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Fast rising Brighton based ska punkers The Bar Stool Preachers are just about to embark on their biggest UK headline tour to date, whilst tickets for the legendary Cock Sparrer’s 2020 Not The Albert Hall UK club tour are one of the hottest on the scene right now.
RPM caught up with Preachers’ vocalist T.J McFaull and bassist Bungle along with Colin McFaull lead singer with Cock Sparrer just a few weeks ago at Rebellion Festival to talk all about…well, just about anything really.
What follows is RPM interview gold as father and son (plus Bungle) ‘Take ‘Em All’ on ‘One By One’ whilst ‘Looking Lost’ in the interview seat is one Johnny H.
The last time I was sat in this very bar I was interviewing you Colin and I asked you this very question, so here it is with a very subtle twist. See if you can spot it.
I was stood watching you last night when it suddenly dawned on me that when The Bar Stool Preachers do the 20th Anniversary ‘Gracie Governo’ tour I’ll be 72 years old, so T.J. and Bungle tell me what’s it like to be young? (laughing)
T.J.: (laughing) Well we’ve never been busier; we’ve never been more successful and we’ve never been more broke. So, it’s brilliant being young. Although the years seem to be flying at the moment and suddenly, we do have to stop and think “have we really played this place six or is it seven times now”, and you kind of have to forget you are young and just crack on.
Bungle: The one thing people forget though is that being in a band doubles your age rate. (laughing)
TJ: Yeah it’s that and its also as a band you’re only as young or old sorry as your youngest member
Bungle; Why did you look at Col when you said that?
T.J.: Well Daryl is keeping ‘em tempered, to the ground (laughing) and we’ve got Whibs in the band our drummer (Alex Whibley-Conway) and he’s only 23 years old. So we really are a very young band (looking to Colin – and then follows loads of laughter)
T.J.: Yeah we met him when he was 19. That’s how long we’d struggled on with our old drummer, and we kind of groomed him into it more than anything. The first couple of tours we let him do anything, let him run wild. Then it was next couple of tours smack the shit out of him if he did anything wrong and the subsequent 7 or 8 tours, he’s been nothing short of amazing.
He was a jazz drummer first and the way he plays music is just so intuitive and as such this next album is going to be so heavily drums lead. That’s its just really fucking fun to listen to.
Colin: Well this year will be our sixth time of playing it going right back to the days when the stage was on the other side of the room, and I’ll be honest it’s a difficult room, largely because the sound is not always great in there due to the acoustics, but the crowd are always fantastic.
I think we still hold the record, yeah we had 6,500 in there back in 2008, and for health and safety reasons they now have a cap on it so you never get more than 3 to 3,500 in there.
T.J.: As we found out yesterday (referring to the fact that people were turned away when The Bar Stool Preachers were on stage due to the venue capacity having been reached)
Colin: It’s just a really great venue
So what was it like for you guys? (pointing at T.J. and Bungle)
T.J.: Bungle (laughing)
Bungle: Yeah, it was crazy. Words cannot do it justice; it was just mental. As we set up we could see the crowd as far back as the sound desk, then we came on lights went up and more people seemed to be in, then 2 or 3 songs in the lights went up and I stopped and turned to Tom and went “what’s going on? Have you seen this?” (laughing)
TJ: The response yesterday was phenomenal. Opening with ‘One Fool Down’ and first time in the big boy room, it could have all fallen flat on its face with about 100 people singing but less than 30 seconds into that first song it really did feel like there was 2,000 people shouting those words back as us.
Colin: What was really interesting from my point of view was having been to a few shows, as you can probably imagine. It’s gone from a couple of rows of people knowing the words to where I was stood last night (around 14 rows back) everyone around me knew every word.
You guys did genuinely seem moved by the reaction.
Bungle: I welled up I must admit.
TJ: I nearly cried during ‘One Fool Down’ when it got to the “Never Look Down” bit when that went off the first time, that stopped me taking that next breath and I looked around at Bungle and he was like the Blackpool Beach caricature of a dog with the biggest bone he’s ever seen (growling and laughing) and smiling from ear to ear.
Bungle: I wasn’t crying it was sweat in my eye okay? (laughing)
Do you still get that same buzz Col when you are headlining the Empress?
I was only saying to Tom earlier, people always ask us how long are you going to continue doing Cock Sparrer and I say as long as people pack out venues and sing the songs and enjoy themselves that’s good enough for us. When they stop, we’ll stop and it’s as simple as that.
TJ: You know the reason Rebellion is so special is that it is the one event a year where the various sections of the UK punk scene do come together with like one purpose, to have a great time. When we played at 5 pm yesterday it felt to me like the crowd all felt like they had part ownership in the band as they were all responsible for making it such a great event. Same when Cock Sparrer plays, everyone in there feels a part of that band, and their support really means something. That right there is amazing and it’s only at Rebellion here in the UK that you really get that.
At this point, I’d like to take you back to 2014 and a rainy night outside the Melkweg in Amsterdam. That night Tom you gave me and Nev (at the time we were both there covering that European Rebellion event for Uber Rock) your vision for this new ska-punk band you were forming. Five years on are you now anywhere near where you hoped you would be back then?
TJ: I’m there. I’m there (laughing) Yeah of course. We’re touring America 3 times in that the next 6 months. Plus, we’re putting out an album that people are potentially going to hear without us having to do 150 to 200 shows just to get it heard. We will still play that number of shows because we fucking love doing it, but it will get heard regardless now. So, 5 years down the line from that conversation I couldn’t be prouder of the boys in the band, how hard everyone’s worked, how much everyone’s sacrificed and just how good we all got at writing music. It’s been nothing but humbling every step of the way.
