Dry The River @Hornstull Strand, Stockholm 021212

Just few days before heavy blizzard hit Stockholm in the first week of this festive month, I was beyond thankful to have the opportunity to see our most hailed band of the year, Dry The River. This time around, I knew that I would experience heart-wrenching music and lyrics. I just didn’t know for sure how far it would stir my feelings and how deep it would affect me emotionally. Exaggerated much? Maybe. You’ll see.

Jon's drums set is a beauty

Jon’s drums set is a beauty

Even before the show started, the band had already made me nervous because they might have not made it to get across to Sweden from Denmark, since apparently the Øresund bridge was closed. While I was still keeping my fingers crossed, it was announced that the gig was still on although the show time had to be pushed back to 21.30. I did not realize how big the trouble on the road was until I saw the lads arrived with their van and loaded out their gears literally just a little bit more than half an hour before the show had to start. This means that they had only that much amount of time to set everything up which really impressed me. They did soundcheck simultaneously as gig-goers kept coming and filled up the room. I was fidgety, yes, but I was also mostly excited.

The amazing Peter Liddle

The amazing Peter Liddle

And then it was show time. My heart beat unusually faster as the lads came on stage showing no sign of tiredness whatsoever. They smiled genuinely, waved a little and straight away began opening a set of wonderful songs from their debut quality album Shallow Bed by playing the track Shield Your Eyes. When all of a sudden the intro melodies of New Ceremony followed already as the second song, I was ready to shed a tear or two because it was the first song which made me head over heels over the band, if not for the incredibly sad lyrics. For a moment, I let myself drown in it until I saw for real how Pete, Scott, Jon, Matt and Will put out so much energy and passion in Demons. I was mostly taken aback by how they performed meticulously the contrast within the song between the slow and the hard part which is just one of many strengths in their beautiful pieces of music. The vocal harmonies in Weight & Measures when they sang without microphones were just stunning.

Dry The River "pretending" to be a rock band

Dry The River “pretending” to be a rock band

Holy Scott Miller

Holy Scott Miller

The freezing cold night felt a lot warmer, not only because of the impromptu entertaining small talks that mainly Scott and Pete did to engage with the crowd, but also because of moments like when the crowd sang in unison to No Rest‘s line “I love you in the best way possible”. The show reached its climax with Lion’s Den powerful and glorious ending when all played like there was no tomorrow. Even just watching it, I felt exhausted as if something sucked all my energy, which by the way doesn’t mean a bad thing. When I thought I couldn’t be more impressed, the guys except Jon, came back walking straight down to the middle of the audience and gave an endearing performance of Shaker Hymns. Words didn’t seem enough to describe how beautiful that was. People were simply left mesmerized.

during Shaker Hymns

during Shaker Hymns

In the end, I did not really cry as I thought I would, but I will always remember this gig which proves that Dry The River is beyond great. Now, let me get back to listening the wonderful acoustic version of Shallow Bed. You should do it too. NOW.

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Music of the Week – We Have Band

Who? The London-based-electro-pop-trio, We Have Band, which consists of Darren Bancroft, Dede Wegg-Prosser and Thomas Wegg-Prosser

Which song? Tired of Running, from their sophomore album Ternion

Why? When we first listened to this track, we let it hypnotized us because that’s mainly what it does. With repeated but highly evocative lyrics, atmospheric synth, decisive pounding of drum and bass, and distinctive vocal, the song conveys an intense sense of frustration, urgency, anger and heartbreak. Those emotions feel even more real as they are reflected in the dark concept of the video. With band members running in slow motion in a foggy forest, the video is a perfect visualization of this enigmatic yet charming song. It is just not too much if we say that this track is mysterious and gloomy in a glorious way.

More info about We Have Band
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Interview with Theme Park

Last Saturday, September 29th, Ear to Ears had a very precious chance to interview one of our favourite bands, Theme Park. The trio was in Jakarta to take part in an annual Java Soulnation festival on September 28 and 30th. After they had their first show the day before, we came to the hotel they stayed at noon to get to know more about the band and their music. And here are Marcus Haughton, Miles Haughton and Oscar Manthorpe answered our questions…

Ear to Ears (E2E): How do you describe your music for people who haven’t heard your songs before?
Oscar Manthorpe: I think essentially it’s like danceable pop music. It’s sort of pop music with a twist.
Marcus Haughton: It’s pop and it’s dancey.
Oscar: We wanna make people dance.

