Piston

Woody’s Bar, Hednesford, 19th June 2015.

With the capacity crowd at Woody’s Bar fully warmed up and craving more rock’n’roll Piston hit the stage with all guns blazing to totally tear up the room for the next hour or so. A special night this one with Piston playing to their hometown crowd and showcasing a few new tunes that really packed a knockout rock’n’roll punch, giving you a satisfying taste of the band’s soul-filled, swaggering sound and adding another brick to their daunting wall of noise.

Piston.

Throughout their set, Piston’s performance was red-hot and crackling with energy, culminating with a stage filled with loyal fans all rocking out to a great cover of AC/DC’s ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’. With mainstream media such as Planet Rock Radio, Kerrang, Total Rock, Team Rock and Classic Rock Magazine showing increasing interest, Piston are going from strength to strength. Lead vocalist Rob Angelico recently took over the reigns as frontman for this incredible five piece rock band and tonight showed his worth in leading Piston to the next level in their passage to rock’n’roll fame and fortune.

Piston

Support for the night began with The Bad Flowers setting the standard high with their fine mix of heavy rock and deep blues riffs. They didn’t have to work hard to engage the already appreciative crowd that was building up for the night’s entertainment.

The Bad Flowers

Next up was Almost Easy. Building on the already great atmosphere in Woody’s Bar, Almost Easy raised the bar as their powerfully frenetic performance rocketed along with the volume progressing with every song on their set list.

Almost Easy

See the full set of pictures for Piston, The Bad Flowers and Almost Easy here.

Review and Photography By Stephen Turner

Midlands Metal Crusade IV

The Slade Rooms Wolverhampton 30th May 2015.

The Midlands Metal Crusade has fast become an event that is a must do for many a metal head and with each one that has passed, the band line ups just seems to get more and more impressive. Today’s happy shenanigans will herald the fourth chapter of the crusade and word has certainly spread as was evident by the queue of people outside The Slade Rooms, all waiting for the doors to open at 3pm.

And it all kicked off today to the wailing intro of sirens and pulsing drum beats as our first band of the day, Hostile laid siege upon the days early birds – and let me tell you, they were absolutely brutal. Today’s set was fierce and ferocious, as was the merciless performance of frontman Jay Mills whose raging vocals cut to the core with every note. It really is no wonder that Hostile have the following that they do and these guys made for an awesome start to the day.

Jay Mills - Hostile

Next up on stage and a new experience for me were At Dawn We Attack. Frontman Bryan Hancox could easily make a good case for criminally insane should the need every arise, as his pacing and vocal intensity throughout their set was incensed at its very least. Champion performance from the rest of the band aswell and great to see a few familiar faces aka Belvedere Bailey and Chris Meddings back up on stage again.

Bryan Hancox - At Dawn We Attack

Burden Of The Noose were our third band of the day and after the anxious and unavoidable delay of their bass player, his timely arrival heralded the unleashing of one tempestuous metal performance that kept the Slade Rooms‘ audience captive for it‘s entirety! The time really did fly whilst Burden Of The Noose were on stage, resulting in their set being over far too quickly for my liking so do go check this band out – but beware, it will be brutal!

Burden Of The Noose

Rogue Reflection were next to take to the stage and also bringing about the second appearance of the day from lead vocalist, Jay Mills. Their set lacked nothing in energy or crushing force and served to deliver an affluent blend of both covers and original material. A great performance from Rogue Reflection and one hit like an absolute storm!

Amongst the many bands whose music heralds the true strength of the Midlands metal community, Left For Red are a band whose reputation and ability is praised by many and their performance tonight proved exactly why that is the case. From the onset of their set and amidst the chants of their intro track, the Slade Rooms gave Left For Red their full attention and in return, Left For Red gave us an outstanding set which included two fierce favourites of mine, namely ‘Mercy Flight’ and ’Kneel Before You Die’. The next few months see’s quite a few festivals in the Left For Red Diary, so hopefully it won’t be too long before we get to see them back up on stage again.

Tonight see’s much cause for celebration for our next band Husk, as after many months of studio time and mixing, their new EP ‘Plague Of Man’ is ready for it’s launching and today was the day! This EP really is a great representation of the collective cleverness that is Husk and their set tonight marked this well. Front man Bob Taylor is a bit of a wizard behind the bass and watching him play, equally matches the pleasure of listening to the bands music, which in my book makes Husk a band that really deserve some serious attention. Next outing for the band is a support slot for Biohazard on July 8th back here again at The Slade Rooms and that‘s a date for your diary folks, for sure!

