Tuesday, 29 October 2013

From the Rebellion Archives: Sydney Ducks Interview 2012

At the time of writing, the Ducks were rehearsing downstairs from my living room a few times a week. Which meant that I was seeing them live on a regular basis and couldn't WAIT for them to get to the UK - there were loads of people I knew would love them. I wasn't wrong. This weekend at the Pirates Press 9th anniversary party, they will play together for the first time in ages. It's a must be there moment.
Don't forget you can get your Rebellion Festival 2014 tickets now, just click on the link!

The Sydney Ducks are a band gathering momentum at a rate of knots since forming in 2009. The unusual name was taken from "a crew of criminal immigrants" that burned San Francisco to the ground in 1849 (Wikipedia's words not mine!).

The San Franciscan five piece have been labelled as an Oi! band, and whilst this label does fit them to a certain extent, there are a number of different influences to be found in their music which make them stand out from the crowd. The simplicity of Oi! is peppered with influences ranging from classic American hardcore to first generation European post punk to neo-psychedelia and prog rock. Maximum RocknRoll stated earlier this year that "the resultant sound is like the Templars crossed with Ignition..." a mighty combination for any fan of street punk or Oi!.

This is not a band of newcomers to the scene though, and many of the members have been playing in other bands for over twenty years. The experience they have collectively amassed definitely lends a maturity to their writing and playing. Lyrically, the songs contain both an element of story-telling and of personal reflection. Musically, this might be the smartest Oi! you'll hear this decade, with weaving guitar lines and bass drop ins making them at times not fit that label at all. Recently back from the East Coast where they played shows with both Boston hardcore legends DYS and Rebellion favourite Cock Sparrer, this is the first time the band have visited Europe.

Songs not to miss: Espirit De Corps, Stray Dogs, He Lives For Today

Rebellion caught up with bassist Mike for a drink and a chat about their upcoming European tour and what they are expecting Rebellion to be like.

Rebellion: What are you most looking forward to about playing Rebellion?
Mike: For me, I'm just excited to be there!  I have never actually even been to Rebellion before!  I've been to so many All-Dayers and Weekenders in other cities and countries all over the world, but never to the legendary Blackpool festival!!  I'm sure there will be lots of old friends and familiar faces, so that will be a good time no doubt.  As a band of course, it is just an honour to be given this opportunity, especially as a relative new-comer. 

Rebellion: What does each member bring to the band?
Mike: We all have diverse musical tastes that border on eclectic for each of us as individuals. This ranges from classic to obscure, not only punk rock but metal, garage, glam, etc.  Yet there is a common-ground within that wide range of music that we can all converge upon to try to create what is hopefully a bit of a fresh take on "punk rock" in the year 2012!! As individuals, we all bring some unique quirks to the band as well.  I don't wanna incriminate or call anyone out, but I know that I am the nag of the band...  The "band dad" as they say!

Rebellion: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Mike: We all have super diverse musical tastes as individuals, but as a group, I think we all started this band with the intention and desire to try to not be a typical "Oi!" band.  We all love classic music from the 60's, 70's and even the 80's, particularly anglo-centric stuff like glam and early punk like the Boot Power stuff.  Our drummer Phil is also a massive garage music fan and brings some really great ideas and influences from that realm.  Most of us are also super into stuff like old Black Sabbath and once in awhile there will be a bit of that kind of influence in our music I think when we try to do things that are a little "groovy" or "experimental" maybe.

Rebellion: How does the songwriting process work?
Mike: Uh...  Not very well!!  Haha.  We are all super busy with our lives outside of the band that we unfortunately only get a chance to practice once a week, so our productivity is somewhat limited by that, especially if we have a lot of shows going on, then we have less time to focus on the writing.  In general though, guitarist Grant has been the one to bring a cool riff or idea to the band, and then from there it gets worked on and usually goes through a bit of a drawn-out process of morphing into a finished product eventually!  There have been a few rare occasions though where an idea falls into place an becomes a song relatively quickly, but that is not the norm for the Sydney Ducks!!