E2E: We heard you on a show last night and we can’t really put your music into a category, which is good. So, what influences your music?
Miles Haughton: Um, I think bands that made dance music is definitely an influence. I like that party bands, you know, that kind of thing. But I think beyond that is the same old stuff. I guess it’s like just all different music we listen to growing up, like so varied, changes so much.
Oscar: I think you can take some examples like the big people that we like, the people that made ambitious pop music, so I think that is fun and you can dance to it but also have like a… I don’t know… a cerebral element to it. That you can sort of think about… people like David Bowie. Just people who are like interesting, but also have great melodies.

E2E: People like to compare your music with Bombay Bicycle Club and The Maccabees, what do you think about that?
Marcus: I can see there are… mmm… similarities.

E2E: Did you guys listen to them?
Marcus: They’re friends. But I didn’t think we ever intentionally… It has never been something like that we listen to get music inspiration, but we’re big fans of the bands.
Miles: I think we grew up with similar music environment… um so… you know, what we would listen to and what they listen to are similar and stuff.
Oscar: I think when you grow up around yeah… in that environment like aesthetically there’s always gonna be some similarities. So yeah, I think… not exactly the same.

E2E: You’re gonna be on tour with Bloc Party, how do you feel about that?
Oscar: Super excited!
Miles: We started our first live show a year ago in August and then we went on tour with Bombay Bicycle Club. So, a year since then I think it’ll be of a similar magnitude. That’s really cool.

E2E: What’s the craziest show you’ve ever watched?
Miles: I once went to see a band called Fucked Up. It was crazy because they’re crazy and it was in a venue closed down now in London called the Astoria Two. There weren’t a lot of people there. They are popular band. I don’t know why there wasn’t a big crowd…
Marcus: There was a big crowd to begin with. But I think more people went to it because of the hype. They didn’t actually know what they were gonna expect. We didn’t know what we were gonna expect.
Miles: I was at the balcony, I looked out… So maybe halfway through… it was like just the people on the very front left. Everyone was going mental and the singer was jumping in the crowd. I spotted like three friends basically fighting everywhere, in a good way, it was sort of like a happy fight.

E2E: What about the craziest show that you’ve ever been on stage?
Oscar: We played the show at, do you know David Lynch? He’s a director and he helped design this club in Paris. It’s like the most amazing place about three floors underground or something. It’s got like golds, like walls and just like with weirdest faces you’ve ever seen… crazy stuff… but that was yeah, a lot of fun to play.

E2E: Was that like a really good vibe, were there a lot of people there?
Miles: That was also what was weird about it. Basically you couldn’t go unless you are a member. You couldn’t buy tickets. It was just, you know, members happened to fancy a little bit of music that day, we were the band. So there was about like 30 people in the audience, but it was a smaller room. Everyone was dancing. So it was just weird. It’s a nice feeling. Everyone was happy. We’ve never had a higher percentage of dancing audience before. It doesn’t happen all that often.

E2E: What’s your favorite all time album?
Miles: Oh, good question…
Oscar: I always think, what I go back to is Neil Young, After The Gold Rush. When I feel like hung-over, or just like happy or sad, that’s always like the right thing to listen to.
E2E: Very sentimental.
Oscar: It was all my parents’. They played it when I was 3 or 4.
Marcus: It changes constantly, I think… The Strokes, Is This It.
Miles: I think maybe Funeral by Arcade Fire… the one that I love the most.
Oscar: There’s never that one album. It’s one for the right situation… There’s a few….
E2E: It’s like the same as asking what’s your favorite song.
Oscar: What’s your favorite book, what’s your favorite film… It’s too hard.
Miles: Why must I choose?! (laughs)

E2E: Did you grow in like musical family? Because I read that your name comes from Miles Davis and Marcus Miller.
Marcus: Our parents like music, but then they don’t actually… They can’t play anything.
Miles: Our dad went to see Miles Davis once, before we were born, and they picked the names Miles and Marcus. He’s got this big player. He’s got about 5000 vinyls. It’s very cool.

E2E: Have you listened to half of them?
Marcus: We’re not allowed to go in there.
Oscar: Dad’s are the worst. My dad won’t let me use his vinyl player, he’s got all this amazing stuff, but he’s like, “Oh, it’s the needle, it’s very expensive. Don’t touch that.”

E2E: So you like to listen to jazz when you were still little?
Miles: Yeah, listened to, and played jazz as well.
Oscar: Marcus put on Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis, that record, the other day.
Marcus: I wouldn’t say that we listen to Jazz very often. But that’s a great record.
Miles: No, I think we do.
Oscar: I feel we do listen to jazz.
Marcus: Speak for yourself!

