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Impressions & Interviews From Rockaway Beach 2019 - Part One

Hi, I'm Steven a.k.a. @CaptainStavros. Brevity and quality writing are not my strong suits. I'm not a writer or photographer but I do know English and my camera has a phone so you'll get some words and pictures, I make no claims on the quality of either.

Day 1 - We catch our train and tuck in for our 2 hour journey to the Butlin's Bognor Regis. Halfway through a bunch of older...dudes? with Liam Gallagher haircuts, a mix of New Balance walking shoes and vintage army coats pile into the seats next to us. In tow they have a carrier on wheels filled with home brew, I shoot Kenny a glance, he shrugs.

Unscathed we disembark and make our way to check in, along the way taking in tunes from a local busker slamming out 'Another One Bites the Dust' and hitting the admirable amount of thrift stores I did not expect to find in a small seaside town. Settled, we make our way over to the Reds stage to catch:

Madonnatron (@madonnatron)

Over all solid performance and a lot of energy for a first day and one of the first acts of the afternoon. I think my most memorable moments from the set were Charlie agreeing with the audience it's 'heartbreaking' that they had only 1 song left. That song was 'Sang Neuf' and I think everyone was equally heartbroken after Charlie held those last notes for what seemed like an eternity. I was hoping to run into them to snag a few soundbites for the article I was mentally composing at this point and found Stefania, Joanie, and Charlie hanging outside on the concourse necking a bottle of Rosé later in the evening. I mustered up my courage trying to politely interrupt saying I'd enjoyed their set earlier that afternoon. I was greated with 'Aw's, 'Thank you SO much'es and punches to my arm to the point where I couldn't make eye contact at which I thought it best to make a hasty exit.

Before the above episode I'd made my way early to the Centre Stage to catch:

Goat Girl (@goatgirlofficial)

I'm not sure if I mentioned but the crowd in attendance was a bit older than I was used to at gigs/festivals, most likely due in part to the headliners. Maximo Park were headlining in a few hours and people were getting in later as it was Day One and they'd had to sneak out of work......or the nursing home. I think a mix of the audience's excitement to see the headliner, it being Friday and the apparent cocktail of booze and powdered substances pushed the crowd to a fever pitch during the track 'Cracker Drool', starting a mad rush to the front of the stage, arms-a-flailing and bodies colliding. As for the band Goat Girl have been floating on the ether in London but for one reason or another I've never seen them live so I'm glad to finally have I caught them even with the rowdy pensioners all about.

I spent the majority of Day Two eating an obscene amount of food at the buffet, I'm looking at you Ice Cream Machine, Cheese Platters and Veggie Sausages. We walked the gluttony off scoping out further thrift stores and stocking up on beer while hitting a few charming pubs. When we were back in fighting form we set out to catch:

Menace Beach (@menace_beach)

A 5 piece collective from Leeds that were new to me. Synthesizers, guitars and keys oh-my! I had a great time watching them, they had tons of sound with a lot of energy and still kept that shit elegant as fuck. Picture Washington with a gallant stroll. Nearing the end of the setlist there was one particular song that really made the set, I was hoping to get my mitts on the set-list to find the track title but when I did get the list, thanks to guitarist Nick Chantler, it simply said 'Nick's Song' great. Nick if by some chance you read this, holler at me and give me a link to that banging track or at the very least a name for it!

Next up:

Algiers (@algierstheband)

I'd seen Algiers where I'd met the Musos' Guide in Chief a few years back at Primavera 2016. They were playing early in the afternoon just before the sun was going down on the same stage as The Savages. It was a big space and their sound was small, yet enjoyable. I think people were still at the beach or nursing hangovers because the crowd was thin, but I enjoyed being able to get up close. This time around it was a totally different situation, the stage was small and the sound was huge.

Frankie, front man for Algiers, came out and introduced himself and the band with that southern gentlemanly charm that's down homegrown in Atlanta GA. He said, 'this is a new song, it hasn't got a name, but let me show you what we're about' and show he did. Frankie's vocals came off as full and in total control of his person. The band had gelled over the years. Bassist Ryan Mahan's interpretive dance styling kept the crowd entertained and the atmosphere light. I hung around after the set and hollered at Frankie while he put his gear away. In a rush but polite we had a short chat:

Cpt: Have you really come all the way here for Rockaway and are you planning any future London gigs?

Frankie: Unfortunately no more scheduled London gigs currently. We're starting the first leg of our 7 week European tour tomorrow with Brussels.

Cpt: I saw you a few years ago and sound has really developed and filled out.