Rebellion: Who would be on your dream festival lineup? Would you put yourselves on there?
Mike: I can only speak for myself, but I would have to say Bryan Adams, Neil Young, Rush and Nickelback of course, as they are all Canadian superstars!!  (Mike is the band's only Canadian). Just kidding. In all seriousness, I could create multiple "dream festivals" of different combinations of bands depending on my mood, but I think that for me personally, most would include the following bands for sure:  Black Sabbath, The Clash and The Who, all with original line-ups of course! I am always happy to see Iron Maiden and Motorhead live too, but I've seen both of those bands many times, so the previous 3 bands are much more of a "dream" line-up. And hell no, I would not want to be part of that show.  I am not worthy. I would be happy just to see those bands play!!

Rebellion: Do you agree that we are seeing a current resurgance of Oi, particularly from America?
Mike: I think that you have to agree with that statement.  I think that "Oi!" music has never really gone away for those of us that have always been into it.  It is just far more accessible now, thanks in part to things like the internet. And there are also certain bands out there that are breaking ground in the Oi!/streetpunk genre like never before which is expanding the fan-base of many bands and giving them opportunities that they would not have had previously.  So yeah... I guess that would be considered a "resurgence".

Rebellion: Who is the most annoying member of the band to share a tour bus/hotel with?
Mike: We are still relatively new at this, so I'm not sure if we've had a chance to figure out the "most annoying" one of us yet!!  I'm just gonna cross my fingers that it's not gonna be me, but that could be the case since I am the "band dad"...

Rebellion: What's next for the Sydney Ducks?
Mike: I think the next big thing on our agenda is to try to get into the studio to record about 6-8 songs for a 12" EP that we had hoped to have out by this time already!  But definitely by the end of 2012 we would like to have that recorded for an early 2013 release hopefully...

It's My Birthday!

Hello friends, family and loved ones,

Some of you will know that it is my birthday next week. And whilst part of me wants to hire a bouncy castle and eat jelly and ice cream all day, I am going to be turning 29 years old and apparently that's not what people who are almost 30 do...

Since the start of the year I have been working with an amazing organization called Justice Now. You know when you walk in somewhere and feel completely at home with their values and commitment? Well that's how I feel about Justice Now. (It's how I feel about the 12Bar as well, but I digress).

After being an intern for the first half of the year, I became a staff member in August. Let me tell you, the work I am doing is rewarding in a way that I have never found in any job I've held before. I am surrounded by passionate, smart and empowered people who I learn something from every day.

So this year, instead of jelly and ice cream, I have decided to donate my birthday to Justice Now, and ask not for cards or presents, but for donations to support the work that means so much to me.

If you would have bought me a birthday drink if we'd have seen each other, I'm asking you to donate the cost of a pint. If you'd have sent me a card, would you think about sending the cost of postage to justice now instead? $5, 5 pounds or whatever you can afford. I'll know you're thinking of me on my birthday and we'll celebrate in person the next time I see you.

Click here to donate.

I love you all and really appreciate taking the time to get to the end of this. As a reward, here's a photo of me at my first birthday party. (You have to watch the video to get this treat!)

Thank you and see you soon!

H xxx

Monday, 28 October 2013

Why I'm pissed off with Billy Bragg

A couple of Saturdays ago, we went to see Billy Bragg play at the Great American Music Hall. We left before the end, seriously disappointed and pissed off. You can find out why here.

From the Rebellion Archives: Jaya The Cat Interview

If the Booze & Glory interview was the first and easiest to finish, getting hold of Jaya the Cat involved numerous emails to press offices and a few emails to Daryl (Smith, programme editor) frantically asking him to just wait another day because I'm sure they will get back to me in time. They did and with some funny answers. Jaya the Cat just rule. And it's still weird to write as 'Rebellion' but you all know it's me... Don't forget that tickets are already on sale for Rebellion 2014. Get yours early!

