Saturday, 19 December 2015

Smiley's Friends On Sunshine Corner Reviewed

For those of you lucky enough to be going to The Gathering next month you will not only get the chance to pick up the fantastic new album by Smiley early but he will also be on hand at the merch desk on the Saturday afternoon to sign it for you! Those that can't make it to Llandudno can pre-order it now by clicking HERE!

For those waiting to know more then here is my review!

As Smiley comes to the third album in his “Friends” series my anticipation and expectations were extremely high after his previous release “Friends In Far Out Places” proved to be one of my favourite albums of the year and rarely strayed from my playlist. The first thing to tell you is that this album delivers, in fact it delivers in a big way.

For me it no longer really matters who is playing what part on what track as the whole project feels natural and fluid, a band more than a solo outing with guests, and they know they sound fantastic!

Stylistically “On Sunshine Corner” has continued the development that was so obvious on the last album which doesn’t mean that Smiley and co are afraid to experiment and go from a groove-tastic horn laden James Brown tribute in the shape of “What Would James Do?” to the politicised musings of “Oh Lord” which is delivered in a track that Bono would be proud to sing!

The song writing seems more confident here, maybe as Smileys writing partnership with Graham Turner continues to grow, while the use of the different vocalists helps to showcase the diversity of styles.

This is an album that does very little wrong, I’m not a massive fan of “Overfamiliarity” if truth be told and after seeing the track listing I did initially question the need to include a remix of the epic “End Of The World” from the previous album but once you hear the richness of the new mix you won’t mind one bit that you have another version of it. “Rock N Roll Comedown” could quite easily be a very close relative of “Far Out Places” track “Million Smiles” but both tracks work so I’m ok with that, there are plenty of other highly original tracks on offer here.

This is an album waiting to be discovered and demanding your attention, it’s amazing this is coming from an authentically indie background and you wonder how much attention great songs like these could get given different circumstances. Will you hear these songs on the radio? You could, you certainly should but the truth of the matter is that you probably won’t. This is music driven by you, get it, love it, tell your friends, shout it from the rooftops…Smiley has loads of friends in all sort of places and now it’s time to count yourself among them!

Friday, 4 December 2015

James Stevenson And The West London All Stars

After whetting everyone's appetite at The Gathering with how well material from his d├ębut solo album translated live James Stevenson is just about to take to the stage for his first full solo live show when his West London All Stars play The Water Rats in London on December 17th. It seemed a good time to try and get a sneak peek into what we can expect on the night as well as a brief insight into 2016!

You’re just about to do your first full solo gig….what’s taken you so long?!

Well to be honest I always just wanted to be a good side-man – but then I made my solo album and am very proud of it – so I want as many people as possible to hear it. Doing gigs was the next logical step.

So why now?

Well it’s just timing – it took me twenty years to get my solo album together too!

James Stevensons West London All Stars…can you reveal the line up of the band yet?

Still firming up a few things. But Mark Taylor obviously – I couldn’t do it without him. Chris Bell from GLJ on drums. The Rebelles are covering BVs and Terry Edwards is helping out on sax and stuff.

What can we expect from the set, will it focus mainly on material from your album or will it include tracks from across your career?

I will be my whole album

Will there be any covers in the set?

No covers – I didn’t feel that was appropriate right now – it might lead the set in the wrong direction.

Will this be the start of more solo live dates?

I hope so.

You will be supported by the Rebelles and Spizzology, the Rebelles feature both Tracie Hunter and of course your good lady wife and supported the International Swingers so were a pretty obvious ( but welcome) choice, what about Spizz?

Spizz is an old mate. He was the promoter’s idea.

Will you be premiering any new material?

Not at this gig – it is my first after all!

Are the All Stars for the night on stage for the full gig or might you have the odd friend pop on for a song or two?

I might…..

Holy Holy head overseas in January to America, what are the rest of the plans for the band in 2016?

Well Tony (Visconti) is very enthusiastic about taking the band on the road so there will definitely be a lot more action in 2016 than there was in 2015 – now the band is properly up and running.

You come back just before The Gathering, Smiley has said he has the set list and doesn’t know half of it! Is there any more you can reveal?

Well the set is a long way off being finalised. There will be a few surprises as well as the obvious hits.

Are you looking forward to going out as The Alarm again for the Stranglers dates?

Always love being on the road.

It looks like a busy year for Chelsea too with not one, not two but three Anthologies announced (so far!) what can we expect on them and do you know yet what of the live dates you’ll be appearing at?

Not sure. Plastic Head have really got behind Chelsea which is great. The summer looks like it might be a bit of a juggling act. The Cult replaced me with a keyboard player! So although it was great touring with them it does end up being one less thing to juggle.

The International Swingers debut is now in peoples houses and is a great album, is there talk of further live dates or even a follow up already?

The album isn't officially released so a follow up is probably a way off – but live dates hopefully in the spring some time.

It’s the end of the year so what albums have made your playlists this year?