Frankie: Yeah, we've been practicing a LOT since then'.

We chatted a bit about back home, North America, and he said I sounded like I was from New York, which for me was high praise. I shattered his illusions of course saying I was from a small Canadian town. I wished him well on his tour and we exchanged closing pleasantries. With that I'd gotten my first mini-interview on the books.

Barry Adamson (@adamsonbarry)

He came out on stage with 40 years of music behind him and took the crowd like I imagine the crooners did at the Dunes circa 1960s Las Vegas. The man had patter, wearing a champagne blazer with dark sunglasses on stage, he worked the audience and seamlessly transitioned between tracks and genres. After disappearing backstage after his act he returned picking up a bass and playing 'The Light Pours Out Of Me', which landed pretty great as a finale.

Between acts I hit the bar and ran into Nick of Menace Beach who I'd just met earlier that day after their set. I strode up to order a pint and thought I'd chance at chat. I said hi and asked if I could get a bit of back story after seeing them this afternoon, he said sure:

Cpt: Full disclosure, until today I hadn't heard of you guys but I dug what I heard and saw. You guys seem comfortable with each other, seasoned and the sound was great. You guys came out with a fuck ton of energy, especially when M.B. played your song. So tell me what you'd like people to know? Are you touring, what's next?

Nick: Thanks man, well here it is. We're from Leeds and we've just released and toured our third album. We hustled and pushed it around until the end of November. We took some downtime because we're not just Menace Beach, we've got other jobs to to make end meets. We manage tours, design graphics, make prints and design clothes.

Cpt: It sounds pretty intense man, touring's gotta be hard with additional commitments on the side. Will I get to see you in London sometime soon?

Nick: Yeah, I don't wanna sound cynical, booking gigs around London's not the easiest thing in the world, but we're available and want to get out as much as we can.

Cpt: Looking forward to it!

I thanked him for his time and offered to pick up the round but another fan had already beat me to the ticket. We parted and I headed back to the stage to catch the next act.

The Orielles (@theorielles)

The band first caught my ear when I was doing my research for Rockaway. We had music, venues and cinema in common and I was really hoping I'd run into them to have a quick chat before the weekend was done.

I'd left my conversation with Nick and found my spot back up at the barriers. Shortly thereafter The Orielles strolled out onto stage, picked up their instruments and had a false start which Henry, the guitarist, laughed off and told the crowd that it was all part of the act. This carefree and easy performance shown throughout their set. Henry and Alex, on keys, dancing the night away. Sid on drums and Esmé's vocals while on the bass were all smiles and teeth watching their friends cutting a jig. It was a good vibe on stage with quality sound. I have to say that I'm also always a fan of support instruments taking center stage. Like Bloc Party's drums or Flea's bass leading the charge this a-symmetrical structure to music really does it for me. Their set ended off with 'Sugar Tastes Like Salt' their 8+ minute debut single with multiple hooks and a psychedelic twist gave the crowd a run for their money. They left the stage but came back to watch their gear getting broken down and ready for Gary Numan. I took the opportunity to flag down Esmé and Henry for the setlist, I'm a collector, and Esmé came over to hand it to me. I had to vault over some barriers and pray I wouldn't be dive tackled by an overzealous security guard, but it was worth it. All polite chatter and smiles I thanked her for making the effort and with that I was back over the barrier in time for ...

Gary Numan (@garynuman)

This, I was not ready for. What was, for me, a new wave pioneer had transformed and reinvented himself and the stage, into a post apocalyptic, industrial, seizure-inducing Mad Max dystopia. In a cacophony of light and sound G-man blasted out and skull fucked the shit out of me, literally, I could not sleep this night at all after an hour+ of blasting lights directly into my retinas and thunderous sounds into my ear canal. Unlike a lot of artists G didn't shy away from his classic chart topping classics but they were nearly unrecognizable with the newly added industrial edge. I did not not know what to expect next. His band were half band half backup dancer Cirque Du Soleil types skulking about the stage. The crowd was an entirely different story all together. These, 'people'? did not come here for anyone else, they came here for G-man. Traveling from all around the UK and beyond, they paid for a full weekend for one night. I think a better term instead of fan would be cult, minions maybe? Chill, this ain't no diss, I'd just never seen, or been involved in, something like this before. It was something else. I made my way out of the not soon to be forgotten scene and hooked up with Kenny. We were about to make our way home but I suggested swinging through the concourse instead.

