RAMBLIN MAN 2016 Day one

 

RAMBLIN’ MAN LIVE 2016

  Roll up folks, it’s that time of the year again: Ramblin’ Man Festival in Mote Park, Maidstone. Now in its second year, it’s debut in 2015 proved so popular that this year has sold out, with twenty thousand happy punters lining up to catch the likes of Europe, Uriah Heep and Whitesnake.                        

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Inglorious

Opening up the main stage on Saturday was recent sensations Inglorious. With the press falling over themselves to praise their debut album and with a Best New Band gong from sponsors Planet Rock under their belts, they hit the stage to loud applause and high expectations and proceed, quite simply, to nail it._MG_4495-4Clustering around the drum riser to The Who’s ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, they are as visually arresting as they are rockin’ – guitarist Wil Taylor looks like an only slightly less flamboyant version of The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins, while hirsute vocalist Nathan James looks rather like a pink satin wearing, Viking Sammy Hagar: in fact he also sounds a bit like the shaggy haired Van Halen frontman, too.
Musically they are clearly influenced by Led Zeppelin; tracks such as ‘High Flying Gypsy’ and the bluesy ‘Holy Water’ all but channel Messrs Plant and co – but there’s also a bit of the likes of Aerosmith in there, particularly in the glorious harmonies of ‘Girl Got a Gun’, as well as a hefty dose of dirty, riff laden blues._MG_4517
A bouncy cover of Rainbow’s ‘I Surrender’ signifies their sheer newness as a band, but apart from that you really wouldn’t know it: their enthusiasm and sheer joie de vivre mask any nerves or greenness. They even manage to blast past the early sound issues unphased – at one stage the distracting crackle causes the microphone to cut completely, as well as half guitars, but they soldier on valiantly._MG_4551-4
They finish with “the first song [they] ever wrote, ‘Nowhere’”, and leave the stage both triumphant and stunned at the response. That, folks, is how you open a festival.

Inglorious Interview

 

So firstly welcome to Ramblin’ Man, that was a great set! How did you find it?

Wil – Uh well it was just round the corner.. (Laughs) it was great, it was great, really cool.

Andreas – It was a lot of fun yeah

Wil – Lots of people, loads of people singing along as well which is awesome.

Are you touring at all this year?

Wil – Yeah yeah! We were with The Dead Daisies a couple days ago, we’ve got a few more dates with them. We’ve got our own tour, and the Steel Panther tour coming up in September/October, so we’re playing a lot!

Doug Aldrich was singing your praises earlier!

Wil – Doug is great, Doug’s one of my heroes and we’re playing with him, he’s a great guy, really cool.

So on your website it says you recorded your album with everyone in the same room, did you run into any issues recording that way?

Wil – Yeah it was quite warm.. (Laughs) we played a lot live, we practised a lot, when we practise we really practise to get everything tight. Everybody likes to get to the nitty gritty.

Andreas – It was great for me!

Wil – It was cool though listening back, because we did it live you can hear all sorts of shit. We didn’t realise till we listened back that he (Phil) makes so many noises when he plays drums. He grunts, he snorts. They’re still in there but you can’t hear them with all the noise going on.

Where are you guys touring this year?

Wil – So we’ve got Wolverhampton and Bingley with The Dead Daisies, then we’re going to the studio to do album two, we’re recording that the same way we did the last one. We’re doing a festival in Belgium with Steel Panther, Limp Bizkit, Slayer…

Is there a place that you would love to play?

Colin – Hollywood Bowl

Wil – It’s gotta be Wembley Stadium, just so you can say ‘hello Wembley’, even if there’s three people there!

What in particular inspires you when you’re songwriting?

Colin – We don’t listen to any current albums it’s just whatever comes out, we all listen to quite different stuff really. You know?

Wil – We’re all happy to just like.. When we’re in the bus any of us can put our phone on and everybody will be happy with what comes on whatever it is so.. We all enjoy the same stuff. When we’re writing it’s all really organic, you know Phil plays drums but he’s also an amazing guitarist so he comes out with riffs as much as [Andreas] does.

Colin – I guess the only way we direct it is like ‘oh we’ve got enough fast paced tracks now, shall we write a big, epic tune’ and go down that route.

Outside of music is there anything that influences you?

Phil – I like walls, I like a good, straight wall. I’m a master plasterer so…

Wil – Award winning plasterer!

Colin – Master of getting plastered!

Wil – Good people, you know we meet a lot of people doing this and everybody’s so nice. So outside of it just good people.

What can we expect from the new album?

Andreas – It’s slightly different

Wil – It’s gonna be better than the first!

Colin – It’s going to sound massive

You’re touring with some big names: Steel Panther, Limp Bizkit, Slayer… Who would you want to tour with if you could choose anyone?

Wil – It’s probably different to everyone

Colin – Probably Aerosmith, Guns ‘n’ Roses

Phil – The Beatles if they were alive!

 

 

Dead Daisies -Main Stage


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If Inglorious are the newbies then The Dead Daisies are surely the seasoned professionals of the festival. Not that any of them seem in any way jaded:they saunter onstage with an air of determination and pleasure, and show Ramblin’ Man exactly what their astonishing combined experience results in._MG_4591-2

Shaggy vocalist John Corabi, much more at home and less controversial than his previous stint in Motley Crue, is charm and professionalism combined, as he traverses the stage microphone stand twirling, while guitarist Marco Mendoza, bassist Brian Tichy, drummer David Lowy and comparative newcomer Doug Aldrich match him stride for stride, rock star pose for rock star pose. Not that that’s a criticism: far from it! These guys

know what the crowd want and they give it to them in spades._MG_4597

Tracks such as ‘Lock and Load’ and ‘Make Some Noise’ – surely as much as a call to arms as a brilliant stomper or a tune – fire everyone up and soon fists are pumping, hands are clapping and asses are wiggling as far as the eye can see. Corabi’s rasping, barrelling voice fits the band’s classic rock sound to a tee, while Aldrich shows he can still rock a guitar solo (not to mention a pair of leather trousers – hoo!).

They play a crowd pleasing range of their back catalog, from older tracks ‘Long Way to Go’, the first single from their latest album Make Some Noise, before finishing with their so called _MG_4600‘ballad’ (ha!) ‘Mainline’, which races away like a runaway train before sliding breathlessly into the station, wrapping up a brilliant set that left everyone beaming.

The Dead Daisies Interview with Doug Aldrich

Alex – Welcome to Maidstone! How are you finding it?

Doug – It’s awesome, it’s our first time here. This is a new festival right?

Alex – Yeah it’s their second year!

Doug – I’m really excited to be a part of it, and very excited to be here with The Dead Daisies. All these kinds of festivals I used to play all the time with Whitesnake. We’d drive in, do the show and leave right away. So it’s pretty cool that I can be here during the day and see some friends.

Alex – You’ve got a really busy year ahead, right?

