NEW ALBUM ‘DIRT MALL’ OUT NOW VIA ROACH INDUSTRIES/PLASTERER RECORDS
Raising their voices from lockdown, fast-rising Manchester punk-trio Aerial Salad return with ‘Stressed’, the third single to be taken from their new album ‘Dirt Mall’, released as the world clamped down earlier this year via Roach Industries/Plasterer Records.
‘Stressed’ is a scream of frustration at the daily grind of working life: “I would walk past the location we filmed ‘Stressed’ every day for two years on my way to work,” explains guitarist and vocalist Jamie Munro. “I always knew I wanted to film the ‘Stressed’ video there because it’s an old office block. ‘Stressed’ is a song about my descent into madness while working in an office for a blue chip company; the song’s not a glorification of weed, more just me pointing out how sad it is that that’s the only respite that can be conjured for a lot of people in their early 20s working shit jobs just to pay rent. Shout out to Tommy from Bruise Control, Lauren from LAD$ Zine (go check that out) and Keiron from Don Blake for their extra work and Mark Richards for filming.”
“I’m glad we managed to film on location,” continues Jamie. “It was boarded up, so we recorded in early February and high winds knocked down the gate to the location so really the universe clearly needed to see this video and so do you!”
Every now and then here in the UK a band connects with a generation and explodes into the mainstream. Nirvana, the Sex Pistols, Oasis, the Arctic Monkeys and Slaves are just a few who have achieved this, and this year I think we are very likely be adding the name of Aerial Salad to that stellar list too. Granted over the decades there have been scores of other bands I could have named but these bands perhaps have the most in common with where Aerial Salad’s heads are at, and it only takes a few bars of opener ‘Virtue’ to tick off the Seattle influence buried under a lyric from frontman Jamie Monroe that is designed to tear the clothes from off your backs and rip the flesh from your bones…quite literally.
I should perhaps admit that when I first witnessed Aerial Salad a few years back supporting Wonk Unit in Bristol they didn’t exactly blow me away, it was good yes, but to my ears it wasn’t really the second coming that their manager Daddy (Alex) Wonk would have us believe, not at the time anyway. Fast forward to early 2020 and witnessing the band supporting (who else but) Wonk Unit, and they were like an altogether different band. Playing songs largely drawn from ‘Dirt Mall’ this time Aerial Salad sounded every bit like the second coming, something that was quickly reinforced just a few days later when they premiered the video to ‘Romance?’, a song so amazing that it alone should have you hovering over the “Add to Cart” button on the band’s website.
This is dirty punk rock folks albeit a version that is never afraid to throw you a killer pop hook or two along the way and for that reason the likes of ‘Fever Dream’, ‘Lazy’ and the insanely catchy ‘Such A Pity’ could all very well have been hit singles had they been released when singles sold in their millions. For me it’s the likes of ‘Temp’ ‘State O’ Yer’ and ‘Dirt Mall’ that have me slamming and bouncing around the room like a teenager all over again, all of them perfectly capturing the frustrations and anger of someone growing up in this age of austerity. Oh, and whilst we are on that subject in album closer ‘Stressed’ we have perhaps the definitive anthem to be written about the Tory’s social cleansing initiative.
Just as Butch Vig did for Nirvana on ‘Nevermind’ producer Paul Tipler (allegedly hired by the band simply because they loved the work he did on Leatherface’s ‘Mush album but I’d like to think they were also aware of his awesome work with the mighty D4) allows each of the nine tracks on ‘Dirt Mall’ the space to breathe whilst simultaneously capturing an uncontrollable energy that is designed to cave in your cranium. Something that can be lethal in the right hands…and here it’s deadly.
‘Dirt Mall’ is released on 27th of March on a variety of different coloured and signed vinyl formats (all of which come with a free CD copy) via the band’s website linked below, and it’s a record that really should be in every self-respecting music fan’s collection.
Aerial Salad started as a dream, that turned into a nightmare, that thankfully worked out a dream. Conceived by frontman and guitarist Jamie Munro after he’d attended the legendary punk event The FEST in Gainesville, Florida in 2016, the young Manchester Uni student was so inspired and impressed by what he’d witnessed at the festival, he had to start a band. He HAD to play that festival.
“It was a very important time in my young age,” remembers Jamie. “I was like, ‘fuck me, all these people, all these bands are small punk bands, but they’re playing here and they’re all on tour, this is fucking sick this!’ Fuck uni, I hate uni, I’ll start a band. We’ll play The FEST.”
And while for many, those dreams would have remained a fantasy as the daily grind of real life tightened its grip, choking out those young teenage dreams, Jamie Munro did form a band with two best friends (Mike Wimbleton – bass/vocals, Matty Mills – drums) and he did play The FEST, but as is so often in life, things did not go as planned.
In the run-up to what is now billed in their minds as ‘The Worst Festival Set Of All Time’, the fledgling Aerial Salad recorded a couple of scrappy digital EPs, played a small handful of gigs and through sheer bluster and confidence, somehow blagged themselves onto The FEST. However, bad luck, over-indulgence, technical difficulties and unfamiliar equipment led to a catastrophic performance that made sure the band were never invited back. “The set was so bad that as soon as it finished, I had to run out of the venue, hide around the corner and cry,” shudders Jamie.
