With a brand new album winging its way to funders as I type Duncan and his Big Heads have only gone and assembled an absolute cracker and what might well turn out to be his best solo work thus far.  Always a most interesting guy Duncan stepped forward to offer some insight into the making of this record ‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ for pulling up a chair and reading on so here goes…What did you do differently recording this album to your previous releases?

Bugger all. As with all the previous albums I wrote the songs at home and made demos which I sent to the rest of the band. This time though there were bits I deliberately left unfinished for the others to fill in. We played quite a few of the songs live before recording them which helped them develop. Otherwise Karen laid down a drum track using the demo as a guide. Everyone piled in with their ideas in the studio but I recorded all the keyboard and vocals at home, including with a few people who pledged to sing on the album. That was fun.

As a band who’ve been together for a while now, there seems to be great chemistry.  Do you bounce ideas off them and are they willing participants?

They do everything I say (Believe that and I have a used Mitsubishi I’d like to sell you). We do get on incredibly well and enjoy each others company. Makes it a lot more fun.

As they have their own things going on do they come to you with ideas for Duncan Reid songs?

Until now, no. But in this lockdown I made a video about writing a song (see it Here) Part of that was showing how I start with doodles I sing into a dictaphone. Nick stole one of them from the video, finished the song and I’ve added lyrics. It’s seriously great and I’d like to do more like that. Less work for me going forward. There are other people I’d like to write with as well. I subconsciously stole the idea for Motherfucker from Simon Love. I’d like to write more with him. Sophie is very secretive about her song ideas. I’m going to prise them off her.

There is a definite shift in sound on this record (I hope you don’t mind me saying) more in line with how the band sounds live was this organic or was it an intentional move?

Intentional. When I recorded Little Big Head I wanted to (a). do as much as I could myself to see if I could, and (b). Get away from that classic Les Paul through a Marshall sound. It’s a very charming album, I think, with a deliberately Power Pop sound. The albums since have become more and more band albums and we’ve strived for a harder and harder sound. There are 14 tracks on this one with the usual sprinkle of softer, dreamily arranged songs with strings and synths. But there are also about 8 rockers that are designed to be hard.

Where did the title come from?  Always curious why bands plum for a certain title for an album.

Sophie suggested it. She suggested Bombs Away for the last one and Don’t Blame Yourself for this one because it’s her favourite Track. I don’t argue with her because I value my life quite highly.

You’ve included the sleeve notes which comprehensively detail what the songs are about.  Not something generally done bands like to keep a mystery about what it might be about but you’ve really pulled back the curtain. tell us why you’ve done that?

I’ve done it on every album and it’s very popular. I also write blogs on our website going into greater detail about certain songs. I do it because I enjoy it and I’m very proud of my lyrics which make me think I’m very clever 😉 Most of the songs are about my life, things that have happened to me or stories I’ve come across that I find interesting. I think that by giving people more insight into what’s underneath the lyrics, they also will appreciate just how clever I am.

Are you constantly looking around for ideas for songs or do you just wait for an idea to come to you?  what songs came the easiest to write and record and also the opposite what took longer something you didn’t give up on that you’re really pleased with?

I am always looking for song ideas. Sometimes a cute phrase will come into my head which I’ll write down to store up for later. Looking at my notes now an example is “A sad salad in Dundalk” which comes from the time we played at the Stags Head in that overly hospitable Irish town and had a lock-in after the gig. We arrived back at the hotel in the early hours having had no dinner and gatecrashed a wedding to get something to eat. The leftover salads were very sad. What a great story for a song. It’ll turn up one day along the lines of “Saved by a sad salad in Dundalk”. I often go long periods where nothing occurs to me then I’ll see something to spark it off. Like, on the new album, the stranger in a pub who told me I might as well buy him a drink because we could all be dead next week and you can’t take it with you. Cost me a pint but I got a song!

What did the rest of the band contribute musically or lyrically even?  We know they are an endless source of inspiration?

So much. Listen as an example to “Welcome to My World” or “Future Ex-Wife”. Listen to those intricate pop-punk type guitar bits that Sophie and Nick weave around each other that I would never think of. Listen to the drums on “Tea & Sympathy” which has been transformed into a “Police” like track. And Karen’s backing vocals. She sounds like an innocent cherub which is very amusing given what I could blackmail her about. Only trouble is she can blackmail me back!

Mortality figures several times throughout the record does having a band of naughty children help deal with that or are they part of the reason it comes to the fore?

Yes. They will be the death of me! I guess being an extremely old git playing on borrowed time creeps into the writing. The couplet in the “Grim Reaper” sums it up really: “Hear me playing these old fashioned songs. All designed to make him sing-along” I.e. I keep playing to keep the Reaper at bay. And having a bunch of naughty puppies around does that for this old dog. BTW I think my vocal on the last line of that song is the best I’ve ever recorded and Karen’s harmony on it is perfect.

Politics is also a subject you touch on or rather politicians were there ever any consideration to tone it down or cover up ‘Motherfucker’ when can we expect the concept album where you take down the cabinet of clowns we currently have?

Oh boy. As I say on the cover, reading the tweets of an Essex lad idolising an aristocratic prick who, if he met him, would think the lad with his tattoos was just a common oik made my skin crawl. I didn’t hold back in the song did I? My wife is waiting for the politician in question to sue me. Better hope we don’t get loads of attention I guess!

Within the title track of the record you to look at global problems, polarised opinions do you think the pandemic and lockdown will reset the gap somewhat or will people just go back to how things were?

