South Yorkshire band, Hands Off Gretel, have released a 48-page full colour zine, which includes over 70 pieces of individual fan art. The zine will help raise funds for Brighton based anti-bullying charity ‘Ditch the Label’, which was chosen by band front woman Lauren Tate, who recently spoke out about the impact of years of bullying and online harassment.
The fan artwork that features in the zine was invited by the band as part of their ‘Lock down’ activities to keep fans engaged, as tour plans were cancelled due to COVID-19 . The band received over 70 submissions of fan art and prompted Lauren to create the fan zine.
‘We just couldn’t believe the standard of the artwork that came flooding in. I decided that we had to create something really special, so that we could truly celebrate all of the artwork together and I came up with the idea of a Fan Zine, The ‘quarantine Edition’ ‘
While Lauren set about narrating the zine she was subjected to yet another hateful public attack online, something that has been ongoing for 5 years. The perpetrator posting false personal allegations online and messaging other bands, fans, promoters and music journalists, hiding behind fake profiles to try and sabotage Laurens character.
‘On the one hand I was dealing with such amazing positivity from our fans receiving these wonderful art creations, at the same time as battling this hatred online. I had felt so powerless that someone was actively using the Internet to spread hate about me.
Everyone tells you its ‘Normal’, ‘just ignore it’, ‘haters gonna hate’, but unless you have been through it, you have no idea how much it messes with your head.
Receiving the artwork from all around the world really helped me so much during this time and the sheer positivity of this just gave me the confidence and the courage to finally speak out.
Creating the zine to raise awareness of the impact of bullying and supporting the anti-bullying charity ’Ditch the Label’ just seemed like the obvious thing to do, turning this into something really positive and doing my bit to help others going through the same thing.’
The lock down has led to a huge increase in bullying, harassment and online abuse. The bands chosen Charity, ‘Ditch the Label’, has seen a 158% increase in contact with their charity during the lock down. Each week, thousands of people benefit from the charity’s resources and digital one-to-one support. They have a team of digital mentors who are trained to help young people navigate through issues related to bullying, such as improving mental health, body image, coming out and building confidence and self-esteem.
‘Ditch the Label are delighted to be involved in the Hands Off Gretel fanzine, which will not only raise awareness of the prevalence and impacts of bullying and abusive behaviours, but will also raise vital funds. These funds directly help us keep our support services running – thank you so much on behalf of those we support.’ Sue Jones CEO Ditch The Label
The 48 page fan zine ‘Quarantine Edition’ which includes all the art submissions and personal accounts from the band around issues of bullying and self confidence is on sale on the bands website and will also be sold at the live gigs (when they resume) £5 from every zine sold will be donated to the charity ‘Ditch The label’.
So, you’re stuck inside twiddling your thumbs, you’ve watched everything on Netflix and eaten all the banana bread. What’s even worse is that Record Store Day has been postponed and you have some surplus cash to spend on records.
Fear not music lovers, for we at RPM have scoured the Interweb for our pick of the coolest EP’s around (and a few 7 inchers and digital delights for good measure). So what are you waiting for? Get reading, hit those links and panic buy like there’s no tomorrow!
Johnny Jetson – ‘Love Me For My Car’ / ‘Knocked Out’ (Minnie Apple Records) These are the first singles off the upcoming album ‘Make Your Move’ on Minnie-Apple Records from Johnny Jetson. If you’re wondering where he’s been then don’t he’s back in the saddle and ripping it up with a new record and music that bears his heart and soul and the former Tattooed Millionaire and Space Age Playboy might like to blow his own trumpet with his past achievements but in the here and now Has Jetson got the chops? does he cut the mustard? Hell yeah! Kids fear not Jetson has got the swagger and doesn’t stray far from his roots, ‘Love Me For My Car’ is full of the spirit of 70s glam Bolan style you can imagine him sliding on his knees to play the solo and its got handclaps so what’s not to like? as for ‘Knocked Out’ its a tougher beast with some street-tough rock and roll motoring along. ‘Make Your Move’ album is reviewed soon on RPM and fans of scuzzy Dirty Rock and Roll won’t be disappointed Jetson delivers the good – Simple as that! Facebook / Bandcamp / Twitter / Spotify / Youtube (Author: DD)
The Hÿss – ‘Extraterrestrial’ (Self Release) released through their own Bandcamp page you can stream the title track here: Bandcamp They take on some spooktacular topics like aliens and UFO’s which is a bit of a giveaway from the artwork but it does contain five tunes of the fuzzy Stoner variety. At times heavy as fuck and others quite psychedelic. I do like ‘Disco Frankenstein’ but could live without the keyboards swirling. They hit the heavy groove on ‘In Shadows’ and when it gets going its got some good energy. The guitars are turned up for the last two tunes as they get right into their groove and rock more metallic than Stoner if I’m being honest but it’s not a bad introduction and I’m sure post-pandemic hearing these in a crowded room would be much more appealing. Facebook / Instagram
The Urban Voodoo Machine – ‘Living In Fear’ (Gypsy Hotel Records) Always with their finger on the pulse UVM hit the nail on the head once again and like some Bop n stroll gypsy rockin’ Nostradamus Paul – Ronney Angel penned this bad boy before Covid – 19 was even a thing and it was meant in an ideal world to come out to coincide with some tour dates but this not being an ideal world it is what it is. Regardless, it’s a banger all ragged rock and roll ‘Living In Fear’ is another prime slice of life the Urban Voodoo Machine way with astute observations of how the worlds gone wrong with its references to recent Great British scandals like Windrush (“they’re shipping them back”) and Grenfell (“it’s hard to sleep in a plastic tower”). But now with the current climate, bandleader Paul-Ronney Angel says of the release “Living in fear . . . wow, never in my wildest imagination did I expect to live through something like this – talking about literally the whole world LIVING IN FEAR!” He ain’t wrong kids you should listen to him. Check em out on Facebook
Hands Off Gretel – ‘The Angry EP’ (Puke Pop Records) You’ve probably read the reviews and the comparisons lauded on Barnsley based grunge rockers Hands Off Gretel. A glorious, day-glo hot pot of riot grrl goodness, everyone from L7, Hole and even a ‘punk rock Pink’ has been referenced in regards to this four piece, and rightly so. Last year’s sophomore album ‘I Want The World’ exceeded all expectations, and following keyboard warriors ongoing online hate aimed at outspoken singer Lauren Tate, and her ongoing campaign to bring awareness to the way women are treated at gigs, (that includes performers as well as punters, so good for her!) they have had publicity in all the right places for all the wrong reasons.