Nothing much has floated my boat at all – sorry to be unenthusiastic – especially not by Sandi Thom! LOL

James Stevenson, as always, thank you so much....see you on the 17th!

Order your tickets HERE!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Smiley "Friends On Sunshine Corner" Preview / Interview

"Smiley's Friends On Sunshine Corner" is the third in your 'Friends' series and brings you closer to home, who is featured this time around?

I didn't even think about another album til the middle of this year. I had written a couple of new songs, then I wrote a couple more and then suddenly had a spurt and wrote about 4 in a week! I worked with Graham Turner again like last time, the old Elton John / Bernie Taupin connection! It was really easy and it was then I considered a new record. We started honing the songs, especially lyrically, he is so good and then I demoed everything myself. When the demos were in place I started thinking about bringing people in.

I wasn't going to use lots of musicians this time but hey ho it started growing! Actually a couple of top players asked to be on the album, you can't say no can you! The big question was who sings what, as I said I demoed them and then decided who would sound best. John James Newman is my fave male singer so he did 4, Kerry did 3, Dorie Jackson did 1 and I did the rest. Musicians were mainly the same as last time with a couple of extra players - David D'Andrade, what a guitarist! (He loved the Gathering by the way)...Gary Nuttall (Robbies' guitarist), Dale Davis (Amy Winehouse), Matt Round (ELO), Kai Stephens (Hard Fi) amongst others. We added a fiddle, some real brass, I even nicked the Acquire choir from Mike for 2 tracks just to add some different flavour to it. I used some key people in the recording process this time. Dave White, who was The Alarm soundman, he mixed the album and Alan Thompson, the BBC Radio Wales DJ, he was my rock! What a great man he is, so positive, really knows his music....loves the album!

Is there a general musical style to this release or will it continue the eclectic nature of your previous albums?

Eclectic as ever! The day there is a musical theme on these records is the day I stop! ha ha

Will you be trying to seek wider distribution for the album or will you be continuing with your cottage industry, truly independent approach?

I would love everyone on the planet to hear it but that doesn't always work....does it Bono!!! It will be available from , iTunes etc plus the wonderful merch stand at The Gathering! I might sit on there on the Saturday afternoon and say hi to everyone - if it's ok with Jules!

With "Friends In Far Out Places" you seemed to build some genuine momentum, videos for some of the tracks, commercially available through iTunes etc - do you feel that with each release you are reaching a wider audience?

It does feel like that. Social media is good for that but it's a fine line between letting everyone know it's available and getting on peoples tits! I hope I am just on the right side of the line.

"Far Out Places" was one hell of a strong album, did it achieve what you hoped it would?

I was genuinely touched so many people liked it. People who I wouldn't have thought, they all seemed to like it (or parts of it). Like a big tin of Quality Street - lets face it no one likes the purple one do they so you can't please everyone! Plenty of toffees on that album for everyone to chew on though.

The From The Alarm set at The Gathering was amazing and I think surprised a lot of fans who maybe hadn't heard any of the solo work from you, Craig and James. What reaction and feedback did you take from it?

That was a really special evening. The fact that the 3 of us were doing it, learning each others tunes, really putting the work in. I was genuinely touched when Adams walked into rehearsals and had learnt my songs note for note....and liked them! I felt very privileged and thought it was a really nice gesture by Mike to let us do it.

I was talking to a certain Geordie mutual friend the other night and I said that you guys knew you had nailed that gig and had fun because you knew it was absolutely on point. Is that an accurate description?

Yes and you know what, it made The Alarm set so much better. We were all so relieved we had pulled it off, not let the other guys down, played those songs live for the first time, James singing live etc. The relief was huge! What better way to celebrate than to go out there again behind the best front man in the world playing those incredible Alarm songs to those incredible fans....Mega night all round!

How was it having Kerry join you on stage?  You've done gigs before but I'm guessing this was probably the biggest to date.

Do you know what? It was her idea to do it like we did. We were walking the dog and I said "Oh Mike wants me to do a couple of songs from my album" she was like "Yeah, brilliant, lets do this and this, get David D'Andrade. Put Jan on the drums, a proper show - bless her, she was right....for once!

How did you decide the running order between you, was it based on the material and the flow of the whole From The Alarm set or did you all resort to rock, paper, scissors? ;)

That was really funny, I was saying James should go first - he was saying he wanted to go last, Craig didn't care! Then someone suggested we finished with a song we could all play together. We were going to do a cover then someone suggested "End Of The World". Everyone wanted to do it so it ended up like We Are The World! ha ha

After how well The Gathering went did you consider the possibility of more live dates or was that just not commercially viable?

I would but it's not the easiest or the cheapest thing to do. You never know but I've got no plans to. James is doing a show in December which is brilliant, then again he's minted so he can! ha ha

Is it something that may happen even if it's just the odd show with the release of "Sunshine Corner"?


For "Far Out Places" you managed to have all of The Alarm appear with the exception of Craig, was there anyone who you wanted to play on "Sunshine Corner" who slipped through your fingers?

