Interview

Heavens Basement//Interview

This month, Heavens Basement will be touring the UK. They will do 15 shows in 18 days, kicking off in Norwich on March 13th and finishing in Brighton on March 30th. With Glamour of the Kill and The Dirty Youth supporting on all dates, this is set to be an unmissable tour and I caught up with drummer Chris Rivers to have a quick chat!
Heavens Basement
Describe Heavens Basement in three words?
In your face
If you could choose only one song as a favourite, what would it be?
Welcome Home, it kicks of our set and makes me wanna go ape shit on the drums.
Tell me about the most interesting gig experience you’ve had so far?
When we played a pizza shop in Northern Finland a few years ago, its one of the only times all our professionalism went out the window and each of us had too much to drink..I ended the set with a bass solo (I can’t play bass by the way) and our singer didn’t manage half the set.
If you could tour with any band in the world, past or present, who would it be?
ACDC or the Stones or Aerosmith
What have you struggled with most as a band?
Honestly, I can’t think of much struggle, in the past it was a struggle to find the right people to be in the band but I’ve always got a sick kick out of knock backs, it’s like poking a wild animal, we’ll always come back and attack.
Which do you prefer- touring or recording?
Touring for me personally, playing our music around the world is an amazing feeling but obviously its the album that allows us to do that 🙂
Who are your favourite bands at the moment?
Biffy Clyro are one of my faves at the moment, we’ve got a lot of respect for that band, great songs and they’ve really worked hard to get where they are. Also, the new Pretty Reckless songs are very cool.
What are your plans for 2014?
More touring for the album around the world!
Talk me through your song-writing process?
There’s no set formula, ideas come from anywhere and from anyone in the band. Put us in a room to jam and ideas will be flowing within a minute, Sometimes someone will bring a full song idea to the table too, it’s just a relaxed thing.
What can fans expect from upcoming shows?
Our best headline set ever.
March 2014 Welcome Home Tour:
13 – NORWICH Waterfront
14 – NOTTINGHAM Rescue Rooms
15 – SOUTHAMPTON Takedown Festival
16 – LEEDS Cockpit
18 – NEWCASTLE University
19 – GLASGOW Cathouse
20 – BELFAST Voodoo
21 – DUBLIN Voodoo Lounge
22 – MANCHESTER Academy II
24 – CHESTER Forum
25 – BRISTOL Fleece
27 – LONDON Electric Ballroom
28 – PLYMOUTH White Rabbit
29 – BIRMINGHAM Academy II
30 – BRIGHTON Haunt
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Lets Play God//Interview

Courtesy of Lets Play God

Guitarist John Urquhart (John 2), Bassist Alex Mc, Vocalist Rob Grinch & Drummer John Coll

This is my third year of reviewing music  and interviewing bands. One of the consistently prominent bands in my work who I have followed from the start and actually became friends with is Glasgow’s Lets Play God. In the three years I’ve known them, they’ve had 2 line-up reshuffles which means the only 2 original members are vocalist Rob Grinch and drummer John Coll. They’ve released 2 albums, 1 DVD and performed countless shows and festivals. They have gotten better and better and in the past 6 months, they’ve become the band they always seemed to be striving to be.
This year they’ll be touring Europe, releasing two albums and hopefully playing more local shows. Last month, I managed to get them all together to talk about their plans, their dramas and how they feel about the current line-up.
I think this is one of my best interviews yet and definitely my best with Lets Play God. It’s funny, insightful and sometimes deep. Enjoy the ride! If you want to check out the band themselves, click here.

In the past eighteen months, you’ve had two line-up reshuffles. Tell me about some of the problems you’ve faced and what led to two members leaving
.

Rob:[Turns to John 2] Why did Gregg (former guitarist) leave?
John 2: [Laughs] I knew you were going to say that!
Rob: Gregg left because he wasn’t making any money
John 2: Wasn’t Chris former bassist) the same, though? He just didn’t feel like it was going anywhere?
Rob: … Aye.
John 2: Just got fed up trying I suppose
John: It’s more of a lifestyle than work, really
Rob: Both of them just didn’t want to do this any more… they wanted to do other things. We still wanted to be in a band and annoy people.

Once members do leave, what are the problems you face as a band? As well as finding a new member, is it hard to readjust? 

Rob: Yes.
John 2: Well, no it depends. When Chris left and we got Alex, I didn’t find it hard to readjust because we really got on so well.
Rob: I found it really hard because until you find the next guy, it’s really hard.
John 2: There’s no readjusting necessary when you do find him though, it’s so easy
John: Our music’s always changing. Once the other members left, the ones who replaced them brought their own personalities, their own inputs. So, the music is going to a good place so any readjusting is worth it.

You’ve told me in the past, after an album is recorded, that is when a band are at their most vulnerable. This year you did a short tour in Scotland, would you say that vulnerability is there after a tour as well?