But Hands Off Gretel are the real deal and this three track blast of angst-driven noise only helps to hit the message home. Opener ‘She Thinks She’s Punk Rock n Roll’ is a live favourite that has been crying out for the recorded treatment for a while now. A deliriously catchy hook, schizophrenic vocal delivery and pure, raw power make this an essential listen in 2020. Spiky, guitar-driven goodness.
‘Don’t Touch’ is all skulking bass, buzzsaw guitars and cool-as-you-like vocal interplay. The 90’s riot grrl influences to the fore and maybe more edginess than the band have shown up until now.
On ‘Bigger Than Me’ Sean Bonn’s grunge influenced guitars marry perfectly with Lauren’s sultry vocals, before breaking into a sludge-driven monster that is raw and untamed.
While it lacks the instant melodies of their previous singles, ‘The Angry EP’ makes up for it with sheer unadulterated, angry punk rock power. Clocking in at just under 10 minutes, ‘The Angry EP’ is a short, sharp shock, a middle finger raised to the naysayers, from one of the most colourful and exciting bands on the UK club circuit right now. The perfect cure for teenage angst if you ask me. Facebook
Saint Agnes – ‘The Family Strange’ (Death Or Glory Gang Records) Talking of teenage angst leads us nicely onto Saint Agnes, who follow up the release of their 2019 debut album ‘Welcome To Silvertown’ with an EP that could be the soundtrack for outcasts and degenerates the world over.
Lead by singer Kitty Austin and guitarist Jon Tuffnell, Saint Agnes claim “murderous sibling rivalry and wild rebellion” and with ‘The Family Strange’ they go a long way to shake the Dead Weather comparisons.‘Daughter Of Lucifer’ opens, all break beats, fat, fuzzy guitars and chanting vocals. Dark, sinister and a real slap in the face. Kitty’s “this is my family” refrain delivered with attitude. There’s a ‘Firestarter’ quality to this track, as in its pretty intense.
‘And They All Fall Down’ is like Gwen Stefani having a knife fight with Jack White. Sultry vocals build with the ‘I got a bigger gang than you’ refrain, delivered with a cocksure arrogance, in a good way. Playground chants, helium-induced almost rapped vocals, this is a killer tune that sees the band reach new levels, make no mistake. ‘Brother’ mixes up modern beats, scratchy, repetitive guitars and crazy ass vocals. But it’s ‘The Meanest Little Kid In Town’ that is the curve ball here. Swathes of hammond and electronic, hushed, effect-ridden vocals take it into Billie Eilish meets Garbage territory. This is dark pop music, and it works, it works really well.
Saint Agnes claim to like Satan, witches, B movies and leather. They look cool and the videos back it up. In their heads they exist in a Russ Meyers/Tarantino alternative reality. But in reality they come from the night-time, neon city wasteland we call London town and they sound like a gang ready to take on the world. Facebook
The Future Shape Of Sound – ‘It’s Gone All Wrong – Live EP’ (Gypsy Hotel Records) London based collective The Future Shape Of Sound deliver a live EP to soothe our isolated souls and remind us what we are missing. Lead by Captain Future (aka Alex McGowan) and a host of cool cats, their heady mix of primitive, gospel-tinged blues is perfect for the live sweaty venues (remember those?).
“It’s all gone wrong!” shouts Captain Future as he leads his band into opener ‘Gone All Wrong’. The lead vocals of the newest diva on the block Debbralee Wells steal the show on these choice cuts from their debut long player ‘Shakedown Gospel’. Replacing the departed Sister Cookie was going to be no easy feat, but she takes it in her stride, sharing the mic with Fay Francis.
The captain incites crowd interaction as the band blast into a high energy, gospel-tinged ‘Rise Up’, the full 3 piece backing harmonies that take us to church. Then, the groove heavy ‘Number One’ skulks along, with female vocals it sounds like a completely different beast to the album version.
Closer ‘Toe The Line’ goes a long way to capture the feel of a high energy rock ‘n’ soul show.
If you are missing your live music fix, if you desire to expel more energy than a walk around the block will suffice, then turn the volume up, hit play and get transported to a sweaty night in London town. You can literally feel the sweat, taste the whiskey and get up and dance to the sound of live rock ‘n’ roll music like they used to do back before Coronavirus changed the world as we know it. Dance like no one’s watching…The captain insists! Facebook
Jaeko – ‘How You Living?’ (self-released) Jaeko may be an unfamiliar name to most, but this young chap happens to be the eldest offspring of a certain Ginger Wildheart. Following on from his bands Alive With Eyes and JAW$, Jake has re branded himself as a solo artist going by the name of Jaeko.
Don’t expect a baby Wildhearts here, the sound of Jaeko is a more leftfield, sound of the streets. New single ‘How You Living?’ is a funky, punky trip full of gang vocals and guitars. Coming on like a Rage against Sugar Ray or something, but lacking the full power of either. It’s decent for sure, but nowhere near as good as his previous release ‘Cold Dark Killer’, a perfect mix of Bloc Party and Jamie T, with the added rawness and attitude that neither of those named artists posses.
Again, ‘Sometimes’ is a strong track, radio friendly and cinematic. Jake’s vocals a perfect match. Elsewhere, ‘Colder Than The Sea’ shifts between cool bass and noisy guitar breaks with vocals that show a confidence and maturity.
I’m sure if Ginger gave his son any advice it was to do what you want to do, be your own man and not to bow to what you think people expect of you, and I reckon Jaeko is proof of just that.
Jay Allen And The Archcriminals – ‘Little Daggers’ (Rum Bar Records) Now we head over the pond to the ever cool Rum Bar Records for the new EP from Boston garage punks Jay Allen and The Archcriminals. If you know Run Bar, you know what you’re gonna get here. ‘Little Daggers’ opens with a dirty, low slung riff and strung out vocals. This is the sound of rock ‘n’ roll that resides on the street and in the bars. Dirty and dangerous, coming on like The Dictators meets Uncle Sam.