Bob Taylor - Husk

The world is full of many types of craziness and then there is Evil Scarecrow! Their kind of craziness is the kind that brings along with it a carnival of good times and tonight, maximum participation was on just about everyone’s agenda. The bands set included a heavenly body of tracks – all of which were well known and much loved by many, with ‘Dance Of The Cyclops’ and ‘Crabulon’ shaking the Slade Rooms chandeliers like I don’t think I’ve ever seen then shake before. There is something outstandingly special about Evil Scarecrow – maybe it’s their ability to release one’s inner metal head child or it could just simply be that they are one hell of a great band, but whatever it is, it definitely worked for me!

Dr Rabid Hell - Evil Scarecrow

Today’s Crusade really has been such an awesome and fantastic event and still we had out headlining band of the day, Heart Of A Coward, yet to play. This in itself and in my opinion, speaks volumes about the reputation of Hils Ovation and also that of the Midlands Metal Crusade, as Heart Of A Coward are no strangers to venues whose capacity is several times larger than that of The Slade Rooms – but still they chose to come here today and to play for one very appreciative crowd. Our set from the band tonight was laden with the kind of primal brutality that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and the commanding presence of frontman Jamie Graham was intense to say the least! Definitely a superb ending to an outstanding day!

Jamie Graham - Heart Of A Coward

Well, it’s certainly been one hell of a blast today and as I head for home, I’m clutching the flyer for the next one tightly in my hand, as no word of a lie – that one is going in the diary as soon as I get home!

Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.

Rockcomm 2015 – Day 2

In association with Believe Digital 8-9th June at Richmix center in Shoreditch.

After what can only be described as a successful first day, the second day promised to be just as inspiring with another series of talks geared around the rock music industry. With a new batch of panelists scheduled to appear today, we had just enough time to register and get several cups of coffee down us, as some of us were nursing a hangover from the Rocktails and Cocktails event held last night – thank you Jagermeister!

Again, both Seven and Steve opened the days talks with their keynote address and having listened to people’s comments, they reiterated to the crowd that this event was for their benefit, so should anyone have any questions they should speak up,or forever hold their piece!

Long Live Rock

MODERATED BY: Scott Rowley – Editorial Director TeamRock (Classic Rock Magazine, MetalHammer , Prog & The Blues Magazine)
PANELISTS:
Billy Anderson – CEO TeamRock.
Mark Palmer – Managing Director UK Nuclear Blast Records.
Adam Parsons – Siren Artist Management, Black Star Riders.
Keith Hagan – Co-Owner SKH Music (US.)
Howard Corner – General Manager ADA and Warner Label Services
Toby Jepson – Singer – Little Angels / Gun

With the wealth of knowledge that Scott Rowley possess, he was the perfect person to chair this panel especially when you consider the panelists that featured for this talk. Nuclear Blast is a fantastic record label, who are signing a wealth of talent globally so to hear the thoughts of Mark Palmer on the future of rock was very interesting. Again, the discussions turned to the viability of getting your music played on the various formats available to bands and how they go about doing so. Billy Anderson agreed that times are changing and as a result, also acknowledged that radio stations like his, need to evolve if they are to continue helping bands make the big time. Not wanting to give too much away, he skirted around how he plans to achieve this but the general impression I got wasthat Team Rock Radio are looking to develop something similar to Apple Music and Spotify formats, which could be very exciting for the champions of rock music.

DIY

PRESENTED BY: Music Glue
MODERATED BY: Chris Cooke – MD and Business editor CMU Daily
PANELISTS:
Paul Barton – Managing Director PledgeMusic UK.
Arthur Brown – Singer / Artist (The Crazy World of Arthur Brown)
Mark Meharry – CEO Music Glue
Don Jenkins – Commercial Director Raw Power Management.
Tom Carson – Music Manager Jagermeister
Roy Jenkins – Owner Noise Merchandise
Dan Weller – Musician / Producer – Sikth

I’ve got to admit, trying to remember everything that was said in every panel is proving a challenge, as I didn’t take any notes because my hands were full, but this panel stood out as being one of the most enjoyable to witness, simply because Arthur Brown was on the panel. This panel aimed to educate the crowd on the best ways a new, up and coming or even seasoned veteran bands can do things for themselves. With sites such as Pledge Music now available, it’s never been easier for a band to self-promote or self-fund the creation of new albums or tours etc, as Paul Barton discussed. However, having successfully completing such a campaign, Arthur Brown pointed out that you need to be realistic what you offer your fans in order to get them to pledge. You don’t want to be in the middle of recording or touring a new album, then have to go and play in someone’s living room to honour your agreement – but this could also be very fun! Arthur then went on to explain that he and his band had to go down this route to finance his latest album as he couldn’t get a record deal because of some choice words he said publicly! haha, however, as a result of the Pledge campaign, he did, in fact, secure a record deal, due to the success of his pledge campaign.