Bungle: I remember when I first met Tom down on Brighton Beach which was a long time ago on a beautiful Summer’s evening and I said to him “this will be my last time for putting absolutely everything into doing a band” and he was like “cool okay” and now 5 years later I’m like “why did I say that?” (everyone explodes in laughter). What the hell have I let myself in for? Seriously though I don’t regret it for one second. It’s like all the bucket list things I’m getting to do, playing the Empress, touring with Bouncing Souls and The Bronx, playing with Street Dogs. The list just goes on now.
T.J: (who at this point turns to Colin) Well you’re taking a completely different band out with you next year so you won’t be on that list (again everyone falls about laughing)
Colin: To be fair you guys have put everything into it. You’ve not held back and as you said (pointing to Tom) being dedicated to it has been the only way of doing it.
Bungle: You get out what you put into it don’t you.
T.J: You know you sell somebody something and you say “it’s gonna be this” but you’re never 100% sure that’s what I did when I hoodwinked you and Nev in that bar in Amsterdam. I was all about telling you it was going to be like The Clash with this real puck rock ethic understanding the ska, reggae and roots origins of where that sound all comes from. I couldn’t believe that it actually turned into just that. (laughing)
Or that the bassist I told you about that night could become the bassist he is right at this moment. I tell you there is no other bass player writing stuff like Bungle.
Colin: And what you didn’t do was compromise. You’ve stuck to that ethic when it probably would have been easier to get gigs if you’d changed your sound a little to suit what was in at the time. You stuck to what you wanted to do from the beginning and persevered with that original dream.
Bungle: It’s one of those things like when we first started and had the foundation of what we wanted to be we could start to do our own thing and let it grow naturally and let it be what it’s going to be. If people like it then that’s wicked!
T.J: When we started this though every interview or article always seemed to have somewhere in it… and features the son of Cock Sparrer singer Colin McFaull, and when that stopped or seemed to stop was when those people actually came out and saw The Bar Stool Preachers. Largely because we went out and did 150-200 shows a year to show everyone what we did, and that allowed us to be us.
T.J: Yeah from time to time, and yeah you guys didn’t and Dad and I were both like “Thank You for not mentioning it” but if you’re gonna sell tickets or clicks or whatever we understand. We all live in this same fucking rat race where you have to try and get yourself heard however you can, but you guys have always written about US first and that meant when you asked us for a chat we, of course, said “yes”.
Colin: We joked a few minutes ago about the UK run of shows Cock Sparrer are doing next year and us having another support band on with us. The simple truth is they have to distance themselves. They have to do their own thing. As I said to Tom if you’re in a situation a year from now where you’re looking to support Cock Sparrer in Wakefield then you’ve wasted a year somewhere. You should be bigger than that by then.
T.J: (shaking his head in disagreement) I get it, but you’re holding us back. If you think we’d go into that tour asking you to help us out and give us a gig then you are wrong. By doing it together we get to choose to do those shows.
Colin: What worries me, and this is the truth, is you commit to those dates now and it’s a year away and then say Rancid came and asked you to go on a world tour with them.
T.J: We would blow you out in heartbeat (this comment is followed by much laughter)
Colin: It’s a little commitment that could come back to bite you on the arse, that’s all I’m saying.
Bungle: It’s like when we go back to the really small venues like the Ilkeston thing and people say “you’re too big to play there”. We’re like “who gives a shit?” if we want to play a pub in the middle of nowhere to however many people, then we’ll do it.
T.J: And the Ilkeston thing (Ed: it’s changed now to later in the year and has been replaced this time around) has proved that point right because this time it’s the only all-ages show on the tour and people have bought tickets from four hours drive away. Just so they can bring their kids.
Okay so with things getting a little heated around the table here, here’s a real loaded gun question for you, and of course bearing in mind who is sat next to you (pointing at Tom). What’s been the real highlights of the first 4 or 5 years of The Bar Stool Preachers existence then?
T.J: That’s a great question, and its one we’ve not been asked before.
Bungle: There are multiple ones for a multitude of different reasons. I think The Slackers tour was our first big one and they really taught us a lot about being on the road
T.J: They communicate with each other as musicians on a level that I have not seen since. It’s like they communicate out of the corner of their eyes to a bandmate 10 foot away and suddenly its 1-2-3 and they are off, and as still relatively new musicians that is unbelievable to watch. So suddenly we’re going like “if they can do that, we can do that.”
Bungle: Perhaps what ties all this together is that whoever it is we are playing with when we learn something and take something away regarding how to do it better that is a highlight. So, going on tour with Sparrer I learned how to play my bass lower thanks to (Steve) Burgess (laughing), but whoever the band is we are always picking things up be it as musicians, or even something as silly as learning on how to get from A to B quicker.
T.J: You should try being normal size and not Bungle size and try sound checking his fucking bass and its touching your ankles (laughing)
Colin: The learning though never ends, that never stops and whatever band you play with you should be watching and learning about how to do things better.
T.J: So, cast your mind back to Mighty Sounds in the Czech Republic in 2017 (then follows a long silence as you can see Colin thinking) and Cock Sparrer have never done a call and response live before. Yeah, Bungle you can laugh it up as you were there for it, and I’m glad you were as this is proof. You had never done one before at the end of the set, and you saw it being done by another band and you said to me “I’m gonna do that.”
Colin: (laughing) And how was it?
