Halflives – Empty Rooms

Tuesday 21st March 2017

Track Listing:

1. Lone Wolf
2. Mayday
3. Burn
4. Echo
5. The Sickness
6. Half Alive
7. Empty Room
8. Collide


The first time I heard Halflives was during the release of their sterling single ‘Mayday’.  They were also being championed by another band that I was introduced to at the same time, Courage My Love who they will be heading out on tour with for a handful of dates in May and June.  It pleases me greatly that six months later the band have announced the release of their debut album ‘Empty Rooms’.  This is a band that I instantly connected with from the start and I was quickly drawn in by their already accomplished sound and Linda’s stirring vocals.

It has taken the band 18 months to complete the album, along with a substantial amount of crowdfunding.  They managed to reach double the amount they had set out to fund in only a month, and the result is a punchy 8-track release that is very tightly polished.

Linda explains the decision behind which tracks made the final cut, saying: “we decided to keep just 8 of the very best track in this album to let people feel our real essence and we can’t wait to present it to you all.”

Fans have recently been treated another release from Halflives which comes in the form of their second single ‘Burn’ and for anyone wondering what can be expected from the album, this completely sets the tone.  Tracks such as ‘Echo’ and ‘The Sickness’ are packed with feelings, and you really feel the emotion being expressed through the lyrics.  Another stand out track is ‘Empty Room’ which I would pin as being one of my favourite tracks, because the sound brings an elation within a song that shouts out about a niggling feeling deep down inside.

“’Empty Rooms’ is the result of a long period of work and introspection. I was finding myself in a really dark place when writing these songs and I used the feelings I was carrying with me to give birth to something new, something deeper from everything that was written before. The inspiration came from different pieces of my life, including things I’ve seen on tour, things I’ve felt even by just staring outside of the ferry approaching to the white cliffs of Dover under the rain. Each song is a different empty room where I’ve let my feelings flow, you can visit them all and find a piece of us in each of them, a story, in each of them.”

With emotive lyrics and a project of self-expression, this release is something to be proud of and really showcases what Halflives are about.  It’s clear they have the capabilities to push forward and make something of the band, and I hope this is the start of something much bigger to come.

Due for release on the 14th April, pre-orders are available here.

UK Tour Dates:

31st May –Southampton, Talking Heads
1st June – Bristol, The Exchange
2nd June – Bridgewater, Cobblestones
3rd June – London, Camden Rocks Festival
4th June – Manchester, Rebellion

Connect with Halflives via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Calum Foad – Interview

Tuesday 14th March 2017

It’s not quite Spring just yet, but I’m sat here in my office looking out the window to bright blue skies and can’t help thinking how much I’ve missed the Summer sun.  Undecided on what to listen to on such a cheerful day, I’m introduced to Reading born Calum Foad and his latest single You & I.  Trying his hand at the pop scene, with plenty of charm and an uplifting sound, I’m quickly finding myself singing along to a very infectious song.  Likened to Jake Miller and Olly Murs, and inspired by chart-topper Ed Sheeran, it’s easy to understand why Calum aims to be destined for pop success.

Hello! Could you tell me a bit more about yourself? How long have you been playing music, and who or what inspired you to pursue it as a career.

Of course! I’m Calum, I’m 21 years old and I’m from Reading (almost feels like an introduction worthy of a Paddy McGuinness TV show). I started playing piano aged 5 and guitar aged 8, but I didn’t start singing until I was doing GCSE music though. As cliched as it is, in the current climate Ed Sheeran was the inspiration to pursue a career in music. I was very much doing the singer/songwriter thing as he released The A Team, had 1000 people turn up to a free show he played at Camden Barfly and subsequently signed a major label deal. He was THE man!

Your single ‘You & I’ has been out for almost a month now.  What have been the reactions so far and how responsive are you finding the audience to your new material?

The reaction has been amazing, far exceeded anything I could’ve expected. The reach has extended beyond just friends and friends of friends, which is amazing! People finding me off the back of things such as the ‘This Morning’ fashion VT is also incredible… Such a bizarre feeling! I hadn’t released anything in quite a few years, so very much went from a standing start but people are really getting on board.

What’s your writing process and how do you know when a song is ready?

