Mage: New Album Preview and Mini Interview with Leicester’s Finest Doom Merchants

Back in May, Rip It Up alerted you to the fact that Mage were an original sounding band hailing from DeHud’s spiritual home, Leicester.  I have recently been chewing the fat, internet style, with the band’s guitarist, Ben, about their new album ‘Black Sands’, which is due out soon.  If you don’t know, Mage are a 5-piece band comprising Ben – Guitar,  Andy – Drums, Tom – Vocals, Mark – Bass and Woody – Guitar.  With admirable frankness, they describe themselves as “we’re basically five guys who’ve been around in a variety of bands over the years, brought together by a shared love of “THEE RIFF” and a desire to jam and see what happens.”  My senses were alerted to them when I picked up on the self titled ep, released on the excellent Witch Hunter Records.  Combing heaviness, riffage and a mixture of doom, metal and a splash of hardcore, I was intrigued.

So here is a taster and a short interview with Ben about the band and how they work.

I started by asking Ben a bit about how the first ep had been received and how the band had formed.

“I think the overwhelming response we got from the self titled EP was that people really enjoyed it, but wanted more, it was a scant 15 minute run time as we were sort of limited by budget and time constraints at the time so our first release had to be an EP really. We hadn’t been together long as a full five piece as when we first started it was just myself, Andy on the drums and Mark on the bass having a jam as we were sort of in between bands at the time, so we wrote some tracks together as we were trying to acquire a vocalist, Tom came along as a mutual friend of myself and Mark and we clicked straightaway, so we carried on writing with added vocals but something was still missing. That’s when Woody entered the scene, he knew Mark  and again, it just clicked right away.  The first EP was sort of written by three different lineups really with a definite focus on being a Stoner/Doom band Initial riffs and whatnot were done as a three piece instrumental, which then changed as Tom joined the fold and changed again to accommodate Woody on guitar.”

Ben continued by telling me a little about the style and influences of the band.

“The new material on Black Sands has been written as a solid unit, a full band, everyone bringing something to the table, and adds a lot more of our shared and individual influences. We have a shared love of the whole Stoner and Doom thing, Black Sabbath, Kyuss, Fu Manchu etc. but there’s a whole lot more there too and I think it shows in the new material. To use a clumsy cooking analogy Stoner/Doom is the base but we garnish with bits of Thrash, traditional Metal, Hardcore elements and a dash of whatever takes our fancy really. It wasn’t really a conscious effort, it’s just how the songs grew organically really, I’ve slipped into a clumsy gardening analogy now… Basically, we’re not constricted by genre “rules” and have no problem throwing in a galloping Maiden-esque section, a chugging Hardcore breakdown or any manner of other stuff that tickles our fancy.”

The new album’s teaser tracks show a cracking production, and a maturity in the song structures.  I asked Ben to explain the way they go about songwriting.

“Our song writing process is pretty much exclusively jam based, we get together, plug in, stand around scratching our heads for a bit, then (all being well) inspiration will strike one of us, a riff will start and we all pile in and hammer away at it as a unit and see what happens. We have one of those handy little digital recorder things so can get stuff down at practice/jam sessions pretty easily as a bit of a rough sketch. It’s usually a good indicator that you’ve got something that “works” if you find yourself humming the riff you just wrote on the drive home or the next morning, there’s a lot to be said about a catchy riff, think of the famous Sabbath songs, catchy, direct riffs, but still heavy as hell, I think that’s what we strive for deep down.

After we’ve got a basic structure together, or at least a couple of riffs that feel right together we start to put it together, at first, in a traditional intro/verse/chorus/verse/chorus type of structure, record that and Tom works on the lyrics and vocals. Once there’s a bit more of a song there that’s when we mess with it, lengthen a section here and there, throw in a fast bit, make room for a solo etc. and we all contribute to that process, it’s very much a group effort which is why I think the Black Sands material has that variety of influence but it still grooves along and works as a solid album, it’s not just disparate elements welded together for the sake of it.”

So which bands have influenced Mage, both generally and in terms of the new album? I’d say the ubiquitous Sabbath, CoC, a little bit of early ish Metallica and a flavour of Fu Manchu fer sure?

“Our influences are all over the place really really, we have a shared base of: Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer, Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Clutch, High On Fire, Karma To Burn, Corrosion Of Conformity, Goatsnake and all the usual suspects, but individually we take inspiration from a variety of all the different flavours of Metal and beyond: Mastodon, Anthrax, Hatebreed, Lamb Of God, Metallica, Carcass, Entombed, Slayer, Iron Monkey, Helmet, Primus, Rush, KISS, Foghat, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Iron Maiden, Napalm Death, Cream, and all sorts of stuff in between.”

Rounding off, I asked Ben to explain the process of writing, recording and releasing the new album – which must be a fraught process I’m guessing….

“It’s been quite hard work getting Black Sands to a finished state, our initial plans were to write through the Autumn/Winter of 2011 and record sometime around March 2012. Which didn’t quite work out, we had a few gigs which set back the writing process as the scant time we could get together was spent running the set instead of writing so the plans kinda slipped to recording around May time, which again slipped, and we ended up hitting the studio in late July for 2 days and then doing half a day in August to finish off. Again, budget and time constraints meant that we had to focus on getting things as tight as possible before hitting the studio to maximise what we could achieve.

Our recording process runs a bit like this: full band in the same room together plays the song live (this is used as the base of the track and keeps a live feel and groove), myself and Woody overdub an extra guitar each at the same time, Woody overdubs any solos as required, Tom does a first vocal pass, then a second vocal pass, mix it all together and you’re sorted. Which sounds kinda easy, but fitting 10 songs of that process into 16 hours and leaving time for mixing etc. was GRUELING, hence us going back for half a day in August to finish up.

How do you feel about the end result though?

We’re all really pleased with the end result though, it captures what we’re all about and adds some funky studio based bells and whistles to bring it to the next level. I’m personally very proud of what we’ve achieved with such limited funds and time, there’s always gonna be niggles and bits that you think “ohhhhh, I wish I could re-do that little bit”, but at the end of the day you have to draw a line and say enough is enough, and you have to realise that these bits that you may personally obsess over won’t matter a damn to 99% of the people who listen to it.

It’s hard to separate yourself as a musician and a listener at times especially when it’s something you’ve written, played hundreds of times and know inside out. It’d be nice to be able to hear it as a “punter” hears it rather than thinking “oh no, I bent that note a fraction more than I usually do” or whatever. But once you accept that it’s never gonna be flawless, and just stick it on in the car or at home and turn it up real loud it feels great knowing that you had a hand in creating that.”

So when can we expect the album on the streets?

“The masters are away for duplication and print now and we should have the final product in our hands early October. The rest of the tracks will trickle onto the Bandcamp page at some point before then and I’m sure we’ll have an online source for purchasing a physical copy at some point too.”

Cheers to Ben and the guys – and check out the preview tracks below – we’ll let you know when the album is available.