T.J: (shouting) Much bigger than any of ours!!! (laughing) But at the end of the set, he did this mighty long note, looked over at me and Bungle and raised an eyebrow and I thought “I love that cunt”. (much laughter follows this comment)
Colin: Oh yeah that was the same gig that we put the backdrop up upside down. Intro kicks in big build-up crowd is going bonkers and backdrop falls to reveal the Forever logo upside down. (laughing). I was standing next to Will (Murray, Sparrer’s long-time road manager and sixth member) and said “Will the backdrop’s upside-down”, and he goes “yeah you’re right”, and I’m like “you’re not supposed to just agree with me you’re supposed to be like fuck yeah I’ll sort it now”. Brilliant!
T.J: To go back to the original question another highlight has been some of the incredible bills we’ve shared, Street Dogs taught us a lot, The Slackers, The Interrupters taught us a lot and Sparrer of course taught us a lot in the long run, and most definitely not how to put backdrops up. But to be good at something you learn in whatever you do in life, an apprentice chippie on a building site will watch how the others do things and take little things away to make life easier and that’s just what we do.
The next 2 years are going to be bigger and more exciting for us in terms of support slots than anything we’ve done so far, and that’s no disrespect to anyone I’ve mentioned so far, but we’re going back to play with Die Toten Hosen once again for an all-new run in front of 15 to 40,000 people, Bouncing Souls and The Bronx you know these are bands that we listened to growing up
T.J: There’s a real disparity between reality and what people feel comfortable to say and experience in the real world. It’s really very, very hard to live without feeling like a hypocrite about feeling guilty with people going on about; you travel it’s your carbon footprint, you eat a steak you’re killing the environment. There’s nothing you can do that there isn’t some smart bugger going, “this is slightly wrong.”
For us, in terms of the message we put out for the first album we were almost talking in clichés, for the second album we were trying to tell stories. For album number 3 a lot of what we’ve got to say is about genuine questions we have to ask right now. That’s because right now is a very explosive time to come of age and it’s a great time to write about. I mean what happened at Grenfell? What happened to the Panama Papers? Why are British bombs destroying Yemen? Like where are these questions in our day to day life? If they are not there, then people, maybe like us, but we’re still a relatively small band, there are a hell of a lot bigger bands who could be saying a hell of a lot more, but why aren’t people saying it? Trouble is there aren’t that many flagship points that people can rally behind at the moment that’s not already propagated in fear and its really hard as a band to not talk about all this. In our opinion.
There are a lot of bands who write songs about summer and love and surfboards and all that and are playing the same fucking 3 chords over and over..and
Colin: (chipping in) What’s that about ironing boards? (everyone falls about laughing at this point)
So, can music really change the world?
T.J: You never understand the real themes and energies of life until you experience them for yourself. Your deaths your marriages your births whatever they may be and they don’t always happen as big things sometimes they are microcosms. Me I just feel the whole system needs a reboot.
Colin: Sorry I’d nodded off there for a minute. (Laughing) The US is one of the biggest markets out there but you have to come to play it to come to terms with it, you have to be clever about it and do it in a specific kind of way, you certainly can’t scattergun it. So as the guys tell me the more they go back, the more friends they make and the more records they sell so it’s all healthy.
With Sparrer the first time we went to the US was 2000, well we did go in 1978. We were coming out of the record deal we’d sold all our stuff to go, the idea being to take demo tapes and tout it around the record companies to see if there was any interest and we flew on Freddie Laker for £40 to New York we spent 3 days there and no one was interested. There was a guy who used to work at Decca had moved to the west coast so we thought we’d go and see him, so we drove across the Sates in an Oldsmobile with no air conditioning and then spent a couple of weeks in Los Angeles trying to get some interest.
T.J: You should have done some shows.
Colin: Yes, we should have, we just didn’t have the opportunity to do any. So, the first time we played there was 2000 and we did New York CBGB before we went up to Boston before flying to Los Angeles which was a riot and then ended up in San Francisco.
T.J: (laughing) Def fucking Leppard…. Yeah alright. As for Pirate’s Press, like any good parents, they just let us do our own thing only do it more. For us its been more about redistribution of our efforts. Like we’re only doing this one headline UK tour this year in September (dates below) and that’s of course because we’re spending nearly 3 months in the US. We have this amazing fanbase in California and we don’t know where it started or where it came from and we are playing all the way through October with Badcop/Badcop who are fucking amazing.
As for the UK punk scene, I don’t think that’s there at the minute to be broken.
Do you not think that is kind of restricting your appeal though by simply labeling yourselves as punk?
TJ: Hmm that’s an interesting point because we do have the biggest demographic of non punk fans and I suppose that’s on top of us pulling 3000 people in the Empress at 5 pm on a Thursday afternoon.
Bungle: Yeah I’ll take that. (laughing)
Colin: (laughing) I can just sense a new tattoo coming on here.
T.J: I suppose it’s how you look at punk. I think there are loads of new up and coming punk bands who aren’t going to be looking at it the same way as The Bar Stool Preachers do. Because for us punk is not a genre, it’s an ethos. Look I understand I’m really privileged to have grown up with this all around me and I can remember a lot of it right from the age of 6, so why wouldn’t I want to be in a punk band? Everything I knew that was cool before I knew what cool was was punk hands down. So, if the mainstream world isn’t into punk right now then maybe they fucking need to be. As an ethos.
We’ve never played as a punk band though, and we’ve never billed ourselves on a Cock Sparrer/Oi! ticket and that’s because we make the music we want to make and it’s about inclusion and community that is much bigger than punk.
With both of your bands planning extensive UK tours I just wanted to say how refreshing it is to see you doing this, and not playing just the odd one or two shows in London and Manchester like most other bands seem to do these days.
T.J: And which you did for many years (looking to Colin)
Colin: For Sparrer there are two reasons really. 1.) is that Sparrer have always preferred It up close and personal and 2.) it’s the reaction we get when people see we are playing places like Wakefield. Now we’ve always been very privileged in that our fans our friends have been willing to travel to come and see us live so perhaps its now our turn to give something back and just like we’ve always done it to try and play places we’ve never done before and tick that box.