Spandau Steve Norman. Only cos I wanted a sax solo and I love him! Nearly happened but he's a busy boy these days. Mark Taylor is on a track, the players kind of fell into place as we went along, there is some great playing on this record. I am truly humbled that they all did it.

Probably the biggest burning question has to be when will the album be available and where from?

February 1st. You can pre-order it now from or buy one at The Gathering!

For a while now you've been promoting the album you have been working on with Graham Turner for Dave Welsh, what can you tell us about it?

Well Graham knew Dave who heard our last album ad wanted to come into my studio and record. So he turns up, he's about 60 Dave, and he sits down with a guitar and says he has a few tunes - 2 hours later he had played me 25 songs all of which have great hooks and melodies and he sounds like Johnny Cash! So I rewrote the tracks with him and Graham did the words it's a brilliant album, you can get it on iTunes "The Dave Welsh Album" - thoroughly recommend it!

It's been a fairly quiet year for The Alarm with Mike very busy with the Strength acoustic dates, then came his diagnosis and then Cardiff. James called it the best gig of his life, what are your thoughts on what for many was a special night?

Ah man I absolutely loved it! We spent a week in Cardiff just me, Mike, James and Mark Warden rehearsing etc, hanging out. Then the day of the show was the only time we rehearsed with the orchestra and the choir, seat of your pants stuff! I agree with James, it was one of my favourite gigs ever. Just shows you how good those songs are when you hear them played like that...Amazing!

I'm not going to ask you about Mikes diagnosis, he's your friend and has the right to his privacy or to choose what he shares with the fans, but I also know that it is an elephant in the room and may impact your answers to the next few questions.

He's doing great.

There have been a few bits of information revealed regarding the upcoming Alarm album but what can you tell us about the current plans and how things are going?

I can't go into detail purely cos he changes his mind every other day but there are some brilliant things coming round the corner for Alarm fans. I'm excited as anyone, trust me you won't be disappointed!

Has there been talk of whether the album will be released in time for the upcoming Stranglers Black & White tour?

As I say major things are planned, can't say more than that!

There has also been the usual fan speculation about whether there will be a full headline tour to promote it in addition to the Stranglers dates, how is this looking as there will also be some more Strength shows from the look of it?

He's got plans coming out of every orifice! Trust me he has things up his sleeve.

January of course sees us back in Llandudno for The Gathering, on the off chance that you can tell us any inside info without being killed by Jules, what can you tell us about plans and preparations for it?

Well, I've got the setlist already, better get learning cos I don't know half of them! As I said if people were at all interested I would love to meet everyone at the merch desk for a chat, armed with a pile of albums! If people are interested I'll square it with Head Office!

It's been another busy year for Archive with "Restriction" coming much quicker after "Axiom" than many had expected, does this mean we might have a longer wait for the next album?

Nope, the new one is nearly finished! They have some amazing things planned so that's gonna be very exciting. Next Autumn I believe it all kicks off.

How does it feel for Archive to finally have a bigger awareness in the UK?

To me they are one of the best bands on the planet, nobody like them! I think it may be one song breaks them here and opens Pandoras Box! Now there's a back catalogue!

Finally as it's nearly the end of the year could you tell us some of your favourite albums this year?

Eagles Of Death Metal, Noel Gallagher, Paul Weller, Queens Of The Stone Age, Dave Wesh, Birdpen, Parade, Averydeephole, Royal Blood!

Smiley, as ever, thank you! Have a great Xmas!

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Steve Grantley Interview

Much has been said about the terror attacks on the French capital earlier this month and normally a music blog wouldn't be commenting on them but this time I will be for a couple of reasons. Firstly a music venue was targeted, not a high profile stadium gig but a normal concert venue, secondly mere days after the attack one band decided to buck the trend of cancellations and actively made their scheduled gig in Paris go ahead - that band was Stiff Little Fingers and on the drum stool as always was Steve Grantley. While the SLF tour continues Steve found time to answer a few questions about what it was like to play that Paris show.

Where were you when you heard the news of the attacks in Paris?

We were in Dublin. We had just come off stage and our tour manager Tony informed us of the tragedy.

Did it immediately sink in that you were due to play there in a matter of days?

Yes. We all looked at each other with immediate realisation - "we are due in Paris in 2 days!" It was a sobering moment!

What were the discussions within the band as to whether or not to go ahead with the show?

We all agreed that we must go and play - however we knew we would have to have the support of the promoter and the permission of the authorities. At the time large gatherings were forbidden by the government and there was also a period of mourning in place so it was a bit up in the air but it was lifted by the Tuesday when we were due to play.

Did it ever occur to you to cancel?

No, never!

Were the venue and promoter eager for you to go ahead or did they need persuading that it was a good thing to proceed with?

They wanted us to go ahead. We all collectively felt that we should play.

The reviews coming out of the show say the reaction from the audience was amazing with chants at the beginning of the set, how would you describe the experience?

