Silence Is Golden

The paranoid elements of my mind work in overload, quick-speed. Rattle through the sounds, seep through the cracks in the worry-lines. Pour over the soul as they seep through the pores. And then…Silence. The nuit blanche of llost day.

Worries blossom like a well-tendered garden, all the more ironic given the tie of the knotweed. Fancifully releasing daydreams of single knockout blows, my brain helps only when under control. Before the call to sleep, it has a flurry of thoughts like paper caught in a breeze. History has no shame in its glorious and obtuse dictator tendencies, all uniformed and ill informed. I’d fistfight History given half the change; throw it to the tide. But context has the ultimate say, itself something of an irony. All the alternative lyrics mean nothing now, the joke is lost. There can be no silent answering back, no smart remarks in the emptiness, now that the worst possible results have come to pass: writ large, as they are, across the tapestry of time. Returning to the language of jokes and secret messages has only emboldened my concern.

Hence the advice, I guess. Heed the maxim. But silence as a weapon against one situation is but a paper plate against another. These are the lessons brought to us by the Greeks, whose faces now drift into our world on the cusp of changing pressures. There is no need, to paraphrase Dylan, to ask a weatherman for the direction of the wind.

Quarter Final 3

The third Quarter Final in the LEP supported Battle of the Bands had just about every ingredient for a top class gig in the hunt for the best local talent.

Three-piece Boy Genius run amok with wicked short-shrift choruses and considered melodies, heavy riffs shining out throughout the set in a highly strong aim for the final. Without any unnecessary gimmicks, their songs remain swirling around the head for some time after they’ve done putting the best of pop back into cut-glass rock. Their closest rivals in the confidence stakes must be House On Fire, whose set may not have the stand-out song needed to tie the set together but there’s enough technical talent to command concentration. Heavy rock guitars and thunderous drums make for some seriously smart choices, with the judges considering these two bands had done enough to make it to the semi finals.

With hints of the grunge amongst the melodic rock, Makers Of Venice belted out a set much heavier in character than their successful first heat. This collection of sharp rock songs reflected back the lights of cynicism and free will, broken up verses buttressing crashing solos in a style at odds with the initially melodic mood. Indie lads Innocents Abroad have a collection of interesting, well-phrased songs, in the wordsmith tradition, but the order of the set list knocks the emotion around a bit, leaving a slight sense of underwhelming confusion. Their obvious confidence suggests better things could well arrive.

Quarter Final 1

The first of the LEP supported Battle of the Bands Quarter Finals at Preston’s The Venue was a hard rock affair, with angst and attitude turned up to its fullest.

Kicking off by throwing all their weight towards the bright lights of the Semi Finals, Blunt Force Trauma lived up to their name, launching into brutal trash metal with all the subtlety of a thunderstorm. At their best when complex guitar riffs are rolled across the stage in a fest of gruesome vocals and windmill moshing, coming across all the more genuine for it.

Guitar heroes Without Motive improved on their first round show by turning out a highly enjoyable set. A markedly different and rounded number of songs kicked the proverbial ball into touch, their set balancing an archivist’s ear for classic riffs with a youthful vigour for melodies.

Little about nu-rave phenomenon Myth Of Unity surprises, firing up the neon lights and urban groove. A little clumsy at times, they are usually more balanced than tonight, they still create a lasting and exciting impression.

There has not been such a large group of Lancastrians at a Gallows Gate since the Pendle Witch Trails, but the crowd watching the indie rockers got a lot back, the neat little set really firing up an impressive mix of songs with an undercurrent of menace.

They and the rocking rabble from Myth Of Unity got the tickets to the next round.

prescription

A pregnant pause. Illness, of sorts. I am shadowed by the dusk, and orange streetlights, their luminance squared and quartered across my room. My mind has a shallow guilt worrying it, annoyance at some factors under my control; and those totally outside control. Complacency, in a word. Arrogance in its own frame.

A weakness, thrown wide open because of innocence, child-like, in the manner of petty theft, escaped once to break open the safe of an unsuspecting bank, or to smash open the window of another car. My weakness is laziness. My diary remains blank, as though this month has not caused my mind bother or trouble at all. It is an attack on my past, this insolence, this silence. Walking into silence whilst flicking through the pages of the day, it should not be allowed.

Granted, what free time do I enjoy? By the graph of my spending habits, you’d imagine more allowed than would be good for me. And your solution, your prescription? It would be ignored. If you listen to a third of what I say, says the Old Wise Man, you’d be better.

Swig down the medicine, and return to sleep.

Different characters

No words against the torn-off calendar days. My mistake. Laziness, conceited arrogance. Something related. Secrets words like these, mind, have no place in discussion. Write the future, control the past. Such and so on.

Creating enemies is my new game. It drains my soul. Nothing under my own control, as much of a lie as that may sound. Reflex reactions. Arguments soon follow, as does the loosening of connections between friends. Consequences fall as dominos. Knock the table, call it the end. Any cloud cover is night-time. Flirtation of the orbit, passing of people and their places. Everybody is changing, and no-one likes it when you change. Least of all, me.

