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Interview: Band of Horses

Alt-country heroes Band of Horses head for Wolverhampton as part of a UK tour on Monday (June 14).

Ben Russell caught up with the band, who released third album Infinite Arms last month, ahead of the Wulfrun Hall show.

Proving that country and beards are still cool, Band Of Horses, previously known as Horses, are slowly becoming more of a force to be reckoned with.

However, the Washington band, championed by Radio 1 DJ Fearne Cotton and Jools Holland among others, haven’t made it easy for themselves.

Apart from the name change, since forming in 2004 the band has gone through more line up changes than razors.

In their favour though, they have released three brilliant albums of alternative country tinged with tension, longing and hope – at times raggedly epic and at others delicately pensive.

The band’s new album and arguably their most commercial, Infinite Arms, featuring the current lineup of Ben Bridwell, Tyler Ramsey, Bill Reynolds, Creighton Barrett and Ryan Monroe, was released in May.

Keyboardist Ryan said: “Infinite arms is just how we wanted it. We produced most of the record ourselves and it was very liberating to try some super-weird shit at our own pace.

“It took a long time to complete it though and we’re at the stage now we were are ready to let it fly and move onto to whatever is next.

“We’ve got plans to gig all over the world. We really love England so I hope we get to keep coming back here to play.”

Guitarist/vocalist Ben Bridwell and Mat Brooke formed Band of Horses in 2004, after the dissolution of a nearly 10-year run in melancholic darlings Carissas Wierd.

Carissas Wierd specialised in beautiful orchestral pop, with songs telling unflinching stories of heartbreak and loss.

And only now, without Brooke who departed in 2006, are Band of Horses starting to be recognised in their own glorious right.

Speaking about future aims Ryan, who has not long been with the band, said that his main aim is “just to be able to play shows with these guys for decades to come”.

He added: “Band Of Horses put simply is about a group of friends that travel around the world performing music for people in places.

“And now that the latest album is done the plan for the future is to do just that.”

Tickets for Monday’s show at the Wulfrun Hall in Wolverhampton cost £13.50 and are available here.

Words by Ben Russell.

Interview: The Features predict 7-0 USA win

American rockers The Features have boldly predicted their native USA to thrash England 7-0 in this Saturday’s World Cup clash.

I wouldn’t go racing down the bookies on their say-so just yet though, as the band confessed they have no knowledge and even less interest in the sport they like to call soccer.

Brum Notes Magazine caught up with the band, big buddies of uber rock stars Kings of Leon, ahead of their rescheduled visit to the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath on June 29. It is second time lucky for the band who were forced to abandon an earlier appearance at the venue due to that pesky Icelandic ash cloud.

So, it’s second time lucky for your UK tour and trip to Birmingham. Did you ever think you would ever have to give a volcanic eruption as a reason for postponing gigs?

Never in our wildest dreams did we ever think that would happen. That was so inconceivably, unbelievably, unimaginably crazy.

Volcanic ash aside, what’s the strangest other reason you’ve given for cancelling shows?

One time our manager, Rory, got his hand caught in an ice cream vending machine at a rest stop. We were going to call the fire department to help get him out, but he was too ashamed. After three hours of little kids laughing at him and the band trying to find ways to get his arm untangled it was too late.

If you were a cloud of volcanic ash for a day, where would you go?

I’d probably just hover around the Fox News building all day. Fogging up the camera lenses with soot, and causing as much disorder as one volcanic cloud can.

Are you braced for the even more unpredictable British weather when you head over here for the tour?

We can handle anything the British have to throw at us. That includes your sissy weather. What’s the worst thing the British really have to deal with? Rain? Fog? Sissies.

What do you make of the reaction you’ve had from British fans so far?

We haven’t been back much since touring for our first record. The shows we’ve had have been great though. British people drink way more. The last show we played in London, I tried to keep a drunk girl from walking barefoot down an alley filled with broken bottles – she told me to “f*ck off”!

You’ve obviously earned a great deal of attention from your endorsements from the Kings of Leon which you must be grateful for. But are you looking forward to carving out a reputation of your own on this upcoming tour?

Their support has been amazing and still is, but we have to come out from under their wing eventually. Their profile undoubtedly helps get more people to us, but I don’t think anyone is going to like us just because of the celebrity endorsement.

The album has gone down well over here as well, what’s you plans for any new releases, are you working on the follow up already?

We have a few new songs written and play them at our shows. Touring and supporting Some Kind of Salvation has kept us busy, so we haven’t had the time to go into the studio. Hopefully, we’ll have a new album out sometime next year.

You’ve been around probably longer than a lot of people realise, how has it been getting used to the flurry of attention that has greeted you in recent months?

We’ve been around a ridiculous amount of time. Given the line up changes, it’s really been three different bands with the same name. I’m not sure what’s happening in the UK, but we haven’t seen too much attention over here.

