Saturday, 11 December 2010

Interview: You Me At Six

2010 was the year of You Me At Six after the band scored a Top 10 album. I caught up with them before their sold out show at the B.I.C to talk about their successes… as well as Dragons Den, Fifa and ‘curry-gate’.

2010 has been a huge year for you, but if you could have done anything differently what would it be?

Matt (bass): I think everything has shaped up the way we wanted it to be.
Dan (drums) - now with bleached blonde hair: I would have dyed my hair earlier on in the year. I should have thought about it earlier because I’m quite fond of it.

You went to America this summer for Vans Warped Tour, how do American tours differ to here in Britain?

Matt: There’s a lot more driving. Everyday you’re driving for like 8 to 10 hours. There are always travel days where you’re literally driving all day long. Whereas in the UK you travel for four hours and that’s long. You’re like ‘Oh four hours? Really?!’ Then we went over there and its 10 hours every day. That sucks. But there isn’t really that much difference. I guess the fans are different because maybe we’re not as well known over in America.
Dan: We’ve been touring the UK for like the last three or four years whereas in America we’re just kind of starting out again. That’s really fun though.

How was getting to play with Paramore on their recent tour?

Matt: Paramore were really good dudes… and girl. They were really fun to go on tour with. The shows were always massive with them as well because they’re like the biggest band in the world at the moment.
Dan: Yea it was fun that we got to go out to Europe. We’ve only headlined out there and it’s always been really small. So the chance to support someone like Paramore in Sweden where I think we played to like six or seven thousand people, that was incredible. It was a really good opportunity for our band and hopefully it paid off. I think it did.

You guys are going to be supporting Blink 182 on their European Tour in the summer, how does that feel?

Matt: It’s like a dream come true. My two favourite bands when I grew up were New Found Glory and Blink 182. We did a tour with New Found Glory about two years ago and were doing a tour with Blink next year so I’m losing my mind basically. It’s like the best Christmas present ever!
Dan: At Reading Festival I actually got to meet Travis Barker and I was freaking out. I was full on shaking and I couldn’t speak properly. And then I got invited on stage and was sitting about two feet behind him when they were playing. It was the best day of my life. And now we get to play with them every day!

Is there anyone else that you’ve ever been star struck over?

Matt: I don’t think we’ve properly been star struck.
Dan: Yea with Travis Barker I think that’s the only time in my whole life that I’ve ever been star struck or seen someone and just been shaking. Because he’s like a hero to me. When I was younger, he was one of those people I always looked up to.
Matt: I’d probably be star struck if I met Will Smith or Brendon from Coach Trip. I think he’s awesome.
Dan: Brendon from Coach Trip?
Matt: Have you not watched Coach Trip before?!
Dan: No, what’s that?
Matt: It’s the best thing ever!
Dan: I’d be star struck if I met Eminem. Or Jay Z. That’d be sick.
Matt: Basically A List celebrities.
Dan: If Notorious B.I.G. was resurrected. That’d be sweet.

Clearly you have done pretty well at getting high profile support slots but is there anyone you would love to support that you haven’t had the chance to yet?

Matt: Well my number one in the world was Blink 182 to be honest.
Dan: I reckon it’d be sick to support someone like Green Day or Linkin Park. Just because we like Linkin Park. The other day we put the old album on and were just rocking out.
Matt: We still know all the words to Hybrid Theory.
Dan: Every single word.
Matt: From being 12 years old listening to it in our bedrooms.

How are you going to cope with nerves before supporting Blink 182?

Dan: I think it will probably just be the first show we’ll be a bit nervous. We’ve done arenas before so it should be alright.
Matt: Yea we played Wembley with Fall Out Boy so we’ve played big venues but we haven’t played anywhere as big as The O2. So it’s gonna be scary. But it’s even more scary when your parents are watching you. When you’re playing to a load of random people it’s not actually that bad but when you’ve got all your family down, you feel like you have to be good.
Dan: Yea, like Leeds Festival, I just had a great time and didn’t even think about it when there was like 30,000 people there. But then at Reading Festival, because my mum and my sister were there and my auntie and my cousin, I was pooing myself.

You guys are with a major record label, but some bands, such as Enter Shikari, are now going back to independent labels. Do you think bands do better with a major label?

Dan: I think there are pros and cons. We were on an independent for quite a while, Slam Dunk Records. We sort of made it up with our manager. That didn’t quite work out so right not we’re trying a major label and its going quite well. I think they have the financial backing and they also know people in the industry so they can open up doors for you.

Do you think the business side of the music industry has a negative effect on music?

