We chatted to Bandicoot about their debut album BLACK AFTER DARK

Released a couple of weeks ago, Black After Dark is one of those albums that just makes you feel. I don’t quite know what it is, but it is certainly a feeling. We thought it would be good to ask the bands some questions about all things music

Can you tell us a bit about Bandicoot? Where are you from, and how did you all meet?

Bandicoot is a rock n’roll band from rainy Swansea, Wales. We all grew up there, although we’re different ages. Billy and Rhys originally formed the band and have been playing together for years, and Tom and Kieran were in other now-dissolved bands in Swansea called News From Nowhere and Vanilla. We just got to know each other from playing in different venues and pubs, and somehow this version of Bandicoot rose from the embers. We’re all equally passionate and equally obsessed with writing and  performing music, and we have a shared sensibility; so it just made sense to make music together. It was something that happened naturally.

If you had to sum up the band in three words, what would you say?

Stomping Carnivalesque Joy

You’re about to release your debut album, Black After Dark. What does this album mean for you, as a band?

It means so many things that it’s hard to process really – in fact we probably won’t understand it properly til the dust has settled. It’s the summation of years of work, and we’ve grown and evolved as musicians as we’ve worked on it. It was originally recorded back in 2019 ish, but we scrapped half of it, then went back to it after we were signed to Libertino records during lockdown and recorded some new songs. We were lucky enough to be living in a shared house together at that point, so we were able to keep writing music, creating and collaborating in a much more meaningful way than we had done before, actually. The theme that emerged was one of opposites and contrasts – black, white, light, dark. The songs explore the emotional ups and downs of life – joy and misery, ecstasy and despair. It’s an album we’re immensely proud of, a document of the last few years of our lives that represents everything about us as a band and as people. We’re so excited to share it with the world.

Who produced this? Have you worked with them before? How was working with them?

The album was engineered and produced by Tom Rees at Rat Trap studio in Cardiff. Tom is a precocious young gunslinger who is also finding success with his band Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard. We’d done a couple of tunes with him before the album, and we knew his sound fit what we were going for, so it made sense to keep working with him for the album. We recorded the songs bit by bit over a long period of time, so it was quite fragmented, rather than a focused period. He’s a dedicated aficionado of 70s glam/pop/rock production styles, and has really nailed what he’s going for. It was the right sound for us, and he helped us combine a lot of our influences while still feeling fresh. He was great to work with – energetic, enthusiastic, and tactful without fail, and full of detailed expertise and creative suggestions.

What tracks stand out as favourites for you guys?

Rhys – BLEED OUT – it’s the most collaborative of all the songs, and it has a melodic wildness which captures something central to the band.

Billy – SIREN – anything with a chuggy riff gets me going, and siren is the hard-hitting relentless rocker that does just that.

Tom – BLACK AFTER DARK – this is the title track. It’s a sad song of longing and leaving things behind. Me and rhys wrote it in Llangennith on the Gower peninsula, when I was working in a campsite cafe and he came to visit. The song appeared out of thin air, although some of the lyrics had been in our separate notebooks for a long time – I remember scribbling the phrase ‘I still dream of you in the black after dark’, not realising it would become the album title years later.

Kieran – TRAIN STATION MURAL – cause it’s a personal song about heartbreak and universal credit. 

Are there any plans to take these new songs on the road?

We’re off to Austin, Texas the week after the album’s out, to play at South by Southwest, which is a dream come true – we can’t wait! We’ve also just got back from playing a showcase festival in Sweden called Future Echoes, which was amazing. 

Closer to home, there’s a lot of dates coming up, mostly in Wales but some in England. Our album launch is saturday March 5th in Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff, where we’ll be supported by our ridiculously talented friends Mellt and Frankie Parris. We’ll be playing at Laugharne Fringe on March 26th, and in the Fiddler in Kilburn, London on April 8th. We’ll also be appearing at several festivals – Big Sesh, In It Together, the Eisteddfod, Kendal Calling, Nozstock, and the always amazing Focus Wales. So there’s plenty of chances to see us. No excuse not to really! 

What is next for Bandicoot?

We’re excited to keep doing what we love and keep working on new music, hopefully getting better as we go and playing to bigger audiences. We’ve got tentative plans to record some more of our Welsh language songs in the summer and are excited to get back in the studio. Other than that, we have no idea what the future holds, we’ll just keep playing music and see where we end up! It will definitely be fun, if nothing else.

Where can we find out more about you?

We are @whoarebandicoot on all our socials. We also have a Bandcamp page, where you can hear some covers we recorded during lockdown and buy some zines we’ve made. There’s 3 so far – one each for dark too long, Fuzzy, and worried blues, and there will be a longer one for the album, as well. They’re full of collages, drawings, photos, art and writings by us.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

We accidentally spent £300 on a bottle of wine in Sweden. By the time we realised, it was too late – the wine had been drunk.

(This interview was made before the release of the album, that’s why some of the answers may seem a bit off with timescales)

We chatted to The Pylons about their new single MONA

Released last month, MONA is certainly a track worth watching out for, from a band that’s even more worth watching out for. We asked the band a few questions about the new song and all other things music

Can you tell us a bit about the Pylons? Who are you, where are you from and how did you all meet?