Rob: No, it’s the opposite. I always think when a band releases a CD… That’s when they’re most likely to split. Just because of money and everything that comes with the production. There’s been so many bands I’ve seen that have released a CD and then split up. A tour is different. Touring is like a drug and once you stop touring, you want that drug even more. We all suffer from it, badly. So no, it’s the complete opposite. This band is built to tour. We love gigging and when we don’t get that… it’s really hard.
John 2: Once you do it and then come back… it’s back to reality.
Rob: Well everybody says you’re coming back to reality but to us, reality is touring. This isn’t our reality. It’s a long waiting game to the next time we can play.
John: I think it’s an addiction to the freedom that touring brings.

What would you say you’ve learned in even the last year?
John:
Go with the flow. Don’t try to control your own destiny. Nothing goes to plan.
Rob: For me, I think the important thing about being in a band is the same as being in a relationship. Don’t pay attention to the little things. We’re all in it for the same reason so yeah, go with the flow. Have fun, man.
John: Keep going forward and don’t look back. Looking back stops you. Don’t put the brakes on.
John 2: Sometimes I don’t even look forward!

On a lighter note, what have you got planned next?
Rob:
Right now, we’re recording the demos as we write what is, I don’t want to say an ‘acoustic album’. It’s a hangover album. We want to record two CD’s, one crowd-funded (click here to find out more and donate!) and one of  slightly more chilled songs. If you think like, Metallica-Load, Alice in Chains- Jar of Flies sort of thing. I’ve always wanted to do an album like this and now we’re actually sitting and writing it. It’ll probably be released after we tour Europe in the Summer. Until then, we’re skint.
John 2: Amsterdam on the first day might be a mistake.
Rob: And the last day!
John 2: The last day is alright, it’s okay to die at the end of the tour!
John: Yeah, I’ll be getting fished out of one of those canals, man. The Drunken Scotsman!
Rob: You were doing that in Dundee, nevermind Amsterdam!

Did you have any reservations about doing a fundraiser? These sort of campaigns have been very hit and miss with people… Are you worried about how fans will react?
Rob:
It’s going to be hard. Even if we just get £10, it’ll help. We’re not worried about reactions though, we’re not forcing anybody to donate.

At which point do you think you’ll call it a day? Is there an expiry date on Lets Play God? I’ve asked this before.
John:
There isn’t an expiry date. Either one of us dies or we all die. Craig driving… We’ll all die. That’s when the fame comes. When we’re all dead.
Rob: When it stops being fun.
John 2: I don’t see that happening, though.
That’s what you said last time!
Rob: We don’t like thinking like that. That’s like saying when are you and Gavin going to split up?
Tomorrow.
John: You really can’t plan the future.
John 2: If it ends, it’ll end on the day we decide it ends
John: I’ll just start a Lets Play God tribute band!
Alex: Journey’s new singer was found on Youtube. He was part of a Journey tribute band!
John: Aye- see?!
Rob: That’s what’ll happen. We’ll split and then we’ll all get together to form a Lets Play God tribute band.

Earlier this year you said you were no longer playing shows in Glasgow and recently, you changed your mind. What was your motivation for both leaving and coming back?
Rob:
We feel like going outside Glasgow and playing everywhere left us out of touch. Bands we know were playing here and we didn’t go. We realised we were losing where we came from. Losing Chris meant we had to build it back up, all of our connections. We played Ivory Blacks two weeks ago and it was brilliant! The thing is… when you play somewhere else you need to find out when everyone’s free, you need a driver… It costs a lot of money. When you play Glasgow you don’t have to deal with that. In Glasgow it’s just like, Are we all free? Fuck it! Let’s play!
John: I really think you’ve got to go away to appreciate your roots.

Do you feel like this line up is the best yet?
Rob:
Yes.
John: Absolutely. We’ve been partying more! We’ve actually all been here for what, 24 hours? I like it. We’re childish, drunk, have a laugh.
Rob: You were saying about roots… Right now, this is how it’s meant to be. The fact that we’re in a band almost has nothing to do with how great we are together. We go out, we meet people, we have drinks, have fun and then we go to rehearsal. It’s not a job.
John: We never seem to fight!
John 2: That’s something I’ve noticed. When I first joined, there were always arguments. I felt so awkward. They were arguing about things I didn’t know about. Once we made the changes that we have, everything improved.
John: It’s easy now. It’s given us a lot of space to open up and create music without any hurdles.
Rob: That’s another reason for the soft CD, there were things holding us back but the drive never went away. When you last interviewed us 6 months ago, we were a different band. We’re such a different band. I couldn’t even compare.
Alex joining was incredible. When Chris left we thought we were fucked. We had a whole tour booked and any bassist that came along had to learn 14 songs, at least, in a month. How did we meet Alex?
John 2: We were in the pub and he came over and said are you the guys from Lets Play God? and we said Yeah! Can you play bass? We asked him if he wanted to try out, he did a week later and straight away, we loved him!
Rob: I remember saying to you [John 2] that we should use the tour as a trial to see if he fits in, see how he feels and then you told me that when you first joined, you had no idea what was happening…
John 2: I was constantly like am I in, am I not? We decided to just tell him he was in so we went over to him in the pub and said he was in. He was so happy.
Rob: He went on tour, puked everywhere!
John 2: Chatted up some lesbians!
Rob: Alex joining really built that fire back up so much so that we added dates onto the tour. We played Galashields and Leicester. He didn’t just learn the songs, he nailed them. Obviously once the tour was done, we went back to rehearsal and we were all saying this is how it’s supposed to be.
John: I actually worried a lot about how it’d turn out with Alex because when we got John 2 it was a blessing. He was just perfect for the band, it was all very easy and I just thought… how likely is it that we’ll have that again? There was a guy we tried out for a while and I liked him but it all felt kind of forced. We needed a blessing and I think Alex coming in is proof to me that there’s a higher force out there looking after us. Something up there.
Rob: There’s so many coincidences in that story that hearing it you must just be thinking aye okay…
John: Alex was totally the piece that was missing.
Rob: Was that a good enough answer?
John 2: What was the question?!
What’s your favourite song of your own?
John: Mine always changes.
John 2: For me, Flies. I love it.
John: Suck It Up. It’s fun to play, I’m always in the zone when playing it. Alex’s is Pride. [All laugh]
There’s an in-joke here…
Alex: I hate Pride.
John 2: It’s a good song but I hated it when I first joined as well. It’s a good song to listen to but a fucking knob to play!
Rob: Flies.

