By Jordan Mooney
Photographs by Zhaos Photography
The 30th of May is a date for many historical events. The date of Henry the VIII’s Marriage to Jane Seymour, the date of Joan of Arc’s burning and The Memorial Day Massacre, to name but a few.
Many of these events are not quite your usual causes of jubilation. However, May the 30th of 2014 has proven itself as a date of excellence for music, with an excellent launch party. With excellent people. And, perhaps most importantly…excellent bands. Also giving the chance, of course, for your increasingly infamous reporter to wear his favoured waistcoats and headgear.
We were here for a very specific reason. Our first ever video interview.
This is the first time Cat on the Wall has even attempted a video interview, and it’s sure to be a funny – if somewhat awkward – for fan and musician alike!
Before clicking play, make sure captions are enabled! This is due to a lot of background noise at a very busy music venue.
Click the image to go straight to youtube – and remember to turn on those captions!
Please don’t hesitate to give feedback on this little interview – if the reception is positive we may look into doing more in future!
Of course, while we were there primarily for the video above…these things never stop us from taking on too much work – and saying a few words about the party itself…
The launch was, no less, for the first ever Leeds based group to successfully impress us enough to get a feature on our little Webzine, Chasing Dragons, and their new EP, Checkmate.
Composed of dark, seething atmospherics, thunderous riffs and dominating, harmonic vocals, this is a punky, spunky sort of sound that takes more than a little from your post-hardcore scene, pumps it up, turns it to eleven and then sticks a pin into the resultant pulsating mass.
The launch event provided to be of a similar combustive scale. So, let’s start with the basics…
Leeds is not known for a thriving alternative scene. In fact, it’s pretty bloody abysmal. Our live scene is not lacking in venues, but it does a terrible job of catering to anything that isn’t club nights, dubstep or god-knows-what-else.
This is part of the reason it was such a joy to attend EIGER STUDIOS this particular evening.
Eiger Studios, while nowhere near the capacity of certain venues in Leeds city centre, and not quite boasting the best location, is most certainly worth a visit should a Friday night’s offering incite you. With friendly staff, a fantastic interior space (I love lighting rigs on roof beams – a great use of space and a nice aesthetic too) and a mass of rehearsal rooms, with great equipment to match, this is a hidden gem in the local scene that really deserves more attention.
The metal clad, almost brutalist looking exterior is no implication of the brick walls and surprisingly airy, open spaces that this venue can boast for a band on any size of spectrum. Couple this with very helpful staff and you’ve got a great, informal environment – a gem I simply had no idea existed so close to Cat on the Wall’s nearest ‘big city’.
We arrived an hour and a half before the concert was due to begin, and instantly greeted with the odd chuckle from those waiting outside the venue. Seems a bowler hat and waistcoat is still not a standard dress for punk and rock gigs.
A crime if ever there was one.
We told the staff we were expected, and were soon greeted by Chasing Dragons’ Frontlady. Tank arrived and greeted us very warmly, bedecked in military grade boots, piercings, tattoos, chains hanging from her belt and a most striking hairstyle. Long, black curls on one side of her head, and a blonde crew cut on the other.
Tank looks – nay, is the part. That’s the simplest way I can put it. She has a dominating aesthetic, to say the least – and evidently lives and breathes music with the passion of a great composer. She has a finger constantly on the pulse of the local scene and proved it with some great, long conversations about venues, their experiences and what needs to be done.
To cut a long story short, she’s the epitome of a performer that we need in the independent scene. I can think of few other times I’ve enjoyed talking to a musician so much in the past.
The sound check and set up was going on – slightly overrunning – and it was clear that everything had been planned to the finest detail. Unfortunately something, somewhere had made these perfectly laid plans go a touch awry, and run more than a touch late to boot. Our poor performers were running around like hellions.
It must be said that sound check was perfectly executed and as frantic as things were, it was clear that everybody still knew what they were doing. Just trying to do things quicker..!
In the end, the gig ended up opening its doors a touch late. But nobody seemed particularly unhappy about it, and some actually arrived later still – so I guess the panic was all for nothing!!
We’ve got a lot of music and not much time to review it, so let’s get started…!
Nathan Morris (Vocals & Keys), Alex Chandler (Guitar), Thomas Brown (Guitar), Jordan Johnston (Bass), and Danny Jowett (Drums)
Euthemia were our first group for the evening. Benefiting from serious talent matched up with a fun lack of formality, this is the first sort of thing that’s likely to come to mind when I think of a band starting up on a fine road to much-deserved success.
Funny, well rehearsed and with a sound that betrays their somewhat inoffensive look, Euthemia were the sort of band that’s perfect for starting up an evening – but would in no way be out of place performing as a headliner, either.
Their music is a nice bit of genre-fusing alternative rock with a generous dose of punk, perhaps even a wee sprinkle of something heavier here and there between, and some suspiciously grandiose piano…well, keyboard. But they tend to be easier to fit on stages than pianos in my experience. Their performance had a lot of showmanship, and with impressively ranged, loud vocals from frontman Nathan Morris, this is another piece of local talent that I had, tragically, no idea existed.
While I can’t say that they dominated the evening, they were certainly memorable, and more than worth keeping tabs on.
