"[The new album is] heavier. Much bigger sound, more representative of our live sound. It was mostly recorded at Abbey Road Studios."
It's always a success story when refugees end up creating music and becoming known both nationally and internationally, these are people who have stories to tell and they might not always be positive (think Somali-Canadian hip-hop artist K'naan who speaks out at the violence in Somalia [song: Soobax]), but when they are you have bands like The Scorpios spearheading it. The Sudanese-British formation have been grafting hard at their second album which is to see light sometime this year, Autumn time is the aim. With the lockdown we're in, they have been using this time to draft up ideas and form (so far) half of their 3rd album... Global Mainstream Arts decided to interview them about their past, their opinions on Heavy Metal and their future plans.
Adam Bulewski was happy to talk to us on behalf of the band.
For those who have not heard of The Scorpios, could you give us a brief history of the band? What does the band name mean?
"The band consists of five Sudanese musicians who have played around the Horn of Africa as well as Arab states. The main singer Regia Ishag comes from a musical family which includes such greats as the guitarist from the 70's Sudanese band The Scorpions. The other four members have been playing in traditional settings for many years, such as weddings and religious festivals. They left Sudan in the 80's when the situation became very bad, so when they initially came to the UK they were refugees. The music they are influenced by is old traditional songs, 60's songs and 70's pop songs, which had reggae, funk and soul as well as Latin leanings. The UK guitarist Adam Bulewski got to meet some musicians via some community work he was doing in London with the local Sudanese community and began recording sessions.
It was a musical project to reduce stigma around mental health. One of the percussionists became a very good friend and through him he managed to assemble the beginnings of the Scorpios. At present the Sudanese members are supported by an international backing band of guys from Jamaica, Poland, Japan and the UK. The music was put on YouTube and picked by Fredrik Lavik, label owner of Afro7 records ,who asked the Scorpios to do a whole album. So they did. It was recorded in a deliberately rough and raw manner, very live. So much so that some people thought they were original recordings from tape from the 60s. The Scorpios relates to Scorpions in the desert and also the star sign Scorpio.
Now half of the band originated from the Sudan, can you tell us what it was like growing up there and when was your first taste of music and rock music?
"In the 60's and 70's a lot of music came to Sudan via the West. Funk, reggae, psychedelic rock. I suppose key rock outfits would have been Hendrix and Santana. This was mixed with traditional forms and out of all the Horn of Africa countries Sudan has always been the most open to the influences. But most of the Sudanese members would have grown up with traditional songs about love, war and religion."
What are your perceptions of Heavy Metal music?
"It's heavy stuff. Some of the band members are into it but more older stuff like Black Sabbath. Sabbath has a lot of groove in there especially as the drummer and bassist came form a jazz background which we can relate to. But some members of the band find it too much!"
What were the challenges (if any) you faced when you moved to London? Surely you must be happy to see how vibrant the music and cultural scenes are?
"Being refugees it was getting work, somewhere to live etc. Sudan has a very strong relationship with the UK and the Sudanese members of the band find it very easy to love in the UK."
How is the new album coming along? What is different with the new one compared to your previous album?
"It's heavier. Much bigger sound, more representative of our live sound. But still has the moisture of big funk / groove tunes mixed with a couple of sparse traditional songs. It was mostly recorded at Abbey Road Studios."
What traditional instruments do you use and can you tell us what sort of sound they produce? Are they easy to play?
"We use traditional darbukas but also specific bongo / tabklas hybrids which are home-made in Sudan. They consist of three rather than two drums joined together."
What are your plans for the rest of 2020 and into early 2021?; what plans were cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19?
"We have nearly finished the second album which should be released in Autumn this year. given the COVID-19 situation, with the time we have it has already given us ideas for half of the third album which we will probably record at the end of this year or early next year."
Do you have any greetings or thanks you wish to send out to friends, family, fans etc?
"Yes. These are trying times but music and art can lift you up and keep you strong."
"[Frank on the lockdown] A lot of my friends are all kind of saying 'man the very first thing I'm going to do is go to a gig once I'm allowed'"
Some of you may know Frank Turner from his time as vocalist of the Post-Hardcore group Million Dead, for those who don't, Frank Turner is an accomplished singer-songwriter whose music spans across a plethora of music genres but mostly is rooted within the Punk Rock, Folk and Country music genres. He is complemented by his touring family known affectionately as The Sleeping Souls - Ben Lloyd (guitar, mandolin), Tarrant Anderson (bass), Matt Nasir (piano, mandolin) and Nigel Powell (drums). Just last year, Frank Turner released his 8th studio album "No Man's Land" and two weeks ago released his 3rd live album "Live In Newcastle"; released earlier than planned due to COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown.
We spoke to Frank about his latest release, his lockdown experience and guitar building expedition, his passion for Heavy Metal and astonishment at the Syrian Metal band Maysaloon, his beloved and devoted support of independent venues and what tips he can give to musicians or bands looking to make it in the music industry.
As the UK is in lockdown musicians have been streaming performances, you played a benefit gig in aid of supporting the Huddersfield venue The Parish, can you tell us more about that?
"So basically I came home from a tour after playing around the UK; I was on the road when the lockdown kicked in, which sucked as cancelling shows is never a nice thing. So I came home and did a benefit for my touring family; my crew, my band who you know were looking at real financial hardships. It went really well and it was really easy to do, afterwards I was thinking about what else I could do that might be helpful.
So I thought about doing shows for independent venues because I've done lots of work with music venues over many wee places like that over the years; helping out indie venues and they really need help right now. I feel very strongly that I owe these places my depth in gratitude for helping my career, so I started doing them 7 weeks ago and haven't stopped yet because they've been going well."
Speaking of which it's not just COVID-19 impacting venues, but rents, noise complaints etc forcing some to close, so it's now than ever more important to back venues.
"Yeah definitely, I mean I think the fact that organisations like the Music Venue Trust existed before the lockdown goes to show that this is not the only problem facing venues, it's not all about us to run an indie venue and it's not certainly how anyone is going to become a millionaire. I think we have to be careful about talking about positives in regards to coming out of this as people are suffering and dying, you have to recognise that. Nether the less I think one of the potential positive angles about everything that's happening right now is that people really are starting to appreciate how much they miss live music and what it is that live music brings into their lives.