Matt: Well the business side of the industry is full of arseholes.
Dan: There are always problems with everything. Like if you’re on an independent you’re gonna find problems and if you’re on a major label you’re gonna find problems. That’s something you have to realise quite early on otherwise you’ll kill yourself.
Matt: Yea stuff is always going wrong. Stuff is going wrong the whole time.
Dan: I’m sure even in Paramore’s world there’s times when they’re pissed off about something or something is going wrong.
Matt: Yea and when stuff is going wrong, people don’t know it’s going wrong. Like on out first album, the first 5000 copies that went out were missing a page. You open it up and it was white behind the CD.
Dan: Yea we were going crazy about that.
Matt: We were going mental but everyone was like ‘Oh it’s probably supposed to be like that’. And we’re just like ‘Nope’. So if you do have ‘Take Off Your Colours’ with a white bit behind the CD, that one went wrong.
Dan: You could almost say its limited edition.

What is your favourite song to perform live?

Dan: I think mine has been ‘Stay With Me’.
Matt: Yea same. We go off and then come back on for our encore. We don’t say anything and then there’s the first note and the lights and stuff. It looks pretty cool.

You’ve spent a lot of time travelling all over the world together, how do you usually pass the time when travelling on the tour bus?

Dan: People have been playing Fifa for money the past two days. Josh is up like £400.
Matt: Yea one of our friends from America came over and he and Josh were playing £100 games. Josh beat him basically every time. Then he went to the casino and won again.
Dan: And then everyone was like ‘Matt, Dan, why don’t you join in?’ and it’s like ‘Because I don’t want to just give you my money because you’ll clearly beat me’.
Matt: Yea we suck at Fifa.
Dan: I’m alright but I probably wouldn’t win. We’re fans of Call of Duty more than Fifa. Chris is wicked at Call of Duty.
Matt: Chris is already level 50
Dan: And Max is good

What could you not live without on tour?

Matt: A fridge to put the beers in.
Dan: A bed.
Matt: No the fridge, I could deal with sleeping on the floor if I’ve had too many beers.

Any particular food you can’t live without?

Matt: Well I always have curry but someone ate my curry last night. It’s stressed me out basically.
Dan: He’s been going mental for the past three days because someone stole his curry.
Matt: Twitter is going crazy. If anyone knows where my curry is by the way let me know. There’s a cash prize.
Dan: Yea £5000. We think it’s Max though.
Matt: Last night we got really drunk and I was like ‘Max, did you eat it?’ and he said ‘Actually, I might’ve eaten it’. And I was like ‘Well did you?’ and he said ‘I dunno’
Dan: Basically, he admitted to eating it
Matt: He’s the curry thief.
Dan: He keeps talking about it so I think he’s guilty.

If you ever have any major arguments, what or who is usually the cause?

Dan: It’s usually really little things.
Matt: I get stress out when I’m like ‘Are you ready to go out now?’ and everyone’s like ‘Yea yea yea’ And then we’re just about to go out and someone goes ‘Oh will you just wait for me for five minutes?’ and 15 minutes later they come and them someone else goes ‘No wait for me I’ll be like two minutes’ and then another 15 minutes later someone goes ‘Wait for me!’ and I’m just like ‘No. I’m done’ and they start stressing out that I’m not gonna wait for them. And I’ve been waiting for like two hours. You can’t get everyone together. There’s 24 people on this tour travelling with us and so getting them all together is probably the hardest thing in the world. That stresses me out.
Dan: I don’t get that stressed I don’t think. I like to wind Matt up quite a lot
Matt: Dan stresses me out a lot actually.
Dan: I do it on purpose though because I know exactly how to do it. Like yesterday he was like ‘Are you gonna come to the room’ and I’m like ‘Yea I’m gonna go in about 10 minutes’, and he’s like ‘Well why don’t you come now?’ and I’m like ‘I’m just gonna come in 10 minutes’. And then I turn round to him and I’m like ‘Do you need me to hold your hand?’ and all this stuff. And he’s like ‘Fuck you man, fuck you’ and walks off and gets so stressed out
Matt: The only reason I wanted him to come was because I was gonna go swimming so I was gonna wait for him in the room. Then I waited for like 15 minutes just sat there and he just weren’t coming.
Dan: I think he needs anger management.

Did you get to go swimming in the end?

Matt: I did actually but the jacuzzi was broken
Dan: And then you probably got more stressed out about that because it was broken right?
Matt: Yes
Dan: There you go.

You must do a lot of press, is there a particular question that you never get asked but wish you would?

Matt: You’ve put us on the spot now. Now I feel like we’re interviewing you!
Dan: I would love to be asked the question ‘My best friend is Zooey Deschanel, would you like to go on a date with her?’ That would probably be my favorite question.

As five guys in a rock band, how do you cope with all the female attention?

Dan: We don’t get any because we’re losers
Max (from across the room): The only female we have in the band is a curry!
Matt: Max, shut up. This is our interview alright?
Max: Sorry, I’ve got curry on my mind
Dan: We don’t get much female attention.