Beyond Pink Tour 2012 – Look into the fuschia…

I’ve been reading the Dee Dee Ramone biography  “Poison Heart” [more of a pharmaceutical guide book really, but worth buying alone for when he gets knocked unconscious in a car wash…]. It’s not really the best advert for wanting to sling your Perfecto jacket over your shoulder, curl up your lip and and head out onto the road with a punk band. So as a welcome antidote to all the whinging, pampered punkers we are delighted to have Beyond Pink here for giving us the following snippet of a glimpse into the machinations of touring with an all-girl Swedish hardcore band on their annual summer jaunt around Europe…..; Many thanks to Clara [Bass] and Patricia [Drums] for taking the trouble to do this for us;

What was the most listened to song in the van on the tour and why? [Who is in charge of in-van-entertainment?]

Clara: Since the van had a shitty cd-player that refused to play records at all we didn’t listen to much music at all. But we did, as we always do on tour, sing in the van. Halo is always a good tune, we never get tired of it. [I think it’s a song by Beyonce about struggling with her Xbox or something.. ]

Patricia: I don’t think we listened to one single song more than one time this year – and that’s not because we didn’t bring so much music. This year was a “no music in the van”-year. We talk, sleep, eat and play singing games in the van rather than listening to music. Everyone’s in charge of their own entertainment and satisfaction in the van and a bit of the others’ as well. Like Clara and Tijana brings tons of food, I brought like 15 different colours of nailpolish that everyone could borrow and Ida always makes sure to buy chocolate and crisps. None of us normally eat so much or change their nailpolish every other day but when you’re just sitting around in the car for like 7 hours a day you get those extra needs. 

Clara: Yeah, and Cajsa’s van-entertainment is to sleep. And I like eating, as you said. I’d get really fat if we toured all year long.

Who was the best band you played with? [Worst band aswell if you want to dish any dirt..?!]

Patricia: I liked the band Masakari, that we played together with in Hamburg, a lot and I also really liked Deer in the Headlights from Bosnia that we played together with in Ljubljana – they we’re real fun and nice people to hang out with as well. I loved to watch the drummer in Loma Prieta, he was insane, and I also always like to watch the drummer in The Fight, Wolfie. And off course I liked Coke Bust because as persons they were definetely our kindered spirits of this tour. We played together a few times but we instantly realised we understood each other like 2 minutes after meeting in Wienna and already being able to joke around and be ironic. It was also nice to play with Stay Hungry since they’re our friends from back home and a cute Norweigian band called Evolve. You know, I LOVE to dish dirt, it’s like the essence of my personality, but right now it feels like I’m wearing the opposite of a thinking cap and it’s blocking all the memories of people and bands that I completely hated, but there were mos def some of those as well.

Clara: Yeah, this year we played with some really nice bands but I think I liked Coke bust best of them. They are really nice people too.

Did you lot have a favourite slogan/saying on tour and why…..?

Clara: This year I don’t think we invented any new sayings, we just went on with oldies but goldies like “we play, you like it, fuck off”. This is from when we played with Doom several years ago and the singer said this on stage. Or at least that is what we thought he said. We had kind of a hard time understanding his heavy british/heavy drunken accent [They’re Brummies [from Birmingham UK] – No one else here understands them either…!]

Patricia: Our favourite saying is and probably forever will be “little lady, what you doin?”. It’s from Budapest like 3 years ago when men (important men, at least they thought so) kept on calling us little lady when we put up our backline and they were also trying to interfear, like they somehow could know better than us how I for example want my drums to be positioned. Since then, everytime something is moved on stage, or in the car, or anyone is doin anything basically, its “little lady, what you doin?”.

Clara: yeah, everything and everyone in the van is “Little lady!”. We also sang the “I am a cat lover”-song quite a bit.

BP are very fond of their cover versions right? Which ones were you favoring this time around?

Clara: We’ve done a new cover for every summer tour. Two years ago we did Blink 182 – What’s my age again, last year Halo by Beyonce and this year we did Metallicas Motor breath. We love doing covers, mostly we get so fond of them we start seeing them as our own songs. I think that What’s my age again? was my favourite cover all time, but maybe that is because I got to sing it, because I also love Let it ride, and I also sang on that one.

Patricia: But even though we haven’t played it in a few years now (like 10 years!) Barbiegirl by Aqua was still probably the most fun cover ever to do according to me. And Let it ride by Floorpunch was also something that we really took to heart. Like when some band just recently covered that song Ida was like “Oh, for one second I thought they were doing a Beyond Pink cover, then I realised, oh, we didn’t write this song”. But this years Motorbreath got some good response as well.

 Your drummer/singer swap over sometimes? – [I love it when bands frig about like this,I remember even Green Day doing this years ago at a tiny gig in a billiards hall in the UK!!] You do this to alleviate boredom i guess?

Clara: No, our drummer never sing and our singer certainly doesn’t drum. Patricia, the drummer, sang on one song back in 2004 or so, but then Ida, our guitarist played drums. Now it’s only me and Tijana, the singer, who swap on one song and that is because I like to sing. When I made that song “Jag lever på hoppet” I felt it was really personal and I wanted to sing it in my way, so it felt natural for me to sing it.

Patricia: Now you’re making me really interested in the idea of having Tijana to play drums once in a while.

Clara: Yeah, maybe we have a unknown drumming-talent in the band, who knows? You oughta listen to Patricias other band, where she actually does sing, though: Slöa Knivar. They are really great. 

BP line up is the same since you started 10 years ago [correct?] That is an admirable testament to friendship, so the tour must be more like an annual holiday with your mates rather than a grinding tour with a smelly drummer you hate!?

Patricia: Yeah, if you remove the word mates and replace it with family. Like your annoying aunts and nephews, etc. Of course we love each other but since it obvious we’re not the type of band to ever change a member for any reason in the world, no matter how good that reason might be, you gotta regard us as family rather than friends. Actually we started 11 years ago even, but I’m still the smelly drummer they all hate….!!

Clara: We are definitly more like sisters than friends. We know everything about each other and love/hate each other deeply.

Most bizarre happening/venue/audience member/meal?

Patricia: The opposite of the thinking cap is back on my head. I got to ride a water slide somewhere in Germany. In Kortrijk, Belgium, a drug addict walked like 50 meters behind us during our whole walk through town screaming out, like some midieval new announcer “These girls are from Sweden, they are a band, they’re gonna play tonight”. Since telling him to just stop didn’t have no effect whatsoever we finally managed to outrun him. When we got back to the Pits where we were playing he kept on saying he was sorry that he had left us. In Wroclaw we met a sad story of a man who seemed to have no friends and the sad part was that you understood why. This poor shirtless blond mohawk dude kept on getting on stage without any ambition whatsoever to stagedive but just to “hang out” or try to say something that no one could understand in a microphone. People tried to carry him out of the room but he kept coming back, even though he could hardly even stand up. This is off course no uncommon view at punkshows, but that’s really what makes it so bizarre. Like, some people must have been this dudes friend sometime. I for sure know that I have a lot friends like that and that’s why I feel bad about it when I have been mean to drunks at tour, which I always am, cause I guess that even if I’m a concerned human being in theory – in reality I’m a heartless bitch.