It entirely depends on the track, if I’m writing on my own I tend to write very quickly in short bursts. I’m not someone who’ll sit at a piano and play until something comes out, I’ll have an idea pop into my head and run with it. If I’m in a co-writing session, however, it’s a very different dynamic as you bounce ideas off the other person. Generally speaking, I’m my own worst critic, so what I do now is demo anything I feel to be ‘half decent’ and then let my producer hear it.

Are you working on putting an EP or album together and what can we expect from it?

Now that would be telling! I will say, however, I’m heading back over to America to do some more recording with Marc later on in the year.

How was the experience of working with Marc McClusky, and how easy was it to get him on board to help produce your music?  

Marc’s an incredible producer and all round lovely guy! The Marc thing came about completely by accident… He’d had some involvement with an app used for triggering backing tracks/samples live – I added him on Facebook to ask some questions about it, he checked out my earlier music, it went from there.

Who did you work with to create the music video for your single ‘You & I’ and who came up with the idea for it? Did you work alongside a team or did you create the idea yourself.

Both the You & I video and the upcoming single video were directed by a dude called Chris Porter, he’s an absolute genius. He really likes to think outside of the box (even if that did involve me having powder paint fired at me whilst bouncing on a trampoline – health and safety eat your heart out). I wanted something vibrant and fun and that idea is what Chris brought to the table.

Being in the early stages of your music career, how are you finding the whole process and have you been given any lasting advice?

Trying to carve out a career in the music industry is no easy thing to do, it’s something that if you really want to pursue, you’ve got to pursue it at the cost of literally everything else. On the flip side, for all the down moments it’s such a gratifying feeling when someone comes up to you and says something as simple as ‘I really like your track’… I MADE that! It’s a feeling that I (imagine) is akin to having a child… You’ve got to take the moments of pride with the moments of them metaphorically sh*ting themselves. Best piece of advice I’ve been given is ‘if you won’t invest in yourself, then why would anyone else’!

Do you have any live dates scheduled for 2017 and where can we see you performing?

All live dates are to be announced, there won’t be a huge number, as I’m focusing on writing this year, so please make sure you come down to the dates that are posted!

What’s your ultimate aim and where do you hope your music will take you?

Truthfully, I just want to be able to support myself doing music full time. When someone asks me what I do for a living, I want to be able to say ‘I sing’… That’s the goal!

Finally, if you were invited to perform on the BBC Live Lounge which song would you cover and why?

Good question! I’m a huge lover of all things 80’s, so it’d have to be something of that era that’s not been on the live lounge before… I’m thinking Steve Winwood ‘Higher Love’ or Womack and Womack ‘Teardrops’.

Connect with Calum via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Rat Face Lewey – Interview

Thursday 9th March 2017

Every so often a gem lands in my mailbox and this week it comes in the form of alternative grunge rockers Rat Face Lewey. They are an unsigned band originally from Derby but are currently working on new material and performing as many live shows as possible around London and the UK.  It’s always great to hear from bands directly and after checking out their material I could certainly hear a band with great potential, and with something very inspiring about their drive to push their music further.

Have you ever been drunk and decided to start a band?  I think we’ve all had that ambition, intoxicated or not, so I caught up with Jonny to find out about the band how their dream is becoming reality.

Tell me about how the band started and at what point it really clicked that you wanted to pursue music as a career.  You mention that a drunken night in Manchester fueled the idea, but making the decision to move to London sounds as though it wasn’t just an alcohol ambition.

Ha! There was certainly some other things going on at that time. Looking back it was a hazy period. I was living in Manchester and just wanted to be playing music with people I could connect with. I played with a few different bands in Manchester most notably, the Electric Kools, but I wanted to be playing gigs on a Wednesday night and be a part of a music community. London on the whole gives you this and to me it’s the greatest city in the world after Amsterdam and San Francisco. I love Manchester, but I didn’t want regrets I don’t want to talk my life away or let opportunities slip. Me and my brother were in a pub in Manchester and we decided to go for it. We had always played music separately and around that time I had started to fill in on guitar for some of his bands shows in London. I moved from Manchester, our original virtuoso drummer Ash moved from Nottingham and we moved in with my brother in South London. The first year was amazing, playing gigs, recording, hanging out together, rap battling and loving the moments. We are really focused on writing at the moment and we are in the practice room fine tuning our songs ready to road test over the Summer.