E2E: You’re big in Europe especially in the UK. So is it important for you to play and gain lots of fans in Asia?
Miles: It’s always nice to have fans anyway, but I think as well as place… like I’d like to travel to more often. So, it’d be nice to have a reason for us to come. I’d be nice to say let’s go to Japan, or Thailand. We’d have people to play to, and we get to see a bit of places as well.

E2E: So on Sunday, your setlist, is it going to be different from last night?
Marcus: I think it depends on the audience.
Oscar: We’ll have a look, we’ll judge it by ear.
Miles:  If we see enough similar faces, we’ll switch up.

E2E: Well, we’ll be there on Sunday. So, that’s all I think. Thank you so much.

(Special thanks to Sam Walker, who made this interview happened and to our contributors, Fita and Reri for being very helpful)

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Theme Park @Java Soulnation, Jakarta, 28 and 300912

After having a rather boring summer this year, with no interesting gig in town and a cancellation of an annual rock festival, I could finally feel the intense excitement again when I heard that one of my most anticipated bands to see was going to take part in Java Soulnation—an annual soul music festival in Indonesia which was held on September 28-30th 2012. As their fan, it is actually embarrassing that I almost missed their performance in the festival. I knew that they had a show in Jakarta just two days before their first gig on Friday and the second one on Sunday. Then, a sudden panic attack hit me because I  haven’t prepared anything at all. So, without any further thinking or whatsoever, I clicked the official site of the festival and impulsively bought the tickets.

I decided not to miss any of Theme Park’s show in Jakarta, so I came to their two gigs in the festival. On the first day of Java Soulnation festival they were scheduled to play at 10 pm on one of five stages in Istora Senayan Jakarta, called Wonderful Indonesia stage. I was there with my two besties, Fita and Reri. I arrived early at the venue and decided to see other performers before I went to Theme Park’s stage at around 9 pm. I was a bit surprised when I saw from distance that the area around the stage was still empty. But as I walked closer to the stage, I could see the band was doing sound check. I was feeling excited and disappointed at the same time because I could see them at the very front line, but I thought a quiet audience was absolutely not a good idea either. I tried to think positive and just enjoyed seeing the band prepared all the stuff they needed—which was a pretty rare view here. All the band members—Miles Haughton, Marcus Haughton and Oscar Manthorpe—with their two additional players—Ric Hollingbery and Phil Jordan were preparing the instruments on the stage, while I used this chance to take pictures (and shouted their names… a bit).

At about 10 pm, the show finally kicked-off. I was quite happy because as soon as it started, people were coming to see them. Their easy listening song and danceable tunes made the night warmer and gained more people to dance to the music. With a solid and soulful voice of Miles Haughton, a delicate guitar playing and synth from his twin, Marcus Haughton and a breezy guitar sound from Oscar Manthorpe, who sometime switched his guitar with Ric Hollingbery’s bass, I just couldn’t resist to enjoy their songs without bouncing and dancing in a synchronized move to the beats. The trio’s outfit also caught my attention actually. The colourful and quite cheerful print on Marcus’ shirt contrasted with a monochrome-coloured-clothes of Miles and Oscar who were wearing white and black shirt. That night, Theme Park entertained all of us with their already known tracks, like Mountain We Love, Milk, Wax, Two HoursJamaica and Ghosts, plus introduced their new song called Tonight. When they sang one of my personal favourites, Milk, the rhythm made me feel like I wanna do the walk just like in the music video. Meanwhile, the rest of the songs on the setlist were just perfect tunes for me to dance in a simple move. I felt also so relaxed at the same time.

Their second show on Sunday, September 30th, was just as excellence as their first one. They still performed impressively through their nine-songs setlist. These two performances made me think that these young lads already succeeded in making danceable pop music whether for their fans or people who haven’t heard their songs before.

Theme Park’ stage on Friday, Sept 28

Sound Check (Friday, Sept 28)

Miles is doing (obviously) a sound check on Friday, Sept 28

Marcus

Oscar and Ric

First show at Java Soulnation, Friday, Sept 28

Marcus, Miles and Oscar

Miles Haughton

Marcus Haughton

Oscar Manthorpe

Ric Hollingbery

Second show on Sunday, Sept 30

Miles on Theme Park’ second gig

Marcus on Sunday

Oscar Manthorpe!