Clara: Since my stomach can’t handle beans very well almost every meal was bizarre to me. But other than that we got really well taken care of in general. Like taken out to an old military hospital in the Belgium countryside and served tons of luxurious desserts in front of an open fire in the middle of the night. 

Punkest thing to happen on tour?

Patricia: There’s like this death battle between when Clara accidentaly tripped on stage at Zoro in Leipzig and made Ida’s amplifier fall down from the cabinet and break and when Cajsa had a nervous breakdown in Neubrandenburg over a moth. Or maybe it’s every morning when I woke up with pee all the way up in my eyes, and since I sleep in the van because I’m a midget, risked getting arrested by running out halfnaked and peeing in public. Or it could be Tijana almost hitting a guy for calling her “my friend” during and interview at Köpi. Or it could be Ida not going to sleep. Not going to sleep is always a stable thing to choose as being the punkest thing to do.

Clara: Definitly NOT me and Tijana freaking out over all the rats that were tumbling around, squeaking just beneath the sleeping loft at Köpi, Berlin. We we’re definitly behaving like the hysteric women we are then. 

Any plans to expand the tour to the UK?

Clara: We definitely want to tour the UK but we plan to go on a separate UK tour for like a week or a bit more some time. We just don’t know when. We are such busy ladies.

Something in the Water in Chicago?

Where catchy punk rock is concerned, there’s no avoiding it – the mere mention of Chicago makes you think of Screeching Weasel.  I still clearly recall a record buying trip to London in 1988 when DeHud bought the first Weasel album from Vinyl Solution, the great hardcore label/shop that is now sadly ancient history as far as today’s scene goes.  Spinning it excitedly on a cheap stereo yielded a tinny, fast blaze of utter punk glory – dumber almost than The Ramones, yet somehow just as catchy.  This led us, later on in the year to interview the two leading lights at the time – Ben and John Jughead.  You know the rest of the story, and I have no desire to plough into it here.  I want to mention instead, No Enemy! – a band who hail from the same city and have just put out a new Four track ep which crackles with a similar energy.

Dying American‘ is the name of the release, and it’s the work of the four piece whose real names, most assuredly, are Riff Damage, Modern Maggio, Rhythm X and Dr. Slow.  This seems to be their fourth release as far as I can ascertain, and so they’ve been fairly prolific in the last few years.  Each release seems to offer the same buzzsaw punk rock which bounces along at a fair clip, with all the right ingredients – drums just about catching up with vocals, which themselves are just catching up with guitar, whilst chanted choruses and harmonies make it all complete.

I hooked up with Andy “Modern” Maggio, to ask him a bit about how they began:

“We started No Enemy! simply because we wanted to write and record a ton or material before the perils of age and regular life/jobs prevented us from being able to. After we recorded our first release “Life Waster” though, our good friends in another Chicago band, Shot Baker, (their bassist also recorded both “Life Waster” and “Unwind”) started pushing us to play more shows and tour a little with them. From there it grew and we were a full functioning band”

(C) Patrick [msigarmy.com]

With a maximum song length of 3 minutes and 9 seconds, these boys are never going to give King Crimson a run for their money – they’re all about short sharp shocks.  The more I listen to this – and some of their older stuff – the more I’m breaking into a smile and travelling back in time to the days when I still had hair, I could still maintain my place in the pit, and I could still recover from a hangover and be ready to drink the same amount the next day.

The band has a really refreshing DIY attitude – reflected in the fact that, as you might notice, all their releases are on a pay what you want basis:

“We just want to write and record good music and get it in the hands of as many people as possible. That’s why our releases are free, and we intend to keep it that way for as long as possible. As of the last two releases (Disagree to Disagree, and Dying American) we have taken over the recording duties ourselves and record mostly in the flower shop that we practice in. By not having to pay a ton of money in studio time, we can give our music away rather than hustle just to make our money back.”

Marvellous stuff, boys, and it’s pay what you want so I’d advise you to crank it up and feel the wind in your hair….and check out their other releases.

Free Hardcore, Buyer Collects

Hey! Stop what you’re doing right now, and listen up. I have information you need. I chanced upon an absolute killer compilation this morning on Bandcamp, which can be downloaded for free and which contains all killer, no filler hardcore bands! Wanna know more?

Still Alive is a clothing company based in Edinboro, Pensylvania in the US of A. Besides a killer line in t-shirts, they also have a collection of great bands showcased on this 24 track digital album. Featuring mainly melodic north eastern hardcore bands, they have a truly terrific collection here. While they are not yet a record label per se, they have put together this killer comp.

Stand out tracks come thick and fast – Caleb Lionheart present a fast, brief blast of hardcore whilst Real Friends‘ track ‘Everything I Never Want to Be‘ is a well produced gem of Dag Nasty-esque punk. I Was a Hero play mid paced melodic hardcore on ‘I Guess it’s Me‘; Major League do similar damage on ‘Subject to Change‘ – jeez, there’s just so much quality here. I feel like a snake which has just eaten a whole cow [a hardcore cow] – this will take a few days to fully digest.

Gage, head honcho of Still Alive, tells me a bit of background about how the lp came together:

“As of right now Still Alive is actually just a clothing company. Most of bands that appear on the comp are close friends of mine and they all cleared it with their labels (some are unsigned) and everyone was really excited about the idea of doing a free compilation so that’s how it all came together.”

Give this a listen, download it for free, and check out the various bands’ releases on Bandcamp for a great taster of this region’s up and coming and established acts. If Still Alive does become a full fledged label then they’d be well worth looking out for!

Interview: Making Bad JuJu with The Manges

Chances are, if you share the same kind of music tastes as us here at Rip It Up, you’ll dig bands like Screeching Weasel, The Hard Ons, The Queers and of course, Italy’s seminal Manges. Formed in La Spezia in 1993, The Manges have released some solid studio LPs, culminating so far in 2010’s ‘Bad JuJu‘, whilst also being involved in countless split eps with the likes of The Hard Ons and many others. The band unashamedly purveys a Ramones-influenced pop-punk sound, with the influences of bands such as Weasel and The Riverdales showing through. Indeed, collaborations have included Ben Weasel writing songs on their last album, ex-Weasel John ‘Jughead’ Pierson entering the band’s membership on a temporary basis, and Joe King of The Queers picking up production credits on ‘Bad JuJu‘ as well as appearing on the Hard-Ons/Manges split ep.

I was lucky enough to chew over some questions and answers with Andrea Caredda, the band’s lead vocalist, which cover the band’s history and their current and future plans.