– the Pylons have seen many iterations, this current form is definitely our favourite form. We are 4 escapees from Lincolnshire and solo waif from the depths of Essex. We make music from the depths of our hearts to the depths of your ears. 

If you had to sum up each band member in one word, what would you say?

– Alex: Questionable, Barny: Worrying, Croz: Problematic, Joe: Braveheart, Joey: Contemplative.

You recently released your new single MONA at the start of this month. What does this song mean to you guys, as a band?

– Mona, well, it’s that self-perpetuating narrative that runs through ones mind as you see what you desire at a distance further than can be reached. This track has been strained and filtered through our collective struggles of the past few years and is ultimately a reflection of who we were before through the lense of who we are now.

Where did the inspiration for this song come from?

– Like all good draught ale, it was birthed lyrically in the pub, conversations between Barny and Croz that touched on past loves, art, death and well balanced aromas.

Is this a hint at more new music on the way?

– There will be music a-plenty in the coming months, another single on the way in rapid fashion, followed by the completed EP. All of which, is absolutely textbook Pylons, we are very excited for you to hear it.

Who produced this? Have you worked with them before? How was it working with them?

– Our drummer Joey produced this alongside our resident studio legend Michael Smith of RYP Recordings, they work together in perfect tandem and the records sound perfect because of it; fulled by Guinness. 

Do you think that lockdown had an impact on your songwriting? Have you managed to take anything away from being stuck indoors for a while?

– We have tried to stay away from the ever-present mentioning of lockdown, mainly because we think everyone is happy to leave that behind at this point, but the thing it gave us was time. Time and plenty of space to live in a bath of our own steaming emotions, crucial to pouring out a subjectively meaningful song.

Any plans for any live shows coming up?

– There are many moments to catch us reprobates in the flesh, but we’re sitting on a bunch of them and will announce them very soon! The main one you need to know about it that we’re playing Camden’s Underworld on Saturday 2nd April – tickets available on DICE! Once you come and see us there we’ll tell you where we’re playing next…

What is next for The Pylons? 

– The aforementioned EP will be along with the next bus, we hope, if not that bus, the bus afterwards. As well as this we are always working on the Pylons branded sustainable clothing line, more of this will be coming up on our Big Cartel store every month. 

Where can we find out more about you?

– You can find our posters up anywhere between the postbox adjacent to the duckpond at lower Hampstead Heath and the Saffron Walden spice museum. 

Oh, and all the other multi-modal social channels that you choose, but if that fails: www.pylonsband.com

Anything else you would like to tell us?

– There is actually, we’ve been ruminating over the idea for this last millennia, why on earth, would you call something a building, if it is in fact already built. Answers on a postcard if you please.

We chatted to NAKED ANIMALS about their new single ONE MORE TIME

Can you tell us a bit about Naked Animals? Where are you from and how did you start, as a band?

– The band originally started out in Dingle, County Kerry in Ireland. The same small town where Walking On Cars emerged from. 3 of us all went off to music colleges around the country and ended up coming back and starting the band a few years later. We then met up with our current singer and drummer in Cork city and have been working together for nearly a decade now. 

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If I were to use the phrase for fans of, who would you compare yourselves to?

– We usually compare ourselves to the likes of Talking Heads, The Police and Republic of Loose.

You recently released your new single One More Time. What does this song mean to you, as a band?

– It kind of feels like the start of the next chapter, finally releasing new material after such a long wait. We’ve put a lot of work into the track and it really means a lot to us to get such a good response from people. It’s also a bit of a shift in style for us. Usually the songs have a more rocky/funky flavour and socio/political themes whereas this is a much smoother, melancholic pop song.  

Is this a hint at more new music on the way?

– Absolutely! This is just one song of our upcoming E.P Business As Usual which is out in April and we’ve much more in the pipeline as well. 

Who produced this? Have you worked with them before? How was it working with them?

– It was recorded and produced by Cian Sweeney aka 1000 Beasts who’s an absolute phenomenal producer. Other than the drums the entire E.P was recording in his small sitting room studio. We’ve worked with Cian for years now and have a real connection and flow when recording music with him. 

I hear you are playing a few live shows soon. What can we expect from these shows?

– After nearly 2 years of no gigs expect a wild, unleashed exuberance. We plan on putting on a stage show people won’t be forgetting any time soon! 

How do you guys prepare for love shows? Do you have any pre-show rituals?

– Usually we’re like giddy children before shows start. We try to make each other laugh and hype each other up for the gig. 

What’s next for naked animals? 

– After our E.P is released we plan on recording a full album. We nearly have 2 albums worth written during the lockdowns. We’ve developed a sound we’re very happy with and think audiences will enjoy and want to bring it to as many people in as many places as possible. 

If you had to give some advice to those looking to make music, what would you say?

– I think the last 2 years were very telling. Even though performing was out the window we still wanted to write songs we liked and rehearsed for the sheer enjoyment of it. I feel anyone wanting to make music needs to put that first. It should be a purpose, you’re doing it for yourself, not others. 

