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Interview: The Bleeding Knees Club

26 Mar

Far from boy scouts, it’s all rambunctious fun, frolics, and F-bombs when The Bleeding Knees Club are about.

Rahsian Taylor Parris for Music News

 

 

 

When Music News first laid ears on The Bleeding Knees Club we got a little excited, though somewhat confused by the young duo from Oz and their tempestuous, but appealingly brazen surf punk. Needless to say, we couldn’t go without a quick chat with the guys, whom with their puerile charm, got us that little bit more excited, and yes, a little bit more confused.
Music News: So you’re called The Bleeding Knees Club? That’s different, what’s the story behind your name?

The Bleeding Knees Club: We knew this kid once who was in a homosexual cult and he would tell us all these f****ed up stories about the rituals they had to do, and one of the rituals he explained was called ‘the bleeding knees club’, and we thought the name sounded cool.

MN: So how did you guys meet?

BKC: We have known each other since were like two-years-old, and then when we were about 19, we were both jobless and had nothing to do, so we decided to start a band to occupy some of the spare time.

MN: Great way to pass the time. Are there any artists or types of music that influence your sound?

BKC: Yeah, we like Garage bands, Punk bands, Blues bands and Doo-wop bands

MN: Is there anyone you really want to collaborate with?

BKC: Yes! Susan Boyle

MN: Sounds like a match made in heaven, we’ll look out for her on your next album. Speaking of which, your debut’s coming out early this year, what was it like recording your first album?

BKC: It was really rad! We were in NYC for five weeks just hanging out and stuff, and we had Dev Haynes as our producer, which was pretty cool.

MN: As we know, you’re from Australia, but you’ve been travelling quite a bit, where has been your favourite place so far?

BKC: We really like New York. We’ve been there a bunch of times now and we like it more and more every time we go back. There is so much to do and so many good bands playing all the time.

MN: Your music’s quite unruly, which member of the band is the worst behaved? What’s the most unruly thing you’ve done?

BKC: Haha, no idea. We both have our moments, but Jordan nearly killed someone once.

MN: Cults and killing people, this Bleeding Knees Club sounds a bit mad, what would we have to do to join?

BKC: No one can join our club.

MN: Oh…we’re a little sad, but okay.
Your live performances are quite renowned, what are you thinking when you’re on stage?

BKC: We’re usually thinking about what we had for dinner.

MN: We thought you’d be thinking about teenage girl. What’s the story behind that track anyways?

BKC: It’s kind of about when you’ve been hanging out with a girl for a while and they start to get annoying, but for some reason you can’t tell them to go away. Or it could be about being a paedophile…

MN: Wow! Hopefully it’s the first one.
You must party a lot, what happens if you’re out and your own song comes on, what do you do?

BKC: We’d leave the party.

MN: That sucks, we’d totally stay.
So, apart from the album, what are you guys up to next, and will we see you back in the UK?

BKC: Yeah! We’re planning on coming back to the UK to do some shows this year, and then we will hopefully go back to the USA to play the South By South West festival.

MN: Excellent! We’ll look forward to hearing from you again. In the mean time, try not to kill anyone.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Dermot O’Leary Presents The Saturday Sessions – Various Artists

27 Sep

Words By Rahsian Parris

Compilations, what to say? The general consensus is that eight out of ten times they are like the not so ‘Greatest Hits’ of a bunch of artists that are favoured amongst the masses, whose songs we could reel off in chronological order if asked and with a track list that says ‘flung together with the haste and frivolity of a thousand capitalists’ as oppose to ‘specially crafted for your listening pleasure’; not to mention the fact that they are, in essence, like turning the dial to the UK’s Top 40 minus the adverts and faux anticipation.

Live compilations tend to go down slightly better, though, again, leave a lot to be desired with questionable song choices (or omissions for that matter), lack luster production – because revving up the reverb is not the answer to a poor performance – and general ambiguity that may in fact do a lot of things but includes falling short of capturing the intricacies of what we all love about live music – in short, if I find a live compilation that I deem worth purchasing I’ll eat my hat. Then along comes BBC Radio 2’s Dermot O’Leary Presents The Saturday Sessions and I feel compelled to get my plate ready to guzzle until my belly is full of some sort of made in Turkey cotton polyester mix.