Taking Care of Business

PRESENTED BY: PRS for music
MODERATED BY: Andy Ellis – Senior Manager, Education & Outreach Membership and Rights.
PRS for music PANELISTS:
Simon Winters – Prager and Fenton LLP Music Business Accountants
Andrew Sharland – Partner Clintons Solicitors
Mandy Aubry – Head of Client Relations Fintage House Music Publishing
Gideon Mountford – Head of Video(UK). International video business Development at Believe Digital

Being a rock star can be seen as a glamourous way to make a living, but if you’re successful, the chances are that those bands also have a pretty good grip on the less glamourous side of the business. On first appearance, this panel seemed the least interesting to me but as the talks started, I could actually relate to them and saw the benefits of what I do and as such, could implement some of the advice that these guys were giving. Did you know, if you’re in a band and are set up as a business, you can actually claim the tax back on all band related purchases, providing you keep the receipts? I also discovered there are ways to claim expenses back if your band are lucky enough to tour around Europe or even the world! I was also very interested in what Andrew Sharland had to say with regards to legal matters when dealing with contracts with record labels etc. Not everyone can afford a solicitor of this man’s stature, but if you’re a member of the Musicians Union, you can get sound advice from these guys and generally for free, off their website.

It’s worth mentioning that each day had an hours recess for lunch, which was provided by the organisers but you had to be fast, as there were some really hungry people at this conference and the Indian food was top notch!

Live Part 2

PRESENTED BY: The Musicians Union
MODERATED BY: Horace Trubridge – Assistant General Secretary The Musicians Union
PANELISTS:
Adam Saunders – Senior Booking agent X Ray Touring
Ian Richards – Promoter Academy Music Group
Paul Ryan – Vice President The Agency Group
Kai Harris- Director Advance Promotions /Takedown Festival
Ben Hylands – Owner IAA Booking agency
Jim Morewood – Owner – Eccentric Gent Org Booking agency

The topic of “Buy on’s” was brought up in this panel, which I was aware of but never really understood. This is where a headliner looks to earn money from a support band to enable them to be a part of their tour. Although this may seem like a good idea for the headliner to make some extra cash, it’s not always deemed a good idea and can be a nightmare for promoters. Getting your band seen by as many people as possible will always be considered a good idea, but if you’re offered to be the opening band on the night, will your band actually get seen as you’re on early, when the venue is most likely not full? There’s also the compatibility of bands that buy on to a tour. If you’re a trash metal band, there’s not much point being a part of a tour if the main act is a prog act. This is something promoters are currently struggling with, with some of today’s tours! Seemingly, you’d think these guys couldn’t care less but how wrong you are. Obviously, promoters want to sell tickets for a show, so getting the best fit bands to support the main act is key.

Rockcomm - Day 2

Festival Focus – Wacken Open Air

CHAIRED BY: Moose – Head of Radio Team Rock

Ever wondered how Waken Festival manages to sell out even before they’ve announced any bands that will be playing? Well, so has every other festival on the planet, so to get an insight to this festival’s success, Rockcomm invited founding member Thomas Jensen along to ask him what he thinks their secret ingredient is.

The truth is that not even he knows why, but there are some factors that may have contributed to making this festival a must go to event for every metal fan. Back in 1990, when this first festival was held, it was the only festival in Germany to showcase metal music. The bands that played were all German bands, which helped to showcase the talent in that country. By 1998 the festival started to attract acts from all over the world and that helped to attract metal music fans from all over the world too. In the early days, the facilities weren’t the best as Jensen explained, but we quickly learned from our mistakes. I’m assuming, seeing as this festival is in Germany, some of that German efficiency they are famous for started to creep in and as the lessons of the past were learnt, they simply went from strength to strength!

Jensen gave us some incredible stories from acts that he’d dealt with over the years, he also admitted he’s always wanted to book Metallica to play Waken but as the band only like to venture over to Europe in June, he’s not willing to change the date of his festival to suit them, amazing!

Rockin All Over the World

PRESENTED BY: Flight Centre
MODERATED BY: Marco Gandolfi – Editor www.music-news.com
PANELISTS:
Dan Devita – Booking agent TKO
Andy Farrow – Managing Director Northern Music Company
Thomas Jensen – Founder & Owner – Wacken Open Air Festival
Wally Van Middendorp – In De Goot Entertainment Europe
Merle Doering – Booking agent – Dragon Productions (Germany)

In this panel, we heard a few more stories from Thomas Jensen (Waken Open Air) but we also heard about what some of the larger acts go through when touring the world.

