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Interview: Tom Ogden and Chris Pennel of Deaf Havana at Reading 2012

 
By on Monday, 3rd September 2012 at 11:00 am
 

“I had Thai Green Curry, but is that really Chinese food?” No, Tom, no, it isn’t, but a mutual love of Wagamama is what sets the tone for a discussion with one of the most exciting live bands around at the moment, Deaf Havana. We talked maturity, fast food and the merits of being a ‘Wanker’ when catching up with the band’s drummer Tom Ogden and guitarist Chris Pennel.

Tom was suitably blasé on the subject of raising the curtain on the weekend’s debauchery. “It was rubbish! I’m joking! It was amazing, it was something else man! When I was on there playing, I was like yeah whatever, I think I kind of shut myself off. “Looking back now, it was just sick.”

Tom’s bandmate Chris added that it was “definitely the biggest crowd we’ve played too.”

The band performed to a seething audience on the Friday opening the Main Stage and while they only had six songs to play, they made sure it counted. Tom said, “‘The Past 6 Years’ went down really well; most of them were really cool.”

“We only had like six songs set so we picked the 6 biggest songs to play”, said Chris.

With the band looking to move onwards and upwards, the focus is turning to leaving behind the old and going in with the new and their attitude towards song ‘Friends Like These’ epitomizes this, as Tom explained.

“We didn’t play that; we actually didn’t play anything of our old album. Just the new album. That [‘Friends like These’] is just a glorified nursery rhyme.”

Chris went on to describe where the band were moving on to: ‘We want to record more mature songs, that’s for sure. We did well with [2011 album] ‘Fools and Worthless Liars’. But now we’re moving on doing more stuff we want to do as a group, as I think the songs we wrote so far have been a really good reflection of the band at the time.

“I feel we’ve never really written as a group. This time the songs we have written are as a group and it’s just so much better, it all gels better. It sounds more unifying and we are enjoying it more.”

They were quick to hammer home the point, though, that while they want the people to receive the music well, when it comes down to it, Tom knows their prerogative. “As long I enjoy it I don’t care.”

Chris agrees, “at the end of the day we are gonna write the songs we wanna write. The plan is we head to America and then Japan, go play Soundwave Festival in February, then go and record the new album and then we’ll release it.”

While all eyes seem to be on the horizon, the band are happy with how this year has shaped up for the band. “We did Pukkelpop which was amazing, saw some great bands, Tom got really drunk! We watched Bjork and The Gaslight Anthem. We also did a lot of smaller festivals like Hevy, which we headlined and that was a lot of fun.”

The question is, that with seemingly the wind in their sails and a full steam ahead on the good ship Havana, can they go the distance and climb the bill in the future?

“It all depends whether people like the new stuff, as I think the new stuff we have written is really good.”

Now this all sounds very serious, but bare in mind that these guys while coming across as driven individuals are young men having a great time doing what they love. So when bassist Lee Wilson comes over and asks if the band are done, it’s obvious that first and foremost on the agenda, is a good time. And isn’t that what music should be about? So note to any bands, if you’re flying high like Deaf Havana, remember, this is for you and you should be enjoying yourself. A matter that these guys have well in hand.

Special thanks to Tom and Chris for their time and Paul and Chris for sorting this interview.

 

Reading 2012: Day 2 Roundup

 
By on Friday, 31st August 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

What rhymes with ‘shredding’?

Not Leeds, Glastonbury, Creamfields or Latitude, that’s for sure.

The rumours were traversing the Twitter/blogosphere all week preceding Reading Festival and at 11 in the morning, it turned from rumour into fact. Green Day (pictured above) arrived on the NME and Radio 1 Stage and from that moment, no matter what happened in the next 24 hours, the day was theirs.

The three American boys, led by the imperious Billie Joe Armstrong, burst on stage, the crowd arrayed before them erupted. Grown men cried, teenage girls swooned and ‘Welcome to Paradise’ rang out across the sprawling mass of bodies in front of the punk superstars. With a back catalogue as enormous as theirs, it was no surprise that their set was a long one, with over 20 songs from their entire 2 and a half decade long career played.

Frontman Billie Joe commanded the troops like a first class general, leading the crowd in a number of “whoops” and “hey ohs!”, which intertwined with the collection of hit after hit that Green Day played. New track ‘Oh Love’ was met with the same adoration as stalwarts like ‘St. Jimmy’ (which was played at a speed of the likes that would not be seen at the festival all weekend).