‘Beautiful Chaos’ is more commercial pop/punk with cool backing harmonies, bouncy yet still raw and edgy. Jay Allen’s vocals cut through nicely in ‘Big Lie’, a definite Replacements vibe going on here which is always a bonus.
Hit the link to download this cool EP for free, that‘s no money whatsoever for some cool new sounds! What do you have to lose? Facebook
Jesse Malin – ‘Backstabbers’ (Wicked Cool Records) Recorded during the sessions for last year’s critically acclaimed ‘Sunset Kids’ album, ‘Backstabbers’ is the new single from our favourite New York troubadour Jesse Malin. The introspective, upbeat tune follows the same path as ‘Meet Me At The End Of The World’. It’s an autobiographical tale of leaving a small town for the big lights of the city, searching for something. Lucinda Williams and Tom Overby’s warm production bring out the best out of Jesse’s songwriting yet again.
Sweet acoustic guitar, keys and lush vocals make the added cover of Tom Petty’s ‘Crawling Back To You’ as the b side an essential purchase. The lyrics are delivered with the sentiment I imagine they were written with. If you don’t feel the goosebumps rise, you must be dead inside.
Jesse can currently be seen every Saturday night hosting ‘The Fine Art Of Self- Distancing’, playing songs and telling stories from his apartment in New York. If you’re a lover of live rock ‘n’ roll music, it’s the best thing on the internet right now, and this single is the perfect addition. Facebook
Alvin Gibbs And the Disobedient Servants – ‘History EP’ (Time & Matter Records) Following last year’s critically acclaimed ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ album, UK Subs bassist Alvin Gibbs returns with a new four track EP spilt over two 7 inchers. Recorded at Perry Vale studios in South London last year with ex-Vibrators bassist Pat Collier co-producing, Gibbs is ably assisted by fellow Subs drummer Jamie Oliver and Ruts DC guitar slinger Leigh Heggarty.
Ringing guitar chords introduce first track ‘History’ before Gibbs graces us with his low slung bass rumble and Iggy-like tones. A gang vocal chorus and sneering lead vocals seal the deal and its business as usual. There’s 40 years of punk rock history in every breath ladies and gentlemen.
The punk rock intensity of the rhythm sections day job comes through in ‘Pavlovian’, the overly cool ‘If Only’ sees the singer channel his inner Dave Vanian, as Heggerty’s high speed power chords match the frantic beats.
Haggerty then takes lead vocals for his self-penned ‘Bad About You’. A power pop melody shines through and there’s a cool little guitar hook going on.
With a handful of songs coming on like ‘Instinct’ era Iggy, it’s a no brainer what you need to do next right? This EP is available to pre order right now as a double 7” pack, one white and one black, housed in a lavish gatefold sleeve with artwork from ex-The Adverts man Gaye Black. Facebook
Ken Fox & Knock You Out – ‘S/T’ (Rum Bar Records) Yet another little gem from the Rum Bar roster is this new mini album from The Fleshtones bassist Ken Fox. His latest single is a blistering cover of The Pink Fairies classic ‘Do It’ which can be found smack bang in the middle of this recently released 5 track blast of garage rock goodness.
Lead track ‘One Less Step’ is a radio friendly single, full of power pop chops and handclaps. If you dig the sound of The Fleshtones or The Plimsouls, you won’t go far wrong with this record.
New single ‘Do It’ is a cover of the Pink Fairies classic released back in 1971 I believe. This version stays true to the garage rock roots, “It’s rock n roll!” shouts the singer in between the “d-d-d-d-do it!” stutterin’ goodness. A nice wah-wah infused guitar solo and cool gang vocals give it punk rock credentials. Yeah, it’s better than the Rollins Band version, fair play.
‘Love Is The Grave’ is a groover that could get the dead dancing. So instant and catchy you would swear it’s a cover…it’s not. A great, upbeat melody and a catchy chorus will remind us all that good times are just around the corner, it’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face. As is closer ‘Stranded (In The Heat). A full horn section, handclaps and a nice Thunders-esque low slung transport the listener to 70’s New York, which is a good way to bow out.
The BD3 – ‘Snowfake/Sypharus’ (Self-released) Going pretty much full circle, we end where we began in North Yorkshire. The BD3 are Yorkshire’s very own Peaky Binders, a trio of ne’er do wells with beards, tattoos and thrift store suits who deal in dark, punky rock ‘n’ roll. Led by the vivacious Ed Stones, they follow up last year’s ‘The Sick Of It’ 7 incher with a new double A side single.
Recorded in Keighley and mixed by legendary producer Dave Draper, these two tracks follow the same rock ‘n’ roll path The BD3 have been travelling for many years. Coming on like The Damned meets The Cramps with a good dose of The Blockheads thrown in for good measure. Clever lyrical interplay and a cool, dark punky vibe make ‘Snowfake’ a song of our times. Good use of space and fiery vocals delivered with intensity. “I don’t wanna live forever” sings our man Ed, as a dampened riff surges and drums crash around him.
‘Sypharus’ marries the dark, intensity of Joy Division with the craziness of The Cramps. Ed’s psycho ward vocals wail over fuzzy guitars and urgent beats that’ll make you either want to dance like no one’s watching or bang your head against the wall, making this a song that begs for the repeat button. Facebook
‘Aussie hard rockers Black Aces are headed back to the UK for their ‘FEAR NO BEER TOUR’.
Hailing from Bendigo in regional Victoria- a town with more pubs than post boxes- Black Aces are set to bring their no frills brand of classic Aussie rock’n’roll halfway round the globe, and cannot wait to sample every bitter, stout, porter and ale from every keg, can and cask they can find.
Having spent much of the past 18 months locked away in the shed, writing and rehearsing, the band dropped new EP ‘Never Change’ in late 2019, once again working with the legendary Mark Opitz (Rose Tattoo, Kiss, Cold Chisel) and Colin Wynne (Bad//Dreems).
As such, this is their first tour of the UK in nearly 2 years- last trip saw Black Aces stomp all over the UK in support of legends The Quireboys.
Now striking out on their own headline run, Black Aces will be joined on the ‘FEAR NO BEER TOUR’ by Cumbria’s finest southern rock purveyors Thirteen Stars, who will be supporting the release of their brand-new album ‘Finest Ramshackle Jam’.