When did you all start playing music and have you been in bands previously?

I started playing guitar at 14 and taught myself how to play songs off Nevermind and some Oasis stuff. I used to have piano lessons when I was 6 or 7, which at the time I didn’t appreciate, but that early exposure to melodies and music has definitely had an effect on me. My brother, Mav our chaotic bass player, was a big influence on the bands I listened too. I would hear Nada Surf, Nirvana, John Frusciante and the Manic Street Preachers through him and probably annoyed him by becoming a huge fan of these bands and telling him how great this or that album was, which he probably already knew and politely listened to me bang on about. He started playing bass when he was younger and has played in Origin and Mad Mush and played gigs around Europe. He can play any instrument and is the backbone of our band and his stage presence is off the charts. He loves bands like Aerosmith, Oasis, the Chili Peppers and he also produces his own solo music.


How would you describe ‘Rat Face Lewey’ and your music to anyone hearing you for the first time?

It’s pure adrenaline. Honest, simple and catchy. I try and focus on the melody as much as possible and have started to play less frantic solos on the guitar and focus on creating big atmospheres and grooves. If you saw us live you would probably go away thinking it was either a complete train wreck or a masterpiece, it depends on the gig, but we put our heart and soul into every show to ensure people feel something from it and people get their moneys worth.


What music did you grow up listening to and who are your inspirations? You say you’re inspired by “real music”, but what would you say that is?

On the whole I feel music more than I listen to it. If a song or a piece music moves me makes my hair stand up or wakes something up inside of me then I’m drawn to it. That can be anything from Classical to Rock to Punk to computer game or film sound tracks. It’s real when it connects with me. My Mount Rushmore of music would probably be Kurt Cobain, John Frusciante, Matthew Caws and Mark Oliver Everett. You probably won’t find another person on the planet that would name those four and I would love to see it! There’s many more that are more obvious, like Brian Wilson, the Beatles and QOTSA. Recently, I’ve been listening to Warpaint, Baroness, Rush and Gojira.

You’re planning to release new material in September.  What can we expect to hear and how will it compare to your previous releases?

The heavy songs will be intense and in the same vein as ‘Digital Prison’ our last single release and the lighter songs have been heavily influenced by songs off ‘High/Low’, the first Nada Surf album. I have some big vocal ideas in my head and have been training my voice to sing in different styles. The songs I write are all very different and the fact that we are a 3 piece band gives us so much freedom and space to experiment. I would love to have a style and be able to write a whole record with a certain concept or approach. I love Mark Oliver Everett of the Eels who is a genius in this regard. As soon as an Eels song starts you know who it is. However, he can take you in so many different directions. He can write 100 great melodies and lyrics and then write 100 more.

What’s your writing process as a band, and how do you all come together with your ideas to get the finished track?  Do you write collectively or does someone come up with the underlying pieces first?

I usually come to practice with a song idea or a few riffs, melodies and a chorus. We then come together as a band and arrange the song. I usually write little jigsaw pieces of music and then need someone else to help me put the puzzle together. Sometimes it works out great and sometimes your left chasing a song for years. The best thing is when it comes together as a band and everyone contributes and brings their own style to the table. You record the rough demo in the practice room and everyone is buzzing. I read Josh Homme say once that there’s already one of you in the band and I completely agree with this.


Have you received any airplay on mainstream radio and how are you finding the response to your material so far?

We receive the most plaudits from our fellow bands and musicians at our gigs. We have been played on XFM and receive heavy streaming activity from Spotify, Soundcloud and Apple and the song ‘Eagle Eyes Killing Strangers’, is heavily streamed from Israel. I love the modern world. Streaming and connecting with people. 10-15 years ago you would still be duplicating CD’s and praying someone walks into the local music shop and buys them. Although Napster killed the ‘business’ it also paved the way for everyone to have a go and you can find great music you like very quickly.


Who do you work with to create your music videos, and who comes up with the ideas for them? Is this something you do yourselves or do you have a team you work with?