T.J: But you have a duty to your fans as leaders of the scene to give venues like the Robin 2 a little bit of time a little bit of daylight
Colin: And whilst I agree regarding this, it’s really more about making it easier for people to come and see us and not have to pay £400 to see us at a one-off in Amsterdam and instead they can pay £25 to see us in Newcastle or wherever. Of course, the real reason we’re doing it is because we had so much fun the last time we did it. I mean we played Cardiff and got out alive, that’s good enough for me (laughing)
Although Col one of the bands sat here is playing Cardiff on their upcoming tour and the other isn’t
(A cheer goes up from T.J and Bungle as I’m of course referring to their show in Clwb Ifor Bach on 21st September.)
T.J: Yes and I believe it’s only £10 a ticket for one of our shows too (laughing)
T.J: Loads more touring and of course album number 3
Bungle: To keep on writing better music and better songs really
T.J: For album number 3 the benefit is we now know what we’re doing, we’ve defined our sound, we know what our bits are. For us we found that some of our favourite recordings for the songs on ‘Gracie Governo’ were on our phones as voice notes and you know maybe we potentially overproduced those songs on the record. So, what we’re going to do on this next album is. We’ve got 35 songs we’re going to pick 20 and then over 8 days we’re going to record all of those songs live then we’re going to put them out there to get the opinions of people we love and respect – like mum. (cue much laughter) Then we’ll get 11 or 12 tunes that we can go in and record properly
Is there a temptation to drop more in the set?
TJ: That’s another great question. We think album number 1 is better than album number 2 because album number 1 was written with live audience feedback. When we played ‘Eye For An Eye’ last night second half I had no idea what was going on I was making it up as we went along. For album number 2 if we’d toured those for 12 months I think it would have been a much bigger album.
I’m not being critical of the last album I’m incredibly proud of Gracie Governo it’s just that the whole process was another of those learning points we’ll take into album number 3.
‘Late Night Transmission’ is another new one we played and that’s likely to be the lead track on the new album it’s our ‘Police And Thieves’. It’s a direct lift anyway, but don’t tell anyone. (laughing)
Colin: Mick Jones don’t exactly need the money. (laughing)
Colin: As I said to you all those years ago, we never say never. We’re in the fortunate position that as ‘Forever’ was funded by us we had control over everything, and that’s the only way we’d do another album. We’re certainly open to doing it and we’re writing new songs but as with ‘Forever’ if the content wasn’t going to be good enough, we certainly wouldn’t have released it. ‘Forever’ though we’re very proud of, and we love that album and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t do another one.
Well with that awesome prospect in mind is there anything you wanted to add just to finish off?
T.J: Just that with everyone seemingly wanting our band to succeed right now is extremely humbling and we’ve got some really great people pulling for us right now so I’d just like to say “Thank You” to all of those people, and I hope to see some you on the road over the next few months.
Colin: What’s been most refreshing for me this weekend has been how seeing how diverse the Preachers fanbase is, the lads mentioned before the interview about the older lady on the barrier and in front of me were two young children on their parents shoulders, and that’s what its always been about for me and Cock Sparrer. You can come and see us whatever your age, colour, religion or sexual orientation, if you want to come and hear the songs, we’re happy to have you there and its brilliant to see it’s the same with the Preachers.
T.J: And that’s because it’s about family and not business.
If you are looking to be a part of the family for either of the bands upcoming UK tours then you can catch them at the following venues;
The Bar Stool Preachers (all dates are 2019)
Sept 13th Kingston – The Fighting Cocks
Sept 14th Derby – Hairy Dog
Sept 15th Manchester – Star ‘N’ Garter
Sept 16th Leeds – Brudenell Social Club
Sept 17th Newcastle – Trillians
Sept 18th Glasgow – Stereo Cafe
Sept 19th Carlisle – The Brickyard
Sept 20th Blackpool – The Waterloo Bar
Sept 21st Cardiff – Clwb Ifor Bach
Sept 22nd Bedford – Esquires
Cock Sparrer (all dates are for 2020)
27th Mar – The Robin 2, Wolverhampton
28th Mar – Waterfront, Norwich
4th Sep – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
5th Sep – Concorde 2, Brighton
25th Sep – Manchester Academy 2, Manchester
26th Sep – Warehouse 23, Wakefield
9th Oct – Roadmender, Northampton
10th Oct- The Fleece, Bristol
23rd Oct – O2 Academy Newcastle, Newcastle
24th Oct – The Garage, Glasgow
Cock Sparrer @ Rebellion pic courtesy of Dod Morrison Photography
Now I have to be honest, given the choice of sitting in a field with 125,000 of the hunter welly wearing brigade, swopping anecdotes about how much I’d always wanted to see Kylie, or worse still sitting at home watching the BBC sanitized version moaning about how I’d missed out on taking out a second mortgage to buy tickets in the faint hope there’d be someone there I liked, there was only ever going to be one winner tonight. Lets get Skanking to a night of Ska punk, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones bringing the party to the o2 in Bristol.
Walking in to the o2 about ten minutes to start, I’ll be honest I was just a little bit nervous for the Preachers, to say it was sparsely populated would be an understatement. Worries however were short lived, by the time the Bar Stool Preachers hit the stage we had a more than sizeable audience, vastly different to the last time I caught them in the Exchange. Right from the off you can see that the months on the road have sharpened things up, they sounded huge!!! You can’t help but dance, with Tom, the demented ringmaster presiding over the maelstrom of noise. Now I’ve followed the bar Stool Preachers since they were a twinkle in Tom’s eye, reviewed both their LP’s and watched them change and adapt and grow going from an out and out party band into a politically charged machine (The guys arrived from a guerilla gig outside No10) and the place exploded when a personal fave from Grazie Governo “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out” was dedicated to probably the most inept prime minister Britain has ever endured, that is until Boris rides in on his white charger, put in place by the fcking idiots who vote Tory!!!
