“October The trees are stripped bare of all they wear but what do I care”


We’re building up a head of steam as RPM goes live and one of the first thing Craggy does is pick up the cowpunk noisemakers Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band and their ‘Poor Until Payday’ album (Oh yeah the one he didn’t review) That aside October saw Fraser jet off to warmer climates before chasing the Damned around the country and flying to Holland for Helldorado.  But more of that later.

Several of us bought ‘Speed’ no not the drug but the fantastic new album from Swedish action rockers Scumbag Millionaires it is a thoroughbred non-stop wall of noise a turbocharged ride of exciting punked up Rock n Fuckin’ Roll and it deservedly got a rave review round here.

Whilst we’re on the subject of new records it seemed pretty much everyone picked up a copy of the Primal Scream ‘Memphis Recordings’ and most scratched their heads wondering how the band ditched these swinging versions for the more straight rock versions that made the commercial release but we’re glad it did see the light of day that’s for sure.

Bringing up exciting new bands a promo for ‘You Say I’m Too Much’ by Estrons flew into our emails and proceeded to work its way around the review team as those that did hear it wanted to review it but the one pulling the lucky straw was Johnny Hayward who rushed out and picked up a copy and a ticket to see them live on the strength of the record that blew him away.  One of the reasons why we do this is because we are music fans and discovering new bands and albums still gives us a buzz when it happens and especially when it’s this good.Certainly a potential album of the year right there.

Other notable releases this month were the magnificent Virginmarys ‘Northern Sun Sessions’ and ‘Master Volume’ from the Dirty Nil. We also got stuck into a couple of fantastic interviews – firstly Gerald got Tyla to sit down long enough to tell us all about his new album as well as more in-depth responses to some burning questions Gerald wanted to ask someone he greatly admired it was the perfect time to get the exclusive lowdown on the new ‘In Vino Veritas‘ album that was due out in November which we were lucky enough to review first I do believe. As it goes Gerald also picked up the honour of reviewing that to which he gave it a glowing report and one that will certainly be near the top of his end of year list for best album.

Another album we got to review first and another that would easily be a contender for album of the year and that’s the debut solo album from Role Model frontman Rich Ragany.  ‘…Like We’ll Never Make It…’ is a beautiful, skillful master class in songwriting and showed another side to the guy we call Rags and we were the first to ask the question of how this guy isn’t everywhere? How he’s not on the cover of music mags? Seriously it’s a weird business sometimes but we get it and so do others such has been the response from people who’ve taken the time to sit down and listen. Anyway, Released via pledge it gets its CD birth in the new year with a release show that will sell out fast and it has a supporting cast that makes me blush thinking how good it’s going to be and RPM will be there too.

I also got to interview one of my favourite players the one and only Alvin Gibbs.  We chatted about his forthcoming album as well as his time with Iggy and Cheap and Nasty and found out about Alvin having a degree in History which isn’t something most musical artists can boast as well as a few choice stories about his love of the Subs as well as his book Neighbourhood threat (now entitled ‘Some Weird Sin’) having a makeover with a new chapter  and title and a book I can’t recommend highly enough.  It really is one of the finest books about touring and being in a band out there and absolutely captivating read and one you won’t want to put down.

Also if that wasn’t enough we also got the lowdown on The Hip Priests new album and it was exclusively revealed that the new album that’ll hit the shops in the new year will be called…Nah click the link and read it yourself.  As well as the new album we spoke about playing in a band on shit island and about the expansion to a five-piece.


We could go on and on about all the great records released in October this year but we’d run out of time and we need to review the live shows we took in. So Fraser made sure I mentioned his Kiss Kruise and the fact that he finally got to meet Vinnie Vincent but knowing the kiss set up I can’t see if its Vinnie or if he sent his mother instead with a note explaining.

There were so many shows in October Johnny went gig crazy taking in a diverse range of genres from the Canadian thrash-punks Voivod who RRRRooooared into Cardiff and put on a fantastic display then he headed East to Newport Rock City when he spent a rather splendid evening with Ancient Shapes where he declared the evening to be such a success that it was one of the best gigs he’d been to all year and the only thing missing was the sold out sign on the door. 

We also took in Classic rock when Leigh Fuge went to the Tramshed to see Glen Hughes where he was suitably impressed whilst Nev went across the river to see the finest in Americana done acoustically by none other than Chuck Prophet who was supported on the night by Jesse Malin a firm favourite of the team here. It was certainly all happening out West meanwhile in old London town Armitage happened upon a show where The Dirty Strangers followed a magnificent performance by Rich Ragany and the digressions but The headliners from Los Angeles The Brutalists made it a memorable evenings entertainment guvnor.

Sadly October wasn’t all wine and roses as we got the news that Biters were going on an indefinite Hiatus but Tuk later revealed he was heading into the studio to record a solo album which we look forward to in 2019. however, the real tragedy unfolded in California as the news swept social media that Our friend and incredible musician Todd (Youth) Schofield lost his life.  It was one of those news stories you hoped was fake news and just an internet trolls mischief but it was later confirmed by his good friend Skye Vaughan-Jayne.  Todd will be really missed by a lot of people most notably his daughters and close friends.  Todd was a gent we had the pleasure of meeting several times when he toured the UK as part of Jesse Malin’s band and also when out with Chelsea Smiles. When Johnny was the head honcho at Uber Rock he had the pleasure of interviewing the guy who was very supportive of an alternative website championing rock n roll and for all the records he played on we salute you, Mr Youth, you will never be forgotten.