Our recent videos for ‘Dead in the Ground’ and ‘Digital Prison’ were directed and edited by my super talented friend and acclaimed Director Jonathan K Harris. He has a great eye and we share a very similar taste in music, he also owns a Fender Stratocaster so I completely trust his vision. We recorded these two videos at the Buckle Factory on Seven Sisters Road in one day and we were very proud of the results. We have been discussing videos for our future releases and have come up with a concept we think people will love.


What live dates have you got scheduled for the year and where can we catch you performing?

You can check our webpage for tour dates. We are aiming to start playing in late April to road test the new songs. We are different to every other band live and once you see it you will know what I mean.


Do you have an ultimate aim for the band, and where do you hope your music will take you?

We played a gig in Hackney once, and at the end of our set a young woman climbed on stage and shouted down the mic ‘THIS IS WHAT MUSIC IS SUPPOSED TO BE!!!’ I want to record and play music that sticks in peoples heads and write songs that make people feel the same way I do about music. We want to be booked on festivals and have our music exposed to the biggest audiences possible.

Where there’s chaos there’s opportunity.

Connect with Rat Face Lewey via their Website, Facebook, Twitter.

January – Interview

Tuesday 21st February 2017

I have to be honest and say that this genre of music isn’t something that I know too much about, or often listen to, but when the new single by January Thompson ‘Too Soon’ arrived in my mailbox I was quite simply stunned.  I had a good click around YouTube and SoundCloud and found myself listening to something very beautiful and enthralling.  Born in LA but now living in London, I had to catch a moment with January to find out more about her music.

january-1

Could you tell me a little bit about yourself, and how you came to be a singer/songwriter.

Hello! Would be my pleasure. I was born in Los Angeles to a musical household, my mother is a classical pianist, so playing the piano and singing came quite naturally to me. I always knew or had a feeling that was what I was born to do though I didn’t start writing songs until I was 20. I suppose I had to gain some life experience to really feel I had something to say.

You have the most beautiful voice and there are clear classical influences in your songs. How were you influenced by this genre?

Thank you again, that would be my mother. I grew up listening to her play Chopin and Bach, my favorites, for hours. I studied classical singing as well, though I was drawn to my own sound and style of singing. Classical is a bit regimented. I didn’t find there was much room for experimentation, but it is still very much my foundation in my writing and singing.

How would you describe your music, and where do you take your inspiration from for writing your songs?

I would describe my sound as subtle and atmospheric whilst being lyrically and song driven. I’d love for the listener to be enveloped in the sound and the stories that go with it. My inspiration for my songs always comes from relating to others, primarily in love.

Your new single ‘Too Soon’ is just wonderful.  Could you tell me about your writing process. Being a solo artist, do you have anyone to bounce ideas from, or do you just know when a song feels right?

Thank you again, I’m happy you like it. My writing process is always a bit different. Generally starts with a few piano chords and what I’m feeling at the moment. ‘Too Soon’ was a tricky one. I had the idea which was one of showing up ‘Too Soon’ and waiting but the rest of the lyrics were a bit tricky to fit with a melody. So yes, in this case I did reach out to the producers and their fellow composers. It is hard sometimes when it’s just you in a room alone and you get stuck on a song.  They aren’t all just flashes of inspiration.

What instruments do you play, and are you the one playing them in your songs?

I play the piano and on the album yes it is myself, also my mother Deanna Thompson, and the keyboards were both producers as well, Steffen Aaskoven and Thor Finland.

Your album ‘Whelmed’ has been out for a few weeks now. How are you finding the response to the release?

So far I’ve had some lovely support from local radio and fans. I’m hoping the momentum continues through radio and live shows. Fingers crossed!

When you first heard the complete album, how did that make you feel?

It’s an incredible feeling hearing something that you’ve poured your heart and soul into reach completion. It always comes out a bit different then you plan but this album kept growing into something quite beautiful. I am so grateful for all the musicians and the producers that were a part of this with me.

Having never been out to LA, I’m interested to find out how the music scene is out there for up and coming artists, and where else you enjoy performing?

I was never really fond of the music scene in LA, that’s what drove me to work in the UK. I found I could really explore my sound and I could think outside the box with producers abroad.  My experience is that the scene in LA is very pop driven. That being said most things are now and I have friends that are in bands and DJs that love it and have done well.

What do you get up to when your not writing or performing.  Are there any particular hobbies you enjoy?