Along with hard hitting club dates, the ‘FEAR NO BEER TOUR’ will also see Black Aces play at Scotland’s Wildfire festival, and Manchester’s SOS Festival for the first time. In true ‘why the f*ck not?’ Black Aces fashion, they also saw fit to squeeze in a quick sojourn across the channel to take on Germany’s Datscha Open Air festival in the heart of the Black Forrest, and a quick show in Geleen, Netherlands to boot.
Black Aces UK club shows will also feature a smattering of the UK’s finest up and coming New Wave of Classic Rock bands, with Ryder’s Creed, EMPYRE, These Wicked Rivers, Blitz, Cottonmouth all appearing along the way.
There’s sure to be a taste on tap for everyone when Black Aces come to your town, these lads from Oz truly do ‘Fear No Beer’!
Formed in rural Australian town Bendigo by singer-guitarist Tyler Kinder, Black Aces set about forming a set of songs influenced by the greats of Aussie rock.
The 2020 summer will see the band return to the UK for their FEAR NO BEER TOUR, with appearances at Scotland’s Wildfire Festival and Manchester’s SOS Festival, plus a string of club shows.
This will be Black Aces first overseas tour since their head turning, white knuckle 3 UK tours in 18 months throughout 2017/18- most recently stepping up to the plate as special guests on rock legend’s The Quireboys White Trash Blues 2018 UK Tour.
Black Aces returned to the studio in early 2019, once again with producers Mark Optiz (AC/DC, INXS, Cold Chisel, Kiss) and Colin Wynne (Bad//Dreems), to record their brand new EP ‘Never Change’. Released on 31st October 2019, the EP is a selection of songs written whilst recovering from their extensive touring schedule to this point, both in Australia and abroad. With album number three slated for a 2020 release, the lads from Bendigo have no plans to slow down, and are proud of their humble garage beginnings.
After developing a strong live following across their homeland and sharing stages with the likes of Cosmic Psychos, Angry Anderson, Dallas Crane, and The Casanovas, Black Aces released their debut album ‘Shot In The Dark’ in early 2016 and took their live show all the way to Europe and the UK.
Through sheer hard work the album broke into the top 20 of the iTunes Australia rock charts, and the band ended a bumper year with a show stealing performance at Hard Rock Hell festival in Wales, alongside such heavyweights as Molly Hatchet, Living Color and Ratt- earning themselves a call back to the festival’s main stage alongside the legendary Dee Snider in 2017.
Black Aces second album ‘Anywhere But Here’ was released in late 2017. Written in a Bendigo garage, and recorded with legendary Aussie producer Mark Opitz and Colin Wynne, ‘Anywhere But Here’ deliverered on the promise of their debut- a diverse, driving rock record by a band determined to show the world how they play rock n’ roll.
Keep your eyes peeled, more 2020 Australian, UK and European dates are planned across the year.
Pisces baby born 1997, Lauren Tate is a singer-songwriter, producer, director and artist from South Yorkshire, England. Growing up the eldest of three, Tate was a secondary school dropout, writing and self producing music from her bedroom from the age of 15. Delving into many musical genres, singing both hard-rock/grunge-punk in her current band Hands Off Gretel, Tate most recently stripped back to a softer, raw Americana sad-pop sound with her first solo album in 5 years, ‘Songs for Sad Girls’.
‘Songs for Sad Girls’ will be released on 20th September on her own label Trash Queen Records (UK), Tate recorded and self-produced 11 of the 14 tracks in her home studio.
“I planned to get my album produced by someone when I could afford it, but there was a certain magic and honesty captured in my recordings that I knew would really move people. My lyrics are honest and brutal with songs about domestic abuse, body image, feminism and fear of dying. I wanted it to sound like a girl writing in her diary, unapologetic and imperfect like real girls are.”
‘What About the Kids’ is the 2nd single from the debut album and is released today, alongside a new music video directed by Lauren. ”The song is from a child’s point of view speaking to her father addressing gun violence in America. I wanted the song to highlight issues around gun control and the importance of children’s future in a world where nobody is listening to them. I wrote this song to sing for those that won’t ever get the chance to do so.”
Lauren not only self-produced and recorded all instruments on her debut album she designed all the album artwork and merchandise too. Described by BBC Introducing presenter Christian Carlisle as a ‘One Woman Record label’.
Three down and one to go and Sunday is a pretty big deal around RPM HQ as our mates are playing on the Introducing stage later but everywhere we look its clash city. At one point we wanted to see four bands all playing at the same time across the complex so it literally came down to the toss of a coin where we would go and who we would see. With the venue opening at midday we needed to be in the Empress to catch a band we’ve covered a lot lately and who’ve impressed everyone whos seen and heard them. Hands Off Gretel take the stage to a really healthy crowd considering the day and time and proceed to entertain with a really tight performance as the band really locked in like their lives depended on it and the audience was right there with them. After catching the first 30 minutes of the set we then had to cross the divide via Almost Acoustic where Ratboy was performing his magic to a full room we managed to catch him driving swords through someone’s arm and a more gentle coin trick but we couldn’t stay as all roads lead towards the Introducing stage where Trigger Mcpoopshute took the stage looking rather splendid in their religious outfits. I even heard some punter comment that Shovel had a decent set of pins in his sheer stockings! I did turn to see what depraved human had such thoughts on the lords day. To be fair Trigger knocked out a rather impressive set of Welsh hardcore fuelled by late-night kebabs and strong cider whilst entertaining and putting a smile on peoples faces with their tales of everyday folk and cheeky charm.
Having seen the band turn in some loose sets this was a different Trigger with a much tighter sound with Bam at the drum stool. Songs like ‘Skidmarks and Spenser’, ‘Sheep’ and ‘Drinking With The Big Boys’ were going down a storm in front of a very impressive audience and it was only 1.15pm but the only question people were now pondering was ‘Fish Or Bird’? Fuckin’ loons. Who writes songs about penguins? Bloody entertaining though.