As the band have grown in confidence the sound has developed, the message getting stronger and stronger, I turned to Johnny H and said “They’ve been listening to too much Steel Pulse” (How far off the mark am I TJ McFaul?) After all Ska came out of the dancehall, mutated into Roots Reggae and there isn’t a genre more politically charged. A rapidly swelling crowd got more and more into the band and the whole place, looking round had a huge smile on its face and no doubt some dodgy knees this morning, Trickle Down, One Fool Down, Bar stool preacher, set the tone, but the newer stuff played tonight has the potential to put them in the shade. I for one can’t wait to catch them in Clwb Ifor Bach on September 21st
Next up we had a band I’d caught live in Camden Underground Sonic Boom Six and in fairness at that gig they really brought the noise and the party it was mental, but tonight I’m not sure if that sound translated into a bigger venue, there was a definite struggle for an identity present and I wonder how much management have become involved? They just didn’t seem the same band, or maybe it was just down to the fact that the Bar Stool Preachers had blown my mind, but where the one band is pushing forward, the other seems to be changing direction and not quite sure which way to go. Both bands loosely tied together by the word Ska.
Now The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are a band I caught way bag in the day and if memory serves me right they played the Cheap Sweaty fun’s 10th anniversary gig originally scheduled for Tj’s but displaced to The Irish club after a difficult personal circumstance for Tj’s owner John Sicolo.
They were Fckin awesome then and tonight watching them sober they haven’t changed a bit and the party atmosphere just grew and grew, we had skanking, we had dancing, we had crowd surfing everything a proper gig needs and it was relentless, the o2 getting hotter and hotter, going thermo-nuclear way before the end. Before you even realized we were an hour plus in and tracks like “Someday I suppose”, the cover of the Wailers “Simmer Down”, “the Rascal king”, “The Punchline” had all flown by. These guys are the consummate professionals and all nine of them, yup nine on one stage made movement look so effortless as they changed positions, danced off and brought the brass section to the fore. What a performance. Now if I had to pick a winner tonight it would have to be The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, they are a real heavyweight in the Ska punk division, been there done it got the T-shirt, but there is a young contender from Brighton coming up through the ranks very quickly.
Great night did I miss Glastonbury? Not in a million fckin years and tonight for once sound was spot on for all the bands, happy days.
Author: Nev Brooks
With just four weeks to go to our annual trip to Rebellion Festival at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool we thought it was high time we gave you a flavour of what RPM would be doing over the four days that make up the absolute jewel in the crown of the UK summer festival season. Johnny H kicks things off with his look at the opening day and a line up that combines the old with the new in one huge celebration of everything great about punk rock music.
The opening day at Rebellion was always about meeting up with old mates to share a pint or two, then making some new ones in the process, it was about rummaging through the market to find long sought after gems, popping into the Punk Art Exhibition to see what twisted genius my old mate Colin Creamcrop Scott had been up to, and then perhaps maybe catch the odd band in the middle of all of this.
I’m telling you this so you understand the seismic shift I’ve seen in the last ten years of going to Rebellion. Thursday was kind of like the appetiser, or a quiet introduction if you will, for what effectively was about to follow over the next three day. Now I look at the bill and I wonder how the hell am I going to do any of the above as its just so jam packed full of great bands right from the off that I’m seriously thinking that next year I’m going to have to go up on the Wednesday as that now appears to be the new Thursday!
Anyway, this year thanks to the train taking the strain once again RPM should be on site just in time to catch Millie Manders & The Shutup and/or The Kingcrows. I say and/or because right from the start we have a band clash, something that undoubtably will see me going one way and our Editor In Chief Dom Daley going the other more than once over the course of the weekend.
Regrettably, our eta means we will have already missed System of Hate and The Murderburgers in Club Casbah and our Brazilian pal from last year Supla performing an exclusive acoustic set, but it doesn’t mean you have to too. In fact, go check them all out as from doors open this year this promises to be one hell of an action-packed weekend.
Back for the 5th year running (by my reckoning anyway) I would bet my Kiss Me Quick hat that Rebellion 2019 is going to be all about The Bar Stool Preachers. The Brighton based ska punks very much on the rise right now and promising to preview tracks from their soon to be recorded 3rd album their 5:15 slot (5:15 geddit?) on the Empress Ballroom stage plus headlining the Almost Acoustic stage later in day are going down on my laminated colour coded band planner as must see performances.
Again I’m not exactly sure where there will be time to anything else other than watch bands after this though as in quick succession we have Pears in the Empress, (our old Slugfest mates) The Blunders in the Arena, cricketing nutters Geoffrey Oicott in the Pavilion, with TV Smith and Slice Of Life both in the Opera House all playing within a two hour window. I can’t of course watch whole performance but I’ll try my best to catch at least some of each.
One band I really do not want to miss this year are Birkenhead’s Queen Zee who will be bringing their Eno goes grunge influenced glam rock stylings to the Empress Ballroom for an 8:30 slot promising to take us on a much welcome trip into the unknown ahead of the hardcore onslaught that is to follow. I was at their recent sold out Newport Le Pub gig but had to leave early when it overran and was truly gutted to miss them, and right now they seem to be everywhere, Download, Glastonbury and thankfully for me Rebellion. Queen Zee may be a bit mainstream for some tastes but they certainly a hell of a lot less pop than Masked Intruder who they follow in the ballroom, I just hope I don’t turn out to be a ‘Loner’ in such huge surroundings.
