Best Years interview

BESTYEARSCOVERRecently I reviewed the sophomore EP Drop Out from the pop punk outfit which I loved, and now you can read why they always wanted to make pop punk music, their career highlight, and if they would make music for a Christmas soundtrack…

What pushed your decision to leave ‘reality’ as mentioned in your press release, and fully focus on committing to the band?      
Every band any of us have ever been in had either not worked or run itself into the ground, we all knew that if we dropped everything and focused properly that we could make something of ourselves this time round and so far we’ve done exactly that.

Was pop punk music always the genre you wanted your music to fit in, and for future releases do you want to stay close to the sound you have developed, or explore different sounds?
When we started this was the initial idea, I would like to say “yeah this is what we’re going to do for the rest of our career and it will never change from pop punk”, but you never know what’s going to happen. For now we’re loving it and we want to make a dent in the scene by attempting to bring pop punk back to its roots instead of every band trying to sound like The Story So Far.

What has been the highlight of your band career so far?                                                                                    For me (Ed) I would say playing our first ever show at the Camden Barfly with As It Is which was completely sold out! I’ve seen plenty of bands there over the years and it was pretty surreal. Also having a chance to play with some of my favourite bands from my childhood (Man Overboard).

Where can you imagine the band in a year’s time?
I imagine us still as strong as we are now, even better friends and hopefully smashing it with our newest release… maybe even touring Europe or further. Who knows.

If you were to describe the ‘unique selling point’ of listening to Best Years, what would it be and why?
We’re not trying to be anything we’re not; it’s all natural and we intend to keep it that way. We just want to have fun ourselves and also make sure everyone else does too.

Who would be your dream collaboration?
Dream collaboration would probably be with Good Charlotte/The Madden Brothers, that would be insane and we would be blown away by it I think!

Have you as a band experienced any setbacks – if you have, then how did you learn to deal with them?
We experienced a bit of a setback with being able to afford new gear to gig with and stuff like that, and with only one of us being able to drive it kind of makes it harder to transport all of us and our gear to gigs, but it’s all fun and we have a good time in the Corsa.

If each of you was placed on a desert island, and could only take one album each with you, what would it be and what are the reasons behind your choice?
Joel – Yung Lean / Unknown Death (2002), as it is one of the most emotional albums of all time and would be perfect to listen to for the rest of my life in perfect solitude.
Holland – Transit / Young New England because it has my favourite track of all time on it and it sums my life up perfectly.
Ed – Alt J / An Awesome Wave because I don’t think I could get bored of it and it’s a very chilled and easy to listen to album.
James – Anything by the Foo Fighters they’re the kind of band that really make me think about the important things in life.
Berzins – Slipknot / self titled so I would have a good soundtrack to end my life to and I could also throw up those God damn horns – am I right?!

Would you ever consider making a Christmas-themed track, or contributing your talents to a film soundtrack?
Yeah definitely if it was for the right kind of thing and we all felt comfortable doing it – I guess that would be cool! We’ve had friends who have done some film soundtrack work and it hadn’t worked out that well for them but I guess we would try it.

If you weren’t in the band, what would your dream career be?
Joel – Film/ Multimedia Camera work.
Holland – Navy / Military / Air Force.
Ed – Touring Guitar Technician.
James – Rubix Cube factory worker.
Berzins – Ralph Lauren model.

Drop Out EP by Best Years will be released on the 28th August, and you can listen to Overrated below.

James Robinson – Start A Fire EP

JRWords: Josh Jones

To take the step from leaving the comfort of a touring band and to go your own way can be tough. Leaving behind the Brighton-based alt-pop Two Spot Gobi and all their touring success in the UK, Europe and the USA, Devon-born James Robinson shifted his focus on to his own singer-songwriting abilities.

In the veins of household names and fellow Devonians Ben Howard and Lewis Watson, Robinson confidently exposes his personal treasure trove, starting with 2012’s ‘Ropes’ EP, and the soon-to-be-released ‘Start A Fire’ EP, produced by Max Gilkes. The EP’s result is a proud achievement.

At times ‘Start a Fire’ is hopeful and wrapped in energies, other times it is pragmatic and contemplative. Creatively speaking the EP is real and lively – something people will quickly pick up upon.

The title track would be greatly appreciated by fans of Ed Sheeran. The backing vocals pleasantly mix with Robinson’s voice to create sensational storytelling. However I think its ‘Demons’ that really steals the show. Deepening the already expansive atmosphere on the first song, ‘Demons’ is more mature, more cynical, and Robinson stylishly creates a mood to get lost in.

Robinson should have both eyes fixated on the future, as I can see the ‘Start a Fire’ EP and his following work to be highly appreciated. I’d love to see a tour (or a collaboration, perhaps?) between himself and James Veck-Gilodi, as their music sits perfectly side by side.

‘Start a Fire’ will be released December 1st. You can stream the title track here.

Dead! at The Old Angel

DEAD!Words: James McBrien

Dead are a very entertaining band to watch perform. They are very vocal with the crowd and receive a very positive reaction all round. It was quite a disappointment to see the low turnout at this event, however they are still a very underground band and I am sure they will blow up soon due to their undeniable talent, unity within the band and very impressive live performances.