Right that’s three rooms already and it’s not even 2 pm so it must be time to head to Casbah to see if Dan Banger has turned up this year and low and behold he’s bloody made it and finally, Pizzatramp are in the house and what a fuckin’ beautiful noise they make live. Regardless of if its some tiny venue in the bowels of South Wales or the cavernous Club Casbah at Rebellion Pizzatramp are on fire right now as Sammy plucks that thunderous bass and locks in with Dan they are a formidable force and their Hardcore is a beautiful thing they open with ‘CCTV’ and its brutal ‘Claire Voyant’, ‘He’s Gone Full Mitchell’ and the quite brilliant ‘Millions Of Dead Goffs’ pretty much make up the opening salvo of their set and I’m happy and it seems like half of Blackpool have gotten the memo and decided to turn up to see Pizzatramp with ‘Grand Relapse’ getting a decent airing their (Brown puckered) Star(fish) is burning brightly. We cut the set short and dash over to the Opera House for Johny Skullknuckles Kopek Millionaires who have just gone on by the time we catch our breath.
‘sometimes (Love Just Isn’t Enough)’ sounds fantastic and the change of pace from hardcore Sunday to power pop punk rock was just what I needed. I love Johnys style of writing and a lot of his material reminds me of early Hanoi Rocks and ‘Tell Me Baby’ sounded great as did ‘1981’ from ‘Dirty Beef Hands’ but the ray of sunshine in what has been a difficult time recent for Johny was his touching tribute to Kathy which touched everyone in the Opera House and got a standing ovation and the track of the set ‘Punk Girl From Another World’ an exceptional set from The Millionaires.
After recently seeing Suede Razors in Bristol Johnny and Darrel urged me to pop into the empress and catch the set so if it’s good enough for those two, of course, I was going to be there. so grabbing my spot on the barrier more for something to lean on than anything else the band duly took the stage and Darrel Wojick fresh from checking out Trigger McPoopshute takes the stage and proceeds to ram down some sweet boot boy rock and roll mixing the best of Slade with Rose Tattoo with a bovver boy take on the Four Horsemen. ‘My city’ kicked off proceedings and for the next half an hour and some they rammed it down the Empress ‘TV175’ going down a storm and the punters flooded in. ‘Passion On The Pitch’ was dedicated to Blackpool fans and their fight for their club and it was nice to hear some Americans and a Canadian knowing their shit and fuck the Oystens would have gone down well. ‘Bovver Boy’ was a particular high point of the set. a band who have the chops and know-how to rock and roll and will always be welcome over here if the USA still won’t let them ply their craft.
One of the must-see bands on the introducing stage had to be Rotten Foxes who turned up looking rather splendid in their double denim, cut off nut huggers and wrestling belts. They really put on a show for those gathered in the sweatbox. As for what they played fuck knows, it was absolute pandemonium and punk as fuck with Charlie Harper whistling on the sidelines whilst members of Zero Zero, Pizzatramp and Trigger knew where the only place to be at half three on a Sunday afternoon was and that was in this very room sweating like Ian Krankie in a wardrobe. The songs came thick and fast, fuck, make that very fast as bodies flew around, Hardcore as fuck. An absolute pleasure to witness such beautiful chaos done so well. True to their single ‘Arrive Raise Hell Leave’ Rotten Foxes absolutely killed it. I wish it had gone on longer and it would have been awesome to see these boys tear somewhere like Casbah a new one with this racket. Don’t quit it’s only just begun. Rotten Fuckin’ Foxes!
We needed to grab some food so Svetlanas were forfeited as was our planned peek at Teenage Bottlerockets (next time for sure). Dirt box Disco are up next and with a quick pint, we head for Club Casbah. Having Weab quit the band to go his own way it left Spunk Volcano to take over lead vocals and this being the first opportunity for us to see the band we first caught way back when they had no more than a couple of shows under their belt this was going to be interesting but seeing so many people turn up and stay til the end must have put wind in their sails as they knocked out classic Dirtbox after classic dirt box with ‘My Life Is Shit’ seeing a frenzied pit chanting the chorus back to Mr. volcano must have felt good that they decided to carry on post Weab. Something of a Rebellion fixture it wouldn’t be the same without them.
Empress is beginning to heat up again as CJ Ramone takes the stage and for the next hour we’re treated to a whole bunch of classic Ramones tunes and some choice cuts from CJ’s solo records all that was missing was a track or two from Bad Chopper. ‘One High One Low’ from the new album slipped in comfortably alongside classics like ‘Bonzo Goes To Bitburg ‘, ‘Rock n Roll High School’ and ‘Rockaway Beach’. ‘This Town’ also off the new album sounded huge but was the aperitif for Blag The Ripper who entered the fray to creepy crawl around the Empress knocking out ‘KKK Took My Baby Away’. CJ then gave a wonderful tribute to his former bandmate Steve Soto who had been performing with him and who died only little over a year ago as last year Adolescents gave a tearful tribute to Soto ‘Rock On’ was apt. the next special guest happened to be Blags bandmate Nick Oliveri.
as if the Empress wasn’t hot enough ‘Warthog’, ‘Commando’, ’53rd’, ‘Sedated’, ‘Blitzkreig Bop’ and to wrap it all up why not go over the top with a sparkling version of ‘R.A.M.O.N.E.S’. Thank you and goodnight. Fuck me that’s how to do a festival – No bullshit – no fucking around just bish bash bosh! It reminded me of Buzzcocks who were mentioned several times over the weekend and amusing stories were regaled they were a band who got festivals and usually just blitzed it – well, CJ Ramone just did that – 29 songs in an hour, Smart!
We’re in the home straight now and it’s still pretty full-on We toyed with the idea of going into Empress for The PRofessionals but it was too hot so we went for a wander around the bizarre and dipped in to catch the start of The Skids who weren’t mucking about and once they’d put up the correct graphic giving away the fact that The Damned were indeed playing the Machine gun Etiquette set later gave the game away, oh well the rumours were true. Doh!. ‘Of One Skin’ followed by ‘Charade’ it looked like they were playing the same set they were dishing out around Europe which is fine I’ve not seen the band since they reformed and by the sounds of it they were bang on form. Knowing I had one last lap to complete the heat upstairs on the balcony was almost unbearable and it literally felt like the ‘Saints Were Coming’ if I’d have stayed up there so back to Club Casbah for a glance at Conflict and DOA then settled for a few tunes from King Kurt a band I’d not seen for over twenty years hoping to catch some ‘Destination Zulu LAnd’ but alas it wasn’t to be as I had to venture via the backstage bar for some refreshments before making my way down the front for one final hurrah.