With Dom no doubt fluffing his mullet to Dave Sharp over at the Almost Acoustic stage and Flipper and The Descendents playing in the Empress plus D.I, Poison Idea and Fear all playing over in Club Casbah you’ll forgive me for thinking that I’ve just somehow quantum leapt back into the early ‘80s (I know there’s a Blackpool gag in there folks but I’ll let you make up your own punchline).
Fear playing their first ever UK show will surely be a must-see for many but for me it’s the lure of Poison Idea that will see me making the short dash from The Bar Stool Preachers in Almost Acoustic to Club Casbah for what might very well be their last ever UK show. ‘Plastic Bomb’ anyone? Fuck yeah!
With everything I’ve covered already I’ve rather shamefully not even touched on the new bands all playing on the Introducing Stage on the opening day, but from London ska punks Lead Shot Hazard through to The Outlines from Nottingham the Jonny Wah Wah curated stage promises a packed house and a total of 51 bands across the weekend coming from all across the world to play Rebellion, and who knows one of two familiar faces to RPM might just creep out on stage along the way too.
Right that’s me knackered and I’ve only just written about day one not lived it, time for some shut eye back at the B&B then I’ll up bright and early for some Bingo with Max Splodge before the not to be missed Rat Boy Magic Show, and we are well and truly into Friday.
Want to join us on our Rebellion escapades? You can buy tickets for Rebellion here.
Author: Johnny Hayward
Thursday night must witness performances might come in various guises but one we’re excited to see and moving onto the Empress stage is The Barstool Preachers so here’s one they might play…
After threatening to turn up and perform Maybe this year is the year that we get to see Poison Idea and just to wet the appetite here’s PI with ‘Calling All Ghosts’
To finish off this Rebellion Thursday preview why not enjoy this rather rare performance from The Alarm Guitarists classic ‘One Step Closer’. See you down the front
“Didn’t we have a luvuly time the day we went to Blackpool, Kiss me quick and Lets Rock Like Fuck!”
August. All roads lead to Blackpool, for it’s time to head into the Winter Gardens for the UK’s finest alternative extravaganza and catch an awesome line up at this year’s Rebellion Festival. However you look at it this year was one of the finest line-ups ever at the festival and RPM scribes were in attendance for plenty of giggles, wobbles and plenty of old and new favourites. I wouldn’t know where to start to sum it up and do justice to the bands who played, however, there were a couple of outstanding performances at this year’s festival most notably Michael Monroe who stole the show with the Sunday night headline in the Opera House.
There were so many other high points so many great bands and looking back there are so many memories that I’ll never have again. As the year unfolded and I look back bands and people that I’ll never see again which makes me grateful to have had these moments however brief in the first place.
There were a few mentions I need to make as I mentioned the performance from Michael Monroe. sure its no secret I think the guy is the best in the business and an incredible talent and has never had the credit he deserved by wider audiences but those who get it just get it and can see that the guy and his band ooze class and he has a back catalogue so full of great songs its one of life’s mysteries how he’s not selling out stadiums and sitting on a pile of platinum records globally but hey life ain’t like that and he just gets on with it and does it with a smile and a wink as he and his band rocks like Fuck! at least now Rebellion knows this as well.
TSOL rocked like fuck – Pizzatramp turned up like fuck (well except Dan) – Clowns blew my mind – Neville Staples skanked like teenagers and considering we stood on the side of the stage to take them in for a song or two we ended up staying for the whole set and loving every minute of it – The Adolescents did Soto proud with an awesome heartfelt performance and all power to them for having the balls to turn up and play and not cancel. The Briefs showed that not all Americans are stupid – Buzzcocks were once again worthy headliners knocking out over an hour of power pop buzzsaw classics. Bar Stool Preachers were also worthy headliners and with their new album in tow, they showed a lot of established bands with decades under their belts how to rock the house and do it with a smile an outstanding and memorable performance.
Idles told it as it is and their assessment of the Tories was spot on. We danced with The DeRellas and pogoed with the Cyanide Pills. We boogied with The Boys who did two sets on two stages and ripped it up on both possibly with the Acoustic taking first prize maybe because it was a little different but the songs sounded so good acoustic. All in all, Rebellion was once again the highlight of the festival season and as far as the UK goes still the best there is beside where else are you going to chat with Supla and see his action figure – you should try it sometime you’d enjoy it. To be fair Rebellion has so much going on besides the bands its championing alternative culture in so many ways and they also had Mr. Lydon trying to be so controversial but only making himself look like a silly billy as a result but even his bizarre words can’t damped what was a massively enjoyable four days and we’re proud to be a small part of championing them because its a platform that’s pretty much free from the clutches of the big circus-like festivals that charge a fortune and treat the fans like customers in a supermarket and only want your cash because that could never be leveled at Rebellion that’s for sure and we’ll be back next August if they’ll have us to do it all again If they’ll have us that is.
But this was only the first weekend of August and this budget-busting month was barely alive and already there was so much going on.
Ben managed to take in The Wildhearts acoustic performance in York where all the hits were stripped bare. Before we could even get over Rebellion it was back to South Wales where we had a date with some Big heads oh and Duncan Reid who turned in a spectacular performance on a night that decided it was going to rain like when Noah built his ark, in fact, it was rumoured that Duncan had to swim back to the Severn Bridge where his band had hired a bigger boat but it didn’t matter to the hardy souls who braved some water falling from the sky because there was rockin’ and rollin’ to take care of.