What are you most looking forward to over the next few months and what have been the highlights so far?

I’m really excited about some dates we’re doing with Built To Spill and Kings Of Leon on the west coast in July. Of course the Hyde Park show with the Kings is going to be fun. I’m most looking forward to just getting out and touring on our own for a bit.

There seems quite a close relationship between bands from your part of America, any other tips for who we should look out for?

Cortney Tidwell, Lylas, Hotpipes, O Brother!, Hands Off Cuba, Tristen, Heypenny, Glossary, How I Became The Bomb, The Non Commissioned Officers, Those Darlins, Wax Fang, Caitlin Rose…There are a lot of great bands and artists in the area. Nashville is small enough to where players and bands intermingle. I feel like there’s a lot of talent in a very small space.

The World Cup kicks off when you return to England so I can’t get away without asking you about that, especially as England play the USA. Are any of you football, or should I say, soccer fans? Are you planning on watching the matches and getting behind the USA?

None of us are soccer fans. It’s hard to trust anyone from the US who likes soccer. I’m kind of joking. It’s just not that big of a deal over here. It was treated as a novelty sport when I was a kid. I played in 3rd grade and they couldn’t even bother to give the teams real names. They just named them after whatever colour t-shirts they had. I was on the orange team. Kids here generally grow up playing baseball, basketball, and football.

Any predictions for the game?

USA wins! 7-0! Old blighty hangs her head in shame! Go America!

The Features play the Hare & Hounds on June 29. Tickets, priced at £6, are available here.

Where to watch the World Cup

The wait is nearly over, with the World Cup kicking off tomorrow, so we’ve put together a list of some of our favourite places in the West Midlands to catch the big game action.

It’s the greatest spectacle on earth so may as well enjoy it. Here’s our tips for the best places to catch the action, when you’re not sat in front of that massive HD telly you just bought, that is. Just don’t forget to put it on the HD channel.

Adam & Eve pub, Digbeth

Four big screens, speakers in the smoking yard, free half-time food in England games and special country-themed drinks promotions during all other matches. Plus DJs and bands afterwards.

The Victoria, John Bright St, Birmingham

Big screen action upstairs with the usual array of great drinks. Free advance tickets for all England games to keep the riff-raff out.

The Plough, High Street, Harborne

Enjoy the action while tucking into possibly Birmingham’s best pub food. Plus the added bonus of a 50ins telly in the gorgeous garden.

O2 Academy, Horsefair, Birmingham

Perfect if you fancy big match atmosphere with no windows. Giant screen and big sound system, plus VIP areas and cheap beers.

The Public, New Street, West Bromwich

Free big screen action inside one of the region’s most eye-catching buildings. With football themed artwork on display and great beers.

The Rainbow, Digbeth

Big screens in the pub and the courtyard with free parties, BBQs and top DJs on match days. Billed as a chance to watch it away from the lager louts. Although beer is only £1.50.

The Flapper, Kingston Row, Birmingham

All the matches on the big screen, with a chance to chill out by the canal. Plus a summer menu served up until 9pm and DJs at weekends.

Illustrations by Kris Jones – www.rainbowdonkeys.com.

Competition: Win a free night out at the Glee Club

With World Cup fever hotting up, we’re offering you the chance to earn a break from the football in style with a free night out courtesy of The Glee Club, including entry, dinner AND drinks.

Some things in life are guaranteed. Death, taxes, our national team losing on penalties and hilarious live comedy every weekend at The Glee Club.

With no big screens and no footy louts, just top class live comics on stage in one of the UK’s finest live comedy clubs, you can kiss goodbye to a month of inevitable disappointment by winning yourself entry for two to The Best In Live Stand-up Comedy on a Friday or Saturday night for the duration of the tournament in June and until July 10 at The Glee Club.

And the good people at The Glee are also throwing in a meal for each person plus a bottle of house wine or a 4-pint pitcher of lager to share, valid for a Friday or Saturday of your choice until July 10.

Win one of four pairs of tickets (including food & drink) by completing this sentence:

“After the World Cup John Terry should…….”

Those which make us laugh until a little bit of wee comes out win.

Email your entries to [email protected] by no later than 12 noon, Wednesday June 16 with your choice of date.

Winners will be contacted by email. Usual Glee Club Terms And Conditions apply. For full listings visit www.glee.co.uk.

Pic of Russell Howard on stage at The Glee Club by Errol Brown.

Home of Metal campaign in Wolves

Heavy metal fans are being urged to share their memories and memorabila as part of a unique new project when it visits Wolverhampton.

The Home of Metal campaign, pioneered by groundbreaking Brummie promoters Capsule,  aims to celebrate the Birmingham and Black Country origins of the musical genre and create a digital archive to tell its story.