So you don’t get any knickers thrown at you or anything?

Matt: Well we do but Dan doesn’t see them because he’s at the back and they can’t throw that far. No, there’s not that much female attention. It depends. If we were to go out to a rock bar after the show then there are people who know who we are. So we tend to go to dance clubs and dance like idiots.
Dan: The other day there was 30 of us from the tour, everyone was out going crazy and dancing like fools.
Matt: Yea, Max fell over. He got so drunk.
Dan: He not only fell over but he face planted as well.
Matt: Yea I’ve got a feeling he was two-stepping to JLS or something and he slipped and face planted to the floor. And Bob from The Blackout was stomping around past all these 30 year old chavs. It was pretty funny actually.
Dan: Yea, if there was a small group of us they probably would have just beaten us up but because there was 30 of us they were all just looking over like ‘Who are these guys? And why are they in a massive circle having a dance off?’ It was brilliant.

This year was obviously huge for you but which bands would you like to see have the same type of success in 2011?

Matt: Yea they are the best dudes ever.
Dan: Their songs are amazing and they deserve it. And they’re amazing live. I’d love to see them get massive.
Matt: And a band called Not Advised, I really like them as well. They’re from Southampton. They’re really good, you should check them out.
Dan: And Tibbin as well.
Matt: Oh yea, DJ Tibbin. He’s DJing inbetween the bands tonight and he’s sick. He plays drum n’ bass and dubstep. He mixes pop with dubstep.
Dan: His Twitter is @TibbinAKATibbin
Matt: Tweet him

You are already writing the third album and I’ve heard there will be some exciting collaborations. Can you divulge any now?

Dan: Oh really? I don’t know.
Matt: Well, we’re doing one song with Eminem.
Dan: And another song with Rhianna
Matt: And Britney Spears was begging us to do a song with her but we said no.
Dan: We said ‘Do one! You used to be bald’.
Matt: And Dr Dre also was like ‘I want you to come round my house’ but we were just like ‘Sorry Dre’.
Dan: No, Dre is gonna produce it now I think.
Matt: I don’t know if I want him to. I don’t know if he’s good enough.
Dan: No, but seriously though, we have no clue.
Matt: We’ve demoed 4 songs.
Dan: It’s probably just Josh chatting rubbish on Twitter.
Matt: Yea, he likes to cause a kerfuffle.

A few of you are quite entrepreneurial as you run various clothing labels. But if you were auditioning for The Apprentice, how would you try to impress Lord Sugar?

Matt: God I don’t know.
Dan: I’d just say ‘Alright mate? Like this T-Shirt?’ Wanna buy it?’
Matt: If it was Dragons Den, because they’ve got all the money in front of them already, surely if anyone is clever enough when they go for their interview they’d just take a gun and say ‘Give me your money’. And then everyone gives you their money and then you win. You don’t even have to give away a percentage.
Dan: Yes you just walk in and hold the gun at them and they’ll be like ‘Oh so what’s the business?
Matt: ‘My gun to your face’
Dan: ‘Give me your money. Now’
Matt: Yea I don’t know what I’d do on The Apprentice but I know what I’d do on Dragons Den.

If you were freshers, what would your ideal student night out involve?

Matt: We go on freshers nights out all the time! Well, not freshers nights out but we go to student nights at clubs, because we basically are students. We’re the same age as everyone else.
Dan: We just don’t go to uni. We blag ourselves in there.

If it was a fancy dress night, what would you wear?

Matt: The last fancy dress night we did was Halloween and I had a full chimp suit. It was literally Thorpe Park material.
Dan: I was a bear and I looked like a gay bear
Matt: I’ve been dressed up as a fairy before. That was funny, and a bit gay.
Dan: My mum says we’ve got a full Superman outfit in the attic so I’m gonna wear that next time I dress up.

A quick chat with Enter Shikari…

How did the American tour go this summer?

Rory (guitar): It was really successful in terms of sales and stuff. Probably about half of it sold out. So all that hard work with Warped Tour and the A Day To Remember and August Burns Red tours payed off really well.

How does touring America differ from Britain?

Rob (drums): It’s more difficult, a hell of a lot more difficult. The drives are the main thing, because it’s such a big country, the drives are so far apart. It takes about 10 to 12 hours to get from one city to another instead of two to three hour drives. And it starts to grind after a little bit, but it’s always fun. The audiences are just as good.

Do you think you’re getting more successful in America now?

Rob: It seems to be picking up certainly. Same with everywhere you go, you go to play to 200 people then next time you go back you’ll be in front of 400. Word of mouth is the best way forward really.

You recently left Atlantic Records, what made you decide to go back to your independent label?