The Damned doing ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’ although I’d seen them several times on the last MGE Anniversary tour this time it was with added Paul Gray who always did justice to the Algy bass lines.
As the band took to the stage and Captain offered up the introduction of “Ladies And Gentlemen, how do?” the place seemed to be absolutely rammed and didn’t need an invitation to go nuts as the album was unfurled in sequence well, up until ‘These Hands’ that seemed to have been left off. Again not quite its entirety but it would have been fun to hear it for us anoraks. Man The Damned are on fire at the moment and seem to be really enjoying their time on stage. Vanian being quite animated tonight taking the lead with amusing anecdotes whilst Sensible being, dare I suggest it, quite restrained. Maybe the Wintergardens heat was taking effect whereas we all know Vanian has spent the day relaxing in his air-conditioned crypt so would be fresh as a daisy. Once they wound up MGE also missing ‘Liar’ as well I might add. They then proceeded to indulge a few extras like ‘Street Of Dreams’ and a rather splendid ‘Ignite’.
I guess they had to play ‘Standing On The Edge Of Tomorrow’ before hitting the home straight with ‘Wait For The Blackout’ followed by the anthemic ‘New Rose’,’Neat Neat Neat’ and ending the set with ‘Jet Boy Jet Girl’ and the curtain was brought down on another exception headline set from the original punk rockers and still the best there is. Don’t let Hayward and Sutton tell you otherwise 😉 (DD)
With Dom over in the Empress watching The Damned for the bazillionth time it was left to yours truly to witness rock legends The Dwarves, big dicks swinging, give Blackpool’s punk rock community the bloodiest nose of the weekend. With HeWhoCannotBeNamed back in the fold, there is that added sense of danger and anarchy about the band as they launch straight into ‘Way Out’ and the Club Casbah mosh pit goes suitably apeshit. ‘Sluts Of The USA’, ‘Devils Level’ and ‘We Only Came To Get High’ follow like repeated punches to the face and just when I thought it couldn’t get any crazier a minor drunken skirmish breaks out in front of me during ‘Speed Demon’ and the sight of a topless female pit member sends Blag and the boys off into a world where there ‘Better Be Women’ and ‘Free Cocaine’. ‘We Must Have Blood’ sees He Who and Blag demolish the drum kit, and in a shower of beer, they are gone. Wow! Band of the weekend for me and many others. Don’t agree? Go fuck yourselves. HA! (JH)
Rebellion Sundays are real hardcore as the body is usually wondering why it is being subjected to continued alcohol, dehydration and stairs, stairs and stairs. So having an unbelievable line-up makes it all worthwhile and following playing another set I shot across to the acoustic stage to catch Catlow (of the Poly Esters) set the afternoon on a great footing. A Pizzatramp, Suede Razors 1-2 gets me right in the mood to swing by the Arena to catch Birmingham’s utterly brilliant The Liarbilitys. Their Antagonisms record sounds fantastic live and Birmingham’s Bleeding is surely one of the best punk rock songs of recent times. I made a point of popping into the Introducing Stage at numerous points throughout the weekend, sampling some really excellent bands (that Rotten Foxes set was something else!!) but one that really stuck with me was Tequila Mockingbyrd. The female quartet were devastating and really should be checked out, as their Hanoi Rocks meets L7 swagger is infectious. This led me nicely into catching something very familiar but no less good in the shape of Welsh stalwarts Foreign Legion. Marcus Howells might have led the band in its many forms for decades but they show no signs relenting in any way and are on top form with a set of old standards are spot-on new songs. With the finish line in sight, I head back to join the hordes watching the Professionals before watching The Dwarves deliver the ultimate coup de grace. What a weekend? When can we do it again? (DS)
Rebellion 2019 was an absolute pleasure from the superb company to the many bands I met shook hands with, had conversations with to the work colleagues also covering the festival to the incredibly hard-working and always smiling staff keeping the bars stocked to make sure everything was hunky-dory. The bouncers who did their jobs well especially the guys n gals in the Empress who did amazing jobs and always with a smile to the catering staff and stallholders to the people like Darren Russell Smith and Jeannie Russel Smith, Stu Taylor and Daryl for putting this incredible Festival together keeping the prices real. Dod and the photographers who do such an excellent job in capturing it all, the stagehands and sound and light guys for doing such an amazing job under so trying circumstances and the good people of Blackpool for being so welcoming time after time and all the band we saw turn in such awesome sets and the bands we didn’t get round to seeing maybe next year. The PR people for running such a smooth operation you all make this festival lark look like a piece of piss. The artists upstairs along with the people who were interviewed and interviewers and finally all the punters who love alternative music and keep the scene ticking over buying the music and the merch. I have a list of bands who should play next year who would go down a treat if anyone wants to know.
Rebellion is always a pleasure and never ever a chore. Now can I go to bed and get some sleep please? Same time and same place next year? Fan-Fuckin-Dabi-Dozy!
Authors: Dom Daley, Johnny Hayward & Darrel Sutton
Its August and this week sees us roll with our comprehensive Rebellion Festival round-up so why not run our twent choice cuts from our perspective. We’d have listed the likes of Zero Zero and Rotten Foxes but they’re not on Spotify so we’ve gone with a solid old and new twenty plus. Check em out there has to be something for every taste in there. Remember kids don’t just stream go out and watch these bands and buy their merch and music. It keeps them making the music we love.
Well, we’re almost there folks its Sunday on our preview and by now there will be sore heads, aching limbs, sunburn, and ringing ears and aching jaws from having such a good time and laughter that’s usually how Sunday pans out but not necessarily in that order. By now you will have got the hang of how to best navigate your way through the Winter Garden and how best to avoid the heat and there will be some who are only now getting into the swing of things and only just warming up. We’ve already opened a book as to what state our friends Trigger Mcpoopshute will be in before they hit the introducing stage. I just hope Blackpool has enough Special Vat on tap because they will find it and the Karaoke bar. Anyway, I digress.
