Archive for the ‘Interview’ Category

Interview: Seething Akira

Posted: September 22, 2016 in Interview, Uncategorized

Portsmouth-based “electronic, shouty rock” (in their words) five-piece Seething Akira are a lively bunch, and in spite of being soaked by the diabolical rain, and shaken by being beaten up during the making of their latest music video for ‘Airstrike’, their live performances are just as energetic.

Rockshot’s Nick Pollard spoke to Seething Akira backstage after their very soggy and muddy show at Butserfest. Needless to say, this was a conversation that was rather difficult to keep under control, and the quest to find their ‘deeper side’ continues.

 

akira

I was sent a photograph of you guys posing on tiny kid’s bikes. Can you actually ride those?

Dick: I did! I did a little 180.

Charlie: To be fair, I think it was a bit easier for you. You had the best bike to be able to do that on.

Kit: Our wooden ones didn’t have pedals, so we just fell down the hill a bit.

Stu: I did feel sorry for the kids we robbed though.

Charlie: He deserved it.

Stu: You didn’t need to break his nose though…

Charlie: He said “no” to me, and you know what happens when kids say no to me.

Everyone else: You break their nose…
You were first on today, were you not?

Charlie Bowes (Synth and vocals): Yes, we were.

Dick (Bass): We had fun. It’s great fun to play the breakfast shift.

Charlie: We were very pleased that it was the only stage with a roof, therefore everyone just wanted to stay dry. Whether we were poo or not, they would stay and watch us!

Kit Conrad (Vocals): We had no idea whether or not it was a good gig.

Charlie: Well, it was a busy gig, so there is your answer!

Having a look on your Facebook page, I did see that one of you commented that you were worried that there wouldn’t be enough people there for a conga…

Charlie: It’s happened before! At Breakout in Brighton we had a little conga line, which was really nice.

Kit: They started rowing as well.

Charlie: I think everybody was a little too sleepy to conga. We didn’t put them under pressure…

Stu Radcliffe (Drums): It’s not mandatory. You don’t have to conga at all Seething Akira shows.

Dick: Unless we’re headlining. Then you have to.

Kit: It’s part of our rider.

An online description of Seething Akira says that your ridiculous video for ‘Airstrike’ is “halfway there” to define you. What is the other half?

Dick: I think that there’s a deep side. Somewhere. But we try to keep it fun.

Charlie: Sometimes we will put a mini message in there. Hey kids! It isn’t all about spandex and wrestling!

Kit: We’ve got feelings, you know.

Where was that video recorded?

Charlie: There’s a mixed martial arts gym in Portsmouth called Gym 01, and we know the guys who run it, so they allowed us to come in and let us use the cage. There were a few fighters who were quite happy to beat us up. In fact, a woman called Laura, was I think No.4 in the UK for MMA, and she was fighting Kit. Slammed him all over the place. She kicked his arse. We enjoyed watching that.

Kit: It’s not fighting. It’s just abuse. She was very good at kicking people in. I can tell you from experience.

On 22nd September you will be supporting Feed the Rhino at Southampton Joiners. How did this concert come to be?

large-20160922-gigs-feed_the_rhino

Kit: The promoter who is putting on the show asked us if we wanted to support them, and I’m a huge fan of Feed the Rhino. I absolutely love them. And we have played with Counting Days before, who are also on the bill. Feed the Rhino are quite different to us musically, but they do like to put on a live show, and that’s something we try and do – keeping everyone entertained when we’re up there. I think it’ll go down well.

Thinking back to that bike picture, some musicians get a little fed up when one image is associated with them. For example if there is anything mentioning ‘underground’ in a band or song name, there will be loads of photos of you posing in coffins. Are there any that you want to distance yourself from?

Kit: Since we did a video in spandex, people just want to see us in spandex.

Charlie: We have been asked “can you play your gig in what you wore in that video?” and we’ve had to turn them down. Maybe one day we’ll do it. We’ve still got them. But we try and do something new with every video, as best we can, so the next video will be completely different.

It has been over a year since your most recent music video, so dare I ask…

Everyone: Ugh…

… when can we expect another?

Kit: Oh, I’ll take this one. We had a bit of a hold up. I won’t go into too much detail but we were going to release an album, but we pushed it back to an EP so we could get it out quicker. It will be coming very soon. There will be some brand new stuff on it, and we don’t want to release shit. We want it on point.

Charlie: And there have been some video ideas already, which might be done soon.

If your band were a food, what would you taste like?

mexican-blendgrilledcheese

The cheese sandwich bit. I’ll let you imagine the rest…

Stu: A good cheese sandwich that you have burnt to a crisp. That you’ve dropped in poo. Then microwaved.

