The small consolation fans of The Wildhearts can take from their favourite band being such a volatile unit, is I suppose, the amount of fantastic music the resulting side projects have produced every time a member leaves or, as is the case right now, the band goes on an extended hiatus.

Honeycrack, The Yo-Yo’s, The Jellys, Jackdaw4, Mutation, Silver Ginger 5, Sorry & The Sinatras, the list of quality just goes on and on.

There is one band however, that rose from the ashes the first time The Wildhearts crashed and burned that completely passed me by at the time, and that band is Grand Theft Audio.

I’m not exactly sure why this was, as formed around the creative nucleus of Wildhearts drummer Ritch Battersby, producer Ralph Jezzard and Realtv and Vive Finito frontman Jay Butler, the band quickly signed to London Records for their debut album ‘Blame Everyone’ and then found themselves pretty much everywhere, touring the world whilst also featuring on various movie and video game soundtracks. Then, almost as quickly as they burst onto the scene they were gone, as their label dissolved and the band fell apart.

Its two decades on from that implosion with Ritch and Jay now back in the ring with their second album ‘Pass Me The Conch’ that I first get to hear them, and praise the Gods (of Rock) that I’ve finally discovered them.

Effortlessly merging elements of electronica with balls out arena rock Grand Theft Audio sound like a whirlwind of positivity in a world that once again seems to love wallowing in the negative. Inspiring tracks like the gothic ‘Ruin Your Youth’, the anthemic ’Bad Instinct’, and the monstrous ‘Bury The Day’ take the bottom end thrust of The Wildhearts and give it a 21st Century twist, full to bursting point with melody and catchier than Covid-19 in a world that is now seemingly devoid of any conscience for its continued spread.

Elsewhere, there’s the pop-tastic rock/rap lead single ‘The Gods of Rock’ that has me thinking of Manson at his finest (that’s Marilyn not Charlie) and album opener ‘Scrub Up’ could very easily have been a long-lost GUN track written at the height of their 90s MTV fame.

It’s the darker and more reflective electronic tracks like ‘Trevor’ and ‘The Load’ that are the flipside of the Grand Theft Audio dynamic, and for me, this is where they stand apart from being just another rock band.  It’s exhilarating and genre smashing stuff!  

‘Pass Me The Conch’ is Grand Theft Audio’s statement of intent, its them taking control of their musical destiny and throughout the record’s ten tracks it sounds like they are loving every second of it.

Released on the 2nd of September with a twelve date tour starting a week later to help promote the release of the record, Grand Theft Audio will be sharing stages across the UK with CJ Wildheart and Scott Sorry and some might even be so bold as to say that a world without The Wildhearts is actually a musically much richer place to live in. ‘Pass Me The Conch’ is a leader not a follower- check it out!

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Author: Johnny Hayward