Where can we find out more about you?

– We’re on all the usual platforms. Spotify, Youtube etc. and all info/dates about us can be found on our website https://www.nakedanimalsmusic.com/

Live review: Neck Deep at O2 Academy Bristol – 25/02/22

After however many times rescheduling their gigs, Welsh Pop-Punk band Neck Deep finally made it to Bristol to play an awesome show for the last night of their tour. To say these guys pulled out all the stops would be an understatement.

For this show, there was three support acts, certainly the most I’ve ever seen for any show. This meant a super early start, with the first band coming on at 6:30.

Up first was Happydaze, a reasonably newly formed band, who were playing their first ever shows in front of a live crowd on this tour. What a start these guys have had, and although the venue was only about half full while they played, I’m sure they’ve gone away with some new fans.

Second on was Higher Power, who again brought everything for this last show. If you somehow haven’t yet heard of these boys or listened to their music, what are you doing? As well as making amazing tracks and playing like masters, they are also just a super happy, funny bunch of friends who clearly get on well together. Nothing better in a band.

And finally for the support bands was Wargasm. After finally seeing them play at Download last year, I’ve fallen in love with everything about them. From their raw energy and musical lust, to their simple not caring what others think of them attitude, seeing them live is just another level of awesome. Like everyone else so far tonight, they fully brought it out onto the stage for their show.

And then it was onto the main act of the night. Now most bands who play at The O2 Academy Bristol, neigh most bands who play anywhere, only generally have themselves, their instruments, and maybe a little bit of stage decoration up there. Neck Deep brought a whole living room, complete with TV, sofa, bookshelves and wall decoration. They certainly are making it a tour to remember.

Right from the off, Ben was using every last reserve of energy, and the crowd kept that up too. Two-stepping all over the stage, dancing and jumping around like there was no tomorrow, he was a man possessed. As soon as the first song started, the pits opened up, and by the end of the third song there was even a couple of crowd surfers. As a photographer, it was a workout trying to get some good photos of the band!

In terms of setlist, it was pretty standard of what you’d expect, a bit of the old, and a bit of the new, and then some of everything else in between. I was surprised to see She’s A God and A Part Of Me on the list for the night, two songs they are known for not playing live often. But this was a special show and that means special songs. The acoustic guitar even came out for A Part Of Me, with a lovely moment of crowd harmonies during the duo sung section at the end of the song. Although the moment was slightly ruined for us personally as some coked-up idiots tried to start a fight with us, everyone else at the venue was surely having the best time.

Throughout the rest of the night we were treated to even more wonderful moments, including Milkie (from Wargasm) coming on to help sing one song, and the guys from Higher Power making a couple of appearances of stage. It really did bring back the feel of how the band used to be, making music in their living room, having friends come and go, playing shows with everyone and just having a good time.

Really, this whole tour was about just having a good time, and that’s certainly what this last show was about.

Of course the night had to end with In Bloom, and although Ben’s voice was starting to sound a little battered, the singing from the audience made up for it, with a few final mosh pits, crowd surfers and even some people up on shoulders.

There’s so much more I could mention about this night, from the T-shirt cannons, to Ben’s stage banter, to Matt’s insane spinning while playing. It was such an amazing show with so much energy and excitement on stage and in the crowd, and I cannot thank the band and crew enough for what a good night it was.

As well as the guys on stage and the crew, a massive thank you has to be said, as always, to the venue staff and security for making it such a good night, and to everyone else involved.

Words and photos by Ted Stargatt for TrueStyleMusic

NEW SINGLE ALERT: Alessandro Ciminata with A LITTLE BIT OF YOU

Freshly released to the world yesterday, Alessandro Ciminata is back with another dreamy indie-pop single to warm your hearts.

Speaking about the new song, Alessandro said:

 ‘A Little Bit of You’is about those special and unique fugacious moments and the desire of wanting them to last forever. “Have you ever lived such a perfect moment that you’re hoping it never ends”? This is ‘A Little Bit of You’ 🙂

In the last 2 years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking (lockdown style) and realized that I was giving everything for granted. This is not how I want to live. I want to live every moment, create memories, feel human and treasure every single moment with the people I love. I tend to be a very quite person. I don’t express my feelings too much to the point that people close to me often don’t understand if I’m happy or sad. Music gives me the opportunity to express everything I have in mind. We only live once, unless we’re cats….therefore we should find a way to treasure every little moment, those incredible few seconds/minutes that have the power to change the way we see life forever.

We chatted to Alessandro aboutb his previous single Feels Like Heaven back nearly a year ago, you can read our interview here.

Live review: Wolf Alice with Matthew Maltese at O2 Academy Bristol – 23/02/2022

I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that Wolf Alice are one, if not the, biggest bands in the UK right now. Another band that has just gone from strength to strength recently, they played a sold out show at the O2 Academy Bristol this week, and we were lucky enough to catch them and take some photos.