Yes, it was heart warming and elating. The Paris audience were exuberant and unnecessarily grateful to us for playing. You see, we WANTED to perform. Their warmth was palpable and the atmosphere was electric.

Jake made little comment of the attack itself until near the end of the set, was this an intentional decision, almost a return to normalcy for the audience?

Absolutely, we didn't want to remind them of the atrocity: we wanted to make it business as usual.
U2's Adam Clayton in Belfast this week (pic Nick Thom)

Did you make any changes to the set?

No we didn't. We wore black arm bands as a mark of respect to the people who lost their lives but other than that we went out and played a SLF show.

What do you think of U2 and Foo Fighters cancelling their dates?

U2 had no choice: there was a ban on concerts the night they were due to play. In terms of security, it's a lot easier to guarantee a level of safety for 500 people in a club rather than thousands in an arena.

U2 were due to play the night after the attack and made the decision to visit the street memorials, it's unlikely the authorities would have allowed the show to go ahead. Was there any discussions with the police or politicians about whether or not you should go ahead with the gig?

No discussions, the concert and large gathering ban was over as was the national mourning period so it was up to us and the promoter. U2 had no choice, they weren't allowed to play!

Have you had any messages of support from other bands?

We've had an amazing reaction from all over the world. It's been a huge surprise. To us we just did what we do! We played a gig!

You return to France early next month when you play in Rouen, do you think that the Paris show will influence it?

I've no idea - who knows? For us it's business as usual. We play music, that's what we do. If we stopped, changed our routine or adapted to accommodate fear - the terrorists have won! And we can't have that!

Friday, 18 September 2015

Dead Men Jack it in?

It would appear that the current incarnation of Dead Men Walking will walk no more under that name! With very little fuss and a little bit of fan speculation it appears that the band will continue under the name The Jack Tars with a full UK tour happening this autumn (dates tba).

The bands' new site can be found by clicking HERE!

Saturday, 8 August 2015

RT-Zed "Crunch" reviewed

Steve Grantley follows up the fantastic "Zed Hed" album from his RT-Zed project/band (delete as appropriate) with "Crunch,  a limited edition cd of the bands debut live gig recorded at the Bullingdon Club Oxford in 2012.

So with only an albums worth of source material to draw from (not including the RTZ Global album) it's just a live run through of "Zed Hed" right? Wrong! Of course there are tracks from "Zed Hed" accounting for 6 of the 10 songs on "Crunch" but it's very noticeable just how different these versions are live.

The band is spot on and full of energy, the songs raw and bursting with attitude even in "Room No. 5", a track that deals with the loss of Steve's father, there seems more anger in the live version making it totally different from the "Zed Hed" original and just as essential.

"You Are Free" makes a great set opener and it is obvious how well that Steve paced the set slipping in a few covers just to give those present something familiar rather than exclusively presenting them with material they hadn't heard. "Rebel Rebel" works well with a vocal sneer that merges glam, punk & rock, "Crazy Horses" is more Osmonds than Alex Harvey and is beefed up to the Nth degree while "Saturday Nights (Alright For Fighting)" goes full pelt as the gig races towards its conclusion...Elton John this ain't!

 "Get What You Want" is left to close the proceedings and by this point you can almost feel the floor bouncing while the sweat runs down the walls and the smell of beer hangs in the air! This is a club show, warts and all by a band doing what they do best and playing up a storm while they do it. From the heartfelt thanks that Steve gives to those that have travelled to make the show so special you know he is moved and you know he is happy!

With so little downtime at the moment afforded to him be the reinvigorated Stiff Little Fingers it is hard to tell how many chances you will get to catch RT-Zed live which makes this release even more essential....get it before time runs out!


Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Kirk Brandon Solo Show Supports Announced

For those waiting patiently for the London dates to be announced for Kirk Brandons Akoustik tour it seems that wait was well worth it for us Alarm fans! The two London dates will take place at the Islington on Saturday 12th & Sunday 13th September with support from Gene Loves Jezebels Jay Aston on the first night and Dave Sharp on the second.

The Islington is a pretty intimate venue so don't hang around if you want a ticket for either of these shows! Tickets for both nights are priced at £12 a piece and can be ordered via the following link! Click HERE for tickets.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Flint Des Res!

BBC Wales has started screening a new documentary series based around the Housing Department at Flintshire County Council called "Flint Des Res".

Why am I telling you this you ask? Well it is narrated by none other than Mr. Mike Peters!

For those of you in Wales it is broadcast on Sundays at 10.30pm and for the rest of us it is available the next day on BBC iPlayer for 30 days.

Watch the first episode HERE!

Many thanks to Nigel for letting me know about this!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Eddie MacDonald launches new Facebook page

Small Town Glory, the new project from Eddie MacDonald now has it's own Facebook page as the launch of the bands debut EP draws closer to its, as of yet, undisclosed release date!

The band consists of Eddie MacDonald and Paul Evans on guitars and vocals, Charlie Fowler on bass and backing vocals with a host of guests including Mark Taylor and Nigel Twist filling in for the recordings.

