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Interview: Jimmy Lopez and Joe Lussa of The Audition at Slam Dunk South Festival

 
By on Monday, 11th June 2012 at 11:00 am
 

At a festival packed with American pop-punkers from top to bottom, I caught up with Jimmy Lopez and Joe Lussa from The Audition at this year’s Slam Dunk South for a quick talk about leaving Victory Records, their new EP and having legions of female fans.

You played Slam Dunk North yesterday, how was that for you?

Jimmy: Fun, man. It was awesome. It’s my first time here in the UK. Everything’s backwards like driving, but I like it.

Joe: He’s new, it’s his first time over here. But it’s our first time playing back in the UK for a few years, and it was awesome. The kids seem to be excited.

You’re playing alongside some pretty big bands in pop-punk, how does it feel to be a part of such a line-up?

Joe: It’s awesome. A lot of our friends are here so that’s cool – bands like Taking Back Sunday and Every Time I Die are bands we grew up listening to, so it’s cool to be playing the same festival as them.

You do festivals differently in America than the UK…

Joe: Well, these are definitely bigger than Warped Tour, I’d say.

Jimmy: Especially now.

Joe: As far as festivals go, we don’t do too many, but when you’re over here a lot of it is festivals, which is awesome because I enjoy festivals more than a regular tour. I like being around people and playing outside – it’s a lot of fun.

Do you prefer UK or US festivals?

Joe: UK. Always.

Your new EP ‘Chapter II’ came out in America a few months ago and it’s out in the UK on the 11th of June, can you tell us a bit about it?

Joe: We just tried to go back to the old style of the band, combining the sounds of the first two records together so we can give the fans what they know the band as. The other records were a lot more ‘poppy’ than the rock that we like to play.

This is an EP but you haven’t released a new album since 2010, are there plans for a new album?

Joe: There’s a lot of songs we have written that we didn’t put on the EP but we’ll probably end up writing instead and making it fresh instead.

How do the crowds like the new material?

Joe: The response has been good and it’s nice to be able to play those songs and have kids already know the words.

Jimmy: It was cool when they started singing along. I think that was probably the loudest crowd since I’ve played with them – even in America.

You left Victory Records 2 years ago, how has it been since you decided to go alone?

Joe: It’s nice, we don’t have to answer to anybody. It’s better because when things happen for the band we know it’s our hard work that’s paying off, it’s not the record label that’s getting these things for us. We have a great agent and manager so they help out a lot but it’s definitely nice to be a free agent and know that whatever songs we really like will be the ones that we release. No-one else can say “We’d like you to do something else” or “We’d like you to take a different route”, we can just release what we want to release.

Is it something you’d advocate? Would you encourage bands to go it alone?

Joe: It depends on what kind of band you are; if you’re a real pop singer, a record label is going to be your best bet. The bands and the connections they have to put you on the giant tours and you need that promotion. But I feel the internet is a very viable option now, you can do a lot of promotion for free yourself. If you spend enough time you can do really big things on the internet. So if you can do it and you’re willing to put the work in, it will pay off in the end.

There’s a lot of girls here wearing Audition t-shirts and there’s always loads of girls at your shows, what is it about your band that attracts women primarily?

Jimmy: This guy right here (laughs). That and the dancey type groove we have going on.

Joe: I think a lot of it has to do with how we are as people. People see that we just have fun when we play and when they see us off stage they see we’re just hanging out with everybody. We’re very approachable people having fun with everybody – drinking and partying. It attracts people to hang out with us because we want to hang out with everyone else as well.

Finally, if the world ends at the end of 2012, what’s the last thing you’re going to do?

Joe: I’m going to make a billion dollars then buy a spot on the spaceship to the next planet.

Jimmy: I’ll rob the richest man in the world. I’ll rob Jimmy.

Joe: He’ll go the illegal route. I’ll make my millions, then he’ll kill me for it.