The show was opened by Matthew Maltese, who played with his two friends as part of an electro-indie-pop trio, showcasing 7 songs from his discography. It wasn’t long ago that Matthew was on his own headline tour, stopping at The Fleece as part of it. Since joining Wolf Alice on this run of shows, he has gained a massive following (not that he didn’t already have one), and is surely one to watch out for in the album charts whenever his next one drops.

I really enjoyed his and the bands style, and although it was a bit softer than what I was expecting as support for Wolf Alice, it still felt like it warmed up the crowd well. As with most support acts, there was a mixed crowd reaction, with the front being very interested, and the people at the back chatting away. This goes for the main band as well, but why can’t people be quiet during a show. The audience has paid to see the band, not hear you nattering away.

I really enjoyed how well their songs blended into one another, an almost seamless set list. Overall, a really good opener to the show.

Always one to be punctual, Wolf Alice hit that stage at exactly 9pm, to a roar of cheers from the crowd. This is certainly the biggest band I’ve seen at the O2 Academy Bristol so far, and the audience made themselves known. Right from the off the band had them in the palm of their hand. Every song was sung back just as loudly as the speakers projecting it.

Although not much for talking, they still did their dues and said hi to the crowd and made sure everyone was OK. But you can certainly tell these guys gel together as a band perfectly, with their rhythm and sounds always perfectly in sync with each other. If you know anyone (or in fact are anyone) who managed to catch Wolf Alice before they started to get massive, you’ll know they were destined for greatness, and they have achieved that and much more. Wolf Alice, can, and will, sell out full arena tours.

Throughout the rest of the set, they kept that performance and energy up and going, and, as always, the crowd were throwing back just as much. The heavier songs had mosh pits and even a crowd surfer, and then the more mellow songs brought everyone back down and in a moment of togetherness. Last Man On Earth was one of these that felt particularly special. Although it wasn’t the big finish, it was still a good moment.

But sadly the big finish had to come at some point. Don’t Delete The Kisses was another special moment, with every word sung back by everyone in the venue, there was signs of good times, togetherness and even a tear or two. It was truly a wonderful show, one where the crowd and audience were one, one that was truly amazing.

You don’t need me to tell you to go and see Wolf Alice live. Next tour, go and get your tickets.

As always, a massive thank you to the staff and security at the venue, as well as Inside Out PR sorting out this review.

Words and photos by Ted Stargatt for TrueStyleMusic

Live review: Yard Act with Baba Ali at Exchange Bristol – 21/02/2022

Over the last year, British post-punk band Yard Act have gone from strength to strength, going from playing little basement stages to selling out venues across the country in a short space of time. We managed to catch them at Exchange Bristol earlier this week, and this is what we thought.

The show was opened by Baba Ali, a London based Techno-Funk duo. These guys played us a range of their songs, some released, some unreleased, to a warm and very appreciative crowd. There was lots of people moving around and enjoying the music, even if they didn’t know the words.

Although not most matching of the sounds of Yard Act, these guys still did their job of warming up the crowd well, and I’ll certainly be seeing them again live if I get the chance.

And before long it was onto the main act of the night. The room was full and there was a buzzing energy, and the self-confessed Robbie Williams of post punk came onto the stage for a belter of a show.

I think the reason why these boys have gained so much popularity recently is because they are just so relatable. Just 4 guys trying to make it in the world and trying to make something work.

With songs about politics, life, love, and everyday normal stuff, they are certainly rocking the new wave of post-punk indie music that is currently sweeping the country, and they are doing it well! If you are a fan of Sports Team, Sea Girls or Wet Leg, I’m sure you’ll find something you love in Yard Act too!

The energy they came on stage with was kept up throughout the night, as more of the crowd got into the songs and the mosh pit got bigger. Front man James was interacting with the crowd well, having a laugh and joke with them, and even trying some magic tricks on stage! One thing I love about gigs in Bristol is how much of a mixed crowd you always get, and everyone there was enjoying just as much as the band was enjoying playing on stage. They even brought an audience member onto the stage to help with one song.

For the big finish of the night (The Overload, I think), these guys brought it all out, going absolutely insane with energy on stage, and the crowd brought their A game one more time, with even an attempted stage dive from one brave audience member! When I say these guys play hard, I really mean it.

If you ever get the chance to see Yard Act live, I would highly recommend you take it! They’ll be playing Marble Factory in Bristol in November, tickets can be found here.

I’d like to say a massive thank you to Yard Act and Baba Ali for putting on an awesome show, and to the guys at Chuff Media for inviting me down to the show. These guys are destined for greatness, get on board now!

Photos and words by Ted Stargatt for TrueStyleMusic

We chatted to TASH about their new single Hurricane Man

Can you tell us a bit about Tash? Where are you from and how did you all meet?

I grew up in Chichester (near Portsmouth), Robbie is from Brighton and we both met whilst at university in London studying music. Found we had a love for the same artists and were able to truly commit to a project like this and the rest is history really.

Why the name Tash?

