Q&A – Population Four

In the run up to the final of Battle of the Bands, here’s a few Q&A from Population Four

Obvious one first, really. Why did you enter BOTB – what did you hope to get out of the contest, and have you enjoyed your heats?

We entered BOTB because we’re a really new band and it’s a great way to get regular shows and exposure in Preston. We’ve all been playing in bands for years and have all got to know one another through playing shows together. We’re really pleased to have got through to the final, after all, and we have only been playing together for about 7 or 8 months.
For those in the audience who may not know you that well, how would you describe your band and the music?
Our band sounds like we’re having a great time. That’s the most important thing to us, we write songs that we love and that we can rock out to. We have a pretty contemporary alternative sound, crossing elements of punk with metal, and some catchy riffs and choruses that people can sing along to.
How you tend to practice and write songs – every waking hour or as-and-when?Song writing is a pretty collaborative process for us, we write new songs at practice or when we’re hanging out at someone’s house. Its great to have the facilities to write and record ideas on a day to day basis in one of the members own homes, having a Studio set up has allowed us to experiment with new ideas much more easily.
So you’re stuck in a lift for an hour. How do spend the time before help arrives?
We would play I Spy, Either that or work on some harmonies maybe so that we could form a vocal acapella band.
Do you tend to keep your influences close or separate from the music you’re writing at the moment? How have your influences shaped your current set?
We all have a lot of different influences and favourite styles of music; it’s pretty eclectic, we listen to a lot of different kinds of music; a band favourite is the Jurassic park theme tune by John Williams. We figure any band or group of musicians should have a wide interesting in music in general that extends beyond the style or genres of music they write of perform. We bring all our own influences together in a weird kind of controlled chaos, obviously we know what we want to play and write, but that doesn’t have to be the only kind of music we enjoy.
This contest is one of the many gigs going on in Preston – what are your opinions of the scene we have here? Would you spend more or less time gigging here after your experiences at the BOTB?
Like any band with aspirations we want to break out of Preston, and have already started to do that. But it’s great to have a home town to come back to. We have cut our teeth here in Preston with our other bands, and the experience we have gained playing shows here has obviously contributed to the band we are today when we perform. The scene in Preston waxes and wanes like any scene in any City.
Despite the problems with the Preston scene there are people here who really care about music in this city, people like Des who puts the BOTB together every year. People that have a real passion for live music in this city. Even people like Joe Ivers who are spending there own money putting out independent complication CDS of bands around Preston its great that people have that kind of passion, even though a few people defiantly lack it.
Where’s the best place to get a drink round here, anyway?
Ha-ha, who knows man, we tend to hang out at the guild and have a pint if it’s sunny and we have time to kill before band. We used to go to The Mercury Flux pretty frequently before it shut, we had one or two kick ass nights there. Any night out can be a great one if you are with your friends. Who cares where you go really?
If you had the chance to put on a gig with a local band and one of your favourite all-time groups, who you would choose, and why?
We would love to play with Alexisonfire. Pretty sure that would make for a great time its probably difficult to find any band that rocks out as much as they do. I guess our local band would be Exit State, we had a great time playing with them in our second heat and it would be cool to play with them again.
Win or lose the BOTB final, where you going to be this time next year?
The pub? Come hang out with us! Maybe we will enter again, maybe we won’t, I guess we will decide in about as year’s time. Hopefully we will still be playing some shows to a bunch of people that have taken the time to listen to us.

Opening windows in the House of Pomegranate

The pull and flux of friendship. The problem is that these concerns cannot be written in full detail, even though my traditional diary does not feature any words or thoughts in almost two weeks. What is stopping me? Be it laziness or procrastination the honesty requires in any of these diary forms is clearly missing.

In its own way fate has been kind. Nothing too outrageous. The tenuous links through time, which I feel with my fingertips, feeling like soothing burns. Tales of the heart can await the end of my anxiety towards writing down true feelings. There exists issues with matters of love, insofar as my characteristic mishandling of matters emotional continues to confuse and disappoint. I have no confidence in myself in this regard. When it comes to relationships I am an amateur failing to qualify at the first heat.