The Orielles 2.0

Outside smoking with all the other naughty peeps were none other than Sid and Esmé . I told Kenny I was going to try to get a mini-interview and it would probably get weird so I recommend looking away. I made my way over and tried to the best of my abilities (very limited) to interrupt a conversation they were both in.

Cpt: (Imagine an attempt at the least craziest/creepiest voice) Pardon me, excuse me, I'm sorry but would you mind if I interrupted just for a quick second?

Sid/Esmé/Their Friends: Vague look of indifference and confusion.

Cpt: I just wanted to say thanks so much for taking the time to hand me your setlist.

Esmé: Oh yea, hey, no problem!

Cpt: Hey, since I've got you here I was wondering if I could ask you a few non-standard questions for a music blog if you don't mind? I promise they'll be weird and not, 'who's your influence?' or 'What's it like to be a woman in rock?'

Esmé/Sid: (Look at each other and smile) Sure!

Cpt: Wow, really? Great! Okay, questions number #1 What was your favourite food at breakfast today? Did you try the veggie sausage?

Esmé/Sid: We really liked the veggie sausages, they had-to-have been the winner!

Cpt: Yeah dudes, it tasted like a croquette or something, I had to keep eating them

Esmé: Us too, Henry couldn't stop eating them he; ate like 8 of them or something!

Cpt: Okay, see, that was easy. Question #2 I know you all met at a house party and that was the beginning of The Orielles, but my question to you is which room? My guess is the kitchen.

Esmé: It totally was the kitchen!

Sid: It was not the kitchen.

Esmé: Oh yeah, you're right, I wish it had been the kitchen though!

Cpt: Me too, kitchen parties are always the best (I kid you not readers, I was overflowing with mediocrity).

Esmé/Sid: We met upstairs in one of the bedrooms.

Cpt: (Eyebrows raise)

Esmé/Sid: That's where they piano was, in one of the bedrooms. Henry and Alex were fooling around (playing music) on it and Sid and I sat on either side of them and started playing and that was that.

Cpt: I can almost see it now.

At this point I was getting serious tunnel vision and I was about to throw up from nerves if I'm honest. I thought about how much fun it would've been to have been a fly on the wall watching it all go down.

Cpt: Oooooooooooooookay, questions #######3. Henry said that this was your first show back after 4 weeks off, what'd you do over those for weeks and what's on for the next 4 weeks?

Esmé/Sid: Well it was the holidays and stuff, plus we wrote and worked on new tunes. We've got another gig coming up and then we're going to keep writing and making new tunes after that.

Cpt: Wow, not even a year since Silver Dollar Moment and already getting the next album underway, I'm super impressed.

At this point I thought it's best to say thanks and make a hasty escape but the girls flipped that shit on me and started asking ME questions. I was seriously spinning out and sputtering out half baked sentence fragments. I think I vaguely remember punching the air and telling Sid she resembled Dragona from Submarine before I blacked out and woke up in my hotel room the next morning thinking of all the other questions I wish I'd though of at the time to ask, always leave them wanting more though, right? I didn't get to harass Henry and Alex because they were hanging out with their friends and I was already weird/rude enough.

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Ms. Boom's Review Of 2018

 

The Senior Service kicked off 2018 with a tantalizing twang, with their single ‘Slingshot’ released on the Damaged Goods label. Swiftly followed up by their equally delicious and intoxicating Hammond driven second long player King Cobra in the spring. I’ve come to expect nothing less than the best from Messrs. Day, Barker, Hartley and Howard. Indeed, the same can be said of another Barker/Hartley/Howard combo, add singer Chris Hearsey, and you get Sergeants Mess. They released their much overdue 2013 track ‘‎Couldn't I Be Yours’ back in February on Spinout DJ Lee Grimshaw’s brand new label, Spinout Nuggets. A solid debut release for an exciting new venture!

Spring was quite an exciting time gig-wise, mainly in the shape of the much anticipated Beat Bespoke Weekend headliners The Mummies. They’d split up not long after I first became a fan, in the early/mid ‘90s. So this was my first time seeing them play live. The gig was nothing short of amazing, and everything I had expected it to be – fuzzy, frantic, and filthy in your face garage punk. The only downside was the horrendously long queue at the venue due to the incredibly slow security checks (i.e. two door staff checking in 800 odd people) thus missing the support act, The Baron Four. Personally I’m not a fan of bigger events such as this, as (for me) it takes away from the whole experience of seeing a band, however, in this instance it was fun fun fun, with a fab after party, and definitely one of my favourite gigs this year.

