BLACKEYE are back in the north of England. Having impressed at Zanzibar at Liverpool Sound City a few weeks earlier, the currently three-piece band were back to woo some new fans beyond the bounds of their home city of London. Fronted by the refreshingly forthright Chloe Little, Blackeye has pumped out some stunning recorded tracks online and some fun videos that ooze DIY energy – this is a band who have a knack of producing songs with great headbanging hooks. Continue reading BLACKEYE charm female fans in Manchester
We’re here again at Salford’s Islington Mill, this time to check out Bolton band SECOND HAND WINGS and see where they’re at these days. We last spotted them at Manchester Pride supporting HEATHER PEACE in 2011, so it’s been some time and now they’re launching their debut album “Mountain City.” Giving Bolton shoppers a preview the day before at Bolton Marketplace, they’re celebrating the album release at this renowned venue. Continue reading SECOND HAND WINGS debut album launch
Let’s make things clear from the get go – CHARLIE STRAIGHT is a band hailing from the Czech Republic, not a solo artist, but the name is appropriate because they really do become one entity onstage. Regardless of the size of the stage or crowd, they give their all, and here at London’s 333 Mother Bar on their first UK tour, having played at The Great Escape festival, they rise to the challenge of winning over a new crowd. Continue reading CHARLIE STRAIGHT hooks London
We’re back in Manchester with the effervescent foursome BO NINGEN aka Taigen on vocals and bass, Kohhei and Yuki on guitar, and Mon-chan on drums. Having blown the roof off the venue at Liverpool Sound City earlier in the month, the Japanese ‘stick men’ are back in the north of England to enchant more people with their smashout performances. Continue reading BO NINGEN devastate Manchester
Swedish synth-pop artist MOLLY NILSSON was in town and Salford’s renowned Islington Mill venue was preparing for a night of darkness only brightened with lights provided by visitors. However, Molly did bring something of her own: “I cheated – I brought a spotlight! But that’s life…” Continue reading Bringing Your Own Light with MOLLY NILSSON
Brighton’s ESBEN AND THE WITCH are back in Manchester. Last we saw them here, they were casting spells in the peculiar Fuhrer Bunker. They’re in another evocative venue today – St Clement’s Church in Chorlton as part of the annual Chorlton Arts Festival. Continue reading ESBEN AND THE WITCH return to haunt Manchester
CATFISH AND THE BOTTLEMEN is a high-energy four-piece who deliver live and have proven to be solid recording artists. We meet them in Manchester’s Zoo and are immediately impressed by their politeness and charm. They ooze a confidence and sex appeal that has been much talked about, with lead singer Van McCann carrying a natural charisma rarely seen. They know what they want and they’re planning on getting it. Continue reading CATFISH AND THE BOTTLEMEN steam up Zoo
Our photographer SINEAD MARIE caught up with Japan’s BO NINGEN backstage at Manchester’s Zoo venue as part of DOT2DOT Festival, and who should we all bump into but the fabulously cool DEAP VALLY aka Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards all the way from LA. Continue reading BO NINGEN & DEAP VALLY chilling backstage in Manchester
Welsh band PAPER AEROPLANES know how to put on a great show. Whatever format they choose, you’re guaranteed a memorable night.
Here at Manchester’s Deaf Institute, they’re headlining to a packed crowd on a Friday evening. Their last venture to the city was a much more intimate affair at the Castle in Northern Quarter, together with double-bassist John Parker. With the addition of cheery drummer Ryan (“Bryan Adams”) Aston, now making up the four-piece unit, they’re planning on delivering a full sound tonight. Continue reading PAPER AEROPLANES send Little Letters to Manchester
French-born London-based SOPHIE DELILA is relaxing in the ground floor café of Manchester’s Soup Kitchen as we arrive. A graduate of Boston’s famed Berklee College of Music, home to Grammy-winning alumni including Paula Cole, Bruce Hornsby, Quincy Jones and Aimee Mann, among many others, she became known as a singer with the NOUVELLE VAGUE collective, has supported the likes of Lionel Richie, Jamiroquai and Mika, has dueted with France’s 2006 Nouvelle Star (American Idol equivalent) winner Christophe Willem on the brilliant “What Did I Do,” and is now preparing to release her “My Life Could Use A Remix” album. Continue reading SOPHIE DELILA – bound to rise
Here at the recently refurbished East Village Arts Club in Liverpool which has since hosted the likes of Liverpool Sound City festival, Kate Nash and The Fall, we’re here to catch the Brazilian phenomenon that is CSS. The band otherwise known as Cansei de Ser Sexy (“I got tired of being sexy” in Portuguese) have produced some of the most memorable songs of the noughties, including the delicious “Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above” and funky “Music is My Hot Hot Sex” both used on many a commercial, one by that tiny company named after a rather common fruit. Continue reading CSS get their move on in Liverpool
Post-rock icons SIGUR ROS wowed fans with a superb set at Nippon Budokan in Tokyo Japan. This venue, which translates to “Japan Martial Arts Hall,” is often used for massive sumo and judo tournaments, however also doubles as an arena for huge live shows, the first of which was The Beatles in 1966.