Oscar and Ric

Their setlist on Sunday, Sept 30 with Oscar’s doodle on it

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Java Soulnation Festival @Istora Senayan Jakarta 28-300912

Last weekend, I had a chance to see a music festival called Java Soulnation at Istora Senayan, Jakarta. Some local and international bands and musicians performed in the three-day-festival that is dedicated to the rhymes, beats and tunes of soul, hip hop, R&B and rap, divided into five different stages in the festival area. To be honest, I had no intention to go to this event before because I am a bit tight on funds lately. But, I suddenly changed my mind right after I knew that one of my favourite bands was going to be in this festival. Yes, they are Theme Park who instantly made me forget about my plan to save my money and then impulsively bought the ticket online. Other than Theme Park, there were lots of great performers such as James Morrison, Scissor Sisters, Robin Thicke, Jay Sean, Hercules and Love Affair, Valerius, TEED and so on. Unfortunately, the headliners of this festival—James Morrison, Scissor Sisters and Robin Thicke—were on the special stages, where a special ticket was needed to be able to see them there. For further information about this festival, you can check Java Soulnation’s official site here.

I will write about Theme Park’s gig on the next blog entry. Meanwhile, please enjoy the pictures I took at the festival.

Color Me Badd

Jay Sean

Jay Sean

Theme Park

Theme Park

Theme Park

Bottlesmoker

Valerius

Valerius

Valerius

Valerius

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Music of the Week – The Chevin

Who? A four-piece band from West Yorkshire with Coyle Girelli on vocals, Mat Steel on guitar, Jon Langford on bass and Mal Taylor on drums

Which song? Single Champion from their debut album Borderline which was just released in the US on sept 25th

Why? Music-wise, this astonishing track has an interesting dynamic tempo all the way through which is just splendidly well-executed. A powerful drumming already kicking in in the beginning synchronizes smoothly with swift guitar riffs before the synths glides and takes over the first verse. Then comes the massive chorus which just shows off the fact that Coyle’s voice is simply a jaw-dropper. Even David Letterman seemed to be genuinely and utterly thrown by his incredible talent when the band appeared in his late night show. Coyle’s voice gets more powerful in the bridge when expansive and captivating sound of strings makes a strong and beautiful presence. Aren’t there many reasons for this soundtrack for Fifa 13 to be called ‘Champion’?

More info about The Chevin:
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Interview with Ideals

Ideals (L-R: Ben Smith, Andrew Major, Benjamin Ward, Simon Wilson)

Have you ever wondered or seen a band that you think deserves more exposure and appreciation because they have all the qualities and talents? We do most of the time. Ideals, our choice for Music Of The Week, is one of them. We’ve been their huge fans for more than a year and when we finally have a chance to ask them questions that we’ve been keeping in our minds, we feel genuinely ecstatic.  Read below our interview with Ideals’ drummer Benjamin Ward and get inspired! Meanwhile, don’t forget to take a peek at our favourite Ideals’ music video Significant Other.

Ear to Ears (E2E): How do you describe your music to those people who have never heard about you before?
Benjamin Ward (BW): Rich harmonies and heartfelt lyrics.  Its big, dramatic and intelligent indie inspired by bands like Joy Division and The Cure but with a backbone taken from our wider contemporary musical influences; some parts of the new songs are pretty heavy and different to our first E.P in a lot of ways while at the same time sticking to what made Ideals work so well in the first place, that really excites me.  I try and make the percussion interesting as possible, I don’t particularly want it to sound like the drumming you would find in other bands of our genre.

E2E: What is the ideal of Ideals’ music?
BW: Just four friends playing songs that mean the world to them.

E2E: Could you give us a little picture how is it behind the writing session?
BW: To be honest it’s always changing. Most of the time Andrew, Ben or Simon will have a riff, a harmony or some lyrics that they want to turn into a song. We all come together as a full band in the studio or acoustically round one of our houses and add to the idea, we all have input to every part and eventually we build the song up from the ground. This could take a few hours or a few months depending on the song and how we feel it should progress. It really relies on how developed the initial idea is, if Andrew comes to practice with a fully formed song and has a kind of knows how he wants the other parts to go it can sometimes be an easy and quick process, but then I suppose the nature of a democratic band can mean that if someone doesn’t agree with a part it can go right back to square one. Sometimes it doesn’t even work like this, we could be rehearsing for a show and someone will start playing a riff or I will start drumming and we all just get super into it and decide to make it into a song, this sometimes involves mixing the parts and ideas of one or more songs. It is at the same time the easiest and hardest process of being in a band, but it is where every band in the world is on equal footing, song writing is literally what being in a band is all about. It is a personal and rewarding experience, it’s a joy to make music with your best friends.

