Album Review: The St. Pierre Snake Invasion – Caprice Enchanté

In their most intense moments, all five members of The St. Pierre Snake Invasion seem to be giving their instruments a savage beating, including the singer wailing on his own vocal chords. ‘Caprice Enchanté’, the Bristol-based band’s second full-length, opens with the band pounding out an ugly riff with a weird off-kilter beat that keeps tripping over its own feet. There’s a short burst of feedback, then the track takes off again, the same riff but sober now. The track builds and builds, sounding just fucking furious, then comes a breakdown with a refrain I couldn’t get out of my head once I heard it: “There’s no one listening, there’s no one listening, there’s no one listening, but that’s no excuse to pipe down.” It’s the best slogan I know of for everyone who ever wrote a zine or played a gig to a tiny and indifferent audience or spray-painted some art under a bridge or attended a protest that didn’t stop an imperialist war.

In the remaining two minutes of the song, and the twelve remaining songs on the record, the band throws a big heap of stuff at the wall, including mean and cocky sounding palm-muted rock riffs, chunky and dissonant guitar chords, shrieking feedback, fuzzed out bass, vocals ranging from falsetto to a spoken sleazy leer, from a whisper to heavy breathing to more laryngitis-inducing shrieks and roars, and about a minute of A cappella gospel. Somehow it all sticks.

I suspect that if the band played at their fastest and screamiest for too long they might develop repetitive stress injuries. Maybe they held a health and safety meeting and said ‘okay, how can we keep all the parts on this record equally abrasive and confrontational, but not destroy our bodies in the process?’ I don’t know if they succeeded in avoiding bodily destruction, but they smashed it out of the park on confrontational. This record is almost non-stop harshness, but a lot of different kinds of harshness cut together into a creepy collage that’s all the more abrasive for the differences between the sounds. It’s like a carnival in a horror film, like ‘Through The Looking Glass’ but it’s a funhouse mirror and all the characters have fangs.

After several listens, I started to wonder if the record is in part about being overwhelmed by rapid changes. TSPSI clearly know how to rock the fuck out, and a lot more. What they’ve decided on this record is to do that, but very often they interrupt the rock by doing something else for a while, then usually come back to rocking out, but not always, with no warning ahead of time. It’s a sound – a bunch of sounds – that is hard to keep up with. The record ends up sounding like what it feels like to have a hard time keeping up.

Lyrically, the record has a quality like Nirvana’sIn Utero’, like an abstract expressionist painting with words. It’s not always clear exactly what the songs are about, but they strongly evoke (basically all unpleasant) atmosphere and feelings. It brings to mind the situation of being at a loss for the right words but not letting that shut you up. Have something to say but lack the right words? Then say the wrong ones. In a society that tells most people to shut up and follow orders, most people could do a lot worse than to follow this record’s example.

The logic behind the sound on ‘Caprice Enchanté’ was sometimes hard for me to follow, let alone predict in advance. Consider ‘Carroll A.Deering’, the album’s fourth song. It has a hook that’s so catchy I walked around my house singing it for about half an hour the other day. It’s one of the most pop moments on the record. Then about 90 seconds into the song there’s a weird little jazz bit with some disturbing whispering then an aggro thrashy part followed by a bit that genuinely sounds like a hymn, then more tough guitar in a percussive feedback-drenched outro. For a song (or maybe a creative refusal to play a song, or maybe it’s to play four songs all at once?) that’s under four minutes it all become almost overwhelming. The song, and the record as a whole, is an onslaught, a boxer relentlessly coming at the listener with combination after combination. Any apparent breaks are just there to set up another combination.

Is this TSPSI refusing to allow the listener simple enjoyment of a hook? Or is it TSPSI teaching listeners how to enjoy a hook while it lasts, to focus in and grab hold of a snippet of melody before it’s crushed by a hailstorm of shouts, distortion, and drum fills? Are they trying to help or hurt their fans? ‘Caprice Enchanté’ doesn’t give a fuck about those questions, it just keeps on shouting, smiling, and smirking. This record is one hell of a ride. Get onboard.

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Interview: Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs

(Photo Credit: Matt Martin)

It’s apt that on their second album, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs – the riff-hungry, ear-piercingly-loud Newcastle based doom outfit – recorded in the presence of actual pigs. Wild boar in fact, that – along with deer – surrounded the converted farmhouse in the Italian countryside where the band spent a week writing, recording and living in fear of being eaten alive by boars.