April saw Aire Valley’s topper most masked & caped instrumental combo - The Razerbills, release their much anticipated La Tombe EP on Squirrel Records – they advise us to ‘listen in complete darkness whilst wearing your Razerbill mask’ which comes as an option with the disc. If you haven’t already got a copy, then you’d better be pretty quick (and that’s a matter of fact) as there are only a few remaining. They also played a twistin’ twang-tacular set at The Shipley Shakedown (Shipley Social Club, venue of the year!); and at The Bottom Rung’s Halloween Spooktacular. Such an inspiring band – I cannot help but adore them. Horror themed band Ms. Boom? Yes please!   

Edinburgh based garage miscreants The Nettelles released their stinging debut single ‘I’m Over You’ on Spinout Nuggets in May, and subsequently headlined at the Girls Rock School Edinburgh showcase, giving a performance with extra bite.  

Medway’s beat and garage goddess Ludella Black also released her blistering 3rd LP in May Till You Lie In Your Grave on Damaged Goods and I was sad to have missed her show at Weirdsville in July.

On to festivals. Although I didn’t make it overseas this year, I attended my very first Hipsville in Margate, The Franklin Fest in Edinburgh, Beatwave in Hastings and even made a half hour visit to the Worthing Surf Festival!  So many fantastic bands – highlights were The Beatpack and Les Bof at the Franklin, The Mirage Men, Neuvo Ramon 5, The VooDooms and The Overboards at Beatwave and the lovely Lily Zeller with Chrome Reverse at Hipsville.

It would be impossible to sum up my 2018 without mentioning The VooDooms. They’ve pretty much doom-inated social media this year, and have played all over the UK. You can read my review of their debut LP Destination Doomsville on Trashwax here, it pretty much says it all. Horror themed band? Yes please! Looking forward to more Va-Va-Doom-ing in 2019!   

Another band there has been much of a buzz about the fuzz this year (and rightly so) are San Diego’s ‘60s- crazy punkers The Night Times. Their Debut single ‘I Don’t Mind’ on Outro Records, sold out faster than a toupee in a hurricane. Luckily, I managed to acquire one from ever reliable State Records. Can’t wait to see them play next year.

Later this year I was thrilled to see Les Envahissuers play at The Bottom Rung club in Edinburgh with Les Bof! It was quite a mesmerising performance. Again, plenty of fun, fuzz and frolics ‘My Gorilla’ has been an ear worm ever since, and Nataly De Lovely certainly lived up to her name (I don’t mind admitting that I have a bit of a girl-crush!). All that, and the new singer/guitarist had to be found at the last minute, but you would never have known. Go see them live if you ever get the chance, and buy their album Garage Monkeys on Soundflat Records.   

A band to definitely watch out for next year are Spanish Duo Los Retumbes. You can read all about this perfect pairing here. They’ve just secured a support slot with garage rock legends The Morlocks and will be playing in Newcastle and Edinburgh respectively in early March. Their debut single is out now on Family Spree Recordings.  

The Sensation Seekers first LP Jerk Beat was propelled onto the unsuspected masses in November on the Back To Beat label of Norway – describing themselves as instrumentalists (which I can confirm is true) ‘it’s what you’d get if you stuck a Hammond, harp and guitar in the Hadron Collider and fired them full pelt at each other’ (thanks Mr. Ellis for the quote) – it’s a far our Hammond hootenanny for the heppest of cats.   

Other stand-out gigs this year were the legendary 5678s in Glasgow, the scary (but in a good way) Rev Beatman & Sister Nicole Izobel Garcia in Edinburgh, The Courettes & Oh! Gunquit at Weirdsville and The Galileo 7 blowing the roof off at The Fratcave in Hastings – Holy tintinnabulation! Last but my no means least, the aforementioned and Graham Day And The Gaolers at the Damaged Goods 30th Anniversary celebrations at The Lexington. Check out the Retro Man Blog for the low down on that night. The year nicely bookended by Mr. Day et al – who’d of thought it? What a great way to end 2018.  

What will 2019 bring? For me – listening to more records, more gigs, putting on my own gigs, more festivals (overseas this time yay!) – Possibly a release by a certain girl band I know AND if it’s anything like 2018, I think I may need to re-mortgage my wee bachelorette pad!

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Musos' Guide Interviews Los Retumbes

Los Retumbes are a tumultuous twosome from the Basque Country (which, for those who don’t know, is neatly nestled next to the southern French border in northern Spain). Formed in 2017, Mr. & Mrs. Retumbes recorded and released their first single earlier this year.