Rory: We’re moving back to the distribution company we were with for Take To The Skies, and we left them because we thought maybe Atlantic might be able to offer something a bit more. But what actually happened was we kind of weren’t big enough for them to pay enough attention to us but we weren’t small enough for them to not bother with us at all so it was kind of like a half arsed effort really. And the distribution company that we were with PS have changed around their whole system. It’s all really modern there, they are very open to changing with the times and stuff. Whereas big record labels are stuck in their ways a lot more.

Rob: They can be quite difficult to work with in that way. Because of the age of internet, they don’t really know how to deal with it and they haven’t changed anything about their deals to tackle that problem. Whereas, PS, the guys that are distributing us now and did with our first album are really forward thinking and always coming out with new ideas. It’s very exciting to work with them really.

Do you think big labels have a bad effect on the music industry?

Rory: I think big labels can destroy a band, they can take a band that is just up-and-coming and sign them into a binding deal where they can’t do anything. Unless you’re just doing it purely for fun which is what we were doing back in the day. We did 400 shows before anything really happened for us or anyone tried to help us. So if you’re trying to get big then signing to a smaller label would probably be better than signing to a big record label.

The new single ‘Destabilise’ sounds a little different to your previous work, will the next album be going in the same direction?

Rob: To be honest it’s kind of all spreading out. No one song is going in any particular direction. It’s the same as we’ve always done, we don’t know what’s going to happen when we go into the studio and when we come out the other end. So it’s gonna be very extreme in every direction. We’re not gonna be able to say we’re going down any particular path.

What made you decide to release ‘Destabilise’ on limited edition vinyl.

Rory: Just to keep it kind of low key and one for the fans really, to make it more of a collector’s edition. Rather than spending loads of money printing CDs, we just thought like it’s not gonna be in the charts so we might as well. Also to give a little bit of promotion to the independent stores that don’t get as many sales these days. With all the CDs being sold in Tesco or whatever, the independent places are missing out on a hell of a lot, so it’s just to give a little nudge to them.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Fall Out Boy: Where Are They Now?

After going on an ‘indefinate hiatus’ last year, what have the members of Fall Out Boy been up to?

Some call them emo, some call them pop-punk, some call them plain old rock. But what does it matter? Fall Out Boy are on an ‘indefinite hiatus’ as of their announcement in November 2009. But like a phoenix from the ashes, we can now expect some exciting side projects from the four boys from Chicago. Here is what they have in store…

Patrick Stump

Position in Fall Out Boy: lead vocals & guitar

Where is he now?

The now, much slimmer, Patrick is working on a solo album which is due to be released in February 2011. Earlier this year he posted a video on YouTube of himself playing an impressive range of instruments to promote his solo project. Stump has now revealed the record will be called ‘Soul Punk’ and that he will be writing, producing and performing the whole thing himself. It has been revealed that we will get to hear new track ‘Spotlight’ very soon, the lyrics of which have been posted on Patrick’s website.

Joe Trohman & Andy Hurley

Position in Fall Out Boy: Joe - lead guitar, Andy – drums

Where are they now?

The two arguably less ‘high profile’ members of the band have now joined a supergroup. The Damned Things also features Scott Ian and Rob Caggiano of Anthrax and Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die. After playing a selection of shows earlier this year - including a set at Download Festival – the band are ready to release their debut album. The record, ‘Ironiclast’, is due to hit real and virtual stores on December 14th but in the meantime, you can buy debut single ‘We’ve Got A Situation Hear’ now.

Pete Wentz

Position in Fall Out Boy: bass & lyrics

Where is he now?

After taking a year out to spend time with his son - named Bronx Mowgli in true rock star fashion – and wife Ashlee Simpson, Pete has now formed an experimental electropop band, which is heavily influenced by reggae, called Black Cards. With Pete on bass and backup vocals, Spencer Peterson on drums, Nate Patterson on lead guitar and amateur singer Bebe Rexha on lead vocals, the group completed a short European tour in October. Debut single ‘Club Called Heaven’, featuring hip hop group Chiddy Bang, has been released online but there is no news of an album just yet. Pete also likes to keep his dedicated fans up to date via his blog ‘A Homeboy’s Life’.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Album Review: Danger Days - The Fabulous Return of My Chemical Romance

It’s no wonder My Chemical Romance scrapped their first attempt at a fourth album. Whatever it sounded like, it could not have compared to this.

Since My Chemical Romance announced that The Black Parade was dead back in 2007, the MCRmy have been kept in suspense about what to expect from the band’s fourth album and at times, whether they would get a fourth album at all. The making of Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys may well have been rocky - with the band binning their original recordings and starting again – but it was definitely worth the wait. After originally insisting they would not create another concept album, the band then realised that storytelling is what they do best and so Danger Days was born. Set in the year 2019, it follows a gang known as the Killjoys and their Technicolor world of laser guns and desert duals.