On Tuesday evening, the arena was sectioned off halfway to make way for an expansive stage, large enough to comfortably house the eleven-piece live band. This incredibly popular group, hailing from Iceland, last played in Tokyo a mere 9 months ago, performing at one of Japan’s largest music festivals, Summer Sonic. Continue reading SIGUR ROS send Tokyo into ecstacy
London-based indie label Just Off Pop takes over The Victoria in Dalston, playing host to the STRANGERS’ launch party for their new single “Something New.” To look inside the crowded venue, nobody would imagine that this is a Monday night, but this is revealing of Strangers’ ability to draw in the crowd. Continue reading STRANGERS brighten up Dalston with Something New
We arrive to a rammed Manchester Academy, as we await ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK (OMD) aka the original lineup of Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys, and Martin Cooper and Malcolm Holmes.
The Mancunians have always had a lot of love for this band, and the die-hard fans are already at the merch stand stocking up on their memorabilia. Ambient music fills the venue as the fans get ready to greet their synthpop heroes. Continue reading OMD earn it in Manchester
We meet Liverpool’s NATALIE MCCOOL in Manchester. Having just released her brilliant debut album, she’s fired up and ready to take on the UK and beyond.
Here are some shots that our ace photographer SINEAD MARIE took of Natalie in central Manchester. Shot on a rooftop, staircase, and garage basement of a restored building not far from Piccadilly station, the photographs reflect the class and edginess of this talented singer-songwriter who is going from strength to strength. Continue reading NATALIE MCCOOL Photo Shoot in Manchester
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The five-piece band that brought Abisha to fame started out in 2005 and things have been busy since then, having produced 2 LPs, including their 2011 album “2205” shrewdly released through BitTorrent, achieving platinum-equivalent status. The band is known for stage-blasting performances, Abisha often seen crowdsurfing into the crowds. She loves the human contact with her fans and is one of those rare people who will spend real time with them, even joining them for a spot of sightseeing.
We met up with Sick of Sarah last year in London when they supported LA band UH HUH HER at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. A fine old time was had backstage and SoS went on to blow the headliner right off the stage. (READ OUR INTERVIEW WITH SICK OF SARAH HERE)
Almost one year on, we meet up with Abisha in Shibuya, Tokyo for a photo shoot (SEE OUR FULL PHOTO GALLERY HERE) and to talk music, touring and Japan. We settle ourselves into a cheap izakaya with edamame and “samurai sake” before getting down to business.
Welcome back to Japan! How long since you were last here?
I want to say about 3 years ago. I was visiting my parents in Okinawa and then I came to Tokyo to do a radio interview with Tokyo FM.
So, you grew up in Okinawa before moving to the States in your late teens. For people who don’t know, what are the differences between growing up in Okinawa compared to say Tokyo?
So, the difference between Okinawa and Tokyo is Okinawa has a very islander kind of lifestyle, it’s a lot more chilled and laid back, as opposed to Tokyo where it’s way more high energy, lots of people going places constantly – there are a lot more people – that’s the biggest difference. I really liked the islander style – it’s so laid back and I’m still like that. Tokyo is probably a little too much for me… I mean I love it, it’s like a party here, which is also fun.
What are some of your favourite things about Japan?
I love everything about Japan! I definitely consider Japan my first home, and I’m always going to consider it my first home, just because I feel more at home here than I do in the States. I like the people, I love the food and the vibe – people are so friendly and so down to earth, you can leave your bike somewhere and not have to lock it up, you don’t have to worry about people stealing your shit – it’s really cool.
As a band you’ve never toured Japan, is that something you’re looking into?
