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Words about DIY punk; records, shows, interviews, whatever.

Tag: emo

2016; My Favourite Records of the Year

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2016 was an incredible year for music. Anyone who says otherwise is either ill-informed or just plain ignorant. The same could be said of those who constantly bemoan the “death of the album”. Yes, while the mainstream may be consuming music in an ever more disposable fashion, the case has always been thus and when have we cared about what’s happening there anyways?

Records and albums never died or went anywhere, for those who’ve always bought music and supported the artists they enjoy, there is no “vinyl revival”, just a lot of over-expensive major label re-releases and longer waiting times at pressing plants. I could bang on about this shit at length but shall refrain from doing so in an effort to maintain the positive nature of this piece, which is to talk about my favourite records of the year.

I should establish some ground rules here; I’m going to talk about my favourite records of the year that I own in its physical format, thus disqualifying digital exclusives/streams and the like. So yeah, we’re talking physical vinyl records of all kinds here, not exclusively albums. The list will be alphabetical as opposed to ranked by preference. I think it’d also be imprudent to include any of the MTAT releases this year, although it goes without saying that I love them all, as that is pretty much the entire condition of whether we put something out or not.

That said, “Held In Merciful Light” by Clearer The Sky is a stunning record and one I’ve spent a lot of time with. Also, “ScreamerSongwriter” by Stoj Snak is just next level incredible; a folk punk record that transcends the genre’s often limiting boundaries, creating a kind of “stadium folk punk” sound as I described it to someone at the indie label market in Aberdeen earlier this year. Ye can check out MTAT 2016; A Year in Review here.

AJJ – “The Bible 2” LP (Side One Dummy)

America’s greatest living rock band have produced what I believe to be their masterwork with “The Bible 2”. Everything about this record speaks to me of the contemporary frustrated American experience as we transition into times of heightened political violence and paranoia. I have long admired Sean Bonnette as a lyricist and songwriter and truly believe that, great as “Christmas Island” was, this is his greatest work yet. Everyone should listen to this record.

Anxiety – S/T LP (La Vida Es Un Mus)

I’d read about these Glasgow punks a fair bit before I finally got a chance to see them play at the last Clocked Out show at Nice N Sleazy earlier this year and I was blown away, their intensity matched only be the uncontrollable rage that is Crawford and the troops. This eight track mini-LP is absolutely incredible; a convulsing nightmare-ish soundscape like Joy Division/Dead Kennedys/Butthole Surfers self-abusing in an anarcho punk squat. A thrilling, unsettling and unnerving experience, tremendous.

Boak – II 7″ (SuperFi Records / GrindPromotion)

I fucking love Boak and their set in The Firefly at BYAF X just absolutely stripped the paint from my face. This second seven inch (I got a blue one) manages to take everything that was awesome about the first one; the precision, intensity, rage; and hone it to even sharper perfection with four nuclear blasts of intelligent and articulate grindcore/powerviolence. I must’ve played this record fifty times over before something knocked it off the turntable. Absolutely essential, truly one of Scotland’s greatest bands.

The Cut Ups – “The Nerves” LP (Banquet Records)

Jon Shoe is one of my favourite people in punk rock and I’ve been a huge fan of The Cut Ups for over a decade now, so it’s no great surprise that their fourth record makes my list. “The Nerves” is arguably their most politically focussed album yet, a rallying cry reflected in the loving gravelly embrace of their finest collection of songs to date. Driving and anthemic, featuring keys from Franz Nicolay, this is The Cut Ups at their determined best. “Stay Obscure” may be closing track of the year too, tugged away on the old heartstrings. This record is a beacon of hope in an ever-expanding shit-storm of misery, isolation and exasperation; a reassuring cuddle from an old friend.

Dead To Me – “I Wanna Die In Los Angeles” 7″ (Fat Wreck)

Besides simply being an awesome collection of three songs on a seven inch, I feel this is an important record in a few different ways. Purely musically, this is solid Dead To Me gold (there was a gold pressing, I have the black) and we’ve waited eight years for new songs featuring both Jack Dalrymple and Chicken, but more importantly, this is a record that may have just saved a life. Alcohol and drug addiction is something people in the punk scene seem reluctant to talk about at times, despite the fact that it’s killed so many of our friends, in both punk and wider society. This record is about hitting rock bottom and recovery, with “Comforting the Disturbed and Disturbing the Comfortable” being one of the most beautiful articulations of recovery I’ve ever identified with, in so many different ways. This 7″ also directly inspired me to start Sober Punks Supper Club. Thank you Dead To Me, stay strong troops.

Descendents – “Hypercaffium Spazzinate” (Epitaph)

Descendents are a band that I’ve loved for almost twenty years so there’s no way I wasn’t going to be stoked about their new record. Ever the pessimist, however, I didn’t have sky-high hopes but am thankful to be proven wrong as I think this is definitely up there amongst their strongest work, streets ahead of “Cool To Be You”, which itself contained some bangers. There ain’t a huge number of older punk bands who’ve released new records that rivals that of their back catalogue this year but this one is up there in my book. As for the controversy surrounding the title, I don’t think it’s a great title but listen to the fucking record and the picture will become a little clearer I’d hope.

Fall Of Messiah – “Empty Colors” 12″ EP (Holy Roar / I.Corrupt.Records)

Utterly stunning, expansive and harrowing yet serene post-rock/screamo from France. I was lucky enough that Shitgripper played with these troops in Edinburgh in April of this year and I was completely blown away by their dynamics, intensity and power. Largely instrumental but with infrequent intense outbursts of screaming, this EP is a deep weaved texture of math-rock meets brooding hardcore intensity. One of the records I found myself coming back to again and again over the year, finding more to love in it with every listen.

The Hotelier – “Goodness” LP (Tiny Engines)

This is probably overall my favourite record of the year and definitely the album I’ve listened to most in 2016, at least once a day since I put the download on my phone. I connect viscerally and emotionally with The Hotelier in a way that I don’t with the vast majority of modern emo/pop punk bands, in ways that I can’t fully explain, but this record is a testament to what I understand to be their experimental progressive worldview, like therapy expressed through poetry. The aforementioned who mourn the death of the album would do well to listen to the narrative of this record, each song a chapter. Their show in the church at Restless Natives Fest was as close I’ve come to religious observance this year, truly spellbinding stuff.

Hot Mass – “Nervous Tension” LP (Brassneck Records)

Glorious squally and noisy heads-down punk rock’n’roll goodness from these well-traveled punks from Swansea who blasted out their first full-length and reminded me of everything that is awesome about straight up UK DIY punk rock. These dudes have been in the game for a long time, in essential Welsh bands like Dividers and The Arteries, and this record exemplifies the lessons learned and lives shaped by those experiences. I grabbed this record from Jenks when they opened for The Menzingers earlier this year and I very much hope we’ll have them in the basement at some point in the new year. Great stuff, super smart coke-bottle clear vinyl too.

Medictation – “Warm Places” LP (Little Rocket)

With such pedigree, this record was always going to be something special but considering the fact that this is the final recorded work of the legendary Dickie Hammond, this album takes on an extra layer of emotional weight. Featuring members of Leatherface and The Sainte Catherines, “Warm Places” was always going to be a great punk album but knowing that Dickie is gone, his presence is felt with greater gravity, his loss with extra depth. When Dickie takes on the vocal for “Stalingrad”, it’s a difficult listen as he sings about having no hope left and drinking to oblivion, especially knowing the circumstances under which he died. It’s a testament to the greatness and fragility of the man himself and the friendship of his band mates and extended family that this record serves as fitting epitaph. The release was a labour of love from Little Rocket Records, a label formed specifically to release this LP. A beautiful, moving monument.

Muncie Girls – “From Caplan To Belsize” LP (Specialist Subject)

This Exeter three piece have absolutely knocked it out the park with their first full-length LP on Specialist Subject Records. With a title taken from Sylvia Plath, there are few ambiguities pertaining the feminist politics of this record, serving as an indictment of our current cultural situation. This is no mere soapbox politics, however; this record talks of basic human decency and action in times where many people lack these things. Indeed, it was in reference to this record, specifically the “Respect” video, that I had one of my more interesting interactions of the year with the “alt-right”. Without putting too fine a point on it, fuck that shit, this is an important and, sadly, required record, on top of being a mighty fine melodic rock/pop punk banger in and of itself.

The Murderburgers – “The 12 Habits of Highly Defective People” (Asian Man / Round Dog Records)

Once again raising the bar for Scottish punk rock, Fraser Murderburger has crafted his greatest piece of work to date and created what is undoubtedly one of the finest UK pop punk records ever released. Fraser and I have been friends for a long time now and I know exactly how much this record, and indeed the band, means to him. I couldn’t be more proud to see this record getting the love it so richly deserves. Progressing far beyond the bubblegum Ramonescore template of yore, this fourth LP sharpens the knives for a thrilling narrative ride of lacerating self-analysis with cinematic sound and minor chords tucked in amongst the hooks and sing-a-long choruses. While perhaps less immediate than previous work, the cuts are far deeper and this record fulfills the promises made on “These Are Only Problems”, is a more cohesive piece of work and their absolute best yet. Proud of you, pal.

Pears – “Green Star” (Fat Wreck)

This record is just a straight-up hardcore punk rock juggernaut from front to back, a relentless storm of energy and aggression laden with insidious hooks, a fuck-you-fight-me southern charm and a refreshing blast of punk rock noise that looks forward rather than wallowing I n nostalgia, as punk is often inclined to do. For me, Pears absolutely blew Bouncing Souls off the stage when they played at Stereo in Glasgow earlier this year, one of the most energetic and engaging shows I’ve seen on a bigger stage in some time. Super nice dudes too, although twenty quid for an LP is taking the piss a little I’d suggest (no slight on the band, I know how these things go). One of my favourite Fat Wreck releases in recent years.

Sheer Mag – III 7″ EP (Static Shock)

I confess I had never listened to Sheer Mag before this year but once I did so, I immediately ordered all three EPs from Static Shock Records. This band are fucking great, a classic soul-powered rock’n’roll band that transcends time and genre classification, political without being divisive and subversive without being alienating. Plus, most importantly, just plain fucking rocking, like The Bellrays/Thin Lizzy/Dirtbombs, these are some of the catchiest, most perfectly written rock songs you’re ever likely to hear. Few bands this year have got me as hyped up and hooked as Sheer Mag.

Wonk Unit – “Mr. Splashy” LP (TNS)

If the AJJ LP is the soundtrack of the death of the American Dream, then it logically follows to my mind that “Mr. Splashy” is the sound of dystopian London, and by extension the United Kingdom, in full collapse. Wonk Unit may be the premier clown princes of UK punk rock, but don’t let the black humour and abundant laughter fool you, there is deep intelligence and political anger contained within the poetry, art and channeled chaos that follows the Wonk family. “Mr. Splashy” is an engaging tale that follows a narrative story arc through the increasing bitterness of British life in which we are both increasingly lumped together (as “lefties”, as “punks”, as “radicals”, whatever the case may be) and further isolation from one another. When we look back in twenty years time, this will be one of the records we reflect upon when considering the state of UK punk in 2016. I was lucky enough to score one of the one hundred green copies too!

So there we go, there are my fifteen favourite records of the year. There have been loads of other great records released this year and I want to shout out Revenge of the Psychotronic Man, The Bennies, Kamikaze Girls, Womps, Departures, Pale Angels, G.L.O.S.S and Direct Hit! and Human Hands, all of whom released top quality records this year, plus the Asthenia/Akallabeth split 7″ that absolutely tore my face off (the Asthenia show was probably, at a push, my favourite MTAT show of the year too).

Can’t wait to see what’s coming in 2017, plus we’ll finally get the long-awaited Tragical History Tour LP. Bring it on!

 

 

 

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Ten Years of Cowpunk; My Top Ten – Jonny Domino

As has been well-documented, 2016 marks Ten Years of Cowpunk. As such, rather than just me banging on about all the stuff that I remember and the cool shit that has come to pass over the last decade, I thought it’d be fun (and more interesting) to ask the troops and close associates of the MTAT family to recall some of their favourite songs/moments in our shared history. It’s always very interesting for me to hear the perspectives of others, as I’m usually so (self?) absorbed with everything that’s going on that oftentimes I forget to take a step back and see the bigger picture.

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We start with the picks of Jonny Domino. It feels as though Jonny and I have known each other forever, certainly since we both started getting more deeply involved in the local music scene at the turn of the century. Jonny is also a total workhorse; he did all the driving on the Uniforms tours, has driven heaps of bands around the UK, does loads of the cooking for visiting bands, has regularly had bands and total strangers kipping on his floor and his wife Michelle even baked the Burst Cow Birthday Cake for the show last Saturday. He’s a good dude with an at-times questionable taste in music and dress, but he’s got a heart of gold and this list is full of some absolute zingers and fond memories.

Joey Terrifying – “Getaway Driver”

The first MTAT release that I personally appeared on, I was part of a bunch of MTAT all-stars that included Kev from Broken Stories that shouted “no school I don’t know!” in the bridge of this in the basement of Seagate Studios.

Billy Liar – “Piss Artist”

Billy Liar is basically my Kaddish when it comes to Book Yer Ane Fest, his streak is getting almost as good as theirs and for some reason every Sunday even though everyone is strung out from 2 days of Festing, there always seems to be a bit more energy getting dug out for Billy’s set.

The Riot Before – “Uncharted Lands”

The Riot Before show in The Balcony stands in my mind as one of the undiscovered gems in MTAT history, just a great night with some genuinely nice dudes and also the first night I met Christian Tollner, who played a much bigger part in the development of MTAT’s touring bands than he probably realises.

Question The Mark – “Bottoms Up!”

By far my favourite thing that I’ve got from 10 years of Make That A Take is some amazing friendships with great people. The chance to see all these people is what makes Book Yer Ane Fest my favourite weekend of the year and the fact that I can go all over the country or in fact the world and never be too far from some of my best friends is not an opportunity that a lot of people will get in a lifetime – QTM are the perfect example of that, I love all these dudes.

