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Interview: The Swellers 05/05/2010
05/08/10 at 10:32 AM by codenameraven



It's an excting time for Michigan punk band The Swellers. In 2009 alone they were lucky enough to support Paramore across America, and signining to Fueled By Ramen (Home to Forgive Durden, Cobra Starship and more) After playing the gig of their career as a band so far at Groezrock in Belgium I caught up with Nick (Vocals/Guitar) and Jonathan (Drums) to see what's next.

This is your first time over in the UK and indeed Europe, how has it all been going?

Nick:
It's going well.We're over here playing shows and making friends, just exactly what we had expected.

You played Groezrock in Belgium a few weeks back, how did that go?

Jonathan: That was probably our favourite show we've ever played. Not only was there punk rock legends playing after us, we met up with alot of our friends bands there too and it was just a perfect day.

I'm sure I no doubt speak for a lot of people when I say this but i'm extremely jealous you guys saw Millencolin!


Nick:
Haha I'm jealous of myself for seeing Millencolin.

Jonathan: We got to meet them and hang out for a bit, it was very awesome.

You've been signed to Fueled By Ramen for your new record 'Ups and Downsizing' Do you hope this will be the start of a more variety of bands added to the label?

Nick: I would hope so. I hope Fueled would start signing more bands as we were actually the only band they signed in 2009. Hopefully this year they'll have some more cool new bands on their roster so it won't scare me that we're the only punk band on there. [laughs]

Jono: They're a great label though, already they've given us lots of cool opportunities.

How well has 'Ups and Downsizing' been received so far?


Nick: Better than we expected. All the reviews that we've seen have been great and people have been buying them after shows and it's been awesome.

Jonathan: I think it's like a delayed reaction, as right when it came out we got a lot of press but just recently a lot of people have just started talking about us. Bands like The Bled that I thought would never have even known who we are, so its really cool. So yeah the reactions have all been great.

The single 'Fire Away' has seen a lot of airplay on our radio show especially along with a few others. Do you have any other singles in the pipeline?


Jonathan: We're going to work on a video for Sleeper soon so that's likely to be the next one. I think we need to talk about the video first before we make it but thats the next step right now.

There seems to be a variety of influences present in your music from punk bands new and old. What sort of collective influences do you have as a band?

Nick: I think one of the reasons we all started playing were bands like Nirvana and Green Day just way back in the day. All the 90's radio bands and all the punk bands that we grew up with together. We have our own pieces that we bring to the table. Jonathan and I share alot of the same ones as we're brothers and we've been listening to music and playing for a long time. But yeah it kinda brings a lot of cool stuff to the table when it's all said and done.

A lot of people here associate you guys with Paramore and touring with them in the states. How much does The Swellers owe to them in terms of your success?


Nick:
I think the only thing we can really say to them is thanks and let's do it again.

Jonathan: That was one of the coolest tours we've ever done though.

It must have been a massive step up for your band.


Nick: Yeah it was great. Our record came out September 29th and thats when the tour started. It was a really incredible week and it was a lot of fun.

What key components do you guys consider that are needed for young and upcoming bands these days?

Nick: The main thing is people need to be smart about what they're doing. A lot of people sign to a label for the sake of signing instead of actually looking into it.

Jonathan: If you're a newer band and don't have that much going on for you try and get on a label but don't bother trying to sign to a really small label as eventually if you do get picked up by a bigger label, not only is there a lot of money issues and stuff like that it's kind of cool doing stuff yourself and then going to something big, you know?

Nick:
In short; you can do it yourself. You totally can. We were signed to a smaller label but we still did it ourselves and you don't wanna get locked down into anything you don't want to get stuck into. I get people e-mailing me and coming up to me at shows saying 'I started a band how do I get to where you are now?' The only advice I can give is write some good songs, play some shows and don't stop doing it. If you suck, start over and do something else. When we started as a band no-one said you guys should re-think what you're doing. Even if people didn't like our music alot of people thought we were good at what we do, and that kinda kept us going. Find some good people who know whats going on, and play shows. You have to play shows and you have to play them well. That's basically all the advice I can give.