Kicking off with a dramatic intro from radio DJ ‘Dr Death Defying’, first single from the record ‘NaNaNa’ explodes onto the scene. At times it may feel like a list of random words strung together in a surreal rant but this infuriatingly catchy tune grips hold of you and throws you head first into the world of the Killjoys.

Dramatically different from The Black Parade, Danger Days is all about rebellious fun. A distinct comic book influence comes in the form of several interjections from Dr Death and the furious party anthem ‘Party Poison’. Although the foundations of classic MCR are there, the boys from New Jersey have experimented with different genres and British influences to glorious effect. ‘Planetary (GO!) sees the band venture into pop/dance with distinct elements of Pulp, ‘Summertime’ has a Cure influenced indie feel whilst ‘Vampire Money’ is very much a raw punk track.

Album highlights come in the form of stunning power ballad ‘S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W’ and the spectacular ‘Sing’ with its spine tingling intro and the type of chorus that could lead a revolution. The equally rebellious ‘Destroya’ is perhaps the defining track on the album. An eclectic mix of crazy jungle drums and subtle elements of rap stinks of Rage Against The Machine.

Danger Days will leave you itching to see it performed live. In fact, My Chem could probably get away with playing nothing but the album in its entirety on their next tour. Hiding behind fictional characters may work well for the band, but looking beyond the record’s concept it stands alone as a perfect mix of tracks that perfectly demonstrate what MCR are capable of.

If they can shake the ‘emo’ stereotype, this record could unlock the potential for My Chemical Romance to rival the mainstream success of the likes of Green Day. A bold claim, but surely no match for the Killjoys and their laser guns.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Film Review: Harry Potter and the Ten Inch Wand

The penultimate Harry Potter film is here, and it seems that not even witches and wizards can escape puberty.

Like a proud mother, it’s hard not to get a little misty eyed when reminiscing about the time we watched Harry get his letter from Hogwarts nine years ago. But now ‘The Boy Who Lived’ is all grown up and has a war to fight.

Part one of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is centred around the three friends, Harry, Ron and Hermoine, as they escape from the evil Lord Voldemort whilst simultaneously working out a way to destroy him. After Professor Dumbledore’s untimely death at the end of the last film the gang must now track down and destroy the ‘Horcruxes’ – the secret to Voldemort’s immortality. They are not alone though. Whilst the acting of the three child ‘prodigies’ still leaves a little to be desired, it’s the talent of the star-studded supporting cast that holds it all together. Superb appearances from Rhys Ifans as Luna Lovegood’s dad and Helena Bonham Carter as the gloriously deranged Bellatrix Lestrange are particular highlights. Dobby the House Elf also makes a very welcome return, proving his eternal gratitude to Harry for freeing him from the Malfoy’s.

One ‘character’ that fails to make much of an appearance though, is Hogwarts. The film starts to feel like an advert for the English Tourist Board at times with scenes set on the streets of London as well as in the English countryside.

Far from being aimed at the middle aged day trippers however, it’s clear that the movie is targeted at those who have grown up with the movies. The script is surprisingly witty and full of innuendos about Ron’s ‘ten inch wand’ and the like, perfect for the ‘Inbetweeners’ generation. A rare chance to see a cross dressing Harry Potter also gets a few laughs.

Love is very much in the air for the horny teenager wizards, with the on-going ‘will they/wont they’ between Ron and Hermione and Harry’s blossoming relationship with Ginny Weasley. We even get a very brief glimpse of a sex scene between Harry and Hermione, but don’t worry it’s only a mind trick to anger Ron.

Now competing with the ‘hotties’ from Twilight, Daniel Radcliffe also takes every opportunity to remove his shirt. Those who still fondly remember him buying his first wand on Diagon Alley, aged 11, will also find it slightly disturbing that he now has chest hair.

For those dedicated fans, the seventh instalment also features several references to the previous films, from Harry’s lingering final goodbye to the ‘cupboard under the stairs’, to several mentions of his fight with the Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets.

The Deathly Hallows is packed full of drama, with several wand duals and no less than three deaths, one of which is surprisingly moving; it’s very much a broomstick ride of emotion. And of course, there are no prizes for guessing that it ends on a chilling cliff hanger that will have you queuing up to see part two in July 2011.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Live Review: Ellie Goulding 'Lights' up Southampton

Considering she was relatively unknown this time last year, Ellie Goulding has created an impressive buzz of excitement at the Southampton Guildhall this evening. The former town hall is packed with people of all ages, from those young enough to watch Blue Peter to those old enough to remember it the first time round.

