Milestones (+ supports) at The Vic, Derby

Opening band Over The Years were, unfortunately, your very generic local band. Though I wish there was a nicer way to say that, there isn’t. A questionable track or two and a brief introduction of the band came before vocalist Liam Spalding announced himself as, “attempting to do vocals”. It’s a shame to say that this was a very accurate description, with the singing being iffy at best. To their credit, they’d only been a band since last November (but then again, the same could be said for Milestones), and Over The Years were very much still in the tricky, finding their feet stage.

A song titled You’re All The Same featured a harsh, “fuck you”, before a sloppy breakdown, which could’ve easily been lifted from… so many songs, actually. They went on to quote their influences as The Story So Far, pizza, and hating their hometown, before a shoddy, rough cover of Taylor Swift’s Blank Space did its very best to shake off any unconditional love the band members’ friends might have had for them. If Over The Years were a parody band, they’d be totally spot on and should be praised for it, but if not… well, maybe they should keep the idea in the back of their minds.

We’ve seen Nottingham trio On The Open Road frequently enough to know when they’re up to scratch, and, alas, tonight was not their night. What started strong became a little wary, and by their token acoustic song, it was clear Tom Hawk’s voice was betraying him for the performance. With their EP out soon, let’s hope this show was nothing more than an unexpected mid week blip.

After how highly we thought of the debut EP, Equal Measures, from Milestones, it’d be wonderful to say that the live show lived up to exactly the same standard – sadly, this wouldn’t be true (but you can check out our glowing review of the record here). They’re very nearly ticking all the right boxes, and as far an enjoyment in the show is concerned, they’ve nailed it, but technicalities let the Manchester pop-punk band down.

The most noticeable of these issues came with vocalist, Matt Clarke – the distinct voice, one of many things that makes the band’s first recorded effort stand out so much – was lost among the power of the instrumental, a technical change that should’ve been easily fixed. This lead to chunks of the tracks dissolving, especially in opening Equal Measures. In turn, the vocals became almost eclectic in their consistency, and the harsh, gravelly edge was lost.

Although moments of new single, Nothing Left, had the same imbalance that their opening song did, things tightened up in time for stand out line, “where the fuck is your respect?” Away from technicalities, the show was sublime; having played with ROAM before, it’s easy to compare the bands in terms of enthusiasm and fierce energy (you can check out our review of ROAM’s show here), with Matt taking to the floor to change the performance into the sort of deal you’d see at America’s more intimate shows. Taking away the distinct band/crowd divide made it easier for the fans to absorb the mood of the show and the zest in the execution helped no end.

Once again, Sleepless Nights Are Put To Bed would have been improved by Matt’s vocals being upped, but a cheering crowd lapped it up regardless. Cheering turned to manic heckling, and choosing to mostly ignore them, Milestones retained their high professional standard we’ve seen throughout and ploughed on to closing More To Me. Getting everyone clapping then turned into a pit at the front, and despite the second verse feeling too guitar-heavy (again, a volume issue), the combined vocals worked together and left no doubt as to their first single being their most rehearsed, and therefore cleanest.

In terms of enthusiasm and crowd enjoyment, the band are on par with the likes of ROAM, with non-fans being converted in the manic process. In terms of technicalities, there’s room for improvement – sloppy or stationary moments on intricate sections left something to be desired, and although the vocals weren’t bad, after the quality in the studio, I’d expected something closer to that. They’re not quite there yet, but they’re on their way.

Those Who Seek and On The Open Road return to The Vic

To see a band with as much talent as Those Who Seek twice in a year is pretty great, but the fact that the two shows were far from identical highlights that this is something they enjoy being creative about. In an interview a few hours beforehand, the whole band had agreed that they very much prefer the new music they are creating, which probably explains why this is even more incredible love. A main criticism I had of their debut EP was that it felt slightly eclectic, however in this set they play several of their upcoming releases and they’re definitely closer to perfecting their style and showcasing what they have to their advantage. When the new EP drops, I don’t doubt it’s going to be huge.

Regards their older music, there seems to be special focus of their first single, Run From Me, probably because there’s been a few changes since the original was recorded. It’s been adapted to suit Matt’s (Clarke) vocals; that said, it suits the band a lot better, too. The first half of the song is a lot softer and the focus is most definitely on the lyrics. Despite the changes, it’s obvious Matt’s voice begins to struggle towards the end. However, this version of the track is, in my opinion, considerably better than the original.