To be honest, I only have one problem with this performance and that was that one of the guitars was out of tune and the guitarist was attempting to tune it by ear partway through the performance. I feel that the tuning of instruments should be done before the band get up on stage. I did, however, learn that this was because he had to use the spare guitar at the last minute so although this did detract from my enjoyment of the band – there was a good reason for it. Despite the reason behind it, I feel almost unable to forgive this as I found myself much more drawn to him fumbling with his guitar rather than the actual performance on stage and the music they were playing.

The drummer of the band had some very complicated parts in the songs and played with incredible speed. I kept close watch of his performance to try and catch him out but he did not once make a mistake and if he did, he played it off so well that it was not noticeable – I was very impressed with his performance.

In between two of their songs, there was a joke heckler who shouted a bit of abuse at the band. Realising it was a joke the front man of the band said “in the next song, throw a bottle at me and I will try and catch it – it will look so cool”. Although when the bottle was thrown, the singer was unable to catch it – it did make the band seem much more down to earth and made them much more enjoyable to watch. I must commend the singer for this.

The lead singer jumped into the crowd during one of the songs and was dancing with various members of the crowd. I always find that this makes the band seem much more humble and approachable and I enjoy seeing bands that do this.

Finally I would like to comment on the set overall. It is a set that has obviously been rehearsed and played many times before, the band knew exactly what was coming next and the whole show flowed flawlessly. It was a very enjoyable performance to watch and Dead are definitely are band to watch.

Steffan James – The Truth review

SJThe Truth opens with the instrumental of the title track, and as Steffan’s voice comes in, it blends with the music sublimely, achieving a soft huskiness that many aim for and few reach. The faint vocals and small range may have one convinced that the artist was incapable of anything else, but a few well executed higher notes prove his is not simply a one trick pony. Goodbye features a pacier opening and builds up to a more passionate yet adequately controlled chorus; occasionally I find myself wishing there was more emphasis on the vocals in this tracks, simply as it feels a shame to mask such heartfelt and nostalgic lyrics behind a drumbeat.

When it comes to sentimental soft tracks, nothing cuts it like third track, One More Goodbye. Featuring Poppy Alice, this song sounds what Frank Turner’s Anymore would be like if it featured Gabrielle Aplin. Soft, combined vocals creating an almost silky texture to the music, and the soft instrumental only compliments this. The intro to the next track, Straight to Hell, delivers sort of what you’d expect; a more rock ‘n’ roll, grungier sound, away from the simple acoustic instrumental of the previous songs and at just under two and a half minutes, this tightly packed bullet of a song has the energy to get you singing along from the first listen.

Halfway through the record and Turbulence provides another change – an intro that brought one song to mind; Andy McKee’s Drifting. While not as complicated at that masterpiece, Steffan makes up for this in the lyrical content of his work, his voice rising and falling, paced perfectly with the finger pick of his guitar, each controlling and subduing in rotation throughout. After these contrasting works of art, Inside Out feels somewhat, well, simplistic. Despite the excellent layered vocals and other little gimmicks, it somehow feels rather basic. This is revived by the next track, though, Already Dead To Me. The lyrics “your world is on fire and there’s no one to throw water on it”, are sharper and cut across the music cleaner than the previous tracks have, and the more self-asserted attitude in this track makes this a definite favourite for me.

Fighting With The World is simply one of those tracks so soft and easy to listen to, that it would be a dream for it to go on forever. Nothing is pushed or forced about the lyrics, the simplistic music accompanies the vocals perfectly – it’s the ideal basic formula for a song. At just over four minutes, I don’t think there could be a better track to end this record with that the one chosen to close it; She Knows. The straightforward sound builds and progresses at the song continues, and there’s a highly romantic and sophisticated atmosphere created by the anonymous dedication of the piece.

James – Moving On music video

“It is 2014, I’m on the phone to Tim and he is describing how they came to write this song, and what the words mean to him. The story he tells me is deeply moving; one thing that stayed with me is his describing death as a birth. Some days later this conversation echoes around my mind while I’m listening to ‘Moving On’ I walk past a typical Scottish woollen knitwear shop. My eyes flit over a ball of wool in the window while the word ‘unwinding’ is sung. Pretty quickly I’m leaving a garbled, over excited message on Tim’s phone about the music video I have in my head.”
– Ainslie Henderson, BAFTA winning animator and director, and creator of the music video.

James are back, and have drawn a lot of attention with their new music video for their track Moving On (which you can watch below). Despite being frequently described as “beautiful and heart warming”, I can only agree with half of that statement; I’d be more inclined to say the video was en route to breaking my heart, although its beauty is indisputable.  Made entirely of string, this video is unlike anything I have seen previously, a real triumph which fits sublimely with the lyrics of the track, and a frequent tear-jerker. Few music videos are created in such a unique manner to enhance the art created, but this most definitely succeeded in that respect. You read a short passage from the lead singer of James below, and watch the video.

“Animation takes weeks and is painstaking work, for the animator, compared to that of most videos…That Ainslie found such a perfect medium to fit our song blows us away. He delivered on the promise of his script and then some. This is the first video we have made that we consider to be a work of art.”
– Tim Booth, lead singer of James