Support act ‘Sunday Girl’, so called because no one knew her name when she worked in a pet shop every Sunday, takes to the stage to showcase her marvellous vocal talent. With a skilled control on her voice, some catchy synth-infused pop and a refreshing cover of club favourite ‘Tik Tok’, Jade Williams’ alias gets the crowd dancing. Unfortunately, much like at her old part-time job, Sunday Girl lacks much presence on the stage and with an unoriginal sounding voice puts on a pleasant yet unremarkable set.

The same certainly can’t be said for tonight’s main act though. Kicking off the show with a drumming session then moving on to the guitar and not to mention her iconic voice, Ellie Goulding perfectly demonstrates just how multi-talented she is.

Starting her set with some perfectly crafted electro-pop from debut album 'Lights', Ellie then seamlessly moves into some acoustic tracks. With the help of some atmospheric lighting and a carpet that screams Countdown and false teeth, the spacious venue suddenly feels more cosy as Ellie gives a rare performance of unreleased track ‘The End’ and her stunning cover of Elton John’s ‘Your Song’.

Despite a slightly cheesy MTV style promo video on the big screen of Ellie gushing about her love for her fans, the girl from Herefordshire comes across as very down to earth on stage. Letting the room in on the story behind songs such as ‘Wish I Stayed’ (about missing home during her short stay at university) plus some cheery banter with the crowd, Ellie helps to make the evening feel intimate and special for everyone in the room.

An encore of a new song from her next album gets a positive reaction but it’s the powerful rendition of chart hit ‘Starry Eyed’ - which surprisingly sounds even better live - that leaves the crowd happy in the knowledge that Miss Goulding will be sticking around for 2011.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Album Review: Come Around Sundown - Kings Of Leon

Success can easily go to a person’s head and do strange things to them, just look at what happened to dear old Susan Boyle. And now it seems that it may have claimed another victim.

Kings Of Leon managed to escape the pitfalls of popularity with fourth album ‘Only By the Night’, a collection of huge anthems that perfectly suited arenas and festival headline slots. But going back into the studio after playing to thousands of adoring fans night after night appears to have got them all confused.

On ‘Come Around Sundown’, the three brothers from Tennessee have tried to return to their southern routes that worked so well on their first two releases whilst still trying to create arena-worthy anthems as on the last two. And unfortunately they have lived up to the old stereotype about men and multitasking.

Frustratingly, they have teased us a little with ‘Back Down South’, which just about nails it as far as merging new and old is concerned. But the rest of the album is a bit of a disappointment.

There is some redemption in the first single taken from the record, ‘Radioactive’, which has an original gospel feel and ‘Birthday’ manages to retain some of the KOL magic of old. However tracks such as ‘The Face’ and ‘Beach Side’, much like a chav on the dole, just plod along without amounting to much. In fact ‘No Money’ seems to end just as it starts to get good.

Whereas Caleb’s voice has sounded uniquely captivating on previous records, it now sounds a little whiney and dull. And it’s hard to get enthusiastic about a song when even the singer sounds bored.

Maybe it’s a grower, but at the moment I’m starting to think that those pigeons at the Verizon Amphitheatre had a point.

Top 5 Kings Of Leon Tracks:

1. Taper Jean Girl (Aha Shake Heartbreak)

2. Happy Alone (Youth & Young Manhood)

3. Molly’s Chambers (Youth & Young Manhood)

4. Fans (Because Of The Times)

5. Use Somebody (Only By the Night)

Friday, 15 October 2010

The return of My Chemical Romance

Three years ago, My Chemical Romance waved goodbye and took a much needed break from the limelight. For some, this was a matter to rejoice but for many it has been a long three years waiting for their return. But the MCRmy can now celebrate, because the boys from New Jersey are back, without a drummer but with a brand new image and a brand new album.

‘Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys’ has been a long time in the making. Back in 2009, the band announced that they had completed the follow up to their third studio album ‘The Black Parade’, only to then scrap it and start all over again. So it goes without saying that fans expect a lot from the new record.

This week the band released the video for the interestingly titled ‘Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)’, the first single taken from Danger Days, and it’s clear to see that the band have made some drastic image changes. Whereas The Black Parade was all about death and well…black, the theme for Danger Days appears to be all about pop art and glorious technicolor. Lead man Gerard Way has changed his hair colour yet again - his bleached white locks are now a vibrant red - and the video features a curious new character that loosely resembles Sonic The Hedgehog (and is later revealed to in fact be Gerard himself).

The band are keen to make it clear that - unlike The Black Parade – the new record is not a concept album. However, the Na Na Na video appears to follow ‘The Fabulous Killjoys’ as they battle their arch nemesis with a little help from ‘the kid with the afro from Diversity’. The story ends with a cliffhanger in which said kid is captured and Gerard and the boys are told to ‘keep running’. A ‘to be continued…’ moment if I ever I saw one.