Choices, therefore, are plentiful. I must wipe clean more than just the slate. Bathe in more than clever words, such as mine are. Take nothing for granted, if that is not too late. Easier types than acted upon. Are you friends now? asks the Old Wise Woman…

William has no description. At the moment, he has woken up, and done little for four days. I’ll explain this in flashback, to embolden (or improve upon) the currently clumsily written sex scenes and dream sequences. He has been stopped in the middle of a chase sequence, because I cannot write chase sequences, and because the character he will meet will have to speak to him, and I ain’t too hot on dialogue either.

William will meet Chi, who I will create as a Chinese type thrown into the unusual world for reasons I have not yet created. His first friend will be Neya, who will be re-constructing the wall outside the destroyed city (Neya’s Mile Wall, you see, it’s supposed to be clever).

In flashback, we have seen referenced The Genk, who is only ever referred to italicised, for reasons I cannot fathom. One of his past women is Fiona, who is set on fire during a dream sequence. The other is called Mâa, whose name I cannot pronounce. She speaks in italics during the sex sequences I cannot write. There are lots of euphemisms which are blushing but not childish.

The characters I need to introduce may suggest William has been transported to a far-off world where his past drink and drug lifestyle is being judged for, say, 40 days, and, say, Chi is some kind of Lucifer (a name change would help with this, I can do anagrams), and then, say, after 40 days William wakes up at hospital, or at once, or in hospital without memory, or with too many memories; either would drive him mad. Or else he is already mad. The dream sequences could be the reality, say.

The characters I need to introduce may suggest William has been killed, and this is Heaven, but not Christian Heaven. A new kind. Cererean, say. Or the characters I need to introduce just need to improve the book, which does not read very well.

No bees have yet died in the proceedings. This could be a good element to include. People like bees, and bees are all dying off, which is showing how good I am at putting my finger on the pulse. I could have William vomit honey, say, or turn into a bee. Mâa could be his Queen. Or Fiona, who wasn’t really on fire during the dream sequence; the yellow and orange flashes was her metamorphosis into a bee.

The character I need to sort out is my own, mind. Saying all this.

Hello Bastards // Mad Ferret

The unassuming would see the Mad Ferret bar in Preston as a mere student haunt given its position nestled amongst the University’s campus. When the Hello Bastards night rolls in to the space, anyone, be they revision dodgers or not, cram in to check the promised radar botherers.

The night begins unassuming enough, with the ambient guitarist Niamh Starky, whose array of peddles and accompanying drummer spoke little but communicated much through a charming and interesting collection of instrumental numbers helped by sparks of samples and looped melodies. Nerves dug in a little too deep, but the quiet girl with big ideas strode nevertheless, check out her “Early Gentle” song for a good indication of her abilities.

Keeping things quiet and simple was not an option for long, given how little breathing space was left now the place was filling up. Caught between the bar and an unfamiliar face was the viewing position for the ultimately compelling and ear-splitting The Sefton Delmer, a colossal force of guitars turned up for the effect of all six Marshall amps stacked behind them. In common with their World War namesake, the message was prominent and encoded, in their modern way behind a flux of feedback and looped vocals. Their lead’s concerted effort to always look perplexed worked in his favour, the downbeat collection of songs pushed back the boundaries of just about every measurement, by virtue of their sheer force and velocity.

Sure, it was impossible to hear quite anything else properly beyond the echo of melodic creation, and their soundcheck alone would have knocked the glasses off someone walking past the next street, but in the spirit of the wartime icon who inspired their name, this was as brave and effective an assault as possible.

Crazy808 are the local lads doing their best for cross-genre harmony, employing rock types and a laptop DJ to work their merry way through excellent BSS-type punk-punches to the deeper soul, whispers of deeper flowing waters in extended instrumentals suggestive of more than the oft-repeated and many times failed groupings of the guitar and computer.

The long night was topped off by the expansive shoegaze heroics of Telekinetic Fortunato, whose ambitious post-rock builds on the obvious influences with a heap of characteristic ingredients – their manic melodies seem constantly changing, animated almost, their beats fluid under the growing guitars. For a night in what could be seen from the outside as a fringe bar on the outskirts of town, the immensely interesting and varied sets promise a mad sackfull yet to come.

Heat 8

The latest round of the LEP supported Battle of the Bands, at Preston’s The Venue, was a top drawer event with the four bands in the last first round heat not giving an inch as they aimed for the top two places.

Rock band Exit State have a confidence running all the way through, songs drawn from the very best of rhythm and melody, brought together with the kind of strong vocal often not heard in a predominately heavy metal group. Their better songs have no problem with catchy melodies not diluting the guitar action, using the best ingredients from pop to flavour their impressive rock sound. Balancing the rock beats with insatiable appetite for top class choruses seemed an easy task for Boy Genius, the three piece whose post-punk sound shared with Exit State the ability to mix the angriest lyrics with the hottest melodies.

The Boy Genius had confidence in spades, with the songs to match, which reflected not just in the warm appreciation for their set but also in their qualification for the next round.