Do you believe the power of word of mouth and people spreading the word through Facebook and Twitter that seems that bit more important now?

Jonathan: Yeah I think, whenever MySpace started we had always seemed to have a lot of contact with people over here. People have always been saying to us 'Come up! Come up!' when our first songs came out, so we're getting to play some of our really old songs to a lot of the people who come to these shows, it's kind of like a long time coming.

How far do you think The Swellers can go as a band/What are your main aspirations?

Nick: The southern tip of Chilli.[laughs]

Jonathan: Making this a life long career would be the coolest thing. Not only being financially stable but having this be our job. It's really cool that bands can do that, like Foo Fighters play Wembley two nights in a row. That would be amazing to do something like that one day.

The Swellers - Ups and Downsizing out now
www.myspace.com/theswellers
Tags: The Swellers interview may punk rock michigan
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Interview: Alexisonfire 21/10/09
10/22/09 at 08:00 AM by codenameraven


Alexisonfire are no stranger to the music industry. After 8 successful years they are still redefining genres and pushing boundaries. Having just returned from a summer of festivals and promoting the latest release 'Old Crows/Young Cardinals' It is still no doubt that Alexisonfire are still an unstoppable force with a fantastic live show. We caught up with Chris Steele (bass) to find out more.


So tonight is the last date of the UK leg of the Eastpak tour. Hows it all been going so far?


Chris: It's been absolutely unbelievable. We're just so excited to be with the other 3 bands on the tour The Ghost of A Thousand, Four Year Strong and Anti-Flag. Just a great touring package really. We find with the UK the crowds are so receptive and so open to different kinds of music, every band has just been rocking every night, it's been great.

How is it playing venues again now that the festival season has come to an end?

Chris: It feels great. All summer long we did the Vans Warped Tour in America which was really fun, I think we did something crazy like 56 shows with a couple of Canadian dates thrown in there. After that we came over and did Reading and Leeds which was great and we continued to do some more outdoor festivals throughout September in Canada. We've just been waiting for so long to be indoors with a closer,more intimate crowd. Also playing on a scheduled time to is great as on Warped you never know when you're gonna be on.

The new CD Old Crows/Young Cardinals has recently been released. I've noticed it has much more energy and almost a completely different approach.
Was the new direction deliberate or more of a natural progression?

Chris: It definately just kinda happened at a set time. Usually we're on the road for about 9 months at a time and the bands been together for just over 8 years. For most of that time we've just been out on the road, take some time out over Christmas, write a record in January with some ideas we've came up with on the road and record in february, back out in March. This time we took a better part of almost upto a year and we just sat back relaxed a little bit more and did a lot more pre production. We just matured more as a band. Every record is Alexis and you can still tell its Alexis. We don't want to recycle and do the same record twice in a row.

Definately. One change I noticed was an improvement in George's vocals this time round too.

Chris: Yeah, It's something a little new but still Alexis, we still have the balance of Dallas singing. We just wanted to write a straight forward rocking record that we would like to portray in a live atmosphere. We want to play every one of these songs live.

Has the writing process changed since when you first started writing?

Chris: Yeah it has quite drastically. When we first started with our first record we didnt have a direction. We all came from different backgrounds. Some more punk rock some and others more metal for instance. We then just molded to this outfit that we are now. So when we started we just writing songs but not really with a direction a lot of Dallas and Wade going 'Look at what I can do on guitar!' It was uncool to repeat a chorus or even have a chorus at that point. [laughs] It was just a bunch of pieces like melded together to create what we thought were songs. We still play a few of them live today but we've just kinda moved on and matured and found it's ok to have a chorus and repeat it again too!

Your new video for 'Young Cardinals' was filmed on the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls. How did this come about?


Chris: It was really funny actually, before the album or any of the songs were written Dallas had this idea to shoot a video at Maid of the Mist which is really close to home for us. If you've seen a few of our videos before, we take our music writing seriously but we're not a serious band, we like to throw some fun into the loop. It was going to be more of a joke at first, if your from around that area everyone goes to the Maid of the Mist for their Grade 8 school trip, its kinda like a like honeymoon capital of the world. So first it really kinda seemed like ajoke but it was a beautiful day so we just decided to go for it and it was a blast.