Exactly the same opinions are there as before. I saw a post from a government supporter depicting Boris Johnson as a Bodacea type defending the NHS from a foreign virus. I doubt the individual will have considered that the NHS is largely staffed by low paid immigrants and that, if they die helping to save our lives, their families have no protection under the law from deportation. So, we are all united behind the NHS and carers but all in our own individual ways which still reinforce our individual prejudices. That’s not surprising. I’m a bit of a stuck record in trying to get people to watch “The Great Hack” on Netflix. It’s really important people appreciate the level of sophistication with which we are bombarded on social media to influence us and reinforce the views lurking under the surface. And that political parties in all countries, as well as Russia and China, are doing it on a massive scale. Because we are bombarded with our own tailor-made messages divisions will increase. Sounds like the ramblings of a nutter doesn’t it but watch the program. “Don’t Blame Yourself” is about those divisions and the way the internet is just one big bar fight.

Ballad of a Big Head alludes to having a great time, pandemic aside is this Duncan Reid at his best on this record and the recent live shows?  How good is your songwriting now 2020 compared to before or throughout your career are you more confident now being the frontman than before?

I’ve always been a great front man. Casino Steel called me that in The Boys. It was just my job, as I wasn’t a songwriter then, to be the guy at the front, jumping around, getting the crowd going. I’ve always been able to feel an audience and affect them by looking them in the eye. It’s hard to describe but when it’s at it’s most intense it’s the best feeling in the world. And, yes, I think I’m better now than I’ve ever been for a couple of reasons. More and more I become this other person on stage and that person seems to get funnier and more in tune with the audience. The other reason I’m better is that I’m in the best live band I’ve ever been in surrounded by people who are also great at showing off. Because that takes the pressure off I seem to grow with it.

Before a record is released there is a period where you think “Is this record up to scratch?” You’ve heard it so much you just don’t know. Now a few people have heard it and they are raving about it and saying it’s our best. So I must be a better songwriter, producer, musician and singer (although I think I’ve always been brilliant!) 😉

Staying with the lockdown I see you’ve been busy making videos, has this been a creative time song wise?

Every cloud I suppose. It’s been frustrating releasing a record and seeing a great run of tours and festivals collapse around our ears but I have been writing so that’s good.

‘Dave’ is such a great song are there any plans to make a double concept album record one is where you takedown your twelve most interesting political figures then the second record is songs about your fans because if you have writers block I know a bloke called ‘Bellend’ he’s an endless sauce of musical inspiration.

In a word ……no. No plans along those lines. But I know Bellend and I have a song up my sleeve called “Knob” for him.

Do you look back at the time you’ve spent writing and recording an album and reflect or is it full stop and move on?  If you do reflect what are you most proud of with the new album?  It had a few bumps along the way from crowdfunding to lockdown you must be delighted all things considered it even became a physical thing at all.

Right now, as we are so proud of this album, it’s all about promoting it in whatever way is possible especially given we can’t do the thing we are so good at which is play live. And yes on top of Lockdown we had the whole Pledge thing going belly up the day after we started. But actually we were really lucky. No one lost any money and we learned how to do it without paying what would have been over £1,000 to Pledge Music for them to waste on their expenses. That £1,000 was a great help in getting the album made.  There isn’t one thing above all else I’m proud of about the album. The songs, playing, sound …you name it, it’s all great. The variety though. I don’t know of other bands in our area who have as much variety. Some of the more “77” fans who follow us say “I wish you’d stop writing those slow songs”. I just reply: “You are a cloth-eared dunderhead”. I think that’s reasonable.

Have you ever been approached by other musicians to write with is that something you’d like to explore?  Maybe something out of your comfort zone?

No one has ever approached me. Probably a fear of me saying no since people apparently find me a bit frightening. I’d like to do it.

Finally, As always you make it look easy and always like its always a pleasure and never a chore what next for you guys?  Lockdown restrictions being lifted of course what would you like to do you haven’t already done or somewhere you’d like to go play?

We’d love to get back to everywhere we’ve played up till now, especially the US. I’d even amend my opinion of Boris Johnson if he could get the Americans to change their visa process for musicians so that you could get one without bankrupting yourself. Now we have 3 hours of catalogue over 4 albums to chose from I’d also love to make a double live album. One album unplugged, which we are brilliant at, and one the full on live experience with Sophie on Nick’s shoulders.

The not so difficult fourth album is upon us it would seem. He might have been in this game for several decades but as a solo artist, Duncan is a mere pup, a fresh-faced newbie of sorts (he’s still playing the introducing stages). With a line-up that’s been in situ for some time – well, more time than any other line up he’s assembled since going his own way and on ‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ they’ve really spread their collective wings and are soaring, trust me on this.

My criticism (not really a criticism I love this guys music) of previous efforts was that (as great as they were) they didn’t really reflect the band live and how bloody good they are and how much punch they give to the most excellent melodies and tunes they were playing.  Well, pop pickers that has been put to bed as ‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ has plenty of grunt under the hood and Rock out with the big boys on record as they do live. Result then?  Hell Yeah!

‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ offers up fourteen slices of powerpoppin’ Rock and Roll of all shades and sounds and has pushed Duncan and his songwriting talents to the max and on multiple plays its paid dividends each and every time. It’s reflective, humorous and on the odd occasion, it’s on political point and always insightful, damn educational even who’d have thought it? Rock and Roll teaching the masses. Above all I think Duncan has penned his best record since taking the plunge and with no better example than the opener ‘Future Ex Wife’ as it comes roaring out of the traps.