Good question, we seem to get this a lot with a lot of comments about ‘moustache’ ! Not sure how that seems relevant to a female-fronted alt-rock band but it seems to be something many have fallen apon! Haha! Originally we wanted to be called TRASH, but as the music developed and realised there was someone else out there called TRASH, we settled on TASH. We have always loved bands with a women’s name in them e.g Wolf Alice, think it creates a great persona considering my name is actually Tara.

If you had to sum yourselves up in three words, what would you say?

Chaotic, inclusive and impatient 

You recently released your new single Hurricane Man. What does this song mean to you guys, as a band?

Hurricane Man is our first single of the year and we wanted to set the scene for what is to come in the rest of 2022, it is our heaviest yet and certainly a favourite to play live. From the moment I heard the riff I knew the lyrics had to be just as destructive and hoped that once listened to, it could be used as an outlet and release.

Who produced it? Have you worked with them before? How did you find working with them?

So Robbie does all our producing for us in house, I feel very lucky to work with him as he does so much! But with this track, we were approached by The Motor Museum legend Al Groves who mixed the track, helping create that ‘punch in the face’ style we wanted, it’s safe to say we were very happy with the results.

What is next for you guys?

Just over a week after Hurricane Man came out we were very lucky to get signed to ITB, so planning some very exciting shows and hopefully some festivals. We feel this release is hopefully the start of something big for us – with a couple more releases heading your way over the next few months and some very exciting support slots to announce shortly.

Elly Robert

If you had to give some advice to those looking to make music, what would you say?

I would say persistence is key, it’s taken us a long time to get to where we are now and if I had stopped I wouldn’t have the opportunity to see where it would take me. Especially on those days where you feel like you want to quit, those are the most important because they just help you build more resilience and belief in yourself in the future.

Where can we find out more about you?

Using this link you have access to what we are up to at the moment:

https://linktr.ee/wearetash

Or by following our most used social media, Instagram: @wearetash.  

We chatted to SUKKO about their new EP A VIOLENT DEEP FEEL

Released back on the 11th February, this new release had a lot of hot competition out the same day. We thought it would be good to chat to Eliot from the band about all things music

Can you tell us a bit about yourselves? Where are you from and how did the band start?

We are a 5-piece alt-indie band formed in Norwich, we write and record our own music straight out of a bedroom (or occasionally our kitchen). From what originally began as a duo back in 2018, Sukko has gradually grown and evolved into our current fully fleshed out line-up; which has given us the means to express ourselves when we play shows and give our audience that extra bit of live energy. Having moved about for university, we are now dotted all over the country in Norfolk, Lincoln, Sheffield and York. Naturally, we’ve had to overcome the obstacle of living so far from each other with virtual online writing sessions and frequent video calls. But on the other hand, we’ve had the opportunity to play in many different cities at such an early point in the band’s journey!

What made you decide on the name Sukko? It’s certainly an interesting choice

Haha yeah definitely an interesting choice! It took us a long time to come up with a unique name that hadn’t been used before and equally reflected our personality. Throughout our music we frequently allude to themes surrounding floating and the calmness that comes with being on water. We chose Sukko as our name, after lake Sukko in Russia. It’s a beautiful and peaceful looking place with a unique name, and definitely somewhere we’d love to visit!

If we were to use the phrase for fans of, who would you liken yourselves to?

As a band, our music tastes vary quite drastically. All the way from punk to neo soul and jazz. It initially made pinning down our own sound and genre challenging. We draw a lot of our inspiration from Radiohead and Pink Floyd, there’s something about the purity of their music that really appeals to us, you can tell that it hasn’t been tampered with by modern music production methods. We also liken our sound to bands such as Foals, Wolf Alice and Bombay Bicycle Club.

You released today your new EP A Violent Deep Feel, what does it mean to you, as a band?

We’ve been working on this EP for a long time now. The recording process began back in 2020 which seems absolutely crazy, but things take slightly longer when you’re a band who is self-producing. Naturally it feels incredibly satisfying to see your own music being released into the world, especially when you receive positive feedback on a track. But with A Violent Deep Feel, we really wanted to use the record to address and raise awareness to some specific topics that we had been troubled by recently. Throughout the EP we discuss how important mental health awareness is in this modern age we live in, and how living through the covid-19 pandemic has been so distressing for so many people. However, we’ve also witnessed some shocking and appalling stories regarding racial and gender equality, to such extreme consequences which have truly highlighted how much work we must do as a society to eliminate discrimination based on an individuals race or sexuality. As a band, we are committed to spreading this message and we wanted to use our music to shed light on some of these topics which are not spoken about enough. A Violent Deep Feel is not necessarily an attack on society, but rather a means to encourage self-reflection and improvement.

What’s your favourite track from the EP?