As you tour pretty much constantly do you find it takes its toll on any relationships you may have at home?

Chris: Not really, no. I mean, you definately need to have a balance. Everyone that we're close to are 100% supportive of us and its always been that way from the get go and we just try to make the best of it really.

Do you get your family checking up on you on the road?

Chris: Oh yeah man absolutely; Jacqueline Steele number 1 fan! she came a few times and does little road trips. I know for sure she'd love to out with us right now, specially when we go across Europe. Just picture Detriot Warped Tour with Father Steele sitting on his recliner watching the show, and Mother Steele out in the pit mixing it up. [laughs]

The new EP out soon called Dogs Blood. Although its early days is there anything you can tell us about the release?

Chris: It's a little bit confidential at the moment but when we did record our last full length [Old Crows/Young Cardinals] out in Vancouver we were there for a set amount of time. We actually recorded the CD live so we just banged them out really quick and since we had a lot more pre production we were just on top of our game. But we recorded actually 17 songs and obviously they're 11 on the record. We have a couple of b-sides that we have right now and we have written a couple of heavy tunes just on this tour like in soundchecks. We can't wait to get it out there though!

Alexisonfire - Old Crows/Young Cardinals out now
www.myspace.com/alexisonfire
Tags: alexisonfire interview canada rock young cardinals
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Album Review: Teenage Bottle Rocket
09/26/09 at 03:13 PM by codenameraven
Teenage Bottlerocket - They Came From The Shadows (2009)



'They Came From The Shadows' is the fourth album from Wyoming four piece 'Teenage Bottlerocket'.

Taking influence from bands such as The Misfits with massive sing alongs and gigantic choruses, "Skate Or Die" is a song of reminiscion. Mentioning skaters such as Rodney Mullin, the band remisce of the early days before skateboarding became mainstream.
This relates to the band as they are one of the bands who you can just tell are not going to "Sell out" or basically make music for money.
Theres no doubt Teenage Bottlerocket are a fun band making great punk sing along tunes with their best friends.

One of my favourites on the album is "Not OK" These are one of the songs on the album which you'll constantly be humming along to for quite some time.

Teenage Bottlerocket is a prime example of a punk rock band with all the right qualities, the horrorpunk element also adds to the appeal. Its great to see a band who are making music for all the right reasons for once.

Overall this is a brilliant CD and can't wait to hear more from these guys! 7/10

RIYL: The Misfits, Pennywise
Stand out tracks: Not OK, Forbidden Planet

Tags: teenage bottlerocket they came from the shadows fat wreck
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Inteview: The Boxer Rebellion 21/09/09
09/26/09 at 10:16 AM by codenameraven

The Boxer Rebellion are making quite a stir in the UK Music Scene at the moment. The new CD Union recently topped heavyweights Kings of Leon and Coldplay in the iTunes charts through no Record Label backing, or press coverage, wowwing fans at this years Glastonbury. Not to mention the first band to form a partnership with HMV. The Boxer Rebellion are clearly a new and innovative band which are breaking down the boundaries of traditional artist progression, and succeeding. I caught up with Nathan and Adam to find out whats next for the band.

This is the second date of your tour, how was Cardiff last night?

Adam: Cardiff was good. We've been there a few times now with supported The Ravonettes and the Editors actually supported us there once. Definately one of the better smaller venues in Cardiff.

Nathan: Yeah Cardiff was a good gig!

Are you looking forward to the Southampton show tonight?

Nathan: Yeah, we played the Joiners last May, I think it was sold out so it was a lot of fun. Also this venues really good because when its packed, its really packed.

You recently played Glastonbury on the Other Stage. How was that for you?

Nathan: Yeah, I think that i'm a little older now I get a bit claustrophobic being around so many people, but the actual gig was a lot of fun.

Adam: We played in the new bands tent back in 2003 and to come back to it this year and play the Other Stage was really good. I've seen so many bands that I love on the Other Stage!

Union has recently just been released on physical format, although it was released on iTunes in January. Are you happy with how it has been received so far?