Loaded 45 – “Making Enemies Not Memories”

Loaded 45 are genuinely some of the weirdest, most amazing people I’ve ever met in my life. We spent a combined 6 weeks living 8 of us in one van in places that I’d only ever dream of visiting otherwise (and also Rhyl) and we all have a bastardised MTAT HxC cross with the letters MENM after this song tattooed on our stupid bodies to commemorate it, couldn’t leave it off this list!

Franz Nicolay – “Home Is Where They Take You In”

To say I’m proud of what MTAT has achieved in the last 10 years would be a massive understatement and everything about this song is a testament to that. Franz has played in some of my absolute favourite bands of all time so to have this released on our label absolutely blows my mind. The subject matter also speaks to one of the things that I’m most proud of about the MTAT crew, which is the fact that over the past decade we’ve tried extremely hard to be as accommodating as possible to people who have come from all over the world to play for us, and I hope built a solid reputation for that in the process.

The Walking Targets – “Circling The Drain”

Including The Walking Targets on this list is something of a bittersweet experience for me – one of my most vivid BYAF memories was watching these guys play Saturday afternoon, the first time most if not all of us had ever heard of them, with Derrick, Bunky from Question The Mark and Fraser Murderburger and just being blown away. I remember Max winning a bottle of Jager which the QTM guys made him polish off through the course of the day before he vomited all over my house and I remember thinking they were something special. Later that night I still remember the chat being “holy shit did you see that band The Walking Targets?!” and there’s no doubt they got really great, really quick. They’re still my “what could’ve been” moment.

Bangers – “Church Street In Ruins”

Bangers are without doubt my favourite British band, they’re really lovely guys to spend time with – smart, funny and really patient (I know Andrew was one of Derrick’s go-tos for advice in the early days of MTAT as a functioning label and I don’t think I’ve ever said thanks) and they’re a great advert for DIY punk who I’m thankful for a few opportunities to work with. That being said, Uniforms did a few all ages shows with the DIY Rock Shop in Perth and the one time we invited Bangers I remember Roo saying “if I could give you one piece of advice it would be – always say yes to free drugs if someone offers you them, that’s what being a rockstar’s all about”.

Get It Together – “Hole In The Head”

If I was pushed (which I’m not being, but I’m gonna tell you anyway) I’d say this is the best song MTAT has ever released. Get It Together just nail the posi hardcore vibe and their energy and enthusiasm is pretty hard to match. Some of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet they’ve been nothing but a pleasure to be around and this song is pretty much guaranteed to get any room going.

Dear Landlord – “I Live In Hell”

From my favourite song to my favourite show, it’ll be a long time before we pull off anything that compares to hosting Dear Landlord in the basement of Drouthies and it will probably always be my favourite MTAT moment. These guys put on one of the most full on live shows you’ll see and there was sweat (and Guinness) dripping from the ceiling of Drouthies before they finished. Occasionally to this day I still wonder how they ended up there and not in some much bigger venues but I’m also really, really glad they did.

Conroy’s Basement; Mini-Zine I

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2016; Ten Years of Cowpunk (Mailshot!)

This is a copy of the Tuesday 19th January email newsletter to the MTAT mailing list. Sign up here.

We at MTAT hope that everyone had a good time over the festive period and is looking forward to what the new year brings. 2016 marks ten years since MTAT put on our first show as a collective and we are very excited to be kicking off Ten Years of Cowpunk with another step in our evolution; we have a new HQ!

We have come to an agreement with the good people at Conroy’s in Dundee and will now be hosting shows in the basement of the pub. Conroy’s used to be The Beat Bar/Satchmo’s/The Saltire in years gone by and was one of the first venues we ever used back in Dundee, first hosting Frank Turner and Even In Blackouts there on November 15th 2006. An intimate basement space in the city centre, it’s pretty much perfect for small DIY shows and we’re very excited about the possibilities this arrangement may afford us.

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The inaugural show at Conroy’s Basement will happen on Friday 27th February and is a collaboration with Oh No! Not Another Wild Goat that brings together Bear Arms, Get It Together, Robot Doctors, Lachance and Polar Bears In Purgatory to kick things off with a bang. We shall then be celebrating the tenth anniversary of our first show on Saturday 12th March, ten years removed from hosting Glass and Ashes / I-Farm at Dexter’s with The Try Hards and 15 Minutes. Full details of the birthday show will emerge soon.

Some other show dates for the diary;

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Book Yer Ane Fest X will take place at Buskers, Dundee from Friday 2nd through Sunday 4th December. The original BYAF took place in 2008 and we did two in 2009, hence why the years don’t align, so it’s serendipitous that in coincides with our tenth anniversary. We’ve already got some plans in place and we look forward to seeing what develops over the course of the year!

Before then, we are very proud to be part of the forthcoming split single release from Billy Liar and Paper Rifles in support of Refugee Survival Trust. A collaborative project alongside Anti-Manifesto and Struck Dum Records, the split single will be released on CD and as a digital download accompanied by a series of short films by Steve Cardno documenting the project.

refugee single launch

The single will be launched at a benefit show at The Southside Social in Edinburgh on Saturday 30th January featuring a host of multi-discipline talent. The RST was set up in 1996 as a reaction to the problem of refugees and asylum claimants being made destitute in Scotland. Grants made by the RST either alleviate poverty and destitution, or help refugees and asylum claimants to overcome obstacles in accessing educational and employment opportunities. We are proud to show solidarity in this endeavour. Thanks also to For The Love Of Punk for covering the story.

To help in the combat against the winter blues (and to help us clear some space for new stuff), we are keeping our End Of Year Sale going until the end of January. We’ve got loads of cool stuff from as little as three quid, although we are down to our last one or two copies on a many records, so please do act fast if there’s something specific you’re looking for!

Season Ticket

2016 MTAT Season Tickets are also currently available for £100 and are limited in numbers. A Season Ticket gives for entry to ALL SHOWS (including BYAF X) and physical/digital copies of ALL RELEASES this year, plus a welcome pack with a MTAT HXC shirt and cool free shit. Knowing some of the plans we have in the works, it’s the bargain of the year for sure!

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Cheers to everyone who has picked up a copy of the excellent “Swells/Repels” EP by Stonethrower thus far. The EP was released on the Sunday of BYAF IX and we still have some copies left. We’d recommend checking out Minimal Media for a series of tremendous live videos from the weekend too. For our full recap of all things BYAF-related, check this story. Keep your eyes for new videos on Cowpunk TV too!

Right, that’s enough banging on for now. There is much to look forward to this year and loads of incredible new music coming your way. Thanks to everyone who has bought records/season tickets recently and everyone that continues to support what we do. The last ten years have been a continual evolution and we look forward to seeing how things develop further in 2016.

Thanks for the continued support, as always!
Make-That-A-Take Records

BOOK YER ANE FEST IX; FIRST TIMERS

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Book Yer Ane Fest IX is only a couple weeks away and we are beginning to get mad stoked (and freaking out!) about spending a weekend in the company of some of the finest DIY punk bands and best people we know. BYAF has grown into something we’d never envisaged when we started in the back room of Mucky Mulligans in Perth way back in 2008 and for that we are truly grateful. This year marks another step in the BYAF evolution and we’ll be hosting it in Buskers and The Vestry for the very first time. Dougie and the troops have been very understanding and accommodating of us, so hopefully everyone has an awesome time. This will also be the first BYAF with a proper stage (no barrier!) so please behave accordingly and look out for one another!

Thank you also to everyone who has picked Weekend E-Tickets thus far, it’s always a massive stress reliever when you know that people are stoked on what you’re doing. If you haven’t got one yet, you can grab one RIGHT HERE (cheap pop, right?). Ye can check out the day splits on the MTAT website. Also, both Pre-BYAF and Post-BYAF in Glasgow and Edinburgh on Thursday 26th and Monday 30th November respectively are pay-on-the-door and all early shows at Cerberus Bar are free on a first come, first served basis as it’s tiny.

For updates as they occur, keep your eyes on the event page and our twitter.

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One of the best things for us about BYAF is the opportunity to bring new and interesting bands to Dundee and to catch up with friends that we may otherwise seldom see. As such, we’d like to extend a very warm welcome to the following bands to shall be playing BYAF for the first time over the weekend;

Make War (USA)

Formerly known as Sad and French, Make War are a three piece melodic punk rock band from New York who will play their first and only Scottish show of their debut European tour on the Friday night at Buskers. They’re touring in support of their new self-titled LP that is out now on Black Numbers / Gunner Records. The band shall also be playing an exclusive acoustic show on Friday evening at the pre-show/weekend ticket collection gathering at Cerberus Bar from 4-6pm.

FFO; Lucero, The Bouncing Souls, Gaslight Anthem

When; Friday 27th November at Buskers.

Above Them (ENG)

After many years of trying, we are absolutely thrilled to finally be able to welcome one of the greatest UK punk rock bands of recent times to Dundee for the very first time. Veterans of the UK DIY scene and venerated throughout the worldwide punk scene, these Yorkshire punks released their new “Water Lane” LP through the wonderful Specialist Subject Records earlier this year and will join us for an exclusive Scottish show.

FFO; The Weakerthans, Hot Water Music, Jawbreaker

When; Sunday 29th November at Buskers.

The Spook School

Currently setting the world on fire with their infectious and vital “Try To Be Hopeful” LP, these Edinburgh queercore indie pop punks join us at BYAF for the first time and play their first Dundee show since playing a packed Cerberus show with ONSIND and Spoonboy way back in February. The Spook School have had an incredible year, playing all over the world and we’re very excited to be hosting them in Dundee.

FFO; The Buzzcocks, The Slits, The Vaselines

When; Saturday 28th November at Buskers.

Good Grief (ENG)

Upbeat bittersweet fizzy bangers from these witty and intelligent Liverpool fuzzy melodic indie punks who will be bringing their lo-fi pop jams to Dundee for the very first time. Well traveled and with releases out on the esteemed Boss Tunage and Drunken Sailor Records and splits with BUZZorHOWL and Eureka California to their name, we’re very excited for a late afternoon sugar rush.

FFO; Superchunk, Dinosaur Jr, J Church

When; Saturday 28th November at Buskers.

Forever Unclean (DK)

Full blast bouncy gobby melodic Europunk from these three piece punkers from Copenhagen, Denmark who visit Dundee for the first time as part of their UK tour around BYAF. Bringing together slacker indie and tight 90s skate punk, their new EP “Shreds” does exactly that and was mastered by Jason Livermore at The Blasting Rooms in Colorado. They’ll be reunited with their old touring buddies Terrafraid, who will themselves be returning from their own three month European odyssey!

FFO; Kid Dynamite, Smoke Or Fire, Broadway Calls

When; Sunday 29th November at Buskers

Will Wood (NZ)

Kick-ass boot-stompin’ countrified punk blues murder balladeer from New Zealand joins us in Dundee for the first time on his UK tour with fellow one-man-band compatriot and partner in crime Freddy Fudd Pucker. Will Wood brings a wild-hearted whisky-soaked punk rock fire in his belly and a glint of wickedness in his eye.

FFO; Steve Earle, Murder By Death, Nick Cave

When; Saturday 28th November at The Vestry.

Great Cynics (ENG)

Another band that we’ve long hoped to play, we are delighted to welcome Great Cynics and their wonderful heart-warming melodic folk/punk bangers to BYAF for the first time. The band released their inspiring “I Feel Weird” LP on Specialist Subject earlier this year and have just returned from having everyone in Gainesville at Fest fall in love with them all over again. Excited to have them in Dundee again after last being seen with The Smith Street Band at Mini-Fest in 2013.

FFO; The Lemonheads, Billy Bragg, The Get Up Kids

When; Saturday 28th November at Buskers.

Chrissy Barnacle

From the “grimy side of the Clyde” comes nylon-stringed acoustic-wielding Glasgow singer/songwriter Chrissy Barnacle who brings her sharp-witted and heart-warming feminist political folk-pop to BYAF for the first time. We’ve been fans of Chrissy and her songwriting for a long time and we’re very pleased to finally be able to play host.

FFO; Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell, Ghost Mice

When; Saturday 28th November at The Vestry.

Rational Anthem (USA)

Life-affirming fist-in-the-air old school gobby melodic pop punk three piece straight outta Sarasota, Florida and out on the road on a European tour with kindred spirits The Murderburgers, Rational Anthem are an explosive fireball of punk rock power and will joining us in Dundee for the very first time. Their “Emotionally Unavailable” LP came out on Bloated Kate Records last year and is rammed full of bittersweet pop punk zingers. Guaranteed to be a fun time!

FFO; Lipstick Homicide, Dear Landlord, Screeching Weasel

When; Saturday 28th November

Lenin Death Mask

Aberdeen indie noise-poppers wrap up their ten day UK tour in celebration and support of their debut “Three Hits” 7″ that is released on November 16th through Fitlike Records, Allende Records and Dingleberry Records in Europe. As part of an active Aberdeen DIY scene, we are very pleased to welcome our east coast comrades to BYAF for the first time.

FFO; Husker Du, Titus Andronicus, The Cribs

When; Sunday 29th November at Buskers.

Veto

Glasgow Young Team emo/pop punkers shall be opening BYAF IX with their youthfully energetic take on classic emocore and modern pop punk. These troops have been super active in their local Glasgow scene and have organised a heap of benefit shows as well as touring the UK for the first time this year in support of their split EP with Brightr. One of the best young bands to emerge in Scottish punk in recent times.

FFO; Modern Baseball, Gnarwolves, Spraynard

When; Friday 27th November at Buskers.

Stonethrower (EP Release Show)

 Dundee’s latest Ecossemo punks of weel’ kent faces play their first BYAF and celebrate the release of their new “Swells/Repels” CDEP on MTAT by bringing us their angular and agitated take on alt/punk rock, combining math-y time signatures with an undeniable taste for the ferocious punk banger. Stonethrower are one of the spiciest Dundee bands to emerge over the last year and we’re very proud to be working with them to release the EP.

FFO; Faraquet, Kaddish, Future Of The Left

When; Sunday 29th November at Buskers.