I grabbed vocalist Rob Grinch for a few quick questions about their ‘soft’ album.

Why now?
There’s a couple of reasons. One is that I’ve wanted to do it for such a long time that I just thought fuck it, let’s do it. Another is, nobody else is doing this. We’re known as a heavy metal band, we want to make people surprised! I want them to appreciate us more and maybe piss some people off as well.

What should I expect?
It’s dark. Really dark. There’s so many things you can do with a certain type of music. Think of Alice in Chains, Johnny Cash. I think people listen more when it’s just one guy and an acoustic.

Was it challenging- to step away from what you usually do?
Literally until the minute we pressed record it was challenging for me. I was worried about my singing. I’ve been singing a lot more [than screaming], I realised I really had to change and then when we started, John 2 and I both had songs we wanted to play. The minute we started, it came naturally.
John 2 is an amazing guitar player and this band is quite limiting for him, I don’t want him to just be our guitar player, I want him to shine.
I wanted to do this for a long time but I didn’t want it to be a side project. I can sing as well, and I want to show that.
I wanted it to be part of our merch desk; there’s our first album, our second and our soft CD. I just want to see it there.
There is such a range of people at shows and I never realised it. There’s teenagers, mothers, grandmothers and I thought for people who say that we’re good but not their kind of thing… they can try this album. It’s going to be arranged in a way that the songs eventually build. Hangover music!
Maybe once people hear this, it’ll get them into our heavier stuff.
John 2: I can’t listen to heavy stuff in the morning. I think you need to build up to it or you just die. Black Label Society are my hangover music. I always put on Damage is Done. 
Rob: And that, is what I want this to be.

Interview With A Lap Dancer

Remember my Does Normal Exist? series? Well, this is the latest installment, almost a year after the last one. This time I am interviewing Laura Collins, an office worker by day and a rock ‘n’ roll lap-dancer by night. This is obviously NSFW.

Why did you start lap dancing?

I started pole dancing lessons with a girl who worked at the club in town. I’d never thought of stripping before. Well I had, but never seriously. I’ve always been really self conscious of my body and looks, I didn’t think I’d be any good for it. But she kept asking if I would ever try it, and part of me was curious and really wanted to. And like most girls, I’d heard of the fabulous money you could potentially earn, and at the time I was in a very low paying part time job and was about to come out of university with no potential job prospects. So the motivation to give it a go was mainly money, so I could afford the rent on my new place and feed myself, but also a little bit of curiousity for the stripper fantasy. So eventually curiousity won out and I went for my first night at work. I never looked back.

What are three things you would tell an aspiring lap dancer?

Firstly if you’re having doubts, don’t let them hinder you – if you go for your first night at work and really don’t like it you never have to go back. You’re not on a contract! Secondly, don’t be intimidated by the more experienced girls – it takes a while to find the things that work for you in getting customers. Eventually you’ll find your perfect hustle and it’ll come a lot more naturally. Thirdly, be confident – it’s sexy, and what you don’t know you can just wing it until you become a little more experienced. You’ll pick up everything you need to know from doing the job itself.

From the outside, it seems like such a glamorous job with amazing pay. Is it all it seems? What are some common misconceptions?

That’s one of the biggest misconceptions about lap dancing. It definitely has it perks, but like with any job there’s also the negatives. Compared to so many other dancers I’ve not been doing it for long at all, but one thing I have learned is that it’s a job that comes with swings and roundabouts. Some nights I’ve walked off with hundreds of pounds, had good fun with the girls and the customers, and really enjoyed myself. But there have also been the nights where I’ve walked away with as little as twenty or thirty quid because the business hasn’t been there. You need to be able to handle and accept the bad nights as well as the good. Money aside, there’s also the customers. You can meet some really interesting and wonderful people, but you do also get the complete dickheads. I’ve worked in places where the security has been exceptionally good and I’ve always felt safe, but there are always people who will try to push boundaries and you have to be firm. Again, swings and roundabouts. If the bad nights effect you too much then it may be a sign to look at doing something else.

What happens with normal bodily functions? Is it strange working when you’re on your period? 