I miss gigs enormously but that's partly because of what I do for a living, but I think a lot of people who I speak to, a lot of my friends are all kind of saying 'man the very first thing I'm going to do is go to a gig once I'm allowed'."
Of course it's not just musicians, but the whole music industry is suffering due to COVID-19, in your opinion where do we go from this?
"Well I mean that's the million dollar question and if I had a short answer to that, I'd place some bets and make a lot of money (laughs). I think the thing is no one knows what's going to happen and at the end of the day I do sort of broadly accept the reasons for us having this lockdown and the medical side, that kind of thing. I'm not like sitting there saying 'there's no such thing as coronavirus, or anything like that', this is a real problem that we all have to deal with. It is a shame given that my career of 20 years has been based around travel and gathering people together and those two things seem to be a bad idea right now.
It's difficult and I suspect that live music is going to be one of the last things that will return to normality; if it ever does return to normality, but honestly I don't know but again I feel like that there's a lot of kind of positive energy right now in the industry. Even from some of the major labels, some of the major corporate promoters, people like that, there has been a sense of 'not being assholes' kind of moment, trying to pull together and trying to sort of maintain the structures that we built throughout all of this; which I think has been interesting and kind of heartening."
During the lockdown musicians have been looking at ways to keep engaged with music, but what other things have you been engaged with?
"Well the first thing this isn't strictly outside of music but it's outside of my usual thing, I've bought a kit off the internet to build a guitar, right, because I thought that would keep me busy. If I'm honest with you (because I thought it wouldn't be that hard), it turns out I'm an asshole and it's really hard and it's going to take me ages. I am working through it, but I was thinking that it might take me a couple of weeks but now it's going to take me f**king months. But you know it turns out that lockdown is going to last for f**king months as well so (laughs) I've got the time.
Other than that I read a lot, generally speaking I've been getting through books which I've been shying away from reading over the years. I'm fortunate enough to have a little root garden so I've made sure I've been doing a bit of gardening as well."
I suppose in a way building a guitar would be similar to the Airfix models you used to get?
"Well I think that was roughly the way I was thinking, that it was going to be something along those lines. But like I said, it turns out you've got to sand, cure, grain and all this kind of stuff. So I'm definitely learning new skills, but it's a lot of work."
Speaking of skills that you learn, what advice could you give to musicians and bands who are just starting out?
"Well I mean it's a difficult time to start right now in terms of the lockdown. Having said that one of the good things the internet has brought to us over the last decade or more is that it puts the power in the hands of the bands much more than it used to be. Much more than when I was starting out in bands when I was a kid, you can make your own luck, it is easier now to record good quality music at home, get it up on streaming services, do live stream shows you can do all of this and make noise.
Beyond that, this is going to make me sound a little old-fashioned so forgive me for that, but there is a large part of me that believes that quality will out, the fact that you can do that if you want to be in a band, make waves and be successful is to be f**king excellent and to be unique, to be different and make a noise that no one else is making - to do it in a way that is original. If you do that then people will find you and will pay attention."
Now you yourself are a Heavy Metal fan correct? Are you surprised about seeing bands emerge from countries like Nepal, Botswana, etc?
"That is correct yes I mean my first love was Iron Maiden.
No not really I think that one of the things that metal has always been is like kind of outsider's music and is kind of fashion-resistant. Part of the things that attracted me to it when I was a kid was the sense of defiance almost, it's like yes I'm a metalhead... f**k everyone (laughs) and obviously people from other parts of the world are opening up, for example a Syrian Metal band (Maysaloon)... I cannot imagine what it's like to play music of any kind let alone metal in Syria, you know hats off to them for it.
It seems to me that metal's attraction is again down to that sense of defiance, that sense of identity against the grain and so on that level no it doesn't surprise me too much."
With that and the whole global pandemic in mind, it makes the love and sharing of music more important than ever.
"Yeah definitely I feel like people are starting to kind of like appreciate it more, now on the level of gigs I was chatting to a friend of mine the other day and he said that 'a couple of weeks before the lockdown kicked in, someone invited him to go to a gig and he didn't go because he said he was tired from working and couldn't be asked, and he said right now I will literally go and see any band, any f**king band', he was like dying for it. But I think that people are getting a sense of appreciation."
Musicians have all kinds of influences from in and outside of music, what influences do you take in creating your music?
"It's mostly purely music, the external thing for me would be that i read quite a lot of poetry and I emphatically believe that lyric writing and poetry are two separate things; they're not the same thing. I'm slightly scared of poetry writing, in the sense that you don't have the structure of the music to back it up... how the f**k do you do that?
A lot of the influences on my work come from other lyricists, whether it's John K Sampson, Nick Cave, Adam Duritz or whomever, but mostly within that I try to be as broad as I can; I always have my go tos from Hardcore music, Country and Folk music, those are my two kind of main repertoires of inspiration shall we say. I like to try new things, I try to challenge myself particularly as I go through my career and I do album after album; trying not to repeat myself, but for example when I did "Be More Kind" I went through a big phase of listening to Afrobeat and Ska stuff, not because I was trying to make an Afrobeat record but more so trying to push myself outwards in my sound."
You released your 'Live In Newcastle' album on 24th April, what was the reception like?
"Yeah It's been great and it was entirely different approach to a show, we were trying to do something different, it was a secret show which was weird and new for us. Me and my family usually have a more of a Punk Rock approach to a show, but now suddenly it was a sit-down show and with this it is something we've never done before; it was kind of a one-off, this isn't now how I am going to tour forever, it was just an experiment and that's why we captured and recorded the tour.
We practised and recorded it and I think the plan was to put it out at the end of this year, maybe at the start of 2021... but then the pandemic set it and so we thought f**k it why not get it out there. The one thing I'd have to say about that though, is that there is a level of which I quote 'mixing the record and then like releasing it', it's ever so slightly emotionally mixed where it leads to a point where you suddenly go 'I remember gigs, like gigs were great'. It's lovely to hear a room full of people enjoying the show and at the same time it reminds you that you're currently not doing that."
Have you got any greetings or thanks you wish to send out to friends, family, fans, etc?
"I'd like to say thank you to everyone who's been tuning in for the live streams, we've been raising serious amounts of money every week for independent venues that I love. I know I'm the one sitting there playing the guitar, but it's the people who are tuning in, making the donations which is an incredible thing - to see people rising up week after week making donations to a cause like that'; I'm incredible blown away and grateful for it so big up for everyone who contributed to the live shows."
