucy and Geoff
Yes, quite a few… musically and personal… Psychotic Youth, The Queers, Chixdiggit, Dan Vapid, Kurt Baker Combo / Band, Tommy and The Rockets; The Spazzys  / Lucy and The Rats; Geoff Palmer; Suzy and Los Quattro and many more!

12) What are the plans for the rest of 2020 as far as The YUM YUMS are concerned?

An old dream is to play Belgium’s Sjock Festival. Maybe next year? Due to the already mentioned Covid situation, we’re not getting our hopes up for this year. I guess we’ll just keep on writing songs and release new records! Hopefully it won’t be 6 years until the next album. Famous last words ha ha…

13) Anything you wanna add?

Caroline and The Treats are back! Look out for a new album this year!

Purchase the Japanese CD version here:

CDs are also available on:
Rum Bar Records in the USA
House Of Rock Records in Norway / Europe
And the LP is released on Screaming Apple Records in Germany

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.