I try to stay pretty connected to nature and am passionate about wildlife conservation and the extinction crisis. I try to visit the elephants orphaned by ivory poaching at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya every year and this year I will also be going to Borneo to spend time with the Orangutans orphaned due to the Palm Oil industry and deforestation.

Do you have a goal, and where do you hope your music will take you?

I’ve had the same goal since I was little, to be a part of and create beautiful music. I hope it takes me into ever widening circles of that dream.

Connect with January via her Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Vukovi – Debut Album

Monday 20th February 2017

Track Listing:

1. La Di Da
2. And He Lost His Mind
3. Weirdo
4. Target Practice
5. Prey
6. Bouncy Castle
7. Wander
8. I’m Wired
9. Animal
10. Boy George
11. He Wants Me Not
12. Colour Me In

vukovi_album_web_jpeg_no_filter03

I was introduced to Vukovi back in May last year following the release of their single ‘Animal’ and I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of their debut album ever since.  From the moment I saw the video for the single I was completely captured by the sheer energy this band radiates.  You’re immediately pulled right in and taken on a journey that’s a whilwhind of chaos and then left standing wide eyed and wanting more.

But don’t just take my word for it.  Go check out the video below for lead single ‘La Di Da’ that’s most recently been released.  Oh, and keep an eye out for Honey, a 6ft Boa Contrictor who also makes a slithering appearance.  This should give you an idea of just how quirky Vukovi are, with their bold lyrics and dizzying perspectives that hypnotise your subconscious, Vukovi are simply mesmerising.

Partly inspired by the Joker and Harley Quinn relationship Janine was obsessed with as a comic book loving teen, “The song portrays an abusive relationship unbeknown to the victim. There are a lot of emotions throughout the song. There’s vulnerability, and there’s resistance. It took time to come together, and it had to live on the back burner for a while. But one night I gave in to the niggling that kept demanding I go back to it. I remember the moment it came together; me and Hamish (Reilly, guitars) in my flat drinking pretentious cocktails, laptop, tiny amp, guitar…”

Vukovi have been likened to Florence Welch, Nothing But Thieves, and Enter Shikari, which I can agree with but for me I’m very much reminded of fellow Scottish rockers Garbage.  With slightly dark and experimental elements, mixed in with bold and lucid lyrics, anthemic hooks, trippy camera work and an electric performance, to me it just screams Shirley Manson.

Those who are aquainted with the band should already have a good idea of how this album will sound, as tracks ‘Bouncy Castle’ and ‘Boy George’ were actually released back in 2015, along with ‘Animal’ and ‘La Di Da’ in 2016, so I can imagine there are many fans chomping at the bit wanting to get their mits on this release.  But for those who are looking for some reassurance, what can I say?  It’s an absolute stormer and you will not be dissapointed.

As I work my way through the album it’s clear there are influences from personal experiences.  With tracks such as ‘Weirdo’ telling a relateable story of not wanting to be part of the in-crowd and refusing to be anything but yourself, this is a song many will connect with.  The dark and haunting track ‘Prey’ was written by Janine about a previous relationship, explaining that “it’s about a time in my life where I thought I’d met my knight in shining armor – but he fucked me up even more.”

Personal favourites include ‘And He Lost His Mind’ because it has that tantalising and excentric sound that draws me to Vukovi, along with ‘Target Practice’ with its thrilling intro and serious hooks pulsating through each chorus.  This album is serious and means business.  You won’t find no debut album playing it safe here, this is straight up dedicated and assertive, and you need to listen up!

Due for release on the 10th March, pre-orders are now available here.

Tour Dates:

10th March – Glasgow, King Tut’s
11th March – Leeds, Key Club
13th March – Manchester, Sound Control
14th March – Bristol, The Louisiana
16th March – London, Boston Music Room
18th March – Nottingham, Rock City Basement
19th March – Aberdeen, Tunnels

Connect with Vukovi via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Songs ruined by advertisements

Sunday 19th February 2017

Here’s a post I’ve put together just for a bit of fun as I realised recently that there are so many television advertisements that have quite frankly ruined good music.  Once a track has been associated with an advert you just can’t listen to it the same again.  A good marketing ploy yes, especially for those companies trying to sell you a service.  I mean, when it’s time to renew the car insurance you know exactly which sites to head for thanks to the curly moustached tenor and those dancing males in hotpants and high heels.  Or maybe you prefer an adventurous meerkat or Brian the breakdancing robot.