Doug – Yes, uh I didn’t realise it was going to be that busy actually. I’ve got kids at home and stuff like that, but I’m happy to be playing guitar with my friends, and we’ve got a new record coming out August 5th called Make Some Noise which is really cool. It’s a great, fun record. It’s not difficult to digest, it’s just kick-ass rock and roll.

Alex – What do you think was the most difficult track to put together? Was there any one that challenged you?

Doug – No not really, we went through everything from ground zero together, so when you do it that way you’re kind of learning as you go and by the time you get to the studio, which for us was about two weeks after, it was pretty well oiled and ready to rock, you know?

Alex – So what are you looking forward to most in your tour? You’ve got a gig coming up in Japan!

Doug – Yes, I’ve been to Japan many many many times. I’ve been going there since the mid 80s, before you were born! It’s just awesome there, I mean the food, the people, the traditions, and I love it so much. But, looking forward to right now? My little boy is gonna come on the road with me for a few days, my boy Ryder, he’s gonna come out for about 4 or 5 German shows and travel with the band. It’s fun for me, so I’m looking forward to that and I’m looking forward to today! I wake up, and to think I get to play guitar and get paid to do it, it’s just unbelievable.

Alex – So has your son come on tour with you before?

Doug – Not like this, he was too young… He came to a couple Whitesnake shows, I’d carry him onstage just so he could see. But I’ll probably put him to work on this you know? Like dude the bus needs to be cleaned, c’mon! (Laughs) ‘okay daddy’!

Alex – Are there any bands here that you’ve got your eye on?

Doug – Inglorious are awesome, these guys they just go onstage and they’re great guys. Nathan’s one of the best singers right now. Of course I would love to see all my friends in Whitesnake and Thin Lizzy and Europe, all those guys.

Alex – Are you sticking around to see them?

Doug – We’re actually playing another show tonight so we’re gonna have to leave, but I’ve been here hanging with the guys backstage, but I won’t be able to stay for the performances.

Alex – What about any new bands that are on your radar at the moment?

Doug – There’s a couple. There’s a band called Mount Holly that has Nick Perri on guitar, he’s a friend of mine, they’re killer. They’re doing like a 70s rock thing, they’re younger guys, and he’s just a brilliant guitar player. Like the purest, old school player, and I love that. And another old school, purest player is a guy called Jarrod James Nichols, I did a tour last year with him, he opened the show and it was three guys, two guys from Sweden and Jarrod’s from mid-West US, and it’s killer. Amazing guitar player and a really cool guy, and he looks great, sings great. He kinda looks like a cross between a young Ted Nugent and Zakk Wylde. Very cool, in fact he’s on tour with Zakk right now.

Alex – Awesome, so let’s talk about your set up at the moment!

Doug – I’m doing a straight up Marshall rig right now, pedals… I have a few pedals but I’m finding myself- these stages are pretty big, I bought myself a really killer wireless. With Whitesnake I’d always use a cable because cable sounds best. With Whitesnake we always had these sort of clean stages, nothing onstage, so you wouldn’t get caught up. We did a gig the other day with Hollywood Vampires with Johnny Depp, it was like a mine field or an obstacle course! If you’ve got a cable you’re getting caught up on somebody’s fan or wedge or some cable. It’s crazy, so I go ‘alright, that’s enough, I’m gonna get a wireless’ and I bought this super expensive one, so now I’m playing with that I’m really far from my own pedals, so I’m just like ‘maybe I don’t even need them’?! I just play it straight out and just rock.

Alex – Do you have any influences outside of music?

Doug – Definitely my son and daughter are inspirational to me. When I was putting my son to bed he’d be like ‘Dad I just can’t sleep, I’m too jacked up man!’ and I’ll start playing guitar and he’ll relax and he’ll be asleep. And I’ve started to play these little things that I’ve never played before, it’s inspiring. I guess anything can be an inspiration, I love cars, I love motorcycles. A lot of times when I’m on my bike I get an idea for a song in my head, or a riff, and then I need to pull over and hum it into my phone because otherwise I’ll forget about it. But I get these great ideas just like ‘ah shit, hold on guys I’ve gotta pull over!’ I love gangster movies, the old stuff, The Godfather, stuff like Casino. These are all older but they’re great movies, and Scarface, all that stuff! But I love Westerns too, that are before I was born, I love that stuff! In the 70s Clint Eastwood made a bunch of movies in Italy called the Spaghetti Westerns, I love all that stuff.

Alex – There’s been a regular change in line up in The Dead Daisies, how does that affect you guys?

Doug – I think it started off as trying to find a good fit, and they found a good fit with the last line up, with Richard (Fortus) and Dizzy (Reed) and I think it was pretty solid, but those guys were still in Guns ‘n’ Roses, it was just they were on a break. So they called me and said ‘hey we wanna make a record and would you be interested, we’re doing it from scratch’. So this is for all intents and purposes the line up, you never know what happens in the future, but we’re gonna try and keep this line up together.

Alex – Well that’s everything, I hope you have a great day and your gig tonight goes well!

Doug – Thank you so much!

 

 

Thin Lizzy- Main Stage 

Thin Lizzy are are one of those bands that, unless you’re a huge fan, you don’t think you know very much of their stuff. Then you see them live and go “huh! Well, look at that”, as track after much loved track roll off the stage. The band, who are a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster since they reconvened following former frontman Phil Lynott’s tragic death thirty years ago, have long since passed into the realm of legend, and tonight’s set certainly proves that.

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They open with a volley of hits: ‘Jailbreak’, ‘Killer on the Loose’ and a brash yet somehow delicate ‘Dancing In the Moonlight’, all of which send the crowd in paroxysms of delight. Vocalist Ricky Warwick sounds almost spookily similar to Lynott’s; indeed, the whole band replicate both the sound and the spirit of Lynott’s vision faithfully, if a tad beefed up and modernised version: they are clearly intent on preserving the legacy of the original lineup.
Even amongst the famous faces onstage, their special guests are special indeed: Tom Hamilton from Aerosmith is there, and even Midge Ure joins them for a couple of songs, including ‘Cowboy Song’ and a massive ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’, which has the crowd roaring.

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It’s testament to the ridiculously high quality of their songs that that’s not even heir final number: this is reserved for ‘Whiskey In the Jar’, which the band, as ever, take and make their own with that instantly recognisable, almost symphonic riffing style they are so renowned for. The crowd even sing along to the riff – a sign that a song, much like Thin Lizzy themselves, has also passed into the realm of legend.,

 

Europe- Main Stage

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Far from being the one hit wonder that many people mistake them for, Swedish rockers Europe actually have a long and indeed impressive back catalog. Of course, when they appear at festivals such as this, a large swathe of the crowd are only there for ‘that’ song, but undoubtedly leave as fans of much of that back catalog.
They start with the title track of War of Kings, an album that gets quite a few hits during their hour long set. Frontman Joey Tempest is still in remarkably fine voice, and it’s an instantly recognisable one at that. The song itself is surprisingly chunky, particularly if you only know them for their rather saccharine biggest hit – operation ‘convert the crowd’ has begun.
They barely pause for breath, it has to be said, firing out hit after hit; even the most casual of fans would be delighted with their setlist. From ‘Hole In My Pocket’, with its bass groove that’s heavy enough to hammer in nails, to crowd favourite ‘Rock the Night’, to the hard swagger of ‘Scream of Anger’ and the slinky ‘Superstitious’, their entire set is simply exceptional, and every song prompts a huge singalong from the crowd.