From here, no doubt some solutions will fall into place, while other pieces with refuse to fit. For matters of friendship and of the heart are never easily resolved. If the solution on the other side of the equals sign becomes more clear, or if I find something more than love, I will tell you at the earliest.

no words

Inevitably and without regret, my diary remains empty. Recent calendar days without the record of thoughts which run through my head on an hourly basis. Just today I could have let rip across a writing pad without stopping. It is not enough to suggest a long walk through an empty field. Complete shut-down for an open mind, that is my only solution. Prescription, even. Mend the broken woes.

This is not my voice. The diaries may not have humour woven through them but something about the handwritten word remains authentic, honest. Something true in the scribble. I cannot be open, nor honest, not entirely, on the Internet. Words without boundaries and yet there remains constraint. Which is why the two, three, shall I say “myriad” of reasons why my head hangs heavy cannot be even suggested here. Belt and braces. It’s all about the “just in case”.

Shameful, though, how I treat the diary. Its emptiness reflects on my attitudes, reflects how I have spent the year. No words shout very loudly in the ear of the man who listens to the past without heeding lessons for the future.

Gold for Afghanistan

We are living in unusual times. Our unelected Prime Minister brings his reverse Midas touch to the trouble spots of the world, reducing the Gold medals of our athletes to lead fourth places within touching distance of the airport. Rain washes out the hopes of birthdays, book launches, camping holidays. Guitar strings snap. Pens run out of ink.

There are also developments closer to home. Words unspoken, and unspoken promises. Man is the measure of all things. With all thinks in focus, I can see a lot of development, movement. Reality in a state of suspended flux, like a photograph of dust. Diamonds of chance reflecting upon their own freedom. Within the context of recent family events, it is not surprising that I have met the thoughts of personal mortality with a shrug. Friends drifting away, family members moving on; it is the cold reality of life. The price we pay for trying to be civilised when we are but animals, never meant to organise into groups, families, organisations.

No, wait, this ain’t me. If all this is true, I would have drowned in a soup of cynical dejection years ago. This is something else. Maybe it is just context. Bruises making the surface. Ironic justice, for the writer without a writing pad.

I should be in celebratory mood. The passing of laughter rather than the disposal of tears. Gearshift. Making the grade, the pedestal, the world record breaking top table. Kick out the chancers, more than just taking part, it’s the winning. Speak in horoscopese. I must prove myself as soon as I can; the alternative cannot be thought about, it’s too frightening.

return to innocence

The photographs should have knocked me over the edge. Sepia photographs, smiles, bright eyes behind large, wide glasses; women with high hair and cheap, neat dresses; men with shabby suits, pint glasses, froth and pipes, the factories or the union clubs; the first innocent flashes of leg, arms, on the first trips abroad; the familiar face, growing old, growing friendlier, her voice in my mind…

I walked past her house. It knocked me a bit, seeing the empty frontroom through the blinds, hearing her voice as a broken echo. I did not want to act piously, dramatically. She would not have accepted me being over the top, not after all these years. The photographs should have made me weep, but I looked over them with pleasure, shock, amusement. The changing times, all frozen, and tangible, easily rediscovered. In this digital age, there is no photo album, no creased box-brownie shots of young couples, old friends, out of focus, finger print smudges. There is only perfection, re-shot after re-shot, tagged names, improved skies, imported or altered images…The physical photograph is a dream you can touch, a ticket to the past…

Everything reduced to faded prints in the back of a newspaper. It is humbling. It moves the heart, and should embolden the spirit. It is a very unusual time.

sunset and new dawns

The subtle differences get you first. When the brain rests on a matter of habit or usual activity, only for reality to show the hole in the film. Bright light, over-exposure, yellow-white squares dotted behind the eyes…

I could have talked for hours. Maybe the expressions were of true love, of real strength beyond the throw-away sex and lust of modern times. Maybe the words built up in my heart, warmed the soul, and then…Were they heard? At one stage, all seemed much improved…But all voices must fade. The cold guilt of human memory, wrapped as nettles, damp as soil following rain, it is the guilt of our condition. This is beyind investigation.