Returning home with dreams momentarily shattered, the rag-tag bunch of teenagers may not have found acclaim, but they did find purpose, regrouped and forged ahead. Luck was on their side when they met former Flying Medallions frontman and Wonk Unit leader Alex Johnson who, so taken with the bands spirit and vibe, offered to mentor, manage and help put out Aerial Salad’s debut album – 2017’s ‘Roach’ – on his label Plasterer. He became ‘Daddy Wonk’ to the band and finally finding their stride in ‘Roach’, a sound and boldness started to emerge that quickly turned heads in the UK punk scene. An album of soaring punk songs, with melody and brash, rough edges that made it fizzle with excitement. The germ of greatness was sown in ‘Roach’. Wonk Unit took them on a three-week tour (“effectively a four year training course on how to actually be a band,”) and Aerial Salad were one step closer to being ready to deliver what the world is about to hear in new album ‘Dirt Mall’.
Armed with a headful of new songs, under the guidance of Daddy Wonk and the production of UK recording legend Paul Tipler (“because he’d recorded ‘Mush’ by Leatherface, which we love,”), Aerial Salad have delivered nine songs of anthemic, driving punk rock that roars with disgust, yet equally joy, at the world around them. Released this coming March 27th via the bands own Roach Industries, and once again with the help of Plasterer, ‘Dirt Mall’ is the sound of the once rag-tag teenagers finding their sound, feet and minds, frustrated by day jobs, brexshit and the world swirling around them.
“It captures everything I’ve seen working as a temp in offices and generally being in my twenties trying to work myself and the world out. With some pop songs thrown in for fun,” admits Jamie, and it is all of that and more. Bristling with energy and passion, each and every song means something. From the charging title track (“people should not have to try and survive life,”), the bass and drum groove and explosive chorus of ‘Such A Pity’ (“about being young and a fucking arsehole,”), the cathartic strut of ‘Stressed’ (“the Tories are basically trying to kill us, that’s the cut and dry,”) and first single ‘Romance?’ (“a song about wanting romance with someone who is otherwise romantically engaged,”), ‘Dirt Mall’ is an album by three best mates, experiencing this life together, and taking it on.
Aerial Salad is starting its most exciting chapter.
It’s time for my first gig of the “roaring twenties”, but tonight is sadly also the last one to be put on by Drew and the Cardiff Punk Rock Bowling team as they are seemingly disbanding after tonight’s event. From my experience, it’s always a mixture of joy and pain (well it is the next morning) when you see Wonk Unit live so they as returning headliners for this PRB Awards night feels like the perfect choice to see out this vibrant and close-knit community of Kingpins.
Kicking things off tonight at a time when most people are seemingly still enjoying their first (much cheaper) pint in one of the nearby watering holes are Chepstow’s Bottlekids. It’s six months since I last saw the trio live downstairs in this very same venue and inbetween they’ve released a debut self-titled EP to widespread critical acclaim, and here with the benefit of Ifor Bach’s main room sound system the likes of ’25 Days’ sound like stadium filling anthems for the next generation. With a string of German tour dates already ahead of them these are busy times for Bottlekids make sure you check them out.
If Bottlekids see the stadium punk of Green Day as their musical peers then Manchester’s Aerial Salad must look up to DJ Rubble from Paw Patrol. They look so young I can’t help but wonder if they are actually legally supposed in the venue at all. Don’t let their child like appearance fool you though, as once these boys get into their stride, they’ll rip your throat out. I should perhaps admit that the last time our paths crossed I really didn’t “get” all the fuss that was being generated around the band at the time, and they just kind of felt like a harder pop/punk version of Arctic Monkeys to me. A year and a half on though and tonight I have to say Aerial Salad are nothing short of phenomenal, and I can now see the trio’s immediate appeal plastered across the smiling faces all around me. It’s kind of reassuring to know that the future of punk rock is very much safe in the hands of Jamie, Matt and Mike. Fantastic stuff!
It only feels like a few weeks ago that I was last penning a live review of Wonk Unit for RPM Online, and that’s because it was. Yet as the Wonk faithful know all too well you’ll never get tired of seeing the greatest band ever to come out of Croydon simply because there’s never two Wonk gigs alike, and with the insanity (and nudity) of their valleys shows of old missing from proceedings tonight it really is time for the music to do the talking. So, with added Véronique on keyboards coupled with the aforementioned Clwb Ifor rig I’m pleased to report that Wonk Unit really have never sounded more amazing than they do tonight in the 20 plus times I must have now seen them live.
As always Daddy Wonk’s ability to mix deep cuts with “the hits” is always a delight to behold as the Unit are kept well and truly on their toes with the likes of ‘Girlfriend Is A Lunatic’ (from the band’s debut ‘Flying The Japanese Flag’) and ‘Judus Betrayers’ (from the far more recent ‘Terror’) thrown into the set seemingly on a whim, but it is their upmost credit that they never once fail to rise to the challenge.
Likewise it’s great to hear curveballs like ‘Old Trains’ and ‘We Are The England’ sandwiched in alongside the ferocious ‘Depressed?’ and the pogo-tastic ‘Go Easy’ plus there’s the chaos of returning set closer ‘Johnny Rambo’, and I’ll say it again the eclectic influences at the very core of Wonk Unit is what makes them such an essential live band.
Clwb Ifor was packed out tonight just 24 hours after Subhumans had done just the same, remind me who was it that said punk rock was dead?
Well tonight it’s never been more alive, exciting, or essential… FACT!