I think I speak for us all when I say that our favourite song is the final track on the record, titled ‘Look’. We chose not to release this one as a single leading up to the full EP launch as we really wanted it to be heard in context and as a final closing message. Out of all of the songs on the EP, ‘Look’ is the one that calls to action and addresses the topics mentioned previously head on. It’s not aggressive, more passionate. The song discusses how those who are lucky enough to not be on the receiving end of abuse have a responsibility to educate themselves on discrimination, sexism, racial injustice. To do what we can to stand in solidarity. Many of us do not possess the ability to relate to people who are in these positions of pain. I don’t know how it feels to be mistreated in the way so many people have, but I must not be complacent. There is a lack of action preventing prejudice. People simply “look on” while horrific injustice happens all over the world. We are stuck in the belief that we can’t make a difference. A vital message of this EP is that change can and should happen for the better. People must be given equal opportunities. Race, gender, sexuality should not be a cause for discrimination. Yet they are, still. We must educate ourselves. We have a responsibility to enforce a change. With enough belief and action, change can and must happen.

Are there any tracks that are much different from how you initially imagined it would be? How did you come to the decision to make the song in that way?

I think the song that went through the most change and development was ‘In My Head’. This track was the first initial idea that we had for the EP and in its raw form sounded drastically different to the final version. With so many different inspirations, our initial ideas for songs often come out sounding very different to the previous one. We then gradually tailor them towards the ‘Sukko sound’. In My Head began sounding very electronic with drum machines and synth lead melodies. Over time we added more guitars to replace some of the synth parts, playing this song live helped massively with finding our vision for this one. But the triggered drum machine aesthetic remained throughout the production process, only giving in to real drums for the final chorus.

Is there anything you encountered that you didn’t expect to encounter when creating your new music?

There were definitely many challenges and obstacles during the making of this EP, not to mention working and recording through the pandemic. But I think the biggest surprise was simply how long the whole process took from start to finish. Most of these new songs you’re hearing were written in the summer of 2020, but the initial ideas stemmed further back to 2019, and only now in 2022 are we releasing them. For sure the distance between us all slowed the process down, but the major time killer was our desire to get each track right, and to feel right. With this kind of lyrical content we had to approach the creation process in a delicate way, and I think it just took time to get the tone right, we didn’t want these songs to come across in the wrong way. As mentioned, this EP should ultimately have a positive conclusion, to help change for the better.

Are there any plans to take Sukko on the road, and play some live shows?

Yes!!! We definitely have plans to get back out there and return to the live scene. Having recently played our first ever headline show in Norwich back in September, we’re looking to hit the ground running and build on that night! I’m sure I speak for every artist out there when I say we truly missed playing live in 2020 and the first half of 2021. I think it’s made us a lot more appreciative of the experience of playing a show and we’re so grateful to have that opportunity again. As mentioned, one of the perks of being dotted around the country is that we have a foot in the door of a few different cities. We’re also keen to get to areas of the country that we’ve never played before as well, Leeds, Nottingham, Bristol to name a few!

What’s next for Sukko?

Hopefully more of the same! We’ve recently started recording our second EP which should be ready for the summer! We’re constantly trying to improve ourselves as songwriters and musicians, and I’m confident that the next EP will be another big step up. We’ve just announced our next show in Norwich supporting local legends Pretty Terry on March the 4th. It’ll be our first show of 2022 so we’re very excited for that!

Where can we find out more about you?

The best place to keep up to date with us and our music is on Instagram @sukkoband, from there you’ll be able to find links to our music on Spotify, and our frequent video uploads to YouTube!

 Anything else you would like to tell us?

 I think that’s everything covered!! 

I’d like to thank Eliot and the rest of the band for taking the time to answer our questions, and wish them the best of luck with the new EP and with whatever comes next

Album review: Frank Turner FTHC

Frank Turner’s highly anticipated new album, FTHC is out now. Like most albums these days, a few songs have already been released as singles, and one even had a mini tour named after it. But for this album, most of the songs have already seen the light of day in one way or another, whether that is a live stream or a real life show. As always, this album review is based on the first listening to the album as a whole.

Non-Serviam

Short, sweet and angry, this song sets the prescience for this album perfectly. It goes hard and makes no apologies for it, in a way we haven’t seen from Frank for a long time.

For me, this song shows a new attitude to life for Frank. With lines like “I know who I am, Non-Serviam”, although quoted from Lucifer, it feel like Frank is taking that on himself. He has matured, he knows where he is in life now, and is no longer going to take anything from anyone.

When this was first released, lots of people commented that it sounded like the old days of Million Dead – and rightly so, it certainly does sound like one of theirs. I think this is a way of Frank going back to his old ways, but as his new self. Heavy and angry, but also matured and firm in who he is now, and able to make better decisions.

What a way to open the album.

The Gathering

If you haven’t heard this song by now, what rock have you been hiding under?

A lockdown song (there had to be one), but one that is more triumphant and positive that a lot of them out there. This song has already rocked many live crowds and will continue to rock many more.

Haven’t Been Doing So Well

Released on day 1 of Lost Evenings IV, and played 3 times over the 4 days, this song is a stark and almost brutal look at mental health, while keeping it in a Frank Turner rock-and-roll way. This song has it all, with tongue twisters, guitar solos and crowd singalongs, it just works.

The everyday struggles of life are explored well, making this one we can all relate to. There are certainly days when I haven’t been doing so well, and I’m sure there are many out there who feel the same. But at the same time, there is still a personal touch to it. Frank mentions Mohammed Ali, not for the first time in his music (and also not the last time on the album), and he really knows his own struggles and where he is in life.