To give you the reader, some background, Ana and I met on Facebook a few months ago. We got chatting, and the rest is history. Luckily for me her brother lives near Edinburgh, and she and Andres are regular visitors to the city. I met with them during their recent trip ...

Ms B: Los Retumbes is a fairly recent project for you both, and you have cited your sound as ‘between Link Wray and The Clash’, could you expand on that for the readers?  

LR: Our influences are from early rock and roll, Link Wray, Bo Diddley, Little Richard to ‘70’s punk. But also surf music and ‘60s garage. There are many kinds of music in Los Retumbes!

Ms B: ...but what style of music was it which really got you into what you’re doing now with Los Retumbes?

LR: (Andres) Punk rock, because in the town where we are from (Barakaldo) the musical scene is punk, punk and punk.

Ms B: ...does that include ‘60s punk, or is it more ‘70s driven?

LR: ...from ‘70s to now. It’s a very particular style of punk, only from our city, but there are punk bands in the town (Distorsion, Parabellum) who are famous all over Spain. One particular band (Parabellum) are still playing to the present day.

Ms B: ...are they a political punk band? (thinking of the Basque conflict 1959-2011).

LR: Today no, but in the past yes. There was a thing called Radical Basque Rock, it was very important in the ‘80s/’90s, and the place where we live was very influenced, and there were many bands playing that kind of music. It was not only political lyrics, and they sang in both Spanish and Basque.

Ms B: ...so how did you get into the music of the ‘60s?

LR: Since the beginning (Andres) mostly listened to punk bands, about 20 years ago he started to listen to other styles of music.

Ms B: ...did you have garage bands visiting your town, or did you have to travel?

LR: We are the only garage band in our town! There is a band called The Paniks from (Bermeo & Barakaldo) who are ‘western’ garage, and The Lie Detectors, but in our town/Basque Country, there are no other bands. The bands that make garage music are based more in the East and South of Spain.    

Ms B: Your other band, The Brand New Sinclairs, seem to have a distinctly Mod flavour …

LB: We started Brand New Sinclairs 11 years ago. We were in the Mod scene, and the music in the beginning was more rhythm & blues and beat, and very accepted by the Mods. With the years, maybe because we are more open to other music, we have changed. The drummer and bass player are different from the originals, and they have bought more rock and roll and garage, so we’ve changed. Although the music is still very ‘60s, it’s changed.

Ms B: Let’s talk about your Los Retumbes new EP. I see that it’s produced by Jorge Explosion aka Jorge Munoz-Cobo, formally of the formidable Dr. Explosion. Wow - that’s pretty impressive indeed. I saw them play at the Frat Shack in London about 20 years ago, and they were pretty crazy. Big fan of Dr Explosion.

LB: Us too! We were very pleased to go and record the EP with Jorge. We wrote to him, and Andres (all the time) was saying ‘this band has to record with Jorge - this is a must’. It is a great move for this kind of music. We wrote to him, and we didn’t know if he would respond because Jorge only works with the kind of music he likes. If he doesn’t like it, he won’t do it. We were no-one, we were very young (in terms of how long the band had been together), we wrote to him and we thought he was not going to write back. But he liked it, and he’s brilliant! When we were recording he said ‘you are going to do this’ and he makes songs ‘bigger’. (Andres) ‘I say he’s a freak and he’s a genius!’.

Ms B: Wow… Super. Has Jorge helped to push you into the wider garage world?

LB: Jorge speaks several times a year on a radio show called (El Sótano, Radio3) he talked about Los Retumbes and our track ‘Surfing Fukushima’ as he likes it very much, and on Facebook he wrote about us; ‘pay attention to this band’ etc. He’s helped very much. He’s put us on the map, no one knew us before, so it was very important to us.

Ms B: ...yes, I can see why. He has a lot of credibility, and contacts all over the world.

LB: Yes, that’s right.

Ms B: So, when you were recording with Jorge, what was the process? What kind of equipment did you use? Was it recorded in Jorge’s own studio, Estudios Circo Perotti?

LB: Yes, it was his studio, in a basement. It’s very small. He has two levels, the second level for reverb. He has a big tank for reverb. With Jorge, you start recording, and as you are playing, he’s thinking about what he’s going to do with those songs. But the first thing he did was check our equipment, (Ana) and he took my toms and he started playing and he was an hour deciding what was the correct formation, and finally he said ‘hmm, we are not going to use your equipment, we are going to use mine’. That’s why I have bought (from Ebay) the same equipment that I used to record, because he didn’t like mine.

Ms B: Did he get you to record live?