Totally spooked Chris…” Chuckles Matt Baty, vocalist and synth player in the five-strong Pigs’, recounting the brush with death experienced by bassist John-Michael Hedley and drummer Chris Morley. “Chris was stood outside, smoking, and he comes charging through – I think he locked Johnny outside in panic. Ran in – ‘There’s a bear, there’s a bear outside!’ Johnny was banging on the door to try and get in…”

Baty tells me this with a laugh from the safety and comfort of the backstage area at BBC Radio 6 Music Festival, many miles away from muddy fields and ‘bears’ on the loose. Whilst outside in the hallway Aussie artist Julia Jacklin peruses the fruit bowl and hip-hop royalty Chali 2na helps himself to a complimentary coffee, we’re sat inside a curtained off area as Baty tells me all about their Italian break putting together ‘King of Cowards’.

…It’s quite cliché saying we went away, that’s where we wrote our album…” He says. “The Italy thing, we had a few dates get cancelled on a European tour, so we had like a four or five day gap. So it was either cancel the whole tour, which would’ve been a shame, or find something else to do. So that was our something else to do and it was really beneficial.

With the Airbnb booking suggesting that the converted farmhouse was perfect for parties, with nothing for miles around, the band reached out with what they were planning to do – “Play really loud music”.

It gave us the opportunity to get up in the morning, have a good breakfast and then work solidly for like seven hours.” Says Baty. “Then just have a few beers, unwind in the evening, listen to some of the recordings that we’d done, think about what we’d do the next day, what we’d do differently and then do it again. When you put that into context of rehearsal times – we’ve all got day jobs – so we go and rehearse on an evening after we’ve been at work, sometimes some of us are flagging a bit, which is understandable. We’ll do a couple of hours at a time. But to have the space and time to be able to do seven hours a day solidly, feeling quite fresh and just focusing on the music. It was very valuable.

Valuable indeed – Stock is undoubtedly high off the back of their latest release, one which has been championed by BBC Radio 6 Music (of course) and has seen them have to re-issue the vinyl again and again, consulting the colour chart as they go for new colour variants (current pre-order: ‘Gold with Greed’). At the time of writing, they’ve just released ‘Sweet Relief’ – a 7% Grape Soda IPA – the first in a series of beers with Leeds based brewery Northern Monk. Their UK tour this Spring saw the majority of venues sell out, with the coming months set to see them performing at a variety of choice festivals (including Green Man, End Of The Road and our home from home, ArcTanGent).

“…To me it kind of goes to show that there’s a wider audience for the kind of thing that we do.” Says Baty, describing the reaction to the album and everything of late as so exciting and heart-warming for the band.

The kind of thing that we do, quite often it gets tucked away in sort of specialist radio shows and specialist journalism, which is – that’s great stuff and they’re places I go to discover music, that’s cool and I love them and I appreciate them very much. It kind of goes to show to me that if you put music like ours in front of a wider audience, there’s a part of that wider audience that get into it and surprise themselves as well.

‘Sweet Relief’

We’ve come from a very, very fertile breeding ground in the UK and also mainland Europe of noise-rock and psychedelic rock, the heavier spectrum of the psychedelic world. We’ve been touring those circuits for five or six years now and there’s some absolutely mind-blowing music coming out of that scene at the moment, it’s so, so healthy. I feel very fortunate that we are a band that exist amongst that as well – and also a bit outside that – I like to think that there’ll be some people that listen to our music that might go on to discover other bands that we’ve gigged with over the past four or five years as well.

Both ‘King of Cowards’ and debut ‘Feed The Rats’ were released through noisy label Rocket Recordings, pushing a roster of cult favourites including the likes of Hey Colossus, Russian outfit Gnoomes and mysterious psych rockers GOAT. Very much a tastemaker label, celebrating artists deserving of a following, they’re people who Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs are very fond of.

Rocket are, for me, the best at what they do in terms of that world of music. They’re amazing.” He says. “When we formed the band, they were our dream label. This was about six years ago. We sent them – bit naïve – but we sent them a demo recording we did.” He smiles and mimics with a laugh. ”We like it, but you know – we’re quite busy at the moment.

The roots of Rocket Recordings run deeper still in Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs folklore, with their first ever foray into live performance coming via the label, the band supporting GOAT on one of their first UK outings over here – “…right before they totally blew up.”