HEART AND SOULS
Lucinda Livingstone (Vocals & Bass), Andy Castle (Guitar), Conor Dawson (Drums)
I’m sorry to say I didn’t get to watch Heart and Souls. This is because we actually have a video interview with Chasing Dragons, and due to the aforementioned tight schedule, we had to do this during a performance.
All the same, from what I heard (the first track and the thunderous rumbling through the walls of the venue); they were an incredibly tight group with an excellent presentation and a great crowd feeding both to them and off of them.
It’s telling that we could hear so much cheering from two rehearsal rooms away. If we had watched the entire show, I’ve no doubt we’d have been contributing to it ourselves!
My sincere apologies to Heart and Souls for being unable to speak about them more in-depth.
ROAD TO HORIZON
Ben Flockton (Vocals), Danny Kingsbury (Vocals & Guitar), Benji Wilson (Guitar), Oli Parkinson (Bass), Simon Gordon (Drums)
Next up was a change of pace, something heavier, with post-core group Road to Horizon.
Crikey, now things really were moving – Road to Horizon were loud, heavy, and by Christ if they didn’t have a strong set of lungs. I got out of breath just watching them shout into the microphone. This group seem almost theatrical in the way they perform, albeit a touch heavy for some of our readers. To be fair, their studio material is a touch beyond what your intrepid writer is used to, but it’s here we get another glimpse of the sheer beauty of the live show.
A band is very rarely too ‘heavy’ live for your average fan of punk, rock or metal. A live show can obscure genre far further than your average studio producer, and as long as a group can keep a sound going and prove, above all else, entertaining to watch, their studio sound will rarely matter.
This is part of the beauty of live shows, and Road to Horizon are most definitely a live band that’ll stand further appeal, I feel, than a lot of groups out there. Despite my initial reservations? This was a lot of fun and another great notch to cut into the belt.
Olivia Hyde (vocals & piano), Nikki Kontinen (Bass), Stephen Kilpatrick (guitar), Valerian Adore (Drums)
Next up came a group that are making themselves an increasingly regal position for the Gothic scene, Bad Pollyanna, ripe from the Whitby Goth Weekend of October last year. This is a group I was definitely looking forward to. With electronic sounds, badass looking band members and, above all else, a seductive, theatrical performance, this is a group that’s stacking up an increasingly large following for good reason.
Their songs are above all else, very catchy, and demand audience participation throughout. Fronted by the self proclaimed eccentric, Olivia Hyde, there’s a real seduction and life to the group’s veins. Based upon battling electronic and hefty rock and roll magic, this is another genre-defying group that just doesn’t stop being entertaining – and I feel they’re the sort of band that makes for a comfortable mid-section between your more marketable rock and roll and the somewhat more intense industrial sounds that sit at either end of the sub culture.
This is a group that is blatantly born to grow… And grow… And grow! It’s the perfect variation on your standard Goth/Punk formula with a hefty chunk of sincerity to match the rather more fun loving side to the group’s performance.
This is our first time watching Bad Pollyanna. If I get my way, it won’t be the last…!
Tank (Vocals), Mitch (Guitar), Ant (Bassist), Kate (Drums)
Now was time for the group we’d actually been invited to see – Chasing Dragons.
First off, we can’t really talk about them without talking about their vocalist again. We’ve covered her as a personality, but how is she as a performer? Honestly, she, like the group, is a bit of a hidden gem. She’s a born performer, stomping, moving with every beat…despite the fact that, if you were to ask our photographer about how much she moved, you’d probably end up with a string of swear words, it’s always great to see musicians moving around the stage so much, especially when, at Eiger Studios, there isn’t exactly masses of room available.
Combine this with her fellow musicians, Mitch and Ant on guitar and bass respectively and Katie (‘the stick figure’) on Drums, and the line up becomes a very tight knit group of friends providing, above all else, a fantastic soundtrack to any sort of situation where you just need some badass goddamn noise.
Saying that, this ‘noise’ does not lack technical prowess or complexity, and the rather impressive set up that Kate commands at the drums, acts as authority. Incidentally, I have to say, Kate must be one of, if not the best drummers I’ve heard live to date.
As a matter of fact, it would be fair to say that the entire group rank pretty damn highly in my favourite performances. Mitch and Ant are both very talented musicians capable of both the twiddly stuff and very catchy, strong, thunderous riffs, deep in tone and making a little paper sign tacked to the right hand camp billow and float.
This is a seriously talented group of people. Funny, entertaining and impeccably musical.
The venue, the bands, the people. All are hugely recommended by Cat on the Wall. People were friendly (even when starting a pit in the centre of the audience), the music was good, the bands well presented, the venue was perfect and everybody worked hard to really entertain and introduce a spectacular new release to the world.
There were people dressed like pirates, people dressed like Goths, people dressed like metalheads and people dressed like punks. A mohawked group of alternative cronies fitting for such a regal event.
Incidentally, one chap borrowed my bowler hat and got a free drink out of it. I wish I’d have known that could work, I’d have done it myself…
You can buy Chasing Dragon’s new EP, ‘Checkmate’ on their website, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify…all the usual digital places. We heartily recommend buying it from their website ASAP. For £4.50 you’ll have a record you can listen to over and over again…without it losing an ounce of staying power.