"Live In Newcastle" is out now via Xtra Mile Recordings / Polydor Records
"Em and Jack really made sure they’re parts complimented our sound and who Milk Teeth are live"
Steadily they have arisen from the underbellies of the English rock underground and thus henceforth arrive boldly having delivered their second album back in March, say hello to Stroud-natives Milk Teeth. The punk rock trio have in the past 7 years signed with some of the biggest labels on the planet: Roadrunner Records, Hopeless Records and now Music For Nations. Vocalist and bassist Becky Blomfield spoke to GMA about the state of the Punk Rock scene, what plans Milk Teeth COVID-19 depending and the beauty of the vinyl revival.
Guys would you say that Punk Rock over the past few years is seeing a huge resurgence in the UK? How did you get into Punk Rock?
"I think punk always exists in the background and underground scenes, I actually think there will be a more prominent rise in punk at the forefront again in light of so much anger caused by the Government lately and the circumstances surrounding COVID-19.
I got into Punk Rock as a teenager - I found bands like Operation Ivy, Alkaline Trio, early Green Day, The Ramones etc and was hooked."
You released your second album back in late March, what was the reception like given the circumstances we are faced with?
"It’s been so positive! I think it was so important not to hold the date back for release. What time is better to give people music and escape than in a global pandemic."
How did it feel signing for Music For Nations and was it a rocky journey signing with 3 labels over a 4-5 year period?
"I feel like I’m used to large amounts of instability in my work and personal life so have almost come to expect things to go wrong before they go right. It’s been positive signing to someone new and we are grateful they have championed the record and music we are making. I think a lot of labels aren’t sure what to do with us."
What would your favourite tracks from the new album be? What did you do differently with this album compared to 'Vile Child'?
"My favourite tracks are “Smoke”, “Better” and “Wannabe”. Vile Child was written as the original line-up - a lots changed and it’s given me so much to write about. I think this self titled record brings my writing to the forth front more than it ever has been, we stuck with a stripped back approach to production and Em and Jack really made sure they’re parts complimented our sound and who Milk Teeth are live."
Your album was released on both black and orange splatter vinyl, you must be excited to see that?
"It’s always crazy to see your own record exists physically. I don’t really associate it with me there’s “band Becky” and “regular Becky”. I’m stoked it’s out - I feel especially proud of this album."
Outside of music do you have any other hobbies / interests?
"I love working out and hiking - lately I’ve enjoyed trying boxing style workouts. I love reading, am getting into gardening and am hoping to do some more craft based courses in either ceramics or silversmithing."
What plans do you have for the rest of the year when everything gets back to normal?
"Everything’s uncertain right now, when we know what we are doing, the fans will be the first to know."
Are there any greetings / thanks you wish to send out?
"I want to thank all frontline workers looking after us all right now whether it’s in the supermarkets, collecting the bins, caring in residential homes or hospitals etc you are literally keeping the world spinning on its axis right now and there aren’t enough ways to tell you thank you."
The Eurovision Song Contest 2019 may be over, but there is still time to catch up with a host of entries to find out how how they felt, what their immediate plans on and to reflect on the artists themselves. Here Danish entry Leonora was more than happy to talk to Global Mainstream Arts about her journey from the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix to arguably music's biggest stage, the Eurovision Song Contest; this time held in Tel Aviv, Israel following Netta's win with 'Toy' last year.
Denmark has a rich history of winning the song contest having won it three times, the last win being 'Only Teardrops' by Emmelie De Forest back in 2013, so was the pressure on Leonora?
"Of course! They [Faroe Islands] should be in the competition, just like Iceland and the rest of the North."
Leonora, firstly how did it feel to be representing Denmark at this year's Eurovision Song Contest?
"First of all, it’s been overwhelming winning the National Final, and that part was my first goal. It’s amazing how much wonderful support I’ve been receiving, both from friends, family and the entire team I have behind me – as well as from fans all over Europe. So it’s been an amazing, and I think Eurovision was the biggest moment of my life. Thank you so much!"
Denmark last won with 'Only Teardrops' back in 2013, what would it have meant for Denmark and yourself to add a fourth win?
"Well, I hoped so. But I’m very proud of my self and my whole team behind me. And I’d never thought I would make it to the final. It was an amazing experience. And come on – 12! It’s kind a cool, when you don’t expect anything. ;)"
Eurovision always throws in some way out-there artists, this year arguably it's Iceland - what are your thoughts on Hatari? Have you got any Eurovision 2019 songs you like?
"Well, I have talked to the guys from Hatari, and they are the sweetest. I think it’s nice to be who you are, and take a chance for once in a while. And just rock this great show! They are truly good guys. My favourite song this year is Czech Republic – (and they are sort of my friends too, hope it’s not cheating?) and Mikis ’La Venda’ always makes me dance!"
Your song 'Love Is Forever' is unique in itself being multilingual, are you fluent in German and French alongside your native Danish?
"No, unfortunately not – we have German and French in Danish schools, but not fluent. But I really like that the song i multilingual. It shows everyone that we’re all equal and Love is forever and for everyone! I believe we all have to appreciate the differences in the world, and we should treat others with the same degree of respect, as we would like to be treated ourselves. We should embrace our differences, not be afraid of them."
You're also an award-winning skater, what was it that made you take a step back? Ice skating has it's own choreography, with Eurovision did you look back at your ice-skating for inspiration? Or where did your ideas come from?
"That’s true. I had a hard time finding the motivation, because I started spending a lot of time on music. Also, it’s very common in Denmark to stop competing when you’re 18. Well, both disciplines feel like natural extensions of who I am, and I feel comfortable with both. Skates quite literally serve as extensions of my legs! They are a tool that allows you to do a lot of technical moves and tricks, but, more importantly, they allow you to dance on the ice and do choreography, which is the side of the sport I love the most. My ideas comes from all over, my family, people I walk by, something I see in TV – anything. "
Would you agree that Eurovision offers escapism for everyone worldwide, free from politics, heartbreak and bad news we face everyday?
"Without a doubt. Eurovision is a singing competition, not a politic statement."
The Faroe Islands have long tried to participate, would you welcome the Faroe Islands into the contest?
"Of course! They should be in the competition, just like Iceland and the rest of the North."