PMX

It’s crazy to think that this is the first time that PMX have played BYAF but the band were already on hiatus when we started this shindig back in 2008. Reunited and refreshed, PMX have blazed back into action in 2015 with the release of the incredible “Dark Days” EP that we’re super proud to have been involved in and they’ve been absolutely shredding it since their return to action. BYAF will be their first Dundee show in over seven years. PMX also play Pre-BYAF at Nice N Sleazy, Glasgow on Thursday 26th November with Murderburgers, Rational Anthem and Dead Neck.

FFO; Propagandhi, Lagwagon, A Wilhem Scream

When; Friday 27th November at Buskers.

Edgarville (ENG)

Tour mates of Terrafraid throughout their three month European tour and veterans of the DIY punk underground, Lancashire two-piece Edgarville bring their folk-ish acoustic indie/pop punk to Dundee for the very first time to conclude their tour. These guys have faced almost every challenge imaginable throughout their time as a band and have lived to tell the tale. Hopefully we’ll be able to provide a happy ending for them at BYAF.

FFO; The Front Bottoms, Apologies I Have None, The Smith Street Band

When; Sunday 29th November at The Vestry.

Bettie Akkemaai (NL)

Bettie Akkemaai is a feminist folk punk singer/songwriter from Den Bosch, Netherlands who joins us in Dundee for the first time as part of a series of shows with her kindred spirit and Different Circle Records comrade Dave Hughes. Inspired by the global DIY anarcho-folk scene, Bettie plays acid tongued witty acoustic folk with bite and intelligence.

FFO; Even Greer, Mischief Brew, Kimya Dawson

When; Sunday 29th November at The Vestry.

The Exhausts (ENG)

These London born, Glasgow based super spiky gobby melodic punks started their European tour in October before playing as Misfits at our Halloween Party and have been on the road ever since with tour concluding at BYAF. The band has just released the awesome “Leave The Suburbs!” album through the excellent Everything Sucks Music and will bring a hefty dose of tongue-in-cheek garage rock’n’roll madness to night one of BYAF.

FFO; Misfits, The Shitty Limits, Bikini Kill

When; Friday 27th November at Buskers.

Paper Rifles

Skyscrapingly melodic beautiful acoustic folk/punk rock from the former Curators man now ploughing the field solo and knocking it completely out of the park. With a busy year behind him, we’re involved in a special little project to be announced soon that will precede the forthcoming 7″ coming soon on Struck Dum Records. One of the strongest voices in Scottish music, we’d highly recommend not missing this.

FFO; Manic Street Preachers, Chuck Ragan, Deacon Blue

When; Saturday 28th November at The Vestry.

Elk Gang

Hard hitting passionate punk rock/post-hardcore from the capital from the troops behind the Anti-Manifesto collective featuring the engine room of Shields Up, these fiery Edinburgh punks will play BYAF for the first time and will bring their lung-bustin’ melodic hardcore and scissor kicks to light a fire under your Sunday afternoon. One of the dark horse bands to watch out for over the weekend for sure.

FFO; Small Brown Bike, Iron Chic, Lifetime

When; Sunday 29th November at The Vestry.

Tim Loud (ENG)

Foot-stompin’ hard-rocking virtuoso country/punk/folk/pop masterclass from Leeds based one man band/singer/songwriter who plays BYAF for the very first time and joins us in the midst of his UK tour with the equally eccentric Tim Holehouse. Last year’s “Born To Lose” album is an under-rated pop masterpiece and was released on MTAT in conjunction with TNS and Gin House Records. Very pleased to finally get Tim up to BYAF.

FFO; The Levellers, Gram Parsons, The Beatles

When; Saturday 28th November at The Vestry.

Salem Street

Dundee Youth Crew wrap up an exceptional 2015 that’s taken them across the UK for the first time and seen them play some massive festivals including Nice N Sleazy. They’ll be bringing their first generation 77 inspired punk with deep reggae/ska grooves to the Sunday afternoon and will be the perfect band to ease your hangovers as ye get started for the last day of festing.

FFO; Stiff Little Fingers, Operation Ivy, One Man Army

When; Sunday 29th November at The Vestry.

Benny Monteux

Edinburgh based acoustic folk/pop punk singer/songwriter joins us at BYAF for the first time as part of his Scottish tour in support of his new single. Benny joined us in Dundee at Cerberus Bar earlier in the year and we are delighted to welcoming this charming, forthright and honest young man back.

FFO; Kris Roe, The Gaslight Anthem, The Wonder Years

When; Saturday 28th November at The Vestry

Brendan Dalton

Bruised and introspective lo-fi acoustic singer/songwriter from rural Perthshire playing solo at BYAF for the first time having played BYAF III with his former pop punk band Versailles many moons ago. Brendan in a talented and intelligent writer who’s had a great year including putting out his first single “Medium” through the emergent indie label Meraki Records. No stranger to Dundee, we’re delighted to welcome Brendan to BYAF.

FFO; Bon Iver, Belle and Sebastian, Ryan Adams

When; Sunday 29th November at The Vestry.

Please, Believe!

From the ashes of Ecossemo stalwarts Bonehouse comes Please, Believe! Ploughing a similar field as their predecessors in terms of emotive DIY post-hardcore/punk rock, PB bring an added sense of urgency and chaos to proceedings, creating a cathartic and noisy expulsion of emotion. No recordings yet but with such pedigree, we can guarantee some prime cuts of east coast Ecossemo goodness.

FFO; At The Drive In, Sinaloa, Life At These Speeds

When; Sunday 29th November at Buskers.

Phew!

Can’t wait, bring it on yo!

Incoming; PMX “Dark Days” EP, September Vistors, Dundeemofest + More

Once again, apologies for the lack of WYAZ posts recently. Between work, running the label and everything else that I’ve got going on, I simply haven’t had much time to write. Miss it though I do, there are times when something has to give. I’ve been spending quite a lot of time working on new Tragical History Tour material for my forthcoming LP, which I’m hoping to release sometime during the first half of next year. If any other labels wanted to get on board with a co-release, do please hit me up! I’ve also been working away diligently in the background on the upcoming MTAT releases and Book Yer Ane Fest IX, which is pretty much fully booked now. We’ll have the “official” poster and full line-up to announce very shortly.

Our first order of business for September is the release of the long-awaited new “Dark Days” EP from reunited Perth punks PMX. The band’s last release was the incredible “Rise and Shine” album way back in 2004 and the first release of any sort since “The Ballad of Tony Montana”, a 25 minute progressive punk rock epic that many people may have missed. “Dark Days” is also the first release featuring the new line-up of Scott Henderson on lead guitar and Kev Henderson on drums. The EP was self-recorded/produced with the drums being tracked by Bruce Rintoul at 45-A-Side Recordings in Glasgow, before being mixed by the band in Perth. The EP was then mastered by Jason Livermore at The Blasting Rooms in Fort Collins, Colorado and it sounds absolutely incredible. To say that we are excited for this release is a considerable understatement.

There’s a lot of history in this record too; I first met Chic sometime in the late 90s when we’d spend our time moshing down the front at the all ages shows put on at the Lesser City Hall in Perth by the Youth Enquiry Service. I remember one time we smashed our heads together while Threshold Sicks were playing; it was the start of a beautiful friendship. PMT, as they were at the time, played the last ever Humus Kife show at the launch of the “Eye of the Storm” CD at Perth City Hall in August of 2000, when there were 10 bands set up individually, Jools Holland style, all around the City Hall. We then played loads of shows together when I was in 13 Broken Fingers (with Craig from Get It Together no less) while I was at university before eventually living together in the “flat of doom” above Domino’s in Perth some years later. I’ll never forgot walking down the line outside a sold-out Curly Lloyd’s handing out anti-war propaganda before the beginning of the Iraq War way back in 2003. I’ll also never forget some people looking at me like I had two heads while I did so. I remember manning the fort with bookings at Barcode/Angry Mic’s whilst PMX were away touring with Randy in Canada and I skipped out on going to Taste of Chaos with them as I had a show of my own somewhere that night (I’m pretty sure that’s right anyways!). Abbie and I lived in Matt’s house, Chic played drums in both Joey Terrifying (replacing Kev no less!) and Uniforms, we were the Asbo Brothers; the connections go on and on.

Needless to say, there is considerable personal emotional investment in this EP and there were times when we thought that it’d never happen. MTAT never work with artists without whom we have personal resonance and connections, with the release of this EP following perfectly in line with this tradition. To put one’s energies and resources into something with which one has no emotional connection, for the purposes of financial gain or some other motivation, is an exercise in futility, at least as far as I’m concerned. The EP itself is, to my mind, an absolute masterclass of modern melodic hardcore punk; taking everything that we loved about the “old” PMX and marrying it to a greater darkness and maturity that comes with age and experience. It also fucking rips.

The record is currently streaming in full at DyingScene.com and is available for digital and physical pre-order with an instant download of the track “Brave Face”. The EP is officially released tomorrow morning and will go live at 9am. The initial pressing of the CDEP is limited to 300 copies worldwide and all orders from MTAT come with stickers. All pre-orders will also have a link to the full release emailed first thing on Saturday morning.

Following the release of “Dark Days”, we have a couple of absolutely cracking shows coming up in the following week.

Billy Joe September

We are very excited to welcome back Scotland’s finest guitar-slinging angry young punk rock poet Billy Liar and Richmond, Virginia’s Joe McMahon of Fat Wreck Chords’ punks Smoke Or Fire back to Dundee as part of their ongoing UK/Ireland tour. Billy and Joe were last seen in Dundee back in April, although I’m looking forward to actually seeing this show as I was in Europe on tour with Get It Together when they played Cerberus Bar last time.

This show will see the Billy/Joe tour crossover for one night only with that of Kate’s Party. Kate’s Party are a “female fronted” (I’m no fan of writing that shit ‘cos, y’know, gender is over, if you want it) power-pop/punk rock band from Dublin, Ireland and I’m very pleased that we were able to make something work at pretty much the last minute. They’re a hard-grafting bunch who have put out releases on Dublin’s Toast Office Records and are one of the most acclaimed indie/punk bands to emerge from the Emerald Isle in recent years, so we’re very excited to be able to host them in Dundee.

These touring parties shall be ably supported by Dundee’s finest indie/emo-punks (not sure they like being referred to as such) Robot Doctors, who shall be stripping things back and performing acoustically for us, and Edinburgh’s finest history-teaching soulful acoustic punk rock balladeer Paper Rifles, who just dropped the 3-track “Songs For Ophelia” single through Aberdeen’s Struck Dum Records. It’s a cracker of a mixed bill for a Monday night and it’ll cost ye five bones for the pleasure. It’d be great to see things get nice and cosy in Room at the Top of a Monday evening.

dundeemofest (2)

The following Friday, 11th September, sees the inaugural DUNDEEMOFEST happening at RATT and it will be the first and only Scottish show from Nashville, Tennessee emo punks Free Throw as they make their way around the continent on their first European Tour. These dudes are on Count Your Lucky Stars Records and are firm favourites of us in the MTAT camp, so we’re very happy to be hosting them for their only Scottish show. If you haven’t heard these guys before, then I’d recommend checking out the wonderful “Those Days Are Gone” LP for a heart-warming slab on midwestern emo that falls somewhere between the sepia-tinged landscapes of American Football, The Weakerthans and Dikembe; some may call it “emo revival”, I just call it honest, heart-on-sleeve earnest American emocore stripped free of pretense and played with heart, passion and soul.

They’ll be joined on the UK leg of tour by Holy Pinto, who come with great acclaim and shall be playing Dundee for the very first time. These guys have been making a lot of noise recently and have been plying their trade across the UK, Europe and the US so we’re delighted to welcoming them to Dundee. Holy Pinto play a quirky, danceable style of emo/punk not a million miles removed from the likes of Tigers Jaw/The Wonder Years and their “Stenography” EP out on Get This Right Records is a little cracker that I look forward to picking up at the show.

Joining the touring party will be a foursome of Ecossemo’s finest. It’s always a pleasure to host the gentlemen of Carson Wells, who have delivered one of the albums of the year in the form of “Tread A Northern Path”, an utter spellbinding journey and a tour de force that encapsulates everything we love about the Aberdeen three-piece. They’ll be joined by fellow north-east soul punks Min Diesel, who released an incredible LP on their own in the form of “Mince” through Cool Yer Jets and Struggletown Records earlier this year.

It’s only fitting that Dundeemofest features a couple of Dundee bands and we’re very excited about the prospect of hosting the first home town show from Please, Believe! You’ll reckon this band of weel ken’t faces from their previous projects that include the likes of Bonehouse/Gone Wishing/Pensioner/The Fall of Boss Koala/Little Anchors and countless more. These troops take the templates laid by their former projects and inject it with the fire that only being a three-piece can bring, creating a fragile yet chaotic emo/punk rammy that is universally understood while retaining a distinctly north-eastern Scottish identity. With a band of such fine calibre, we expect nothing less than emo fireworks.

Opening the show will be our very own Lachance, who continue to knock it out of the park with their emotionally-charged melodic punk rock, coming over like Latterman being given a solid skate punk kicking for spending too long with their poetry books. Lachance absolutely destroyed it at the Songs For Mum CD release show last month and the addition of Maxwell’s Dead’s Russell Broon on drums has lit a firecracker under them, adding a healthy dose of punk rock fire to the brooding emo flames. Make no mistake, hearts will be bursting out of chests all night long and it’s shaping up to be one of the most emotionally intense nights of what has already been an incredibly emotionally intense year.

There are a limited number of e-tickets remaining that are available for £6, otherwise it’ll be £8 on the door please. We shall also be hosting a hostile MTATakeover of Kage Nightclub after the show and will be spinning the finest in punk/hardcore/emo in the club until the early hours. The show itself is open to all 16+ although I’m afraid that the club night is only open to those 18+. Such are the limitations of Scottish licensing laws I’m afraid. Physical tickets are also available from Groucho’s and cost £6 plus booking free.

Finally (for now), we have an absolute BEAST of a last minute hardcore show happening at Cerberus Bar on Saturday 19th September. This show has come together in the last couple of days and we are still awaiting confirmation from a couple of bands so don’t yet have a poster, but we can promise you that it’s going to be an absolute face-ripper.

