Monday, 26 January 2009

Joey Terrifying - Demo review

These days ska is becoming quite unheard of. Any time it's mentioned the majority of the people in the room always say "what's ska?" with a bemused look on their faces. However, for the past five years I have been a fan of ska and I know, from listening to Joey Terrifying's demo, that this won't be changing any time soon. 'National Insecurites' is a good first song for the demo, as it's upbeat and catchy and has a good ska punk feel about it. It makes me feel that a great deal of skanking is in order! Second track, 'A Girl Called Mary' is a slower song and reminds me of ska's roots in reggae. It picks up a little bit more and shows the obvious punk side of this band. Final track 'Troubled Times' is also a slow starter but when it picks up, once again, we can hear the obvious ska and punk sides of this band, and it gets a little heavier throughout the chorus. It has an epic ending and is a great end to a brilliant demo.

You can find out more about Joey Terrifying at

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Guilded Youth - Myspace Songs Review

This band reminds me of The Beatles. Not to say they’re as good as The Beatles, but no one really could be. First song, ‘Late Yesterday’, has a melancholic feeling about it, with twangy guitars and a classic sound making it seem very 50s-esque. However, it doesn’t really have very much that would make you want to keep it playing, as the vocals seem a bit dreary at times. But second track, ‘Lazy Girl’, definitely makes up for this. This is where you can really see Guilded Youth’s influences (The Beatles, The Kinks, The Beach Boys, The Monkees etc. etc.) coming through. It’s fun, something your parents might have danced along to back in the day, and that classic sound comes through again, with those twangy guitars and the fun bass lines. Guilded Youth are good at what they do and if you’re into any of the bands they’re influenced by you should definitely give them a listen, but they’re not really doing anything new.

You can listen to these songs and find out more about Guilded Youth at

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

"We just want to keep outdoing ourselves."

we all met around November 2007 and [discovered] we had a lot in common and shortly after formed a band,” Alex Hewett of Copycat tells me, “[We] wrote our first bunch of songs in 2007 and started playing some shows in 2008, and since then we've just been writing and recording as much as we can as well as playing gigs.” Copycat is a band based in Manchester and Stockport who are all no older than sixteen, but this won’t stop them making great music. “We write pop songs heavily influenced by 80's pop, post punk, new wave, kraut rock, circuit bending etcetera, etcetera.”

Electronic music is currently becoming very popular with many bands as it makes more sounds a lot more easily available, and Alex couldn’t agree more: “the possibilities of electronic music go so far beyond the standard guitar, vocals, bass and drums, I think there will always be an electronic element to our songs no matter how much we move on musically - mostly because none of us can actually play drums [laughs].” With a severe lack of drummers, generally, this seems like a good plan, but the fact that these guys don’t even need a drummer to sound good makes that plan even better.

So have these fresh-faced teens got any plans for the next twelve months? “This year i guess we ideally want to get something released. That was our plan for last year but it didn’t quite happen [laughs]. it’s not going to be our main priority right now though, we're happy just playing as many shows as we can and writing new material. We just want to keep outdoing ourselves.” Those sound like some pretty good plans to me.

You can find out more about Copycats at

"I couldn't think of a better way of expressing your art than printing it onto t-shirts."

Plenty of celebrities and famous people start up clothing lines all the time, but what happens when one boy decides he wants to start a clothing line – Castration Clothing? “I decided to start the company in the summer because I had so much free time and I needed something productive to do.” Nathan tells me, “I also wanted to create something that was just mine and it would be down to me to make it succeed. I also thought that if I started a company I wouldn’t have to get a job, how wrong I was [laughs].” Aaah, the age old problem of being young and trying to get out of actually getting off your bum and finding a job (I have also fallen victim to this...). However, Castration Clothing isn’t a completely solo project: “We come up with the designs ourselves working together with Josh Baker and other free lance illustrators.” It’s good to see Nathan giving free lance artists some were to exhibit their work but also that he works on the designs himself. But what about the bands that wear Castration Clothing? Right now Nathan isn’t working with bands but it might happen someday: “Collaborating with bands is something we will definitely be considering in the future.”