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“Good evening UK! We’re back in the cradle of rock”, Tempest enthuses to roars of approval, before they launch into the ‘all the bells and whistles’ of ‘Firebox’. Then, “if you’re looking for something heavy…hold on to your underwear!”, he intones jokingly, as the band intro ‘Nothing to Ya’, followed by a beefed up ‘Cherokee’.

After ‘Days of Rock and Roll’, during which Tempest slings on a guitar, the intro to THAT tune finally rings out. “Here’s a song for ya!’, Tempest bellows, before launching into the song that is practically embedded in everyone in the world’s DNA. With the crowd singing the lyrics, solo and even synth intro, it’s the crowd pleaser to end all crowd pleaders, and tops off a flawless performance.

Whitesnake – Main Stage   

_MG_5379Almost from their inception, Whitesnake have turned heads and filled stadiums. Their hook-laden, punchy as hell songs were perfectly suited to the big hair and bigger egos in the late Seventies and early Eighties, as indeed they have remained until the present day – although to be fair Whitesnake were always steelier and harder edged than the hair metal bands they were always rather unfairly lumped with.
Thus there was a heavy air of anticipation in front of the stage as the band prepared to close day one of the festival, and goodness me didn’t they hit the ground running? “Are. You. Ready?!” shrieks frontman David Coverdale, before they fire up ‘Bad Boys’, surely as close to their theme tune as they’ve ever written, followed by the in no way subtle ‘Slide It In. Oof._MG_5413
From then on there’s no stopping them: ‘Love Ain’t No Stranger’ is razor sharp, power ballad ‘The Deeper the Love’ is a real ‘lighter in the air’ moment, especially that massive key change, and ‘Fool For Your Lovin’ shoots out that hard partying riff like nobody’s business.
There followed what could be called the ‘rather self indulgent’ section of the set, which consisted of not one, but two guitar solos, a bass solo, and finally (what else?) a drum solo. While it’s true that their hardcore fans went wild, your more casual festival goer, it did seem a tiny bit unnecessary. Ah well; they did treat the crowd to the machine gun rattle of ‘Slow and Easy’ and the gloriously OTT ‘Crying In the Rain’ in between, which pretty much made up for it._MG_5377
As so often happens, they leave the best for last: ‘Is This Love’ – boom! ‘Give Me All Your Love’ – pow! A powerful ‘Here I Go Again’, followed by set highlight ‘Still of the Night’ – yes!! As closing volleys go it’s pretty much unbeatable, not to mention a hell of a way to bring the night to a close. Brilliant.

 

 

Ginger Wildheart – Main Stage

_MG_4831By the time the coolest guy in punk rock (oh come on, you all want to be as cool as this guy) Ginger Wildheart takes to the stage, the crowd are starting to show signs of wilting in the fierce mid afternoon sun. No matter; they still manage to raise an enthusiastic cheer for the dapper Mr Wildheart and his band as they launch into their distinct brand of punk rock and rock n roll, punctuated by accents of rockabilly._MG_4813Looking and sounding for all the world like a cross between Brian Setzer and The Damned, Wildheart cuts a dashing figure as the band and he play all the classics such as ‘Sonic Shake’ and ‘Neon City’, dazzling the crowd with their passionate delivery and technical wizardry, particularly evident during the crowd pleasing extended guitar solos.

By the time they wrap up their forty minute set the audience have perked up considerably, unable to resist the call of the classy and effervescent songs, almost all with deceptively sharp lyrics – take the title of set closer ‘That’s a Nasty Habit You’ve Got There’ as a perfect example of Wildheart’s clever songwriting. Lovely job.

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Far from being the one hit wonder that many people mistake them for, Swedish rockers Europe actually have a long and indeed impressive back catalog. Of course, when they appear at festivals such as this, a large swathe of the crowd are only there for ‘that’ song, but undoubtedly leave as fans of much of that back catalog.
They start with the title track of War of Kings, an album that gets quite a few hits during their hour long set. Frontman Joey Tempest is still in remarkably fine voice, and it’s an instantly recognisable one at that. The song itself is surprisingly chunky, particularly if you only know them for their rather saccharine biggest hit – operation ‘convert the crowd’ has begun.
They barely pause for breath, it has to be said, firing out hit after hit; even the most casual of fans would be delighted with their setlist. From ‘Hole In My Pocket’, with its bass groove that’s heavy enough to hammer in nails, to crowd favourite ‘Rock the Night’, to the hard swagger of ‘Scream of Anger’ and the slinky ‘Superstitious’, their entire set is simply exceptional, and every song prompts a huge singalong from the crowd.
“Good evening UK! We’re back in the cradle of rock”, Tempest enthuses to roars of approval, before they launch into the ‘all the bells and whistles’ of ‘Firebox’. Then, “if you’re looking for something heavy…hold on to your underwear!”, he intones jokingly, as the band intro ‘Nothing to Ya’, followed by a beefed up ‘Cherokee’.
After ‘Days of Rock and Roll’, during which Tempest slings on a guitar, the intro to THAT tune finally rings out. “Here’s a song for ya!’, Tempest bellows, before launching into the song that is practically embedded in everyone in the world’s DNA. With the crowd singing the lyrics, solo and even synth intro, it’s the crowd pleaser to end all crowd pleaders, and tops off a flawless performance.

The Graveltones – Main Stage

The task of opening the main stage on day two of a festival is always a challenge; hangovers and tiredness can create a lethargic crowd that can be difficult to rouse. Luckily, two piece blues rock band The Graveltones have their game faces on and rise to the challenge with aplomb.
_MG_5504After being introduced by the Planet Rock MC as “the band that officially takes up the least amount of room on the stage”, they proceed to do their damnedest to wake the crowd, with vocalist and guitarist Jimmy O launching into a groove so thick you could chew it, ably backed by drummer Mikey Sorbello.
Musically they are extraordinarily tight, as indeed they would have to be to create a cohesive sound as a duo. They cleverly link the melody in the vocals with the guitar melody, while Sorbello’s drums lock in a rich beat which brings it all together. The result is a s Lund that is in no way thin or scant; an impressive feat._MG_5507
Their songs are a rather rambling affair (if you’ll excuse the pun), loosely structured as blues tracks often are. Sound wise they are rather reminiscent of that famous duo The White Stripes at their most bluesy – think ‘Ickythump’ and you’d be on the right track. Having said that, there’s also a strong pub rock element in there too, as happens with many Aussie bands; one song reminded your reviewer of Cold Chisel’s ‘The Rising Sun Just Stole My Girl Away’ that there were distinct pangs of homesickness!
The Graveltones are an admirably low key band; even the moments of guitar wizardry and _MG_5530drum solos are short and sweet (take note, bigger bands). Instead, they focus on nailing their drawled vocals and swaggering, often rather sexy grooves that in no time at all have people’s hips swaying and heads nodding with approval.
the time they depart the stage the crowd have perked up considerably and they have undoubtedly gained a plethora of new fans. Job done.