Nothing Clean are an absolutely uncompromising powerviolence/hardcore/thrash band from Leicester who had a show fall through in between their Aberdeen and Glasgow shows, so we were more than happy to step into the breach and help them out with a show. I’m compelled beyond my will to lend I hand when I know that I’m in a position to do so and, having spent a fair amount of time out on the road, know that there is nothing worse than having a day off on tour when you were planning on raging!

They’ll be joined to Fife’s newest gnarly instrumental hardcore band God Never Did Anything For Us who will be playing their first ever show. They’ll be joined by another two bands although it’s probably wise to await 100% confirmation before divulging names. Either way, the show will be kicking off at 8pm on Saturday 19th September at Cerberus Bar, Bell Street, Dundee and donations upon entry to support the touring band would be very much appreciated. Please keep your eyes peeled on the MTAT facebook page for futher developments.

Shirt HXCFinally, thank you so much to everyone who picked up merch and records during our Summer Vinyl Sale, the support is very much appreciated. We have limited numbers of these cracking MTAT HXC shirts left in a variety of sizes in both black and white, so please head over to our merch page and grab one if you’re keen. We also still have a handful of tote bags left. Thanks so much to our pals BW/WB for hooking this up and we wish them the very best of luck in their future endeavours.

See ye in the pit, punx!

Terrafraid; European Tour Diary (April 2015)

Terrafraid are one of Dundee’s finest musical exports comprised of some thoroughly good dudes who I’m glad to call my friends. When I saw that singer/songwriter/mastermind Gavin Luke Ross was looking for a task with which to occupy his time on the treacherous bus journey from London to Dundee, I noised him up about writing a tour diary for WYAZ. Thanks a lot to Gav for taking the time to do so.

I’d strongly recommend downloading the “Despondent” album. Not only is it a Scottish DIY dream-pop masterpiece, all proceeds go directly to the Scottish Association Of Mental Health. Terrafraid were my personal highlight of Rock The Tay this past weekend and kudos must go to Not Another Wild Goat Promotions for organising a weekend of shows to benefit SAMH also.

Terrafraid EU Tour Diary (April 2015) by Gavin Luke Ross.

When most people hear that you are going on tour and that you frequently do so, the sort of image that they seem to conjure up is “wow, you must have a fair bit of money to go to all them places” or “you must be so organised!”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just ask any touring musician.

tour poster

Setting off for London:

It wouldn’t be a proper “first day of tour” without some sort of moment of panic. No matter how prepared you are, even sitting around that morning bored at the thought of “I’ve done everything there is to be done, now I’m just waiting around until I have to leave”, it always ends up in running/dashing in some form with a close call of “that could fucked up the whole tour…”. In my case, it was my doctor forgetting to put my prescription ready to collect & take away with me before leaving, even though I spoke to him a couple of hours beforehand to be safe. So it resulted in turning up there 30 minutes before me and Sean’s 11:00am bus to London to see why they hadn’t called me back yet, as a couple of hours had passed and it was drawing nearer to our bus leaving. It was then that they were dashing around the place in panic at realising they’d forgotten. As I eagerly awaited in the hope of “I can still make it”, I eventually got the prescription and took it over to the collection point. They informed me “it will probably be about 15 minutes if that’s okay?” I looked at my watch, seeing it was 10:42am, & in a moment of panic I texted Sean “I may not make it back home, may have to run to the station! Take my things! I’ll meet you there!”. It was worrying the lack of reply, but luckily it only took them a few minutes before calling my name. Luckily, I live close to the doctors, but sprinted back home with 10 minutes left. As I got in the door, I seen a note in my kitchen; “gone into town for travel snacks, I’ll meet you at the bus station. Sean”. It was then that I remembered Sean’s phone was broken, so he wouldn’t have seen my text. After that brief moment of “close call…” I grabbed all my things & ran to bus station with the passport (double then triple) check with the running thought of, if there was anything I’d forgotten, “fuck it!”. Luckily, I made it just in time with Sean waiting at the station. All I thought of the close call was “typical”.

The journey consisted mostly of sleeping on the bus o the way down. A long bus journey is always a breeze when the bus is fairly empty, because you can lay down across your 2 seats with your legs up in the opposite sides seats. We had our bags containing clothing to last a couple weeks, so it was t-shirt pillows as an added bonus. Plus, earphones are always the top saviour of any journey for any length of time. Sean, sadly, discovered his were broken after the bus had already began its journey.

We met Jason at Victoria station as he had went ahead to London the day before. We all shared a dread at the thought of what the night had ahead of us. The sleeping conditions of the floors of Stansted airport. We were right to dread it. It was the middle of the night and there were close to a hundred passengers sprawled across the floors of the airport. We would wander around trying to find a spot for ourselves, which wasn’t easy. Purely for I was more fixed on needing caffeine, for the less than usual amount I would normally have due to the day long journey, and our hunt for food. It was easier for Jason and Sean to be able to find snacks available for vegetarians, but for me, trying to find something suitable for a vegan was like trying to find a new rare species. Clearly to Stansted, I was that new rare species.

We would find a spot to sleep on, where Jason had his sleeping mat (as his hand luggage was the size of King Kong’s fist, so had such luxuries in there. He had forgotten that we had all this stuff arranged and waiting for us in Sweden) and Sean settled for emptying his bag of clothes to form some sort of laundry mattress. I stayed awake to drink my coffee and continue the hunt for something edible. We had to move when we realised we were resting/sleeping in the front of line to check in for a flight to Spain. So we walked like zombies to the next available spot. I managed to get some rest for a minute, until an airport women walked around yelling out to everyone to get up. She did so in such a rude manner. “The airport is officially open now. Come on! This isn’t a hotel! Get up!”. Fair to say, she made a hundred sleepy enemies very quickly. We just walked from one side of the room until she fucked off then we walked back to where we were then went back to sleep. Other people in the airport choose to do the same thing. Viva la revolution. ✌🏻

airport

After getting through security ( giggling immaturely at Jason being frisked; uou have to when it happens to someone else), we saw there was a lot more offer food wise. Well, not for me. All I could purchase was a souvenir box of Oreos. We had a look in an electrical goods store. All, of course, over priced and we have no intention of purchasing anything, but then it’s just the sort of bored shite you do when waiting around in an airport all night (that and tanning all the free aftershave on display). We made our own amusement and Sean set every tablet, iPad and such wallpaper background screens to images of his face. The staff may or may not have noticed or cared. If you worked in an airport electrical store at 4:30 am and still had to wear a purple shirt/tie, you probably wouldn’t care either.

Sweden/Denmark:

The flight was easy enough as I slept through it. I sat near the front of the plane while Jason and Sean were sat next to each other near the back. Unfortunately, Sean didn’t have such luck with getting a sleep on the flight, thanks to ‘Little Billy’. ‘Little Billy’ was a long blonde haired little Irish boy sitting behind Sean who spent the flight keeping himself entertained by kicking Sean’s chair profusely and being loud. Asking his dad;

*insert Irish accents
Little Billy – “Daddy, how high are we going!?”
Daddy – “Alllllll the way up to the stars Little Billy!”

This became a running joke throughout tour. More funny for those who weren’t Sean, who would look back with dagger eyes at every seat kick Little Billy delivered. The dad could possibly sense Sean’s impending explosion. But eventually Sean did get to sleep though, wearing my eye mask I lent him to sleep better without the light. But when the plane hit the ground, Sean leaped with the fright of his life ripping off the eye mask wondering where he was, then trying to calm his nerves. I’d of given anything to have that moment filmed.

We were collected by our friend Olle from Gothenburg, who was filling in on bass for us for this tour. We quickly went straight to the practice room in our van which was the van being used for the tour. As soon as we had arrived, Sean’s bag straps snapped and it fell to the floor. We laughed.

We were so exhausted from the long day/night/morning of travelling that we gave the songs a once over, as it was the first time we had ever played them with Olle who learned the songs before we arrived, and after going over each song we immediately suggested we go find food. The only thing nearby the practice space was a subway so we swung around there for some verge pate subs and coffee, as I was just dying to eat something that wasn’t an Oreo biscuit. Sean had reservations about ordering anything at all due to his limited money he had in his account. Although seeing us all order, he couldn’t resist the urge so did the same. We just got our sandwiches and coffee, he made the instant regrettable decision to also purchase a cookie. If someone at a food counter offers him such an item to go with his food, he will cave. Even if he can’t afford it. As soon as he joined us at our table he was trying to grasp with why he bought the cookie and that he really couldn’t afford it. Swedish prices, it was the most expensive cookie he had bought in a long time. It may have cleared him out. Especially as he purchased (only the day before) a £30 vapour stick package for smoking. It was a very spur of the moment purchase which he instantly regretted, asking me how long I reckon it will be before he either loses it or breaks it. I gave it a week (more on that to follow). He tried looking to the positive side though in that it will be a nice sugary treat for when he is to drive to Copenhagen in an hours time (which he knows, the rest of us will be using that time to sleep). He didn’t see the funny side however when Jason would hide his cookie when he went to the bathroom.

We returned to the practice room and just quickly went over everything once more for Olle’s sake, as we were just in a rush to get going for how tired we were, so then loaded up the van with what we were bringing from our end then set off for Denmark. It was after we left Gothenburg that I was woken up by an angry driving Sean, punching the inside van roof screaming “I FORGOT MY FUCKIN COOKIE!!!”.

We got to Copenhagen and met up with Forever Unclean (Lasse – Vocals/Guitar, Troels – Bass & Leo – drums) at their practice space (which is an underground bunker by the way! Truly awesome) and loaded the full back line in before heading off to the venue. It was great to catch up with them and look forward to the next couple of weeks ahead with them. We got to the venue, it was our first time seeing this one, as we had always played other venues before in Copenhagen, and it was fantastic; set up like a log cabin. Like a vegan hunters log cabin theme. He people were lovely and the food was magnificent. Sean spent a lot of the evening asleep in the back room where there was a bed. The dreadlocked girl who owned the venue woke up Sean who was asleep in the floor in the middle of the room and asked “would you like to sleep in my bed?”. He woke up dazed and confused and said “fucking….yes”.
The show kicked off a great first night and we spent the night at F.U bassist Troel’s flat. There was little sleep on my side that night, as it was that night we discovered Jason’s anti-snoring nose straps were useless.

Forever Unclean

Forever Unclean

Germany:

A gig for the following day had fallen through, which we were aware of in enough advance before tour, but we had a place to crash that night in Hannover. It was a shame to have a day off only on day 2 of tour, but the past 48 hours had been hectic for us Scottish bunch so it was quite nice to have a day to relax and take it easy. More so, for me to make the most of the fact we were in Germany, which is just generally awesome for vegan food. Our host for the evening took us to an amazing pizza place that served incredible vegan cheese & polony pizza, so we sat in the outside of this restaurant eating like kings. What followed was a pub crawl of all the nice places surrounding the area that our host liked to attend.

I was the only person on this tour who no longer drinks alcohol. The first show the night before marked exactly 10 months of being sober for me, so this tour was my first one abroad without alcohol. I would make up for it with chain smoking and caffeine drinking as everyone else would get drunk. As everyone would toast to shots or get in the next round I would distract my attention to elsewhere, like my phone, going outside for a cigarette or thinking random thoughts of where we would be going the next day and such. It’s easier to just zone out than be too focused on the surroundings of alcohol in all its forms, prices and mostly the enjoyment others seem to be getting out of it. It would be a challenge over the course of the next couple of weeks, as there isn’t any getting away from it, so it is all down to how you handle it. The next couple of weeks would test that.

Lennestadt was the next town to play in. We set off with a number being hungover. I myself was exhausted, from the lack of sleep. The snoring party was in growing numbers and when everyone is drunk, it is much easier for them to pass out cold. Being sober, and a seriously light sleeper, it was near impossible to rest with such earth-rumbling, ground-shaking explosive sinuses belting out like drums amongst a tribe through the night. I’m not one to talk, any little sleep I did get, I would snore too. Endless smoking will do that. But it was rare that I did, as it was rare that I slept. Lennestadt was a beautiful town, with a twin peaks vibe to it. We could see it was clearly a very religious town, and that sparked off the running jokes throughout tour how much Troel is the spitting image of Jesus Christ. The venue we were playing in was also a Christian centre I believe, but you would never think it at night when the local gig goers would come by to get wasted and watch the bands. Local band Living & Fading opened the show brilliantly, they were super nice guys and great live, I recommend checking them out! A personal highlight for me was seeing an older gentleman there who was the spitting image of a German Ed Begley Jr. Nobody else got the reference for not knowing who Ed Begley Jr was. It was beyond infuriating, because it was insane how much he really did resemble him.

We were lucky enough to stay in a glorious house with a beautiful balcony that has a gorgeous view of the surrounding snowy mountains of this town. We were off to a perfect start for sleeping conditions. Jason slept in the attic whilst I slept in a bedroom. We made a pact so I would have a Jason snore free night to try sleep. Unfortunately, Jason wasn’t the only snorer, so the room that a few of us shared was pretty noisy regardless. Still though, the time spent in this lovely home with lovely people and their hospitality made it a nice night over all.