Not going to lie, it can be a little awkward! Some girls prefer not to dance while they’re on their period and take a few days off. But there are always little tricks to disguise things like that if you are working during your period. In topless only clubs where you have to keep at least a G-string on at all times, it’s fairly easy to cut the string and hid it. But I’ve also worked in fully nude clubs, so if I was on my period I would just cut my string really short and not open my legs too wide when dancing so as to conceal it. And I always carry scented wipes to stay fresh. Sorry if that’s too much information, I don’t know if you want to actually publish that, hahaha!

What have your friends and family said about it?

My friends are great about it. Sometimes I’m the butt of stripper jokes or get a nudge if there’s a strip club scene in a movie and a “is it really like that?!” or “You taking working notes?” But I know they’re messing around and I don’t mind at all, I usually play up to it, haha. My family on the other hand have no idea, mainly because I know it would upset them. When I started dancing I told my parents I worked in a strip club but as a hostess, and served drinks in the VIP room and worked behind the bar, and sometimes did dances on the pole. My mum was fine after a lot of umm-ing and err-ing, but my dad didn’t even like that. In a stern voice he told me that if I was to “ever take it further”, and he knew I would know he meant lap dancing/stripping, then he never ever wanted to find out because it would upset him greatly. I’m not a parent myself so I can’t relate, but I guess no mother or father wants their baby girl to grow up and be taking their clothes off for other’s entertainment. Besides my parents, none of my other family members know either just in case it does get back to them. I guess it’s kind of like protecting them in a way. I’m not ashamed of what I do, but I guess parents don’t see it that way. And knowing my parents, they would ask me to stop and I wouldn’t. Funnily enough though, my stepmum once told me she could see me being a lap dancer and thought it’d be something that would suit me, haha! So I think if I told her about it she wouldn’t mind so much. Even though she’s been in my life since I was a little girl, she’s a lot more accepting of things than my dad or my mum, and a lot more open minded.

How would you say your life and perspectives have changed since you started?

I don’t think much has changed, or at least I don’t feel like it has. I know that if I need to save for something, or I want a little bit extra pocket money to go out somewhere, I can go to work and earn it quite easily. I now have a day job during the week, Monday to Friday, so I can’t do it as much as I used to. It has, though, made me feel a little better about the way I look. I’m still quite self conscious a lot of the time, I think all girls can be like that. But there’s been times I’ve been at work and people have commented on how much they love my body, and sometimes men have – literally – got a boner over watching me do a striptease or giving them a lap dance. And a lot more than I ever thought would. And different men like different parts of me. And girls too – straight girls, bi curious girls, lesbians – to know that people genuinely find me attractive is a huge compliment and really makes me feel good about myself. And if they enjoy my entertainment that’s even better!

Do you find it empowering?

I find it incredibly empowering. The fact that people are willing to pay a lot of money for your time is a huge compliment. To know that someone thinks you are worth that and enjoys your entertainment. Often as well, the trick is to make the customer think they are in control, but really it’s you as the dancer that has the control. You determine how your dance goes. If a customer steps out of line there are rules in line to protect you, and I’ve always felt safe at work. Sometimes it’s not even about the dancing. I’ve spent time with customers just having a drink and chat because they’ve liked me as a person. And when you’re onstage performing it’s one of the greatest feelings in the world, especially when you’re dancing to your favourite song.

Do you understand women that say it’s demeaning?

do. I think it depends on the perspective of the individual more than anything. I’m a lap dancer because I enjoy it, I can earn some extra money, and it makes me feel great about myself as well as being fun. It’s a form of entertainment, although it may not be everybody’s idea of good entertainment. I guess to find it demeaning you’d have to look at it from the angle of a woman going to work to take her clothes off and be perved on by a bunch of men for their pleasure. Which I guess in some respects is true. You do get perverts that come in and try to touch or grab or ask for “extras” if they pay you a little more or take you home for sex, who yes, do look at you like a whore. But we’re not there for that. We’re there to give people safe, pleasurable, erotic entertainment. And there a far more nice guys than sleazeballs, there really is. And I’ve danced for lots of straight women before, too. So yes, I can understand why some women think it’s demeaning, but I guess it depends on how you look at it and your own personal opinion.

What’s your favourite music to dance to?

I’m a massive rock and metal fan, so of course that’s my favourite music to dance to. I like to mix it up as well. Sometimes I’ll dance slow and sexy to something like She Rides by Danzig or Since I Don’t Have You by Guns N’ Roses, and sometimes I’ll dance fast and slutty to something like Native Nature by Crashdiet or Hot Cherie by Hardline. Also, you gotta dance to the stereotypes haven’t you? Haha! So sometimes I’ll throw the odd Girls, Girls, Girls or Pour Some Sugar On Me in there. In the clubs I’ve worked in I’m usually one of the very rare few that does dance to that type of music as well, which is quite helpful because when there’s suddenly a dramatic change in music people tend to look over to see what’s happening. I like all sorts of music though, so I do dance to the odd song from other genres. I love dancing to E.T by Katy Perry, and also Rack City by Tyga. If I love a song, I can dance to it, and it’ll make a good performance, it’s probably already on my list!

Do you have favourite clients?