 

The Answer -Main Stage

_MG_5665There’s something of a theme for much of today on the main stage today: blues rock, heavy on both the blues and the rock. Northern Ireland’s The Answer join the ranks of other bands like The Graveltones and The Kentucky Headhunters in delighting the crowd with some good ol’ bluesy rock.

They take to the stage in some lovely afternoon sun to the strains of ‘Irish Rover’ – which, it has to be said, piques people’s interest straight away, before launching into their distinctive brand of boogie-woogie blues with a hefty dose of heaviness. Punctuated by frontman Cormac Neeson’s equally distinctive rasp (not to mention his “I’m being mildly electrocuted” dance moves)’ and people cheer enthusiastically; they really are making a great name for themselves on this side of the Irish Sea._MG_5712

Neeson introduces them, assuring he crowd that “the Northern Irish are here, we’ll take care of you”, before they play a raucous ‘Come Follow Me’. In fact, he interacts well with the crowd for this whole set, checking in on them, encouraging them to sing and even doing the old ‘split the crowd down the middle and get them to compete’ ploy,vresulting in a rather beautiful spot of mass harmonising. He also tells a rather amusing tale of touri with Whitesnake, confiding that the great David Coverdale keeps force feeding him Irish whisky!_MG_5776

In between the banter is some serious tuneage, with tracks such as ‘Preachin” and the uplifting ‘Spectacular’ being particularly well received. They finish with two songs from their yet to be released new album Solus: the rather gospel-sounding, stripped back ‘Thief Of Life’, followed by the title track, which is a deceptively simple yet intense slow burner. As musical themes go, ‘kick ass blues with bite’ is definitely one that’s hard to beat.

Airbourne – Main Stage

_MG_6025And now for something completely different…Aussie AC/DC fanboys Airbourne were up next, filing onstage to the Terminator soundtrack – very rock and roll – before launching into perfect opening track ‘Ready To Rock’. In an instant frontman Joel O’Keefe has leapt the monitors and plays extravagantly just inches away from the rather high up stage ledge, undoubtedly earning gasps from the security guards.

A slightly deranged ball of energy, O’Keefe is charismatic as hell and is clearly having the time of his life: the joy – macho, blokey joy of course – radiates off him in waves._MG_5932

The ecstatic crowd grows larger by the minute as more people are drawn to the band’s simple yet terrifically fun tracks such as ‘Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast’ and ‘Chewin’ the Fat’, during which O’Keefe rolls out his ‘watch me bash a beer car on my head until it bursts’ trick – ouch.

His next trick comes during next song ‘Girls In Black’ when, despite being banned from doing so, he grabs hold of the nearest lighting rig and with a determined grin begins climbing. Almost instantly a ‘head honcho’ looking chap is at the foot of the rig, ordering him down. With a devilish smirk he initially refuses – ooh he’s a naughty, naughty boy – before relenting only after the band’s sound is cut. “If I can’t go up, I’m going out – f**k the man!” he declares, before clambering on to a roadie’s shoulders and travelling a quite astonishing distance, playing on as he went, before returning triumphantly to the stage to a huge roar of approval from the crowd._MG_6064

The rest of their set is comparatively calm, with O’Keefe necking an entire bottle of Stone’s Ginger Beer – “tastes pretty good!” he bellows – before they finish with ‘Breaking Out’, ‘Live It Up’ and finally ‘Runnin’ Wild and Free’ – a pretty good summation of their set, really. And yes, they sound quite a bit like AC/DC, but who the hell cares? Who doesn’t love a bit of Acka Dacka, hmm? Airbourne are clearly of the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ school of rock – and we bloody love team for it.

Thunder – Main Stage

_MG_6119Can you really go back? That’s a question that a lot of bands who split up and get back together ask themselves. For hard rock legends Thunder, they are certainly having a game stab at finding out. Having reformed most recently a few years ago, ostensibly for a handful of gigs which yen spun out to several shows and an album (Wonder Days) in 2015, they are still together to the point of recording again, with a release due next year: taking the second headliner spot at the festival is therefore a big cherry on top of a very sweet cake.

Starting with – what else? – a rumbling thunder intro, they fire into ‘Wonder Days’ and it _MG_6212becomes instantly clear that they’ve lost none of their power and might, particularly vocalist Danny Bowes, who is an astonishing powerhouse in a natty white jacket.

And it doesn’t stop there: tracks such as ‘River of Pain’ and ‘The Thing I Want’ are fired out with as much enthusiasm as the band had during their first incarnation. The crowd, for their part, go absolutely nuts at every single tube, singing along with gusto – and when power ballad ‘Love Walked In’ comes on, you could have powered the entire festival with the energy released during the accompanying singalong.

In between songs Bowes indulges in some easygoing banter with the audience, calling the non jumpers ‘lazy’ and pitting one side against the other in a ‘who’s the loudest’ contest.

_MG_6272They finish with an extended version of ‘Dirty Love’, all classic Eighties rock sound and a hook so deep you’ll never shake it: honestly, The Darkness aspire to write something this catchy, only coming close with ‘Growing On Me’. With a ‘thank you’ and a wave they leave the crowd both sated and delighted. So it seems that the answer to that earlier question, in the case of Thunder, is a resounding yes.

Black Stone Cherry – Main Stage

_MG_6490The UK has always welcomed bands like Black Stone Cherry with open arms, taking them on as adopted musical sons and sending them ever higher up festival bills. Tonight they reach their first pinnacle by headlining Ramblin’ Man, and goodness me did they pull out all the stops in celebration. Taking to the stage to House of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’ (eh?) they waste no time in cranking up ‘Me and Mary Jane’ , which immediately showcases their signature slick, good time Southern rock sound that they do so well.

Every track is put together perfectly, as do the band members: they mesh together so well that there are no gaps, no weak spots, no fillers. Songs such as ‘Blind Man’, ‘Rain Wizard’ and ‘Built for Comfort’ are simply brilliant, while tracks from their new album Kentucky, such as ‘Soul Machine’, ‘Rescue Me’ and ‘Cheaper to Drink Alone’ fit both comfortably and dynamically into their existing tracks._MG_6468

Its not all just slick and well rehearsed: prior to ‘In My Blood’ frontman Chris Robertson reveals that he had battled some terrible demons a few years back, before declaring that “it’s ok to go to a doctor if you’re suffering from anxiety or depression”, to loud cheers, while ‘Things My Father Said’ is prefaced with a heartfelt chat, then Robertson brings The Kentucky Headhunters onstage and talks about the passing of one of the band members’ father. It’s a tearjerking, emotional performance that you would have to be pretty cold hearted not to be affected by.