Untainted Love

A real turn in direction from previous Frank Turner albums, this one keep up the theme so far seen in the first songs. Although a little cheesy on the rhymes, the song still rocks out. I can only imagine the state of the crowd when this gets played live, a true punk rock song if ever I heard one!

Lyrically, this song is another one on the deeper end of the emotional spectrum, exploring Frank’s past substance use, and the dark places that took him. This is something I’ve noticed Frank be a lot more open and honest about, especially when talking about some of his older songs, like Nights Become Days. Maybe this is a note back to the older days, after all, FTHC marks the 10 year anniversary of England Keep My Bones.

In the latter half of the song, it goes into a personal monologue, with Frank really expressing where he took himself to, but also where he is now and what in the end, saved him. Life isn’t about being off you face all the time, but so much more.

Fatherless

The opening of this one took me by surprise, a piano solo? This one must be different.

Ah, there it is, the drums before it gets seriously loud and angry.

At Lost Evenings last year, Frank mentioned that this song forms the first of a trio, with My Bad and Miranda completing it, and tells the full story of his upbringing and relationship with his father. As part one, this tells the story of his youth, and being sent to boarding school, away from home and his family, and how for most of his life he didn’t have a father.

Although a heavy start, the end becomes a lot more ‘folk-y’, with the chorus and verses becoming full of lyrics and personal stories. Even to end there is a crowd singalong, similar to older songs. Although there is still the anger that was present in that song, this time it is a lot more resolved and there is an end to it.

My Bad

This is the shortest song of the album, coming in at 1:44, and really gets straight to it. I know Frank is a big fan of NOFX, and this is certainly one in their style, even down to the slightly mismatched drums vs guitar, and Frank not so much singing, but shouting. Very brash and in your face.

As my first listen, this song has been one that has been really difficult to understand and get my head around. Production wise, it feels less clean than all the other songs, and at points it isn’t easy to hear what Frank is saying.

But from what I do understand, it is an angry song about politics, and about the straight white guy always being in charge and getting what they want. Frank has always been passionate about bringing people who don’t fit into these categories into the spotlight, whether that is the bands booked for his support sets, his work with charities and even the album No Mans Land.

After listening a few more times, I’m starting to enjoy it more and get it more, and I think over time I’m sure it will be one I’ll love.

Ben Lloyd/The Sleeping Souls at Lost Evenings. I can imagine this song will be great as a full band on stage

Miranda

This song is obviously a very important song for Frank, and one that he had to make. And to me, I think he has done this really well. As a song, it shows his true feelings and experiences of his relationship with his Father – now Miranda, but also keeping the song in the style of the album, and while also keeping it restrained enough and respectful enough that it doesn’t feel overbearing or over the top. What I’m trying to say is, he got this one right.

One thing to note is the classic Frank Turner singalong, very similar to the one in Fathers Day, which is probably very deliberate. When Fathers Day was released, there was still a lot of pent up anger and unresolved feelings. Now those feelings have been resolved and the anger and resentment has started to fade.

Frank did an interview with The Guardian, and this does a much better job of exploring the thoughts and feelings behind this song that I ever could

A Wave Across A Bay

From what I gather, this song has been around for quite a while, and with the permission of Grant and the rest of the band, a tribute to Scott Hutchinson has made it onto FTHC.

This song, dedicated to Scott, is a perfect combination of his and Frank’s style, to make a song that is both unique, but also brilliant. A song that would happily be played by Frank or Scott. The almost bluntness style FR were known for, with strong powerful lyrics and sounds, are greatly accompanied by Frank’s writing style.

Lyrically, this is a really powerful song, exploring those final moments for Scott, and the thoughts and feelings associated, both for Scott and those who knew him – and even those who didn’t. To say there weren’t tears in my eyes the first time I heard it would be a lie.

It is through these words that we get the feeling that Scott, although not physically, is still with us, in spirit, in the music he made and in the tiny changes he helped inspire. Ever falling, never landing.

The Tiny Changes Foundation was set up in Scott’s honour to help young people suffering from mental health issues. You can find out more about them and donate here.

Frank Turner at day 1 of Lost Evenings, where he played A Wave Across A Bay

The Resurrectionists

This song was originally debuted on one of Frank’s live streams over the lockdowns, in the same one that The Gathering shows were first announced.

It is said to be inspired by Charles Dickens, and would probably feel more at home in a west end musical than a punk rock show. But what’s more punk than that?

This is another about growing up, and understanding yourself, again with some call backs to older work (although this time is pretty obvious which songs). I can imagine this one is a crowd pleaser, with plenty of easy to lean words and singalong sections. However I still can’t escape the thought of Frank doing a comical stage dance with the song (and maybe the souls as backing dancers).

The addition of Simon Neil from Biffy Clyro to close the song was unexpected but welcome.

Punches

Opening with an acapella start, followed by a classic punk riff, this one goes back to the earlier, heavier sound of the album. I think this song was played on a live stream a little while back, and from what I remember, the reaction online was incredibly positive.

