By Jordan Mooney.
Every so often – rarely, mind you – an album is delivered to our emails that gets us cats off of the wall and onto the floor to pretend we can dance. Yes, ladies and gents….once we’ve waded through the mass of boring hipsters on acoustic guitars and the usual PR teams spouting their utter bilge, you can find some real gems.
Lucifers Beard are not a group that tries to imitate. They’re not so much musicians as they are warlocks of sound, gathered around a vinyl cauldron. They seem to take at least a little inspiration from every identifiable sound and genre of the past sixty years and throw it into an utterly bewildering mix of catchy tunes and beguilement.
If You’re Going Through Hell, Keep Going is their second release and proves to be an admirable ambassador to the world for the group’s functions and ideas. Carrying an impressive medley of designs towards a variety of iconic sounds, it’s a record that really homes in on the idea of multi-genre, amplifies it and manages to make the transition so smooth that, by the time the album’s in full pelt, it feels like it would be a palpable crime to try and stop it.
The finest thing about Lucifers Beard is that they don’t seem to try outright to split and stick together different things. It doesn’t follow a formula or instruction – in fact, the record bounces back and forth with admirable energy. It feels utterly organic, a natural direction for every head in the group’s number. The album sounds like a particularly well organised jam, flowing back and forth through genre and theme like a particularly infectious mixtape. There’s plenty of beautiful brass trappings of trumpets and sax, hefty riffs, sizeable percussion…it’s all a sound that reminds me inevitably of a ‘big band’. And you can take that to the bank.
A particular tip of the top hat has to go to Time Bomb – which is an absolutely sublime track in every regard and is making its way up the top played tracks on my laptop. The funky high pitched vocals melding with a more pedestrian rock and roll number makes for a fantastic combination – the results are simply fantastic. The track demands your attention as it flows through the heavier and lighter sides of the group’s specialities – without once disappointing or stumbling.
The album’s groove – and it does have a groove – is impeccably infectious. It’s very much dedicated to itself, working on its own terms, and ends up peppering in punk, rock and roll, funk and soul (with a certain pop edge too) in such equal – yet hefty measures – that the bitterness of their punk offering is softened into a far more malleable and easy to handle set of tunes even the weakest of ears may enjoy. Similarly, the funk and soul they choose to ply into isn’t a completely overbearing dose and is more of a sort to pop up for minute-and-a-half pieces like a purple star-encrusted love-ship. The result is an album that welcomes both parties with open arms.
The entire album is creative, well trained and knowledgeable on what exactly it wants to do. It’s confident, it’s well arranged, and so help me it’s in continuous rotation here at Cat on the Wall towers. The mix of new and old is a far more obvious attempt than your average group of rock nerds trying to bring back the eighties, but is noticeably less flamboyant and generic. This is an album that’s not acting as a tribute or homage – rather, providing its own entry in the history books for long existing genres.
They may have a name like a heavy metal band (because metal is all Satan and beards. Obviously). But, Lucifers Beard are a friendly sounding, approachable sort of multi-genre outfit that doesn’t pop up every day. If You’re Going Through Hell, Keep Going is not only special because it’s a second-ever album or simply because it’s different…but because it’s easy to listen to, without losing a single bit of its own eccentricity and maintaining its own interests.
This is one of the few albums we’ve had on Cat on the Wall I think the majority can enjoy without feeling alienated or lost. It’s accessible – but in no way is it pedestrian.
Simply superb. A new favourite, perhaps!
We decided to send our team of rogue interviewers (think ninjas, but with notepads) to Manchester to catch Lucifer’s Beard. First they came back with some demonic entity, but they eventually managed to come back with something relevant.
Cat on the Wall: Hello there, and welcome to Cat on the Wall! How are you today?
Lucifers Beard: Great thanks, love the start of a new year! A blank canvas!
COTW: Please, introduce yourself, and the band you’re here to represent!
LB: We are Chris – Guitar and Vox, Joe – Drums, knowledge and hot mum, and Pete – Bass, Die hard Newcastle FC supporter and Victorian bottle collector – Lucifers Beard!
COTW: We’ve not heard of Lucifers beard before. Please, give us the grand saga of how all of it came to be..!
LB: Lucifers Beard has been in existence for a few years now, and started as Chris’s recording project when he was at University in Manchester. The current line up is made up of old school friends and enemies from our time in the weird little Shropshire town of Church Stretton. We all love each other now though.
COTW: “If You’re Going Through Hell, Keep Going” is the second LP from your fine quintet – and we bloody love it. How was your experience recording the LP?