More info as I get it but for now those Facebookers out there click HERE to get to the Small Town Glory page!

Friday, 12 June 2015

Johnny Pisano Interview

Credit :Unknown
Johnny Pisano has a CV that reads like a who's who in music.

He's played with Marky Ramone & The Intruders, Jesse Malin, Deborah Harry and of course Willie Nile, as well as sharing a stage or a studio with Bruce Springsteen, Counting Crows, former KISS drummer Peter Criss, Steve Earle and many, many others!

Ever thought you recognised a face in a film or on TV? Well, that could have been Johnny as he has appeared in numerous films and TV shows such as The Sopranos, Wolf On Wall Street and Boardwalk Empire.

But today it is his role in the recently released "Strength" (2015) that we are here to talk about.

How did you get involved in the recording of "Strength" (2015)?

I was on tour in the UK with Willie Nile November 2014 and I received a call from Mike and Jules asking if I had any days off on the tour and if I wanted to come and record. I did have a few days off so I hopped on the train to Wales and Mike picked me up at the train station.

Were you familiar with the original album?

I was very familiar, yes. As a teenager I was a big fan of The Alarm, and I still am. Me and my friend would see as many shows as we could when they were in the New York area.

What direction did Mike give you for what he was looking for?

He emailed me the newer vibe of the songs, most had drum tracks, acoustic guitar and vocals and he asked me to just be free with fresh ideas. From what I heard he was approaching the songs as if they were brand-new again and that's how I approached them as well.

You appear on 5 songs on the finished album, was this always the plan or was this due to time constraints?

Credit : Michael Aarons
There was already upright bass on some of the tracks recorded previously. I showed up pretty much knowing the songs and what I wanted to do and we got it all done that day.

Can you describe how the sessions went?

Mike took me to this beautiful old church, where I met Mark Warden who was producing and engineering. Mike and Mark said they loved everything I was coming up with so we continued on till we felt it was great. We recorded song after song laughing and having fun in between tracks.

Which track(s) are you most proud of?

I think all the tracks are great, but "Absolute Reality" would have to be one of my favourites on here just because of how great it came out but also because it was one of my favourite songs.

Were there any plans for you to guest with Mike on any of his U.S. dates or did they clash with your Willie Nile commitments?

There was talk about him coming to the U.S. with a band and using me to play electric and upright bass but I believe he's doing it solo this year. As for anything in the future I would be psyched and honoured to back him up, especially if Smiley was playing drums. Those drum tracks are amazing, he is such a great drummer.

After the piano laden "If I Was A River" any idea what the next Willie Nile album has in store for us?

All the tracks are pretty much done for the new Willie Nile record. Last I heard it will be released the beginning of 2016, we still have some overdubs and singing to do, maybe a few guests to come play on some stuff. I am also working on my own little side project. I'm recording songs which I hope to release before 2016.

Any idea when we can expect any new U.K. dates?

I was hoping we would get there this fall as we do every year. Right now there are no plans but I'm sure we will get there soon. I'm looking forward to it...

Johnny Pisano....thank you very much!

I'll post info on Johnny's solo project as well as any new Willie Nile info when I have them!

Credit : Conni Freestone

Sunday, 31 May 2015

James Stevenson Holy Holy Interview

James Stevenson isn't a man who likes to sit still so as he prepares to embark on tour with the highly successful Bowie themed Holy Holy I caught up with him to find out what makes the whole project tick!

 For those that still haven't had the chance to pick up James' fantastic debut album "Everything's Getting Closer To Being Over" it has recently had a physical release via Plastic Head ,which means it will be easier for you to get hold off via Amazon and the like (see links at the bottom of this interview).

With the live Holy Holy Album "The Man Who Sold The World - Live In London" due to be released tomorrow and their tour ready to kick off on the 12th it's time for James and I to talk all things Holy Holy!

Holy Holy started as a one off celebration of the classic early 70s Bowie period, how did it evolve into a much more ambitious touring project?

Well really because we all enjoyed doing it so much. The Latitude Festival in 2013 where I got Clem in was great but then Woody Woodmansey himself got in touch and said he'd be interested in getting involved - and then Tony Visconti - it just snowballed.

Why was "The Man Who Sold The World" chosen to play in full when the more obvious albums would surely have been "Ziggy" or "Aladdin Sane"?

Well because of Tony Visconti's involvement. He produced and played bass on TMWSTW. After that album he moved on to T.Rex etc...

The venues on last years tour ranged from pub to club to much bigger venues like the Shepherds Bush Empire; was it liberating to have that different connection with the audience?

Well as I've said many times my favourite thing to do is to walk on stage and play my guitar - whether it's to 100 people or 1000. Every dynamic is different. Liberating probably isn't the word. I usually enjoy any gig I do no matter how large or how small.

Surely that is something you experience when touring with Chelsea or The Alarm and then playing festivals like Coachella with The Cult?