Nathan: Yeah really pleased! The beginning of the year was great for us because of the whole iTunes thing. And it happened in a way in which we wern't expecting. Last week when it came out physically it was just nice to have a copy that people could get.

Adam: Doing it earlier in the year like we did and having the success that we did meant that we could retain our independence and put it out physically.

Do you feel like the iTunes release helped to create alot of buzz for when the physical copy was released?

Adam: Yeah, there was a lot of that actually. Our fans have stuck by us for a long time. A lot of fans from the first album back in 2005 stuck with us and its been part of the reason why we've managed to keep going. Doing gigs in the mean time etc. I think a lot of them enjoy the music so much that even though they had it digitally they want the physical copy as well.

In todays age where music is going more digital, its good to know the demand for CDs is still there.

Nathan: Yeah I think a lot of people still prefer buying CDs. Saying that we do owe alot to the whole digital thing. Digitally you can do a lot more by yourself, its a lot easier to do things on your own.

How does your songwriting usually come about. Does it usually follow a particular formula?

Nathan: I'll bring in about a third of the music on acoustic guitar and then we'll work out the arrangment and will drastically change. Its usually just for a starting point. Either that or Todd will come up with something in the rehearsal room.

Has this changed since the first album Exits at all?

Nathan: Not really, it's pretty much been that way for a long time.

Adam: Just a mixture really. The spark might happen in the rehearsal room or when Nathan's writing at home on the guitar.

Nathan: Usually, i'll write about 20-30 songs and then they'll get whittled down to about 2 or 3, these guys are my toughest critics I would say.

How did the HMV partnership come about?

Nathan: It came about through HMV Canada. Theres a guy there who contacted us in January because we didn't have our CD out physically. A lot of people had heard it and couldn't find the CD on their systems. They contacted us asking why it wasn't out yet and we explained that it wasn't possible to release it on physical format at that time. To cut a long story short they said they'd release and distribute our CD for us and then basically relayed over here to HMV UK.

That sounds like an amazing opportunity. How did it feel to be the first band for this to happen with?

Nathan: It was really cool. It's something that hopefully will continue, not only with us and our relationship with HMV but also for other bands too. Although we still have a really good relationship with iTunes it just shows that you don't have to nessesarily have to work with anyone else other than the distributors.

Adam: It provides a chance for bands to retain their rights and cut out middle men and work closely with distributors and retailers. It's actually something that benefits HMV as well in the changing music scene, it makes them a big part of the future.

I've noticed your now an openly unsigned band. Do you feel that in this day and age theres less need to be on a Record Label?

Nathan: Yeah, well I think it boils down to you still have to have some good tunes. For us we were able to make the album thanks to our old management and you gotta have that a lot of times to begin with. Also you just have to be a bit more business minded if your doing it yourself so you know what's going on. We're lucky because we have really good management so that helps a lot.

Adam: In today's world you can get your music out with much more ease through things like MySpace where people listen to your tracks. If you hit the social networking stuff hard you can actually promote your band to a point where traditionally may have only been able to have been done in the first stages of being on a record label.

Nathan: I've always thought as major labels as a bank. They basically invest in you and you spend it on making music. It does cost a lot of money to tour and make records. You still have to have some sort of cash flow though.

I picked up a certain degree of ambience in your music. What sort of bands do you collectively listen to which reflects this?

Adam:
I'm really liking The Temper Trap at the moment. but collective influences even though its slightly cliched are bands like Radiohead.

Nathan: We like My Morning Jacket and bands like that. But we all individually like a lot of different stuff.

If there was one thing you could change about the Music Industry what would it be?

Nathan: That there would be more people that actually love music working in it. A lot of people seem to be scared about losing jobs which is fair enough. But no one takes any risks anymore.

Adam: If I was to change one thing it would be the UK Label Music Industry's absolute complacency and reliance over success they've had in the past rather than looking to the future. But thats changing right now and it's had to change because the old model clearly isn't working anymore.

Nathan: We had the opportunity to get back in that game but its just not appealing anymore. It's nice to make our own decisions.