This quaint blend of predominantly acoustic tunes performed by some of the nations favourite acts is nothing less than a Sunday (or Saturday) morning aural delight. The songs themselves are mostly cover versions of well-known past and present chart toppers including songs from Amy Winehouse, Elvis Presley, Britney Spears and Michael Jackson. The beauty being that they are the live performances recorded during The Dermot O’Leary Show on BBC Radio 2, something the tasteful production really encapsulates.

Pop/Rock with echoes of Jazz and Blues that make for easy listening transcends other notable live ‘sessions’ compilations as a record that not only offers vividly expressive and often eccentric versions of some of our favourite songs (Lily Allen does a smashing, jazzy rendition of Britney’s ‘Womanizer’), but also gives some artists a chance to offer up more modest, exposed versions of their own songs; Florence + The Machine’s ‘Rabbit Heart’ and The Temper Trap’s ‘Sweet Disposition’ being stand out examples.

However, what is most apparent is the unmistakable feeling and passion that every performance oozes, that, despite not being live in the traditional sense, is something that has not been lost in the recording process. Fyfe Dangerfield‘s stomping version of Girls Aloud‘s ‘Call The Shots‘ is genius, as is Imogen Heap’s performance of ‘Thriller’, which is an almost perplexing concoction of haunting melodies and moving emotion, making the track recognisable enough to be pointed out, but so far removed from the original that it could be her own; haunting in completely opposing ways to Jackson’s, leaving plagued zombies behind and depicting a person tormented by a soul eating ghost closer to the heart.

There is something about the relationship we have with hearing music on the radio that is so different to personal, off air, listening habits that, in most cases, are inadequate in comparison, which is why, as a whole, this two disc (twenty track) ensemble does something that is so rarely executed with these kind of records; it totally and completely encompasses the feeling and nature of the radio show the songs were performed for, replicating the listening experience as if it were happening live, for the first time with zero insufficiencies. All in all it is reason enough to ditch your iPod (even if it is just for a for a few days) and fall back in love with live performance and the radio.

Rahsian Parris for Music-News.com

Gaslight Anthem’s Alex Levine: “I’d like to break all of their instruments so they can never play again”

5 Jul

With critically acclaimed album American Slang making a dent in the consciousness of anybody with a good pair of ears and fresh from rocking the stages of some of the UK’s best venues and festivals this summer, American quartet, The Gaslight Anthem, are literally all over the show. With a string of UK and European dates as well as a stateside tour to promote their new album, we were lucky enough to be able to catch up with bass player Alex Levine, who was all too happy to tell Music News about what the band have been up to, why we Brits rock and which band’s instruments he’d like to smash so they could never play again.

Words By Rahsian Parris

SINCE THEY HIT our shores in tsunami like fashion back in 2008, The Gaslight Anthem have secured themselves a massive following here in the UK. Whether it is teenaged girls camped outside venues waiting for a glimpse of the band, or being promoted to rock star royalty as Kerrang Magazine’s cover stars before they had even played a show (true story); these four rockers from New Brunswick, New Jersey are living the American dream. However, it was not all fame and fortune from the start, Alex tells of how the boys came from humble beginnings and had to work hard for their success. “It wasn’t all handed to us, that’s for sure. We started about five years ago in my parent’s basement. At the time, Brian and I were living in my parent’s house and we were playing music downstairs. We had a big basement so everybody came down there five times a week and we wrote and recorded music for about a year and then we went on tour. We’ve been on tour for the last five years doing what we could do to get our music out there. As far as the UK goes, our first show was Reading and Leeds [festival] two years ago”.

With the incredible hype that surrounded the band (not solely down to Kerrang, but also front man, Brian Fallon’s distinctive American rock vocals, reminiscent of a younger Springsteen) the band won over their UK audience instantly. Two albums down the line, they decided to revisit their second home and release their third full length offering to date. American Slang is a rousing mix of organic, American rock and roll, with a splash of punk attitude that flashes with the passion, maturity and precision needed to execute killer hooks and is evidently a step up from the band’s previous record, it even includes a track that gives an unambiguous salute in the direction of the union jack. Alex says: “We had a bit more time to write and record this record than we’ve ever had so I think it was more concentrated song writing wise. We could control, more so, what we wanted to do because we weren’t really in a rush. In terms of stand out songs […] for all of the British fans, I would say ‘The Queen of Lower Chelsea’, that’s our big British influence song and I really enjoy playing [it].