That said, there’s also plenty of lighter moments, such as Robertson revealing that they’ve never played ‘Cheaper to Drink Alone’ live before and expressing the band’s nervousness (they nail it, by the way), and then there’s the frantic, ‘kid with a new toy’ performance – he must run ten miles by the time their set has finished.

_MG_6365They save some of their biggest hits to last, blasting out ‘White Trash Millionare’ and ‘Blame It On the Boom Boom’ pre and post encore, followed by an enforced a cappella version (technical issues) of ‘The Rambler’ – a nice touch – then ‘Lonely Train’ and a brisk version of ‘Ace of Spades’, which delights one and all. So, headlining a festival: done, and with panache. Next stop? Much like this festival itself, the sky is the limit for the UKs favourite Southern rock sons.

Massive Wagons – Rising Stage

Some bands, when you see them on tiny ‘introducing’ stages at festivals, you know instantly are destined for greater things. Within twenty seconds of Massive Wagons charging out onstage like gambolling puppies, it’s patently obvious that this is one such band. Launching into ‘Tokyo’, the first single from new album Welcome to the World, they begin drawing a crowd from people wandering past, intrigued by the boisterous racket coming from the stage.

In frontman Baz Mills they have an almost unfairly charismatic leader. He is a veritable ball of boundless energy, a headbanging, shaggy haired, double denimed beardy master of ceremonies, bouncing around the stage like he main lined espresso just prior to coming onstage. The rest of the band are equally as rambunctious as they perfectly fire out tracks such as ‘Nails’, yearning new single ‘Ratio’ and ‘Red Dress’, all helpless worship of the female form. It’s during the latter track that Mills clambers aboard someone’s shoulders and goes for a wander through the crowd, hig fiving and grinning for photos, to the astonishment of everyone! Impressively he doesn’t miss a single note and manages to charm everyone who witnesses his spontaneous party trick.

They finish with the hilarious and hig energy ‘Fe Fi Fo Fum’ which gets every last head in the crowd bobbing and every face beaming. Massive Wagons are a simply astonishing band live: like blues rock on steroids, driving a Mack truck, with no brakes and a devilish grin. In short, with talent like this it will not be long until they are climbing higher and higher up the lineups of festivals such as this.

Cats In Space – Rising Stage

With a name like Cats In Space and a description that goes thus: “classic 70s inspired rock with a sprinkling of AOR power pop”, you could certainly surmise that the crowd that gathered in front of the Rising stage were intrigued to say the least. After a rather proggy intro of dancing synths and swirling guitars, they begin the title track of their debut album Too Many Gods with no experienced flourish and show the audience exactly what that description means. Like a surreal mash up of Iron Maiden, Supertramp and ELO, they are all joyful harmonies, hooks that you will not want to shake off even if you could, and melodies that are simply sublime.

The curious crowd are charmed at once, cheering enthusiastically and lapping up every minute of the band’s whimsical, deeply pleasing to the ear set. What is great about them is they take heir influences and put emir own spin on hem. So ‘Only In Vegas’ sounds a bit like The Eagles, but if The Eagles wore gaudy jumpsuits and eyeshadow, while ‘Last Man Standing’ sounds a bit like Supertramp but with added dazzling harmonies: honestly, between vocalist Paul Manzi with bassist Jeff Brown and rhythm guitarist Greg Hart, their range is phenomenal.

Though their sound is clearly rooted in the Seventies, this is no lazy copycat project; rather, it’s clearly a loving homage to the music that the band members grew up with and have a great amount of fondness for. That affection is clear in every single note, which results in music that you simply can’t help but smile at and enjoy immensely. So maybe they should change their description: ‘smiley rock’ sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

 

Interview: Cats In Space

 

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Melanie: welcome to Ramblin’ Man!

Cats In Space: well thank you!

M: would you describe yourselves as a supergroup?

CIS: ooh! Well I think we’re pretty super! (laughs). Well, we’ve all been around the block a bit, but still, we wouldn’t be so…crass (laughs). We’re more ‘a wealth of experience’.

M: that’s a good way to put it! So what brought you all together?

CIS: witchcraft. No, it kind of was! It’s one of those weird things, it was a chain of events. We both have successful Seventies stage shows going around the country, and I’ve got one with members of other bands and play in bands myself, and we needed someone to go to Germany with us. So I got in touch with a friend of mine who said “I know this guy Jeff “. So I phoned him up,cue talked like we’d known each other for years – I mean, we had probably met each other at the old Marquee Club but never properly met, you know? So he came to Germany with us, we did a show, we came back. Three or four weeks later he came to me, said “I’ve got an idea”, and then Paul came over. By that, I mean this was December, the following week, (vocalist) Paul Manzi came and did some stuff and I thought “bloody hell, he’s good!”. Andy (Stewart, keyboards) and I have been in groups together for ages so Andy’s always been there; and Steevi Bacon the drummer – we’ve always talked about do something but never managed it, so he was there. And then Jeff came in and everyone loved Jeff. We ran some demo’s for the album together and then bit by bit all the guys came in and laid stuff down. We went into the studio and starting doing stuff for real, but the way studios work, none of the guys ever crossed paths – well, Maybe one or two did – but the first time the whole band met each other was filming the video for ‘Mr Heartache’! But somehow, it just clicked. People talk about that, but it does happen. The cosmos was definitely lined up for us.

M: very good! Your influences are all very big, grand, epic sounding bands. Is that what you aspire to?

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CIS: yes, epic rock. A lot of bands – the modern world is the modern world, it’s just not the place we come from – we love old school stuff that had big choruses; multiproduction stuff – pre punk stuff. We just thought we’d have a crack at doing something like that. It’s always been the thing that tickled my pipe, anyway. So that was the brief when Greg and I got together: stuff that no one else is doing, and see if we can pull it off! So we’ve got the Supertramp keyboards there, the guitars there, the harmonies, and we just thought we’d have a go at it. And it just works! That’s why the band formed: I think we came into the band knowing we don’t have to listen to that stuff to learn how to play it, it’s already there, WE were there. So that’s the connecting factor for all of us. Plus it’s a labour of love – it’s so unfashionable, it’s become completely fashionable again!

M: well they say if you wait long enough things come back into fashion again!