When I saw them earlier in the year, the whole band were pretty exceptional when it came to working the crowd; this show is no different. Despite a minor technical difficulty regarding the drum kit, the evening was pretty smooth and with Matt encouraging the crowd to sing along in Run From Me (“come on, Derby, it’s three words!”) and getting right into the crowd, it’s clear there’s been no change on that front.

Another band playing the same night was On The Open Road, who I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing multiple times this year. As with Those Who Seek, it never feels like you see the same set twice. For this show, they throw in a performance of their own Christmas song which is – as all of the set is – executed excellently. In the same evening I got to complete interviews with both of these bands, which will be posted as part of the countdown to New Year. Happy Holidays!

Those Who Seek at The Victoria Inn, Derby

In the back of a pub in a corner of Derby, I find Those Who Seek, who have dragged themselves all the way from Manchester for this gig. It’s nothing short of surreal, that after months of listening to their music in an offhand sort of way, and then publishing a review of their EP, I finally get to see them live, at their first gig outside their home city; that’s not something you can say every day.

After an incredible interview with the band, – which you can hear/read about here – the gig cracked on. As TWS weren’t the headliners for the night, there wasn’t much of a crowd for the band to work with. I think the best way to describe my reaction to the show was that it all felt rather… perhaps “comical” is the best word. It was absolutely ludicrous that a band this damn good were only playing to a crowd of around 25. It was ridiculous that a set so polished was only being played in the back of a pub when it should have been played at a venue at least the size of Stealth, Rescue Rooms, or even Rock City. It was obvious that they had already surpassed the Manchester equivalent of a venue that size, and if I could’ve, I would’ve stopped the set midway, and said “pack up your equipment; I’ll take you to a venue you haven’t outgrown already”.

Being a support act, the set was only six tracks long – all four off of the EP, and two new singles to be recorded next year (see the interview for more details, including a big name that they’ll be working with). As Matt (Clarke, vocals) mentioned earlier that evening, and as I have said in previous articles, each track is so different to the last. They’re the sort of band that could never record the same song, let alone the same EP, twice, which is becoming a rarity nowadays. You can clearly tell the difference between the familiarity of their older work, such as their first single, Run From Me, in contrast to the tracks that are fresh and played with endless enthusiasm.

Anyone can tell how much more comfortable they are playing their newer music; they all enjoy that much more. I can understand why the band were reluctant to play their oldest track, and the songs they have yet to release suit them better than anything has, but I think it was incredible to see just how much they’ve grown since they started writing as a band. They may not have been overjoyed at first when I suggested they play Run From Me, but they still breathed life into it that filled the room and exploded off the stage – quite literally. Matt definitely knew his way around the stage, and excelled at putting on not just a set, but a show.

Musically, I was quite simply overwhelmed. Matt and Nathan’s voices worked together perfectly, and the whole band was incredibly tight – it was all made better by the fact that they sound exactly as they do on the album; they had no reliance on editing or auto-tuning. After hearing the EP, I thought they were great, and after hearing their live set, I think they’re bloody phenomenal. I recommend you get listening to them now, and then when they’re headlining big venues, you’ll be able to say you knew them when they were still playing gigs to 25 people in the back of a bar in a corner of the Midlands.

You can check out the EP review for the band here, and when you decide you like it, download it for FREE here.

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Those Who Seek interview

Last night Those Who Seek, a “progressive heavy pop-punk” band from Manchester, played The Vic, Derby. I caught up with them and had a chat about messiness, blue trees and pierced ears.
Sadly, it was impossible to use the video due to light quality, but if you want to have a listen, there’s a snippet posted here, or you can read the whole article below.