 

Liverpool Sound City 2012: Day 1 Gig Roundup

 
By on Friday, 8th June 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Of the nights TGTF was not hosting a stage, Thursday night at Sound City was the most stellar. After the Taiwan reception at the Hilton, I consumed a high calorie pub dinner full of fried food (yes, I was hungry) and getting chatted up by an LFC supporter drinking wine at the bar. (Search me. What is it with Northerners, why am I always chatted up in the North?). A PR friend and I went searching for the Academy of Arts; my goal was to get to the Mystery Jets set on time. Liverpool is not a big city. Not really sure how we got lost; I’m going with “everything looks different at night” as my story.

We honestly were directed to the wrong entrance to the venue; during the early evening hours, the Screenadelica film showcase area was also playing host to bands, so we entered the building on the Screenadelica side. Suddenly my friend jerks my shoulder – while I was trying to put on my earplugs, so god only knows where the case went – and I can hear ‘Half in Love with Elizabeth’ from behind a really heavy and really dark curtain. In all my time of blogging, I’ve never gone to a gig through the backstage, either on purpose or by accident. Check that off my list, because now I can say I’ve arrived to a gig in that exact way.

To my knowledge, Mystery Jets have never played a headlining gig in Washington. So after getting shut out of Brighton Corn Exchange the previous week at the Great Escape in Brighton, no way was I missing this. I got my camera out just in time for the beginning of ‘Greatest Hits’, which in my opinion should be the next single off ‘Radlands’ (album review here) because it sounds like classic Mystery Jets. (We’ll see about that…) After I fired off quite a few shots, I decided to hang back and just absorb. Part of me couldn’t believe I was within an arm’s length of both Blaine Harrison and William Rees (drummer Kapil Trivedi was in the stage right back corner, which made photographing him difficult). And there they were.

I think I finally realised the gravity of the situation when they played ‘Serotonin’: despite my insistence to my mother, there is nothing like the feeling of being in the middle of a gig, the instrumentation vibrating across your ribs, the words coming out of the speakers and laying right in your ears. Sorry to anyone who was annoyed but ‘Serotonin’ will probably stand as one of the pivotal albums of my career and life in music, so naturally in terms of singing along, I went for it. A little disappointingly, the band didn’t seem as animated as I had expected, though musicianship-wise, they were peerless.

Surprisingly, I was never called back (or barked at, as is the case at SXSW) by security to leave, so I just stayed in the photo pit, enjoying my first-ever Mystery Jets spectacle. I know I’ll never get a completely brilliant experience like that ever again. Other new songs like title track ‘Radlands’, ‘Sister Everett’ and ‘Lost in Austin’, while they didn’t fall flat, just couldn’t stand up to the great Mystery Jets legacy that has built up over the years. I completely appreciate and respect their desire to break out of their mold and do something different, but I think ‘Radlands’ is just too left field for most long-time fans. ‘Two Doors Down’ (video below) had a huge fan response, as did ‘Serotonin’ showstopper ‘Show Me the Light’ and set closer ‘Behind the Bunhouse’ (videos to come on TGTF soon).

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnu5hvSVelQ[/youtube]

A handy thing about most venues for Sound City generally: the venues are pretty close together. I literally walked across a small square to get to the Red Bull Studios at the Garage, which looked like an actual garage. I caught the last third of Stealing Sheep’s set; Martin had covered them in Newcastle opening for Field Music back in February. Maybe it was the sound levels but I had come expecting a ‘folky’ sound but instead got loud and brash rock, with the brashness best physically exemplified by the drummer’s very bright and heavily sequined shirt. The harmonies were a bit lost in the mix in the songs I heard, and maybe this was the place was so big, each member was so far away from the next on the massive stage. But there’s nothing like watching a band having the time of their lives. Below is some video from the Von Pip Musical Express from their performance.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zz0-0snEoLo[/youtube]

Truth be told, on this stage I was most excited to was to be up next. When I first joined up as USA Editor of TGTF, we were right in the middle of a campaign with the now defunct Radar Maker for a French label I’d never heard of. In the ensuing weeks and months, I became very familiar with the then little-known bands they were hawking around the UK circuit, bands who would soon figure significantly in my blogging career: La Roux, Two Door Cinema Club, Delphic and some touring mates of Delphic’s, electronic duo Chew Lips.