LB: Yes, it’s all recorded live. I was in the sound booth, Andres was with with Jorge in the office, one amp was in the wardrobe, and one in the toilet! (Andres) Because when recording with the amp in the toilet, it sounds great because of the echo. (Ana) To play at the same time was difficult, because I was playing in a different part of the studio, so I had to twist around to see him.

Ms B: ... was it all analogue equipment?

LB: Yes, all analogue, vintage equipment. Recorded on magnetic tape (shows a picture of reel to reel tape machine). There was no digital equipment, just at the end of the mixing he had to put it on the computer to give us MP3’s. (Showing pics - Ana) this is my set-up, and I had many microphones!

Ms B: ...what an amazing experience!

LB: Yes. A very good experience.

Ms B: Moving onto band No.3, Anita y Los Peleles ... I’ve seen pictures - you’re all in stripes. Very traditional.

LB: (Ana) We are a rock and roll band for the family. Not just for kids, but parents. We have the same lineup as The Sinclairs. Years ago there was a project called ‘rock n roll bands for kids’ so that kids can listen to another kind of music, not the horrible kind of music they are forced to listen to. They called the Brand New Sinclairs three or four times, and asked us to play our music, but particularly aimed at kids. So we played our music, and two or three covers. Kids liked it very much. It was very different and very beautiful. So, as we liked it so much we said we don’t like that people think that BNS are a band for kids, so why don’t we prepare another set list, and have another band just for that purpose. So, Anita y Los Peleles, it means Anita and the Fools. A fool that does everything I tell them to do, it’s funny and sweet at the same time. We do all covers, rock and roll songs from ‘50s to ‘70s, twist, and we change the lyrics to be suitable for children under 18. I change them completely. If the lyrics are okay, then I just translate them (to Spanish) for songs that are Latin, they are perfect, we don’t change them. It’s a different experience. It’s rock and roll, but it’s not rock and roll, because you have to measure every movement and measure your words, but I like it very much. I like playing with kids, because not for them it’s with them, and they dance with you. So there’ll be a kid who goes home and asks her parents for a guitar.

Ms B: ...that’s brilliant. Sowing the seeds…

LB: Yes, and the parent’s like it as well.

Ms B: Tell me about the record label, Family Spree Recordings.

LB: They are a new label, but they are working very hard. They run it as a family. There is very little distribution in Spain, or specialised record shops, but you can buy it from Family Spree Bandcamp. There’s a limited run - and half have sold already. The label promotes us, and we’ve been played in France and Greece, but no one knows how they came by the recordings!

Ms B: What does the future hold for Los Retumbes?

LR: First of all, we’ll release our new videoclip made in Scotland (you saw it first!)

Then we are going to have some gigs to introduce the EP everywhere we can, hope in Edinburgh soon. And after that, play, play, play and play, and meanwhile record again!

Ms B: Lastly, in your own words describe your band…

LR: Los Retumbes are a married couple who live in a house full of books, records and guitars. They kill boredom by playing music fast and loud!

Ms B: Thank you to Ana and Andres, it’s been a pleasure.

Please check out their Facebook page here, and their EP is available from Family Spree Recordings bandcamp page. Los Retumbes will be playing in Edinburgh early next year, date TBC. I hope you’re as excited as I am.

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Playing The Game : A Guide To Press Releases For Independent Artists

I get plenty of acts asking me how they can promote their next show or their new release. I always give the same answer; “Get yourself a PR”. And the bands always give the same answers to me; “We can’t afford it” or “We don’t know how to do it”. PR is pricey, no doubt, but you’ll get nowhere without it. Nothing will be written about you, or your music, if you don’t have one. That’s the reality of the situation. If you are not willing to spend money promoting your music, then you are not serious about it. Get out now and save the time and effort for yourself and for us.

But if you are genuinely strapped, and are in this for the long haul, then I’ll get you started. I will now show you how to write a Press Release that will get published. In an ideal world, the music would speak for itself but that is not good enough. All of your favourite bands have great PR behind them. Even the ones that say they don’t.

So you have booked your headline show, or have your single/EP/album ready for release. We’ll do this for a single but the format is identical for any circumstance.

First write yourself a headline, which includes the name of your band. It can be a pun, or make a point, or be whatever you want, as long as it is short and publishable. A simple [BAND NAME Release ‘SINGLE TITLE’] will do nicely.

 Next, copy in a picture of the band or the single cover (gig poster if relevant). Put it in the body of the email. You can put a link, attachment, or dropbox link in as well, but the one in the body of the email is probably the one that will get used.