Originating from Boston and currently based in Amsterdam, Jaya the Cat play an original and uncompromising combination of punk rock, reggae and ska music. Founded in 2002 through a shared passion for 60’s and 70’s dub and punk, the band draw inspiration for their unique style of music from seedy bars, cheap hotels, dysfunctional love affairs and political disillusionment. The resulting albums contain songs that range from booze fueled singalong anthems, to mellow tracks with a dance feel to outspoken social and political commentary.

Since their formation and transatlantic relocation the support for the band has continued to grow. They now have played hundreds of live shows to an ever expanding audience including a number of performances at Rebellions past. This is in addition to bolstering their sound with keyboards, samples, percussion and a tiki bar, which has now become essential to their onstage act. Whilst there is no such thing as an average Jaya the Cat concert, gigs usually become more of a party than a performance with the audience singing, dancing and drinking with the band onstage. With a new album out just before Rebellion, you know that this lot are up for a party. Make sure you don't miss the celebration.

Rebellion: Is it good to be back at Rebellion? When was your first Rebellion? Do you think it has changed since then?
Geoff: Hell yeah it's great to be back! I think this is our third or fourth year going, and it's always a blast. I actually don't see too much of a change in the festival. With Rebellion you pretty much know what you're getting into

Rebellion: Is Rebellion different from playing other festivals? If so, in what way?
Geoff: People are pretty damn cool there, from the stagehands to the audience it's pretty relaxed. And I like the whole vibe Blackpool as a sorta beat down resort town gives the festival as well. A lot of the bands we've played with and friends we've made touring the UK tend to be there as well so that's cool, it's a good party.

Rebellion: Do you have any top tips from this year's line up that we shouldn't miss?
Geoff: This is gonna sound bad but we play so fucking much, and we've also been so busy getting our newest album done, that I haven't have much of a chance to check the lineups of any of the festivals we're doing this summer. I usually just show up and hope to be pleasantly surprised. One good thing about Rebellion though is there's no worries, there's always a bunch of stuff I'm stoked to see no matter what.

Rebellion: I saw your set last year when members of The Skints joined you on stage, how healthy is the state of ska-reggae-party-punk music in 2012? How important has joining Bomber Music been to the band?
Geoff: I would say in the UK it seems to be fairly strong, I mean that sorta sound was pretty much born over here, right? In mainland Europe it's not as prevalent I guess, bands tend to stick in just one style, strictly rocksteady, or reggae or whatever. I personally like a bit of a mixup. Bomber is cool, they're a nice bunch and have quite a few of the bands in the scene we play with signed to them.

Rebellion: Would you agree with the statement that Jaya the Cat's philosophy is to drink as much as you can and don't take anything too seriously?
Geoff: That sounds like a pretty good philosophy! Maybe I'd change that to drink as much as you feel like and don't take anything too seriously. If I spent my days drinking as much as I could I wouldn't have time for anything else.

Rebellion: You've got a new album, The New International Sound of Hedonism recently released, where have you drawn inspiration from?
Geoff: I guess mostly just being on the road. We travel a lot and tend to imbibe in whatever the local poisons are when we get there, hence the international and the hedonism.

Rebellion: Is it work or play in the studio?
Geoff: It's a bit of both. It's a fine line, but I guess most of the work is done getting ready for the studio. Once you're in there you just want to cut loose, fuck it. You don't wanna come across as stiff or too professional on your recorded stuff.

Rebellion: What's your favourite track from the new album? Are there any which you'd recommend to people as being representative of Jaya the Cat in 2012?
Geoff: I dunno I've got a couple. My favorite one now is a track called bos en lommerweg, it's not so representative though. It's kinda a slow one. We did a few calypso style numbers on this album with guest vocals from some UK artists, Itch Fox from the King Blues on one and Adam Parsons from Captain Accident on another. It was cool to do some collaborations and I've always been a big calypso fan but have never been able to make it work before with Jaya. Every time I've tried in the past it just sounded too much of a stretch from our sound. So maybe that's a bit representative of the overall vibe on this one, it's still very much Jaya the Cat, but on this one we've been able to bridge out a bit more and expand our sound. You've gotta do that. Keep things from getting stale while sticking to your vision.