It seems almost like ‘going home’ to be talking about Kitsune because out of all the labels and people we’ve had the pleasure to work with on TGTF over the years, I am proudest of our early promotion of their bands not just because I cut my blogging teeth on Kitsune, I’m sure at the beginning, it was tough going for Gildas Loaec and his crew to break out of the Parisian scene and get his bands played elsewhere. That man has quite the ear for talent and thanks to him we’ve got many acts that I imagine will continue to thrive in the years to come.

Chew Lips’ ‘Unicorn’ in 2010 was an acclaimed album, so now we’re looking to single ‘Do You Chew?’ (video below) to be a harbinger of things to come with their next album due out later this year. I’m so used to seeing press photos of lead singer Tigs with blonde hair, I was in for a bit of a shock when she arrived onstage…brunette. She commands the stage with ease, using her deep voice; what started as a paltry and rather embarrassing showing of punters quickly grew as their set wore on, no doubt mesmerised by what was going onstage. As some friends had suggested to me previously, yes, there is something very sexual about her performance.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0da7oqQcvc[/youtube]

But hey, I’m there for the music – or maybe the riffs of James Watkins instead! – but I now understand what people have said. ‘Salt Air’, a song I immediately latched on to when we were given the green light to give the Plastician remix of it, sounded amazing, as did songs like ‘Slick’ and ‘Gold Key’. Several new songs like ‘Hurricane’, ‘Rain’, and ‘Speed’, as part of the Tigs-described “99 percent a love album”, sound brilliant live. I can’t wait to hear the whole thing when it’s finally released. Maybe this time I’ll get a chance to see Chew Lips on my side of the pond instead of waiting another 3 years for another chance!

It should come as no surprise that I would hang around for Django Django. After the Blind Tiger human oven incident at the Great Escape, I welcomed being able to see the band and being able to breathe at the same time. (Thanks Liverpool.) I was so disappointed they weren’t wearing the Planet Cheeto outfits! But unlike the unfortunate placement at the tiny Blind Tiger club in Brighton, the Garage was a huge place for them to play to, and punters eagerly filled in to hear what I predict will be the most talked about band come the end of this year’s festival season.

While the massive stage proved to be a problem for Stealing Sheep, the four chaps of Django Django bridged this distance with no problem, with singer Vincent Neff assuming a position at the back at one point to play an enormous tambourine. This is a band that doesn’t do anything on a small scale, so if you’ve had the chance to see them in a small club, (I’m not including Blind Tiger!), consider yourself lucky.

And thus concludes the Thursday night of Sound City. If you’re wondering why I ended so early (around 1 in the morning), it’s because John and I had a big day ahead of us on Friday, when we played host to a Sound City stage of our own. Stay tuned…

 

Interview: Sam Carter and Tom Searle of Architects at Slam Dunk South Festival

 
By on Friday, 8th June 2012 at 11:00 am
 

At this year’s Slam Dunk South Festival I caught up with Sam Carter and Tom Searle from the Brighton bruisers Architects for a quick talk about guest vocalists, the departure of guitarist Tim Hillier-Brook and tripping on DMT.

You played Slam Dunk North yesterday, how was that for you?

Sam: We really enjoyed it. Really fun.

Tom: Like we’ve been saying to everyone – we get here at 10.30 in the morning to sound check, so it’s a long day of keeping your energy levels up before you go on stage for an hour. But the crowd was amazing and that’s what’s important.

How does it feel headlining the second stage?

Tom: It’s really nerve-wracking, I’d rather be lower down. I don’t like the pressure of watching all these bands getting great reactions all day, so you feel the need to justify your position on the bill. I’d rather go on with low expectations. I’m not complaining because it’s awesome, it’s just a bit nerve-wracking for me.