Some of the record has been road-tested live and worked, I know that because I’ve seen and heard ’em played and it looks and sounds like a great choice to do that. theres always a heap of charm with Duncan’s solo records either with wicked melodies or vocal arrangments and harmonies pretty much all over the place.

I particularly like that Duncan has sat on the fence with ‘Motherfucker’ and can’t wait for his next political observation,  Hell yeah! Brother. The flow of the record is great as you get picked up and a lyric jumps out and makes you smile only to have your thought taken somewhere else due to a killer hook or vocal arrangement, thrown together it certainly wasn’t and if it was..well, the guys clearly a genius. To make it a trio of opening cuts ‘Welcome To My World’ is a slice of power pop where the guitars weave towards the chorus where you get the layered vocals cap off another top tune.

He still throws a curveball and a change of pace. The hypnotic ‘Tea & Sympathy’ has a larger slice of pop than the previous songs as it heads down a new wave maybe XTC sort of avenue. ‘To Live Or Live Not’ is classic Reid  But wait, ‘The Grim Reaper’ sounds like ’70s New York pop or Supertramp but it doesn’t sound out of place with all its trumpet tooting grandeur.

The first time I heard ‘For All We Know’ it was instantly imprinted on my brain and its still a winner on record capturing the backstory of the song perfectly. If you were to hear it being told this is how it would sound in your head. A top tune to end side one. Side two begins with the dreamy qualities of ‘Oh What A Lovely Day’  If the keyboards of classic Damned ‘Strawberries’ and ‘Black Album’ era possibly Sensibles style and touch are your things then songs like this are right up your street.  Layers of vocals and keyboards with the hint of some guitars to take it home. After the Big Heads get their tune. The title track is like the band has channeled Bolans boogie and chosen the medium of Les Paul riffs to express themselves. Stripped it back with a sparse arrangement, unfussy riff-a-rama, and no big layered harmonies and it really works well even the guitar solo is minimal and that fits perfectly.

I could waffle here all day (some might say I do anyway),  that only gives them ‘Big Heads’ bigger heads but it would be a dereliction of duty if I didn’t big up the Big Heads and this most excellent LP. Rockin’, Rollin’, thoughtful, insightful, soothing, amusing to name a few of its qualities, as far as albums released this year goes this will unquestionably be up there as the best released in what is unfolding as the strangest years ever but ‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ is a bonafide Banger!

If you are familiar with Duncan and his music you’re going to love it and there is so much on offer you could pick out a new favourite track each time. If you’re still reading and still curious and have no idea about Duncan Reid & The Big Heads then don’t be shy – jump in they don’t bite, my advice –  just buy it! sit in the garden open all your windows and your lockdown has just got 87% more bearable. Hell, shout over the fence to your neighborhood, “Enjoy the tunes – They’re Fuckin’ Great” then tell ’em they can pick up a copy from the link.my work here is done.

Buy ‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ Here

Author: Dom Daley

 

Some of the writers managed to send in their list of the top ten live shows they went to in 2019.  they attended hundreds of shows all over the place via trains, planes and automobiles.  On another day I’m sure these lists would change many times over.  RPM Online supports Rock and Roll and loves a live show and as you browse through the lists there are many genres covered as well as some familiar suspects there are many new entries this year.  We’d love to take this opportunity to thank all the bands who toured and played shows all over the UK and continue to do so, All the festivals that supported independent music from Rebellion Festivals and Camden Rocks to Steelhouse Festival in South Wales and all the festivals around Europe and wider thank you.  Continue to look after independent Rock and Roll and help it thrive and reach a wider audience if you want to get involved get in touch we always welcome fresh eyes and ears to spread the word: rpmonlinetcb@yahoo.com

 

 

Leigh Fuge 


John Mayer –  02 Arena London

Ryan Roxie –  The Asylum, Birmingham

Michael Monroe –  The Fleece, Bristol

The Cult –  University Great Hall, Cardiff

Kenny Wayne Shepherd –  City Hall, Salisbury

Kiss –  The Arena, Birmingham

Alice Cooper –  Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff

Paul Gilbert –  The Fleece, Bristol

The Wildhearts  – The Tramshed, Cardiff

FM & The Quireboys  – The Globe, Cardiff

Nev Brooks 
Pulled Apart By Horses – Newport Le Pub (Reviewed Here)

Primal Scream –  Great Hall Cardiff

Alice Cooper, MC50, The Stranglers – Motorpoint Arena Cardiff

Nick Cave – Millenium Centre Cardiff

Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Bar Stool Preachers – O2 Bristol

The Hip Priests, DC Spectres, Deathtraps – Le Pub Newport

The Wildhearts, Towers Of London – SWX Bristol

Wonk Unit – Drogonfly Pontypool

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Sin City Swansea

Holy Holy – Tramshed Cardiff

 

 Gareth Hooper
Duncan Reid, Cyanide Pills, Bruno – Louisiana Bristol

Ginger & The Sinners – St John’s church Cardiff

Clowns, BBSC – The Exchange Bristol

Amyl And The Sniffers – Louisiana Bristol

Rich Ragany & The Digressions, The Speedways, More Kicks, The Spangles – The Blackheart London