With the past two albums centering around very dark subjects and after the controversy in 2008 which saw the band’s ‘emo’ style and lyrics blamed for the suicide of a fan, many are questioning whether MCR are attempting to shake off the ‘emo’ label. It’s clear the band are still keen to rebel - what with the video featuring a child purchasing a gun from a vending machine and all – but perhaps with the line-up change and a few kids to raise My Chemical Romance now have a brighter outlook on life. I wouldn’t go expecting a gospel album just yet though…

The single ‘Na Na Na’ is out now. ‘Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys’ is released on November 22.

Top 5 MCR Tracks:

1. Teenagers (The Black Parade)

2. Famous Last Words (The Black Parade)

3. You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison (Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge)

4. I’m Not Okay (I Promise) (Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge)

5. Headfirst For Halos (I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love)

Friday, 27 August 2010

Film Review: Scott Pilgrim 1, The World 0

Every comic book geek and hardcore gamer’s wet dream

Right from the off, Scott Pilgrim vs The World will have every video game fan’s thumbs fidgeting with excitement. For those who have always wondered what living in their PlayStation would be like, this is the Holy Grail.

With more game references than you can shake a console at, Scott must defeat his new girlfriend’s seven evil exes in a series of spectacular battles complete with onomatopoeia, points totals and sucker punches galore

Less of an adaptation and more of a photocopy, Edgar Write literally brings the original comic book to life. The film is a perfect illustration of why comic books and games go so well together. In fact, it’s often hard to tell where the game references end and the comic book references begin.

If you strip away the glorious visual effects, the film is essentially just another ‘loser kid seeks popular girl’ teen rom-com, complete with all the clichés that entails. But the ingenious wit reminiscent of Write’s previous projects ‘Shaun Of The Dead’ and ‘Hot Fuzz’ helps to make it genuinely captivating and, at times, laugh-out-loud hilarious.

Michael Cera is typecast yet again as the lovable geek Scott Pilgrim, but it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role. His love interest - the sickeningly cool Ramona Flowers - is played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who puts in a slightly wooden performance. However, it’s the appearance of Hollywood heavyweights Brandon Routh and Chris Evans that steals the show. Routh’s ludicrous vegan super hero and Evans’ action man parody are by far the most memorable of all the evil exes.

Music also plays an important role in the film, with Scott’s band ‘Sex Bob Omb’ competing in the local Battle Of The Bands competition. The fictitious band – whose music is provided by Beck – feature on the impressive soundtrack alongside many other powerful punk and indie tracks.

Scott Pilgrim vs The World has something for everyone, providing you are a young enough to know what Nintendo is. And if it receives the popularity it deserves then, like most comic book movies that have come before, it is sure to spawn many money making sequels.

So, Game Over?

Friday, 6 August 2010

Live Review: Sonisphere Festival hosts legends of metal

With Rammstein and Iron Maiden as headliners, it was hardly going to be a dull weekend at Knebworth...


The Saturn stage on Friday is a very European affair. Dutch symphonic metal band Delain provide a rather dull kick off to proceedings. Each song sounds like the one before and front woman Charlotte Wessel’s warbling begins to grate after a while. They sound distinctly unoriginal and judging by the excitement from the male members of the crowd, the attractive lead singer appears to be their only selling point. It’s up to Finland’s Turisas, kitted out in their fur and war paint, to truly get things underway. Their Viking folk metal and lead man Mathias "Warlord" Nygård’s ramblings about beer get everyone in the party mood. Unfortunately they decide not to play their famous cover of Boney M’s ‘Rasputin’, much to the crowds disappointment, perhaps as an attempt not to become affiliated with only one song. Something which Swedish 80’s metal band Europe know a lot about. However the ‘Final Countdown’ rockers put on a surprisingly good set. It may sound a little old fashioned but their classic rock n’ roll delivered by accomplished musicians is hard not to like. Gary Numan however, is not as easy to warm to. His brooding pouting look gets old quite quickly, as does his music. There is no doubt that he is good at what he does and his electronic sound creates a powerful atmosphere, but it soon becomes clear that many are only there to hear ‘Cars’, which Gary looks a bit pissed about. Alice Cooper puts on an incredible show. The American rock legend brings his Theatre Of Death to end the night in outrageous style. Not only does Alice manage to get away with beginning and ending his set with ‘School’s Out’ but he also ‘dies’ a spectacular four times on stage in a number of inventive ways. As well as being hung, poisoned, impaled and decapitated, he also finds time to strangle a stripper, slice the head off of a baby and share a passionate kiss with a blow up doll. Just another night for Mr Cooper. He drives the crowd wild with all of his classic hits and throwing beads and money into the crowd didn’t hurt either. Unless you got it in the eye of course.