Charlie: And then you eat it while crying.

Dick: While sat in the rain.

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kontrust

“Have you ever been to Austria? If you do, you’ll have to check out the lederhosen! They’re really comfortable!”

Kontrust take absolutely no shame in their infamous image. They are a six-piece band from Vienna, Austria, best recognised as a six-piece all clad in lederhosen, with frontwoman Agata Jarosz’s dress and blonde plaits plucked straight from backstage at a production of The Sound of Music. Their dress sense is a somewhat a blessing, considering how their metal sounds collide with rap, folk, electronic, and who knows what else, thus inducing a reluctance to introduce them by their genre, as vocalist Stefan Lichtenberger explains to Noise Cannon.

Everybody is asking us ‘What is your genre?’ and even we don’t know. We just call it ‘crossover’. A little bit of this one, and a little bit of that one, because we are six individuals and we are quite different, and we listen to different kinds of music.”

Now in their tenth year together, 2014 brought Kontrust’s fourth album Explositive, recorded over the course of 15 months of ‘intense work’ – something to be expected of a band who have a difficulty in pinning down a universal taste from each member. However, nobody seems to take too much issue to the situation. “We have different influences, but we all still like listening to rock and metal and so on, but everyone has their own little music style that he or she is listening to as well.”

This isn’t to say that the process isn’t totally without incident, as the song selection process for their releases is a potential (read ‘inevitable’) nightmare, if only due to band members’ ironic sincerity and trust in one another. “I think the only problem is that we are a very democratic band, and there are six musicians. That sometimes makes it really hard,” Lichtenberger says honestly. “We recorded songs that are not on the album that are the favourites of one or two members. In the end, everyone is satisfied with it. The songs are not released yet, but we will continue to work on them.”

Such a mature approach might not be expected of a band who would inevitably be associated with playful intoxication. Single ‘Hey DJ’, as a four-minute rant for metal, does nothing to shake off that conclusion. It’s a verdict that began with the video of breakthrough hit ‘Bomba’, consisting of the band at their most stereotypically Austrian, against the rolling hills and mountains, beneath glorious sun, and set to their unusually eclectic, heated lunacy. The budget on ‘Bomba’ appeared not to cover additional windmills and sheep, something resolved with sock puppets in 2012’s ‘Sock n Doll’ and animation in their latest video for Explositive lead single ‘Just Propaganda’.

Kontrust’s genre divisions, reliant on independent opinion and work, seem to continue into video production, with ‘Just Propaganda’ created with little input from the majority of the band. “I only saw it a few days before the release. It works for me though, so everyone has a lot of trust in each other. It’s not necessary that all six of us are involved in every project.”

The new animated video consists of hypnotized, drooling, headphone-wearing goats, and cross-sections of their tired brains being rapidly tied in knots. The sight of lederhosen-clad robots with amplifiers for heads, guiding the poor goats to be slaughtered in the ‘Lederhosen Maker 5000’ machine, confirms that there is some kind of political irritation. By the time the characters’ head explodes in a crimson shower of blood and guts, it’s quite apparent that they really are angry after all.

Lichtenberger explains the Kontrust agenda: “People are listening a lot to radio and watching TV and surfing the internet, and there are a lot of stories or hoaxes coming up. It’s about spreading stories without really checking whether there is any truth in them. No one is asking a question about them,” he says. “This is what is really annoying sometimes, and I think it’s becoming worse and worse. There is an overflow of news media. It’s more or less a ‘propaganda war’. We still see what’s going on in Syria or Iraq and all this ISIS stuff, but you don’t get an objective view on these stories.”

All of a sudden, the perfect sync of the hundreds, plainly marching to the beat makes much more sense, even if the robotic traditional thigh-slapping dancing is not. However, if one wants to make sense of that in person, Kontrust have their eyes on the UK for their upcoming tour, as Lichtenberger says: “We are looking forward to coming to the UK, so please come and visit our shows.”

 

2014 has marked the best annual vinyl sales in a very long time. It is the first year since 1996 for sales to break the one million record mark. It’s something that can be attributed to several things, and most will instantly jump to conclusions relating to Record Store Day, and the increasing attention to poor sound quality on online music streams.

However, Nick Pollard had other ideas, having spotted some very unusual music shops popping up around the UK over the last few years. Nick visited one such store, Pie & Vinyl in Southsea, a ‘record cafe’, to chat to Steve Portnell – one of the founders of the rather distinguished shop. No prizes for guessing what they have for sale.

(NOTE: If you do visit Pie & Vinyl, the pie really is marvelous. I recommend the wild mushroom and asparagus pie. Nom.)