The Wildhearts, Janus Stark – Komedia Bath

The Hip Priests – Le Pub Newport

Bar Stool Preachers, Rich Ragany & The Digressions – Clwb Ifor Bach Cardiff

Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind – Jacs Aberdare

The Stray Cats, Selector, The Living End – Hammersmith Eventime London

Johnny Hayward
Bar Stool Preachers, Rich Ragany & The Digressions, Social Experiment –  Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff (Reviewed Here)

The Hip Priests, Rotten Foxes, Flash House, Glitter Piss –  The Pipeline, Brighton

Rebellion Festival 2019 – Winter Gardens, Blackpool

Jim Jones & The Righteous Minds, Heavy Flames, Deathtraps –  Jacs, Aberdare

Death By Unga Bunga, Seek Warmth –  Hy Brasil, Bristol

Dboy, The Vega Bodegas, Nigel –  Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff

The Stray Cats, The Selector, The Living End –  Hammersmith Apollo, London

Grave Pleasures – The Fleece, Bristol

Pulled Apart By Horses, Baba Naga, Dactyl Terra –  Le Pub, Newport

Clowns, Broken Bones Gentleman’s Club, Glug – The Exchange, Bristol

Fraser Munro
Adam Ant – St Davids Hall Cardiff

Kiss – Kiss Kruise, Miami

Michael Monroe, Electric Eel Shock – The Fleece, Briatol

The Hip Priests – The Drippers, Deathtraps – JT Soar, Nottingham

Alice Cooper, MC50, Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff

Turbonecro, The Hip Priests – The Chameleon, Nottingham

Dboy – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff

The Damned – KK’s Steel Mill. Wolverhampton

Skidrow, Backyard Babies – The Forum, London

the Wildhearts, Towers Of London – Tramshed, Cardiff

Ben Hughes
Michael Monroe – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds (Reviewed Here)

Duff McKagan/Shooter Jennings – Academy 3, Manchester

The Wildhearts – Stylus, Leeds

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

Low Cut Connie – The Fulford Arms, York

Amyl & The Sniffers – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

Ryan Hamilton Songs & Stories Show – Bloomfield Square, Otley

Tyla’s Dogs D’amour – The Fulford Arms, York

Levellers – The Minack Theatre, Cornwall

Hands Off Gretel – The Fulford Arms, York

Nigel Taylor 

The Stray Cats – O2, Birmingham

Saint Agnes – Plymouth Junction, Plymouth

The Wildhearts – Cavern, Exeter

Motörgoblin (Orange Goblin plays Motörhead) – St Moritz Club, London

Ginger Wildheart – St Johns Church, Cardiff

Queensryche – Islington Assembly Hall, London

Mother Vulture – End of the World Festival, Plymouth

Uriah Heep – Steelhouse Festival, Wales

Cradle of Filth – London Palladium, London

Ghost – Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff

Blaze Bayley – The Junction, Plymouth

Dom Daley
Rebellion Festival – Winter Gardens, Blackpool (Reviewed Here)

The Damned – London Palladium, London

Michael Monroe, Electric Eel Shock – The Fleece, Bristol

Duncan Reid &The Big Heads, Cyanide Pills, Bruno – Louisiana, Bristol

Amyl & The Sniffers – Lousiana, Bristol

Ginger & The Sinners – St Johns Church, Cardiff

Clowns – The Exchange, Bristol

Rich Ragany & The Digressions, The Speedways, More Kicks, The Spangles – Black Heart Camden, London

New Model Army – Tramshed, Cardiff

The Wonder Stuff – O2, Bristol

As this line up was months in advance of the show I know several were disappointed to see White Trash fall off the bill but they were replaced with the maverick that is Bruno & the Outrageous Methods Of Presentation (to give him his full title) this local lad is pushing the boundaries of punk / art/ audio interference call it what you like its often in incoherent racket but to be fair its engaging and as Bruno marches out into the audience and barks the lyrics into the faces of the unsuspecting audience its engaging and you can’t ignore him and what it is he does.  As for the names of the songs I couldn’t telly you and half the time I doubt Bruno could either.  Enjoyable?  Of course it was he was only on stage (in the loosest terms) for a short period and in that time he sounded like a youthful Jilted John (same barber) , Early Stooges and bands like ex ray Spex gone loco jamming on Suicide as a band with no synths in sight just a fistful of 70s garage riffs.  Basic and primal you should all go see Bruno.

Next up and it was the turn of the highly rated much anticipated Yorkshire men that are Cyanide Pills. First up I’d like to declare my admiration for this band by stating on the record that they’ve never ever written a bad song but they have written some of the brightest bestust power pop punk rock tunes and some of the finest lyrics ever in punk rock not just recently but ever! there I’ve said it.  With the results leaving the four of us Welsh tourists venturing across the Severn with our tits on the deck after the last evenings political catastrophic shit shower we decided only rock and Roll could save us and there was nowhere I’d rather be than in the Louisiana tonight  turning my frown upside down and trying to stay positive with some of the fiest bands the UK has to offer.

Right, Cyanide Pills entertain me, pretty please. As if I needed to ask. Right from the top they proceeded to knock out top tune after top tune and then for good measure they dispatch another. With songs pulled from all their albums, its without pause mind, and tonight they were on fire. What you get is some absolutely on point punk rock n roll with some of the best power pop melodies and harmonies ever written. Its power pop with snot , full of clever and intelligent social observational lyrics that are nothing short of genius, I kid you not. With stand in bassist BB Quattro fitting right in  they kicked off with ‘Wrong’ and never looked back. You know the drill its one bosh two bosh three bosh and so on.  Theres no time for chatter its on with the relentless entertainment. ‘up Against The Wall’ seems apt for last nights Election victors. Anyway mustn’t dwell it ‘Mail Order Brides’.