 Next put a link to the song on YouTube and Soundcloud. These are the most commonly used and most easily embedded media for websites. You can include the Spotify/ Bandcamp/ etc if you like. Don’t use a tinyURL or anything, post the exact link. Writers and editors can then embed them whichever way their particular website works.

 Then tell us about the single. When is it coming out? Is it from an album? Is it following up another single? Does it rock hard? Is it a booty shaker? Is it a rip-roaring party record? Is it super serious subject matter? We don’t know, and the readers won’t know unless you tell us. So tell us.

 Next, tell us about your band. We don’t need your life story but describe your sound in 10 words. Where are you based? Have you released anything before or is this your debut single? Tell us that [OUR BAND have played FESTIVAL NAMES, as well as playing VENUE NAMES, and have shared stages with BANDS THAT PEOPLE MIGHT HAVE HEARD OF].

 Next, tell us if you have any planned future releases or gigs to promote the single.

 Next, a member of the band should tell us a bit about the single. What is it about? What happened when you were recording it? Did you work with anyone interesting while making it? E.g. [BAND MEMBER JOE BLOGGS says of the new single “we had a great time recording it. It’s a song that means a lot to us because X. Working in STUDIO NAME was a great honour. We could feel the history of those other bands that recorded there]”.

This whole thing should be 200-500 words. That’s all we need. If you follow those instructions and then send that press release to every blog, paper and magazine that you can think of, you will get coverage (unless you are very unlucky, or your music is totally unlistenable). Then you’ll have a quote or two for your next poster or PR campaign; “[A Rip-Roaring Party Record - Musos’ Guide]”.

It may seem disingenuous or phoney, but this is the game. And if you don’t play by the rules, your band will fail. You can start by writing one about your next release or gig and sending it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Good luck!

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Bearded Theory Preview : Musos' Guide Chats With Winachi Tribe

Bearded Theory Spring Gathering is back at its iconic home of Catton Park nestled in the National Forest for their 11th outing. They have six main music stages being The Pallet, Magical Sounds, Woodland, Maui Waui, Convoy Cabaret and One Big Showcase. They have several smaller venues including Something Else Tea Tent, The Ship, Rogues Hideout, Magic Teapot, Alpaca, Creative Intentions to name just a few. We’ll be live tweeting Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (@musosguide), as well as bringing you reviews from all three days here at Musos' Guide.

The line-up is pretty great with legends like Robert Plant, The Jesus And Mary Chain, Jimmy Cliff, The Membranes and Therapy? Other festival staples like Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Jesus Jones, The Coral and Altern-8 join the relative newcomers like Sleaford Mods, Idles, Jake Bugg, Rews, Pins and The Winachi Tribe for a very promising three days of dancing and merriment.

The Winachis are headlining the Showcase stage on Saturday night, and we spoke with singer Liam Croker about the festival, headliner Robert Plant, and the band’s adventures in Hollywood.

Bearded Theory festival is one of our big dates. It’s one I’ve been wanting to go to. It’s really eclectic. The line up this year is mind blowing. I was thinking about going anyway just to watch the bands. We got an email form the Academy Of Music And Sound and we’d been picked out of 2000 applicants to headline their stage on Saturday night at Bearded Theory and wow, what an honour that is! From planning to go and watch to headlining one of the stages, we’re over the moon. It’s the introducing stage. We’re at that point now where we’re headlining those sort of stages. We’ve been around for about 3 and a half years now. We’re getting to that point where we’re headlining these stages and looking to break in to the bigger ones too.

I saw Robert Plant in March in Hollywood. We were touring in California and our manager and sound engineer brought us to see him in this really small theatre. There were only about 300 people in this wee theatre with Robert Plant. It was surreal. He was amazing. He’s still got it. And he had a pair of really tight pants on so it looked like he had a massive chopper. What a dude!

It’s been a hell of year. We went out to America in March and came home to play two really big home town shows and we just did a massive show in Warrington town centre last weekend. It was the Warrington Music Festival. Us and Fun Lovin’ Criminals were the two main acts. We did that on Saturday. We don’t get to play our home town much so it turned into a big carnival. Now we’re gearing up to do a full UK tour from May until September.

The first time we went out to America, we were working with Danny Saber, the producer. He’d worked with Black Grape, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie. We were working with Danny when we met Harry (Bridgen). Then Harry came on board and has been managing the band since.