It’s justified, though, you have become much more popular over the past year. What do you think the catalyst was for that?

Tom: Just good songwriting (laughs). We’ve never really had any gimmicks, none of us are poster boys, we’re normal people – there’s nothing particularly flashy or fancy about us. We just write music and put out quite a lot of music, and I think that’s it. There isn’t really a trick for us.

I’ve spoken to bands recently who’ve said there’s a heavy resurgence occurring in music, would you that’s true?

Tom: I wouldn’t know in England because when we first started out touring there was a much bigger community of British bands. If there was a festival like this there would have been five or six heavy bands on it from England, but today there’s only two – us and While She Sleeps. The rest of the bill is American and Canadian, so I’m not sure to be honest. It comes and goes, though. In 2 years’ time there might be loads, then 2 years later there might be none.

Your new album ‘Daybreaker’ is out tomorrow [out now on Century Media], can you tell us a bit about it?

Sam:  There’s some tracks on it. There’s some heavy songs, melodic songs… We worked really hard on it and we put a lot of time into it. I just can’t wait for it to come out and be able to play a bunch of them live and tour the record.

Have you got a tour coming up to support it?

Sam: No. (laughs)

Tom: As of August we’re going to do all the touring everywhere in the world that will take us. But I understand the idea of going straight out on tour as soon as you release a record to support it, but it’s cool to give it a few months for people to listen to it, then we can go out and everyone knows all the songs. That’s more fun.

Your album also features Oli Sykes (Bring Me the Horizon) and Jon Green (Deez Nuts), how did you get those guys on board?

Sam: It features Drew from Stray from the Path as well. We toured with Jon in America and we just loved the dude so much he had to be on the record.

Tom: He has so much much enthusiasm about our band and is so supportive. And we all love the guy.

Sam: We were listening to ‘These Colours Don’t Run’ as a demo that had the heavy bit at the end, and I went outside with Jon afterwards and said, “your voice would be sick on the end of that”, and the whole tour he kept saying, “you won’t let me do it, you won’t let me do it,” and then his part is just so heavy. And Oli, we’ve known him for years and I sang on [Bring Me the Horizon album] ‘Suicide Season’, and we were trying to find a record to get him on and this was the right one. Drew as well we’ve known for years, he’s one of my favourite vocalists so to get him on the record is amazing.

Tom: It’s cool to be able to collaborate with friends who you have mutual respect for.

Is there anyone you’d want to collaborate with?

Tom: We’ve had Andrew from Comeback Kid, Greg from Dillinger Escape Plan, then these guys on this record. But I don’t know, there isn’t anyone that I’m like “god, I’d love to have them on this record”. I’d say someone like Chino Moreno from Deftones, but all the people that have sung with us support our band and have an active interest in the music we write, so if we got someone who didn’t have a clue who we are it would miss the point.

Sam: One of my favourite singers at the minute is James from Deaf Havana. I think if we were going to get anyone else it would be him – he’s so talented. He’s like Jon, we all love him as a dude.

‘Daybreaker’ is the last record to feature Tim, how’s it been since his departure?

Tom: We haven’t done an awful lot since. We had a practice yesterday with Josh who’s filling in and he nailed it so that was easy. We’re just getting on with it, you know? It’s always difficult when someone leaves a band they’ve been in for so long, but it’s not the end of the world. We all live in the south coast round Brighton, but he left a while ago to live in London, so even when he was still in the band we didn’t see him much when we weren’t on tour. When we go home we all go our separate ways a lot of the time anyway, but he’s doing a new band and I understand it’s going quite well.

You released ‘Devil’s Island’ as a single last year and the video features footage from the London riots, what’s your opinion of the social situation a year on?