Before the month was out we still found time to review some fine records most notably Martins breakdown of the new Nicotine Pretty EP ‘Real Life Glories’ whilst Dom forensically picked through the charred remains of Deathtraps ‘Gotta Get Some’ and I even managed to take in a couple of their live shows where the songs came to life and were subsequently throttled to death through the medium of  garage punk rock n roll it wasn’t pretty but I liked it – no I fuckin’ loved it! – great stuff!

Gerald flew in his Prophets Of Addiction album review which again impressed us at HQ whilst Ben was mightily Impressed with King Brothers and their wild Garage beats. There was even time for Jeff Dahl to drop by with a new mini album in tow which he recorded in Sweden with the excellent Demons.  It was next month when I got to put some questions about his work and plans.



After witnessing between 20-50 people turn out for every gig I’ve been to over the last month I was starting to lose faith. I was starting to think that maybe Lenny Kravitz was right; maybe rock ‘n’ roll is dead after all! Thank fuck then that the Virginmarys fans descended on The Brudenell on a cold and wet Thursday to douse any flames of doubt that having been burning away in my brain. Of course rock ‘n’ roll ain’t dead!  It’s alive and well, kicking ass as strong as ever from the underground.

Tonight, we have 2 truly independent bands who are releasing great music and touring under their own steam.


Dressed in maroon velvet, with mismatched stripy socks and her black n white dreads in bunches, diminutive Hands Off Gretel frontgrrl Lauren Tate looks and acts every part the Alice In Grungeland you would expect. She takes us all down her own personal rabbit hole, giggling and rolling her eyes to the skies. Lauren is doing what she has been planning in her bedroom for years, and now all the songwriting and singing, the drawing and designing of all the artwork herself, is finally paying off.  Hands Off Gretel are a band that are certainly making waves in all the right places.

It’s not all about the hyperactive frontgrrl though, to her left new bassist Becky Baldwin, the consummate rock chick, is all flowing black hair and tattoos, she fits this band of misfits perfectly. Their original bass player Sam has been the drummer for a while now, he  keeps the beat well and ever animated guitarist Sean handles most of the guitars, leaving Lauren free to use every inch of the stage making new fans in every direction she turns.

On the strength of tonight’s set their highly anticipated sophomore album will be essential listening. Opener ‘Don’t Touch’ brings out Lauren’s inner Brody Dalle with some nice screamo moments and Becky’s backing vocals add a nice variety to the overall sound. Recent single ‘Kiss Me Girl’ sounds fantastic, it’s probably my song of the year, and ‘S.A.S.S.’ has a hell of a hook, bringing nineties riot grrl power kicking and screaming into 2019.

But it’s the cool as you like ‘Punk Rock Girl’ that steals the show for me. A high energy, schizophrenic song with a great delivery, I look forward to hearing the studio version.  A choice cover of The Stooges ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ is handled well, taken down to a brooding, dark beast of a song. Oldie ‘My Size’ closes a set that will surely gain the band many new friends tonight and on every night of this tour. Job done.

Hands Off Gretel are the sort of band people like me hope to discover at every new gig. They have that certain magic that sets them aside from the competition. One thing is certain; Lauren Tate is a superstar in waiting, she knows it and so do we, now we just have to wait for the rest of the world to catch up. Ones to watch in 2019.


Macclesfield’s finest export The Virginmarys should need no introduction to these pages. Now free of a recording contract and doing things their own way, they return with the release of fantastic new long player ‘Northern Sun Sessions’ and a short run of dates to promote said album.

Dressed in black, his hair grown out and peroxide blonde, Ally Dickaty doesn’t fuck about much between songs and lets the music do the talking. Opener ‘For The Two Of Us’ from the new album is a slow burner that not only showcases from the off what a great songwriter Ally is, but also what a great drummer Danny Dolan is. Then it’s straight into live favourite ‘Just A Ride’, The Virginmarys are taking no prisoners tonight as the room erupts.

In a set that covers the band’s three albums, there are many highlights to pick. Of the new material, ‘Get Me Back Home’ (with Ally doing slide on an old Vox guitar) stands out, as does brilliant new single ‘Look Out For My Brother’, a song that has already become a firm live favourite. ‘S.O.S.4.U.N.I.’ sounds amazing live, the euphoric, cinematic feel that they captured so well on record transfers just as well to the stage, even down to the spot on backing vocals courtesy of touring bassist Ross.

Elsewhere ‘Into Dust’ is intense and brooding as it builds to that epic chorus. Yes, epic…The Virginmarys do epic very well indeed. ‘Motherless Land’ and my own personal favourite ‘Lost Weekend’ give the desired goosebumps treatment.

There’s a punk rock intensity to a Virginmarys show that bands rarely capture, the combination of great songs with lyrics that are deep and relatable, a tight, well-rehearsed band and a passionate fan base that will sing along to every word. It’s a killer combination every time.

My eyes can’t help but be drawn to the drummer as he bends over his kit at the start of songs, staring daggers at the crowd, lost in the moment, before pounding seven shades of shit out of his poor kit, as spurts of water ricochet off the skins with the intensity of his beats. In a world of underrated musicians he is up there as one of the greatest drummers just to even watch. On the likes of ‘Portrait Of Red’ he even stands up to bash out the intros.

Encore time sees Ally pick out the intro to the title track of their new album. Emotive and soulful, it builds intensely, as many of their tracks do. He has us captivated, as we too get lost in the moment. And final song of the night ‘Bang Bang Bang’ does just what it says on the tin!


Tomorrow is Black Friday, but tonight I saw 2 great bands for £12, and that’s the best deal I could hope for all year!  One thing’s for sure, I will be back to see these bands time and time again, no matter the entry price. An awesome night of rock ‘n’ roll, who could ask for more?


Author: Ben Hughes