Now Eurovision has finished, what are your plans? Will you be looking to record an album?
"Afterwards, my plan is to record a new album with my own songs, and treat myself to a very long vacation! I’m already craving some relaxing downtime at home."
Do you have any greetings to send out to friends, family, fans etc?
"Thank you so much for all your support through this journey of mine! Remember: Love is forever and for everyone Lastly, I’d encourage everyone to always be kind to one another – love is forever!"
For fun what are some fun Danish phrases people should know and use in their daily life as well as at (any) Eurovision?
Based in Chelmsford, the only city in Essex is alternative rockers Lemoncurd Kids. Their unique sense of fashion does not detract the focus from their musical brilliance and to prove they should not be taken lightly, the quartet have delivered their second album "Consequence Of Doubt". To show that there are consequences should you doubt this band's musical arsenal, the guys discussed the new album, their back-story and their place within the Essex rock scene.
"The problem in the [Essex] music scene is getting people to shows and keeping venues alive"
For those who have not heard of Lemoncurd Kids, could you give us a brief history of the band, the meaning behind the name and how you all became musicians?; was you in previous bands? Was it hard to obtain your signature outfits?
"Lemoncurd Kids were born in Winter 2014. Mark was a solo performer under the name of 'The Lemoncurd Kid' and he decided to put a band together for a charity show, so James, Jon and Matt joined him and he has been unable to shake them off ever since. The name comes from Mark’s propensity as a child to smear lemon curd over his face and stick slices of bread to it. He thought ‘The Lemoncurd Sandwich Kid’ was a bit of a mouthful so it was shortened.
We’ve all got a fair bit of band experience so we came into it knowing how a band should work; we function pretty well and have kept disagreements to a minimum.
The cardigans (or ‘Curdigans’, as they’ve become known) were purchased online from an American label called ‘2/men’ - I would guess they’re discontinued now. Also in the line-up is the burgundy cardigan - the ‘Burdigan’, and the lesser-spotted lemon corduroy trousers - the ‘Curduroys’. When we’re not naming our clothes, we sometimes make music."
Back in December, you released your music video and single 'Tick Tock', could you explain the meaning behind the title, what the video is meant to portray and where inspirations came from? What was the reception like?
"I guess the whole feel of the song is a message. A reminder to really live in the present, look around you, take it all in and appreciate all the little things that we take for granted in everyday life. In the video you see us connecting musically with each other through some strange scientific experiment. Take time every now and then to stop, put your phone down and really have a moment of peace. Social media and the instant gratification culture that we live in is screwing with people's mental health. The track had an amazing response and has become a firm favourite for people at our shows."
Regarding the video, is it true you made the hats yourself? How long did they take to make and did you have any inspiration to go by?
"James had the initial idea for the hats; I think his inspiration cams from an 80’s film, maybe ‘Ghostbusters’ or something, and he created his for a fancy dress party a year or so ago. It was a good look so we all had a go at making our own and personalising them in some way. Apart from Matt, who is inept and cannot operate a glue-gun without adult supervision so he got his friend Tom to do it for him."
What is the Essex rock scene like right now? Is it going strong? What could (or should) change in your opinion?
"The Essex music scene, in terms of the music itself, seems to be in rude health. Here in Chelmsford the established acts are putting out really strong efforts, and up and coming bands like Children Of The Fuzz are getting the recognition they deserve. Further afield, Shooty & The Bang Bang released an absolute banger of an album last year and we really have to be on our toes when we’re on the same bill. We’ve been lucky to play with some truly great talents. The problem in the music scene is getting people to shows and keeping venues alive - we lost Asylum around 18 months ago and The Square in Harlow went and The Railway in Southend nearly went. It’s a shame but we keep fighting the apathy."
Out of all the gigs you have done, what has been your favourite and why?
"Favourite gig is a hard one; we’ve had some great times and a great crowds but personally I’ll never forget the crowd singing along to ‘Tick Tock’ at a charity gig in January 2019, the song hadn’t been out long but everyone seemed to know it and it’s an undeniably amazing feeling when that happens."
Would you agree that rock music in the UK is on the up again? Or did it never really fade away?
"I think the supposed demise of rock music pre-dates The Beatles, so I’m not too concerned at a national level. The festival scene has diversified, and that’s a good thing, but it’s not unusual to see rock bands headlining here there and everywhere."
With 2019 in full swing, what plans (aside from album promotion) have you got for the year ahead?
"We have two gigs in the diary - June 16th at The United Bretheren in Chelmsford and The Fling Festival on 6th July, also in Chelmsford. We’re planning on making another video. And after that who knows?"
Finally do you have any greetings, thank you's, etc., that you wish to send out to friends, family, fans, etc?
"We’d like to thank everyone who continues to support us. Playing in empty rooms or to disinterested punters is no fun so to all that come to our shows and listen to and like our music - thank you so much. Peace out x"
Kenya in East Africa is a country most would associate with safari parks, sandy beaches and the Maasai people. Few would associate it with rock and metal music, even more so Punk Rock. Leading the African Rock movement for Kenya is Powerslide, a band of three brothers-in-arms who stand for what they believe in. They're no Sex Pistols nor are they any flashy wannabe punk rock band of late, they create music true to their heart, but as the vocalist / guitarist Willy Ojiro goes on to explain, the rock/metal scene is more or less still in it's infantile stage and has yet to reach the burgeoning levels witness in Europe, North America and Australia.... this is their story.
"We have a Government owned station (Y254) that has a Rock show ('Rock Tour')... the only Kenyan show that promotes the local scene"
For those who have not heard of Powerslide, could you give us a brief background of the band?
"Powerslide is a punk band comprising of Willy Ojiro (vocals/guitar), Timothy 'Qreed' Wafula (drums) and George Zuko (bass). We have roots in Punk Rock, but we use elements of everything from Metalcore to Indie. Taking inspiration from bands like Blink 182, Nirvana, NOFX, Black Flag, Architects and While She Sleeps just to name a few. We all skated together for years before any of us were musicians but in 2015 we decided to form a band. Our goal is to spread love and positivity through our music and to change the world one pair of ears at a time."
Your debut album is out this year, what will you be doing to promote it?
"Our debut album 'Cheshire Grin' is almost out. For promotion we have a bunch of music videos in the works and have released 2 so far, as well as TV appearances planned. We also intend to tour to the extent of our capability. If everything goes well we'll be touring Germany in the summer."