The Boxer Rebellion - Union Available everywhere now
www.myspace.com/theboxerrebellion
Tags: the boxer rebellion hmv rock indie
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Interview: The Urgency 21/06/09
06/18/09 at 06:36 AM by codenameraven


You may not have already heard of The Urgency but they are sure to make their mark in 2009. With Bamboozle under their wings, a lengthy tour schedule with The Blackout and Silverstein. Not forgetting their phenomenal debut album; The Urgency are a new band set to take the world by storm.

First things first, could you introduce yourselves and say what you play in the band?

Ian: Iím Ian and I play guitar.

Ryan: Iím Ryan and I also play guitar.

Guerin: My names Guerin and I play drums.

For anybody who may be unfamiliar with The Urgency could you give us a brief rundown of how the band came to be originally?

Guerin: Ian and Kevin (Bass) went to High School together in Vermont and playing music together for a long time. They met me at school and we started a band. We had a different singer and name at the time. Once we graduated school we decided we wanted to pursue music further, so we moved to New York City and we met Tyler and Ryan shortly after then. These guys definitely rounded off the sound that we were going for. That was the start of The Urgency as we know it now.

What do you make of the New York music scene?

Guerin: Itís a very indie scene. Incredibly diverse but itís definitely a tough town to make a mark in just because there are so many bands there.

Ryan: The scene as everyone knew it ten years ago has changed quite a bit, since The Strokes came out for example. But now, youíll go there and find anything really.

Youíre back in the UK for the second time, whatís it been like this time around?

Ryan: We hit a lot of new markets this time around. It was really interesting to see how the cities that weíre playing react compared to the ones that we played to previously. Itís been great because this country really appreciates our style of music.

Ian: Itís been cool also because the fans seem to respond well to the music here and a lot of them sing the words back to us which has been a pretty overwhelming experience.

Which has been the best show of the tour so far and why?

Ryan: Iíd have to say Manchester so far.

Ian: Manchester was pretty crazy. As of late anyway, hopefully tonight will be even better!

Ryan: They were the most energetic crowd, and we definately seemed to win over a lot of people. It was great.

Your self-titled album has been released May 11th. Although its only just been released are you happy with how it has been received so far?

Ian: Yeah so far. Hasnít got there too much yet, and It hasnít quite got the exposure that we want either.

Ryan: We are really trying to push the records individually to the fans on this tour. We feel itís really important for people to put the faces to the music and we love talking to everybody after the show.

Who were your main influences when writing this record?

Ian: For me Iíd have to say At the Drive In, Fall of Troy and Glass Jaw. I know you might not hear that necessarily in the music, but thatís who weíre listening to. I mean, there are also other influences such as classical and jazz, but these are the main rock influences.

Guerin: As a drummer there was a subtle 311 influence, along with Incubus as well. A lot of diverse influences from all of our members really.

Your vocalist has one of the most unique voices I have come across in quite some time. I felt there was a strong Coheed & Cambria influence in particular?

Ryan: I know the timbre of his voice sometimes remind people of Coheed, Sting or even John Anderson from Yes, but he doesnít really listen to those bands too much. Heís more into Circa Surviva and Fall of troy. His influences are a lot similar to Ianís. I wouldnít really say that was a conscious decision of his.

As you are going to be on the road for some time now the record has been released, which do you prefer; being on the road or recording at the studio?

Guerrin: Ideally touring. I think for all us we just love playing on stage and showing people our music.

Ian: I dig touring but I do love the recording process. So for me it would have to be the recording.

Ryan: I love touring. Especially here at the moment as so many people sing our words back to us at shows. Honestly ts been happening more here than it has back in the states. Last night in Manchester it was our second time playing there and we definately saw a whole bunch of people signing along. Its so inspring to see people reacting in that kind of way.

Ian: Its been 4 or 5 months since we were here before and it just feels like a continuation of the last tour, it feels like we never left.

Plans for the rest of the year?

Ryan: Hopefully a tour of the states. We have a lot of things in the pipeline at the moment. But a tour of the US is a priority right now.

Ian: Also weíre hoping to be back here again in September so definitely look out for that!
Tags: the urgency, new york, vermont, rock
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