The next day we played in Saarbrucken. It was a lovely place that hadn’t put on much gigs before, but were so welcoming and had a great atmosphere. It was just us & F.U playing. The majority of the gigs were, which was a first for me in doing a tour where the shows weren’t with a line up of local support to bring in audiences. It showed that these towns had plenty of people who came out to shows (even weekday ones!) to see music coming to town, which was a very enlightening sight. That night, after we played, everyone was hanging around the venue to drink up the free alcohol on offer and just have fun hanging around the venue. I would take the opportunity to rest with some alone time by going for a walk and chilling out in the van until we left. I would be social too, but after a few nights of being surrounded by a group of guys having fun drinking, some time to relax was needed away from it. I generally find myself drained & mentally exhausted without it. Being around groups of people in general tends to have that effect. Not in any way to be anti social or not enjoy the company I am with, but more so that I can enjoy it much more by having my own space to regain energy to then participate in the fun we have together. Otherwise, it can be quite emotionally hard too. Waiting outside in that van, I had a little cry. Not at anything in particular or any reason/person, but just because I felt I needed to. In a week of being on the move endlessly and with new people and environment every day, it felt like I just needed to get it out of my system so I could move on. This would come up some nights, purely for relief to just let it out there so that I can start afresh afterwards. Otherwise, it would all suppress. The place we were staying at that night had 2 dogs and a cat, so I perked right up by then to have fun playing with them in all their fun energetic madness. I would wonder if they would be more confused by what I say, being that they are more used to hearing German, but then I quickly stopped as I would be aware that I tend to over think things like that too much.

cat

Switzerland:

That night was another night off and on our journey we realised we didn’t have a place that was best on the route to stay over, but luckily F.U brought their large tent, so it was going to be a night of camping for us, which we were excited about, as we have never thought to go camping on any previous tours! After stopping by France for some food groceries, finding a spot was quite a mission t, as most land is owned and suitability was quite rare. A camping site wouldn’t let us in because we didn’t have a “camping card”. Asking where we could get one resulted in said informant telling us they have no idea. We would keep moving location to location. There was one spot we found, but given that there was used toilet paper and condoms, we realised it was more popular a spot than we first thought. Time was getting on and we realised we had at least an hour until sun down and we’d rather not put up a tent in the dark. Managing to get online briefly using Jason’s phone, we found that there was a cheap camping site about 30/40km away, so we aimed for that as our last shot. Getting there it had become dark, there was nobody at the front desk so we asked a fellow camper walking around. He suggested we just go ahead and drive in, set up tent and settle it in the morning (or leave early before they catch on and drive off scott free). There was drinking happening from all the guys (I went wild on peach ice tea) and we had a fun talks. I was amazed how well I seemed to sleep in there. But then again, I wrapped my scarf around my whole head/face with my hat pulled down and sleeping bag over. Everyone else seemed to have a cold night. Sean at some point just went and slept in the van. I was the first one up bright and early so managed to go on a coffee hunt and use the shower facilities.

The drive to Switzerland was just heaven. The most beautiful sights to behold. A lot of journeys would be sleeping in the van, but this one was worth staying awake for as we would drive through the Alps and be blown away. Arriving in Chur, we would be in amazement at the surroundings of these surrounding mountains of this town. It was all just generally very photogenic from every angle. We were put up in a great hostel not far from the venue. It was huge and we couldn’t be more relieved at the gift in the form of beds and showers. The venue itself, Tom’s Beer Box, was incredible. Again, it was just us 2 bands playing, but we were amazed before tour to learn that we would be paid 400 for this show. Especially, being a Monday night, which is when they tend to have most shows (!?). After hanging out at the venue and setting up we were taken to a nearby restaurant/cafe where we had a nice meal. I can’t quite remember the name of my dish, but the waitress seemed very shocked by my insistence of “yes, withOUT cheese”. When it arrived then it was a nice meal, although basically tomato-ish bread with salad. Still, the poshest bread I’d had in some time, it was grand! We finished up with coffee and we were brought complimentary shots of some drink (I didn’t have mine, so gave it away). It seemed to be hit or miss. As we walked back to the venue, Lasse whispered to me “did you hear how much we are actually getting tonight?” “No?”. Let’s just say, it was relatively much higher than 400 we originally thought. We couldn’t believe it and thought surely not! For just us two bands? Apparently, Switzerland has a lot of money to throw away…

The show was fantastic. The locals were fun, energetic & surprised us with having a Monday show go down so well. Not long after playing, I went back to the hostel to relax & catch up on sleep while the rest stayed out to party. Seems they had quite a wild night ahead of them…Late at night, I heard them come back & enter our room drunk. They decided there was still fun to be had out on the streets of this small town so off they went. I vaguely remember hearing them come back later that night even more drunk, but I was too half asleep.

The next morning I heard about all the events the night before & how they were nearly arrested. It seems on their drunken adventures, they had come across a building, with drunken curiosity, saw that the door was open. They went inside wondering what this place was, only to discover it was actually the Chur courthouse. Before they knew it, they heard speeding cars and sirens. They went back outside to be surrounded by police cars, while they played the ‘dumb tourist’, saying that they thought it was their hostel and it was a mistake. They were all just thankful that they all happened to come up with the same excuse to tell, so they were sent on their way. But it looked like they had all sorts of fun the night before after I had left the venue. I saw photos of Sean having a go in the wheelchair of the girl who was at the front of the floor all night as both bands played, and plenty more of everyone dancing with the locals.

sean alps

Slovenia:

Slovenia was another great place to play, with a beautiful town and beautiful weather.
Throughout this tour during our set on each show, I would make an announcement about The Scottish Association Of Mental Health and that it’s who we support with album sales, and requested if there was such a charity like them that they knew of in their own country I would love to hear about it. It was in Slovenia that Lasse got a phone call to inform him that a friend back home had taken his own life. It was heartbreaking to say the least to hear such news. I didn’t know this friend that they were speaking of and had never met him, but it was a real eye opening matter for a lot of us, which would lead on through the rest of the week with myself having conversations with the guys about mental health; the stigma surrounding it in which like the circumstances with their friend, nobody had any clue that there was anything wrong. SAMH is an organisation that helps one speak out about it, and  seeing/hearing of these things in other countries was so tragic to know of. I wondered what they had to turn to, and how the people of these countries coped with or without such support from such organisations. It made for a lot of bonding and opening up amongst ourselves. I still think of this friend of theirs. I know they all will never forget him.

We were warmly received by the locals. I was so surprised how known we seemed to be, in that our name was becoming more known in Slovenia. At one point, during the end of our first song Sean’s amp broke. So to stall time while his head got switched I played a solo song, “Where There’s Warmth“, to the crowd. We always joked throughout tour about how we would be received to the punk audiences on this punk tour when our music is unashamedly pop influenced. I figured an acoustic ballad would be a strange choice to go down with (in an amusing sort of way), but was surprised when Sean informed me afterwards that a girl approached him saying she was glad she got to hear that song live as it was a personal favourite. It was then that we really pleased to think of the crowds each night and how open they were to the realms of punk rock; what it is and what it stands for. Heart.

We spent after the show outside most of the night, chilling out in the beer garden area by the entrance as the locals watched late night football. I was automatically drawn to a stray cat that had come over to play and we all gathered round like amazed children and swooned at its very sight. It was so very hard to leave it behind but we headed off eventually and stayed over in a large squat building that night. I tried to sleep as the rest of the guys explored the hallways, given the haunted mansion look of it all. I would have done he same if I wasn’t so tired. It did have a fantastic run down Stanley hotel vibe going for it.

The next day was spent having a walk around the streets in the sun looking for second hand stores to do some shopping. We were determined to make the most of it, as Sean had always gotten the most ridiculous/wonderful outfits out of Eastern Europe shops like that and we were determined for more. He bought himself a new shirt. Well, by shirt, I mean top half of pyjamas. The woman selling him it seemed very confused.

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Croatia:

So back to the organised musician part, we all fuck up! When others I’m with do, I laugh it off. Mostly glad that it wasn’t me. But a lot of the time I will fuck things up royally. Little things, but you have to laugh! Early on in the tour Leo realised he had forgotten his passport, which would have been needed to enter Croatia. He had tried everything up to that point in calling the nearest embassy and such but nothing was of any use, so we would continue with our plan to smuggle Leo in.

Of course, we didn’t do that. We’d heard that a valid form of identity was all that was needed so would attempt that. So we arrived at the border and we accidentally pulled into the wrong lane, which maybe got us off to a bad start with the current officer, then we all provided our passports and Leo provided his driving licence and such, but he was having none of it. He was clearly in no mood for coercing and told us to be on our way. So turning back around, we stopped by a little cafe for coffee and to think of our next move. Our first thought was to go to the next border and just try there. But with the thought of perhaps this grumpy officer giving the heads up to the other border about a bunch of punk scots amnd Danes on their way, F.U insisted we go ahead without them, play the gig, get the money then come back and collect them. We eventually settled and agreed that was the best option, as Leo had already informed the promoter of the plan. It meant they also got to have a nice night out in the nearby town too.

So ahead we went. Getting through the border this time seemed to be much easier. That same officer wasn’t there, instead was another one who was in a booth, and when handing him the passports, he just asked “where’s the other ones?” “Ah, we ditched them” “ok” and off we went. On reflection, we could have probably just had F.U in the back seat…

We arrived at the venue. It was an enormous building. A squat-like building that seemed to serve many functions inside, like rehearsal spaces and even dance classes for children. We got into the room we were playing in and realised we were the only band playing that night. The general sort of gigs they tend to have there were a bit heavier than our sort of thing. One guy in his mid to late 40’s who was hanging around in the room after we had set up, waiting for the sound guy to arrive for sound check, was making conversation with Jason. Now, if you know what Jason looks like, it’s quite easy to make the mistake which this gentleman certainly did. He told us;

“I must go now! BUT! If you boys be on around 10pm, I’ll be back! I love to see some fucking good proper crust! All these punk kids trying to tell me what what fucking hard stuff is, no! I want some fucking real heavy crust shit!! Look forward!”

Oh boy was he going to be disappointed….

As we hung around waiting for the sound guy & for food to be ready, Sean was on their computer (I should mention that Sean’s mobile phone has been broken for some time. It ONLY works if it is plugged in) trying to find a place to crash that night at someone’s house that he knows, as our drive that night (including picking up F.U from the nearby town) would be about 8 hours and the venue wanted us to go on around midnight. This seemed to be a normal time for gigs to start there, as the pubs would close and that’s when people would come along (or that was at least the logic in my mind). We managed to talk down to 11:30 for going on. It was around about the middle of playing ‘Is It Worth It?’ That I noticed the look of confused horror on that middle aged crust punks face.

The show was super quiet. The sound guy was awesome and definitely gave us the best sound out of the whole tour, but unfortunately there were just little numbers there. We didn’t care though, we just wish we could of stuck around to hang out all night there with those who were. Coming off stage, the promoter gave us money he got from a whip round of donations from the folk who were there. Incredibly generous people! Being late, we packed up super quick and stocked up the van to go pick up the Danes, staying over at a squat in Germany that was halfway to our next destination. It was when carrying the final things to the van that we saw the crowding herd approaching the venue coming to check out the gig….I could only assume the pubs finally closed by then….fuck….

We were lucky that we didn’t attempt to smuggle F.U in on that second attempt, as on the way out, it was flashlights in the van from another grumpy bugger. Having our passports checked like they were Rubik’s cubes. The officer asked Sean “spring break?”. We informed him we were musicians (not frat boys…) then he just quickly “oh ok. Bye” and we were gone. Collecting F.U, Lasse informed us that it wouldn’t have worked anyway, as he’d noticed that night that his passport was a month expired.

gav alps

Back to Germany:

The squat we stayed in that night was built with bunk beds which were wholeheartedly appreciated. We were so lucky to have such good sleeping places throughout this tour, not one rough night! (minus the snore battles that sound like a flemy minefield). It was perfect for regaining energy to get to the next venue; our buddies’ rehearsal room/venue space in Nürnberg, which I last played at 5 years ago. This place was run by the awesome guys in Money Left To Burn and had a long cherished history for its use as a punk space. It was saddening to hear during that tour that the guys had forced down on them the decision to be out of there by September due to the noise. Same old story, eh? At least we got to have a great night there once more. After our set, we took the opportunity to just have some fun. I got on the drums & others would pick up instruments and we jammed a linoleum cover. Sean got up to play a solo set at the insistence of the owners. He didn’t know what to do so played singalong covers of Cher’s ‘Believe’ (you can find that on YouTube) and Ronan Keating. Also jamming out Metallica riffs. Eventually I went up and did my cover of R Kelly’s “Ignition (also can be found on YouTube) and an Osker song. There was more folk going up and jamming, making it a party. The party continued late into the night until people went out to the nearest bar. I stayed in to sleep. Although everyone was back after 15 minutes after realising the bar scene there wasn’t quite so upbeat as they hoped.

Frankfurt turned out to be a fantastic night ahead too in terms of place, people, food, the whole package! The venue was literally next to the border of Poland. I was in Germany, then nipped over to Poland to buy a pack of cigs. It was strange, but lovely to see Poland for the first time. Nice to say I walked there too. It took me 20 seconds.
Theshow was full and after playing, parties proceeded. Lasse had some super hot chillies (no idea what kind, I don’t know chillies very well, but insanely mental is how I would describe them based on everyone’s reactions). Everyone did the challenge on camera of taking these chillies and proceeded to suffer immensely from it. I did not participate, I just filmed gem all & laughed my arse off at the state of them. Not long after, I decided it was time for getting away from it and rest. A lot of bars were hard for me on a personal level. A serious struggle. Back home, anxiety had limited me to how often I could be out in public or any forms of crowded atmosphere. I couldn’t handle it well, just given how late we were into the tour, I hadn’t been in this kind of position in a long time, as I had gotten so used to living in seclusion and being on my own in my own safe environment. It was a major worry before coming on this tour how I would cope and if I would even be able to cope at all. Some nights felt like I couldn’t and if have to take a little private time to myself. That night was the most daunting and heavy hitting, feeling struggles to express anything and not knowing what to express. It was only a thin curtain separating me from the rest of the venue & drunk folk, as I would switch the lights out & lay in the dark trying to forget where I am & fall asleep. But I’ve never been a great sleeper in general, and it doesn’t help when you see that it is 5:30 in the morning and you can hear Sean dancing and singing along to “Who Let The Dogs Out” as it blasts in the speakers. They are all having a good time and it is essential that whatever I am feeling is personal and should not be a burden on them. That’s where the guilt lies mostly, which makes it harder to shift when you have no way of letting it out of your system or retreating to your safe place when you are miles away from your bedroom.

Eventually more started to fall asleep but I decided to move into the back room where it was further away from the blasting speakers. Although it was near 6am so it was pretty light, but my biggest regret; Jason was passed out on the floor. Given the choice of them blasting speakers playing bad 90’s synth pop and Jason’s sleeping nostrils, I should have stayed in the other room. A thrown pillow and hitting of a cow bell did nothing.