1. Tell me a little about why the Manges started back in 1993.

In a small town like the one we grew up in, it was very easy to spot the other kids with similar taste in music. Mass and Manuel (bassist and drummer) asked me to join them starting a band just ’cause they saw me wearing a Ramones tshirt, plus I had long hairs, and one tattoo. They didn’t know I owned an electric guitar (I started a band two years before with some buddies from school, but got kicked out cause I was terrible). Mass and Manuel too could barely play but we were very well focused on doing Ramones influenced punk rock music, which is something that nobody did at the time, as it was all grunge and metal bands. So going on stage and playing in-your-face pop punk rock with no skills has been something totally fresh and appealing for both old guys and kids of our town, so our first gigs has been a lot of fun. 1994 and MTV pop punk were right around the corner and a big, rough wave of 90s Italian pop punk suddenly exploded everywhere. We surely were not the best band around but we were definitely there. The DIY scene was still huge since the 80s hcpunk, so pop punk bands just put their efforts in and contribution to it. Those were very exciting times for us.

2. You clearly draw a lot of inspiration from the Ramones, both in terms of look and music style. You mention on your website that you met all the members of the Ramones – is this true? There is a saying in England – never meet your heroes! What were your impressions? Did they live up to your expectations?

They sure did! They all have always been very nice and grateful to their fans. We’ve been stalking the Ramones since we had permission to leave the house alone. The Manges opened shows for Marky and Cj several times, and since 1991 we have been around the Ramones any time they came to Italy. We spent a good bunch of time with Dee Dee (treasuring memories like smoking marijuana backstage and listening to his super-fun rants), we are also friends with Arturo Vega (he really like my drummer’s art), we spoke to Joey and Johnny a bunch of times… met Tommy too, at Joey’s birthday bash in 2001, right after Joey’s death when me went to NYC and recorded our first album there.

3. You’re thought of as being up there with the great ‘Pop Punk’ bands such as Weasel, Riverdales, The Queers and the Hard Ons. Tell me a bit about how you met those guys, and what it was like working with them.

We are huge fans of those bands. We still totally feel more like music fans than musicians!
Mass sent our 7″ records to Ben Weasel in the late 90s and Ben told us he liked them. Years later, Screeching Weasel covered one of our songs so we understood he really meant it! Apart from Ben Weasel, that we mostly heard by mail or phone beside the one time we opened for the Riverdales in Philadelphia, we had the chance to meet the Queers, the Methadones, the Hard-ons, Head and many other of our favourite bands just by sharing the stage or touring toghether. With Joe King we are very good friends, we toured a lot with the Queers, and he produced our latest album “Bad Juju”, recorded in Atlanta, GA. He is our number one hero and mentor in the music scene.

The Hard-Ons own a special place in our hearts, we listened to them like crazy when we started the Manges and we tried to imitate their pop sound for a long time. So when we had the chance to open their show in our hometown we were really excited and all our friends and fans were sincerely happy for us. It’s been a great special night. The Italian label Surfin Ki asked them to release a 7″ split with us and they agreed. We are very lucky cause we had the chance to party, tour, split records and do creative work with the most of the bands whose music was on heavy rotation in our bedrooms 10 years before.

4. You are known as Italy’s top band playing in your style – what is your impression of the Italian punk scene today? Which bands do you rate, and how popular is the punk sound in Italy?

Punk sound in Italy is more or less as popular as in the rest of old Europe, of course the Ramones/LookoutRec pop punk style, like anywhere else, is not really at the top of the charts, but there are some dedicated weirdos. We have been slowly but constantly building our fanbase so our shows are usually good fun. Until now, we tried to avoid big festival, open air concerts, etc… we like to keep it simple and we don’t play too many live shows. We are not pro musicians anyway. There are good bands in Italy playing the same kind of music, I can think of our friends the Ponches, Teenage Bubblegums, Leeches, Killtime, Tough… we distribute some of their records and other European punk rock bands from our mail order, check out http://striped.bigcartel.com/

5. You have had a lot of changes in band membership, with such luminaries as Johnny Jughead of Weasel contributing at times….how stable is the current line up?

I wouldn’t say that we changed a lot. Three of us (guitar-bass-drums) started the band in 1993, the same three guys have always been in every line up 20 years later; yes, we changed a good number of extra guitar players, but it’s always been friends and people from our entourage instead of random good looking kids. Nobody’s a leader between us, there’s a very good balance in working toghether, and after 20 years, the band is like family. In the current line up we have Mayo, he joined the Manges at the end of 2011 when Richie left after 6 years of service.

6. What side projects are the band members involved in at the moment? We saw the Hanson Brothers on their recent European tour, and John Wright was saying that the Hansons are like a way of letting off the pressure of being in a ‘serious’ band, NoMeansNo. Do you have a similar view?

Unfortunately we didn’t start a more serious and more successful band than the Manges! But we always have different things going on during the time off our daytime jobs. Manuel (drums) and our former guitarist Max are a rock’n’roll duo named Dangerous Chickens. Me, Mass and Manuel sometimes have another former Manges member, Hervè (actual leader of the Peawees) joining us to cover the Ramones It’s Alive set. When this happens, we play some funny crazy show. Our guitar player Mayo is the lead singer of La Crisi, one of the most important Italian old school hardcore bands, from Milan, and he was in Sottopressione in the 90s. I have a studio project named the Veterans, which is more pop than the Manges, we released one album; I also produced records for Teenage Bubblegums and Kill That Girl last year.
Manuel also spend time painting canvas of his “naif” rock art and those always sell out pretty fast on our Facebook page. Mass is a very good photographer and grapich designer. He just shot Ray Gelato for his next Lp. We keep ourselves busy with creativity. And with the good old combo sofa+tv.

7. Tell us about the Manges’ plans for the future.

Our first tour of Japan ever, with our Dutch buddies the Apers, is being confirmed in these days, so we’re basically keeping our finger crossed, it should happen in october 2012. A split 7″ with the Apers will be released in Japan as well. Mass and Manuel will leave next week for the Camino De Santiago pilgrimage walk in Spain… Catholicism? Not really, but they talked about doing this for a long time. I’m just working on some music for a new album so we’ll have something to jam with when they’ll be back.

Comply or Die: Post-Hardcore from Northern Ireland

It’s funny how your discovery of new bands seems to take you on strange geographical trips, both real and metaphorical.  For example, I’ve just returned from the home of Rock’n’Roll and the Beatles, Liverpool [real], and in the last few weeks have been seeking out bands from Poland, Australia and now, it seems, the lush greenery of Northern Ireland [metaphorical].  And I’m glad I did.  For one of the bands I’ve unearthed has been Comply or Die, hailing primarily from the beautiful city of Belfast. 

Comply or Die came to my attention because I happened upon a split ep they did in April last year with the excellent Slomatics – whom I also discovered because they did a split ep with Conan, who of course hail from Liverpool, which takes us full circle again.

The band formed in 2008, and features Matt Crothers on Drums, Michael Smyth on Guitar and Vocals, and Ian Pearce on Bass and Vocals.