I have done, yes. There was this young guy who used to go out a lot on Saturdays, and the club I worked in regularly was always the last place to shut in town, so he’d always come in with his mates at about 3am. We’d always have a chat at the bar with a drink or two and then I’d take him upstairs for a lap dance. We’ve danced to some ridiculous songs just for a laugh, and I also did the Macarena and Beyonce booty dance naked for him, which we ended up in fits of giggles about. He was always good fun. An older guy used to visit me on occasion, and we’d spent a lot of time talking about travelling and history and all the sorts of things I love that I had in common with him. He was obsessed with my Tomb Raider tattoo, and I used to tell him I could be Lara Croft and he could be my Indiana Jones, and he loved that. He really enjoyed it when I danced for him too. He was good to dance for because he would tell me what he loved me doing, or parts of me he liked best, so I could cater the dance to suit him and his turn ons. He was a great to spend time with, talking and dancing, and was a lovely guy. There was also this girl, who wasn’t so much a regular, but she came in with some friends and asked me to dance for her. She loved it so much she kept throwing money at me every time I told her we were finished until she ran out, and then ran downstairs to beg her friend if he could lend her more money, haha! She was fun too. While regular clients are nice, and you know you can earn some good money from them, it’s sometimes the one off customers that are the most memorable. I’ve met some amazing people doing this job, people I probably never would have met otherwise. And spending time with people from all walks of life is a great eye opener and really interesting. I love it.

Newton Faulkner//Interview


Multi platinum selling artist Newton Faulkner released his most recent album Studio Zoo last week and very kindly gave me 15 minutes of his time so I could pick his brain.

Studio Zoo was recorded in front of an audience, via livestream which was a unique experience for both the artist and fans which thus created a unique community and arguably one of the most important times of Newton Faulkner’s career.

Photo courtesy of Chuff Media

How are you today?

Yeah, not too bad!

How do you feel your music has evolved since Hand Built By Robots?

Shall we go album by album?

Sure!

Because it is quite interesting, yeah…

The first album was written in a very short space of time; it was written in the last few weeks before release. It was quite acoustic, but, the most successful song from that album was the least acoustic one from the whole thing, which was Dream Catch Me. It was kind of an anomaly! [laughs]
After that, on the second album, we tried to get everything up to that same level on production. It was the same producer from the previous album.
Back then, in terms of what I was doing live, it was getting even more acoustic. I had a band and people just said that the best parts, the best parts were always when I performed alone so I thought well, lets just do the best parts!  So I became a solo performing artist.
With the third album, I was under a lot of pressure to get on radio so again,  the singles had to be very big.
With this album, album number four, I’ve basically just done exactly what I’ve always wanted to do and tried not to think too much about it which has meant that  I’ve gone back to kind of my , sort of my prehistoric roots to back to the first album, to what I was doing before anything kicked off.

That’s awesome!

It’s been a strange journey!

How would you describe Studio Zoo in three words?

Three words! That’s very few words, that’s worse than Twitter!

That’s the challenge!

Uh, oh god that’s really hard.  I’ve usually got stock answers for theses kinds of questions, but they’ve not developed yet.  It’s definitely my best album.  Can I say it’s my best album?

That’s great actually.

I really think it is.  I’m really, really happy with it.  I don’t think I’ve been so happy with anything I’ve ever done.

I really like it too.

Oh cool!
How do you feel about Kickstarter and other such websites in which fans fund the production & distribution of albums in return for rewards?

I think it’s awesome, I think the more different ways there are of doing it the better.  Yea, with as many doors that have closed with the way things have gone, when there’s money dried up in some areas it’s become bigger in others, there’s been a massive shift in the balance of control with record companies.  I say ‘The more options the better’.   And whether it’s Kickstarter or …. loads of other really weird fucking ways of funding a record, it’s cool!

Have you found your influences have changed as you’ve grown, musically?

Not really.  I’m kind of standing here in front of my record collection.  And a lot of my stuff I’ve got because my parents had it, including Paul Simon, Graceland, The Kinks (dad had that), Chad Baker, Grinder Man… sorry I’m rambling.

It’s okay!  The more you talk the better.  What should fans expect from your live show?

We’re just trying to work it out at the moment; we’re just trying to work out what else it needs.  It would be great to have a cellist.  And we’re definitely kinda mixing up the sound but I honestly think this can sound a lot more like the record than anything I’ve done before; because obviously, with the second record was quite built up.  It wasn’t something I could do without a seventeen-piece band.  Whereas this one, it’s acoustic, so it’s perfectly achievable to kind of recreate it, relatively.  It’s something I’ve never really done before.  And one thing I like about doing things on my own is you can cut things out or make them longer.  You can kind of roll with whatever’s going on, which is very fun.

What do you prefer, recording or performing?

I think performing, but then that’s what this whole streaming thing kind of bridges the gap between the two.  Half way between recording an album and doing a gig because I was playing it and people were listening.  I was playing it into a mic but was very aware that there’s two cameras.  Two cameras with both the microphones on that are going straight onto computers.  There’s people sitting there with headphones on.  I was amazed with how long people were watching for; people watched it all day!  They just got up and turned it on in the background!  It was all day, which was hilarious!

What are some of your favourite albums at the moment?