Tell us more about the Kenyan rock and metal scenes, what is it like? Do you have bands from neighbouring countries come and play?
"The Kenyan Rock and Metal scene is extremely small, but extremely vibrant. Most Kenyans don't even know that a scene exists. But when bands from around the world come down here to play they're always stoked on how intense the crowds here are. There's an incredible sense of community in the scene. Yes we have a few bands from neighbouring countries that come through like Vale of Amonition from Uganda, and Norbormide NMD from Botswana."
What is the Government's stance on rock / metal music?
"I don't think the Government has given two thoughts about the scene lol. But we have a Government owned station (Y254) that has a Rock show ('Rock Tour). That's the only Kenyan show that promotes the local scene. The station has invited us on twice in the past 2 months, cheers to them."
For rock / metal fans visiting Nairobi, what sights / attractions could you recommend?
"Nairobi has a bunch of attractions tourists could visit. Kenya's first national park, Nairobi National Park which has a huge array of animals such us lions, cheetahs, rhinos, gazelles, elephants, buffaloes and more than 400 species of birds. We have the Bomas of Kenya with is an open air museum featuring traditional tribal villages with indigenous crafts, performances and music. We also have the Giraffe Center which Stray From The Path visited during their tour here.
We were blessed with the chance to share the stage with them in June at the Hardcore Help Foundation's 'This Is Africa Fest'. Stray From The Path is my favourite Hardcore band and getting to go on stage and perform with them was a mind-blowing experience."
What do your parents think of your choice of music? Are they musicians themselves?
"Neither of my parents are musicians but they are both huge music fans (unfortunately not of rock). They have shown me nothing but support as I pursue my music. I might even go as far as saying they are more supportive than all the parents of the musicians I surround myself with. And for that i will always be grateful."
With the end of 2018 drawing closer, what can fans expect from Powerslide in 2019?
"In 2019 fans can expect us to play more shows than ever, in more countries than ever. We will also be releasing a 2019 album which we have already started writing."
Are there any greetings, hello's, etc you wish to send out?
"I'd just like to give a huge thanks to everyone that's given us a chance, everyone that's come to a show, everyone that's taken time to listen to our music, everyone that's believed in us, we appreciate you."
As you may well know, Finland has a rich history of rock and metal music. From both genders I might add. One of Finland's undiscovered talents lies within the all-female rock band Sarca. You might well agree that even though these five ladies are extremely pretty, their music should never be judged on looks and Sarca as a whole has a lot of bite in their repertoire. Having also had a stint with Finnish stunt legends The Dudesons (think Jackass), there is more to Sarca than meets the eye as you will now find out...
How did Sarca come about as a band; how did you form? What does the band name mean?
"Our guitarist Amanda and drummer Sandra are sisters, our keyboardist Vilma has known them both since kindergarten and our bassist Alisa was in the same grade as Amanda from 2002 to 2010. Sarca was born in 2002. The whole idea was born at school. I talked with our bassist on our lunch break and asked her if she wanted to start playing the bass. :D Our singer Tuuli sang her way to our band in 2005 after our earlier singer left Sarca. The name Sarca actually means nothing. I (Amanda) had a dream in 2005 that we had that name. In the dream we were reading a review about our debut album and we thought and decided that it was a premonition and changed our name!"
Is there any stigma towards female rock musicians in Finland? How do you cope with any abuse or bullying received because your an all-female band? Is the term female-fronted sexist in your opinion?
"First of all the term "tyttöbändi" which is used in Finland means a 'girl-band'. I think that's kind of an insult already. After all we are not girls any more and that term feels underrating. The first thought when we go to some gig seems to be that girls can't play really good or something. Especially when it comes to rock music and attitude, time after time everyone seems to be surprised that we actually can play. That's kind of funny and annoying also and yes, we don't understand why people have to talk about "all-female bands" or "girl-bands". Why it's so different when it comes to men? Maybe its so magical and rare that "girls" are playing in a band? I don't know. And when it comes to bullying and mean comments etc., I think in those cases the bullies are mainly women. Women can be so mean to each other. I think it's the envy or something. Any case its stupid and childish."
You released your debut album "Nollasta Sataan" 5-6 years ago, will 2018 bring a new album?
"Our singer is on maternity leave now. She had her baby in February so I think this year will be quite quiet for us."
How did you all get into playing rock music? Who did you listen to growing up? Who are your current idols?
"We all have our own idols and we all listen to many kind of music. Pop / Rock just feels right for us. Our bassist Alisa and myself (Amanda) are writing most of our songs, so our taste in music shows maybe the most in it. I love for example Kiss, Rob Zombie, Van Halen (Eddie is the BEST!), Alanis Morrisette, Type O Negative, Michael Jackson, Stam1na.... the list is very long."
Where has Sarca performed? Have you played outside of Finland? Would you tour Europe?
"We've performed since 2005 so there has been many different kind of stages along the way. Virgin Oil @ Helsinki, Pori Jazz @ Pori for example. We've been honoured to play with many big Finnish bands and artists like Negative, Battle Beast, Kotiteollisuus, Indica and so on. We've been to Germany once but that's the only time we've played outside Finland. Maybe some day we'll be touring Europe, but we'd like to conquer Finland first!"
What do your parents think of your music, are any of your family members musicians?
"Our parents support us with all their hearts and they love our music and us. Sandra (drummer) and my father is a guitarist, and our bassist's father plays the bass and violin. My (Amanda) and Sandra's mother is our manager so she gives a great amount of support for us of course."
For those visiting your home city of Hyvinkää, what sights / attractions are there? Any festivals nearby?
"Next summer we have this rock festival in Hyvinkää, and there are some big names performing like Ozzy Osbourne, Marilyn Manson, Amaranthe, Amorphis, Avenged Sevenfold, Opeth, Megadeth, Stone Sour and Bullet For My Valentine. It's the biggest event in Hynikää ever! We have also the Finnish Railway Museum, ski resort and an entertainment centre - Sveitsi for example. So welcome all! :)"
What plans do you have for the year ahead? Are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"This year will be quiet but maybe some new songs will be written for the next year. We'd like to remind you all to enjoy your life, make the most of it by following your dreams and making your life the life you want to live! Much love! <3"
There are many times when we have watched a film or TV series and have liked certain compositions found within scenes, or parts of the entertainment in question. These are usually ones that stick in our minds as symbolic to the entertainment itself or at other times are due to the compositions being created by well-known composers.