If I had to pick a favourite album I couldn’t but I can pick my favourite tunes and one of them is ‘Dance With You’ and ‘Sliced And Diced’ opens with the epic ‘I Don’t Remember’ and when they chimed up with that this was turning out to be the ultimate post election tonic. They were thundering through the set plucking tunes for all three albums unable to stand still  to enable us to snap many decent pics but fuck it ‘Alone tonight’ tips the hat to the Ramones (of course it does). A lot of bands like to meander their way to the high point of the set before attempting to go out in flames but Cyanide Pills just start high and aim higher coz simply they have the tunes to do it but by the time ‘Can’t Get It up’ rips through the speakers you wonder how they can top it and then ‘Johnny Thunders Lived In Leeds’ struts in like a punk rock peacock (no Leeds pun left unturned) I was going to avoid punctuation and gaps between the words and just blast through (much like the band), I do wonder how they manage to grab a breath between songs and what would happen if they broke a string? it would be carnage. Did they play ‘Apathy’? of course they did.  ‘Still Bored’, ‘Government’ then ‘Suicide Bomber’ and we’re done.  Fan-fuckin-tastic! just what the doctor ordered yet again a suitably smashing set from the best punk rock n rollers anywhere great tunes, great lyrics and great entertainment – follow that!

Duncan Reid & The Big Heads do follow that and with consummate ease.  They’re not the competition but equals and whilst Duncan writes fantastic power pop the dynamics and the sound are poles apart but has the same DNA and another thing they share is they all have tunes!   Kicking off with ‘Can’t Stop’ off ‘Bombs Away’ Duncan commands his big heads and rises to the occasion and the gauntlet laid down by the opening bands. With a new album in the bag Duncan is buoyed and after a quick romp through ‘Soda Pressing’ its a glimpse into the new album with ‘Welcome To My World’.  Now it’s fair to say he’s been at this for a number of years and has seen a thing or two and happened to work with some exceptional songwriters in his time and that time wasn’t wasted as the band take care of the exceptional ‘Lets Skip To The Good Bit’ then its an introduction to some new tunes and one in particular politely entitled ‘Motherfucker’ about a certain Tory politician we are all familiar with that goes down rather well and whets the appetite for the new album.

This line up of Big Heads Duncan has assembled have worked really well together and playing more and more shows is paying dividends and Nicks backing vocals on ‘Rolling On’  sound great much like the chemistry between the band as well.  the minutes are flying by and from ‘Bombs Away’ through ‘Kelly’s Gone Insane’  this is proving to be an immense nights entertainment. the room is jumping by the time ‘C’mon Josephine’ pipes up and the final new song ‘Better Get Them In’ is dispatched. With the clock ticking there’s time for a doff of the cap to previous employers as Nick gets the punters involved on the classic ‘Brickfield Nights’ followed by some high praise for the wonderful songwriting of Honest John Plain from his old pal as ‘Terminal Love’ leaves just one song left before we all have to steal away onto the cold Bristolian cobbles and back home.  The inimitable Mr Reid leaves us for ‘The Last Time’ tonight (other than to run his merch table) after another faultless performance of great songs that fly’s by The curtain falls on 2019s live gigs for me as I try to take it all in and what a way to end the decade with a punk rock n roll show thats up there with the best of them in fact it is the best of them.  Variety, consistency, smiling faces, great tunes what more could you ask for of a gig night?  If in 2020 you get the chance to witness Cyanide Pills and / or Duncan Reid & The Big Heads don’t hesitate or procrastinate just buy your bloody ticket it’ll be a memorable nights entertainment that much is a given.  Brilliant as expected – always a pleasure and never a chore.

Author: Dom Daley

 

With what seems like a couple of hour’s kip we’re up and at ‘em in the RPM Camp. Breakfast looked like it was on the critical list and had been out in the rain all night but we eat it all the same.  We have the dilemma over breakfast of who we won’t be able to catch due to the number of quality bands on today’s bill.

We wanted to catch so many bands today it looked nuts however we looked at it. It came down to the flip of a coin on what will forever be known as Fandabi-Friday (Don’t ask but our sides almost split).  If you need an explanation I’m sorry but it’s locked in a chest and buried at the bottom of the ocean off the North Pier.

TFG and Riskee & The Ridicule were on early so we had to take a pass on as it was our annual Ratboy Magic show but we got sidetracked on the way so missed the lot before we paid an early doors visit to the Empress to catch a bit of brass courtesy of The Popes Of Chillitown  (that our esteemed fellow writer Nev recommended) they kicked up a fair old racket with their ska /punk hybrid and nailed it.

Everywhere we looked there was someone we wanted to watch – Miss Fragile in the Almost Acoustic – The Snivelling Shits in the Opera House but it was Knock Off  who got the nod as they knock out their street punk which they claim is fuelled by the state of the country and play like it with added anger and disillusionment and on this evidence its hard not to disagree even with their technical difficulties the band deal with it and get on with business and turn in a solid performance. We hang around to catch Dragster in Club Casbah who have a great new(ish) ‘Anti Everything’ album under their belts.  Fi and the boys were cutting a fine jib upon their return to the festival and they sounded ferocious. They attacked songs like ‘Anti Everything’ and ‘Vultures Circle’ and the epic ‘Death By 1000 Cuts’. It’s always good to hear ‘Dead Punks’ the band play like their lives depended on it and it would seem that the punters were out early enjoying the audio assault. With Fi spending a lot of the set on the barrier getting amongst it and the band dog deep by dragging up ‘Eat The Dirt’ from their debut back in 2006. A tonne of energy and a raft of tunes that are getting better and better.