Initially coming over to play – you guessed it – the Capital, they managed to squeeze in one more show. Newcastle. Having picked up one of their first 7 inch singles, word got round to bassist Johnny who wound up putting them on.

…That was our first ever gig.” Says Baty. “It’s almost like, in a way, the planets started to align at that point, I suppose.

Relentless gigging followed, Pigs’ sharing stages with the likes of The Cosmic Dead and Luminous Bodies and making appearances at festivals throughout Europe. From there it was off to ‘Feed The Rats’, their three track, 36 minute opus. Released in January of 2017, it was one we called “Unapologetic, relentless and properly face melting” at the time – our initial discovery not one we found in a 2+ minute Soundcloud link, rather a brace yourself for a 15+ minute ear-battering (“Get a brew…” says Baty with a laugh).

On King of Cowards’, track length is a notable change, the follow up featuring a few shorter, more concise tracks tucked in amongst the 7+ minute mind-expanders. Whereas ‘Feed The Ratsshortest song runs to just over four minutes, it’s sandwiched between ‘Psychopomp’ and ‘Icon’, both clocking in at half an hour together. Whilst not a conscious decision to have shorter tracks peppered throughout the new album, it did come from a place of growth, as Baty explains.

The way we wrote the album’s was very, very different…” He says, thinking back to the birth of Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs. “We started the band and then we were like – right, let’s do some gigs. We hardly had anything, we had about 10 or 15 minutes, so we’d just go on stage and go BA BA BA BA BA BANG for like 15 minutes, then just walk off stage. We had promoters coming up to us like – Are you finished?” He Laughs.

Having confused promoters for long enough, the band got it together to make their live set longer, adding bits here, wigging out there – developing upon their performance rather than thinking about putting together material for an album, unintentionally creating its initial three tracks.

So that’s where ‘Feed The Rats’ was born and that’s why there are a couple of really long chunks on there, because that’s what we were playing live and that’s how we were playing it live.” Says Baty. “Whereas ‘King of Cowards’, we had the ‘Feed The Rats’ live set, so it afforded us a bit more space to experiment with things. The way we do it live, we still do have big long sections – we’ll elongate things from certain tracks on ‘King of Cowards’.”

“It’s not hindered us in any way having shorter songs, in fact there’s part of me that really likes having a couple of short songs, ‘cus you can really just bang into them and bang straight out of them.” He continues. “You’re not thinking – Woah, we’ve got this seven minute jam section coming up at the end of this, I need to catch my breath! I quite like the intensity of just going in and out sometimes, but there’s a real joy in also just letting loose and going with it, seeing where the song will take you on a particular night. That’s good too.

In terms of letting loose and going with the flow, this is something that’s come up not just in a live setting but in the writing process too. Getting out of his comfort zone, Baty tells me this is the first band he’s ever been in where he’s the one coming up with the lyrics (“I’m actually a drummer.” He laughs), something that’s still quite alien to him.

Of course there are things in life that I find absurd and I wanna get off my chest, but when it actually comes down to writing things down to communicate them, I find that quite hard and I find it quite hard in my day to day life, to kind of express my emotions, which I think is sad.” Says Baty. “But music and especially this band give me a way to do that. The way the lyrics are formed, it’s almost like a subconscious thing. I’ll largely put lyrics together whilst the guys are playing very, very loudly and I’ll scream and shout alongside that. Once you do that so many times, rhythms start to form, words start to fall out your mouth and you just start to write those down.”

“Although saying that, I must say that we’ve written a new song and it’s the first time I’ve ever kind of sat down and gone – actually, I’ve got an idea for what I want these lyrics to be about.” Continues Baty. “That was a new process to me but I thought to myself, just because I find doing that difficult, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Maybe I should challenge this and find a way to write lyrics that way. I suppose it kind of broadens my horizons a little bit, it gives me new skills and ways to form ideas.”

Later on that afternoon, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs would take to the BBC Radio 6 Music Festival stage (enthusiastically introduced by 6 Music DJ Tom Robinson) for a near-deafening performance – One which word has it required the broadcast to be to reconfigured as it was far too loud! Completely captivating, standing up front on vocals, he looks like he’s conjuring up evil spirits through his theatrics, locking in with the other four on stage in unleashing a pulverising set.