Well yeah. But Chelsea just did this gig at a pub in Gateshead called The Three Tuns and it was electrifying, Coachella was so full of young rich kids it was a drag. It sells out every year before they announce the line-up of bands- that says it all IMO about how much the music matters!

Do you approach them differently?

No. It feels a bit different but you approach them the same. You walk on and do what you do. I remember feeling a bit intimidated at Milton Keynes when GLJ supported Bowie in front of 60,000. But you always give it your best shot whether you're playing to 100 or 100,000 people.

Did you have any input into what tracks made it into the second set?

With Holy Holy? Yes, of course. For me it's a dream come true to play with legends like Woody and Tony. I spent my entire adolescence listening to their records. So now to walk on stage and play with them is an absolute honour. I was really keen to get "Suffragette City" and "Rock And Roll Suicide" in there - which were debated at first by the band.

The band throughout the tour was fairly stable with the addition of the odd surprise guest like Marc Almond at Shepherds Bush but then changed for the Xmas shows presumably due to availability. Did this give the shows a different feel or is it one of the strengths of a project like Holy Holy?

Very different. The thing is we like to get out and do the show but quite often Tony, Glenn or Steve Norman isn't available. The we have to go out with a different line up - like a second version of the group - and play smaller venues because we haven't got all the big names in tow.

What differences are there to the band for the new tour?

Well Steve Norman has taken off again with Spandau. I'm so pleased for him - no-one deserves it more. I was just in Australia visiting my brother and took him to their show in Melbourne. They were absolutely fuckin brilliant! So we've got Terry Edwards doing Steve's gig. But he's very different to Steve. They're both incredible musicians but Terry brings his own stuff to the party. It's all good.

The tour kicks off with the Isle of Wight Festival, what have you got planned for the festival crowd?

Well Suzanne Vega is getting up for The Man Who Sold The World - so I'm definitely looking forward to that.

How will the rest of the tour differ from last year? Will it be a similar set giving those who missed it last year a chance to experience the show?

Kind of. Marc Almond is doing a lot of the gigs. He was electrifying at Shepherd's Bush last year - so that's fantastic. There will be The Man Who Sold The World in it's entirety of course - but the second set will have a few surprises.

This year you also get to break out from the UK and head over to Tokyo, will there be more international dates to come?

I hope so. I love playing in this band so as far as I'm concerned the more we do the better.

June 1st sees the release of the double live "Live at the O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire" CD, were multiple shows recorded or was this always intended to be the one that would be released?

It was always just going to be that gig. My friend Richard Den Berg shot it - six cameras. We didn't have that anywhere else.

You played your first solo set at The Gathering this year with the "From The Alarm" set  showcasing the solo work of Craig, Smiley and yourself which was amazing. Did you enjoy it?

Well thanks for saying you enjoyed it. For me it was FANTASTIC. I'd love to do more but I have the seven piece band to do my record justice - and that's kinda cost prohibitive. My mate Martin Kelly who used to own Heavenly Records said if I made my album, even in the mid 90s, I'd have had every label chasing me with their cheque books out! LOL. Times have changed. I'd love to make a second album but I'm not sure if I can afford to do it. The whole industry is so fucked up.

That evening you expressed that you definitely wanted to play more solo live dates, is that any closer to being realised?

Hmmmm - well that depends... I wish there weren't economic considerations....but sadly there are.

The new Chelsea album "Saturday Night Sunday Morning" seems to be getting a buzz about it already, what are your thoughts on it?

Well I love the record. Nic Austin replaced me when I left in 1980 so it was great to work with him. He's a fantastic songwriter. He wrote "Fuck All" and Something Wrong In Yer Head" surely future punk classics. It's a great record - if I say so myself.

How much of the Chelsea tour will you make before you have to switch over to Holy Holy?

After the 100 Club 5th June I have to bail. Sad but true.

The Cult are working on a new album currently, will you be involved in the live dates again or is that a conversation that hasn't happened yet?

They're taking a keyboard player out for the new shows in June and to promote their new album in the autumn - their call of course - I love playing in the band but I have so much going on, one less to juggle is a relief in some ways. I'm actually in L.A. right now and went riding (motorbike not horse! LOL) with Billy today. I think something fresh might be good for The Cult - but who knows what the future holds?

Finally, we've been promised a new Alarm album for next there anything you can tell us about it yet?

No idea! Sorry, ask Mike! But I think the actual band will tour the UK in Spring 2016!

James Stevenson, as always, thank you!

To Order "Saturday Night Sunday Morning" by Chelsea click HERE!

To Order "The Man Who Sold The World - Live In London" by Holy Holy click HERE!

To Order "Everything's Getting Closer To Being Over" by James Stevenson click HERE!

Monday, 18 May 2015

SoD for Whitby!

The Whitby Goth Weekend that takes place across the weekend of 30th October - 1st November have just confirmed Spear Of Destiny will be appearing on Saturday 31st!

Early bird tickets are available HERE!

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Spear Diary Dates!

Some early dates have been released after this weekends Westworld weekend so Spear and TOH fans may want to get these in their diaries now!