This song reminds me of Plain Sailing Weather, not just in the sound but also in meaning. Plain Sailing Weather is about always messing up a good thing, but punches is about accepting that things go wrong but knowing now how to make the most of when things go right. More maturing on Frank’s part it seems.

Throwing in the crowd chant near the end was unexpected, but I love it and I’m sure it will be a hit on the live shows, keeping up that message of togetherness and making things better. Maybe even a new contender for show finisher?

Perfect Score

Keeping up with the indie-punk sound from the last one, it also keeps the feeling going. But this time there is a bit of an apology mixed in with it. “I’m genuinely sorry, for all the stupid things I’ve done”, a feeling we all have, as everyone has made some mistakes in the past.

This song is honest about perfection. Frank has always been the first to admit he is not perfect, but this one is coming to terms with the fact that everyone is the same, and learning from them and not making the mistakes from our past. There’s also some political jabs thrown in, similar to the song 1933 about history repeating itself, just not quite as in your face.

Finally there is also an element of calling people out on their BS, especially those who hide behind the screens. No one has a perfect score, weather that is on the screen playing call of duty or in real life.

 The Work

One of (if not the) first songs to see the light of day was The Work, which I first heard live in March 2020, and others I know heard it even earlier.

This song is a tribute to Frank’s wife, Jess Guise. But it’s also a song about daily life, doing ‘normal’ things and how he is no longer on tour, playing shows around the world all the time. But the key message of the song “the work that makes it worth it” really hits home. In many past songs and interviews Frank has made it clear that the life of a musician is not always all it’s cracked up to be, but in keeping of the spirit of the album Frank is making it better and really now putting “the work” in.

Sound wise, it is also keeping in the same theme as most other tracks, a new-ish indie-punk sound Frank has started to find for himself.

An extra note on this song, when I interviewed Frank back in August last year, I asked if working with Pet Needs had started to influence his new album, and although Frank claimed that it didn’t, this track stands out to me as one that certainly has a Pet Needs sound to it.

Little Life

This is the first song on the album which I have absolutely zero idea about before listening. All the others I have heard, either as a single, live or on a live stream, or have seen Frank talk about. But Little Life, no idea.

As a song, this one is a lot folky-er than the others, using an acoustic guitar to really drive the song forward. I think this still is a hark back to his earlier work, but this time songs like The Real Damage and My Kingdom For A Horse.

Another lockdown song, but Little Life is also about simplifying, and knowing when to make a change for the better (even if a global pandemic is what is needed), and when to slow down. The new post-lockdown Frank and Jess are changed, and although there is a hint of bitterness and sarcasm in the song, it is overall happy and loving. Even though this is a song dedicated to Jess, I think the message of forced relaxation caused by Lockdown is one many of us can relate to. I certainly have a better understanding of what it means to relax now.

Farewell To My City

The album ends with a rumination on leaving the capital after 7300 days for a new life on the Essex coast with the bittersweet ‘Farewell To My City’. It’s a mini autobiography rooted in time and place, but one that ultimately accepts that it’s time to move on.    – Frank Turner/Xtra Mile Recordings

The opening city sounds are a little confusing, especially with the spoken word over the bass solo. I did not see that coming.

This is certainly a song from Frank Turner, to Frank Turner, and is another song he really did need to write and release, for himself more than anyone else. He is leaving a place he once vowed never to leave, while reflecting on himself and his previous life, for one more time in this album. From the days of student life, Million Dead, skirting endless bars and venues and doing countless substances, he has realised he doesn’t need to be the person he once thought he would become.

As a song, it is really difficult to put my thoughts about it into words. I really enjoy listening to it the first time, but I don’t think it’s one I’ll be able to listen to often. And live? I’m not too sure.

However if you ever want a really angry walking tour of London, you’ve got that sorted.

The proper singing does start later on, and the song itself is starting to feel like a counter to This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The One Of Me. No longer is he longing for the big city and getting out of the boring life he thought of his childhood, but for the escape, peace and quiet. But I guess that’s growing up for you.

Well, what an album. One that certainly goes back to Frank’s routes, the music and ideology that he started with, but while also pushing himself in some new directions musically. I’d be lying if I didn’t think that part of it is to fit in with the new music trending at the moment, with the likes of Sam Fender and Declan McKenna, to name two. By no means is that a bad thing, I think it’s always good to try to be popular and get more fans.

There are some songs that I don’t think will make it into the regular live setlist (Farewell and Miranda), but there are also some which I think will become a regular – Haven’t Been Doing So Well, Non-Serviam, Punches and probably more.

In a move away from the pervious, there is very little cynicism in this album, overall it is a very positive album and one with a bright outlook. But there doesn’t need to be any negativity. Frank has continued to grow up and mature, he now has a much better outlook on life than ever before and his songwriting has made this clear.

This is certainly an album that Frank Turner, as well as all who featured and help make it, should be proud of.

FHTC is out everywhere on the 11th February 2022.

Words by Ted Stargatt

Pictures courtesy of Frank Turner/Xtra Mile/Ted Stargatt