“Most of my friends are in bands so they were happy to help us out by wearing our stuff at shows and in promo shoots,” Nathan continues, “I have also been lucky enough to meet and hang out with some big named international bands such as New Found Glory, Hit The Lights and Four Year Strong who were cool enough to take some tees off our hands.” It’s always good to see bigger bands supporting the “little guy”. While it can be hard, as a clothing line, to catch the attention of the public and make them realise that the t-shirt their friend wore to that party wasn’t just picked out of a high street store it’s good to see that bands are supporting them, as we all know how much people are influenced, not just by the music they listen to, but also by the people who make that music.

So what’s Castration Clothing all about? Is it just art for art's sake? “For me, personally, this clothing label was not started as an expression of art or to send out a message, but just for fun. However, if it was I couldn’t think of a better way of expressing your art than printing it onto t-shirts.”

You can read more about Castration Clothing and find out about new ranges at
You can also order their products at

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

"We just ended up getting really good at playing table tennis on a 6' by 4' table."

Previously published in Take in the Scene

“After lengthy debate we decided to call the album ‘This Hope Will Kill Us’ and it will be released on Furious Tradesmen on January 19th,” Davey of Panda Kopanda tells me, “Basically it’s our whole lifetime’s work, and we’re quite proud of it.” Panda Kopanda’s last release was in 2006 so it’s been a long wait for this album, but we’re all hoping, and believing, it will be worth it. If you’re a fan of The Pixies, Nick Cave, Pavement, Arcade Fire or (according to the band) Cliff Richard, this album may be of interest to you.

If you’re hoping for another ‘Ocean of Fire’ you definitely won’t be getting that: “The album is definitely BIGGER sounding: more airiness, more feedback, more cowbell!” But what about the band themselves; what does it say about them and their music? “‘This Hope Will Kill Us’ gives a fair reflection of what we are, it’s challenging and serious but there‘s a sense of humour in there too. We’ve still maintained our pop sensibilities from our previous works, there’s still a lot of catchy tunes and hooks in there, but we’ve smothered it in all kinds of challenging goodness, we’re like Jelly Babies dipped in Marmite!” We all know about the cliché of the “difficult second album”, but after two EPs is it possible that Panda Kopanda may have just created a new cliché – the “challenging first album”?

Currently, the band are living together, which could go one of two ways – living in perfect peace and harmony or they might be doing it Big Brother style and getting angry because someone ate the last egg: “[It’s working out] great! We’re quite unflappable really, we’ve had 80mph car crashes together and Gavin’s dad threatened Jonny with a shotgun so domestic arguments always seem fairly insignificant. Initially our thought was that living together would make us really productive, but in the end we just ended up getting really good at playing table tennis on a 6’ by 4’ kitchen table.” Nothing to worry about there then...

Since the band are releasing the album so early in the year do they have any hopes for possible outcomes in 2009? “The album is the main priority, if we can get as many people to hear that as we can then we’ll be happy. For us that means gigging as much as we can across Ireland (North and South) and generally whoring ourselves around!” And what about outside of the UK and Ireland altogether? “We’ve had a few enquiries from mainland Europe so we may end up going further afield as well. In conclusion for 2009 we want to: a) sell albums, b) tour and c) ultimately get more puntang.”

If you’re a fan of Panda Kopanda you have a lot to look forward to, and if you’re not a fan yet you’ll have plenty of gigs to attend, a new album to purchase and some banter along the way. Make sure to head to the album launch on Thursday 15th January at Two Step at the Limelight, with support from the fabulous Cutaways and Three Tales. “Needless to say we’ll be selling copies of the album at the show and our performance should feature some ’special guests’… although now that Coolio has joined the Big Brother House we need to organise his replacement.” Damnit, and that’s just who I wanted to see!

You can check out Panda Kopanda at
You can find out more about Take in the Scene fanzine at

Monday, 12 January 2009

Three bands to check out this month!