We would absolutely love to tour here. It’s just so expensive to do that, so that’s one of our dilemmas. But yeah we want to tour Japan – it’d be crazy! I would love to come over here with HUNTER VALENTINE or GIRL IN A COMA – bands that we’ve toured with in the States, because you kind of get this ladykiller tour thing that we’ve got going on, and we’ve done it all over the US and Canada. But, yeah I’m sure there are groups over here we’d love to play with – GROUP A would be the number 1 band we would want to tour with here!
When did you start getting into music?
I started playing the drums when I was about 11 or 12. I played the drums for a couple of years, then as soon as I picked up a guitar when I was 13, I stopped playing drums and focused all my attention on writing. I started writing right away – I had a knack for it. Both of my brothers were musicians, so I really looked up to them and that’s what’s really got me inspired to play music.
I just grew into it and my brother was very encouraging, and that really made me happy. I wanted to be like my brothers – I was like, “They’re so cool!” so that was definitely a reason I continued doing it.
How long after you moved to the States did you form Sick of Sarah?
Well I moved there when I was 18 and I formed the band when I was 23, so I kind of lived a little bit, did some college, dropped out… I was 25 when we actually got discovered. We did this showcase that we really didn’t want to do because it was like 500 dollars to be in this showcase. They really wanted us to be in it, but we were like, “We’re not gonna pay 500 bucks to be in this show!” Then, they ended up just putting us in it anyway because they really wanted us to play it, and there was a guy from Hollywood Records who really liked us and told his friend to watch us. Then we were flown out to LA to record a five-track demo, which is really bad looking back at it now, but that’s how we got our manager. He then formed an independent record label, and 2 albums later this is where we’re at.
We’re now working on our third album, we’ve travelled all over the world, we’ve toured with THE BANGLES, we’ve made good friends with HUNTER VALENTINE, we’re friends with HEART, we’ve opened up for JOAN JETT – we’ve done a lot of really cool things and played with a lot of really cool bands… GOD-DES AND SHE, GIRL IN A COMA… It’s been a great ride and we’re still on it, so it’s fun!
How do you feel about being a female lead singer in an industry dominated by males? Do you find you’re treated differently?
I don’t feel like I’ve had any weird experiences and I don’t feel like I’ve ever been treated differently, but maybe I just wasn’t paying attention. I’ve played with guy bands and sometimes they’ll kind of brush us off, but then they’ll watch us play and and they’re like, “Ok, you guys are good!” I’ve noticed, I guess, that we get treated differently, no matter who’s watching, but then after they hear you play, you gain more respect. I think you’ll get that whether or not you’re a female or a male though.
And how do you feel about the state of the music scene for women in the industry? Do all-female bands get as much exposure?
I would think that, exposure-wise, it’s almost harder if you’re in a guy band, because the music industry is just saturated with guy bands. So if you’re in a female band, people might take more notice because it’s not as common to have that – there are fewer female musicians than male musicians, so it might actually be more of an advantage. I’ve always heard female musicians kind of get the brush off though.
What was the deal with the BitTorrent re-release of your album “2205” in 2011?
Yeah, we released our music to BitTorrent – they liked our music and they asked us if we wanted to do this, so they were basically like, “We’re going to release your record for free on BitTorrent” and we broke the charts as far as downloaded records. Like we had over 1.5 million downloads of the record, so that was a great thing – it was awesome.
Amazing! So where is Sick of Sarah musically at the moment? Can we expect a new release soon?
Yes, we’ll be releasing a new album. We have all our songs demoed up and now it’s just a matter of kind of working out the kinks. We’re going to record at the end of summer, so it should be released before 2014.
Have you guys picked a title yet?
It’s going to be called “Abisha Rules!” No, we haven’t thought of a name yet, we’ll see… But I am thinking that “Abisha Rules” would be a fantastic name! Or “Abisha’s Awesome” or “Abisha’s Ichiban.” I’m going to talk to the girls about it – I hope they’re down with it? Probably not…
Any crazy stories from your last tours?
It was really cute in London – we ran into some girls at a Chipotle or something, and the girls literally dropped all their food when they saw us. That was really funny! There’s some crazy shit, people are funny and they’re aggressive, and we get a bunch of cool presents. And marriage proposals are fun – I think I’m engaged to at least a few hundred girls right now, and maybe like two guys. Oh bras, yeah, we get bras thrown on stage, which is fun. We got a really big pair of panties one time, and a huge bra! People drop their pants and take off their panties, which is a little strange. I’m like, “Uh… you might need that!”