We quickly realised we haven’t yet been to the Opera house and it’s already Friday evening.  but it has to wait a little as were back in the Casbah to catch some of Disciplines set (whilst over in Empress TV Smith was playing ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ so we’re reliably informed).  Discipline did a split some years ago with Argy Bargy so to have a one-two jab from the Dutch boot boy rockers followed by Argy Bargy’s return in Casbah at Teatime for the RPM bootboys was a real treat. Discipline were good To be fair and their love of all things PSV came across loud and clear.

  It was a most welcome sight as Watford John rustled up a tea time treat with some choice cuts from the most excellent album ‘Hopes Dreams Lies & Schemes’ as ‘Looking For Glory’  sounded fresh as the first time they played it. We were also treated with songs off ‘Drink Drugs & Football Thugs’ call it Oi! Or Thug Rock but I’ll just call it quality Rock and Roll and a most welcome return it’s been today in the Casbah.

To have a break we wander through the labyrinth of backstage corridors to navigate our way quickly around the venue and find ourselves in the surreal surroundings of the Arena.  Nothing different with the venue it’s just Brazils action figured self-proclaimed Billy Idol Of the Amazon Supla S&V along with his trusty accomplice for the evening is Victoria Wells as the due knock out what can only be described as house meets dance meets punk sampled mash up whilst wearing a nice blazer and skin-tight shorts.  I kid you not – Supla is out there on his own when it comes to entertainment and vision but the good people of The Winter Gardens didn’t get the memo and the dynamic duo of dance were left playing to a few clued up disciples.  As for what the songs were? Fuck knows. Your guess is as good as mine. Anyway, we too had to cut and run as Spunk Volcano and The Eruptions were about to take the stage back in our haven that was Casbah.  The temperature must be about 120 degrees plus (it certainly seems like it) and the most sensible person in the room seems to be the guy in the pants…oh hang on he’s wearing a woolen balaclava with just one eye!

There’s no fucking about here and the bodies start being flung around in an impressive pit as the band doesn’t have time to fuck about and it’s straight into ‘Death Or Glory’ from the impressive ‘Double Bastard’. sure the classic SV tracks are present and accounted for like ‘Hanging Round The Shops’, ‘Shit Generation’, ‘Ram Raid’, ‘Xr3’ and ‘Sellotape’ and ‘CrossFire’ as the Rebellion audience sing along in all the right places  and by the end of the set the Casbah is full to bursting and for the next few hours at least I can’t get ‘Knobhead’ out of my noggin’ I even think he dedicated to us as well, how rude but bloody entertaining.

Right it’s just gone 8 pm and we’ve not stopped for any food yet so whilst my colleague is on the blower to his union to see if it’s lawful to have this much fun and no breaks I’m off to the chippy before Duncan Reid goes Acoustic.  Right, That was a quick hour and without delay, we’re back in Almost Acoustic to catch the full set from Duncan Reid & The Big Heads and after a few of those dreaded technical difficulties were off and running and Mr. Power Pop is showing exactly how to write great pop tunes that can be played both electric and acoustic as the pub like venue joins in the sing-a-long and we all have a jolly good time. ‘Kellys Gone Insane’ from the debut solo record sounds fantastic as does ‘The One’ also from the re-released debut record. ‘Cèst La Vie’ is aired from that difficult second album along with ‘Long Long Gone’. Duncan shares some very nice words for his former bandmates in The Boys before cracking open a take on ‘Brickfield Nights’ where Nick Hughes did a very commendable job on Matts vocals.  It only leaves ‘First Time’ and a standing ovation seems about right – Always smiling – always looking like they’re having the best of times -its infectious. 

We head out the door for a wander knowing we can catch the end of the UK Subs set over in the Empress after a cheeky dark fruit we head upstairs to see the subs do what the do best and thats kicks out the jams in what felt like watching a band inside an oven on 180.  The band show no sign of relenting as they justify their prime spot on the bill once again.

We head outside to wring off the t-shirt again before catching some of the Stranglers set luckily for us we caught a portion of the set where they played a few classic Stranglers ‘Peaches’, ‘Nice N Sleazy’ and ‘Duchess’ we go for a walk around the balcony and by the time ‘Something Better Change’ erupts I’m done.  the heat has got the better of me and I bow out.  After what has once again been a full-on Fandabidozy Friday in The Winter Gardens wandering from room to room catching band after band all offering something different but mostly offering exceptional quality. Now if I could be in two places at once then now would have been a good time to give that ago.  Luckily for us, Mr. Darrel Sutton was on hand at the same festival but watching totally different bands to us so without further waffle over to Mr. Sutton…

 

Friday sees an extended pub lunchtime forcibly ended by a raging (ouch) set from Ohio’s Raging Nathans.  I’ve wanted to catch these lot for ages, having actually booked them for a date on an aborted tour a few years ago, and they do not disappoint. Between song banter is kept to a minimum and Josh Goldman and crew literally rip the arena a new one with a fast and frantic set that Zeke would have struggled to match.