Following on from their 2010 release, the ‘Invocation‘ ep, ‘Depths‘ was their latest full-length album release and it also followed said split ep with Slomatics, 2011 being a busy year for the band.

Unlike Slomatics, who purvey the slowest of doom jams, Comply or Die offer more of a hard-hitting yet tuneful hardcore attack on their album.  Showing a load of styles that range from mid-paced hardcore to low-dirty riffs, the album pleasingly features a couple of instrumentals as well as more straightforward vocal attacks.  Heavy, thick riffs abound, with staccato drum slaps holding together the rhythm through varied changes of pace and time signature.  The style, always changeable, almost hints at a more heavy version of NoMeansNo in their earlier days.

The band has had a hiatus since the release, and I was eager to find out more about what they are planning.  I caught up briefly to Guitarist/Vocalist Michael on what the band is up to at the moment:

“At the minute we are just about to play our first show in about six months with War Iron & Astralnaut in Katy Dalys June 9th doors 5pm £3.50 in. We’re going to be playing some new songs we’ve been working on over the past few months. These songs have taken on a different feel to the previous material moving towards a heavier sound and songs that focus more on structure and riff rather than a lot of effects which the previous material was littered with. I think each release has seen us take steps away from the previous sound while always retaining the bands own distinctive wail.

Expanding on his description of the musical direction of the band , he added:

There’s also a lot more focus on vocals this time around and that’s something that has never been a big part of the band but this time there’s a conscious decision to have more vocals and put more effort into lyrics and vocal structure.

For those of us interested in what CoD does next, he offered a hint about where they are headed:

Were in the middle of planning a tour so that should hopefully see us finally play down south. Then past that we are still writing a lot of songs right now seeing what works and what sounds best then we will pick the best and record those so I’m sure there’s some kind of release not too far down the road.”

Check out the last album and buy it from the Bandcamp site here:

 

Hard Ons: “…..we still act like we have nothing to lose.”

The Hard-Ons. Simply our favourite band ever here at Rip It Up. 25 years + umpteen albums on – still as vital as ever.
Ray Ahn was kind enough to fill us in on whats been going recently;
A hectic time at Hard-Ons HQ then Ray? – a new drummer, a new wife, the mother of all re-issue anthologies, tours, ‘sideline’ band activity….sleep is overrated anyway isn’t it?!
It has been reasonably stressful but also it has been worthwhile. The SMELL MY FINGER reissue I think most people will enjoy the new packaged version.
It was a lot of work. In one case the original master tape had to be rescued via ALBERT studio and cleaned up, it was a slow and laboured process. For what? a muddy sounding Stooges cover. But I was happy to be preserved as these things are important, if not to everyone, to the members of the Hard-ons and a handful of Hard-ons fans.
CD 1:
Smell my finger 12″
Hot for your love baby 12″
All Set to go 7″
Surfin’ on my face 7″
Girl in the sweater 7″
CD 2: Live stuff and demos from this era including “Why march when you can riot” compilation stuff and unreleased stuff from the sessions: SHOW US WOT YA GOT, COFFS HARBOUR BLUES, SQUATHOUSE, SCHOOL DAYS,1970…..
All remastered. Digitally restored original artwork.
New liner-notes from participants. Never before published photographs from the archives.
Apart from the fact that Murray [recently replaced the terrific Pete Kostic after his 10 year stint on drums] has a fine grind-core pedigree, I don’t know that much about him. Could you give us the lowdown on your new sticksman?
Murray has been into punk music since the 80s as a little lad. He is also in CONATION a melodic HC band. Murray is a fantastic drummer and a very nice guy who is very easy to be around, as he is very accommodating and personable.
He is into a lot of modern day punk and metal so through Hard-ons he discovers a lot of classsic old stuff while Blackie and I hear about exciting new bands, that may normally bypass the ears of old men like us. Murray had a lot of Hard-ons songs well memorised as he had a lot of our LPs already. That was a big help of course.
Above – Hard-Ons lineup l-r: Peter”Blackie”Black-Guitar/Voc   Ray Ahn-Bass/Voc/Artwork   Murray Ruse-Drums
What was the reason for deciding to do the 5-part Anthology – Is it just like a bookmark in the ongoing Hard-Ons story?
Many emails were received asking for older titles. It’s only fair that these LPs get reissued. They’ve not been available since the early 90’s…
I’m not the biggest nostalgic around, sooo if I’m brutally honest I would have preferred to have 2 new Hard-Ons albums rather than a 5-album retrospective [don’t get me wrong I’m excited about it and will be buying them all!]. Any views on the trend for ‘older’ bands playing the ‘Cabaret-set’  like they do on the big nostalgia festival circuit? [This was noticeable at the Garage gig with you last year – The Test Tube Babies were fantastic but played almost the same set
as I saw them do in 1984!!!]
Hard-ons have only managed to survive by having the same attitude that served us well: to not look back, not look down but just continue to do new stuff.
Even when people in the crowd are yelling at us to play just old stuff.
Nothing more pointless than nostalgia being the norm.
Nostalgia I feel should be not the focus, rather just a simple byproduct when a look back happens every now and then. We had to reissue our back catalogue as it was better than saying GO TO EBAY constantly to fans.
Now that it has happened the members of Hard-ons can be nostalgic momentarily, then move on forward. Many bands allow nostalgia to enslave them. A fear of failure in continuing to grow and a warped over-reliance on the successful past will eventually destroy and mock them. That will not happen to Hard-ons as we still act like we have nothing to lose. Afterall it’s just a band and if we break up tomorrow it really is no big deal.
Blackie’s solo project – I love his one-man stuff – But also I think they would sound fabulous as full-band Hard-Ons tunes!!! What do you think?
There is new Nunchukka Superfly [Ray + Blackies other band] stuff out soon?
NS have recorded the basic tracks for our new album. It is utterly and absolutely fun to play in that band, if anything that band has even a more free approach to a MUSIC CAREER.
Blackie’s tunes would be good with an amplified band but to be honest that would really defeat the purpose of his minimalist approach. His new album in a lot of ways is far less minimal than Hard-ons as it has string arrangements etc.
Here in the UK, the much-missed John Peel and his monstrous record archive is about to go public – See the piece below + here [http://thespace.org/items/s000004uI’m guessing you have a sizeable collection? [Ray still works in a record-shop] What are your most prized records?
I have SAINTS I’M STRANDED on the FATAL records, I have two VICTIMS singles, Original mono first two 13th floor elevators LP, a BEATLES 10 inch that was made by someone at EMI of Strawberry Hills outtakes that was from a master tape secretly taken into the cutting room…whereupon about 30 10inch records were cut…PRICELESS
So do yourself a big favour and go and buy anything or everything by them.
UK release of the re-issue will be out on Boss Tuneage shortly.

Thorun Interview

<Hud posted a short mention of Welsh band Thorun last week, a quite inspired discovery thanks to the ever wonderful Bandcamp. We were suitably impressed with their two EPs that we decided to procure a short interview with Keeran Williams, who is one of the band’s guitarists.