I don’t know; I kind of went into lock-down in my head.  With the albums in the past A&R have said ‘You need to reference this, this is what’s cool’, and I kinda said ‘Okay, so that’s what’s cool, but that’s not what I do.  You want me to kind of, hint towards this somehow?’, and I didn’t do that this time at all.  I didn’t listen to anything.  There are a few reasons for it, ‘cos usually I tend to listen to very little, but then on this one I actually couldn’t listen to anything that had been released because of the copyright (laughs) and that would have been copyright infringement, I couldn’t watch any movies and I couldn’t listen to any music that had been officially released, I could listen to stuff on Youtube if it wasn’t signed to a label, which doesn’t leave you that much stuff. So yea, this has kind of kept inspiring itself; each track lead to the next.  It was kind of self-influencing.

What’s your favourite song from your new album?

I have no idea.  I can’t separate them in my head, they’re just one big bulk of work. (laughs) – It’s all too fresh.
At The End of Innocence, though, when the bass comes in that’s Ted from Mumford & Sons, which is amazing!  He plays on a couple of tracks.
We had India Bourne as well who is a fantastic artist in her own right but she plays cello with Ben Howard.  She’s playing cello on a couple of tracks.  guitarists in the entire world are on the track as well.

Are you tired of performing Dream Catch Me yet?

No!  People like it.

It is a good song.

I still forget it sometimes; I know it’s probably my most successful song but there was a gig in an old slate mine.  I’d just written a new record and I kind of assumed that as I’d been playing the first album relentlessly for two or three years that I’d just remember that.  So I took loads of time learning the new stuff and really got my head around it then all the new stuff was flawless but I kept forgetting how to play whole sections of old songs off the first album, which I did not see coming.  A song that I’ve played, literally like I did a radio tour of Australia where I was playing it six times every morning on different radio stations.  You’d think that would stick!  I got to the first chorus and I was looking at my fingers like ‘Come on, guys!  You told me you had this!’.  I had the crowd singing it to me and I was just sitting there looking really, really embarrassed.

What’s the hardest part of your job, other than forgetting your own songs?

I’m a bit of a freak, I kind of enjoy all of this!  I know I’m not supposed to.  I actually really enjoy this bit, people complain about this and I like touring.  I feel more comfortable on a bus than I do in a bed in my own house.  And I like waking up and not knowing where I am.  I find that kind of reassuring.  When I’m talking to somebody and they say ‘I don’t really like touring’ I’m like ‘What is wrong with you?  It’s the most fun in the world, what’s not to like?’.  That’s how I feel about my job; it’s the most fun in the world.

 

Newton Faulkner is touring next year. Catch him at a date near you:

 

9-Feb-14 Belfast Limelight

11-Feb-14 Edinburgh Picture House

12-Feb-14 Glasgow O2 ABC

13-Feb-14 Newcastle O2 Academy

15-Feb-14 Leeds O2 Academy

16-Feb-14 Liverpool O2 Academy

17-Feb-14 Manchester Bridgewater

19-Feb-14 York Barbican

20-Feb-14 Birmingham O2 Academy

21-Feb-14 Nottingham Rock City

23-Feb-14 Norwich UEA

24-Feb-14 Ipswich Corn Exchange

26-Feb-14 Bournemouth O2 Academy

27-Feb-14 Bristol Colston Hall

28-Feb-14 Cardiff University

2-Mar-14 Portsmouth Guildhall

3-Mar-14 Bexhill On Sea De La Warr Pavillion

5-Mar-14 London Roundhouse

6-Mar-14 Guildford Glive

7-Mar-14 Exeter Great Hall

Interview//Lets Play God

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Lets Play God are a four piece independent band from Glasgow. This year, they released their EP Survival of the Twisted and have since been on a tour across Scotland. They are made up of four members; Rob- vocals, Chris- bass and backing vocals, John- drums and, their newest member, John 2 on guitar. I interviewed them on the night Survival of the Twisted was released and, I’ll admit it, my expectations were high. They’re an interesting band. My expectations were met and they gave me a great interview.

  • What sets apart Lets Play God from other acts?

Chris – Nothing, we are doing exactly what everyone else has done before. I think the difference is we’re doing it our way. We’re not following any trends, we try to be as innovative as we can and give our story from our angle.

John 2 – Nothing other than the fact that we are 4 individual people in a band, if I was in any other band besides Lets Play God the music would be different again because I would be working with 3 or 4 other people who each have their own style to bring to the table.

Rob – What makes you different? We are fucking gorgeous. I mean really. We play with some ugly ass bands. Seriously though, I don’t know, it’s up to the listener, listen to the music, watch us play, you tell us. We are gorgeous though.

  • As musicians, do you experience music differently than you do as a listener? For example, is listening escapism and performing a means of expression?

John – We do listen to songs in more of a depth as musicians and appreciate them even more since we know what it’s like putting all your blood, sweat and tears into making a great track or album for us and for the people listening looking for something to relate to. Just as we did when we started to explore music at a young age for a sense of release and escapism. Playing live is more of a release than escapism

Rob– I read a really cool thing that Randy Blythe from Lamb of God wrote. He said that when he goes out on stage every day and gets his shit out- he calls it ‘getting his shit out’, he said he doesn’t know how people get through life without having that release. I know exactly what he means. The days we don’t play, that we don’t do band stuff; those days are horrific for me. Being in a band is therapy to me. It’s a bit of both.