Recently the soundtrack to 'The Crown: Season 2' was released; a epic masterpiece at that, the soundtrack itself devised by critically-acclaimed composers Lorne Balfe and Rupert Gregson-Williams and it is the latter of who Global Mainstream Arts spoke to regarding his involvement in the making of the soundtrack, his working relationship with Adam Sandler, working on 'Wonder Woman' and his passion for horse breeding.
"You don't walk into a room where Adam Sandler is and come out not smiling"
Rupert, what was it like working alongside Lorne Balfe on the soundtrack for 'The Crown: Season 2?
"Wonderful, I've known Lorne for many many years and we're great friends which helps, we have a lot of honesty between us when we're working so, we have a short-hand which we developed over the years. We have done some writing together in the past and I found that Lorne brought a lot of muscle and a different kind of emotion to 'The Crown' that we had before really which really suited the development of the second series."
How did you and Lorne decide on what parts you were going to score? Did you have your minds set on something, or did you flip a coin?
"(laughs), often it would be... towards the end of the process it became obvious who it suited. I would have thought that our strengths were obvious to ourselves, I always thought that I'd do the more sort of emotional things and Lorne would do the more muscular things, but actually the reality was that / is that Lorne who I've known for years is such an amazing composer he's adapted all of it, so no we didn't toss a coin but what we do is we watch the episodes through and if there was a through-line from one of the episodes that had come before i.e. the story of Philip that is continuing, whoever had been telling the story of Philip would probably take those moments and the other would take something else.
It was never an argument and was never a discussion we just... we didn't often carve things up either, often we would work in the room together or we would discuss things and send ideas to each other and the other would finish them off, something like that. It was never difficult and it became very organic by the end of the process in that we kind of knew what would suit either of us and from what we've done before."
Where did you and Lorne score the soundtrack for 'The Crown: Season 2'? Is it tough working in London?
"It was in London, mostly in London... I certainly did it in London and Lorne probably in one or two places I'm sure, but when we were together we were in London.
No no it's not tough, my studio actually isn't in London, it's at my house in the countryside. Back in the day I used to spend a lot of time in Soho where the work was and where the centre of the UK film industry really is, but I don't any more, I work at home and hopefully get the directors or the producers down to my place to review music and that way it doesn't really matter where I am."
How was you approached / hired to score the second season of 'The Crown'?
"While I was doing the first series, Peter Morgan the producer, the writer and the show-runner, he would phone me and talk about a second season and I had a little bit of fun with him, I breed racehorses and of course Elizabeth breeds racehorses too so he'll phone me every now and again and say 'OK what I want to happen is in this scene is, this, this and this, but are there any phrases that somebody who breeds horses would or might say, is there some lingo that I'm missing?' So I'd write a whole bunch of sentences of stuff that they would say and he would maybe steal a passage or a sentence and it would appear in the script, so I already knew I was going to be on board for the second season because Peter and I would already be talking about the development of the character and this horse-breeding that he would ask me for. "
What did you feel emotionally when watching the second series? Did you feel related to the characters?
"I found my respect for Elizabeth as a character and as a person has just grown and grown, just knowing that the job that she's undertaken since she took 'The Crown'. I mean I loved the characters, I was sorry to lose Winston Churchill obviously, he was just the most amazing character to score, but there were some interesting characters that we had in this year... a couple of weak prime ministers that were interesting in that they caused political problems or deal with political problems as well as Winston might have done and so they were very interesting. The family though, Philip and Elizabeth, I enjoyed scoring the developments for their character."
How long did the overall scoring take to complete?
"We probably did it over the course of around 4-5 months, quite a long time but it takes a while because the directors tend to do two episodes each and you spend 2-3 weeks on each of those, and then the next two come along and sometimes they're on top of each other which can make it hard."
Upon scoring the soundtrack for the second series, was there any character(s) you found particularly challenging to write music for?
"Well, Philip was a character who had sort of developed since the first series and we found it hard... I found it hard to try and tread a line with him where we still... I find him an interesting character because he had a tough time with finding his role in the Royal family and musically I wanted to... I didn't just want him to come across as a hard man who is difficult with his son; I didn't think he was that sort of person I think he had a very hard role. So yes Philip I found the most tricky and Lorne probably not, Lorne was a really good help in finding the characters themes, finding Philip's theme."
Which scene and musical score from 'The Crown: Season 2' is your favourite?
"I can't remember the title of the piece of music but I can tell you the scene it's in, it's when Elizabeth gives her first television speech to the nation at Christmas and there's a lot of things going on in Elizabeth's head at that point. She has chosen to do the speech but she doesn't really want to do it, she's been forced into a situation where she has to, and I enjoyed writing it, I like getting inside her head and I thought that specific episode was wonderfully directed and I enjoyed it a lot. I felt the music worked and it felt good to me at the time."
When you scored a piece, did you think to yourself that you could better it or adapt it?
"Writing music is just non-stop, you're always judging it and are always trying to create something, you know the best you can. This was no different from 'The Crown', I always try to find the best route into the story and with television it's so hard because there's so much music to be written... so there's that as well, you know if you're writing five hours of music or something for a series, and you're trying to make every single moment the best it can, it can be tough sometimes and that's why working with somebody else like Lorne really helps, it gets somebody else's perspective on it and also half the workload of actually creating the notes if you like."
Digressing away from 'The Crown S2', you've worked and have a long-partnership with the actor Adam Sandler, could you enlighten us on that?
"I do, I've done loads of films I can't count how many films I've done with Adam and he is a good friend, we play in a band together so we know each other socially and I love working with him, I mean he is just... what you see in his movies is how Adam is in life, he's sharp, he's quick and he is not pretentious at all. He's just having fun and trying to do the best he can with the material he has got and he has a lot of fun doing it, and he is very loyal to me which I appreciate and always have appreciated, he's always asked me back to do his movies and we have a lot of fun.
If you're having a downer, he certainly brightens the day up... you don't walk into a room where Adam Sandler is and come out not smiling, you know he's in the room too I mean he doesn't sit in the room quietly. He's great fun and like I say he's very loyal and is a family man so we have some things in common like family and what have you, which we find as important if not more important than anything that we do and Adam gets that, he tends to surround himself with people who have similar values."