If you’re new to the name, Thorun are a four piece from South Wales who rather refreshingly play instrumental-only, down tuned and slow metal, with a sprinkling of inspired influences from all over the long and glorious history of rock.

You could be complacent and label their sound as ‘sludge’, and then lump them in with all the other Weedeater copyists out there, but you would be committing the foulest mistake if you did, because they have a genuinely interesting and original approach to their music, and that made me want to know more.

As a result, I got in contact with Keeran to ask him to give Rip It Up’s readers a short history of the band, and explain what got them into playing this style.

Myself and Jonny Evans (Guitar) have been friends and band mates for about 16 years and we had a number of conversations about setting up a new band. After a few months we finally decided to get our shit together and do something. It all happened quite quickly after posting some requests for interested musicians on a couple of forums and websites we found Neal Palmer (Bass) and Mike Johnson (Drums) who agreed to come along and jam with us in Cardiff. We’re all from in or around the Cardiff area so it’s been pretty easy getting together to rehearse and write. To be honest there isn’t much more to it than that, once we’d got used to each other the songs started coming together and things began falling in to place. We’re all really comfortable playing music together and I believe this is the best band I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of.

That’s clear from the quality of the playing, the last EP being a really professional affair. It’s an interesting aspect to the band that you have no singer, and play heavy instrumental jams. Was this a conscious choice? I think the songs stand up for themselves, and it’s quite refreshing to hear a band with a different outlook. It reminds me of a lot of Sunn’s work, where the riffing takes centre stage. Were they an influence?

I wouldn’t say that Sunn have been a particularly big influence on our music; especially not our most recent work. We’re all fans of heavy music from Sabbath and Candlemass to Weedeater and Mastodon. The riffs definitely take centre stage but it’s not just about the riff, it’s about the transition between parts and how we can keep things interesting for the listener and ourselves. There are quite a few instrumental bands out there who tend to drag riffs out, which is fine, but we like things to change as often as possible without losing momentum. The sound is just as important as the music itself so we tend to be quite critical of things like the guitar and bass tone. Our outlook is basically “How many different types of metal and rock can we mix together to make something cool?”. At the start, we thought about the possibility of getting someone in on vocals but as you said; the songs stand up for themselves so why spoil it?

We can’t argue with that, and the self-confidence of the band is noticeable, especially as I believe you’ve been going for a relatively short time – about two or three years? How have you found that period of time, and are you finding that your appeal is increasing outside of the Cardiff/South Wales area?

We’ve been going for just over 2 years. It’s been a really cool time. We’ve built up a small following in Cardiff and we seem to be attracting listeners from all over the place. The internet is great for spreading the word so we rely a lot on independent blogs and webzines (like this one, thanks!) to help us get the word out. The underground music press has been pretty good to us so far. Cardiff has an ever growing alternative music scene and people seem to be paying more attention to stuff that, a few years ago, would have been pretty much ignored. We’ve also been surprised by the number of people from other countries who have downloaded our music.

Your music betrays some interesting influences to me. I might be reading too much into it of course, but apart from the obvious and rather lazy Weedeater comparisons, I’m hearing some good old Deep Purple, Sabbath kind of hints in there. Do any of you listen to good old 70s hard rock as well as more modern stuff? What would you say your main musical influences are?

70’s rock and metal is just as important to our sound as the more modern influences. I grew up on bands like Deep Purple, Budgie, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Other influences come from all over the metal spectrum; Kyuss, Pelican, Weedeater, Taint, Electric Wizard, Sleep, Yob, Goatsnake, I could go on but you’d probably get bored. We’re a bit of an eclectic bunch so influence has dropped in from all over the place.

Keeran’s list of influences is interesting and what it confirms is that all the band members appear to have brought something to the party, and that they seem to be pretty musically well read. Like most of the industrial areas of the UK, such as the Midlands, South Wales has always seemed to have a no nonsense appreciation of rock music – as the long standing metal band Budgie proves.
You’ve garnered some really good press with your releases so far. The omens are all good, and I sense in the Reprise EP a real potential, both from a doom/sludge point of view, but also there’s stuff there that could appeal to a wider audience as well. Do you see yourselves as being defined by such a tiresome sub genre as sludge, or do you aim to just develop as you see fit?

Well our newest EP “Chorus Of Giants” is not really a sludge record. I like to think of it as instrumental heavy rock. Sure there are slow sludgy parts but there’s more going on. We all enjoy playing powerful, low tuned riffs but I think we change things up enough to cross over to other “sub-genres”. People have described some of our stuff as stoner-rock, sludge and doom-groove. There’s always this obsession with categorising a band but I’m not sure it’s that important any more. If people like the sound and can nod their heads to the music then we’ve done our job.

That’s increasingly going to be the case, simply because judging by your music, the band does not take the lazy path of slipping on a t-shirt with a popular band’s logo on it, and thus fitting in to some ready-made market that demands music of a certain style. I also notice that you have some great song titles – such as ‘Cow smashed into meat’ – is it harder to name a song when there are no lyrics to define it?

Without lyrics it can be a bit of a pain trying to name a song. The flip side of this is that we are free to use any title we like because we don’t really have to relate the title to any sort of theme. The first EP has the wackiest song titles but I think that was us having fun with it and taking advantage of the freedom.

Tell us about Thoruns plans for the coming year – tours, recording, etc. Do you currently fit the band around other things such as work?

The band is currently worked around jobs and families. We’ve got more shows lined up in South Wales. We’re in the middle of writing stuff for our third release. If we can work up enough interest to play more shows outside of Wales then we’ll be there!

Well thanks to Keeran for the time spent talking about the band. We at Rip It Up can only urge you to check Thorun out – by going to their Bandcamp page and buying their music. Links also exist there to take you to their website and Facebook page, where you can check out news and other stuff.

We are always impressed with bands who don’t just take the easy, predictable path and here is a band that is definitely making their own way in the metal world!

Invasives Interview

Invasives are a trio from Vancouver BC formed in 2001 and consisting of 2 brothers Byron and Adam Slack (Vocals/Guitar/Bass) and Hans Anus (Drums). I was first exposed to their sound recently when I saw them supporting the Hanson Brothers, who of course are the hockey-obsessed alter ego band of NoMeansNo. Their stripped down, angular, bass driven sound, stop-start riffs, complicated time signatures and eccentric lyrics suggest influences from bands as diverse as Wire, the Ramones, as well as newer bands like Battles.

From their first album, ‘The World’s Gotta Go Round’, released in 2003, up to their latest 7 inch release, they have created an original body of work that obviously takes in many influences, and their unique sound is refreshing in an increasingly formulaic genre. Although befuddled by generous quantities of German beer, I realised this during their live set at the Hansons show, and it became clear to me that further investigation was warranted. This resulted in me acquiring their last LP, ‘Desk Job at Castle Dracula’, the 7″ EP, and a mission to track down an interview the band. Once they had returned to Canada at the end of their tour and recovered sufficiently, I asked Byron, the vocalist/guitarist, to explain a bit about the history of the band.