While the set did seem constrained by time, as ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ was interrupted midway through the intro, the band did still manage a set to go down as one of the Reading Festival’s classics. ‘American Idiot’ was screamed back at the band by every single member of the crowd; such is the admiration for the band. A classic set in all ways. (10/10)

The unenviable task of following up Green Day fell to Post War Glamour Girls and in the impossible task, the Leeds-based rockers sadly didn’t provide much excitement. But in all fairness, they were following up Green Day, and it was barely even lunchtime. Credit to the band, they came on and they gave it their all. (5/10)

A trip to the Main Stage was in order next, to see Brighton-based duo Blood Red Shoes, performing for the first time on Reading’s Main Stage. The band were anything but overwhelmed by the situation, though Steven Ansell powered away on drums while Laura Mary-Carter proved an outstanding talent with her soaring vocals, which intertwined with ‘Ansell’s.’

The highlight of the set was near their set’s close as the band played ‘I Wish I Was Someone Better’. However, it should be noted that opener ‘It’s Getting Boring By The Sea’ which appears on the Scott Pilgrim vs. The World soundtrack was definitely an impressive performance. The two members of the band may have looked small in their expansive surroundings, but they made the stage their own with their mix of garage-y, bluesy indie rock and roll. I can only see them playing higher up the bill next time around. (7/10)

Back to the NME Stage I went to see Scottish heroes Twin Atlantic, in a set which was likely to be described as a bit like Biffy Clyro. What a lazy comparison. Yes, they are Scottish, whoop dee dee, so are Frightened Rabbit, but they don’t get followed by comparisons to Simon Neil’s band of rock titans, do they?

Twin Atlantic deserve plaudits of their own and on the strength of the set they played; I won’t be the only person giving them. As their brand of radio-friendly, visceral guitar music is exactly what any festival needs to pour some life into it. ‘Free’ was roared to the heady heights of the NME/Radio 1 Stage, while ‘Make a Beast of Myself’ brought on the same kind of sing-along that Green Day provoked earlier that morning. (8/10)

Staying on the NME/Radio 1 Stage, next up were one of the breakthrough acts of the past 12 months, Dry the River, who brought their hauntingly poignant brand of indie-folk mash-up to Reading.

For a band that sounds so outstanding on record it’s safe to say, hearing them live was rather disappointing. The performance seemed labored, as if every track was as difficult for frontman Peter Liddle as passing a kidney stone. ‘No Rest’ offered a glimpse of the kind of quality that this band can produce, sounding like a less energetic, but more honest Mumford and Sons. But overall, this festival may be one to forget and move on from, as this band can and will be so much better then they were on Saturday. (5/10)

From a somber set in the tent, to a riotous screaming collision of genres on the Main Stage I moved to see Enter Shikari, a band who are so eponymous with Reading Festival, I’m surprised they haven’t been booked as the house band yet. Their new album delves even more into the politically charged work they have been creating of late. So ‘IMPORTANT’ political nonsense aside, they provide entertainment in its droves.

Classic ‘Sorry You’re Not a Winner’ is roared from the stage by Rou Reynolds, while new track ‘Arguing with Thermometers’ is greeted with a singalong of huge proportions. They may not have matched the sheer mentallness of 2 years ago, but their set went down well. (7/10)

I moved from British DIY stars, to Canadian punk troubadours next, in the form of Billy Talent. A band that certainly brought the tunes, but sadly the performance did nothing to match them. Often all you could hear was frontman Benjamin Kowalewicz wailing down the microphone incomprehensively. Set closer ‘Red Flag’ brought a riotous reaction, but in a formulaic set with very little merit to it, it all felt just a little bit contrived. Come up with something new, Billy. Then we’ll talk. (4/10)

To close the day there was another choice to be made. At the Drive In or Kasabian. A choice which I now regret, not for musical reasons, but for the fact that the former of the two has announced that their gig on Tuesday 28th August will be there last as a band.

As you can tell then, I saw Kasabian. Hardcore legends aside (At the Drive In) the Leicestershire based lad-rockers served up a set of unashamed arrogance and brilliance.