By the time everyone got up I was like a zombie. I just needed coffee and a cigarette more than anything. Several of both on repeat. The others seemed surprisingly fresh. Possibly because before going to sleep they had a swim in the German/Polish river, which gave them a great buzz and woke them up quite a bit. Our host laid out a massive table with a massive breakfast buffet out in the sun for us. Not a whole lot was vegan and I was far too light headed to do much talking, so I just grabbed some rolls knowing I had my own fillings and such for them for the journey in the van. Loading up the van, an old lady in her car was trying to get out of her street which was blocked, so Jason moved bags and such out the way to help her car get through. To his surprise, the old lady got out of the car and approached him with a fruit basket and some fruity sweets. If this was the local hospitality, we were loving it; sweet old lady locals.

We got to our next venue after trying figure out how due to road works. F.U told us how they remember playing there 3 years ago and those same roadworks were there and have been ever since. Strange. We pulled in to the venue and, as we are getting our things out the venue, Leo nipped inside to find the promoter. He comes back out and says “they are playing your album in there and there’s a cat on the bar”. I thought I’d misheard or didn’t understand the metaphor, until I realised he was being literal. I went in and there was a cat resting up on the bar. The cat seemed to justice this venue and had his usual resting spot up on the bar. Already, this was my favourite venue.

They, by far, served us our best meal; a huge dish of home made vegan meatballs, steamed vegetables, so much. It was glorious. The room upstairs we were in was great with its high built bunk beds. It looked like the most comfiest spot yet. I even took the couch while everyone took the beds, as the couch looked like even the most comfiest thing I’d sat on in some time. It was that good. We played that, an emotional night, as it was our last show with Forever Unclean. We had a fun night doing our final singalongs to each other’s sets, but for me and Sean it was another early night, a chilled out evening for the long journey the next day, to Copenhagn then Gothenburg.

tour over

We dropped off our Danish brothers in their home town and said our farewells. It was real sad, as they were by far the most incredible people and best tour buddies. We really connected on a lot of levels and loved spending the time we had together with each other. I still sit their songs on repeat in my head and you better believe I am bringing them to Scotland!

We headed up to Gothenburg to play a secret rehearsal room show to friends of ours, but time was getting on. It was a struggle to know if we would make it. We’d get there for at least 10pmish, mostly with the hope of going around the corner to the vegan pizza restaurant. We were so insanely hungry that we would consider playing just one song so we could run and get our pizza. Obviously joking around, we got there and played through our set for friends and had a lovely catch up. They even brought us clean socks and vegan cake!! (Thanks Svetlana & Petter!) but sadly, we got round to the restaurant and they were no longer cooking. You could buy already cooked pizzas, but not vegan ones. Heartbroken.

The next day, I had to get a morning flight back to London. The plan was that me and Sean would fly back together, he already had his flight booked well in advance. I booked mine in Saarbrucken. Asking him if it was the morning one I should book. Obviously, he wasn’t paying much attention, as I learned a few days later it was the night one I was supposed to get. So it was a whole day in London on my own trying to figure out what to do. After my phone battery dying when landing, the first couple of hours were spent in a coffee shop charging my phone and contacting buddies from our last tour, members of The Exhausts and Petrol Girls, then I made my way to their house to hang out. Sean wouldn’t arrive at their house until near 3am, then we set our alarm for 6am to get up and grab our bus back up to Scotland.

Oh, also, about Sean’s vapour stick, I was right. It broke within a week.

Thank you so much to Gavin for sharing his tour story with us. Terrafraid play Redd Suite, Dundee on Monday 18th May with Sweet Empire (NL), Irish Handcuffs (GER) and Shatterhand before supporting Andrew Jackson Jihad (USA) and Hard Girls (USA) with The Murderburgers on Saturday 13th June.

sweet empire

European Tour Report (April 2015)

The Get It Together / Tragical History Tour “Rebuild, Recover” UK/EU Tour kicked off for me on Wednesday 1st April when Craig came to Dundee to pick me, my guitar and the MTAT distro up. We took the short ride in our hired banger of a van (who was a workhorse despite appearances) to Redd in Dundee, where my friend Dave Hughes was playing a show, to borrow a PA and load it into the back of the van. Years of touring with the likes of Papa Gain and Jonny Domino has taught me that you’re definitely better “looking it at than looking for it” and this tour proved to be no exception. After loading, we headed from Craig’s place in Alloa where we met Graham, played a few games of FIFA (at which I was awful), drank some tea then fell asleep to the hypnotic sounds of water flowing through the fishtank. Awaking around 6am with a desperate need to pee, we left to gather Mark and Fraser before hitting the road for our first stop in London; All Ages Records.

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Once we’d dropped off some MTAT releases (grab your copies of the Franz Nicolay 7″, Get It Together 7″, Kaddish LP and Bonehouse LP now) and collectively spent a shitload of cash on records (I finally found a copy of “Everything Sucks”, on tangerine vinyl no less), we headed up to The Unicorn where we met up with our pals in Mug and met the dudes in Waco and Demon Smiles, with whom we’d spend the next two shows. The Unicorn is a great little spot where I played last year and the show was fun with a very attentive crowd, especially for a roaster armed with an acoustic guitar. I also met my old uni friend Bundy of Chi Weapon, who I hadn’t seen for a couple of years, and all the bands killed it. Mug are, to my mind, one of the most under-rated punk rock bands in the country and are definitely due some kudos. Thanks also to Mark for hooking us up with the show and looking after us after such an early start and long drive. Once the show was over, we packed and went to my sister’s house that we used as home base for the next couple of nights.

Day two saw us playing in Brighton and we headed south after taking our time getting ready. We went for a walk throughout the city and paid the obligatory visit to Punker Bunker, where we dropped off some more MTAT releases and spent some more cash on records. Buz is one of the good dudes of UK punk and I can’t back PB enough; a quality little store. We then had our first burrito of tour and I have to say that I was left disappointed. While it certainly filled a hole, it lacked kick even with hot sauce. Bummer. The show was upstairs in an old boozer called The Quadrant and was quality. The room was tiny and quickly filled up with bodies. The assembled crowd were super respectful while I was playing and it was one of the more emotionally intense shows of the tour. It felt like we were connecting on a very cerebral level with punk rock the great unifier.

A local band called Barriers were up next playing on their third show and they showed great promise with their thoughtful metallic-edged hardcore before hometown troops Demon Smiles took to the floor. I enjoyed their set far more than I had the previous evening and they were very emotionally engaging as well as being in possession of some fizzy pop punk bangers that reminded me of Tilt. Good shit indeed. We spent a little time repositioning gear ahead of the Get It Together set, knowing fine well what was about to occur; utter madness. From the moment the band kicked in, the crowd kicked off and it was chaos throughout the entirety of the set, with circle pits, slam dancing and a fucking wall of death when the band were hollered back for an encore. Utter bedlam in the best possible way.

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We loaded out down the tiny stairwell and packed the van, experiencing the only potential beef of tour when some roaster decided it was a good idea to repeatedly try and hit the bass drum as I was carrying it towards the van. I told said roaster in no uncertain terms that such actions were unacceptable, to which he replied “I do what I want”. Being the zen motherfucker that I am, the bass drum didn’t end wrapped upside his head but in the back of the van, despite the strong temptation. We headed back to London to crash out at Lisette’s for a few hours before getting our shit together and heading for the Channel Tunnel first thing in the morning.

The morning started in the usual haze of coffee and sleepyheads. Before we knew it we were driving onto the train and through the tunnel then driving through France. I slept all the way through Belgium, waking only to smoke at the service station where we shared knowing nods with another touring party of punk rock roasters. We reached Beverwijk, Netherlands in the early evening and went for a cup of coffee before loading into the venue and meeting our hosts in Sweet Empire. It was great to catch up with those dudes again and they absolutely nailed it with their set. They seemed to be having a lot of fun at their hometown show and played a quality cover of “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath. Sweet Empire are themselves back in Dundee on Monday 18th May with German punks Irish Handcuffs plus Shatterhand and Terrafraid at what should be a peach at Redd Suite. Thanks so much to Jort for sorting us out with the show and to Rowald for accommodating and providing us with a wonderful breakfast. Also, I don’t often get vinyl envy but I did on this occasion. Rowald has a wonderfully extensive collection of quality records and we all had a pretty good time flicking through them and being jealous!

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3am in Beverwijk, Netherlands.

The next show was in Heerlen, Netherlands and we’d been told that was this Dutch bat country, so we were all pretty excited to check it out. I’ve always loved playing shows in smaller towns that perhaps don’t have the chance to host too many punk rock shows and we were all pumped when we rocked up to Cafe Bluff. The venue was pretty much perfect for a punk rock show and after loading in and setting shit up, went spent some time talking to venue owner Andre and the dudes in Superhero Status who we were sharing the bill with. We met some crazy locals too who we seemed to connect with, especially after we played, and we had a great time talking and hanging out with everyone. At the end of my set, Mattias of Superhero Status came up to me full of compliments, declaring that I’d “blown my (his) fucking mind, man” and that Get It Together played “the true hardcore”. Cannae argue wi that!

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A warehouse on fire somewhere between Heerlen and Nijmegen.

We’d met up with my good friend Graham who lives in Njimegen and he had an empty flat for a couple of days so we headed south and spent the night there before heading up to Amsterdam the next day. This show was one that we were scrambling for before we left for tour and information was pretty scant going in, but there was an address and a gig poster so we figured that we’d deal with whatever came our way. We parked up the van and went for a wander through the city as it was the first time for a couple members of our touring party but, given our lack of proclivities in such directions, the Red Light District held very little interest and we spent our time just having a walk around the heart of the city. We took the ferry back to the other side and made our way back towards the venue, which was a car garage that doubled as a squat.

We met our host Goiz, a Zapatista from Mexico who had been living in the squat for the last year. He explained to us that they were facing eviction and harassment from the police, all the while apologising for the lack of people at the show, for which we assured him that there was no need. He was a sound guy and pretty much the only person that spoke to us while we were there, with many of the rest of the folk present absolutely burst oot their nuts. Fair play to them likes. There was no electricity in the venue so the gig was run off a generator at half-power so we set up the PA (better looking at it than for it!) plus backline and waited until showtime to fire things up. Fraser and I killed some time outside by filming some acoustic songs in the back of the van. Ye can check out “What Would Vinnie Mac Do?” below;

We also met the dudes from Black Volvo and it soon became apparent that the other two bands on the bill weren’t showing up and with them, the crowd of people who’d planned on coming with them. As such, I took to the floor and blasted through a quick set before Get It Together proceeded to blow out the power of the generator with their first note. We managed to kickstart the genny, which then blew out another couple of times before managing to maintain life for both the GIT and Black Volvo sets. Mark got screamed at by a feral punk for playfully blowing out a candle and I thought for a moment that he may get his eyeballs clawed out. Once the show was wrapped, Graham pointed out some unsavoury ongoings, at which point we packed the van and took our leave. It wasn’t quite The Warzone but it wasn’t a kick in the arse off it!

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We headed back to Njimegen for a quick sleep at Graham’s before heading south to Freiburg, Germany and one of Europe’s oldest and most well-renowned punk squats in the form of KTS, an amazing space with living quarters, kitchens, artist studios, accommodations and a fully spec’d up performance space. We met my friend Laurin from the band Casually Dressed and were introduced to the wonders of Club Mate, a German caffeinated malt drink that was pitched to me as the equivalent of Irn Bru. I’m a no-sell on that idea but the stuff itself was magnificent and I must’ve drank at least a dozen bottles of it by the end of the tour. We also met the dudes from Daylight, a pop punk band from Barcelona who were charming and super keen. Mark talked to them about Catalonian independence (a cause that we all support) and football. We didn’t get a chance to go outside and have a kick about though, which was a bit of a bummer. They were really eager beavers but musically weren’t really my cup of tea but they were super-tight and full of saccharine sweet harmonies, although there was a little too much sugar washing down the medicine for my taste buds I’m afraid. I’d imagine the kids today would lap it up *ho hum, old punk grumble*

I really can’t say enough about how amazing I found KTS as a place and the warmth of the people who come together to make such places work. It was truly a privilege to play there and to be their guests for the evening, so thank you so much to Laurin and everyone involved for welcoming us so warmly. After the previous gnarly evening in Amsterdam, it was great to feel re-connected with like-minded individuals and morale in the camp was certainly lifted after some great food and a great show. The dudes in Daylight were also great for a banter too and seemed to appreciate our slightly off-kilter sense of humour; “sounds great, songwriting could be doing with a wee bit work though”.

KTS, Freiburg, Germany

KTS, Freiburg, Germany

We were up early the next day for a cross country drive to Leipzig so after a quick Club Mate and check-up that things had gone well at home with the Joe McMahon/Billy Liar/Broken Stories/Gone Wishing show the night before (I’m assured it went well even though I’m gutted to have missed it), we were all back in the van. We made good time, something that was a theme of the tour so kudos to all involved, so had some time to relax and gather our thoughts before loading into Kulturecafe Manfred. Leipzig is a very interesting place and the venue was in an autonomous zone in the city where all of the buildings are owned by the occupying anarchists. Sindy and everyone at the venue couldn’t have done more to make us feel welcome and invited us to join the community at the weekly supper club before we loaded in for the show. The street is full of different venues all catering to the various sub-genres and movements within punk rock, every scene active and full of activists.

The show turned out to be one of the rowdiest of the tour. Mark ended up getting busted open hardway after taking a beer bottle to the nose in the pit and concluded the set by hanging upside down from the rafters. The only slight bummer of the night was when I noticed an old crust punk helping himself to a couple of CDs from the distro table while I was performing, but we dealt with that in a quiet manner rather than making a public fuss about things. There is no call to steal from us. If you are so strapped for cash that you feel you need to steal music, I’d implore you to talk to us and there’s every likelihood that we’d just give you the CDs that you’re looking for. However, one bad apple need not spoil the harvest and I’d like to extend a personal thanks to everyone for the warmth of their welcome and for enjoying the show to the fullest. It’s nights like that that can remind us of just how vital and invigorating punk rock can truly be.