Spear Of Destiny Tour 8th - 31st October 2015
Theatre Of Hate Tour 1st - 6th December 2015
Westworld Weekend XIV 6th & 7th May 2016

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

"Easy Piracy" released

"Easy Piracy" the second album by Dead Men Walking has been released in the US coinciding with the short run of live dates on Americas west coast. There is good news and bad news for UK fans as the album won't see an official release here till later in the year, presumably to coincide with the much rumoured UK dates, but is available now on Amazon. The digital release is currently priced at £8.19 but due to the CD being an import it is clocking in at over £16!

Check out up to date prices and availability HERE!

The album features the following track listing:

01.Rock And Roll Kills
02.Damned Damned Damned
03.Weather Song
04.Deadman Blues
05.Whatever Turns You On (Will Turn You On)
06.Song For Eddie
07.Easy Piracy
08.Doctor Henry
09.When The Boats Come In
10.The Devil's Music
12.Forgotten Saints
13.What If...
14.Out On The Edge
15.Love Of My Life

Friday, 1 May 2015

Steve Grantley Interview

With the imminent release of the brand new live RT-Zed album "Crunch"  and upcoming appearance at the Westworld Weekend it seems a great time to catch up with Steve Grantley to find out what's new!

What made you decide to release a live RT-Zed album?

Well, it was initially recorded for reference - just to see what the fuck we sounded like, (laughs) no big deal. We could only record on 8 tracks and weren't even sure if the bloody recording desk would work. It did work, thankfully - and when I got round to listening to the result I was surprised by the quality. I decided to give it a proper focused mix and I went into Blue Moon studios to get the job done.

"Crunch" is actually a recording of the bands live debut. What was it that drew you to release this show above others?

Simple- it's the only show we recorded! (laughs) Actually I thought it was cool to release the debut - you know; the first ever gig? Fuck it: why not?

There was a different line up for the live shows so who appears on the album?

It's Jonesy, who played bass and guitar on "ZED HED" - he's on guitar hero duty, Simon Turner on bass and Beny Reid on drums; I sing and play Neanderthal guitar! (laughs)

How different are the live versions of the songs?

They are as close to the "ZED HED" versions as possible just more raucous. I arranged the songs on "ZED HED" to be played by a traditional 4 piece rock n roll band. The well trodden path of bass, guitar and drums, so it would work in a 'live' setting. As opposed to the first album "Return To Zero" which was much more about electronica.

Was the set list mainly taken from songs that appeared on "ZED HED" or did you include a mix of older tracks too?

It's mostly from "ZED HED", with a brand new song "No Conspiracy" and a few covers. The album wasn't even out when we did this gig so that's why we included covers - I didn't want people to stand through 45 mins of music that they didn't know, so we added the covers to give people something to latch onto.

You've been working on this release for what seems to be a pretty long time, was this just a matter of fitting it in around your heavy touring schedule with SLF or were you being a perfectionist?

'Perfectionist' sounds a bit wank don't it? (laughs) But yeah, I did want it to sound as good as possible and I spent a long time mixing and remixing - getting the best out of the recordings. But also 2013 was "ZED HED" - then 2014 was "No Going Back" plus a world tour and that promo is ongoing. This was the first chance I had to get anything done.

The album is priced at just £7.99. Why did you decide on a lower price?

There's only 10 ten tracks and it's live. I felt that price was reasonable, I see it almost as a 'sampler' record. I think people may not feel like paying 12 or 13 pounds for an album by an artist they don't know but may well give it a go at 8 quid! It's a limited edition so it's almost sold out now. I just felt this price was fair. 

You made available the 'found' copies of the "Return To Zero" CD last year and they sold out pretty much instantly, were you surprised at how high the demand was?

A few people had asked me if there were any other albums so I knew a few would sell but we shifted the fifty in a day - that was a shock. I just found a box of them at an office I used to work out of and put them up for sale - wish I had a few more! (laughs)

RT-Zed are at the Westworld Weekend this year, it must feel pretty good to be asked back again?

Yes it is indeed. Gonna be fun. I know all the guys in the band and their manager, I've toured with Spear and I was the original drummer in Kirks band Dead Men Walking. It's great to be returning to Westworld; it's a great weekend - I went last year and had a ball. We are looking forward to playing in front of people who will actually know some of the tunes this time round. (laughs)

The track "Room No 5" was released from "ZED HED" as a single in early 2014, how did it do?

It did well under the circumstances, kind of a 'turn-table-hit' (laughs) but with no record label or press agent it's difficult to get attention. The radio play was steady and stayed on their lists for weeks. I could see the response by the downloads & CD sales, unfortunately it wasn't enough to bother the charts but a healthy response for a band who had no help whatsofuckingever!

Have you started working on the next RT-Zed studio album yet?

I'm always writing - there's a few demos - after Westworld I'll get to it - focused. At the moment I'm concentrating on demoing, preparing for the upcoming gig and releasing "Crunch". I'll go into the studio to record something new early next year I reckon.