Tom Meighan swaggered around the stage like he owned it and for those two hours he absolutely did. The hits were reeled out at breakneck pace and each one was greeted with the adulation such a spectacular performance deserved. The band was fantastic, from start to finish with set closer ‘Fire’ bringing an end to a set which should quite rightly go down as one of the band and even Reading Festival’s best. (10/10)

 

Reading 2012: Day 1 Roundup

 
By on Thursday, 30th August 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

With the site in glorious condition, the adverse weather tormenting the rest of the UK holding off and hundreds of the world’s finest bands waiting to play, Reading 2012 kicked off in style. Deaf Havana, who TGTF spoke to later that day, opened up the iconic Main Stage just after midday and played a rousing set.

With only a six song set to work with, the band tore ferociously through their most popular songs, opening with the hook laden ‘I Will Try’, Deaf Havana later moved into single ‘I’m a Bore, Mostly’, a track that manages to be unrecognisably epic for the middle of the day. The band closed their brief set with ‘The Past Six Years,’ a track which played live is a pleasure to listen to in all it’s pop punk glory. (7/10)

With the Main Stage suitably warmed up by Deaf Havana, it’s time for an early spot by some prog rock heroes in the form of Coheed and Cambria. The crowd is, as expected, an eclectic mix of teenagers waiting for You Me at Six, so that they can touch Josh Franceschi’s lower thigh, mixed in with your seasoned music lovers, all ready for a set of truly epic proportions.

Coheed and Cambria, deliver exactly what you’d expect from a band whose lead singer has what can only described as a small mane around his neck. A set of noodling riffs and screaming guitar solos, coupled with classic C&C stalwarts ‘The Running Free’ and the exceedingly awesome ‘Welcome Home’. Coheed didn’t need to do anything except turn up and rock out with their cocks out and phallic references aside, they did and it was awesome. (9/10)

Next up, one of the breakthrough acts of the past twelve months appeared on the BBC Introducing Stage for an impromptu secret set. alt-J are the buzz band at the moment, everyone wants a piece of them and why not? With their interesting mix of indie melodies and dubby drops, they are accessible to a huge audience. Their set was short, but too much of a good thing can be bad, and with them playing the Festival Republic Stage later that day, the few songs they played was enough to get the sizable crowd they attracted appetite whetted suitably. (8/10)

Following up from a set attracting as much interest as alt-J did was never going to be a task bands would be jumping up and down about, but the understated acoustic driven rhythms of Park Bench Society were a joy to listen to and the perfect remedy to that middle of the day hangover you get at festivals when your legs start to seize up. The three, sixteen year old lads from Loughborough performed admirably and while the crowd didn’t seem to receive them well, it’s obvious that there’s some talent there. (6/10)

After a brief interlude to schmooze around the press tent and rock out with another TGTF favourite Lucy Rose, it was time to take in the pint-sized prodigy herself on the Festival Republic Stage. Now while Rose may be known for her work with Bombay Bicycle Club most prominently, her solo work is taking off rapidly and she’s already been described by Vogue Magazine as “one of indie music’s breakout stars for 2012”.

With an arsenal of striking acoustic numbers, Lucy Rose, is an artist who doesn’t need to even try, be in complete control of the crowd. She owns it from start to finish. Tracks ‘Scar’ and ‘Red Face’ are instantly recognizable as the Radio1 stalwarts they are going to become and with these grand tunes, she’s going to be on that A-List in no time at all. Oh, and add to that, she’s cute as a button… (9/10)

With just a sort break, Lucy Rose has to up sticks and amble off to the Main Stage where she performed with indie superstars Bombay Bicycle Club (pictured at top). Now, Bombay seemed to me to have been an odd choice to be third on the Main Stage. However, by 7 o’clock when they’d finished, I had no idea why I was thinking such mad thoughts. Steadman, Rose and co. made the Main Stage theirs, drawing from all of the bands albums and busting out crowd pleasers like the ever bouncy ‘Shuffle’. Steadman’s personality doesn’t seem like the kind of person who can own the Main Stage in such a way, but he surprised me and a higher billing can only await the band now. (8/10)

Following Bombay were Reading Festival favourites Paramore, next up on the Main Stage. Frontwoman Hayley Williams was in charge from square one and backed by the ever impressive Justin York on guitar the pop punk icons ploughed through a set with enough hooks to land Jaws.