A few hours in the RPM inner circle sees me catch Discipline, Argy Bargy and Spunk Volcano in an exhausting triple-header before an enforced break sees me return to catch Leftover Crack in the same venue.  A band that have never grabbed my attention for any prolonged period on record, their live show is positively intense.  The subtleties of their ska-infused records are pretty much abandoned in a total rager of a set.  A quick venture into the Stranglers set in the Empress is curtailed by the unbearable heat of the utterly packed room and a very wise decision to grab a pew for what is billed as Alex Wonk’s acoustic set.  However, it soon becomes apparent this isn’t going to be a solo set as the full Wonk Unit line-up (Ok so Kenny only gets up for one song as Alex is back on six-strings) are crammed onto the stage.  And that’s also where the normal acoustic rules also go out of the window with chairs being discarded, a pit being formed for most songs and even two human pyramids and numerous crowd surfers popping up along the way.  The likes of ‘My Nagging Wife’, ‘Awful Jeans’ and ‘Lewisham’ lose none of their charm through being unplugged and alternate versions of songs like ‘Go Easy’ in an acoustic form further add to the charm.  A total master stroke to round the day off.

Popes of Chillitown, Argy Bargy, Discipline, UK Subs pictures courtesy of Dod Morrison Photography.

All other pics courtesy of Johhny And Dom.

Author: Dom Daley & Darrel Sutton

OK pop pickers here are three proper bangers for you that’ll guarantee to set your Monday off on the right foot.  Poison Boys ‘Tear Me Apart’ is taken from their stunning new long player out now on Dead Beat Records and we’re not joking when we tell you these boys are stunning.  You’d be a bit daft or Mumford and Son if you ignored them.

 

 

Next up is ‘Ship It In’ from those Rotten Foxes.  With a 7″ record on its way, this is some low down dirty punk rock n roll that we think you’d be pretty daft to ignore. Even if we don’t recommend thats where to dip your choccy biscuits

 

Finally, we’ll sign off with this classic that’s just had a 7″ piece of plastic made as the album gets a re-release with bonus tracks n stuff. Not only Kelly but I think we’ve all gone insane- take it away Duncan

 

Seeing the Pledge debate rage on social media recently I couldn’t help but think of my friend Duncan Reid who had very recently announced a campaign for his new album.  Luckily it was barely hatched when he was able to pull the plug on the campaign and regroup to find a way around the shenanigans going on within Pledge Music. We decided to have a little catch-up and find out what’s going on round Duncan’s place?

You’ve always been self-sufficient when it comes to your solo career.  Was it daunting or a welcome challenge when you first decided to start up a solo career from scratch?

It was daunting. I didn’t know how to make and release a record.  Modern recording is very different from when I was in The Boys when we recorded onto 2-inch tape. It’s much more suited to DIY now. It’s very difficult to record drums at home on a proper kit (that’s why all these bedroom dance records use drum software programs) and you need to do that in a proper studio. But to a greater or lesser degree, if you spend about £2,000 on a good microphone, you can do the rest at home and mix it in a studio.

All of this was taught to me by Tony Barber (Ex Buzzcocks, Chelsea, Nirvana etc) when he produced our first 2 albums in a shed. We’ve settled on recording drums, bass and guitar in the studio because we want them to sound as good as possible and it’s not too time-consuming. What really takes the time on our records are the vocals because there are so many of them. One song might have over 20 vocal tracks on it so I do that at home. I also do keyboards as well. All of that gets emailed over to the studio to put with everything else and mixed.

These are the kind of things you have to learn how to do now because no record company is going to pay someone to do it for you when you play the music we play.

Similarly, you have to learn where to get CDs and LPs manufactured and find people who can design a sleeve for you. You need to get a digital distributor. I use AWAL who make all the tracks available on Apple Music, Spotify etc. I put the tracks on Bandcamp myself. You need a physical distributor to put the CDs and LPs in shops and online. Otherwise, you have to sort out your own Amazon and eBay accounts in every country in the world.

You have to learn about marketing, advertising on Facebook and other social media etc and, unless you want to spend a fortune every time, how to use photoshop and video editing software.

I had to pick all of this up from friends and paying to go on the odd course.

Just compare that with the seventies. Then you just played a gig and got drunk! But you know what? I really enjoy doing this stuff now. It requires a different sort of creativity and it makes me feel clever! Not just being a dumb musician getting ripped off. No one can do that because I’m paying all the bills!

 

Did you ever get involved during your time with The Boys?  They had some infamous managerial decisions or how would you describe them, off the pitch distractions shall we say?

I hadn’t worked in the music business for decades and The Boys didn’t really put out any records after we reformed. We were discussing making one but I left before it was made. Probably just as well. There would have been blood on the floor if we’d been locked in a studio together.

As I said, the whole DIY side of it was completely unknown to me but I’m a quick learner. With The Boys, I did tend to be the one who worked with Steve Metcalfe in liaising with promoters. But everything was laid on a plate for The Boys really. Being an ex-bass player/singer of The Boys was very different. It’s getting to a stage now after 6 years where promoters contact me and I have a great network of friends like Janne Lagestrom in Sweden, Dany Torres in Spain, Cristo Blick in Argentina and Bernd Lange in Germany who help out, but in the early days I had to fight to get shows and to get people to show up. It was far more difficult than I expected.

Having released several solo records now and having an established line up (I won’t say stable ) what made you look towards the Pledge platform?