My brother Adam and I played in an array of bands together through our teenage years, we met Hans while trying out lead guitar players for a new band we were putting together. It didn’t take long for us to decide that Hans was the man for us, and we then promptly fired the lead guitar player.

We independently released our first album “The World’s Gotta Go Round” in 2003 and started touring Canada under the wing of Wrong records recording artists Removal.

And the rest is history, as they say. I asked Byron about his homeland, because Canada’s somewhere I’d love to go one day, but like many Brits I’m sad to say I know little about it from a musical point of view, my main discoveries from back in the day being the mighty DOA, SNFU and of course the Wright brothers and Tom Holliston on their many forms. I’m not going to mention Rush….So I asked Byron, what was the kind of music that got you playing in a band? You seem to have taken a refreshingly angular approach to the punk sound, which is a welcome contrast to the masses of bands who seem to want to re create the 1980s all over again!

I only listened to The Beatles and The Monkees and Kiss as a kid, as cliche as it sounds when I was 12 I saw the video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and my musical universe changed almost immediately. Suddenly I was aware of all this great music and peers of mine were introducing me to all kinds of new sounds. To name a few Canadian bands The Smalls from Edmonton, Kittens from Winnipeg, and of course Nomeansno were all big influences.

It’s a location with more than its fair share of notable bands. Because I saw you play with the Hansons, the similarities between your two bands were kind of pronounced to me – Canadian, two brothers, three piece, and so on. That’s clearly a lazy interpretation, but the siblings in the band thing has been covered many times with NomeansNo – what kind of plusses and minuses do you feel it produces, I would imagine creatively it would be good to work with somebody you know well, but at the same time, I guess that there may be the potential for disagreements and even rivalries?

I love playing music with my brother, no one understands the direction we pursue greater than he. I don’t often feel the need to explain myself musically, and if I have to I know there is a good reason. I couldn’t imagine trying to play the music we create with some other musicians ….I love what Adam and Hans do. We do get hot headed every now and then but what do you expect, we are family.

The other unique I feel is that when listening to your lyrics, I find that they are unusual and original, which I see as a great thing after all these years listening to hardcore and punk bands [runs fingers through greying, thinning hair….]. What kind of thing inspires your songwriting?

Anything inspires my song writing, books, movies, music, visual art, stupid jokes, anything. Simply talking to an inspiring person can spark the want to write in me. I’m not always hot to trot but when I start it’s hard for me to stop. I find very little in life as satisfying, it’s kinda like completing a riddle or puzzle.

Ok. Following on from that, an often asked question – how much of a role does humour have in punk?

Punk is what ever you want it to be, as serious or ridiculous. I enjoy both, especially together. Punk is more human to me than a lot of rock music, full of ugliness and errors, within this there is beauty to be found totally unrefined, so I guess humour plays as big a roll as anything else.

That’s clear from the output from the band. In particular, I’ve been enjoying the videos from the tour so far, which have been posted, diary – style on Youtube. The schedule you’ve undertaken with the Hansons is truly massive. Looking at your list of previous dates, it seems that you could be described, Spinal Tap style, as a ‘hard working rock band’! Does touring nourish the soul, in your opinion? How do you all get on in this bizzare, away from home, always in each others company, always on the move kind of situation?

We all enjoy touring, settling into our roles and jobs, dividing the work fairly. We like to travel and we love to play shows. It’s really a great situation for us when we are on the road. Very little drama and lots of work to keep us all busy. The videos are something that I putter away at on my lap top while waiting to do sound check or winding down after a gig.

So you’ve been trawling around Europe for some time now, and in the light of my second question in which I admit to a general lack of knowledge about your country [though I have heard some speak of bears rooting in trash cans!] – what opinions have you formed about us Europeans [and us Brits of course!] – do we fit the stereotypes, and are there many differences to the Americans and Canadians – I guess we all live in small, densely populated countries, which undoubtedly affects our outlook on life!

Every city in Europe/UK that I have visited vary from each other greatly, I can’t think of one place that reminds me of another. Although Slovenia always reminds me of home, the mountains, the trees.

Tell me about Billy Goat Heaven – and what role this band fulfils? I have heard John Wright say that the Hansons are like a pressure valve for NomeansNo, and that they kind of need that release from the more serious stuff. Do you find that BGH fulfils the same role for you? Or are we likely to see you donning hockey shirts soon?

Adam and I started “The Linesmen” (Formerly Billy Goat Heaven) so we could complete the last week of the Hanson Brothers Sudden Debt Tour. Hans had to go home a week early due to personal issues, so Adam and I presented the possibility of preforming as a duo. We wrote the 35 min set the month before we went on tour. It was a tad nerve racking but very fun in the end. The Linesmen acted more like a crutch than a blow off valve.

What are the future plans for the Invasives, assuming that ‘a long rest’ is the most immediate one in a few weeks time?

Invasives are playing some western Canadian shows in May/June and then we are recording a new album this summer. We will also be back touring in Europe this coming fall/winter! We hope that we can return to the UK!

Many thanks to Hans and Byron for arranging the interview, and please check out the Invasives’ output, either at their Bandcamp page, or Manic Pogo Records. Let’s try and encourage them to come back to The UK soon!

The Magnificent – Interview

I have recently come across the music of The Magnificent.  A young band from the Yorkshire area of England, they trade in a melodic, upbeat punk sound that bears comparison with many of the great 80s bands such as Naked Raygun and even the mighty Riverdales. 

Following on from their brilliant set at the Hansons  show we went to last night, I spoke to guitarist Matt at the end of their set and asked if they’d be willing to do an interview for RIP IT UP [in fact they now have the distinction of being the first interviewees in RIU for 23 years!] – and then when it came to exchanging email addresses I couldn’t find him.  Undeterred, I got in touch via an email from the address on their website,  and collared them for a short interview in order to try and find a little more out about the band and what they are about.  Bass player and singer Jimmy was obliging and so read on and enjoy the chat.

RIP IT UP: Give us a bit of history about the band, i.e. where you’re from, why you formed and also tell us a bit about what made you decide to start the band in the first place?
TM: We are all from the Huddersfield area of West Yorkshire (England for international readers). Matt (guitarist / singer) and I went to high school together and started bands around 1996 / 7. Charlie (drums) is my cousin and we have also played together since we were young. When we were all around 15 we started a pop punk band called The Pedantics who played a few gigs in and around Hudds, Wakefield and Leeds. We had some time apart but all still played in various bands, Buzzkill, That Fucking Tank mostly in the punk / DIY scene. We got The Magnificent together in 2008-ish as we missed playing together.