Released – Labels and Distribution

PRESENTED BY: Believe Digital
MODERATED BY: Toby Jepson (Little Angels)
PANELISTS:
Lee Morrison – General manager UK Believe Digital UK & SVP Rights Management Believe Group
Dan Tobin – A&R Director Earache Records
Dante Bonutto – Label/ A&R Manager Spinefarm Records
Rob Ferguson – Owner Founder Transcend Music
Nathan Barley Philips – CEO & Founder Basick Records
Alex Branson – SVP and Managing Director International – Ingrooves UK
Rob Collins – Managing Director – Cooking Vinyl UK.

Did you know that vinyl sales have had a resurgence in popularity amongst music fans lately and as a result, more bands are looking to put their new music onto this much-loved format? It’s even worth mentioning that CD sales are declining, when they were released everyone saw the end of vinyl, all but one person, who bought up all the old vinyl pressing plants in the hope that one day, a day like today would come and low and behold it has. As a result, there is now a massive waiting list for bands to get their music pressed onto vinyl!

Dan Tobin, of Earache admitted he discovered a band in a Spotify playlist and as a result of hearing them, he managed to sign them to his label, who currently sees a great variety of acts, several of which are topping the charts worldwide!

The general advice that came from this panel was that if you want to get signed, there are many ways you can get your music heard but these guys are so busy, they barely have enough time to listen to the stack of CD’s they already have on their desks, so think smart and do something different to attract their attention!

New Music

PRESENTED BY: The Rock Train
MODERATED BY: Mark Davies (the Rock Train)
PANELISTS:
Ian Camfield – DJ/Presenter XFM Radio Rock Show
Sophie K – DJ/Presenter TeamRock Radio (New Bands show)
Eugene Butcher – Owner Big Cheese Magazine & Vive Le Rock
Paul Anthony – DJ/ Presenter Planet Rock Radio
Kylie Olsson – TV & Radio Presenter – Sky TV / TeamRock Radio

This panel by enlarge, are responsible for airing new talent on their respective radio stations. Like the last panel before them, they too get inundated with new music but rarely get the chance to listen to them all but they do listen to them as they have to know their stuff, as the listeners can always spot a fake. If, like Paul Anthony, you’re old school, he loves nothing more than getting a well-presented CD in the post as that’s where he discovers his new music. If you’re up with the times and have your music available on Soundcloud, You tube or Spotify etc, then send your links to youngster Sophie K, as that’s how she likes to discover her music. It’s quick, easy and a wealth of other information can be attached to a band page if it’s kept up to date.

Either way, this panel were discussing ways in which new music can be discovered, whether that be through radio, magazines or streaming sites, so I asked a question, which had been discussed quite a lot these past few days “Is radio still a viable format to discover new music, or has Spotify killed the radio star?” Chair, Mark Davies believes a band likes nothing more than to hear their music on the radio, where Sophie K believes the more dated media formats need to evolve and get with the times! This was a great panel, chaired by a great guy, who I can safely call a friend – well done Tosh!

With the conference drawing to a close, it was time to reflect on what we’d learnt. Someone stated that none of the panelist got anything from this conference, yet many of the people they work with on a regular basis were at this event, so it was a fabulous opportunity for them to reconnect with friends old and new. For me, I feel the guys who appeared on the panels all did an amazing job and are already earning the respect of the music industry, as they are living proof that you can be successful in this industry. For them to give up their valuable time and share with us their valuable advice, people should see this as a great opportunity to learn and develop the skills that may stay with them for years to come.

If this event goes ahead next year, which I truly hope it does, I feel more bands in the rock genre should seriously consider buying a ticket to this conference as it truly was an eye opener for many!

With all the talking over, it was time to let off a little bit of steam and watch some bands at bar Oslo – as well as sinking a few more beers. Having made many new contacts, this gave me an opportunity to talk with them about the whole experience and how people could see themselves moving forward.

Seeing as this was a rock music conference, it was fitting to see acts such as Chemia, a great rock and roll act from Poland who are doing well on the live circuit. The One Hundred, who I thought were amazing, as did Sophie K. The Qemists, managed by Seven, who headed off to play Download and the Black Spiders, who are a very successful rock band and will be playing Hard Rock Hell in November. Sadly, I had work the next day, so I had a train to catch to get home, so apologies to them, but I’ll hopefully see you play HRH 9 in November!

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)