E2E: We learn that you guys have known each other since you were much younger, does it help you get along as a band?
BW: Yeah, it does. Me and Andrew have been making music together since we were 14, we have grown up listening to the same bands and discovering live music so musically we really are on the same wavelength in most ways. Simon went to our high school but was in the year above so we didn’t really know him but he played in bands too and sometimes our bands played together. In 2007 Me and Andrew formed a band called ‘It’s A Trap!’ and at a houseparty hosted by a mutual friend I got talking to Simon for the first time in my life and asked if he wanted to join an indie band, thankfully he said yes because now he’s like my brother. That band existed up until Ideals, together we learnt how to make songs and play shows, it was a lot of fun, we basically grew up as a band together and then went on to form an adult band as solid as Ideals as we became adults ourselves. We didn’t know Ben Smith when we were younger but we love him so much it feels like we did.

E2E: You have changed your guitarist 3 times. How does this affect Ideals?
BW: It’s weird, it’s like Ideals has had a different life with each E.P. With the first E.P we had Matt. I love Matt with all my heart, he’s an older friend to me than even Andrew or Simon, he helped us write some brilliant songs and was so much fun. It was a shame he had to leave, but then I instantly loved Johnny when he came in, I think he influenced us in a different way to Matt, he had very American orientated influences which I liked a lot. The last E.P was recorded with Johnny and I really am a big fan of his input and guitar work, again it sucked when he had to leave but again I instantly loved Ben Smith when he joined. Ben is in all honesty the most solid member we have had, before it could sometimes feel like it was mine, Andrew and Simon’s band with an extra guitar player. That isn’t to say we intended it to feel like that, but compared to how involved Ben is with every single part of this band it just sometimes did. He writes just as many songs as Andrew and together they are seriously brilliant.

E2E: What keeps you going in making music?
BW: Just a love of music and my friends. Its an experience we share together but if we ever stopped I would still keep doing it for the rest of my life, it’s such a part of me now that I will need to do it until the day I die. It’s good to be able to express yourself and there’s not really a purer form of that than playing music. I think we have all been through so much together, making the transition from childhood to adulthood as a band gives you a lot to write about.

E2E: After releasing your EP, Let Your Anger Leave You, what can we expect more next from Ideals?
BW: So much more! We have been keeping quiet recently as we are currently demoing for an album, it’s all sounding really fucking exciting and we can’t wait for people to hear it.

E2E: What is your latest obsession?
BW: My mum got me an absolutely beautiful guitar for my birthday so I’ve been playing that an awful lot and recording little demos onto my computer, I just need to learn how to sing a bit better and I might stick some on the internet for free download. My little brother bought me a really old game called Burnout on the original xbox kind of as a joke, I don’t ever play video games anymore but I literally have wasted days of my life on this, I used to love it when I was 13 so it’s like nostalgic entertainment. I guess I stick to my old obsessions more than I find new ones, I have a lot of obsessions already, you would need to take a long and disturbing list.

E2E: Do you have any ritual before you get on stage?
BW: Nothing in particular. I make sure I have had enough to eat and that I am completely hydrated, I stretch and warm up and like to have had at least 1 redbull before I go onstage just to make sure I have enough energy. The guys will do vocal warmups like 30 minutes before we go up, it helps so much, especially for Andrew on some of the more challenging parts like the opening to ‘Lungs’. To be honest we all will normally have had at least one drink and most will usually have something to smoke as well, gigs are like giant parties, we try not to overdo it but we often get excited…

E2E: What is your favourite spot in London and why?
BW: I love different parts of it for different reasons. Obviously there’s some brilliant fun to be had in Shoredich and Soho on nights out and the financial district is stunning to look at but at the end of the day my favourite spot is a hill in Greenwich park that overlooks the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf. Greenwich is just down the road from where I lived while at university, most of the area surrounding it is pretty rough and ugly, of course I love it just as much because east London is one of the funnest places on earth but that park was like a little escape from the madness of city life.

E2E: What is your favourite drink?
BW: Alcoholic = it’s quickly becoming red wine, I hated it for so long because of some disgustingly pathetic drunk experiences that 14 year old me had but I’ve really started enjoying it again thanks to my dad’s constant efforts to get me to drink it.
Non Alcoholic = Welches Grape Soda or Milk. Welches Grape is the sweetest drink known to man, it’s simply life changing.

E2E: If you could be any fictional character, who would you be?
BW: Han Solo because he does whatever the fuck he wants. He helps save the galaxy from some absolutely biblical problems that no smuggler should ever have to deal with and he gets Princess Leia without trying or even looking like he particularly wanted her in the first place. He just gets her because he’s so obviously awesome, there’s no way she’s going to deny him. At the end of the day he owns the Millenium Falcon, is quite a nice man under all his roguish charm and he has Chewbacca as a best friend so yeah, Han Solo. Also if he kept that reward Leia gave him at the end of the first film before he decided he wanted to be hero and help blow up the Death Star he is probably fucking loaded.

More info about Ideals
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