It feels to me that on stage, between the five of us, there’s a very delicate eco-system.” Comments Baty. “Music – this is such a cliché thing to say – music is a form of communication for me and everyone else in the band as well. You can do things sometimes live where it almost feels like slightly telepathic. I’ve not really worked out exactly what that is, but maybe it’s best not to work it out – just kind of trust it. It’s almost like you’re putting your trust into something that’s not tangible at all and just going with it, just seeing what happens. Usually what happens to me feels very, very nice.” He laughs.

This very nice feeling is shared on and off stage, translating between audience and band – regardless of burst ear drums or shattered teeth (I particularly liked the chap in front of me thoroughly enjoying himself, but with fingers firmly in his ears). Whilst the feeling on stage can sometimes be locked into just its five members, the trotter is extended more and more to those who’ve paid for a ticket. There’s patter too – Baty on stage describing their inclusion at the festival as making them feel like “legitimate pop stars”, joining such contemporaries as “Bomfunk MC’s”.

The first few gigs we did, I spent most of my time with my back to the audience, then I kind of worked out – nobody goes to gigs to listen to music to have a bad time. Everyone’s there to have a good time. Nobody goes hoping a band is gonna have a terrible performance. Although… Maybe there are people like that? Very odd way to spend your money…” Comments Baty with a smile. “As soon as I worked that out – everyone’s here to have a good time – it made things a lot easier. It’s very much a two way process.

With ‘King of Cowardsa few months away from celebrating a year of life (and having nearly ticked off each colour of the rainbow in vinyl variants), talk turns to the idea of new material.

We’ve got one new song that we’re playing live at the moment.” Says Baty, though in the same breath doubtful that they’ll be able to fit it into their short afternoon set. It has been unearthed in a live setting prior, however – something he tells me the whole band have been feeling good about.

It’s always really nice to play new stuff live.” He says. “I know ‘King of Cowards’ is very new to a lot of people, but some of those songs we’ve been playing for a while, so that’s always really exciting. We are putting things together for a new album, we’ve got a few very solid ideas I think. Just need the bolts tightening and some words as well…” He laughs. “Which are usually the last thing to come together. We’re aiming for early next year, maybe about Spring time.

With new works to look forward to, we floated the idea of returning to the converted farmhouse in the spacious Italian countryside, cosying up with the wild boar. Time to book a new European tour and hope the dates fall through? Baty nods and says with a laugh.

We’re cancelling stuff left, right and centre.”

King of Cowards – Reviewed here!

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What’s On Michael Portillo’s iPod: School Of Language

Here at Birthday Cake For Breakfast, we like to get to the heart of what an artist is all about. We feel the music they listen to is just as important as the music they make. With that in mind, we’re chuffed to have David Brewis talk to us about the new School of Language album, particularly the releases that helped shape and inspire ‘45‘ – a funky-as-you-like concept album about Donald Trump – released just prior to Trump’s visit to the UK.

James Brown’s Star Time compilation (1991)

For the last couple of years, James Brown has been my major obsession. I love the early soul and R&B tracks, but there’s a run from around 1965 to 1972 where it seems that every few months he and his band refashion what music can be – and the lineup of the band changes three or four times over that period, so you know that he’s leading it even if it’s just to say to the musicians, “Yeah, do that again” or “No, don’t do that.” In a way, he’s a composer like Brian Eno is a composer.”

Free’s album Highway (1970)

“Weirdly, I’ve also been rediscovering Free. When Peter and I first started playing in bands, Free was one of our biggest influences, and Andy Fraser’s bass playing especially is a recurring reference point. At some point when I was recording ‘Lock Her Up‘ from the new album, I realised that it had a bit of ‘Love You So’ in it, but rather than try to hide it, I just embraced it!

The Isley Brothers – The Highways Of My Life‘ (3 + 3, 1973)

The other reference point in my mind for the couple of slower songs on the album was The Isley Brothers. Their ballads have this flowing, meandering quality to them. It’s a couple of steps removed from classic soul but has the same yearning to it.”

The Meters’ album Rejuvenation (1974)

“Peter and I have been talking for a while now about whether we could do a whole record where all of the rhythm is swung. Swing’s kind of a difficult one to explain without getting technical. Maybe you’d say it’s where the in-between beats are a bit off, or even way off. Swung rhythm seems to have pretty much died out. It’s not something which lends itself to computer-based music. In the sixties almost all pop music was swung but by the seventies, pop music was straightening up and most of the swing was in funk. The Meters might be the funkiest of all.