CIS: exactly! And it’s captured the imagination and we didn’t know that would happen. I thought we’d do something that would end up just being for ourselves. We knew we loved it and we thought it would be good if other people loved it, but we didn’t expect people to go “God they’re really unique and really different! And I’m thinking “we’re not really, we’re just doing something known to us!” (laughs). And we’re a bit dumbfounded! But we have to remember that the six of us tend to be stuck in the Seventies anyway – to us, it’s like yesterday – but some people, when they hear it they really haven’t heard it before bar the odd Queen box set or Pink Floyd reissue. But I think we undervalued the fact that people hadn’t heard this stuff for a long time. And we’re loving it! We’re a bit bemused too; be careful what you wish for! (laughs). But also we’re not kids, so we’re really appreciating the people who are appreciating us and what we’re doing. It feels nice. For thirty years we’ve all been in bands, trying to make it; we’re dinosaurs! But we’ve never made it really big: Jeff’s done a lot of stuff with T’Pau and that’s about it. But if we can do it at this time of our lives it would be such an amazing story. And people are saying it’s quite a good story, a sort of ‘old boys having a go’ – almost like a football team, they’re cheering the underdo. The undercats! We love a good cat pun (laughs). We’re not wise. Morecambe and Wise! Unwise haha. Next question!

M: ok! You headlined the Rising stage today. That must have been quite an honour?

CIS: it’s only our fifth gig (laughs)! Next up is the O2 in London! It’s just mental, it is! We’d heard a rumour a long time ago that Ramblin’ Man might be adding a fourth stage but that was before I knew Bruce Dickinson was doing it. Then when he wasn’t, he rang up one day and said “would you guys headline the Sunday?” we were like “this is just getting silly now!” (laughs). We’ve had a good old journey to get here, though! We’ve worked so hard. (Greg) I came from Belgium! (Jeff) no, I meant the other type of journey!

M: literally and figuratively!

CIS: exactly (laughs). Moving on!

M: what made you choose a Slade cover as a single?

CIS: I think it’s (‘How Does It Feel’) one of the best Seventies ballads ever written, plus one of the best songs ever. And I mean, Noddy Holder…and Jim Lea…we wanted to do the best. When we were thinking of a cover I said I wanted to do ‘How Does It Feel’ and I went “ooh, that’s a tricky baseline!”. But it’s wonderful to play. And we couldn’t have done any other Slade song because they’re too glam rock, whereas ‘How Does It Feel’ was like The Beatles. It’s one of my favourite songs ever, and it’s got a deep sentimental thing for me. And rather than just doing an obvious one – we could have done Queen- I just really wanted to do this one. Plus I knew Paul could sing it in the right key. And then we did it and I thought “I know a man who could do this as well” and that was (Thunder’s) Danny Bowes. I’ve met Danny a few times, and I know he never does stuff like this, he never does duets. I didn’t pressurise him too much (laughs), I just asked him and he said “that’s my favourite song! I’ll do it”. So it was a real coup. And when we recorded it they had a massive sing off in the studio, which was just amazing. We don’t do too much like that, but we do like to throw our hat in the ring for the occasional tribute back to where we came from.

M: your debut album is called Too Many Gods. Is that a commentary about the world today?

CIS: yes, exactly. Although it was meant to be Too Many Dogs, but I got the spelling wrong (laughs). How clever would that have been, to call it Too Many Dogs?! A lot of people think we’re quite lighthearted, but we can be quite sinister as well. I don’t like putting sinister stuff across too much – music is meant to be entertaining, after all – but every now and again you have to dig in with something you feel strongly about. And again, whatever people may think of us we are very real, we are believable and fully committed to this – we genuinely love all this stuff. So therefore we wrote a really harsh lyric that was a bit topical because there are nut cases out there. We don’t do a lot of it, only every now and again, but sometimes you’ve had enough and you do want to say something. You see Facebook stuff scrolling past constantly and think “you know what? I just want to have a word here”. And the way we do it is almost subliminal; it’s not until people walk away that they think “hang on, that lyric was a bit ooh”. They don’t hear it at first because they’re just listening to the grandness of the song. It’s about digging in and finding the deeper layers to the song – that’s what excites me, always did. You listen to Queen and go “oh my God!” and then you start digging in and find out what Freddie was really getting at. Especially after he got sick. You heard ‘The Show Must Go On’ and thought it was just another amazing Queen song, but then after we found out he was ill…and that’s the sign of amazing writing, that lasts the test of time. It’s like, there’s a lot of emotion in people our age; we’re getting older, it’s not all lovely and light. There’s a lot of s**t out there that we have to deal with every day. It’s getting bloody hard and you think “what’s going on?”. So we have to go for this. We’re singing about trying to save Tin Pan Alley, things like that. And I like it that way.

M: absolutely. You said this was only your fifth gig. Does it still get nerve racking, even with all of your experience?

CIS: yes! Yes it is (laughs). It’s why we’re all alcoholics. No, it is very nerve racking, for me personally, because you feel that pressure. But I think when we see people reacting, and hear the things they’re saying, you do take it on board and think “they really are going for this”. And sometimes, like it was today when you just arrive and jump straight onstage – we prefer a bit more time to sort the sound out – so yeah, for me it’s nerve racking but also really exciting. A good mix. If you don’t get nervous before a gig, you’re doing something wrong.

M: and then you’re out on the road in September. Are you looking forward to it?

CIS: absolutely. It’ll be nice to go out with the group and do several shows, on a regular
 basis, so we can really get into playing the songs in a comfortable manner. Like I said, when you rock up with no sound check, it’s really hard to just bang in there. Especially when you’ve got all the keyboards, instruments, the harmonies. So I’m going to look forward to being more relaxed, going onstage knowing we’ve done the sound check and everything’s cool. We’ll bed in and it will just be second nature. Even with our early gigs, we did a cheeky warm up and it was packed! And that was nerve racking but also amazing. That first gig was really special. And then we did Great Yarmouth which was a festival, so you’ve got a captive audience of six or seven hundred people. And now we’re doing Ramblin’ Man! And as much as getting onstage today was great, you do sometimes wish there was another twenty or so gigs under your belt.

M: gotta start somewhere!

CIS: places like this though, you’ve just got to get on with it. And we’re just going to make the most of every single second

L I’ve got to say, if that was you guys unprepared, you must be phenomenal when you are ! I watched your set and it was amazing! I was blown away, I genuinely was.

CIS: well thank you! We are totally bemused by all of it though (laughs)’ we really are! We are eternally grateful to everyone, we really are, but we’re still looking around going “I don’t believe this!”. Like, we had a guy come up and say “that was amazing, I loved it – you have to come to Wales!”. And yes it’s just one guy, but to have people come up to us and say that was really special. And we are finding we are getting fanatical fans; we don’t get people saying it was alright or not bad.

M: it’s not that kind of music.

CIS: you either get it or you don’t – and there’s a lot of people out there that are getting it. It’s just…(shakes his head in disbelief, laughing). We’re not putting this on, we’re genuinely bemused! When you start off doing stuff in the studio and interviews and do on, you just never know. As a writer and a musician, when you’re in that tiny cocoon building something up, you’re in your own mind anyway. It doesn’t translate to the real world. It’s all self indulgent. I mean, when we started I thought we would just do a demo; I thought it would be three days, in the studio last summer, in my shorts. And then we played it and it was like “oh, this is good!”. And that was it – hooked. And that’s the same with all the guys, it really is a labour of love. And it got picked up and it ran. And for me, I don’t even consider myself a musician: I play the guitar, but I’m a songwriter. I’m not one of these guys that goes out and virtuoso plays the guitar, I’m just a player. But in the actual band, I’m a songwriter. But songs only last if they’re well written tunes. I was told that a long time ago by a producer. The good ones are when anyone can walk away from hearing it and whistle the solo, or the hook. That’s what I aspire to. That’s stood me since I was about seventeen.