So you guys came together in 2012, how did you form?
MATT: We started out as kind of a side project in, like, late 2011, us two [Matt and Nathan] wanted to make an electric band which was what kind of formed Those Who Seek, from that, we just went through a few members, and Dan joined in May 2012 was it?
DAN: Spring
MATT: Yeah, spring sometime. And then after that, during the  summer I was doing a side project with Sean anyway. Then our guitarist left, and as I was working with Sean so he joined. Then our bassist left just before we were recording our EP.
BRAD: It was right before a gig as well.
MATT: Yeah, it was a week before we played Academy 3 in Manchester and I think it was two days before we recorded or something ridiculous, and it was just because he didn’t want to pay the money but we’d already booked it, everyone knew that we’d booked it, then… we asked Brad.
SEAN: And he has a beard.
And he’s just stuck around since then?
MATT: Yeah, and he drives us places.
SEAN: He’s a nice person as well.
BRAD: laughs Thanks.
You recorded your EP in January, what were your influences for that, musically and lyrically?
BRAD: Well, I joined the band like one day before so I don’t really know.
SEAN: [musically] A mix of Bring Me The Horizon, You Me At Six, a bit of Deaf Havana in there… Lower Than Atlantis, all those pop punk-y things…
MATT: Pop punk-y bands that we sound nothing like.
SEAN: [lyrically] Matt’s just got a lot of issues that he needs to let out.
MATT: Yeah, lyrically, one of them was about me being… a bit emotional about a girl, ’cause that’s just generic. And then, one was about a girl being a slut.
I guess that was Sex Won’t Fill Your Heart?
ALL: Yes!
MATT: That makes me happy. Veritas Occulta is about the government, so that’s a political rant. And then Look To The Skies is kind of… a mix between my religious views, and my views on aliens.
BRAD: And Nathan’s a pilot.
MATT: Yeah, Nathan is a pilot. It has nothing to do with the song.
Should I ask?
MATT: If you ever see a plane in the sky, Nathan will go “that’s a Delta 479” and we’re just like “we don’t care”.
NATHAN: laughs I don’t do that any more.
Any more?
NATHAN: Yeah, I was a sad kid.
Fair enough. The music video for Run From Me, where was it shot, why was it shot there?
DAN: A random fucking park!
So, absolutely no meaning behind it at all?
BRAD: The meaning behind it was, Matt said he found a blue tree. The tree wasn’t even blue! laughs
MATT: Basically we couldn’t afford to pay for a place inside so we just found the nearest field.
BRAD: He showed us the colour, he was like “it’s this shade of blue”.
SEAN: It wasn’t. We got there, and it was fucking green.
MATT: It was blue-y green.
SEAN: Yeah it was in a public park so we had old couples going past on nice romantic walks.
MATT: We didn’t have any speakers though, so we just had to guess where in the song we were by Dan’s drumming. So it sounded pretty crap from a distance. No, so we kind of filmed it there to represent love and kindness.
BRAD: And blue trees.
MATT: And blue trees.
Should I put that in as your answer?
MATT: You can put that in, put in brackets “I think they were joking”.
Okay then. Dan – your ear. Should I ask?
SEAN: laughs Oh.
MATT: You’ve done your research!
DAN: I guess this is about the potato thing?
Yes, yes it is.
DAN: Well, we went Alton Towers, was that the Alton Towers day?
ALL: laughing Yeah, yeah.
DAN: And they said to me, “shall we pierce your ear later?”, and I was there like-
MATT: If you got drunk.
DAN: And we bought these can, like twelve, and I ended up having-
SEAN: No, we bought like forty.
DAN: No, we brought like-
SEAN: We brought more than twelve-
DAN: We didn’t buy forty.
BRAD: I don’t think the amount of cans is important.
DAN: Well, I ended up having nine or ten or something.
MATT: But he still wasn’t drunk.
DAN: And I was kind of there like, “d’ya know what, I’m feeling confident now”.
MATT: We used one of my old stretchers, a plastic, old stretcher.
BRAD: It was going well until someone lost the stretcher. So we had to improvise with a paper clip.
SEAN: Yeah, we used a Stanley knife-
MATT: ‘Cause the paper clip wouldn’t go in properly! So we ended up trying to hack through.
BRAD: The skin at the back wouldn’t tear so we had to go with a Stanley knife.
MATT: So in the end, it was a potato, a Stanley knife, and a paper clip.
Is it still pierced?
SEAN: No, it got infected and he had to do it again.
DAN: What was it that finally went through? Was it the paper clip?
BRAD: Yeah, I held a potato behind your ear and just felt it go [punches palm].
ALL: laughter
BRAD: We were at it for an hour.
DAN: Was it the paper clip? I thought it was an actual earring.
SEAN: We just got an earring and were pushing it through.
DAN: The thing was, it was a mill[imetre] bigger than you’re supposed to get it done originally.
Who decided it that it was a good idea?
MATT: All of us.
SEAN: It was a good idea.
DAN: Yeah, “Dan, you would look good with a stretcher!”
MATT: “Let’s pierce your ear with a paper clip!”
BRAD: He had long hair as well so we couldn’t even see where his ears were.
How did you get endorsed by Atera Apparel?
MATT: Basically, I messaged lots of clothing brands and record labels and stuff. From there we spoke to them and he was like “yeah, I really dig your track” so he said he’d come and see us but he couldn’t make it in the end, so we filmed the show and sent it over to him and he said “yeah, we’ll endorse you then”.
You describe yourselves as “progressive heavy pop-punk”. What?
SEAN: It’s just all of our different interests.
DAN: We don’t know what genre we fit under, I think we should just be “alternative”.
SEAN: Each song is a different genre.
MATT: Like you mentioned in the review, it’s full of different genres. Like, the new stuff we play tonight, that’s completely different again. Our new one’s quite Architect-y.
SEAN: Post-hardcore.
MATT: Then the other one’s quite… The Story So Far-y.
When you’re getting ready, who takes the longest?
NATHAN: Equipment-wise, or doing-the-hair-wise?
MATT: Nathan.
NATHAN: I don’t do my hair at all! You have all your vocal stuff to do.
SEAN: “I need to get some Strepsils from the shop.”
BRAD: Before every show he’s like “I need some warm water, I need some Strepsils.”
MATT: Basically it’s cause I get ill almost all the time, so I’ve had a chest infection for the past six months, I recorded the EP with a chest infection, still got a chest infection.
DAN: I recorded the EP with Nova Virus.
NATHAN: Yeah, he was puking in the studio. It was hilarious.
Who’s the messiest?
MATT: How do you mean, musically messy, or messy messy?
As in, if you were on tour, who’s underwear would you be picking up all the time?
ALL: Dan’s.
MATT: No, Dan would be wearing the same one’s over and over!
Okay then, musically messy?
SEAN: Dan, he goes out of time a lot. He does it purposely though.
DAN: Yeah, I do it purposely though, and not when we’re recording. Except on Sex Won’t Fill Your Heart.
SEAN: Yeah that was a bit messy.
MATT: I’d say we’re all pretty tight, on stage.
SEAN: I’m so tight that I only have to record half the song, and then they just double it, ’cause I’m that good.
What’ve you got coming up, plans for future recordings?
MATT: We’re going to the studio with Matt O’Grady in January, who’s worked with the likes of You Me At Six, Your Demise, Bring Me The Horizon and many more. We’ll be releasing a single out of this and then we’ll fill everyone in with the future EP we’re working on as things progress from there. But at the moment we’re just pretty stoked to be back in the studio, especially with someone who’s worked with some of our favourite bands.