RIP IT UP: I liked the quote in your recent review on punknews: “The Magnificent trades in punk rock tunes of the highest order and does so seemingly with ease, creating a body of work that is fresh and relevant to the 21st century whilst not forgetting the past”.    What, for the Magnificent, is ‘the past’ – by which I mean what period of music did you grow up in and what kind of bands were you listening to at that time?  I’m guessing, based on the line in ‘1990’, that it would have been the 80s and 90s when you were getting your influences?  Tell me about the kind of gigs you saw back then, and the scene that was around?
TM: Ha! Maybe we are a bit younger than you think! I’ve just turned 30 and Charlie is the youngest member at 27. We all got into punk rock as we were learning to play music. It just seemed like a really direct way to express emotions and ideas through music, and an obvious channel for teenage energy. My Dad took us to see Green Day and the Riverdales in ’95, I think Charlie was only 11; that moment was really magical and opened the door to bands like the Clash, Stiff Little Fingers, US stuff like Ramones and Descendents. We lived in the countryside so it was hard to find punk rock music pre-internet so the music we got into was just whatever we found in weird second hand shops. I remember really clearly the day when Matt found a Hanson Brothers record in a shop in Barnsley! It might sound really obvious to older readers but we just found out about bands from the ‘thanks list’ within LP sleeves. Eventually we found out about other local punk rock fans, fanzines and even a DIY punk rock scene in Leeds. We were not alone after all! I would say our biggest influences or bands we all really like are Rancid, Dillinger Four, Teenage Bottlerocket, The Bomb, The Methadones, The Dopamines, Bangers, The Clash, Ringers, RFTC.

RIP IT UP: I believe you’re from Huddersfield, is that true?  I lived there from 86 til about 94, and at the time there was a great music scene going on, which saw a lot of great bands [Leatherface, who ended up sleeping in our living room that night! Snuff, Sink, Mega City 4, Perfect Daze and so on] playing at venues such as the legendary Top Spot snooker club and the Wharf pub next door.  Are those memories that you recognise?
We started to play and put on gigs in Huddersfield in around 1998 and found out about local bands like Lubby Nugget. I think the punk scene you experienced had pretty much died by then and we were one of the only punk rock bands playing or organising local gigs. The Wharf had changed to Doc Browns by then and we used to hang out there as we could sometimes get served beer when we about 15. They sometimes used to play stuff like NOFX and Nomeansno in there. I found it a very close-minded scene with no real ambition (and a lot of drugs) and after a while Matt and I decided to move to Leeds where it seemed like a number of people our age were making stuff happen, like Fracture ‘zine, Cops and Robbers, Out of Spite Festival and loads of great gigs. I have good memories of that time in Hudds though, in particular when we got showered in spit at the White Hart when a load of old punks turned up to one of our gigs.

RIP IT UP: What are your ambitions for the band?
TM: Ultimately, the band is a reason for us to hang out and have fun. I think and hope The Magnificent is a really fun band. We have been fortunate to do some great things; touring the USA, recording our LP in Chicago, touring with some of my musical heroes, Danny Vapid (Methadones, Riverdales, Screeching Weasel), Jeff Pezzati (Naked Raygun) and Chuck Ragan (Hot Water Music). If the band ended now I would have no regrets. That said, our new record ‘Bad Lucky’ has come out in the USA, Japan as well as the UK. It’s getting good reviews and a good response so who knows? If we can continue to tour and travel together then I would be more than happy.

RIP IT UP: My experience of resurrecting this fanzine has been interesting, because it’s led me to discover web based resources such as the obvious blogging software, but also social media like bandcamp, soundcloud and so on.  I think it’s great because bands now have so much more of a route to getting their music out to the world, whereas back in the day [runs hand through greying, sparse hair] it was all about trading tapes through the post, putting soap on the stamp so it could be re used, reading Maximum Rock n Roll, and of course the network of small labels versus the big majors and their stranglehold on music.  What do you think about the way that this kind of technology is being used, and what have you see it do for The Magnificent?
TM: This is a pretty huge question and I could go on for ages; I’ll try to be brief. Ultimately, the internet has allowed us to exist as an indie, DIY group. We can easily contact our audience, promotors, create our own tours, sell records, without the support of a record label, a manager or an agent. Internet resources, like the ones you refer to, level the playing field between independent bands and bands in the ‘music industry’. I’m not saying we couldn’t exist without the internet, but it certainly makes things easier. I used to absolutely love mail order records and the punk scene correspondence before the internet existed; it had a certain excitement and aesthetic that really captured my imagination and attention when I was a mid-teen. I can count dozens of people I met / corresponded with during this period as very close friends, even now. The punk scene definitely felt different then; more personal. If one thing can be said for the internet, it almost makes things too easy and there is a lot of quantity over quality in all forms of music these days and I feel like it can be harder to forge an identity within it all, politically or aesthetically. But if the tools are there, like Bandcamp or Facebook, it makes sense to use them.

RIP IT UP: In an extension of the previous question’s theme, you’ve done a split ep with Elway from the States, and also Noise by Numbers.  I always liked split records because of the 2 for 1 aspect, but how did that come about and can you describe how you work on cooperation with other bands, i.e. do you, or do you intend to,  trade gigs and so on?
TM: Noise by Numbers is a band from Chicago featuring Jeff Dean who recorded our latest LP. Those guys organised a tour for us in the US in 2010. It was a surreal experience as Danny Vapid sings for NBN and he was singing for the Riverdales at my first ever punk gig 15 years earlier. It was magical really and we all enjoyed that experience so much. American audiences seem to really like our music.

A Birmingham-based label called All in Vinyl put out the Elway split in a series of 7″ splits featuring US / UK bands. I like the concept, especially when it leads to collaboration, contact sharing and bands helping each other tour in the respective countries.

RIP IT UP: Didn’t you do some US dates last year?  How did this go, and was it your first time in the US?  Tell us about Chicago, and what the scene is like over there?  Did you happen to meet the legendary curmudgeon Ben Weasel?
TM: Yes, we did our 2nd US tour in 2011 with The Bomb, a band featuring Jeff Dean, Jeff Pezzati and Mike and Pete, the awesome rhythm section from the Methadones. It was a total blast and probably the wildest time I’ve ever had. Pezzati is a truly inspirational person and I’m happy we got to spend time with him and hear all his crazy stories. We’ve never met Ben Weasel, although a lot of the people we’ve met are mutual friends. I don’t really care for his attitude much and it puts me right off his music, which I used to love as a kid.

RIP IT UP: The show last night at the Brudenell was great.  How was the reaction for the Magnificent?  The venue seemed full and the sound was good too.
TM: We loved playing last night, it’s a great venue plus getting the chance to play with the Hanson Brothers was ace. People seemed really into it and it weirdly we met a lot of people with a connection to Huddersfield, including the Nomeansno clan. We just love to play and if it sounds good and people like it, it’s truly the best feeling in the world. It’s really nice of you to get in touch on the back of seeing us live and I hope you’ve enjoyed learning what we are about. For anyone reading, check us out at http://www.themagnificentcentral.com

My thanks to Jimmy and the guys, and you really should check them out, the live sound is really great stuff.