Fresh faced newbies Futures deliver a decent set in the Bohemia tent on Saturday afternoon. Their pop punk sound fails to attract much of a crowd, but considering this is technically a metal festival, that’s not much of a surprise. That doesn’t stop lead singer and pretty boy Ant West looking a little disappointed though and one can’t help but wonder if his decision to remove his shirt half way through is a desperate attempt to attract more attention. Nevertheless their upbeat and catchy tunes are sure to bring them success elsewhere. The comic relief of the day comes in the form of crazy haired comedian Tim Minchin. The Aussie’s clever brand of musical humour, as well as the fact that old has-beens Good Charlotte are on main stage, help to pack out the Bohemia tent. Tim performs some of his classic songs along with his brand new and wonderfully explicit Pope Song. Unfortunately he only sticks to the music, with next to nothing in the way of stand-up material but the crowd seem perfectly content to sing along. Back on main stage, Papa Roach deliver some furious rock anthems with a set that is somewhat unremarkable and easily forgettable. Unlike Placebo, who put on a mesmerizing show. The crowd are given a rare treat when the band open with ‘Nancy Boy’, a song that they never usually perform live. Many other of the band’s greatest hits follow although, sadly, ‘Pure Morning’ and ‘For What It’s Worth’ do not appear. Nevertheless, Brian Molko and co are a stunning orchestra of rock to behold. Over at the Bohemia Tent, London punk rockers Gallows put on one their most eventful shows to date. A very appreciative Frank Carter dedicates every single song to someone or other - including a guy in a wheelchair who crowd surfs to the front - and seems genuinely grateful to the fans who have turned up. The tent is not as full as expected but Carter makes the most of the space, prompting a truly enormous circle pit that sees fans run out of one side of the tent and back in the other. Later on Frank also does his trademark crowd surf to the back of the tent. The set is temporarily disrupted by Lee from Trash Talk who steals a guitar from the stage and is chased by security and Carter along the barrier. But all is soon forgiven and Trash Talk and Rolo Tomassi join the band on stage for a furious finale of ‘Orchestra Of Wolves’. Then it’s a sprint across the arena for main stage headliners Rammstein. The controversial German industrial metal band are known for their lavish stage shows, and tonight they certainly don’t disappoint. It is rumoured that they arrived at Knebworth with nine trucks full of pyrotechnics and the chance of any fans down by the barrier leaving with their eyebrows intact is very slim indeed. It is easy to see why this group have become so popular in the UK although it is slightly surreal to see so many English speaking people chanting in German. The finale of controversial single ‘Pussy’ is spectacular, with a foam cannon ‘ejaculating’ over the audience and a snow storm of confetti filling the night’s sky. Keyboard player Christian "Flake" Lorenz, dressed in a sparkly suite, also sets sail across the crowd in a rubber dinghy, which is amusingly hijacked by a sneaky fan. To everyone’s confusion, the band leave the stage for the final time half an hour earlier than expected. Rumors include a misprint in the stage times and a misbehaving fan but one thing is for sure, we all wanted more!


Walking towards main stage on Sunday, many festival goers are stopped in their tracks when they hear the Beatles. No, John and George haven’t come back to life, this was The Fab Beatles. A tribute act sharing the same stage as Bring Me The Horizon and Iggy And The Stooges is a little unorthodox, however the sizable crowd have no problem singing along to Hey Jude and prove just how widely popular those Liverpudlians were. Something wonderfully original then erupts on main stage when Skindred bring their refreshing fusion of reggae, metal and punk to Sonisphere. Charismatic front man Benji Webbe’s crazy anecdotes are a little off at times but it’s hard not to warm to that Welsh accent. Pendulum’s set is a little off their usual standard to begin with as the distinctly metal crowd appear not to be fans of the new material. MC Ben Mount even comes across as a little desperate when commanding some movement amongst the fans. However, when the band launch into early hit 'Tarantula', the crowd don’t need telling twice. The old classics receive an explosive reaction and although their pyrotechnic display has nothing on Rammstein’s efforts from the previous night, the circle pits are definitely something to behold. On Saturn Stage Iggy And The Stooges prove they’ve still got it, even inviting fans on stage at the beginning of the set. Iggy’s energetic stage performance also goes some way to explaining how the 63 year old is so fit for his age. Main stage also plays host to some rock music veterans for the Sunday headline slot. Heavy metal legends Iron Maiden transport the enormous crowd into a galaxy far far away with their Final Frontier stage show. Despite the band’s worldwide fame, front man Bruce Dickinson comes across as incredibly down to earth. By Bruce’s own admission, the set mainly consists of the band’s more recent material with disappointingly few of their much loved classics that the less hardcore fans will recognise. However, an appearance from Eddie and Bruce’s relentless cries of ‘Scream for me Knebworth!’ conjure excitement from both young and old and the crowd leave knowing that they have just witnessed something incredibly special.