Your weekly go-to new music guide brought to you by our London music journo Peggy, as she uncovers the latest ‘bands and artists to watch’ in the post-punk, new wave, jazz and indie communities. This week she discusses recording with The Futureheads, singing about Johnny's (the boys name to clarify) and just how to lift spirits in the coming months ahead with drummer Charlie of Newcastle post-punk outfit, Swine Tax. @peggyfromearth
Hailing from Newcastle, when did the four of you first decide that starting a post-punk band was your calling? The brief history of the band is that I responded to an advert for a drummer posted by TK and Vince who had just started playing together. We all quickly bonded over liking bands such as The Fall, Dinosaur Jr, Oh Sees and started writing music, albeit a bit different to what we write now. We have since been fortunate enough to recruit Euan Lynn (Novyi Lef) on synth and guitar who has brought his trademark space age whooshing and choppy post- punk riffs. We hear that you’ve recently been in the studio with Barry Hyde on production (The Futureheads). What’s the story behind this collaboration? Last year we were kindly asked by the Futureheads to support them on their ‘Powers’ album release show in Sunderland, which was a great opportunity for us to play some of our new tunes live for the first time. Barry approached us after the gig and proposed the idea of producing some music with us and obviously we jumped at the opportunity as the Futureheads are a band that we all like. Barry was great in the studio and helped us trim the fat on the songs and provided some musical direction. An absolute pleasure to work with! Your new single ‘Relax’ has all the trimmings of a solid night out. What’re your thoughts, hopes and dreams behind the track? Starting the night early; pub, club, altercation, love, despair, uplifting kebab whilst stumbling home in the wee hours. Agitated in its sound and solid punk rhythm, the single is itching to be heard live. Can we hold any hope for when that will be? We’ve only played two gigs in 2020 which is very unlike us! We are itching and itching and itching to get back on stage whenever that will be. We’ve confirmed gigs for next year which we are incredibly excited about, so keep your eyes peeled for any announcements! We’ve spent lockdown creating and refining new material which we are desperate to play live. We’ll still play some older songs, but we are aiming to play as many new tunes as possible. With many an industry acclaimed single to your name, what’re your future plans on the release front? On the 4th of December we are releasing another track produced by Barry Hyde called ‘Johnny’. So many bands have songs about a Johnny; you’ve got ‘Johnny B. Goode’ by Chuck Berry, ‘Johnny Ryall’ by the Beastie Boys, ‘Goodbye Johnny’ by the Gun Club… etc. etc. So we’re confident that naming a song ‘Johnny’ is THE secret to commercial success. Without giving too much away you can expect a cruising underground banger with an icy pulse. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never been to Newcastle – please can you recommend the ‘go to’ gig spots? When Covid puts a sock in it, these will be first on my list. Top of my list will always be Little Buildings located on Stepney Bank. As the name suggests, it is a very intimate venue where we cut our teeth on the Newcastle scene when we first started. It’s also where we played our first gig of 2020 to celebrate the relocation and reopening of the venue. A proper grass roots venue giving new bands a chance to show you what they got. Next on my list is the Cluny - good beer, good bands, good vibes only. They book some amazing bands and the food is pretty good too! To summarise, Newcastle has great venues dotted all over the city, but I’d recommend spending time in the Ouseburn area to see a variety of local talent. Do you have any titbits of advice for similar bands battling their way through the current pandemic situation? I suppose the most important piece of advice is to remain hopeful that we will be back to some sort of normality soon. During the first lockdown we would have a band meeting every week via video link to sort out any business but also just have a catch up. We’ve kept ourselves sane by writing music during lockdown that we are able to bring to rehearsals when it’s safe to do so. The best advice / titbit is to just keep yourself busy musically. Write that ill-advised rock opera you’ve been putting off for years. Learn the accordion. Send riff ideas to your band on the hour every hour. Keep it up.