After making use of the showering facilities, having another great breakfast and talking punk, pop and politics, we piled back into the van and made our way towards the Czech border. We were all very excited to the heading towards Prague and were awestruck as we found ourselves winding our way through the narrow streets of this beautiful city. We parked up outside of what I thought was a pretty suspicious looking hotel and had to load the gear up a steep and winding cobbled street and down a tiny stairwell into the basement of the venue, a small punk rock pub called Sběrné Suroviny. Like in Leipzig, we were the only two acts on the bill so we both played slightly longer sets than we usually would and, in what would prove to be somewhat the trend, I found the people to be much more open, receptive and communicative once we had performed. As I’ve said before, punk rock can be a great unifier and it was heartening to see this being repeated night after night. There’s a power in the music, something in the ideas and delivery that transcends the limitations of language; the fractured English of the Czech punks being far better than my non-existent Czech skills, that brings indescribable joy. The Bohemians FC firm seemed into the Scottish hardcore anyways. It was great also to see my friend Ben, also of the aforementioned Chi Weapon, who these days lives and plies his trade in Prague. It seems that the cowpunk connections extend to all reaches of the continent.

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Making friends with Bohemians FC fans

After the show, we made our way to the home of our hosts Arnie and Jonas, a squatted house on the hills overlooking the city of Prague just below the near-derelict former Czechoslovakian national stadium. Jonas has lived in that house for over twenty years and for the brief hours that we were there, it seemed like one of the greatest places on earth. After some tea, we bedded down for the night before waking up early to go and see the sights in one of the most beautiful and amazing cities on earth. Arnie and Jonas were absolutely exquisite hosts, giving us a guided tour of the city and sharing stories about punk, anti-fascism and football whilst walking in glorious sunshine. I’m always so grateful to be able to spend some time in the places that I play and I’m sure I can speak for all of us when I say that we had an amazing time in Prague. Thank you especially to Arnie, Jonas and Anita for sorting us out with the show and making us feel so at home. Once we said our farewells to Arnie, Jonas and Boogie the dog, it was back out on the road and into Germany, where we were immediately pulled over and questioned by the German Border Patrol. Thankfully, they were fairly sound individuals and seemed frankly unimpressed when they questioned our rock’n’roll credentials for having no cocaine or marijuana in our possession. Punk’d by the polis, seick!

Roasters in Prague

Roasters in Prague

Next stop was Dresden and it was great to finally meet Gruni in person. Gruni is a punk that I met online a couple of years ago after we got talking about Uniforms. We were booked to play in Dresden on our tour that didn’t happen last year so it was great to finally meet and we seemed to get along straight away. Gruni fed us and took care of all our human needs before introducing us to our sleeping space for the evening upstairs in the squat. Luther 33 is quality spot on three levels, with the venue/bar in the basement, apartment upstairs and guest accommodation above that. As was the case in many of the squats that we visited, they exist under constant threat of eviction and harassment from the authorities, but the guys in Dresden definitely have their wits about them. Many of the punks in attendance at the show also shared a distinctly dry wit with the show being one of the most “banterful” of tour, with a great deal of back and forth between performing roasters and audience. I had some kind of strange out-of-consciousness moment during my set when I doubled-over laughing at the very thought of what was going on; I was ringleader in a room full of Germans singing along to “Smoke Weed Every Day” at the top of their lungs in an anarchist space in Dresden; in that moment it struck me as the most surreal yet beautiful thing on earth.

Once again, we arose early and left Gruni asleep as we tidied up after ourselves and left him some records as a token of our appreciation before heading to Berlin. I’ve been looking forward to playing in Berlin from almost as long as I can remember and felt like a little kid when we pulled up into the city and parked outside the Ramones Museum. We went inside and met Flo and his staff, gazing round the place in awe. This was another show about which we had scant details but had been set up by my friend Freddy Fudd Pucker, who is currently on tour in the southern hemisphere. We arranged a plan with Flo and it was set that I’d play at 8pm in the evening and that we were welcome to leave the van parked where it was. Absolutely perfect. We then spent the afternoon visiting some of the historic sites around Berlin and took in the panoramic Berlin Wall exhibition before talking a walk up to the wall itself, then walking down to the Brandenburg Gate. We then went for some amazing Mexican food (German burrito 1, English burrito 0) before heading back to the Ramones Museum. We were joined by our friend and Berlin resident Craig Dickson of Taking Chase/Elk Gang as well as drummer Graham’s brother and fiance, so we had a nice little crew assembled for the show. For me, it was an absolute joy and a very deep honour to play in such a prestigious place that has been visited and performed in by a great many artists I admire. To be asked to sign my name on the wall alongside some of the names that are there is humbling and something for which I am eternally thankful.

Ramones Museum, Berlin

Ramones Museum, Berlin

Post-show, we jumped in the van and headed for the East Side Gallery, a part of the Berlin Wall that remains standing and has been preserved as an art gallery. To be at the wall in the dark of night across the street from a massive O2 arena was slightly surreal and the darkness cast an ominous shadow over “The Death Strip” between the two parts of the wall, where trespassers or those trying to cross would be shot on sight. To be standing there for the first time, at night, with all the sounds of a metropolis around me set my heart racing. It was equal parts awe-inspiring, humbling, sickening, eye-opening and heartbreaking all at once, a feeling that I don’t think I’ve fully experienced since visiting Auschwitz many moons ago. To spend time considering the savagery of our species over the past century and, indeed, every century that preceded is a necessary exercise in humility.

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

We headed back to Craig’s, had some ginger tea then bedded down for the night as we had another gnarly drive for the last show of tour in Leiden, Netherlands the next day. We thanked Craig for his hospitality, loaded up on breakfast and set the SatNav homeward as everyone settled in for a seven hour drive. We rolled up in Leiden and met Jaap from Black Volvo at the home he shares with his wife and son where we were fed and watered before heading for the show. Black Volvo played with us again and absolutely destroyed it. We’ll be looking forward to having them up in Dundee at some point this year with their manic Dangerfields/Zeke meets Beastie Boys gonzo stomp. That shit is so good and I’d recommend checking out their new LP on Round Dog Records. The show itself was fairly quiet but was a uniquely intimate affair in another functioning squat that is facing closure. The European use of existent resources seems so much smarter than our austerity measures and it seems counterproductive to my mind that the authorities would want to close places that actually benefit the community. Money to be made, I guess!

After the show wrapped, we loaded out for the final time, said our goodbyes to the Black Volvo dudes and headed back to guitarist Roy’s place where we slept for around 5 hours before getting up and straight back into the van to drive through The Netherlands, Belgium and part of France to catch our train from Calais to Folkestone, where Fraser took over the wheel and slammed us back up the road to Stirling in around 8/9 hours. By the time we arrived at the Granada services outside Stirling, we’d covered somewhere in the region of 4000 miles and played 11 shows in 12 days. Papa D was kind enough to agree to come and pick me up so we unloaded the van for the final time, loading all of my and the MTAT shit in the back of Papa D’s motor and had a big group hug.

Get It Together are an incredible band and an incredible crew of dudes who I am proud to call my friends. It truly was a pleasure to share this adventure with you gentlemen, so thank you very much for sticking by your boy. To Mark Bell, Steve Todd, Cat Goodman; Jort, Rowald and the rest of the Sweet Empire dudes; Andre at Bluff, Goiz at Auto Control, Laurin and everyone in Freiburg, Sindy and crew in Leipzig; Arnie, Jonas and Anita in Prague, Gruni in Dresden; Flo and crew at the Ramones Museum and Craig in Berlin and the dudes in Black Volvo, thank you so much for an amazing time.

Cheers!

Cheers!

Tour was incredible and another wonderful experience, so thank you all. Thank you also to Abbie for being my eternally understanding better half and the MTAT crew for keeping things locked down while I was away.

Ye can download the THT “Live in Dundee” EP here.

Check out the Get It Together “Rebuild, Recover” 7″ here too!

Solidaritat Catalana per la Independència!

100th Post – New Release; Tragical History Tour – “Live in Dundee” EP

Today we celebrate the release of the Tragical History Tour “Live in Dundee” EP recorded by Russell Brown of Maxwell’s Dead live at Buskers, Dundee at the Franz Nicolay 7″ launch show with Billy Liar and Broken Stories on Saturday 14th March 2015. The EP is available for free/pay-what-you-want download with all donations being greatly received and going towards the EU Tour fund for the forthcoming jaunt with Get It Together.

This post also marks the 100th post on Write Yer Ane Zine, so what better way to commemorate such an occasion than with some fresh live acoustic cowpunk jamz?

liner notes

Tragical History Tour will be “headlining” a hometown show at Cerberus Bar, Dundee this coming Thursday night at the last MTAT show of the month alongside an hat-trick of Edinburgh singer/songwriters in the form of Paper Rifles (Jon of Curators fame), Benny Monteux and James Johnson (ex Shields Up, current Elk Gang). The show kicks off around 7.30pm and entry is by donations please.

tht march

The Get It Togther and THT UK/EU Tour then kicks off next Thursday in London. We are still looking to fill one final date on Thursday 9th April somewhere between Leipzig and Dresden. We are willing to play anywhere within reasonable (6/7 hours maybe?) drive of both of these cities and are just looking for some place to play as days off on  tour suck. If anyone out is keen to help us out at all and/or can point us in the right direction, please do give us a shout and email makethatatakerecords@gmail.com

Thus far our schedule is looking as such;

Thursday 2nd April; The Unicorn, Camden, ENG
Friday 3rd April; Quadrant, Brighton, ENG
Saturday 4th April; Cafe Asgard, Beverwijk, NL
Sunday 5th; Cafe Bluff, Heerlen, NL
Monday 6th; Auto Control. Amsterdam, NL
Tuesday 7th; KTS, Freiburg, GER
Wednesday 8th; Kulturcafé Manfred, Leipzig, GER
Thursday 9th; ***Free To Book***
Friday 10th; Luther 33, Dresden, GER
Saturday 11th; Ramones Museum, Berlin, GER (afternoon)
Saturday 11th; Venue TBC, Berlin, GER (evening)
Sunday 12th; Sub071 Leiden, NL

Get It Together continue to support their incredible “Rebuild, Recover” 7″ EP and I very much look forward to slamming down with these boys every single night across tour. I’ll be the hype man jumping into the pit and getting y’all fired up! As I said previously, any donations for the new THT EP will go straight into the tour fund to keep the show on the road, so please give generously if you can.

THANKING YOU FOR EVERYTHING.

Book Yer Ane Fest VIII; A Retrospective

Writing the post-BYAF blog is always daunting for me, so much so that I pretty much skipped out on writing about last year’s entirely.  I guess that had more to do with my own circumstances than anything else, though, as has been discussed in detail elsewhere. This time last year was a pretty dark time for me personally, but ultimately a time that led me into the light, so to speak. Without dwelling too much, it’s safe to say that I’m in a far better place this year. I don’t think that I’m alone in saying that BYAF VIII was pretty special and it may well have been the smoothest running fest that we’ve ever done. It’s humbling that so many people can come together and get behind the loose objectives that we all share and there’s no way that things would have ran so smoothly without the support and co-operation of everyone involved.

To everyone involved, I personally and we as a collective offer our deepest thanks. I certainly can’t do it alone and debts of gratitude go out to everyone. Apologies if I miss anyone; the MTAT crew (Abbie, Barry, Jamie, Jonny, Kenny), all the BYAF volunteers who got on board with sound, feeding and accommodating bands (Gav, Sean, Laura, Ross, Russell, Gerold, Gemma, Gaz, Neil and Joanne), Fiona and all the staff at Kage, Audrey, Dave and all the staff at Cerberus Bar, Boab at Punk Rock Rammy, Tristan and Harris at Dundee Music Studios, the staff at Rainbow Music, Mitch and crew from Audiowave Dundee, Team Beard Records, Round Dog Records, all the crew at Shadow Sound Central in Glasgow, Kev and the Anti-Manifesto troops in Edinburgh, Black Lake Records, Alshy for being a top geezer, Mighty Vision Entertainment, Dave Hughes, everyone who donated tombola prizes including Kenneth and the good people of Highland Fling Bungee, Grant George at Badlands Barbers, all of the bands and labels who donated prizes, all of the bands who came and nailed it and every single person that came through the door to support what we do and, more importantly, to support the ongoing work of Safe-Tay and Tayside Mountain Rescue.

For the month of December, all donations for digital downloads from the MTAT Bandcamp page will be added to our total for donation to Safe-Tay. The Legendary BYAF Tombola was a roaring success over the weekend. Huge thanks to Abbie and her crew (Cheryl, Fraser and Barry) for taking care of everything at the tombola table and everyone who took a punt at playing as it made an incredible £444.50 over the weekend. We will have the final figure to share at the end of the month once all digital downloads are taken into account. You can find over 60 releases, most of which are available for free/pay-what-you-want download, on our bandcamp page here.

I’m always interested in hearing about the experiences of other people at BYAF, as I am usually running around like a headless chicken over the course of the weekend. It’s both a blessing and a curse; all of these friends from all over the place assembled in one place for such a short period of time that it’s rare I get a chance to have more than a five minute chat with most people. To this end, I am seeking to put together a BYAF zine of sorts featuring stories from those who have attended BYAF, not only this year but from all the fests that we’ve run since we started in the back room of Mucky Mulligan’s back in 2008. If this is something that you’d be interested in contributing towards and being a part of, please get in touch by emailing me here. With a bit of luck, I’ll manage to throw something together by the time Book Yer Ane Fest IX rolls around (running from Friday 27th through Sunday 29th November 2015, in fact). I realise I failed to make good on my promise of a zine this time around, but believe me when I say that it’s going to happen this time, dammit!

