Welcome warriors to the LTW newsletter number 2
It’s been another frantic week on the pop culture frontline and LTW has been in the thick of it as ever - even if the thick end these days is mainly sat at home or shivering outside cafes pondering the thrilling noise of pop culture...
First curious thing that happened is that I turned 60 this week which been oddly thrilling. How do you deal with this new number! The really odd thing is that when I see other people who are now 60 (like Chris Packham who shares the same May 4th birthday as me - may the forth be with you!) I can't believe how old they are! And then suddenly remember its my own age as well :). Maybe the last great rebellion of the punk rock generation is to redefine the autumn years ha ha! It’s going to have to be done on my terms or not at all. Maybe we are already strange looking old people to the youth - our passion for music may even date us! Maybe music itself means so much less to people than it did when we were growing up. Then it defined you - now it's the soundtrack to other stuff...?
Even then back in the teenage years of the punk wars I thought that the age obsession was ridiculous. It caused curious conundrums like Joe Strummer having to fib about his age so he didn't get ribbed about being irrelevant like the Stranglers did for being ‘too old’ for punk. Of course we totally misinterpreted punk - like many of the ‘provincial’ foot soldiers we believed it was something that it wasn’t and I guess that all helped create post punk. Growing up in Blackpool we never made any claims for cool - how could we! It was 1977 in candy floss town with its grubby violent undertow! We followed our instinct and our own curious warped dates and the age thing was irrelevant to us and the Stranglers having a 40 year old drummer made them cooler!
Speaking of the Stranglers I interviewed JJ Burnel this week about the upcoming new September released album, Dark Matters which is a late period masterpiece. The Stranglers are one of those groups who never really played by the rules and the new album is one of their career highs - it’s full of melody, quirk, melancholy and some killer keyboard playing from the genius late keyboard player Dave Greenfield who was on some of his best form from his 40 plus years of service to the band. There is a poignant song about him written by the band after he died and the album, like the interview displays another side, to JJ - a sensitivity and emotional empathy and it was great to do an interview with him without the classic brawling war stories of yore!http://louderthanwar.com/jj-burnel-the-john-robb-interview-jj-on-the-upcoming-grown-up-album-dave-greenfield-and-how-to-grow-up-creatively/
We may be moving away from the intensity of the second wave of the plague and hopefully out of the other side but it’s not game over yet. There was another clutch of festivals cancelled including the big punk rock shindig in Blackpool - Rebellion. Like everyone we were hoping that things would open up this summer but this damn plague has created so many logistic problems that promoters don't know where to turn. The main problem is the insurance and the prime minister of England (not iso much the UK these days!), Boris Johnson, has not been much help here, leaving the promoters vulnerable and having not choice but to pull out. Fingers crossed that August/September festivals can happen after being given hope by the Blossoms mini fest in Liverpool last weekend which seems, so far, to have been a success.
I’ve been in the studio in the last week writing and recording songs with John Rossall - the main man from the Glitter Band. John is a fellow seasider albeit a few years older than me and write great songs like Angel Face...the EP sounds fantastic and will be his last ever release - my idea was to take that classic Glitter Band sound - the two drum rumble and make it darker and heavier and a jackal wedge the bands that it influenced like Killing Joke and Adam And The Ants - who’s guitar player has also contributed a song tot he project - its a great song as well.http://louderthanwar.com/rebellion-festival-cancel-due-to-virus/
New Order have released a luminous live album and spirited concert film from their Ally Pally show which sparked memories of those first New Order gigs that we used to go to watching fascinated as they fumbled from the wreckage of Joy Division still uncertain into which direction they would go. I have very clear memories of their Set 5th 1980 show at Blackpool Scamps. The band played 7 songs including a cover of Sister Ray and they hadn’t even decided on who was going to the singer. It was fascinating to watch them coalesce over the years. Decades later and after the great schism with Peter Hook no longer in the band the band headlined the Ally Pally in London and the gig was filmed and reviewed here.http://louderthanwar.com/new-order-education-entertainment-recreation-album-and-film-review/
Fellow Manc post punk titans, The Fall, continue to intrude and yet another book has come out attempting to grapple with their legacy. Excavate is a tome that rethinks and reworks their mystery bop put together and edited by St Etienne main man Bob Stanley with a cast of diverse contributors.http://louderthanwar.com/excavate-the-wonderful-and-frightening-world-of-the-fall-book-review/
On the site this week we also had this great interview with Andrew from the Sleaford Mods. There is always something really fascinating about the quieter one in these duos - Chris Lowe, David Ball, Martin Rev, the bloke from Blancmange, Ernie Wise! - the first two were so quiet that they both went to the same school in Blackpool - one year apart and didn't even know each other until I introduced them! Andrew follows in this tradition albeit in a more gnarly kind of way. It’s great to celebrate his genius because as much as we love the way he annoys the guitar purists by standing with his arms folded switching his laptop on and off for each song, he is actually a key creative component of the band writing much of the music for Jason’s poetic snark rants and it was great to hear his rarely heard take on things.https://louderthanwar.com/interview-andrew-fearn-sleaford-mods/
Despite what people often say there is still a lot of music that reacts to these times. Benefits are a pretty angry blowtorch of punk rock. We are in the middle of one of the biggest waves of new bands for years and Benefits deal fierce and angry shots of visceral noise that are full of the politics of claustrophobia and frustration. Their new single is full of ‘unfettered frustration’ according to our reviewer.https://louderthanwar.com/benefits-we-see-you-single-review/
Not so new but making a big noise in the mainstream are French metal bad Gojira whose lyrical depth and Eco concerns are entwined in their music that has hints of Killing Joke to its tsunami of sound and anthemic melodies.https://louderthanwar.com/gojira-fortitude-album-review-gojira-are-further-proof-of-the-powerful-and-lasting-legacy-of-metal-as-it-impinges-on-the-mainstream/
We also spent the week in with reviews of new albums from the ever fascinating Peter Hamill, the curmudgeonly Van Morrison
There were brilliant new albums from Teenage Fan Club whose return is as warm and melody drenched as hoped for in a rich swamp of gooey goodness. Talking of song writing genius we got an interview with the ever productive Robert Pollard from Guided By Voices.
We even found time to release a new T shirt!
Before there was a Louder Than War I spent the post punk days everything my fanzine which was called Rox - we were at the heart of post punk fanzine culture and the attendant band scene. To celebrate we have just released a t shirt based on the distinctive cover artwork of one of the fanzines.https://membranes.bandcamp.com/merch/rox-fanzine-25-t-shirt