M: I always think that – especially at a festival – if the crowd is singing the riff, or the melody, even when there’s no vocals, that’s a successful song.

CIS: exactly. When we did our first gig, everybody sang it back to us. Which is great because we forgot the words (laughs). I just watched the crowd and went “oh yeah, that’s what’s next!”.

M: have you seen anybody else today, or are you going to?

CIS: no, but we’re going to try and see Thunder. We haven’t had a chance to see anyone yet – you know what it’s like (gestures around the press area). We could hear some of the bands that played on the Rising stage when we were close to it: wow, some of those kids are so talented! We hate them (laughs). At that age we were just doing ‘Smoke on the Water’! They just have everything down so well. And I may not be into the music, but you have to appreciate them for what they can do, what they’re bringing to the scene. They’re all such good players, particularly the drummers. Because drummers in our day – to find one that could play in time was really hard.

M: well thanks very much guys, and I genuinely enjoyed your set today.

CIS: thank you, we appreciate that!

 

The Cadillac Three

 

The Cadillac Three

Effortlessly cool and commanding of the crowds attention from the get go, The Cadillac Three brought a truly explosive set to Sunday afternoon at Ramblin’ Man fair, featuring crushing guitars and endless energy. The band, hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, described the people they’d met around the UK festival as ‘lovely people that talked funny’ after playing their opening tracks. They then slowed down for a ‘love song’; Jaren Johnston’s vocals over twinkling guitar riffs suited the Sunday afternoon atmosphere perfectly, and the track built into an arena sized sound – a great way to lead straight back into the first single from their upcoming album ‘Bury Me In My Boots’ (available August 5th under Big Machine Records). The track, entitled ‘Slide’, appeared subdued at the start, with Jaren delivering gritty vocals before the band erupt into another massive sounding, fast paced track. The new album is definitely one to look out for in the coming months.

Catch them live on their US tour until November, when they return to the UK for a string of shows before heading to Europe. Or, find them on Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Apple Music… You get the picture!

 

TAX THE HEAT INTERVIEW

Alex and Jack of Tax the Heat

Melanie: Welcome to Ramblin’ Man!

Tax the Heat: thank you!

M: It’s your first time here but certainly not your first festival. How does it compare to other festivals you’ve played?

TTH: Well we’ve only just got here (laughs), we’ve literally been here for about five minutes. It smells and looks like a festival so far! It’s all good – we’ve all been looking forward to it.

M: You’ve signed to Nuclear Blast, which is pretty amazing! Congratulations.

TTH: thank you!P7249325

M: How did that come about?

TTH: We were in a position where we were ready to do the album: we were touring a lot and we were ready to put it out. We were looking at some labels and there were some labels interested in us, and our management had an existing relationship with Nuclear Blast and knew what they had done with other bands, and they were excited about the band. So it just kind of happened quite naturally, really. And they’ve been amazing to us – really, really cool. And it’s been great ever since: everything that we do, we want to keep it in a sort of old school rock spirit. And that’s what they’re all about, the music. So it just felt right, and that’s where it came from.

M: You’re in some pretty sterling company on the label. Does that push you to work hard?

TTH: Yeah! And the label believe in us and we believe in them to do it because they’ve got the track record. It’s a nice place to be, in terms of that. So yeah, it just works.

M: You’ve received some very positive reviews so far, including Thin Lizzy, who then took you out on tour! How was that?

P7249328TTH: Amazing. Because I mean, they’re legends! So to know that they were really digging what we were doing was just…

M: Is it weird to even think “they’ve heard of us!”.

TTH: Yeah! Totally. It is really weird! And Scott Gorham is just an absolute legend and a hero of ours. So to hear the great things he’s been saying about our band – and the fact that they took us out on tour with Black Star Riders – yeah, it’s just amazing. Did you see their show here yesterday?

M: Of course!

TTH: How was it?

M: Unbelievable!

TTH: We would have loved to have seen it! It’s such a shame it’s not today (laughs).

M: For me, they’re one of those bands that you go “I don’t know if I know that much of their stuff” and then you watch their set and go “I know all of this!”. It’s like it’s in everybody’s DNA almost.

TTH: Great songs!P7249318

M: You kind of have an old school bluesy rock sound. What draws you to that?

TTH: Well initially we were thinking about a lot of the bands from the Sixties and the energy that they had, and just being a great live band. So that was the starting point really. But we didn’t want to be just an old school band – we’ve obviously got those influences, but we have such a vast array of influences. So that was the starting point; we’ve always been influenced by those type of bands and it just went from there.

M: On the flipside then, how do you feel about modern rock music?

TTH: Good! We feel really good about it! (laughs). There are some amazing bands. I think the one thing for us is we just love so much music – everyone in Tax the Heat really just puts their heart and soul into it because we just love music so much. And it comes from all sorts of music, and there’s a lot of stuff that me Jack) and Alex specifically love – like the old school Sixties stuff – but there’s loads of bands around that we really love as well. And we just try to put all of that into one thing, and trying to make that one thing becomes Tax the Heat. That’s what we’re aiming to do.

M: Over the weekend you’re playing with some real legends. It must feel quite surreal to be in that sort of company?

TTH: Yeah, it’s great! We did another festival yesterday (Steelhouse Festival) and it was nice to see the Thunder guys there, who we’ve done a few shows with in the past, and they’ll be here again today. Yeah, there’s a bunch of great bands that are on.

M: Are you staying for awhile today?

TTH: Yeah we’re going to stay for a bit today. There’s a few bands here – we played yesterday like Jack said, and Von Hertzen Brothers were on after us. And I forgot they were playing yesterday so I was thinking about seeing them today, but we’re playing at the same time! And of course our good friends in The Graveltones: we just heard the end of their set as we got here.

M: They were amazing!

TTH: They’re so good.

M: I can’t believe that much noise comes out of a duo. It’s impressive!

TTH: They’re noisy b**tards (laughs).

M: Well, they’re Aussies – we’re all noisy!

TTH: Exactly (laughs).

M: So what’s next for the band?

TTH: We’ve got a tour this week: we’re going out with a band called Ash, who we grew up loving! Then we’ve got a couple of our own shows at the end of that week. And we’re writing as well, and going out on tour again at the end of the year. So just trying to keep the momentum up.P7249322

M: That’s the name of the game these days. Last question: what do you say to people who say ‘rock is dead’?

TTH: Come and see Tax the Heat! (laughs).

M: Good answer!

TTH: It’s alive and well! And it’s in good company.

M: Yes! Well, thanks very much guys.