Robert Palmer – ‘Looking For Clues(Clues, 1980)

“When I was recording ‘Nobody Knows‘, which has ended up being the first single from ‘45′, I was aiming for a Pointer Sisters sort of thing. For my money, ‘Jump‘ and ‘Automatic’ are two of the best pop songs ever made (Oh yes. Woof woof! – Ed). In hindsight, I missed and ended up nearer to this Robert Palmer song. Which is fine by me, because this track is amazing and totally bonkers.

’45’ is available now through Memphis Industries, with vinyl on the way soon! £1 from all direct sales will be split between Planned Parenthood and Alliance for Choice of Northern Ireland – details of which you can find here.

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Exclusive: Drone duo Left Limbs preview their second album on ‘Procaine Gate’

Let’s introduce you now to drone duo Left Limbs (Raul Buitrago on drums, Jake Saheb on guitar) out of Austin, Texas. Their forthcoming second album ‘Hexes’ is two sides, coming in at just under half an hour. It’s not a pop the kettle on, sit down with a brew record – it’s one to engage the listener, something you need to give your full attention to. It calls to mind that Tom Waits track ‘What’s He Building’ with its tinkering and clanging, or even something from the Lynchian universe – Unnerving at first, but captivating, you can’t help yourself burrowing further and further. The culmination of its tracks ‘Procaine Gate’ and ‘Sean Van Grants Me Passage’ opening up into discordant, rock hard noise is the prize for the listener and where the pair really shine.

Mastered by Kris Lapke, the record was engineered by Jason Morales at the delicious sounding BBQ Shack in Austin. Even more delicious, you can get your laughing gear round one of the tracks ahead of release!

Hexes’ is out July 26th 2019 on Buzzhowl Records – Pre-orders of which are available here!

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Album Review: Lower Slaughter – Some Things Take Work

The first song on Lower Slaughter’s second full length record, ‘Some Things Take Work’, opens with a dirge, a huge guitar chord rung out and sustained for what feels like days, then a tough guitar lick and the drums adding some slow booming in the background. It continues like that for a while as the singer starts belting out some equally loud-and-slow shout-singing, demanding “Why does loving you make me hate myself?” It’s sad, but she sounds really pissed off too. This isn’t feel-sorry-for-yourself music, it’s music that says, yes, I’ve lived through some shit, and I’m still living, having a good time even.

Mid-way through that first song the band really takes off. There’s lots of staccato crashes and the kind of whistling feedback that comes from playing really, really loud, then big swaggering guitar riffs. The rest of the record is an avalanche of more riffs. Think of the tougher rhythm guitar parts in, say, Rose Tattoo, AC/DC or the more rock’n’roll side of Motörhead. Some of you may be too punk and snobby and arty for those bands. I get that, but hear me out. Try to imagine one of those times when you’re pleasantly drunk at a bar and all of a sudden the jukebox is blasting the opening chords of one the hard rock songs you’re not supposed to admit you like in front of your friends, and the lizard part of your brain goes ‘Fuck yes! Play that forever!’ and you’re smiling, maybe even doing half a headbang and fist pump before the thinking part realizes what you’ve just started to enjoy.

There’s a similar tough rock singer thing going on to match the guitars, real gruff and powerful. To be clear, she can do sweet, plaintive, and pretty too, but what stands out the most is this growly shout that sounds like she’s eight feet tall. The vocals are mixed exactly where they should be too. They’re recorded clearly, which matters because they sound great, but they’re not given the celebrity lead singer treatment. They’re mixed like they’re just one of several instruments for the listener to enjoy, one part of the over all unit. That helps the whole ensemble come together to sound even bigger than the sum of its parts.

My favorite bit of the record is the breakdown on the title track. There’s some call and response: “Have you tried … just not worrying about it? Yeah I’ve tried breathing in and breathing out.” And later “Have you tried… I mean, really tried?” It reminded me of my workplace, which is more interested in offering wellness and mindfulness advice than, say, higher pay and reduced workload. In that moment and on lots other bits, I related to the lyrics. These are songs about various life experiences, mostly relationships, and they’re written very directly. There’s not much abstraction or imagery here. It’s more conversational: my life is like this, that happened, I feel this way, here’s what I went through – the way people actually talk to each other about their lives. That directness makes this relatable. I found myself thinking about different experiences in my life as I listened, and sometimes the lyrics would pop up in my head over the course of my week.