LB: Thanks very much! The songs for this album came about pretty quickly and were a lot of fun to record. We tried not to overthink things too much and treated the sessions like we would a rehearsal and we think it’s reflected in the overall feel of the tracks. Our great friend Stephen Bond produced the record – he made the whole experience so relaxed, and he knew how to get the best out of us for every take. Homemade Lasagne and sofa beds were key ingredients! Manchester is always a good time too!
COTW: When you went into the studio, did you already have it laid down in stone what you wanted to produce, or did you find yourself improvising?
LB: Going into the studio, we had a clear idea of the structure of each song – which came about through a decent period of pre-production. Which took place in Joe’s Grandma’s living room in the Shropshire hills! The brass arrangements, played by Al Grundy on Trumpet and Gemma Storer (Chris’s Sister) on Saxophone, came about pretty organically; we think they came out great. Most of the guitar leads were improvised on the spot – I think all of the solos were improvised by Chris and we just went with it. Finding a mistake that sounds good can be more exciting sometimes than executing a well rehearsed part.
COTW: How would you describe the ‘sound’ of Lucifers Beard? We catch a lot of varying eras of music and an eclectic mix of styles in what we’ve heard. Is there anything ‘definitive’ for you?
LB: We’re a weird bunch of guys with a really eclectic musical background. We listen to a really diverse set of sounds, like most people, but we share an affinity for well recorded and written songs from every genre – be it funk, metal, pop or rock. If it’s got a good groove, we love it! As far as a definitive “Lucifers Beard” sound, goes we think there’s something on the record for most people. We didn’t set out to do that, it’s just how it came out – so some songs are heavy, some are funky some are melancholy, that’s just how they are. If we like it, we go with it.
COTW: Are there any musicians you feel have had particularly big impacts on your sound?
LB: I think we’d all say different musicians and genres have had an impact on us at different times. During the writing process, we were all listening to different stuff – but I remember listening to a lot of Queens of the Stone Age and Jarle Bernhoft.
COTW: What can one expect from a live show with Lucifers Beard? Do you feel it’s the ‘proper’ way to view the band, or do you prefer a studio environment?
LB: Live is great, and studio is great too, but we see them as pretty different things musically. Our live show is pretty full on, whereas, in the studio, our sound can change quite a lot song to song.
COTW: Naturally, being an independent group, one of your essential lifelines is the internet. How have you found getting noticed online? Do you feel it’s easier than ever, or produces more hurdles to jump over?
LB: The Internet has helped hugely, as it has given us a musical outlet that wouldn’t have been available to us a few years ago. The idea that people half way across the world can listen to our little band is pretty fun and being able to chat to people like you can only be a good thing! As good as the internet is, I think it’s important to use it as an aid to getting out there and playing or creating.
There used to be a Tumblr page somewhere – that was nothing to do with us, also under the moniker of Lucifers Beard. Whoever ran it was very keen to post quite extreme naked photos of themselves?!?! Swings and Roundabouts!
COTW: What’s planned for the future of Lucifers Beard? Anything exciting you can reveal?
LB: Our future is looking pretty busy – we’re writing and rehearsing all of the time, and we have 12 or so songs written for the next record. We’re hopefully going to be recording another full length record soon, and it’s going to be even bigger and better than the last one! We’re playing a show for Scruff of the Neck Records at the Roadhouse in Manchester on the 28th of February so people should come to that if they can! Tickets are available here: https://www.fatsoma.com/events/115267/?r=1682258313
There’s also a couple of new videos up on our YouTube Channel, so you can get the tiniest hint of what to expect from the next bunch of songs!
COTW: That’s about everything – thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us. Anything to say to your friends, fans, fellow band members…or even us?!
LB: Thank you for giving our music a go and being so kind! Oh, and congrats to Joe, our Drummer for recently getting engaged to his childhood sweet heart Caroline!
Thanks again, it’s a massive help and gives us a nice feeling when people like Cat On The Wall do what you do for lesser known bands like us, and we really appreciate it! You guys should come and do a review of our show in Manchester. Or search for some Lucifers Beard porn. Either way, you’ll have a good time!
I’ll leave you today with Bandcamp. You can name your own price for the record, so you can give like two billion pounds if you fancy.
And below is the lovely, colourful music video for Cuddle Monster. Perhaps not the finest dancing, but that’s not why you’re here. It provides a lovely throwback to the earlier world of music videos and really does a great job of emphasising that ‘pop’ appeal of the group’s output.
And here’s some links.