On with the show. first up will no doubt be a very early start for many as Hands Off Gretel hit the Empress Stage between 12:50pm – 1:30 pm. With their recent album and live shows, they’ve had plenty of praise around these parts and it’ll be great to catch them on such a big stage and big room compared to the tight confines of Clwb Ifor Bach. But wait, get your time warp daps on because there are more clashes than outside a Swansea v Cardiff derby. 1.55 also sees our mates the wonderful Kopek Millionaires return to the festival in the Opera House and hang on those Welsh herberts Trigger McPoopshute are also kicking up a shitstorm over on the introducing stage at 1.15 and if you shout loud enough I’m sure they’ll play ‘Sheep’ and my favourite ‘Skidmarks & Spencer’.
It’s just not fair because Pizzatramp will be causing offense and singing songs about Goths at 2 pm over at Club Casbah or whinging about having their fuckin’ backs being fucked and calling Bono names but I can guarantee they will be entertaining and totally crushing the room. Next up for me will be those filthy garage punk noise bringers Rotten Foxes again on the introducing stage where double denim hot pants will no doubt be the order of the day and songs about Danny Dyer will be belted out for the gathered masses. Around the same time, The Svetlanas will also be delivering the noise over in The Ballroom and they went down very well last year. You could stay put and chill because up next is the pop punk of Teenage Bottlerockets in the Empress. Or no doubt like many will head over to Club Casbah for your annual fix of Dirtbox Disco at 5.10 pm. If you haven’t had enough Hands Off Gretel frontwoman Lauren Tate will be putting on an Acoustic performance in Almost Acoustic but I’d imagine you’d have to get there early as it will be busy.
It’s still very early evening and hopefully, you should be just warming up by about now and pacing yourself. You’ll hopefully have just taken in a bunch of new bands on your radar and awaiting some more established bands who will be along later. There are a dozen bands playing the Introducing Stage on Sunday many of whom I’ll admit to not having heard but will always dip in because its stages like this where the future headliners might come from and who knows, your new favourite band. Isn’t that the beating heart of what Rebellion Festival is all about? You can stay in one venue all day long and come across a whole gambit of bands some you’ll love some you’ll know the name of but have never heard them and others will blow you away and all indoors under the same roof alongside friendly staff who make it such a special place to watch alternative music night after night after night. Anyway, I digress.
The Witchdoktors play their garage punk rock n roll just before Foreign Legion kicks in with their Oi! infused street punk. Weaving around the stages takes some skills that you should no doubt be a Jedi master at by this point so negotiating Conflict, DOA and then King Kurt will be a piece of piss right? Yeah right. and if you’re still in one piece The Motherchuffin’ Dwarves are taking the Casbah stage home tonight and will no doubt devastate what’s left of the audience. I see they’re down for a 55-minute set so it looks like they’re playing twice then kids 😉
Anyway back in the Empress the final curtain call sees CJ Ramone knock out a whole bunch of classics from 7 pm and lets face it he’s never let us down and his new solo album is a bit tasty as well so in fairness throw your laminated stage finder timetable out the window buy yourself a Dark Fruit and just follow your ears and you’ll be taken to a stage that will put a big smile on your face. The Professionals follow CJ then The Skids follow the Professionals but its top trumps time for me because the Damned close the festival that is as long as The Dwarves haven’t raised the Winter Gardens to the ground from the Casbah at the same chuffing time! it’ll be a flip of the coin no doubt or we will have to split review duties and by witching hour it will all be over – done and dusted. Back to our hotels and B&B’s with our pathetic bruised and beaten carcasses dissecting our weekend – our long lost weekend down the musical wormhole that is Rebellion festival. If you’re still in with a chance of going but can’t decide to take it from us you won’t regret it – not for a second (well that might be a lie – your legs might be saying otherwise) There is no other festival quite like it in the UK and we love being a part of it year after year. I’m packed and ready to rock n roll now where did I leave my kiss me quick hat?
Two venues? Two gigs? at the same time! No I didn’t split myself in two it’s the thing I love about Womanby Street in Cardiff, now the pressures off and developers have been sent packing it really has become a vibrant hub of the Underground music scene, catering for all musical tastes and the atmosphere. Sense of belonging and camaraderie in the crowds lurking outside three venues, all within 50 feet of each other, on both sides of the road, shows what happens when you get things right.
Walking towards Clwb Ifor Bach for another superb offering from our friends at Pity my Brain (you really should keep up to speed with their offerings, they never disappoint and always put on gigs with integrity) I picked up the sound of a band starting up in the Moon Club, I know that voice! So took a quick detour to be confronted with Red Light Syndrome, now you might well ask who? But take it from me these guys are a band that are really coming together. I’ve caught them twice over the last month and what is starting to come together is a sound grounded in Husker Du, tipping a nod towards Jawbreaker but all the time showing a Lemonheads grasp on pop sensibilities. Craigy Rees is starting to build in confidence as a front-man and Dean on Guitar is bringing the noise with a gorgeous punk rock edge to the sound. The too short set to an ever-increasing crowd drawn in from the outside is met with a more than appreciative response.
Nipping back across the road to Clwb Ifor Bach and we catch the start of Tribeless , its always a pleasure to catch a young band on the up but bringing their own sound into what could be classed as classic rock, with a leaning towards the alternative. (Listening to the single post the night there’s a definite hint towards prime time Evanescence) and in front-woman Lydia McDonald they have a genuine star in the making.
Next up we have Bottlekids and a band I’ve been looking to check out for a while Joe Grogan, front -man of the mighty Graveyard Johnnys side project and right from the start that un-mistakable vocal hits you and your off that punk rock underpinned sound drags you out of your seat and draws you right in to the moment. With a new EP due, available to pre-order on the nite, or here (https://bottlekids.bigcartel.com) and a touring schedule that is rapidly filling up they’re in the exchange in Bristol alongside Riskee and the ridicule and the Mighty King Prawn, (what a triple header) October 18th. I would suggest you jump on board pretty quickly! These guys aren’t hanging around.
Time is absolutely flying by tonight, and with an early curfew, we’re into the headliners Hands off Gretel before we fully have time to cool down from Bottlekids onslaught.