To kick back a little Leigh Fuge took a leisurely stroll through Hyde Park and happened upon one of his guitar-slinging heroes – none other than old slow hand Eric Clapton kicking up a bluesy stink in Hyde Park along with some other six string slingers (you say that after a few bottles of house red at British Summertime Events prices) namely Carlos Santana and Gary Clark Jr. it really was the Cream (sorry couldn’t resist it) of old-school blues guitarists.(who said we aren’t a broad church here at RPM?) Leigh had to tick this one off his must-see list and was glad he did as the bluesmen certainly delivered. He also took in Maiden in Birmingham he said this about it, “Even after 40 something years of rocking, this band seem to improve with age like a fine wine. While they may not be to everyone’s taste, this year’s Legacy of the Beast tour was one of the highlights of my year. I’ve seen the band 14 times now and this one felt like something very special.” Who said we’re not a braod church?
As far as album releases in the month of August go – There was Idles releasing their ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’ which went down rather well at RPM. there were also albums released by some old friends that were more than welcome making a return to our turntables namely Mr Walter Lure who managed to put out a new album with the Waldos for the first time in 24 years! has it really been 24 years? My God, I feel old but ‘Wacka Lacka Boom Pop A Loom Bam Boo’ yeah that’s right it is called ‘Wacka Lacka Boom Pop A Loom Bam Boo’ but its Waldo and its rock n roll just accept it and move on. Ian McNabb also put out his latest long player this month with ‘Our Future In Space’ rocking out like he promised he would. There were also notable releases from The Ringleaders with their superb effort ‘Bi-Coastal Blasphemy’ and if that wasn’t enough Lovesores released ‘Gods Of Ancient Grease’. Craggy was outside his local record shop at half eight in the morning to purchase his copes of The Dahlmanns ‘American Heartbeat’ and Fertile Hump ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ in August as well he hasn’t stopped playing them since. sneaking in through the back door right at the last minute of August was a fantastic record that I was shocked to hear but in a good way and the more I played it the more I liked it and to be fair its been easily one of the highlights of the year. Oh yeah, The Brutalists with their debut long player ‘The Brutalists‘. go check it out its a belter.
As far as singles go those 45 RPM releases saw the wonderful Damaged Goods celebrate being in existence for 30 years by releasing a whole bunch of cool singles and the first one being those wonderful chaps Cyanide Pills and their take of the Glitter Band single and what a job they did on ‘Just For You’ which we picked up at Rebellion along with a new 7″ from TSOL and The Briefs ‘Kids Laugh At You’ but I have to mention TV Crime as well because their single ‘Hooligans’ was pure earworm and once it was in the old noggin I couldn’t shake it. Fantastic stuff. Hopefully, 2019 will see them release a long player we can hear never mind “shitty attitude – killer tunes” sort it out gents I want the album, thank you kindly.
In a nutshell that was the briefest glimpse into our August. On to September…
“Summer l-u-v-i-n happened so fast”.
With the sun turning Shit Island a lighter shade of brown due to a lack of rainfall on Englands not so Green and pleasant land it was only Rock and Roll that could save us and in marched Hey Honcho & The Aftermaths with their absolute banger ‘Chico Purito!’ In a nutshell it’s everything that is great about wild and reckless garage punk others Might call it Action Rock. Hey Honcho are the newly crowned kings of Spain and boy can they wield those guitars. They make a real pretty noise let me guarantee you that and we love that off the hook shit here at RPM. Click on the links and let some sunshine into your lives and say hello to the boys and tell em RPM sent you. Now July just got a little bit hotter!
On the live front, Leigh took a trip no not like that he went to Birmingham to catch Lenny Kravitz raise vibrations at the NEC and rated Lenny as a guy who still has the chops and on his way back he caught Richie Kotzen rock the Thekla in Bristol for another highlight on the live front.
Other notable releases were those belonging to dragSTER who released a new long player via Louder Than war label entitled ‘Anti Everything’ which saw fi and the boys unleash their most brutal offering yet. they seemed focussed and really up for it on this release and certainly one of July’s better albums.
Twin Flame Radio is perhaps better known as Bam (he of the Dogs D’Amour and Wildhearts) and Share Ross (Vixen) released their debut album and what a little bobby dazzler this one was and took us by surprise especially Bams voice which wouldn’t look out of place alongside a youthful Ian Hunter or perhaps Robin Zander as Bam belted out a bevy of beauties taking half the vocal duties a real 70’s glam rock vibe happening here.
There was one massive release as far as a lot of the team RPM were banking on that was released (just in time for Rebellion) for Bar Stool Preachers and that was the follow up to ‘Blatant Propaganda’ debut the much anticipated follow up ‘Grazie Governo‘. Not that there was any doubt but it lived up to all expectations and Nev Brooks commented that it was the high point of the year let alone Month which is some accolade. To be fair Nev had this to say about BSP,”So where do I start, how about next year the Bar Stool Preachers exploding to the next level, playing to ever-growing crowds these guys are the real deal and destined for ever bigger things, they have the potential to worm their way into every household” (in the nicest possible way that is)
July being a pretty lean month compared to some others – this album really impressed with the quality and passion put into the songs it’s there for all to hear.
Other impressive releases go to the Italian punk rock n rollers Idol Lips who put out ‘Street Value’ on the ever impressive Wanda Records label. There was however an impressive bag of singles that landed on the RPM turntable notably More Kicks with their impressive power pop melodies and seven-inch debut ‘Its A Drag’ and of course it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t mention The Hip Priests and their split with Scandinavians Scumbag Millionaire. There was also noticeable singles from across the pond by some of our favourites in Wyldlife who put out ‘C’mon Christine’ and their pals in Ravagers who released the awesome ‘Drowning In Blood’. To be fair that’s not a bad month, is it?