Ever met someone you admire at a performance and been starstruck?
MATT: Yeah, when I was 13 and met You Me At Six I was pretty wobbly on the knees.
SEAN: I met a band called This Town Needs Guns earlier this year, and my god they’re incredible, a must listen for anyone who likes any sort of music!

The largest crowd you’ve played to, and the smallest?
MATT: We played to a crowd of like 200-300 when we headlined the Manchester Academy (Club), that was pretty crazy to be
honest. I’d say the least was tonight at Derby, but it was definitely a fun one.
SEAN: Largest must be the headline club academy gig, and I’ve once played to an audience of 4 at a pub called The Bay Horse in Manchester with a band I used to be in!

What’s your worst experience on stage, or the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you while performing?
SEAN: Needing the toilet is generally one of the most annoying things that happens on stage.

First album you ever bought?
MATT: Take Off Your Colours / You Me At Six
SEAN: American Idiot

Best album you ever bought?
MATT: While She Sleeps / The North Stands For Nothing
SEAN: Best album would probably have to be ‘OK Computer’ (Radiohead), or Death Cab For Cutie’s ‘Plans’

First gig you ever went to?
SEAN: First gig was McFly at the MEN Arena in Manchester!

First gig you ever played?
SEAN: In year 5 I performed Wonderwall with my friend Danny at my Primary School’s talent show (which we won, if I may add).

Would you rather never listen to music again, or never create music again?
MATT: I’d rather never listen to music again
SEAN: Would rather never listen to music again I think.

Would you rather do a track featuring Gwen Stefani or Mick Jagger?
MATT: Definitly Mick Jagger, he has some solid tunes and more importantly I have no idea who Gwen Stefani is and/or if it’s
male or female.
SEAN: Gwen Stefani would be a laugh.

Weirdest place you’d like to do a gig?
MATT: I’d love to play a show on like a beach to loads of people and everyone would have to be naked.
SEAN: Would love to play a gig in a bathroom, the acoustics in there are brill.

Best band with a similar size fan base to your own?
MATT: I’d say Jacks Not Smooth from Manchester, those guys are some brilliant dudes with some great tracks.
SEAN: There’s a band called Goodlife from Manchester that my old band used to gig with quite a bit, and I absolutely loved ’em!

You can check out the EP review for the band here, and when you decide you like it, download it for FREE here

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