Having gotten kind of, uh, feelingy there for a sec, let me stress that Lower Slaugher are a rock band pounding riffs, played really loud and fast enough that you know they’re sweating when they play live but also slow enough to be really enjoyable. And at the end of the day, enjoyment is the point here. This is feel good music, even when the lyrics are sad.

Often on this record, especially in the slightly slower parts, there’s this…. this… I’ll just swallow hard and say it: the record lets loose with a groove and (I want you to know that I use that term at great personal cost; it pains me to hear it, let alone say it. To make sure I was using the term correctly I checked the wikipedia entry on it. My wife caught me and accused me of being into jam bands like Phish. Our marriage had a good run). Anyway, sometimes the band drops a gr- I can’t. I thought I could, but no. What I’m trying to say is that rhythm does that thing where it grabs hold of you and climbs up into your head and makes it so that most of what you want right now is for this band to never stop vamping on this chord progression and beat.

Some Things Take Work‘ is not an innovative record. Lower Slaughter aren’t crossing any genre boundaries or violating any conventions. Nothing sounds broken or like it’s about to fall apart here. This is solid rock and roll, the kind that’s great to drink to, played very well. If you’re into that, as I am, this record will make you feel really good.

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a/s/l: The St. Pierre Snake Invasion

Remember the days of the old schoolyard? Remember when Myspace was a thing? Remember those time-wasting, laborious quizzes that everyone used to love so much? Birthday Cake For Breakfast is bringing them back! 

Every couple of weeks, an unsuspecting band will be subject to the same old questions about dead bodies, Hitler, crying and crushes.  

This week: Damien Sayell – top shouter in Bristolian outfit The St. Pierre Snake Invasion!

Have you ever seen a dead body?
Yes

Who is your favourite Simpsons character?
Drederick Tatum – because I love boxing and (bit of trivia for you), this character is based on boxing legend Bernard Hopkins.

What T-Shirt are you wearing?
I’m not.

What did your last text message say?
“Okay squire, I’ll give ye a bell later, thanks for letting me know.

What’s the last song you listened to?
The Chariot – Forget’

How did you meet the people in your band?
Through music.

What’s the first record you bought?
Bon Jovi – ‘Slippery When Wet’.

What was your favourite VHS growing up?
The Blues Brothers / Enter the Dragon.

When was the last time you cried?
June 1st during the speeches at my friends Mickey & Tom’s wedding – fucking beautiful it was.

Have you ever kissed someone & regretted it?
I don’t do regrets, I own my mistakes but, yes, yes, I have.

Best Physical Feature?
My divine cheekbones, darling!

Worst physical feature?
Cock (cocks are ugly).

Reasonably ok/not bad feature that you’re not fussed about?
All of it.

Do you have any pets?
I have a 60kg Old English sheepdog cross Newfoundland called Murphy Odell-Sayell.

Ever picked up any injuries on tour?
Yeah, Joe Talbot jumped on my back during an Idles show and I slipped and pulled my groin. Thanks Joe. Xx

What did you do for your last birthday?
Went to the best pub in Bristol, The Mothers Ruin and got suitably inebriated with my wife and my good friends.

Name something you CANNOT wait for?
Critical acclaim and the impending collapse of the Conservative party.

Do you have a crush on someone?
Randall from The Armed, Vasyl Lomachenko and Gillian Anderson.

What’s the shittest experience you’ve had as a musician?
We don’t talk of such things.

If you could go back in time, how far would you go?
All the way.

How do you want to die?
Going back in time to the big bang.

What’s your favourite thing about pizza?
Everything – but in particular, egg on pizza, not boiled egg though. Cracked into the middle and baked until the yolk is runny. (He’s right – Ed)

What are you craving right now?
Well, a fucking egg on a pizza now, innit!

Have you ever been on a horse?
Yes, the horse was called ‘Ginger’, incidentally.

What did you dream about last night?
A boxing combination. Jab, Jab, cross, Jab, Jab, Cross, *slip* left hook to the body, *roll*, right uppercut, left hook to the head.

If you could go back in time and kill the baby Hitler, would you?
I couldn’t kill a baby – there’s no way.

Do you like Chinese food?
Love it – Hot and Sour soup is the single greatest repast a person can enjoy.