John 2 – They are both a means of expression and escapism but one is a private way of doing so and the other public.

Chris – Writing is as much of an escape as listening sometimes. If you write a song and you release the shit while doing so it can be a great escape from what’s in your mind. My idea of music has definitely been enlightened because being in a band shows the inner workings of the industry- this can take some of the limelight out of it a bit but I would never lose my roots of being a music listener, that’s where it all started.

  • Do you think that constantly aiming for success without the aid of a record label is a self-fulfilling prophecy as in the more you talk about it, work towards it and essentially make it your trademark, the more likely it’ll work out?

Rob – Well we’re not doing this out of complete stubbornness, we’re doing this because it’s necessary. And we seem to be doing not too bad with it.

Chris – I’ve never heard anyone in the band mention that we want success. All the discussions we’ve ever had have been about realistic things like touring, playing certain riffs live and seeing reactions etc.  They are the things that get us going. I mean, we might have joked about it and stuff but we are very much grounded. If we are progressing we are happy, if we are climbing the ladder then we’re happy. We’ll never be completely satisfied so we just take each day as it comes and enjoy ourselves.

John – Life is not as well laid out as that. Success is open to individual interpretation. For us at the current moment success is getting out there and meeting great people giving them an amazing show and giving them a buzz. The best comments are the ones where people come and say ‘I’m not generally a fan of this kind of music but I really enjoyed yous’. We are entertainers at the end of the day and fulfilling that is success in our heads.

John 2 – Not really, at the end of the day I don’t think it matters whether you have a label or not, fans are out for good music, they won’t care how you get your music out there. That’s how I see it anyway, you could be the most independent band out there but if the music sucks then I’m not going to listen to it.

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  • What would you say you’ve learned as a band in the past 5 years? What mistakes did you learn from?

Rob – DTA. [Don’t Trust Anyone]

Chris – Preparation is probably the biggest thing, some people are over prepared and that’s wrong too. But you can’t beat being prepared, that goes for anything, bodily functions, transport, merch, songs, rehearsals, playing, whatever it is you need to be prepared for its probably the one big lesson. Listing mistakes I’ve learned from this particularly may take a while so Ill leave it. Just don’t overdo it on the prep either you need to get out there and do it as well otherwise there is no point.

John – S.M.H.P [Super Motherfuckin’ Headbang Phenomena]

  • Talk me through the writing process for Survival of the Twisted. [Review here]

Chris – Lesson was a song wrote on the tail of Gregg leaving and John 2 entering, it was one of the first songs he learnt coming in and as he was learning the back catalogue of songs Rob and I wrote demo’s for Black Skull and Isolation. We took them to the guys and John 2 had presented When All Else Fails so from there the four of us made some adjustments to the tracks and hit the studio straight away. We were caught for time (preparation, CHECK) So we had 12 hours to record the 4 tracks in their entirety, as well as have breaks and set-ups etc. Luckily we managed the time well (preparation, CHECK) and we all worked hard to make it happen, I’m really proud of it considering all that was going on.

Rob -We’ve literally hundreds of riffs and shit just sitting there waiting to be picked up and given a home. These are the ones we chose this time, haha. Then John 2 showed up. With more riffs. We threw them in the pot; Survival Of The Twisted is what came out. It was fairly easy, it usually is with us, the difference with this time is we recorded a few of them before performing them live, so there’s a lot of venom on those recordings.

  • Chris, how did you find recording and producing Survival of the Twisted? Do you feel confident in your abilities or at least more confident in them?

Rob- I do. The recording process with Chris was the best I’ve had. I spent a whole weekend on one of our albums, unlimited beer and a lot of money went into it. I didn’t like it. With Survival of the Twisted, I spent two hours at Chris’s flat, and it was done. I don’t like recording, ever. I actually quite enjoyed this one. Just being there and watching other people record was great as well, it was easy. It’s never been easy. It’s nothing to do with the members, it’s to do with the guy at the other side. They don’t seem to ‘get’ us usually. So when the guy gets us, happens to be in the band, it’s so easy. For me.

Chris– It’s been different. I don’t know what I’m doing. With Revisited [their previous album that was re-recorded by Chris], I did it just because we’d hated every recording we’d ever done. John 2 joining the band gave us a great opportunity to redo the entire album, it was 10 tracks, 10 tracks that we were going to be performing or at least some of them and having a CD that didn’t have him on it, John 2 being a fully fledged member, seemed to be a waste. We dived into Revisited. We used Youtube tutorials to get us through; we honestly had no idea what we were doing. Essentially, we started that in November, released it in December by following those tutorials. Straight after that we went into doing Twisted, learning from mistakes we’d made with Revisited and went from there.

  • What is the theme of Survival of the Twisted, what’s inspired it?

John – Trying to survive this dog eat dog world people will sell parts of their humanity for quick cash, Greed has set in deep within our society and it makes people twisted, backstabbing and uncaring of their actions and who they hurt. As long as they are getting what the want but never feeling satisfied will turn anyone twisted.