Dreams can pull the wakening body through hoops but this is not used as a promotion for circuses available at the point of asking. Instead, my world is currently wrapped around a protective cover of religion and punchlines, framed by far-off voices inside well-thought punchlines. So sad, to witness the ultinate destintation, the final curtain call. Cold, scared, guilty, expressionate arts…Cold dark shadows behind the eyes…Summer sunset drips to a close. See you soon


It takes the words from other peoples’ songs, drawn from your own context, to place everything in context. Those silent jigsaw pieces falling into place, those stones of reality used to make the river seem less difficult to cross. It takes the massive to bring the tiny into perspective.

Openings of clouds does not always bring sun. Yesterday in the horizon, tomorrow through the hazy prism of realisation. Growing older, always stretching for full comprehension. Knowledge is the worst thing, when the truth is so hard to comprehend. Truth humbles, it doesn’t just hurt.

I have been faced with many challenges, but recently they have built up with such rapidity and resulting depth, I feel exhausted. It sends my thoughts two-steps ahead, into the bleak, the macabre. Deep breaths, hold on to the edge of time and tide, and march forwards…It is cruel, for reasons for more complex than I would like.

The subtle shifts in other parts of my life seem hopelessly trivial now.


For the first semi-final in the LEP supported Battle of the Bands at Preston’s The Venue, it seemed necessary for the judges to agree on how many rounds of paper-scissors-stone would be implemented in case the four excellent bands dared to try that little bit harder.

Without Motive were late-minute replacements without warning, whose set really impressed with a devil-may-care attitude from the start. Gloriously outrageous rock in the best British style, the guitar skills were the very best example from the local brotherhood of metal. Population Four fired up the attitude for a really promising set from a young band whose energy brings a fresh approach to the skater-punk style. They were given the prized ticket for the final with House On Fire, the three piece who sound like the result of a dozen. Although some of their songs go for a wander without ever coming back, the ability is unquestionable, making their place in the final unquestionable.

Like so many post-rock bands, Red Winter Kapital can allow their compositions to flow and weave with no consequence to time signatures or conventional understanding of melody. Their stage presence was somewhat minimal which took a lot from otherwise strong songs.

this is the sound of one hand clapping…

All relationships are emptying and…No, I have that wrong. The lyric, not the sentiment. Still, silence has its own rewards, as does honesty; as do lies.

This is sound of stubborn men and childish thoughts. These are numerous concentric circles, incidentally, any resemblance to these vague statements to situtations involving me are absolute coincidence within your own mind. The issues are all my own, I suppose. We’re all silenced by the events within our communication, co-operation: the invisible hand of friendship, and its flirtation with our necks. Delicate flashing lights, passage of blood through the heart, breaking of bonds…Increment by increment…

Honesty is not always the best policy. For truth, as a concept, really hurts. The wounds pulse with every heart beat. It is the wound which never heals, as though the blood which dries into tiny droplets of dark purple diamonds retains the threat to burst from beneath the skin and drench the flesh.

Nothing develops in the shadows, not even photographs, and certainly not dreams. However these opinions retain their own duplicity. Generous self-congratulation erases all doubts, but the truth remains. Behind the thin rice-paper skin of people whom you thought had nothing to hide, there lies a mask, a creation of their own reality. And if they manage to hide everything from you until the darkest hour, your applause at their criminal behaviour must be genuine. As genuine as they were not. For when the maxim tells you to keep your enemies closest, its truth is almost beyond all comprehension. And of all the people in the world to whom that phrase holds value, I am the one who knows it more than most…