To top it off, Williams brought a fan on stage to join in with the set. Now when I see an artist do that I always think, cheesy move. But for that person, it’s an experience of a lifetime, which will live with them for all their years and for gestures like that, I can only commend the fiery haired songstress for this action. While older songs like ‘Misery Business’ and ‘Pressure’ went down a storm, in my opinion it was newer song ‘Monster’ that really captured the essence of what Paramore at Reading Festival were about. A damn good time and some catchy as hell choruses. (8/10)

To close the day, it was a choice between an ageing legend in the form of Robert Smith from the Cure, or a rip roaring set from garage rockers The Subways.

So the choice was made. The Alternative Stage was my destination and a chaotic set filled with some massive tunes ensued. HEAVY AS HELL.

Day 1 closed with one hell of a bang, which the Subways handily delivered. (9/10)

 

Interview: Lucy Rose at Reading 2012

 
By on Thursday, 30th August 2012 at 11:00 am
 

At 23 years old, Lucy Rose has (excuse the cliché) the world at her feet and while those feet may be extraordinarily little, the world is truly hers for the taking. “It feels like there’s a long way to go still for me, hopefully it’s going in the right direction, which is nice. Doing things like the signing tent, things that I have never done before, I just didn’t expect the reception that I got from people.

“There was one girl at the signing tent who had the shakes and when she handed over the piece of paper I felt really bad about how nervous she was.”

Reading Festival, being the rock heavy mêlée that it is, sounds like a strange place to find a folk songstress like Rose it seems, hence her surprise when she was added to the legendary bill. “It’s the biggest festival really, in the UK. I never thought my music would be welcome here. It’s quite a rock heavy festival and I just didn’t expect to be on the line-up.

“Well, with Bombay, I knew we were going to be here already. But I didn’t push for me to do it [as a solo artist], as I just thought it was never going to happen. Two shows in one day, is this even a good idea, I thought? Initially I just thought, let’s just try it just to see if it works, I just didn’t want to let down Bombay as well!”

Playing with Bombay Bicycle Club has taken up a lot of Lucy’s life over the last few years, after she met Jack Steadman while she was supposed to be studying geography at University College London. “This [Reading] is like the biggest show they have ever done, and it’s been something they’ve been looking forward to for such a long time, and I’m just so pleased that finally they got it.

“I feel they are always underestimated on festival line-ups. I mean everywhere they go, world-wide massive crowds come. I’m more nervous about their show really, as I haven’t played with the band in a really long time.”

But while working with Bombay has been a big part of her life, Rose’s solo work has taken off, exponentially, over the past 12 months. Her melodic blend of hauntingly pure and honest lyrics over a subtle acoustic guitar has made her somewhat a bit of a cult folk hero. It’s easy to see why though; the girl exudes that kind of approachability you want from your idols.

And her solo music is influenced by so many different things, far and wide, she tells us. “In a weird way, everything influences me: books, films, other music and especially discovering new music is one of the most inspiring things. Neil Young is my hero; he just influences me never-endingly.”

With her solo career in its relative infancy, Rose came up with a novel way of promoting herself at shows by selling tea. Yes, tea. And before you ask, she’d gladly suit down for a cuppa and a ginger nut with you, which by the way, is her favourite biscuit. “I didn’t have any merchandise, I didn’t have any CDs or anything and I just couldn’t think of anything else that I wanted to sell but tea. It’s a blend of Earl Grey and Full English Breakfast. I’m a big tea drinker.”

The future seems bright for the Warwickshire-born folk singer, but Lucy is modest as ever about what the next 12 months has in store. “I’m not expecting anything in the future; I just hope I don’t get dropped, really.”

So expect the unexpected from this artist. She isn’t one to fit to type in the classic singer/songwriter mould. Turns out, she’s also a bit metal inside. You couldn’t tell though.

“I did a stage dive the other day. [Though] I got caught, it was like the best experience ever and it was the first time I had a drink at a gig in ages and I just ended up jumping into the crowd and crowd surfing. I felt like the biggest badass ever.”

Lucy Rose’s debut album, ‘Like I Used To’, will be out on the 24th of September on Columbia. The single ‘Bikes’ will drop a week earlier, on 17 September. Catch her on a massive UK tour – nearly a month long – in October and November. Special thanks to Lucy for stopping for a chat with us and Jonathan for sorting this interview.

 
 
 

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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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