If you're into hardcore then Blackhole are definitely a band you should listen to. Having recently supported the epic Johnny Truant on their farewell tour, these boys are breaking through the British hardcore scene and quickly making a name for themselves. These guys stand out from the rest and bring a more rock-ish sound to the music they make with immense riffs and a clear passion for what they do.

For fans of: Johnny Truant, Gallows, The Ghost of a Thousand

Me Vs Hero are an amazing band who mix pop punk in with a bit of hardcore. With a clear "oi!
oi!" punk influence added in these guys should appeal to many different types of music fan so
make sure you give them a listen before you judge them. With amazing breakdowns and melodies,
If you don't give these guys a listen you will definitely regret it.

For fans of: You Me At Six, New Found Glory, Set Your Goals

Under Stars & Gutters are the third and final band of the month that you NEED to listen to. with a bit of an Angels and Airwaves style wait until anyone finally heard their music, the final reveal of the band didn't go quite as badly. These guys are punk with a slightly heavier side and are a band you need to listen to this month, if not for longer.

For fans of: Set Your Goals, Blink 182, Hundred Reasons

Photos by Tom Barnes (, Jodie Guest and Graham Smith (

Mafafi - 'Why Pay to Exist When you can be Dead for Free' EP review

‘Why pay to exist...’ isn’t your generic hardcore EP. It’s not your generic EP full stop. Mafafi clearly don’t want to do things the conventional way and they show this clearly through the five tracks they put on this record. The fact that the intro is a lot longer than second track, ‘I musta had me ‘bout 15 Dr. Peppers’ makes the whole EP stand out three minutes in. Mafafi call themselves punk as well as hardcore and the punk influence comes out on the intro, while the second track is more like an interlude, with a sample from a film that lasts most of the track, before starting a twenty second piece of music, clearly influenced by both punk and hardcore, with an obvious love for thrash coming through. Third track ‘Ed Burns’ is again short but clearly shows the passion that Mafafi have for the music they make and the styles of music that they love, with aggressive vocals standing out over the equally aggressive music. Fourth track ‘I Thought So, he was Trying to Steal my Brick’ is slower in parts and gives more time to take in the challenging aspects of ‘Why Pay to Exist...’ while final track, ‘I Still don’t Believe...’ starts with a slightly horrifying sample from a film before an epic drum beat begins and this song gets into full swing. ‘Why Pay to Exist...’ is challenging and at times you feel like you have to work to understand it and what exactly Mafafi are trying to say, but I definitely think it’s an EP every hardcore fan should make sure they get to listen to.

You can check out Mafafi at

In The Long Run - 'These Years' EP Review

For a first EP these guys have definitely put a lot of work into it. From the professional album sleeve and CD design to the brilliant production you can tell that In The Long Run wanted to make an impression with this EP, and they certainly have. It's pop punk with an edge as the first two tracks have an alternative rock sound. ‘This One’s for You’ pulls you in with a catchy upbeat intro while ‘The Lights are off’ has a slightly weaker tone but the vocals stand out and stop this song being boring – even pop punk bands need a song that’s a little calmer! Title track ‘These Years’ is probably the song that makes this EP what it is – a catchy pop punk record full of melodies and memories. With its reminiscent feel, looking back on growing up and remembering the one person who made a certain time completely perfect, it grabs your attention and will be the song that you reminisce to. Final track ‘Picture This’ once again has a feel of moving on and growing up and is a brilliant final track. It has a catchy beat and lyrics that everyone will relate to at some point in their life. ‘These Years’ isn’t your conventional pop punk EP, and In the Long Run aren’t your conventional pop punk band, so you should definitely make sure to check them out – you won’t regret it.

You can check out In the Long Run at
Photo by Tom Barnes -

Monday, 5 January 2009

"I don't want this ever to be a typical job."