John 2 – I only write guitar parts so it’s a pretty simple thing, I couldn’t pinpoint what inspires songs or riffs I write as it usually just depends on how I am feeling and sometimes I just sit to mess around on my guitar and I will stumble upon a cool riff without trying and it will grow from there.

Rob – You have to be seriously fucked up to do this. And to do it as hard as we do. I’ve pretty much destroyed myself physically, emotionally and spirituality just to live this life. And we’re still here; better than we’ve ever been. The past couple of years have been even crazier than usual and it just seems recently every band is splitting up. Bands are playing musical chairs, babies are being born, carpets are needing hoovered. But we’re a rock ‘n’ roll band. The carpet can get hoovered when we get back from tour.

  • Artists- be it writers, musicians, painters seem to reach a point where they slightly cringe at their older works. Do you ever find yourselves getting this way?

Rob – No.

John 2 – Not really, what’s done is done. I often think my newer stuff is better than older stuff but that probably comes done to the fact that its fresh and new to play which is always good because although I might love a song I’ve done in the past it does get boring to play the same stuff over and over…

Chris – This is the first CD I feel has my stamp on it, so I might feel like that in time to come but for now every time we are deciding a set list there isn’t a song I want to leave out, I think we hold a strong set and I enjoy playing every one of our songs. I might have moments where I’m like “OH NOT TODAY!! But generally speaking when it comes down to set writing time its hard to leave out any.

John – Not at all our work from the start to now is our journey put on cd, like when you’re looking through a photo book of the past, full of memories and shows how far you have come along but always important to remember your roots.

  • John 2- now that you’re an established member of Lets Play God, what would you say you’ve learned about being in a band?

John 2 – People have lost sight of the music and are more focused on money and image these days. The music scene is a mess for rock/metal artists and that makes it a lot of hard work to get somewhere, I grew up about reading about my favourite bands from the 80’s and it was all fun while someone else done the work, whereas unless you do everything yourself these days you will probably just end up being someone’s bitch and getting nothing for the work you do put in to what you do.

  • What happens if in, say 3 years, you haven’t ‘made it’? Is there an expiry date on Lets Play God?

Chris – Possibly, we want to progress so if we are moving in the right direction we will stay as a unit, if we start to get static or find ourselves in a circle we may review it. Right now every baby step we make is taking us to where we want to be, which is making a living from music. There is no aim to “Make It”

Rob – Being in a band, it’s so fragile at times, no matter how well you’re doing it could all end tomorrow. If we’re still a band after this tour I’d be grateful if we were still together. Every day is a blessing. 3 years? I can’t even think about that.

John 2 – I don’t know, I am in it for as long as it lasts. That might be 3 years, it might be 30, who knows what will happen, I am just taking it one day at a time

John – Its all down to perspective again saying you ‘made it’. It’s like asking someone what’s normality? Everyone has their own view but don’t truly know the answer. An expiry date for the band is impossible to answer as the future is unpredictable. We are still loving what we do and its hard to put an expiration date on that.

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  • What if you got an offer tomorrow from a label, everything you’ve wanted including money in return for signing to them?

Rob – We’ve always been open to labels, we’ve had negotiations since the start, what we’re doing now is just a reaction to paying attention to everything around us. But in relation to your question, I don’t know a record label could offer that. Complete artistic expression, self production, merchandise design, book our own tours, everyone knows what we’re getting paid, uncensored, rowdy ass rock n roll band? I’m not so sure.

John 2 – It would totally depend on what they wanted from us in return; I would rather make a comfortable living doing what we do just now as opposed to being moulded into a fake image made by a record label just to make millions of pounds.

Chris – It would completely depend on the stipulations of the contract, our objective is to play in front of as many people as possible and hopefully make a living from it, modest living or riches I don’t think we care as long as we get to do what we are meant to do and that’s play in a band together and explore the world like the four crazed loonies we are.

  • Do you find yourselves getting inspired by things other than music?

Chris – I’m inspired by the rhythmic beats of shagging.

Rob -Pussy.

John 2 – Not really, the most likely thing to inspire me is watching live music being played to thousands of people, which just really gets me thinking that if they can do it then so can I and that gives me the motivation to put in the work to get to where I want to be.

Rob – …Pussy.

  • Anything else you’d like to speak about?

John 2 – Nope, I’m good.

Chris – I just want to say that just because you might see something on Facebook and you think that you may “know” us because you spoke to us a few times that it gives you some authority to speak about us like you actually have a clue what we are like, you’re an idiot and you don’t. We’re getting a lot of stick at the moment for not taking bullshit and people don’t know all the facts so I just want to say to all the shit stirrers out there.. Fuck you! What’s ruining music is the lowlife, money grabbing, back scratching, brown nose fuckers that have worked their way to pull strings and shit on bands, the people & promoters – the real fans that are trying to help new talent. These sharks are killin’ them in the water before they get the chance to start and it’s disgusting. Message to bands out there, be yourself, fuck what they promise you, fuck what they say… DTA!

Rob – Stay Twisted x

Photographs courtesy of Rory McKie and Gobophotography.