The project will take over an empty shop in Wolverhampton city centre next week and wants music-lovers to help share their passion.

Home of Metal focuses on the innovators of the genre and those that continued to develop it – Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest, Napalm Death and Godflesh.

From June 17 to 19, between 10am and 6pm, Home of Metal will take up residence at City 10, 18 Queen Square in Wolverhampton city centre, inviting fans to bring along their memorabilia and stories to be photographed and recorded to contribute to the digital archive.

Organisers want everything from concert tickets to photographs, badges, album covers, t-shirts, demo tapes, fan letters, fanzines, flyers, lyrics, posters, press articles, set lists and promotional materials to build the collection online, which will inform a series of major exhibitions which are being developed for 2011.

On June 19, behind 2pm to 6pm, renowned rock photographer and Brum Notes Magazine contributor Steve Gerrard, will be in residence, with fans invited to have their portraits taken by him in their prized band T-shirts to feature in the Home Of Metal Exhibition.

In the summer of 2011, Home of Metal founders Capsule will be producing and curating a series of ambitious exhibitions and associated programmes. These will take place throughout The Black Country and Birmingham, UK, including exhibitions at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Wolverhampton Art Gallery and The New Art Gallery Walsall plus a conference, concerts and film programme.

Visit www.homeofmetal.com for details.

Pixie Lott heads for Wolves

Pop siren Pixie Lott will perform in Wolverhampton as part of her first ever headline tour.

The 19-year-old, who released platinum selling debut album Turn It Up last year, will take to the stage at the prestigious Civic Hall on December 14.

Tickets for the tour, which will see her perform to more than 40,000 people over the course of four weeks, go on sale at 10am this Saturday (12).

The star released her current single Turn It Up through Mercury Records on Monday, having performed it on Britain’s Got Talent last week.

Tickets priced £23.50 will be available from 10am on Saturday 12th June from here or at Midland Box Office: 0870 320 7000 or online at www.wolvescivic.co.uk

Atta Girl turns 1 this weekend

Atta Girl, Birmingham’s own all-female vocalist club night, turns one year old this weekend.

To celebrate, we shine the spotlight on the cartoon-loving team behind the night.

So, how did Atta Girl come about?

ATTA girl started not only because of not hearing the kind of post punk/ indie rock/ indie pop etc etc genres of music we wanted to hear but because of the lack of songs by women being played out and about. It became an on-going joke about how you were lucky if you heard a Blondie track if you went to an indie club! Blondie is great but there are several decades of female artists since then and we’ve proved that by filling a whole night with them.

Have you ever played Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cindi Lauper?

Yes! As well as playing politically right-on tracks by bands like Le Tigre, Sleater-Kinney and Riot Grrrl, shout fests which are lots of fun, we also throw in gems that people aren’t expecting because watching a whole room suddenly dance dramatically and sing along is heart warming. We started off steering clear away from anything that didn’t smack of empowerment but we lightened up as we realised people loved the concept and weren’t at all threatened by the night. We also play things like Club Action (the remix) by Yo Majesty, Fine As Fuck by Scream Club and Peaches. Lyrics that push our British politeness! But there’s nothing wrong with a bit of Kim Wilde.

What else could we expect from one of your nights?

We play many genres and aren’t afraid to mix it up so long as it makes you dance, laugh or shout along we like it. There’s no such thing as being too old or too young (well, alas the venue is over 18) at the beginning of the night we play 60s girl groups, and slower indiepop but by 10pm we’re well into building the room up with Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Dresden Dolls, Kenickie, The Knife, M.I.A. The list is too diverse to fit in a paragraph. We like Scout Niblett, The Supremes, Bikini Kill and we’ve even been known to play Kylie!

A little bird tells me it’s your birthday, how old are you and how are you celebrating?

We’re one whole year old! ATTA girl party! 12th June upstairs at our home, Island Bar. We’ll have a birthday cake and lots of presents for everyone to say thanks for supporting us. If you arrive before 9.30pm there’s spirits + mixer for £2, but if you’re feeling extra naughty there’s a bespoke birthday cocktail for the night.

What are your plans for the future?

We’ve been asked to DJ at Indietracks Festival in July! We’re taking over the marquee after the bands until the close of the festival. We’d love to get a Lady Fest Birmingham going in the future, but we’d need a lot more people. Thanks to the support we’ve had, a Lady Fest is definitely on the cards. We’re also getting involved in setting up Birmingham’s first Zine Festival, keep an eye out in September. For this there’s also a facebook group. But for now we’re trying our hands at a few gig collaborations outside of our clubnight. The next one is on July 16 with The Autumn Store at The Victoria. The Lovely Eggs, Fever Fever and Hotpants Romance are playing.

Who else should we look out for to keep us entertained this summer?