How did you get into composing; at what point did you want to get into it? Was it a childhood ambition?
"I would love movies, but when I was young as an early teenager I just wanted to be in a band like Pink Floyd, Genesis, I wanted to be able to play the keyboards like the keyboardist in the Frank Zappa band and I didn't actually discover that I could make a living out of TV or movies until I was in my early 20's because I was so focused on playing in a band, so I've been in bands all over the UK, trying to make that work and it didn't really. Then I met someone who is working in TV and my love for movies has never waned, I always loved it but I didn't realize that it could be something that I could be good at until I was in my 20's and also the dream of being a rock-star probably waned at that point as I grew up.
And what of the band Adam and yourself are in? Could you elaborate on that please?
"We play a couple of times a year at a function like an awards show or a party, he sings and plays the guitar, I play keyboards and we've got a lot of other friends who play in the band too and we get guest artists in. One year we had Slash playing guitar with us and Fergie singing, Blondie comes on and does some numbers with us, it's crazy but great fun so. It's not a regular thing, we don't have band practice, we don't have the time for that but we know we've got a gig coming up lets say in December and then we'll start rehearsing a couple times a week for a month beforehand and then we'll go out and do a whole bunch of numbers with a bunch of people; band name? I guess it's called the Sandler band, I don't know (laughs)"
It seems that people in Hollywood certainly have a hobby for down-time, surely this is vastly important?
"Well yeah it doesn't surprise me that some of these guys are either musicians or they're artists just because of the artistic nature in being an actor, director, composer, or whatever. For me breeding horses couldn't be more different than composing or the pressures of composing, and that's somewhere I get some relief from the pressures of work or get some contrast in my life. I think it's important for everybody to get some contrast in their life, well it's important for me anyway not necessarily important for everybody. Jim Carrey, the most amazing actor and comedian is just as incredibly good at art which doesn't surprise me that he's an artist, just because of his genes."
You've also done the scoring for the blockbuster "Wonder Woman", what was that like working on?
"That was like nothing else that I've been involved in or written the score for, it was an enormous undertaking, it was wonderful working with Patty Jenkins who is a great director and is full of passion. The biggest logistical thing for me was the amount of music that had to be written, but also there is a lot of effects-driven action in the movie and of course that doesn't get finished till quite close to where I was scoring. So that was tricky and quite a lot of the action music which inherently had more notes than anything else had to be written quite close to where I was going to record it, so that was hard logistically but it was great fun and like I said Patty was lovely to work with."
As a composer do you find it challenging to undertake different project styles e.g. 'Paul Blart' (comedy), Postman Pat (animation), etc?
"Yeah I do, every project has it's own challenges and when I've got a blank slate or I'm right at the beginning of a project, I do worry that I'm not going to be able to find the voice of the film and boy, nothing is easy and even if it's a comedy I find comedies difficult if not more difficult than a drama or something that has an epic tale to it, or a big romantic arch... comedies can be really, really hard. So yeah I struggle and that probably is a good thing because it means that I really have to think carefully before I start on writing my scenes or the angle I'm going to try and take with the movie. Some movies you have longer to sort of talk to yourself over, you know you come on late for whatever reason and you don't have long to score them... I've done a couple of those and they've actually been hard because you have to write a lot of music in a short amount of time, but I found them easier to find the voice because you haven't got the time you commit to, you go with your instincts and often your instincts can be right sometimes early on"
Is there a 'friendly brotherhood' between yourself and Harry? Not rivalry-like almost banter?
"We've never really gone into competition over the same movie as far as I know, he's always been my big brother so he was on the patch first as it were. What we do share is, I mean there's no one in the world who could empathize more to how it feels to be a composer and the pressures that happen, and the deadlines one has to reach... there's no one who can appreciate it more really than having a brother who does it. We do share that so, when we're having good time we share those moments and when the pressure is on and there's a lot to write or haven't quite found the sound of the film, it's nice to be able to pick up the phone and be a brother and talk about it; we both do that. Whenever I visit Harry he always plays me what he's doing and I do similarly when he comes to me, it's great to have somebody who understands what it's like. There's never been any serious rivalry and nothing more so than you expect luckily."
You have studios in both London and Los Angeles, surely it must be stressful travelling to and fro?
"It's stressing on the body and as I get older it's not something I tend to take lightly. I used to just sort of jump between countries and spend two days here and five days there and two days here, but I tend to do things in slightly longer periods now just to recover from jet lag and what have you, but I tend to be where I have to be and actually up until now, in the last two years with 'Tarzan', 'The Crown', 'Wonder Woman', etc they were all shot in the UK and I recorded them in Europe so I was lucky in that way, I could be where home is, home is in the UK so I was lucky. But over the next couple of years it might be that I'll be doing things more USA-centric and that's where I'll go, but yeah I try not to... you got to watch your jet lag especially when you get to my age (laughs)"
And so what projects are you working on at the moment?
"I'm working on a Melissa McCarthy comedy which I believe we are recording in about 4-6 weeks time, I've just started on 'Aquaman' for DC / Warner Bros which is very exciting."
Escape The Fate are arguably one of the finest Post-Hardcore / Metalcore groups to have ever emerged from the States. Despite their past issues with a certain you know who, they're roaring on all fours with their latest effort "I Am Human" which pays homage to the band's founding sound that made them who they are. Dropping their single 'Empire' (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bC4cxajy4V4&feature=youtu.be) in support of the new album, the Nevada boys take no prisoners with their new material, and are set on pushing onwards and forwards as the release date of 30th March beckons (originally 16th February). Kevin "Thrasher" Gruft fills Global Mainstream Arts in with the details.
"It's getting harder to define artists and genres as everything seems to be a big melting pot in music"
You released your latest single 'Empire' in late 2017, what was the reception like? Did you do anything different to previous singles?
"We had a mixed reception from fans originally regarding the song "Empire". For whatever reason some of the older ETF fans were shocked by us having a rock party anthemic song. But eventually I think the same people that reacted negatively eventually started really digging the song. In the past ETF would release the heaviest sounding track first. But this time we wanted to change everything up and release a more unique song first. I had a lot of fun writing this song after a late night of partying in Hollywood completely hungover lol. I barely wanted to go into the studio, but I did anyway. Sometimes the best songs come from the days you just show up. "
Speaking of which you must be stoked to release album #6 "I Am Human"? What can fans expect from Escape The Fate on this album?