The youth wing of Preston’s scene was represented by The Renovators, who had a terse anger about them, but the vocals tended to be shouted rather than sung. By under-using synths underneath the guitars any variety was merely hinted at rather than utilised to the full. Vicariux threw together occasionally brilliant mood music with confused additions of vocals and images, working in sporadic fits and starts.

History of Maine

I will not tell my story. Indeed the main character has been asleep for two days. In real life, the pages of history remain silent; salient, perhaps. Quotes fade through the haze, as do arguments. Then come the dreams, which are recalled as they always are, as jokes from the past, punchlines detached from their frames.

In one dream, wrapped in a sleeping bag, I walk naked through a park. Is that ” ” and ” ” I see, over a hill, just beyond the point of focus for my short-sided eyes? No matter; there is the jump-cut so characteristic of dreams. In a car, without driver, taking over the wheel, police officer waiting for me…It means…nothing?

There is no point, says the old wise man, looking back beyond the years for some mysterious moment within recent personal history to delve attempting resolutions with ghosts. Telephone call, nerves, quick escape lie, closure. Just to reach into the scene, just to re-write one line of personal history…

All fades, and passes. Old love, past lives.

Interview with Dallas Green

(As featured in High Voltage)

From the outside, the Royal College of Music seems the least expected venue for any artist associated with a hardcore/emo group. Amongst the clutch of students discussing classical compositions are a smattering of youthful types dressed in the whirlwind of Topshop’s finest. They are here as the college’s Haden Freeman Concert Hall is playing host to Alexisonfire’s charismatic and emotional singer Dallas Green, under his moniker City & Colour.

Born in 1980, Green has much success as one part of Canada’s finest emo types, and is now about to release his second solo album, the fragile and introspective Bring Me Your Love. I greet him in a cluttered backstage area, bounded on one side by a refreshingly healthy rider, and on the other side a full size gong for the next door performance of Pirates Of Penzance. Green laughs at the news that he has a double booking with Gilbert and Sullivan: “That would be funny,” he says, “if they came in midway through not knowing what to do.”

It is not unusual for Dallas to find himself facing fans in a seated arena as though he were a tutor. “It makes a change to not have beer thrown at me,” he jokes. “A lot of my Canadian shows are theatre shows, just me with a guitar. Most of the set is just me with a guitar, so it’s good for those who want to pay attention.”

The approach makes people more likely to concentrate, the singer explains, wearing a large pair of gold-rimmed glasses and a lumberjack style coat, something like a rougher Jack Peñate. “Yeah, people who are usually loud are quiet and have to concentrate. I like that it is a change for this kids too.”

He goes on, “It is beneficial to all if I speak to those kids who, you know are
there recording a gig on their phone? They want to remember it but aren’t
watching the gig, just through their monitor or screen.”

The first release as a solo album, “Sometimes”, is an album touched by the chill of lost love. A lot of the songs are personal, admitting the lyrics can be quite introspective. “Whatever is kicking me that day, whatever is on my mind. It is a very personal thing. Whatever takes my eye or my ear. I can’t write any kind of way else.”

“This stuff doesn’t follow some pattern, and if that means most of the
influences aren’t planned, like if I want to play a banjo or something.”

His fans may not be all fresh teens, but they are all more likely to be downloading albums and videos than queuing up at a theatre, a point he is happy to explore. He shakes his head at the very mention of the word “blog”. On the verge of laughing at the thought of it all, he says “It’s funny and weird how before I put my head on my pillow, a gig or a single is already on YouTube.”

He hits his stride, continuing, “I don’t like the idea of knowing everything about a band. I think there has to remain some mystery. It was so much cooler when I was a kid, when I would flick through magazines, see a band I liked, see what band t-shirt they were wearing…”

On the eve of a rare month rest, Green makes for the theatre floor, maybe secretly hoping for members of the Pirates cast to be sitting in the front row.

Heat 7

The latest round to discover the best local band in the region rolled up for a 4th July LEP supported Battle of the Bands at Preston’s The Venue. This heat saw a distinctly metal flavour, with the big boys of rock aiming for the next round.

The lads from Makers of Venice were an instantly noticeable sensation, their grunge-influenced rock carried off from the first song with a tight confidence, an intense opening riff rolling out through an expansive set. Singer Mark Richards carries a clear vocal, suited to their melodic style whilst using a hint of heavier menace reflecting the balanced set.

Things were not so balanced with Superthrill Temple, whose idiosyncratic manner threw together a subdued psychedelic style with sporadic bursts of heavier, almost thrash metal. What could have grown out of an unusual mix slumped into a wheezing compromise, the uninspiring drums and wayward solos all seemed lazily executed.

Metal troupe 32ft Gauge offered a much better example of a rounded, complete package, almost from the start ripping up the stage and crowd into a messy frenzy with vigour. They too had a touch of the psychedelic about them, growing into a highly competent and confident prospect. Without much restraint at all, Population Four captured the attention with their breathless American-accented onslaught of post-punk emo joyousness, all angst and attitude bundled together in slices of jagged guitars. They were worthy runners up to Makers of Venice