We went back out here in 2016. We did the video for our single a room with a zoo with Tommy Flanagan from Sons Of Anarchy. Tommy’s a fan of the band. Our manager says Tommy approached him about being in the video. He said he had a little break in his schedule and if you can get the lads to LA within this time, I’d be able to do it. Tommy was great to work with. It looks like I’m riding through the desert on the back of that horse but that’s Tommy’s garden. It’s fucking enormous. That’s his actual horse too. It’s called Zeus. The video for ‘A Room With A Zoo’ and the horse is called Zeus, quite an interesting coincidence. The first scenes are done in East LA, in a rough neighbourhood, in a warehouse. The Tommy scenes were done at his ranch in Malibu. His next door neighbour is Will Smith or somebody. I went from a council estate in Warrington to being on a back of a big white horse in Tommy Flanagan’s back garden within a week. The craziest Tuesday afternoon I ever had. What an experience!

And then we went back again in March of this year and did a tour of California. We got a new guitarist and his first show was headlining The Harvard And Stone at Hollywood Boulevard, no pressure there! His name is Mike Bee. I’ve known Mike since we were in our late teens, a long time. Our old guitarist, Jamie, had to leave and Mike stepped in. It’s been a very easy transition into the band. We broke him in in America and he’s coming out with us again. It’s all good.

 

The equipment company, Behringer, we did a live session for them which you can see on YouTube. They launched a new series called artist profiles. They get a new artist and you talk about your career and stuff. We launched that series while we were in LA. It was an honour. We are going back. I can’t go into it too much but this year we’ll be back in LA for another round. While we were out there we did some work in the studio with a producer called John X. He’s worked with Danny, with all those big names. We did a track with him called ‘Funky But Chic’ and we’ll be launching that back in the States. In the coming months, all will be revealed.”

Bearded Theory runs May 24 - 27 and tickets are available here.

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The Cosmic Dead To Undergo Line-up Change

Noticing last week that The Cosmic Dead are playing MONO in Glasgow on May 12 I nipped on to bandcamp to see if there was a new release being supported. There's not so I bought a t-shirt instead.

A click on the band's own website, however, revealed the news that the gig's the final one with the current line-up, with two members set to move on after it. Seeing as The Cosmic Dead are one of the few acts in Scotland, let alone the rest of the UK, which I've been keen to see regularly in the past five or so years (shows such as this one being reason enough) this selfishly struck me as a shame (+ I can't make it through West on Saturday) but change is inevitable and replacements are obviously in the frame as other live dates are listed (including a set at Doune The Rabbit Hole) so thanks and all the best lads.

In their own words here's the duo's statement:-

"After 7/8 years of brotherhood on the road, in the studio, self-destroying, self-empowering, thrashing, trashing, howling and screaming - the time has come for change. I know what you're thinking - 'change is scary, I don't like change' - that's OK, but remember the waves never stop coming whether they're just washing over you or crashing down over your little floating lylo - Don't fight it too hard and you'll soon float right back to the surface.

The news is: Myself (Lewis) and Julian are leaving The Cosmic Dead in an act of metaphorical self-immolation: An act of devotion to the thing and people we've both held so close, that has defined most of our adult life, that has taken us across continents, that has connected us with the most beautiful lifelong friends all over the world, that has taken us to the plateaued peaks of human love and shown us the darkness that can lie beneath, that has allowed us to transcend these fleshy bodies so many times and be with everyone in that room together and whole - one big flame burning up to the heavens - passion, tears, blood, spirit and most importantly, love.

And it is with this feeling in our hearts, these experiences which will never leave us, that we each move on to the next zone - As our bodies burn, the energy released is a devotion to our eternal brothers, Omar and James, who will continue bounding boldly on this path we all carved together, recruiting new members, and taking the Cosmic Dead into it's next chapter.

The Cosmic Dead live on in this zone and in the next.
In the distance the calling is loud but unclear: Julian leaves with the knowledge that a recent vacancy as leading celebrity astrophysicist has opened up echoing round his mind - As for me, I'm thinking about moving to Oregon and starting up a devotional community (DM for details). Of course, what would this be if you too were not invited to the leaving ceremony?: Of course, you are invited to ride the crest of this wave with us. Of course, you are invited to have your face roasted by our burning altars.

This is all for you. One final show in this beautiful, tangled form, before the branches are untangled and new blossoms spring forth, ushering in the next chapter in the Cosmic Dead.

And to the vast majority of you who won't be able to be there on the night to hear us say this - let me say on behalf of both myself and Julian - Thank you thank you thank you for everything you've given us. You mean more than you'll ever know."

- Lewis and Julian, April 2018.

The Cosmic Dead's bandcamp can be perused here

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