What are your plans for it?

World domination! (laughs) It'll be different to "ZED HED". I can't see the point in making the same album over and over so this'll be different again. It won't be a straight ahead 'rock n roll' record that's for sure. Occasionally we got compared to the Foo Fighters with "ZED HED" for some reason and that was not our intention. It's the drummer, front man bullshit - I don't want to sound like them! I wanna be like Kraftwerk meets the Pistols with a bit of Cypress Hill and Parliament thrown in! (laughs)

SLF took a big risk going the crowd funding route for "No Going Back" but it seems to have paid off in a big way with great sales and critical reception. Did it exceed your expectations?

Fuckin' 'ell Yeah! We were shocked at the response - it was WAY more successful than we ever expected. It was a completely new thing for us so we had no idea what to expect, didn't know what would happen. When we saw how quickly the Pledge items were going we were truly astounded and we can't thank people enough for their support.

The new Pledge campaign will start shortly for a live DVD to be filmed on St.Patricks Day next year in Glasgow on the 25th anniversary of SLF playing at the venue in a row. Do you know what sort of Pledge rewards we can expect or is it veiled in secrecy?

It's more than my life is worth to reveal such secrets! (laughs) All I can say is that there are some exciting pledge items that will give unique access to the band. I suggest you keep an eye on for further details.

The "No Going Back" tour has proved really popular and taken in many venues, festivals and countries...what's next?

Yeah - last year was incredibly successful for the band - worldwide.

96 gigs in twenty countries across 4 continents - mental! The "No Going Back" tour continues this year too. We are doing The Isle Of Wight Festival which we've never played before, back to the States in the summer to play places we didn't get to last year and we do Europe around October. No UK winter tour this year I'm afraid but - there may be a few one-offs. Things are still to be confirmed so I can say no more. (laughs)

How do you get time to do both bands?

SLF comes first and then I work RT-Zed around the Fingers schedule. It's two completely different things - schizophrenic. (laughs)

Where and when can we get "Crunch"?

It is available to order now from our website and shipping begins on May 11th although you will be able to purchase it at Westworld.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Holy Holy Live Album Confirmed

A double live CD of last years Holy Holy gig at London's O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire will be released on June 1st and of course features James Stevenson on guitar. The album features live renditions of "The Man Who Sold The World" album with the second disc featuring classic Bowie tracks alongside the Velvet Underground classic "White Light/White Heat".

Disc One
1.The Width Of A Circle
2.All The Madmen
3.Black Country Rock
4.After All
5.Running Gun Blues
6.Saviour Machine
7.She Shock Me Cold
8.The Man Who Sold The World
9.The Supermen

Disc Two
1.Life On Mars?
2.Hang Onto Yourself
3.Ziggy Stardust
4.Watch That Man
5.Cracked Actor
6.Lady Stardust
9.Five Years
10.Moonage Daydream
11.White Light/White Heat
12.Jean Genie-Love Me Do

The band begin a UK tour on the 12th of June with an appearance at the Isle Of Wight Festival and concluding on the 30th June in London. A very limited vinyl release of the first disc will be available to buy ONLY at these gigs.

Monday, 20 April 2015

RT-Zed Live Album

RT-Zed have announced that their live album "Crunch - Live At The Bullingdon Club" will be available to order from the 25th April. The album, a recording of their debut gig in Oxford from 2012, will be dispatched from the 11th of May and is priced at only £7.99 but will also be available at the Westworld Weekend on the 9th.

Demand will be high and this will be a limited edition release. The final copies of the "Return To Zero" album sold out instantly so where this album won't be as limited as that I would suggest getting your order in sooner rather than later!

Order yours HERE!

Monday, 30 March 2015

Smiley on new Jonzip release!

Smiley appears on the brand new EP by Jonzip which was released digitally today.  The 4 track EP entitled "A Hard Rain At Sunshine Corner" also features Smileys former Mescaleros bandmate Pablo Cook and is available via CDBaby for the princely sum of $3.49 that means if you get yours now (I just have) it will cost you just £2.44 based on the current exchange rate!

The track list is :

1. Left Of Your Rights
2. Kill Your Darlings
3. Wrong Door Raid
4. 1919 (Battle Of George Square)

Get yours HERE!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Westworld Line Up Announced.

Well I've been a bit quiet on here of late sorry about that! Since my last post the site turned 3 and we had an amazing Gathering!

So first bit of news for you this year as I'm sure you know all the Strength tour dates and all about the Strength and Majority releases....

The final line up of the Westworld Weekend has been confirmed and as previously announced Theatre Of Hate will headline the Friday night with Spear Of Destiny taking top billing on the Saturday. Guest slots are Death Valley Surfers on Friday and Steve Grantley's RT-Zed returning to the Westworld for Saturday. Folk Grinder will have a Saturday afternoon spot hopefully previewing material from their upcoming second album and Kirk Brandon will be performing an Akoustik set.

Weekend tickets are nearly sold out but the remaining ones can be snapped up HERE!