Status Quo – Whatever You Want

Released back in the early 2000’s this was the first advert that I thought of.  Even after all these years I still can’t listen to ‘Whatever You Want’ without thinking of Argos.  Thing is, it actually works really well and the lyrics fit the advert perfectly, but non the less it’s completely ruined a classic track.  Oh, and who didn’t have a Big Mouth Billy Bass?!

Nickelback – Rockstar

According to the lister this advert was banned for making the sofas appear bigger than they are.  Well it should have been banned long before that for all the cringeworthy dancing.  If Nickelback don’t get enough stick already, the quality of this advert actually makes it look as though it was created as an A Level project during a Sunday afternoon family gathering and a bit of sun stroke.

Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight

Marketing done right that probably pushed up a few sales for Phil Collins back in 2007.  There’s no relation to chocolate whatsoever, but it’s probably up there as being one of the most memorable adverts and you’re guranteed to always relate ‘In The Air Tonight’ with a drumming gorilla.  I’m in a love/hate relationship with this advert being a fan of Genesis and Phil Collins, it’s certainly tarnished a fantastic song but you have to convince yourself not to like it.  Damn it.

KISS – I Was Made For Loving You

Does anyone actually remember this advert?  I certainly do, but what’s really irritating is that it was only shown for what seemed like a short period and still made an impact in that time.  Not only do I think about coffee whenever I hear this song, but I start bopping my head just like the numpties in this advert.  Go on, click below and have a laugh.  It does tickle you.

Blur – The Universal

This is one that you may or may not realise, but the current British Gas adverts samples ‘The Universal’ by Blur and it’s really frustrating.  Such a good piece of music that has been overshadowed by boiler breakdowns.

Groove Armada – I See You Baby

This is another advert from the early 2000’s and I’m always reminded of that really ugly looking Renault when I hear it play.  Either that or most recently “chicken madras” thanks to Hungry House.  I’m sure this was also taken off air and only shown after a certain time at night following a number of complaints about the dance moves.  Probably to give us time to digest our dinner first more like.

So there you have it, a handful of adverts with songs that have been ruined for me.  I’m certain that there’s plenty more where they came from.  What do you think, are there any songs you would add to this list?

Inglorious announce second album

Wednesday 15th February 2017

Since discovering Inglorious last year I have been keeping a close eye on the band for a while.  Or should I say, following religiously.  The first time I heard the band was during the release of their single Unaware and I was immediately hooked and became an instant fan.  Discovering new music is always great no matter at which point you find yourself connecting with a band or artist, but it’s always nice when you catch them right from the start so you can follow the journey together.  It has to be said that I was very glad to have caught these guys from their first album.

Their self-titled debut album ‘Inglorious’ was released almost a year ago, and they have since spent time touring the UK and Europe and heading over state-side, as well as performing at festivals including Download Festival, Planet Rockstock and Ramblin’ Man Fair, and generally building a name for themselves.  Unfortunately in December the band announced that guitarist Wil Taylor would be parting ways with the band, but we now see the return of Drew Lowe who was the original guitarist.

inglorious-ii

Pushing forward, Inglorious have now released details of their eagerly anticipated second studio album ‘Inglorious II’ which is set for release on the 12th May 2017.  For me, the first album has become a staple in my collection, and already boasts the sound of an established classic rock band, so I’m keen to hear what’s in store for the next album.

The first single to be released from the album is ‘Read All About It’, which upon first listen still brings us those ballsy vocals from Nathan along with their signature premium riffage, but with a slightly paced sound than expected it’s more of a grower.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great release and I’m enjoying listening to it daily, but if my gut tells me anything then I know there’s more instore from the rest of the album.

Pre-orders are now available for ‘Inglorious II’ and you’ll be guranteed to get ‘Read All About It’ as a download before the album is released.  This digital world we live in does wonders for our instant listening pleasures doesn’t it?  You can also snag yourself a few other goodies too, including signed albums, vinyls, and DVD copies of their full set from Download Festival 2016.

Head over to the bands official webstore for more details.

Connect with Inglorious via their Website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.