"Yes. I am extremely stoked to be releasing album #6 "I Am Human"! I think the fans can expect a complete album that you can really play from beginning to end. This album will be the soundtrack to your life, as a lot of the material comes directly from ours. The guitar solos are some of my favourite leads I have ever recorded to tape and I'm extremely proud of the songwriting and production."
What was it like working with Grammy-nominated producer Howard Benson?
"It was really cool to be able to use some of the gear at his studio. Howard has a great sounding vintage Neve console that we ran the guitars though as well as a huge selection of amps and cabs. I think what I learned most is to follow my gut and instinct."
Escape The Fate have been referred to as an Emo band, what are your thoughts on said label and do you feel the Emo subculture has died down?
"I think labels are out there for people to more easily define things. I've referred in a joking manner to our band as an emo, pop-punk band, with epic guitar solos. It's getting harder to define artists and genres as everything seems to be a big melting pot in music. You can take a Rock / Metal record like ours and have total Hip-Hop influences, or cinematic productions. I feel like the Emo subculture is actually seeing a resurgence, especially with the younger fans."
For metal/rock fans visiting Las Vegas and Nevada overall, what attractions, sights should they go, see and experience?
"You have to go to the Hard Rock Hotel for sure! You might be able to catch ETF playing in fact. It's basically a casino resort with a rock n roll museum in the lobby. Also you should go to Robert's house haha.. he is the only member of the band currently living in Vegas."
You've just finished your UK tour, were there any surprises for the fans? How would you describe your live shows?
"We just finished the UK tour and it was incredible. The live shows were packed with so much energy. The connection we have with our fans is real and anyone that's ever been to an ETF concert will tell you. We did do a My Chemical Romance cover of 'Dead!' which I think was a fun surprise for fans to hear!"
After your UK tour, what countries will you be playing in? Are there any new countries on your schedule?
"Our next tour is with Papa Roach though-out the USA, after that we are planning Australia and hope to go everywhere else!"
As a band are you surprised about metal's global spread? What are your thoughts on metal music emerging from Africa?
"I haven't personally checked out many metal bands from Africa, but as soon as I finish this interview I will be GOOGLING them all. I'm not really surprised by Metal's global spread as we have been throughout the world meeting with all the fans. I'm stoked that the culture is alive and prospering."
Aside from your album release and relentless touring, what other 2018 plans do you have in the pipeline?
"Aside from our album release and relentless touring, we are planning to shoot some epic music videos and release a ton of content! We are going to write even more music and you can check out my Thrasher Guitar Academy to learn the songs on the record. www.patreon.com/thrasherguitaracademy"
When it comes to pop rock, we tend to focus solely on the UK and the USA and thus miss all the other countries in-between, one of these countries is Finland.
The Finnish rock scene has had a rich history with the likes of Hanoi Rocks, HIM, The Rasmus, Hanna Pakarinen having an impact overseas and achieving mainstream success. Now comes the turn for Haloo Helsinki! to have a shot at overseas fame. The Finnish four-piece swept up a total of four awards at this years Emma Gaala (Finland's equivalent of The Grammy's) - 'Band of the Year', 'Album Of The Year', 'Rock album of the Year' and 'Best selling-album of the year'.
Whilst the Helsinki crew have been releasing album after album laden with Finnish-only songs, they've had a lot of interest from overseas and as they release their new single 'Texas' (featuring fellow Emma Gaala nominees JVG (a hip-hop duo)), things are looking rather 'hygge' for the group as they go to explain...
"We had two amazing concerts there (Tallinn, Estonia) with 20,000 fans"
For those who do not know of Haloo Helsinki! Could you please give us the back story of how the band came about?
"Jere and I have known each other since daycare. We both grew up in Suutarila and played sports in the same teams. We were also in the same music class and started to play guitar together. We were really passionate about music and in junior high school we met Jukka, who we thought was the best drummer in the whole school. In 2006 we saw Elli sing in a North Helsinki band school concert and asked her to join the band. Already after the first rehearsal with Elli we knew that this was it. Haloo Helsinki! was formed."
Given your music is in the Finnish language, have you had any attention from outside of Finland?
"Surprisingly we have many fans from outside of Finland even though we sing in Finnish. We get messages from all over the world, from Mexico to Germany and from the USA to India."
How does it feel to have won four EMMA Awards? Where does this rank in the band's history?
"The whole of 2017 was a highlight in the band’s history. We came back after a one year break and the fans support was even bigger than before. We did an amazing tour and what we think is our best album so far, "Hulluuden Highway". Of course it’s great to get recognition for all the hard work, so we’re really happy for the EMMA awards."
What was it like to work with fellow EMMA nominees JVG on your new single 'Texas'?
"It was really fun! We have known the guys for many years now and really respect what they are doing. This was the first time we had a featuring artist on our single (apart from our Christmas song 'Joulun Kanssas Jaan', which featured the Cantores Minores choir) and we are happy that it was JVG."
Would you look to tour Europe sometime? Would you release an English-language album?
"For now, we are happy with touring Finland and singing in Finnish. But actually we started our Hulluuden Highway tour from Tallinn, Estonia last March. We had two amazing concerts there with 20,000 fans. But right now we have no plans for going on a further European tour."
You released your latest album 'Hulluuden Highway' last year, what was the reception like?
"The reception has been overwhelming! We have had a lot of messages from the fans that the album has brought them support and joy in their lives, which is the most important feedback we can get. Also all of the album’s tracks went to the Spotify top 50 and the album was the most sold album in Finland in 2017 and received the 'Album of the year' EMMA award. We couldn’t be more satisfied with the album!"
How hard is it being a pop rock / pop punk band in Finland?
"Rock or punk isn’t in the Finnish mainstream at the moment and there aren’t many bands around. But we think there is always room for rock music and raw energy. And I think we are an example that people want to see that live rock energy that we have in our concerts and on our records. We also like to mix modern influences and elements from other genres to our music."
What plans do you have for the year ahead in 2018?
"We will do a tour in Lapland in the spring and do a lot of festival gigs in the summer"
Have you got any hello's, thank you's, etc you wish to send out to fans, family, etc?
"Hello to all of our fans outside of Finland! It’s great to receive your messages, hope to see you soon!"
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