Sadly July also said goodbye to Alan Longmuir who was the bass player in the Bay City Rollers Alan died after a short illness but his legacy lives on as girls and boys of a certain age won’t ever forget the tartan and the awesome haircuts. Rest In Peace Alan.
Yup, for those who have to go back to work this morning we apologise. To show we care about you we’d like to offer you three crackers for your viewing pleasure this morning and to shake away any of the weekends overindulgences.
Last week was resignations left right and centre for our right wing politics of me Government so we’d like to show what side of the fence we’re on, (well me anyway seeing as I’m choosing the videos). First up they were subjected to this weekends interview questions the one and only Cyanide Pills with the fantastic ‘Government’.
Second up this morning is the larger than life frontman of the Mighty Wah! the one and only Pete Wylie with his pop tune dedicated to the one and only Iron lady ‘The Day That Margaret Thatcher Died’
Finally bringing up the rear (cheeky) are one of the rising stars of the UK alternative scene the amazing Bar Stool Preachers with ‘Grazie Governo’ taken from their second album of the same name. Anyway, only a few more days til the weekend folks. Keep it RPM!
Following the fundraising at Boomtown in August, the wonderful team at AMMF updated on how much has been raised by this project so far:
£4,315.94 (inc Gift Aid) ????????????
They said via their facebook page, “This is absolutely incredible. Thank you to EVERYONE who bought the music, a t-shirt, came to either of the shows or helped spread the word.”
They’re still collecting donations through Bandcamp, so if you haven’t yet bought the EP (written, recorded and released in 24 hours last July) you can do so at the red link.
Millie Manders – Vox
T.J (Bar Stool Preachers) – Vox
Lucias (Call Me Malcolm) – Guitar
Aiden (Skaciety) – Guitar
Arvin (Popes of Chillitown) – Bass
Pierre (Battleska Galactica) – Drums
You can read Nev’s piece about the new face of Ska Punks Who knows you might find your new favourite band.
Picture the scene, I’m Sat watching BBC 4 (someone has to) and on comes out of the blue (not entirely) Roots, Reggae, Revolution, an absolute classic fronted by Akala, an in-depth analysis of the history of reggae and how Ska came forth from the Dancehall.
Sitting where it began as something that came out of necessity, through times of struggles, designed and delivered to help lift up the community sending forth a huge message both political and social. Further down the line it drifted with real Roots reggae taking hold, sat simmering in the background until it leapt to prominence again in the late seventies/early eighties under the banner of Two Tone. Now if we look at music and cross genres, Rock and Roll always preached rebellion, looking down on an older generation, Punk spat not just Anarchy but a sense of Nihilism, whereas Two Tone (Ska) preached togetherness, Black and White united against a social structure where the far right were at their most active. The message cutting forward against a Thatcherite Britain, promoting togetherness, kicking against austerity measures and giving a clear message through infectious rhythms and well-voiced opinions.
Leaders of the movement The Specials, The Beat, The Selector all still going great guns now, or should I say all re-ignited given their voice back through those same issues coming full circle, the far right rising, Brexit looming and the need for the musical underground to find a voice. Taking the sound on mutating it and adding a hint of Anarchy was always going to be a good thing so it stood to reason that Ska was going to infiltrate the Punk underground for its next stage of development.
Now over the last four/five years I’ve really immersed myself in the sound and one band that look set to cross over into the mainstream has to be The Bar Stool Preachers, skanking out of Brighton I’ve ended up in conversation with vocalist TJ McFaul on a number of occasions raved about both their LP’s Blatant Propaganda and Grazie Governo both of which you can pick up here Bar Stool Preachers live they put on an amazing show and second LP Grazie Governo should be the one to launch them into the big time, if you can get bigger than playing to 15,000 across Europe supporting Die Totenhausen. You might not have heard of them? I suggest you rectify the matter, check it out
Next up if that really takes your fancy bounce along to The Popes of Chillitown again a band simmering away tearing up venues nationwide whether you pick up the first LP A word to the wise (it was a pledge release) their sophomore LP To the Moon or the new LP Work hard, Play hard See you in the Graveyard you will not be disappointed All of which you can pick up here :-
Popes Of Chillitown these are a must-see live act, ripping through Reggae/Ska/Dub/Punk/Hip-Hop and Drum and Bass all done with an infectious smile, check it out
Now you might be starting to build one of those recommended playlists if your streaming this stuff, which granted most people do nowadays, but what you really should be doing is supporting the bands not the streaming platforms, get on the website or better still buy at a gig, you might even manage to get it signed!!!
Next up has to be Skaciety bouncing out of Kent they released an absolutely blinding LP Overstaying our welcome you can pick it up here
Bandcamp again yet another band tearing up stages across the UK, check them out
Sitting on the TNS roster of bands next up Faintest Idea released an LP that absolutely tears your face off called the Minimum Rage, followed up by the second LP The Voice of Treason politically in your face and with a real hardcore edge this attacks the genre from a different angle, still ska undoubtedly but leaning more towards a real punk/ political edge. You can pick both up here
By now your either bouncing around the room or wondering why the fuck haven’t I listened to these bands before, take a breath there are many more what about The Skints, Random Hand, Call me Malcolm, Complicated men of Leisure, Captain Accident and the Disasters to mention just a few more. Or if you want to look further afield what about the mighty Interrupters?
or the band I’m going to leave you with Jaya the Cat? Here come the Drums indeed!! Enjoy go ahead and discover your new favourite band. As with everything the biggest fun you’ll ever have in this musical world is discovering something new.
BSP pic by Dod Morrison