Rebellion: What's exciting about music in 2012?
Geoff: Music is always exciting, huh? I guess I like that technology just keeps getting cheaper, faster and more accessible. Say what you want, but the spirit of punk rock, the whole do it your fucking self deal, is more possible than ever now. As much as I still love the whole cassette tape single input 4 track deal, we're lightyears beyond that now and I think it's pretty rad.

- The Future is Unwritten. Make the most of every single day.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

From the Rebellion Archives: Booze & Glory Interview 2012

One of the first interviews I managed to confirm was with Liam from Booze & Glory, who I had known for about ten years and was pretty easy to get hold of. He answered all my questions quickly and I remember thinking 'if everyone's like this it'll be a breeze to get this done.' Liam, thank you for being the first and most hassle free interview of Rebellion 2012

This London band formed in 2008 and describe their influences as British Oi!, dirty streets and cold booze. Rancid six-stringer Lars Frederiksen says, "Being a personal favourite and one of the best bands out there right now, I'm proud to be playing a few shows with Booze & Glory this year. Their record 'Trouble Free' is in current rotation on my record player". The band write poignant sing-a-long skinhead music with careful attention given to the production and delivery of their records.

Rebellion sat down with guitarist and vocalist Liam in an East End boozer to talk about their upcoming gigs with Rancid, the Olympics being held in London and the comeback of Oi!

Rebellion: Hi Liam, Rebellion's at the bar and getting a round in, who's having what?
Liam: Booze & Glory are Mark on vocals and guitar, Liam also on vocals and guitar, Bart on bass and Mario on drums. As for drinking, whiskey all the way!

Rebellion: This is your second Rebellion now, being the absolute festival openers last year. Are you pleased to be back? (and slightly higher up the bill!)
Liam: Yes! We're very happy to be back at Rebellion again for the 2nd time (although we have been coming for years anyway!). We had a great time last year, there's not many places you're going to play at 11am on a Thursday morning! But the crowd was brilliant and we was happy to kick Rebellion 2011 off in style!

Rebellion: Who on the bill do you recommend we don't miss?
Liam: There's such a good line up it's hard to pick favourites, but I will definitely be dragging myself from the bar to catch Sydney Ducks. I've wanted to see them live for a while and I'm sure it's going to be great. I'm also looking forward to seeing The Uppercuts, they are a quality London band and well worth getting your arses up to see! The Agitators from Belgium always do a great set!

Rebellion: Would you agree that we're currently experiencing a resurgence of Oi!, with bands like yourselves, Runnin Riot, Sydney Ducks, Old Firm Casuals, Noi!se, Harrington Saints, Control, all seeming to be doing really well.
Liam: I'm sure Oi! is making a comeback, there's some great bands out in the US now and it's great some of them are making it over here to play, I think with so many new bands appearing it's keeping the scene fresh and exciting. As for gigs, it seems there's a lot more younger Skinheads coming out and the older fellas are being drawn back by the reforming of some of the classic bands like Infa Riot. The future's looking good for Oi!

Rebellion: Your track 'Swinging Fucking Hammers' was one side of the memorial record for Maximum RockNRoll's Bruce Roehrs, how did that come about?