It turns out that, despite our long distance relationship with the band, Britain has played a major role in, not only giving them some of the most dedicated fans in the world, but also inspiring the band’s music and even creating new friendships. In terms of who they favour more on the rock and roll front and which crowds they prefer to play for, Alex proudly announces that Britain wins every time, saying: “I guess the biggest difference is, over here there’s an electricity that goes through the shows. Everybody in the house is going crazy, which is awesome. I think British music and British people in general are just more passionate with Rock and Roll music than anybody else in the world. 90% of my musical collection is British music, that’s just the way it is for me, the British do Rock and Roll better than anyone else.”

I guess it also helps when one of your BFF’s is English folk/punk sensation, Frank Turner. “He’s one of my good friends. He’s an unbelievable songwriter” beams Alex, “I’m sure everybody knows who Frank Turner is now-a-days”. And if you thought it was all about rubbing shoulders with rock and roll legends now that the band have made it big, think again, there is modesty and a humbleness about this band that not only keeps them grounded, but means that they are all too quick to give support and praise to up and coming bands, notably the support bands that have accompanied them on tour. “The Sharks are a great, phenomenal band. They have that real old school Clash vibe on stage and in their music and it is just straightforward punk rock, but with that kind of swagger to it. Definitely check out Sharks if you haven’t heard them yet” says Alex.

So with all this love of British music, are we sensing a collaboration on the horizons? “We’re up for making music with anybody that we’re into” he replies, “Nothing’s come up at all so far, but I’m sure if something that we’re into does, we definitely would” (I bet their phones are ringing off the hook as we speak). However, we have all heard the stories about backstage bust-ups, festival feuds and tour tantrums, knowing what these rock and roll folk are like, it cannot all be one big love fest, surely there must be some band or the other that they dislike. We got chatting about Brian’s unfortunate mishap on an American Airlines flight where his guitar was broken in transit (don’t worry, he got a new one – we wish the airlines were as accommodating for us), so I ask Alex if there was anyone’s property he would take pleasure in destroying, he said “An instrument I would wanna break? What, because I don’t like them? This might get me in to trouble, I was initially gonna say Paul Simmons from the Clash, he’s my favourite bass player of all time, if I could have his bass to hold and play, that’d be awesome, but to break? There’s too many. There’s just too many bad bands out there” He quickly adds: “But Forever The Sickest Kids, I’d like to break all of their instruments so they can never play again and you can write that” (Done. You heard it here first).

ASBOs aside, The Gaslight Anthem boys are finishing up the second half of 2010 with a bang (no pun). With their tour travelling to Europe and the United States, the band whose album Uncut gave a 5 star rating are literally taking over the world, but fear not UK fans, they have just announced new UK dates for later on in the year. Alex says: “We’ve got about a week left [in the UK], we’re just playing all the academy’s, Hard Rock Calling and two German festivals then we have a few weeks when we’re back at home, then we come back over here for another month or so, so you should be seeing a lot of us. [We’ll get] maybe five or six days off, but maybe more time off next year when I get married” (we can hear the sound of young hearts breaking everywhere) “That’s the only time I have off. I did actually have to move it back to September”. In true rock and roll fashion I ask the big question: But if you weren’t getting married who would have a chance? “No Comment” He says shyly “That would get me into trouble, she reads everything. Maybe if Audrey Hepburn was still alive, she’s beautiful. If she was still alive… for sure, but yeah, this could get me into trouble; it’d be like “so I got a phone call today… you are obsessed with who?” It doesn’t work well when you’re three thousand miles away and you’re fighting on the phone and it’s a dollar a minute… I’d be like “I didn’t mean it, it was just a question”. Okay Okay, we are not wedding crashers, note that next time the boys are back in town, Alex Levine of The Gaslight Anthem will be a married man, however, that wont stop us from ogling them at their next show. We are SO rock and roll.

For New Tour Dates, Tickets and News check out: http://www.thegaslightanthem.com and http://www.Myspace.com/thegaslightanthem

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