 While BYAF is pretty much a year-round job, I guess my weekend started on the Wednesday night on my way back from teaching a class in Blairgowrie when I got a heads up from a pal (cheers Pete) about potential problems with the pre-BYAF show the following evening. Cue some manic texting and a couple of phone calls with Alshy and we were all set with a new venue. Massive props and shout outs to the troops at Shadow Central in Glasgow for sorting us out with both a venue and a backline at the very last minute and to all of the troops for making it out despite the changes. Alshy and I headed down to Glasgow together on the Thursday afternoon and met Freddy Fudd Pucker, his crew of New Zealanders and the dudes from Austeros for the first time whilst hooking up with our old muckers in Mug, Sink Alaska and The Kimberly Steaks. The show itself was rare; all of the bands killed it, the space for the show was a great one, there was a veritable corridor of merch, we covered costs and everyone seemed to have a great time. After that, it was in the motor and up the road for the back of midnight. Solid job all round and a great way to kick off what was already shaping up to be a wild weekend.

The Kimberly Steaks slayed it at pre-BYAF.

The Kimberly Steaks slayed it at pre-BYAF.

First thing on Friday morning saw me cooking the biggest pots of rice my kitchen has ever seen, drinking coffee like it’s going out of fashion (nothing new there) and ringing round everyone making sure all was in hand. We try to take each BYAF as a learning experience and things were fixing up pretty smoothly. The crew met up at Kage around half 2/3 and we got everything loaded in before I left Boab in general charge of sound and setting up while I scooted up the road to meet Russell and get set-up for the pre-show at Cerberus. I’d like to thank Russell and Dave Hughes for the PA and for volunteering to help with sound over the course of the weekend, your contributions are much appreciated gents. I opened the show playing acoustic THT shit and I can barely even remember what I played. I do remember playing the blues at one point and pissing myself laughing. I guess I must’ve entertained myself at least. Gav and Sean then took to the floor of an increasingly busier boozer and played a quick set of beautiful stripped-down Terrafraid material before Maxwell’s Dead absolutely tore the place apart with a suitably raucous set of rowdy ska-punk stompers that very much set the tone for the evening. Then it was a quick bolt down to Kage to catch Lachance open up proceedings.

I was running around like an idiot at this point, so I didn’t really get a chance to watch any full sets as such for the first half of Friday night but I did manage to catch at least a few songs of every band; The Lemonaids absolutely nailed it and it was the first of drummer Ross’s three sets of the night, seeing as he was drumming for both The Kimberly Steaks and The Murderburgers. Hats off to that man for sure! Austeros were spectacular and definitely made some new friends with their sparkling pop-punk goodness. Speaking of the Steaks, the two shows at BYAF were the first times that I’ve seen the band with the new line-up and they were absolutely incredible both times. I’ve been friends with Grieg for a long time now and it makes my bosom swell with pride to see how far the band has come and how Grieg himself has grown as a songwriter. I’ve said it before that “To Live and Die in West Central Scotland” is one of the records of the year and I’ll reiterate here that it is, to my mind, one of the truly great Scottish punk records; an absolute pop-punk masterpiece. The fact that they wrapped up with a cover of “Going To Pasalaqua” was just the frosted icing on the bittersweet pop-punk cake.

The Murderburgers' Annual BYAF Rammy.

The Murderburgers’ Annual BYAF Rammy.

The Murderburgers then rammied things up another notch and the usual BYAF Boiga chaos ensued. For a band that has spent the vast majority of the year on tour, the boys looked remarkably fresh and ready for a rammy at what was their first Scottish show after tearing it up around the USA. Jonny and I had to do a little of ye olde security at the front to make sure that people didn’t fall teeth-first into the monitors but, as always, the crowd capers were all in the best possible spirits and nobody was hurt. I think the mayhem was respectful over the course of the weekend, but I’m undeniably pro-mayhem so I may not be the best person to ask as far as these things go! Judging by the smiles strapped to awbody’s coupons though, all was good. Lipstick Homicide then stepped up and absolutely destroyed it, ripping through a half-hour of fizzy and gobby pop-punk bangers that reminded me why I got involved in this punk rock caper in the first place; short, sharp bursts of energy and attitude wrapped up in a sugary pop-punk coating. They were fucking brilliant and a more than fitting end to a wonderful first night of BYAF. After sorting out the last of the “business”, we slinked off home to try and get some rest before the madness resumed the next day. As usual, it was 3am bed, 8am rise!

Saturday started with the usual coffee and rallying of the troops before I spent a quiet minute being stoked that I didn’t have a hangover on the Saturday of BYAF for the first time ever. Neil from Bicycle Thieves gave me the heads up that he was running late so Turtle Lamone opened things up in Cerberus with some of his piano punk rock wonderment before Gone Wishing treated us to his first set of the day before hitting a bolt to Glasgow to play later on that evening. The assembled hardcore crew were then treated to something very rare and really rather special indeed; a secret acoustic set from Joe McMahon of Smoke Or Fire. As I have written about previously, Joe and I have been in each other’s orbits for some time and it was really rather surreal to have him sitting playing in the boozer where we throw our last minute shows.

Once Joe wrapped, it was a quick tidy up of the gear before heading down to Kage just in time to catch A Victory At Sea kicking up a storm upstairs in the main room. The acoustic stage was running one behind all day as we felt it important than Neil being able to perform after coming all the way from Wales to play, but I don’t think that anyone minded too much. Unfortunately I didn’t get to spend too much time downstairs during the Saturday but from all accounts it was truly intimate and memorable the whole way through. That’s one of the very few downsides of being involved in putting on a festival of any kind; you can never really catch all of the acts that you want to, despite having the very best of intentions. Luckily, and more importantly, we managed to stagger things so that clashes wouldn’t happen (on the whole) and that no attendees would have to miss out on any acts. I do hope that everyone managed to catch all of the artists that they wished to over the course of the weekend. That said, I managed to miss my pals in Terrafraid almost entirely as I was running around, I think I caught them playing one song. Fair play, that song is a banger; “always does what everyone does, what everyone does, it’s all the same”.

Random observation from Saturday afternoon; Joe McMahon somehow managed to sleep through the entirety of the In Tongues set in the main room, quite the achievement. In Tongues were fucking incredible, not to mention one of the heaviest bands I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing in Kage, truly tremendous stuff indeed.

Our boys in Sink Alaska were up next on the main stage and were a man down from pre-BYAF as guitarist Richie was unwell and deemed sidelined but Alshy, Brad and Sneddy put in a very admiral effort in his absence and ripped through 20 minutes of razor-sharp melodic punk zingers that could peel the enamel from your teeth. Get It Together then took up the baton and ran with it in the way that only they can; Mark a ball of frenetic nervous energy while Craig shreds the skin from your face with his riffage. Unfortunately we didn’t have the “Rebuild, Recover” 7″s ready in time for BYAF (and still don’t, but that’s another story) but their set was triumphant and celebratory nonetheless, with Mark handing out vocal duties to rest his heavily-infected chest. I’m pretty sure that me and Ade got involved in some sort of hardcore version of “Cuddyback Fights” at some point too; not overly dignified but undeniably guid craic. Uniforms played next and, again, it was pretty much a blur for me. We had some technical gremlins messing with us to begin with but that was quickly sorted and I think we hit our stride. BYAF is always a pretty emotional show for us and it was also our first Dundee show since Chic joined the band so we were super pumped. I probably talked a little more shit than usual but what can ye do? Thanks to everyone who checked us out and sang along with us, it truly was something pretty damn special and it means a lot to us.

It was a quick smoke and a quick change for me before getting stage-side for Guerrilla Monsoon. It was great to finally meet those dudes in person as I’ve built up a good relationship with Mark online over the course of the year and they are just a bloody tremendous band. If you haven’t checked them out yet, I’d strongly encourage you to do so; they blend an American emo/punk energy with distinct modesty and a bucketful of indie/punk bangers. Fucking great band and one of the hardest grafting yet ungrizzled bunch of dudes that I’ve ever met who deserve everything that is coming their way. Almost the exact same thing could be said of Algernon Doll, who were at their pulverising and chaotic best. They’re currently in the States recording their new record with Steve Albini and I have absolutely no doubt that it’ll be their best and most fully realised piece of work to date. Ewan is good friend of mine and it has been a pleasure to watch him evolve from shy acoustic multi-instrumentalist to full-on tattooed rock beast. Real as fuck.

Algernon Doll

Algernon Doll

It was great to finally get the dudes from Leagues Apart up for BYAF as it is something that we’ve talked about doing for a while. These dudes are a super talented band and know exactly how to bring the rukus, although I’m pleasantly surprised that there wasn’t more of a rukus in response to James balming everyone up. The dudes were playing only their second show with their new bassist Hub (of Pure Graft) and they rattled through a the pick of the bunch from their banging “Brief Interviews With Hideous Men” LP that came out earlier this year. They may have a reputation to uphold but these roasters have got some absolute crackers up their sleeves when they get to it. Standing at the side of the stage watching them, it was impossible for me not to have a massive smile strapped to my face at the sheer sight of everyone being pumped. Talking of being pumped, being invited onstage to sing “Dead Leg” with Bear Trade during their following set was one of the highlights of my year, if not my life. It’s no secret how much I love that band and their incredible “Blood and Sand” LP has been my most listened-to record of the year. It’s safe to say that they absolutely killed it and peeled out the choice cuts from the LP and dropped in a cheeky Replacements cover for good measure. There was a little bit of confusion towards the end as we’d run a little over time, but when they kicked into “Bastards of Young” as the last song of the evening, sheer joyous bedlam ensued. It sounds cliche and cheesy, but it was fucking incredible; one of those moments that makes all the shit that comes with it worthwhile. Life affirming stuff indeed.

Sunday started with a queue outside Cerberus and some sore heads before Shitgripper played our first show in Dundee and cracked some skulls open with some instrumental doom loud enough to rival the church bells before Ewan played a secret Algernon Doll acoustic set that included a delightful Fugazi cover. Lancashire punks Dead Neck than absolutely slayed it with their 1000mph skate punk, NOFX and Propagandhi covers and the most ridiculous version of “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” that you’re ever likely to hear. Maxwell’s Dead then opened proceedings at Kage with a last minute set of stormers and “nah-nah-nahs” before Robot Doctors slammed it with their high-energy indie rock and enviable high-jumps for such a delicate hour.

Our pals Question The Mark then nailed it and it was great to see them playing with our friend Rich of Team Beard on the bass for the first time. He played with such style and slipped into the pocket so tightly that you’d think that he’d been in the band from the very beginning before reunited Perthshire indie/emo legends Venetian Love Triangle played their first show in Dundee since supporting a little-known Biffy Clyro back in ’03. It was great to hear some of those old songs again, bringing me back to my youth and young manhood as Stef and his bands were always a great inspiration to me as a kid. I remember seeing Tenesee Kait playing Ramones covers at Blair Live in the Wellmeadow when I was around 15 and it clearly left an indelible effect on me. Italian punks Low Derive then took to the floor and entirely blew the place away with their thoughtful European take on midwestern punk rock; such a tight band with intricacy and harmonies all over the place. I was very grateful to be able to catch their full set at post-BYAF the next night. Another truly great band of truly good dudes who I very much look forward to seeing again.

Random memory; “Your voice is part of the space you take up” – Andy Chainsaw. Wise words, my friend!

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Billy on the Acoustic Stage

By this time of the weekend my memory was beginning to haze over a little, something in which I’m sure I wasn’t alone. I think that perhaps the atmosphere in the air at the acoustic stage whilst Billy Liar was performing best exemplified that of the weekend; excitement, humour, togetherness, positivity and everything that is good in punk. Billy is one of my bestest pals and his set was, to me at least, hilarious and I think he spent more time talking shit and going nuts than he did playing songs. Either way, it was another one of those special moments. Talking of which, the Broken Stories set was one of the most poignant and heart-wrenching sets that I’ve ever borne witness to. We were obviously all very excited that the set was doubling as the launch show for the “It’ll Be Alright” 10″ EP but I shall forever hold in my heart the feeling of complete awe and utter respect with tears rolling down my face whilst Kevin and Gillian performed “Playing On Repeat” from the EP. For Morgan Nicol, Jordan Cameron and all who’ve gone too soon, may you find peace. I had to go outside for a little while once they’d finished then helped Chris T-T and The Hoodrats load in. I caught a little bit of Bonehouse’s set beforehand and they were tremendous as always, delivering buckets of blood, sweat and tears as ever. My only regret is not getting to see more.

Our friends in Carson Wells had pulled an incredible shift in driving from London where they’d played at About Time 3 the previous day and destroyed it once more. I could labour on at length about the impeccably high standard of bands across the weekend but Carson Wells are very near the pinnacle of Ecossemo greatness. Truly a spectacular band, I have every confidence that their new LP will blow minds the world over once it is unleashed next year. Don’t sleep on these boys. I finally managed to pick up a copy of their split 7″ with Human Hands too, after many months of meaning to. The mighty Kaddish were up next and were at their mesmeric best, mixing in tracks from the “Thick Letters To Friends” LP with some classics and a couple of tasty tracks from their forthcoming full-length. Browsing facebook the next day, I saw a friend post that “seeing Kaddish at BYAF was the best twelve pound I’ve ever spent”, pretty much the perfect summation of things. By this point, my brain is mush, Fat Goth are on the floor decimating Kage and rattling the remaining skulls while shredding the roof tiles off the place. Then it was over.

To offset the imminent post-fest blues, I got dressed and headed along to Kage to load out the PA loading out all the backline from both Kage and Cerberus then returning them to their rightful homes (DM Studios and our spare room, respectively). A quick shower later and Russell was texting me from outside and we were off to the post-BYAF show in Edinburgh as hosted by our esteemed colleagues of Anti-Manifesto. Unfortunately we missed Dead Neck but arrived just in time to see Paper Rifles charm us with his impassioned Wildhearts-esque acoustic set before Question The Mark smashed it through the walls one more time. I bore witness to my third Joe McMahon set of the weekend and sat quietly before Low Derive rounded out the wildest yet smoothest-running weekend of my life with some rowdy punk rock bangers. Then it was back in the motor, up the road and back to DD1.

To all involved in a truly momentous weekend, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Ye are deece.

See ye at Book Yer Ane Fest IX.

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