Liam: Skippy from Pirates Press approached us with the idea of a special memorial vinyl release for Bruce. He thought that 'Swinging Fucking Hammers' optimised the character and spirit of Bruce Roehrs, so we more than happily donated the song for the record, along with the Harrington Saints who gave 'Claret & Blue'. Pirates Press did an amazing job of the vinyl, which was crossed hammer shaped and came in various claret and blue colors and splatters, all of which are now framed on my wall! We were very proud to be part of it. If you're lucky you may still be able to donate and pick up a copy at www.piratespress.com/bruce

Rebellion: As far as I can count, you've worked with at least six different labels to date, how do you decide what projects to be involved with?
Liam: Six! Well what can I say? We're just a bunch of tarts that will go with anyone! Both our first album 'Always On The Wrong Side' and our second, 'Trouble Free' were released on Step 1 Music, with Contra Records taking care on the vinyl release of 'Trouble Free'. We also worked with Pirates Press Records for the Bruce Roehrs release and appeared on the 'Oi! this is Street Punk' compilation. We also released a split 7" with the Warriors on Randale Records. As for deciding what we do and don't do, it's tough sometimes because we all work full time. It's difficult enough to fit all the gigs in, let alone get in the studio to record for further release and although we get offers to be on compilations and splits we sometimes haven't got the material or time to record more and no one wants to hear the same B&G track on 4 or 5 different comps...

Rebellion: London is central to many of your tracks. Are you excited about the Olympics?
Liam: I really have a love/hate relationship with London, when it's good there's nowhere I would rather be than in London, but when things get bad it can be a pretty grim place to be. Take last summer for example! As for the Olympics, I live 5 minutes from the main site and I worked in the main stadium during the building. Apart from giving some people a bit of work for a short time, what good is it really going to do? Oh, and I'm still praying West Ham don't get it after! We have played at Upton Park for over a century, if we move I think it would be a real shame to lose so much heritage.

Rebellion: What does where you come from mean to Booze & Glory? Where else do you draw inspiration from?
Liam: I think one of the defining things about Oi! and Punk is that it's real, you sing songs that are about things that affect you day in day out, so coming from where we come from has a huge influence on what we play and how we play it! I'm not just talking about London either. Although now living in London, Mark, Bart & Mario are from Poland, which brings in a different perspective to our music. They obviously take influence from the Europeon bands that they were listening to when they were younger like Horrorshow from Poland.

Rebellion: How would you describe one of your gigs?
Liam: Fun I hope! We're just out to enjoy ourselves so as long as the crowd enjoys it we're happy!

- The Future is Unwritten. Make the most of every single day.

ANNOUNCING: From the Rebellion Archives

Every summer for the past however many years, my family, friends and community make the pilgrimage to Blackpool (the place that puts the grim in pilgrimage) for the Rebellion punk festival. Regular readers will know this by now, as it's a big part of our year and I'm sure I've mentioned it at least a dozen times.

Last year I was asked to be part of the team that contributes to the production of the programme - a glossy magazine-esque affair given away free to every punter. I loved the experience so did it again this year. There is always something very cool about seeing your work in print, especially in a world of writing for online entities, as I currently do (see links on the right of this page).

Yesterday, while tidying up some files, I realised that I could share my contributions to the programme with you and no one would mind. Some of you may have been there with me and read them at the time, but I'm guessing the internet is bigger than Blackpool, so this is probably a good move...
Prepare to be dazzled with an array of interviews that contain questions no other interviewer would ever be cheeky enough to ask, articles that will hopefully make you laugh, and a few photos thrown in for good measure.

Keep an eye on my twitter (@hannahmcfaull) for announcements of when these delights of hidden punk knowledge will be revealed!

Look out for pearls of wisdom from Argy Bargy, Jaya The Cat, Street Dogs, Harrington Saints, Runnin' Riot, Booze and Glory, Downtown Struts, Sydney Ducks and (obviously) Cock Sparrer.

Plus a never before seen, never-even-published interview with The Grit, finished just before the band split and pulled out of the line up, making my article surplus to requirement.

So delve into the Rebellion archives, relive some of the highlights of the past few years, and get excited about the next time we all get together - Amsterdam in March and Blackpool in August, 2014. Visit the Rebellion website for more details.


- The Future is Unwritten. Make the most of every single day.