Tom: Obviously there’s no riots going on but that doesn’t mean the underlying causes aren’t still there. I think as long as we have any sort of capitalist system in any society there’s going to be inequality. The people at the bottom who have fallen off the cut who haven’t got lucky or haven’t been given the opportunities that other people might have received, I think it can come down to things like race, sadly. So the problems are still there they will probably not be addressed. Things aren’t great.

Did you hear we came second to last in Eurovision yesterday?

Tom: Does that mean we’re the second worst country at making shit music? So we’re the second best at making good music? I’d like to think that might work.

But would you guys ever enter Eurovision?

Sam: No.

Tom: Not even as a joke. I have zero interest in all of that.

Finally, have you heard the world is ending at the end of the year?

Tom: I’ve heard about it yeah, but they’ve found out that the Mayan calendar is wrong and it started at a different point, so the year 2012 isn’t this year 2012.

If the world did end, what would be the last thing you’d do?

Tom: Probably just get together with loved ones and have a drink or something.

Sam: Have a drink, probably have a few cigarettes – it’s not going to make any difference is it? If there’s any drugs around probably take a load of them as well.

Tom: I’d probably try to find some DMT. Just seriously, seriously trip on DMT.

Sam: Then when the world actually ends you’d be tripping so hard.

Tom: When you die, DMT is naturally released in your brain so it’s a double dose. That’s how I’d do it.

Sam: The world’s ended, but you’re still tripping out.

‘Daybreaker’ is out now on Century Media records.

 

Live Gig Video: Mystery Jets perform ‘Greatest Hits’ and ‘Hale Bop’ for Bands in Transit at the Great Escape 2012 in Brighton

 
By on Thursday, 7th June 2012 at 4:00 pm
 

Mystery Jets were one of the hottest tickets in town at the Great Escape this year, with the Corn Exchange even shutting me out on the Thursday as they went delegate queue-less.

But all is not lost. The band – minus bassist Kai Fish, who has since left the group – performed two songs from their new album ‘Radlands’, ‘Greatest Hits’ and ‘Hale Bop’, for Bands in Transit. Evidently, this was filmed on the Friday as there’s a bright blue sky framing that Union Jack fluttering in the wind in this video. Enjoy it below.

My review of and more video from their performance at the Academy of Arts at Liverpool Sound City will premiere on TGTF soon.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26k2Yr84ecA[/youtube]

 

Liverpool Sound City 2012: Day 1 Sessions Roundup

 
By on Thursday, 7th June 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Editor’s note: This is mostly for the geeks who are interested in what goes on during the day at Liverpool Sound City, when us delegates are actually ‘working’ and networking on ways to do what we do better. Although by sheer numbers there are a lot less people attending Sound City, I found being surrounded by more students and bands a completely different atmosphere than in Brighton for the Great Escape, and in many ways, preferred these more approachable groups and sessions.

Bright and early next morning (err…9 AM) I rolled out of bed and made it on time to pick up my badges from the Hilton. How nice to not have to wait for hours to get a delegates badge sorted (::cough:: SXSW ::cough::). I stepped into my first delegates session at Sound City and breathed a sigh of relief. Instead of worrying about rammed sessions at the Great Escape, these sessions were full, but not cramped. And I noticed there was definitely a higher proportion of students and young bands to self-important types, which made the whole affair far less pretentious. I sat in on a module being led by Martin Skelly of Uniform, a local Liverpool company that has been developing some interesting ways to merge paper, technology and music. You might wonder what exactly paper can do for music, since most everyone has switched over to digital downloads. Martin gave us two examples; one was an interactive calendar of gigs that one could press different dates and hear a sample of music of the band playing on that night. The other was an actual piece of paper with special inks pressed onto that when placed in a specially designed ink reader could play a track by Oxford band Jonquil. Dubbed ‘smart paper’, I was really impressed by both technologies as a means for bringing music in a physical way back to the masses, and I could tell from the looks on their faces that the students and bands listening in on the session were also pretty impressed.