TTH: Thank you, cheers!

INTERVIEW – THE FIERCE AND THE DEAD

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Matt and Steve from The Fierce and the Dead

Melanie: Welcome to Ramblin’ Man!

The Fierce and the Dead: Hello!

M: This is a fairly new festival. How have you liked it so far?

MATT: Fantastic, really enjoyed it so far. And the mighty Hawkwind are playing, which we are so excited about! We are giddy like children because Hawkwind are playing!

STEVE: Since we were kids, Hawkwind have been a very important band to us, so to see them today, especially live, is like *pulls excited face*.

MATT: When I was a kid, the Levitation album and the Hawkwind album –

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STEVE: Space Rituals for me…

MATT: Ooh…

STEVE: They were all good, though.

MATT: So yeah, we’re big fans. But the whole thing has been lovely: the people running it have been really cool, everyone’s been great, we had a lovely audience – the audience were great! The sound was amazing; it’s been really good fun, a really good time.

MELANIE: Excellent! You opened up the Prog Stage today; the same stage as Hawkwind! That must have been pretty cool.

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MATT: When the booking came through to ask if we would play, we were like “with Hawkwind?! YEAH!!!”. We were proper, like, kids! But I think if you ever lose that enthusiasm for music – that love of doing it – you should just stop! The reason we do it is we just love it so much. And all the bands that we’ve seen – I mean, we watched Procol Harum soundcheck and it was just storming! And to be part of something like this as a band like us – and we’re quite an underground band – and although we have a sort of cult fanbase, people who are really into it, to the mainstream we’re kind of like “what’s this?! What’s that all about? There’s no singing or anything!” (laughs). So as a cult band to be able to play here and cross over…it seems to be, I had a look at social media very quickly after we went onstage and the feedback seems to be good. I mean, we’ll wait until the reviews (laughs), but it seemed to be a bit of “I thought they’d bring out a singer! It was just loads of blokes jumping around!”

STEVE: We should have walked around with a microphone!

MELANIE: Tease everybody!

MATT: Yes! But seriously it was really excellent.

MELANIE: Do you think your style of music translates well to a festival setting?

MATT: It seems to! I mean, I think, because we try and have a bit of fun with it, we’re not terribly serious – we’re very serious about our music, but we’re not serious about ourselves – so we try and make it a very fun thing onstage.

STEVE: well it’s about fun isn’t it?

MATT: We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t love it

STEVE: That’s our main focus.

MELANIE: Is there anyone else that you’re looking forward to watching? Hawkwind, obviously!

MATT: Yes, Hawkwind! (laughs).

STEVE: Procol Harum again.

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MATT: My friend Damian’s band are playing – Headspace – and he’s a really lovely guy. Superb singer! And I would like to see some main stage bands – I’m not sure who; we get sucked in to watching the Prog Stage so we don’t see a lot of the headline bands. We only came down today but I would have loved to have seen Whitesnake and Europe yesterday. Just because I was a kid in the Eighties! When I was a kid I grew up with Guns n Roses, Whitesnake, all those bands.

MELANIE: Same!

MATT: It was great, wasn’t it?Pure Donington ’87 nostalgia!

MELANIE: And they all sort of still look the same, so if you squint a bit…

MATT: (laughing) “That’s David Coverdale!”

MELANIE: And he’s still got the big hair and all!

STEVE: The dressing room we have is the one Thin Lizzy had yesterday, so we were just like “Thin Lizzy sat here! I wonder who sat on this chair?”

MATT: We had great fun with that!

MELANIE: Who were your musical heroes while you were growing up?

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MATT: Hawkwind definitely has to be on the list! And also King Crimson, Husker Du, The Misfits, and a lot of Seventies stuff. So lots of different stuff. Indie Rock, Radiohead –

STEVE: Soundgarden –

MATT: Punk and lots of proggy stuff as well. And I think that’s why we play stuff that’s quite proggy, we also have a bit of punk in there too.

MELANIE: I did notice that it had a bit more bounce than a lot of prog music.

MATT: (laughs) I think it’s just because we enjoy ourselves.

STEVE: We’re all into similar things, and sometimes we find new things and try and incorporate that into it. Most of us like metal too, stuff like Voivod.

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MATT: And basically we loves the Eighties too – we’re totally playing this festival like it’s Donington in the Eighties! (laughs). We watched the ‘Bad News at Donington’ documentary – have you heard of it? Basically the Young Ones did a skit as a rock band – and we’ve totally been doing that here. So, to us, we’re playing Donington Monsters of Rock! We’ve had an absolutely wonderful weekend; everyone’s been so nice to us.

MELANIE: Why did you decide to go the instrumental route?

STEVE: It wasn’t really a specific decision to actually be an instrumental rock band.

MATT: I think it’s made us a bit different to everybody else, because there wasn’t really anyone else doing it. I think it’s why we’ve got this weird, cult-y following. A lot of instrumental rock bands, you get a band that are quite good but their all about the (guitar) noodles, and we don’t do that. We do a little bit of fast play, but we mostly play riffs, and tunes. And we like bands like Mogwai as well, and a lot of other bands like that. So the decision: we just basically didn’t ever bother getting a singer (laughs). We just couldn’t be bothered! But it has worked. And maybe if it hadn’t worked we would have got a singer, but we’re six years in now and it’s still going. Like, we were thinking maybe we’d gone as far as we could and then we get an email saying “do you want to go and play with Hawkwind”?!

MELANIE: Do you think you would ever get a singer?

MATT: Well, the next album is going to have guest vocals, so sort of.

STEVE: Anything is possible!

MATT: And we’re always pushing to try new things.

MELANIE: Does it make it harder or easier to write songs?

MATT: We’ve got a mechanism for writing: we jam stuff, and stuff comes out of that, and then you make rough tapes of it. We’ve got loads of material – about five album’s worth – and we just have to work out what bits we like and they get put into it. We’re quite a poppy band! We try to make it (the music) quite poppy and quite hooky; we try to make it appealing to people in a quite poppy way. We love the Beatles and big Seventies powerpop and things like that…and My Bloody Valentine. I just love music; isn’t it great?

MELANIE: ABBA…

MATT: Yes, ABBA! Geniuses, absolute geniuses! That’s a catalogue of songs, isn’t it? The production is sheer genius! You listen to every tune and go “you clever, clever people!”.

MELANIE: Even if you don’t like the music you’re impressed with them.

MATT: Exactly! But yes, it wasn’t a specific decision to be an instrumental rock band, it just happened.

MELANIE: So what’s next for you guys after this?

MATT: we’re doing a festival, a little space rock festival, and then recording our third album. Then once that’s out, we’re going to be touring to the point where we’re going to irritate people (laughs). You’re just not going to see the back of us – “not them again!”.

STEVE: We’ve got loads of stuff in the can.P7249339

MATT: Loads of gigs!

MELANIE: Excellent! Well, enjoy the rest of your festival, it was great to meet you.

BOTH: thank you so much!

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