When looking at a photo of your favourite band it’s easy to forget that there’s someone behind the camera who’s captured that moment – letting us see each of the band members and who they really are. “I have never wanted to actually be a musician but I have always wanted to be involved in music in some way.” Graham Smith, Northern Irish music photographer, tells me, “My path into photography came from trying my hand at music journalism, something I neither particularly enjoyed or was very good at. One of the small magazines I was writing for asked me to take some pictures to go along with my live reviews and that is how it all began.” Looking at Graham’s work you wouldn’t think his skill at rock photography had just been discovered accidentally – it looks like the work of someone who has always known this was what they wanted to do. Someone, who from the day they could put two thoughts together, knew they wanted to capture the lives of our favourite musicians in images.

“I prefer to work it as a collaboration, but this is not absolutely essential.” Graham tells m
e, “Every single shoot is approached in a different way, but usually I like to keep it all relatively relaxed and spontaneous. I am not very keen on making definite plans and coming up with "witty" concepts before shoots. I find this produces very stale and forced results.” It’s true. We’ve all seen photos of bands where they all look bored, angry and just like someone has told them to stand in the same pose for ten different photos. From looking at even one or two of Graham’s photos you can tell that this type of photo is of no interest to him.

Graham Smith is a very well known photographer within Northern Ireland, but is this were all his work is based? “My work with NI musicians only makes up about 30 or 40% of my output. I am determined to stay based in Northern Ireland, mainly because of the undeniably huge pool of talent we currently have, but I am equally determined to not just be an NI photographer. So I currently spend a lot of time working with bands and musicians outside Northern Ireland and this is something which will be increasing even more during 2009 with trips already planned in America and Europe.”

“I don't want this ever to be a typical job so these days I am very selective about who I work with and the type of jobs I take on.” Graham tells me, “At times this can make life difficult and awkward, but overall I am much happier now and I feel it is a very fair way to work as a band knows that if I take them on for a shoot it will be because I like their music and will be passionate about working with them.” And that’s exactly the way it should be. While it makes sense to work as much as possible to make a decent living, in a job like photography if you lose your passion for it there’s not really any point in continuing.

For those of you who are hoping to do photography as job some day, Graham has some advice: “Firstly and most importantly, only shoot what you truly love and are passionate about. If it is music photography you want to do, don't pick it because you think it is "cool" or because of some (usually false) impressions of what the music world is like. A pure and almost child-like love of music must come first. My other piece of advice is to learn how to actually shoot photographs (this does not have to mean take a course or read a book) rather than learning how to fix photographs in Photoshop!” Basically, photography isn’t easy, but the subconscious complexity of Graham Smith’s photos makes it seem that way.

You can check out more of Graham's work at

All photos by Graham Smith and used with permission.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Blackhole - Breaking Through the British Hardcore Scene

“It’s a good place to be right now,” Nick, guitarist in Blackhole, says of the British hardcore scene, “it seems that there are a lot of bands who are out there making music and playing shows, and that kind of productive environment can only be a good thing for everyone involved, whether that is the bands themselves or the kids who go out to the shows to have fun.” While the British hardcore scene continues to grow and get more recognition, Blackhole are definitely making a name for themselves.

Having just finished a tour supporting the amazing Johnny Truant (“It was a bit of an honour for us to be the main support on their final tour, and we're really grateful to them for that. It was good for us to see the hard work and commitment that they put in over the years to build up a good reputation and maintain it.”) and about to embark on a tour supporting Outcry Collective these guys are working their butts off, and it’s all going pretty well: “We're really looking forward to doing some dates with [Outcry Collective], it's something we've talked about doing together for a while now so it's cool that it got sorted out.”

As well as being busy with touring the guys have also recorded their first album: “We just finished recording the album with Jeff and Ginge at Nott-In-Pill studios in Newport. It's sounding great, and Colin Richardson (As I Lay Dying, Cannibal Corpse, SikTH, Slipknot) is going to be mixing the album which we are really stoked about as he has worked on some amazing records.” Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the album which should be in stores in early 2009.

With more people giving respect to hardcore music, it’s a good time for bands like Blackhole. Here’s hoping they’re the band that get you into the genre, because let’s be honest, they’re damn good.

You can check out Blackhole at

Photo by Tom Barnes -