After my first session, I crossed the street to pop over – admittedly way too late –to try and get a glimpse of the Queen and see the Hummingbirds again. HRH was late and people were definitely getting impatient. I figured I had little chance on grabbing an actual photo of ol’ Queenie (dressed in an orange sherbet outfit head to toe that day, if you were wondering) so I filmed some video instead.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Th4wdUSibI[/youtube]

After that flurry of excitement, it was time to grab a bagged lunch costing less than 4 quid (thanks, Tesco Express) and arrived just in time for an informal lunchtime lobby performance by Waa Wei, a Taiwanese pop star, part of a major Taiwanese contingent with the catchy name ‘Das ROCpool’. (More on them on Friday’s review.) It takes a lot of nerve to perform thousands of miles away from home, surrounded by people who speak a language you don’t completely understand and I guess being Oriental, their manager honed in on me and we chatted a bit in the mother tongue. Unusual experience that I doubt will be repeated anytime soon, but have to say it felt pretty nice.

Next, it was back in for a panel session moderated by Amazing Radio’s Shell Zenner, featuring indie label bosses. The more I hear guys like this speak, the more I’m convinced the music business is going to stay alive on the backs of people like them and not the big labels who treat their bands like numbers. Remember readers: support your favourite bands of course, but don’t forget to support your favourite indie labels, because we need them to stay in business so your favourite bands can put out albums! It hadn’t occurred to me that the Line of Best Fit came from a Death Cab for Cutie song (to be honest I’m not a fan of DCFC and just assumed it was an allusion to statistics); either way, it was cool to meet Rich Thane of Best Fit Recordings and have a meeting of the minds with another blog named after a favourite song.

At the recommendation of a new Manchester friend, I stayed around for a tech panel that I thought would not be up my alley. I thought it would go over my head, but I learned about three Web services I’d never heard of: WebDoc, which looks like a whole bunch of social media platforms combined into one but giving you the ability to put your own mark on it; Mobile Roadie, a practically DIY approach to making your own apps, and Rdio, a subscription music streaming service that has had better luck hooking major labels than Spotify has. But what turned out to be most directly handy to the TGTF vision was a chat I had afterwards with David Adams of Soundcloud, who appreciated my feedback on how our blog uses and benefits from Soundcloud so much, he offered me beta access to the Next version of Soundcloud, which if I do say so myself, looks so sleek and cool and has some very useful additions to the original make, I can’t wait until the new Soundcloud is fully realised and available to everyone.

A social media session was rammed yet wasn’t as interesting as I’d expected, so I ducked out of there and ducked into the Taiwan Panel. I don’t speak Chinese fluently, but I get by okay, and I can understand it if it’s not being spoken a mile a minute, so hearing three talks by heavyweights from the Taiwan music scene was pretty fascinating. There’s this whole world of music that we as Westerners know nothing or next to nothing about and it’s definitely a market that Western labels can tap into, while discovering homegrown talent from there. And where else at a music conference will you be served jasmine tea upon sitting down, I ask you? I hope the whole ‘Das ROCpool’ franchise returns to Sound City next year, bigger and better, and I will have more time to see and chat with all the bands they’ve brought over.

The Taiwan folks were also in charge of Day 1’s end of day party, and I hung around for a bit for free drinks (of course everyone was heading there!) and also was waiting around for the Hummingbirds for an interview, which unfortunately never materialised because they had a conflict with their soundcheck. But Day 1 had already been jammed packed with meeting so many new people and finding out about so many new things.

 

Great Escape 2012 Live Gig Video: The Crookes perform ‘Backstreet Lovers’ at Brighton Hope

 
By on Wednesday, 6th June 2012 at 4:00 pm
 

I’m squeeing inside just typing up this post…

As many of you know, I just love the Crookes. But what song was the first of theirs I ever heard? Well, it was ‘Backstreet Lovers’, of course. I couldn’t not videotape it when I finally got to see them live, so here it is for your enjoyment as well.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqmLateroyc[/youtube]

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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