I used to be sceptical about Pledge but friends like Paul-Ronney Angel and Nick Hughes from his experience in Role Models encouraged me to have a look at it. When I did, I appreciated how good it was. First: it means musicians don’t have to beg, steal, borrow and ramp their credit cards up to the maximum to get a record made. Secondly, and just as important, I appreciated just how much fans enjoy knowing that they are playing a crucial role in making that record possible. The whole communication side of it is great as you feel an obligation to make videos of the process to let everyone know how it’s going and that they will see something for their money.

I had a few negative comments from some musicians about how they wouldn’t pay Tesco a year in advance for a roast chicken. I might have said that once but it’s not right. There is no emotional bond between me and Tesco and Tesco don’t need any help from me to get the chicken in the shop. None of the people criticising were willing to lend me the £8,000 or so it will take to get the record made, manufactured and promoted instead!

Were you aware of any other crowdfunding platforms like IndieGoGo, Crowdrise, sellaband or Kickstarter as well as Pledge?

Vaguely, but I haven’t looked at them in detail.

 

Did you have reservations when signing yourself up?  Had you been made aware of what was brewing?

I had no idea of the trouble they were in. As I said, friends had used them and had a really good experience. But having signed up I began to have suspicions. I was new to it. I had questions. They were always saying “Hi. I’m So and So. I’m your account contact. Any questions just email or call me.” But when I emailed I had no response and calls weren’t answered. I thought it felt like an organisation who were understaffed and, being in money troubles, maybe they were trying to run it with too few staff. To get someone to contact me I would tweet them publicly asking if anyone was there. It’s a tip I’d give anyone. If you are being ignored by a company just tweet them. They tend to respond pretty quickly especially if you have 2,000 followers!

 

Was it easy to stop the campaign?  How accommodating are they with a cooling off period?

We had just launched our campaign. After less than 2 days we had raised over half our target. Then Nick Hughes emailed me the video made by the American guy saying people weren’t being paid. As I said before, I wasn’t surprised that they were in trouble and messaged them straight away saying that it was all over the internet that they were breaking their contracts with Artists and not paying up. I told them I wanted the Pledge campaign stopped immediately. They couldn’t argue with it as they didn’t have a leg to stand on.

It’s such a shame that they messed up. Until that point they had performed a good and valuable job for bands and fans seemed to have a genuine affection and trust for them.

Will you see any of the money that fans had already laid out?

We were so lucky. As we were less than a couple of days in no one’s credit card had been charged. I think in any case the law is that if you don’t get something you pay for on a credit card then Visa, Mastercard or whoever have to give you your money back.

 

Where are you now with the album release?  Is it still on target have you had to change your red lines or goals? Did you have to cancel the delivery of the Hot tub or just put it on hold?

The other way in which we were lucky is that having gone through the launch with Pledge we saw what was involved and it’s not rocket science. As with all the other things I was talking about earlier you can learn to do it yourself. I’d just upgraded our website (We use WordPress) to a “premium” service which for £90 a year means we can run our own shop. I think there are other sites, like Music Glue, who offer a similar service. It took me about a week to work out how to put all the stuff we had on Pledge onto our website and essentially do the same. It’s not quite as sophisticated but some people have told me it’s easier to use. And the money goes straight into our Paypal account so everyone can be sure it is going to be spent on the album.

You can look here to see how it works: Order New Album Here

People have been superb in supporting us. We don’t have all our target, so please ask everyone to feel free to pledge for some of the items there, but we have enough to know that the album will be made, even if we have to top it up ourselves. The more we get in, though, the more studio time we have.

We have recorded drums and bass and currently, the long process of recording vocals is underway. I’m getting a truckload of help with that because a line of people have pledged to sing backing vocals which is great.

I seriously think it’s going to be a great album. I’m loving seeing the songs come alive as everyone plays on them. I can’t wait for it to be finished. Probably won’t be till September as it has to be fitted around everything else and we have a load of festivals to play from next month.

This new album does it have a title yet?

We usually chose the title last thing. Quite a few of the songs reflect by advanced years and impending mortality. So I’m toying with the idea of “14 Jolly little songs about Death”. 

Any idea of the songs titles yet or maybe give us a brief outline of what we can expect?  

Three of the songs we already play live. One “For All We Know”, about an actual true encounter with a stranger who convinced me to buy him a drink on the basis that “it could all end tomorrow and you can’t take it with you”. I had a lot of fun with that coming up with various allegories and symbols for kicking the bucket (but not that one).

As with my draft album title, it’s actually a jolly song with the theme of let’s party and let tomorrow look after itself.
Another song is called “Motherf*cker” about a politician I particularly admire (or not!).
“Welcome to My World” is about a guy who wakes up in a strange place “on the wrong side of a bottle” and can’t remember where his car is. Nick Hughes thought I’d written it about him!
I think it will be the usual mix of melodic rockers and slower songs, all brilliantly written with smart lyrics, plentiful harmonies and a couple of musical surprises.
Great stuff. Anything else have you been busy doing I saw you posted pictures of a re-press?
We have an updated rerelease of ‘Little Big Head’ coming out with unreleased bonus tracks and a new cover.
Excellent
So there you have it.  The sharp end of being an independent artist in 2019. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger or something like that.  Its always a pleasure catching up with Mr. Reid and his infectious enthusiasm and I hope you can find it to support the making of this new record and look forward to seeing him and his band play sometime soon  – Always a pleasure never a chore.