The music-press I have to say are for once right in tune with a band and a rapidly growing following and everything is in place for Hands off Gretel to explode out of the alternative underground and hit those bigger arena’s. They have the image and with the addition of Becky Baldwin on Bass we have a twin focus a counterpoint to frontwoman Lauren Tate, people in the know might have caught her with Triaxis? If not why not?
From the opening chords the crowd are up for it and worth noting tonight, in what is usually a heavy male-oriented audience I would have put the ratio at almost 50/50 great to see and with none of the behaviors that have crept into some of the larger venues and audiences. With Hands off Gretel, you can’t help but make comparisons to some of the bands that exploded out of Seattle at the peak of grunge, but it’s tighter, been brought up to date and not just sung but presented by Lauren and the band. I think the image, the attention to detail, the sound and most importantly the potential for crossover into the mainstream is huge. I’d love to see them on a stage with the likes of Garbage.
As the set moved on you could feel the band picking up on the crowd’s energy and shifting through the gears, in turn driving the crowd on, the Mosh pit got bigger and bigger and by three tracks from the end had spilled onto the stage!!
Tracks like SASS, My Toy, Kiss me Girl and Punk Rock leveled the place and again way too quickly they were gone. But on finishing the set the band joined the crowd, taking photo’s, chatting and spending time with the fans, nothing was too much trouble, remember this was a sell out crowd too!!
Now the last time I though a band was on the verge of hitting the big time was a band called Estrons, and they blwdi split up. So this time I’ll hold my thoughts, but catch Hands off Gretel now, before they move from the smaller more intimate surroundings, everything’s in place for world domination.
In a world of beige bands and radio stations that force feed the masses with bland, manufactured music that has nothing to say, alternative rock is well and truly underground.
We need rock stars, we need larger than life characters. We need songwriters and performers that do have something to say and are prepared to deliver the goods. More than ever grassroots, DIY bands need our help as it’s a freakin’ jungle out there, a day to day struggle for a band to stay alive.
The recent PledgeMusic debacle has not helped matters. Being fucked over by the very platform you have put trust in to get your music direct to your fan base is possibly the worst thing that could have happened to Hands Off Gretel, at the most important time of their career.
The band is out of pocket and the fans are out of pocket. But where there’s a will there’s a way. The world needs to hear this album and with the help of their fans, Hands Off Gretel have maybe succeeded in being even more independent than they ever dreamed of.
The title of Hands Off Gretel’s sophomore album says a lot about the attitude of their singer, chief songwriter and resident art co-ordinator Lauren Tate. Planning world domination from her bedroom in South Yorkshire since she could probably hold a crayon, this girl has ambition and she knows what she wants. Hours and hours listening to Hole, The Distillers and Pink. Creating artwork, writing lyrics and dreaming that one day she will show those who bullied and those who put her down that she could succeed…that she could be somebody.
While their debut album ‘Burn The Beauty Queen’ was a lo-fi, grunge obsessed ride, Hands Off Gretel have taken things up a notch with ‘I Want The World’. The hooks are more instant, the choruses stick like glue and the guitars are even more furious than before.
The change was evident in the first single and album opener ‘Kiss Me Girl’. An ode to lesbian desire, with a killer hook that adds a commercial element to Lauren’s inner Brody Dalle. It’s a game-changer of a song that takes their post-grunge/alt 90’s sound to another level. It’s the blueprint for their new sound and the perfect anthem for angst-ridden teens who feel alienated from the world.
And this is where Hands Off Gretel have a serious advantage. They appeal to a disenchanted youth, as they are still a part of that demographic. Lauren especially, while cute and diminutive, has a fire in her belly and can pen angst fuelled lyrics as well as her peers ever have. She has real stuff to write about. Kids will relate to her lyrics, girls will want to be her, boys will want to be with her. They are a poster band for the new generation.
The recent change shows a new confidence and self-assurance from a band who I have been watching evolve. With the recent addition of Becky Baldwin on bass, the band look and feel like a cohesive unit live. With two strong female characters and long-standing members Sean Bon (guitar) and Sam Hobbins (drums), it all just seems to have gelled.
Anyway, I digress. The previously released singles/videos were enough to whet the appetite with their No Doubt meets L7 vibes. ‘S.A.S.S’ is a dirt-smeared and groovy, dancefloor filler with a killer chorus. Exciting, sassy and cool as you like. The title track is a big middle finger to the naysayers. “I’m the rudest, I’m the cutest, I’m the one that hurts” she croons before exploding in a helium induced diatribe. With furious guitar work from Sean, it’s a song full of angst and fire. It could be their best work to date.
In total contrast, the following ‘Blame Myself’ is more commercial, slicker. In the verses, Lauren is sounding more like her heroine Pink than ever before. In a similar way, ‘It’s My Fault’ has that same pop suss, that great use of sugary sweet melodies. ‘Freaks Like Us’ is a cleverly penned anthem for a disenchanted youth, a song that demands you hold your lighter in the air.
This move towards a more commercial sound is a natural songwriting progression for a girl who has been finding her feet as a songwriter, not just a singer over the past couple of years.
The grungy vibes are omnipresent. With its guttural, screamo vibes, wah-wah infused guitars and pumping bass, ‘Milk’ is a mash-up of ‘Heart Shaped Box’ meets ‘Pretend We’re Dead’. And the hyper album closer ‘Rot (All The Good Things)’ is a final shot of adrenaline to the vein, as it has one of the most instant and memorable hooks you will hear this year.
Whether its shades of KatieJane Garside craziness, Pink’s spot on pop suss or the angst of Courtney Love and Brody Dalle, Lauren Tate’s vocals and melodies are the driving force behind one of the most exciting underground bands we have here in the UK. Punk infused angst with fuzzy guitars, loud/quiet nineties vibes, dreamy pop anthems with lush backing vocals. Yep, with the songs and the style to match, they got the whole package, baby!
In 2019 it’s fair to say rock stars are a dying breed, especially the female role models. You wanna know who has the balls to fit into Joan Jett’s leather jacket? Who has the “fuck you” attitude of Courtney or L7? Well, with a mass of two-tone dreads, khol smeared eyes and ruby red lips, a diminutive Yorkshire lass is happily being Alice In Grungeland every day of the week and it’ll take more than PledgeMusic to destroy Lauren Tate’s dreams of world domination. Are you man enough to follow her down the rabbit hole?