Have you ever been on TV?
No.

Ever meet someone famous?
Dev is famous isn’t he, I’ve met Dev. Carol Vorderman goes to my gym – add her to the crush list.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Fulfilled.

Caprice Enchanté’ is out June 21st! All details here – Grab a copy or two, why dontcha! 

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Live Review: Viagra Boys at Phase One in Liverpool 22 May 2019

How did you spend your Wednesday evening? At the tail end of last month we found ourselves in Liverpool, bypassing the various old man pubs blasting out karaoke in favour of venturing up Seel Street for our first visit to Phase One. Mingling amongst youngsters with spider-webbed elbows to fully fledged adults with their bald bonces completely tattooed, we all came together as one to see ‘Sweden’s worst kept secret’ – Viagra Boys.

Having sold out of copies of their debut full-length a few times over and with a seemingly never-ending touring cycle, Stockholm’s Viagra Boys have been making quite the name for themselves as of late. They struck gold in 2018 with the release of their anthemic ode to leisure activities using various different types of balls of all shapes and sizes and have become known for an unmissable live show. Late last year they told us all about European tour frivolities, including frontman Sebastian Murphy becoming overly familiar with an elderly French woman. They’ve got an £85 tracksuit at the merch. These cats aren’t messing about.

Unsurprisingly, Wednesday evening found Phase One rammed – the venue having already been upgraded due to tickets selling like hot cakes. First up though – Squid. Jangling guitar and cornet shivers started things off for this Southern quintet as the rest of the band were setting up, drummer/vocalist Ollie Judge stood up, swigging a Carlsberg and occasionally smashing alternate cymbals with a solo drumstick. The tambourine of Arthur Ledbetter crashed as guitarist/vocalist Louis Borlase came in on a hushed vocal, in contrast to that of Judge.

From slow build beginnings one minute to frantic pace the next, a few songs in and Judge is howling “Red wire, blue wire” as they fly along at pace, cowbell and tambourine being hammered as the speed quickened. The drummer was up on his feet as it slowed, tongue jutting out, arms going like Ian Curtis-lite, staring into the back wall. Big single ‘Houseplants’ has more bods up front moving, their set culminating in Squid going full pelt, Judge’s microphone fucked and tangled upside down as he hammered away at the kit, yelling and screaming.

Viagra Boys arrived on stage to ‘Best In Show’ and its excitable Americana commentary of a champion hound, but its all warped and repeats over itself, skipping again and again as they took in the applause. Early single ‘Research Chemicals’ opens it up, vocalist Murphy singing of sweating out the sheets and getting nosebleeds in the shower, joining the guitarist in keeping his shades firmly on. When Murphy whips the shirt off, a mini cheer goes up as the front middle pulsates (the crowd, not Sebastian, though his heavily inked belly does rumble and protrude at will).

Check it out…” He announced, holding up his “sponsored” beverage – fresh chicken water, shrimp juice – a bottle of Russian Standard vodka, crudely labelled ‘VIAGRA BOYS’. The crowd is alive for album favourites ‘Slow Learner’ and ‘Frogstrap‘, the front becoming a proper party as the former builds and builds, the saxophone howling.

Latest single ‘Just Like You’ had the crowd on every word, Sebastian giving off an air of the bloke at the pub chatting shite, whose eye you’re trying to avoid. It’s hard to look away from the heavily tatted vocalist, with each song a new journey for him to embark on – storytelling without a shirt on. Even when he’s not on vocal duties (the hard as nails instrumental ‘Amphetanarchy’), Murphy is spitting beer out, rubbing it onto his chest, stalking the stage during the middle section and muttering ‘It’s good for me’ before feedback roars and it kicks back in, the pit fully opening up.

I’m already in great shape…” Suggests Murphy, rubbing his belly like a basketball, and teasing their giant single ‘Sports’. Unsurprisingly, the infectious ‘Sports’ has bodies flying above the crowd, the first chorus generating a huge response. Towards its gibberish, chaotic conclusion, Murphy melts into the crowd like the lad from Robocop drenched in toxic waste. Later on during the raucous ‘Shrimp Shack‘, a punter interrupts the dance-a-thon and climbs on stage, attempting to soak in the adulation. Murphy has none of it, pushing him back into the sea of people, brushing off the interaction via shooting beer from the bottle straight into his gob. All in a day’s work.

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