Bands we’re listening to at the moment are Trash Kit (Steph from Atta girl was in their video “Cadets”!), they played ATP and totally owned the crowd, also their bassist is Ros Murray from Electrelane one of my all time favourite bands. TEETH are wonderful, they’ve played Birmingham a couple of times and tweeted about our zines aw! Internet Forever are a lo-fi Indiepop band that played here last year. Outside of London (Norwich!) definitely keep an eye out for Fever Fever managed by Birmingham’s Arthur Tapp they’ve had Radio 1 plays from Steve Lamacq and Huw Stephens and they’re playing with us July 16 supporting The Lovely Eggs who are another favourite of ours, more in the twee-indiepop realm with songs such as Have You Ever Heard a Digital Accordion which we often play at the end of the nights as everyone knows the words (they’re easy to pick up!).

What are your predictions for the World Cup?

We predict quiet streets around 7:30-10pmish followed by very noisy streets. There will be a lot of flags and people feeling merry and some people feeling quite bored.



Atta Girl, The Female Vocalist Clubnight, celebrates its first birthday on Saturday, upstairs at Island Bar from 8.30pm. Entry is £1.

The Drums: We’ve turned down big producers

The Drums frontman Jonathan Pierce today revealed the band had turned down offers from “big name producers” to record their next album.

The much-hyped New York four piece release their self-titled debut today on Moshi Moshi and Island Records but have already started making plans for a follow-up.

Their 12-track debut album was written at home and self-recorded and, speaking to Brum Notes Magazine from their London base today, the wild-dancing singer insisted they want to make their next release in much the same way, saying it was testament to the new DIY ethic in music.

“We didn’t know what we were doing and we still don’t really know what we’re doing. The album was all written in our bedrooms with a couple of guitars and a keyboard,” he said.

“There was no producer or anything like that. More than anything that excites me it’s a testament to this new era, any kid that believes in writing songs can just do it.

“It’s really cool, it’s the first time that kind of thing has happened in history and I think there’s a really great upside to it but a downside as well, that there’s so much stuff coming out and a lot of it is strange and weird.”

Jonathan, recovering from a night out, admitted it took him a couple of hours to realise today was one of the biggest days in their career and remember that the album was coming out – but he said thoughts had already turned to the future, as well as their hectic touring schedule over the coming months.

“With the album coming out today I’ve spent the last week thinking ‘what’s next?’,” he continued.

“We just want to do another album like this one. We love the idea of bands that you can rely on to sound a certain way. Consistency is something we’re really drawn to.

“While we have had the opportunity to go into a big studio and use a big name producer – that’s already been offered to us – we’ve decided not to go down that route. We’ll probably just make the next record in the same way.”

Read the full interview with The Drums in the July issue of Brum Notes Magazine, out next month.

Picture by James Marston.

Ex-Stereophonics drummer Stuart Cable found dead

Stuart Cable, the former drummer for Welsh rock giants Stereophonics and Kerrang! Radio DJ, has been found dead at his home today.

Emergency services attended the 40-year-old’s house at Llwydcoed near Aberdare, Cynon Valley in South Wales, at 5.30am this morning (Monday).

According to the BBC, South Wales Police said the cause of death had not been established but there were no suspicious circumstances at this stage.

The drummer, who left the Stereophonics in 2003, hosted radio shows on BBC Radio Wales and Birmingham-based Kerrang! Radio.

His latest band, Killing for Company, were due to play at the Download Festival on Saturday with a new album due for release. A tribute has been posted on the band’s website saying: “Rest Peacefully. You will be missed.”

Another tribute came from Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles, who said he was “very shocked” to hear the news.

“He was always lovely when we met. Love to his family and friends. RIP,” he said on his Twitter feed.

A statement from South Wales Police confirmed the death of a 40-year-old man.

“Cause of death has not yet been established, however, there are no suspicious circumstances at this stage,” it said.

“Next of kin have been informed.”

The Drums debut album out today

One of the most eagerly-awaited debuts of the year is finally released today (June 7).

The Drums unveil their self-titled album on Moshi Moshi and Island records on a wave of critical acclaim and fan excitement.

The 12-track release, available on CD, digital download and 12ins vinyl and reviewed in the June issue of Brum Notes Magazine, was completed nearly five months ago by the much-hyped New Yorkers, who only played their first ever live show just over a year ago.

Breakthrough EP Summertime! followed for the quartet in October, who supported Florence and the Machine on her UK tour last month.

Tracklisting for The Drums: The Drums:

1. Best Friend

2. Me and the Moon

3. Let’s Go Surfing

4. Book of Stories

5. Skippin’ Town

6. Forever and Ever Amen

7. Down By The Water

8. It Will All End in Tears

9. We Tried

10. I Need Fun in my Life

11. I’ll Never Drop My Sword

12. The Future

Watch the video for Forever & Ever Amen by The Drums:

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