Image by Dan Smyth. www.pieandvinyl.co.uk

Image by Dan Smyth. http://www.pieandvinyl.co.uk

What compelled you to open Pie & Vinyl?

It was believed that people still wanted to buy physical format music, but using a different experience. That’s the key to Pie & Vinyl: an experience. We’re a record shop first and foremost, and we offer food alongside that. We just sell modern vinyl. Brand new music. And as you probably know, often comes with CDs or download codes inside. Plus it’s the 18-25 year olds that are the biggest part of our customer base.

Has there been a big wave of customers? 

Yeah. A lot of kids are buying records again, purely because they’ve never been able to buy them before. The fact that they pick them up and they realise there’s a ‘Side A’ and a ‘Side B’. All these mind-boggling things that we take for granted. It was the belief that people didn’t just want to press RETURN for one song, but want to actually buy a physical album, look at the artwork. The sound quality is vastly improved compared to a CD. MP3s are horrible. They run at 3-bit, CDs at 12-bit and vinyl at 24-bit. It’s not compressed either. You can hear the bass, and all of the diferent layers. The vastly improved sound is a big thing as well that young people have appreciated.

The records are all heavyweights as well. They’re all 180-gram standards, so they’re very thick, the grooves are deeper, and the sound quality is a lot better. So that’s a kind of standard thing now, whereas in the Sixties and Seventies, the albums were very thin. They were shellac then.

I would appreciate this more were my record player not broken!

Well we fix them here, mate! You’ll have to bring it in. We sell hi-fi as well. We’re actually going to open a unit just down the road, called Pie & Hi-Fi. We’re hoping to open it this weekend, and specialize in hi-fi equipment, separate styluses, repairs, brushes, alcohol… cleaning alcohol I should add!

How busy was it here around Record Store Day?

Record Store Day is a great day. It’s great for us. The idea of Record Store Day is obviously get more people in for it, and then come back again another day. This year we had the road closed and we put some bands on. We had the Young Knives play. We had a week’s worth of events in the days leading up to Record Store Day. We showed a film in here, Last Shop Standing, about the rise, and the fall and rebirth of record shops.

We’ve got a big, drop down screen here. We have lots of in-store performances as well. We take all the furniture out, and you can fit 60-70 people in here. The performances are usually full to the brim, and we have some very well regarded artists. We’ve had Frank Turner play in here. The night before he played The O2, and he came here! He’s a local lad isn’t he, and he’s always played around here. There’s a strong music scene here. He’s really supportive and hasn’t forgotten those days. We have loads of artists from The Feeling to The Wedding Present, so some pop acts as well as alternative acts. The support that’s out there… I guess they realise that we sell their product, so we work together! It’s fantastic.

The (look of the) shop is all very Southsea. Everything decorated is sourced locally and it’s all got like… a local affiliation as well. There is a lot of Portsmouth and Southsea memorabilia around.

Which is the biggest draw, the pie or the vinyl? Or the ‘and’?

They work very closely together, and nine-times-out-of-ten people buy both. We play nice music, people come in, they talk about music, and especially at the weekend they come in and have pie and mash as well. So, yeah. It works well together. We sell an experience, but we are a record shop first and foremost. Everything we do is based around music.

The shop is the experience. We sell pie and mash alongside music. Basically a hub for people to discover music, discuss music, and eat high quality food. People are very conscious of what they put into their bodies now so we offer a very healthy selection of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free pies. They’re award-winning pies. You can’t get a better pie around here, I can guarantee that!

How much vinyl do you have in here?

Do you want me to show you around? It’s good fun being creative with the space that you have. Here we have our new releases. Every Monday there are about thirty new releases, both 7”s and 12”s. This is our classic reissue box. We also sell limited edition screen posters. These are some of the hi-fi bits that we sell, but they will move soon into the other unit. Our merchandise is really popular as well. We sell lots of T-shirts. This is a Record Store Day Pie & Vinyl one. There are record bags, and hats are very popular. People around Portsmouth and Southsea are quite passionate about the area and we like to support that. There are a lot of independent shops in it, and it has a kind of anti-corporate feel to it all, which is fantastic. So there’s lots of grubby little independent shops around. It’s good not only in the Portsmouth. It’s getting a bit of a reputation nationally as well. We sell a lot on our mail order service. A good way to support independent record shops.

I’ve just noticed some cassettes over there as well. And your own record label. You’ve been busy!

Yeah! Cassettes have come back as well. That’s another factor of why vinyl has come back so strongly – because they contain a CD or download code in them. We’ve got our own record label as well, so we’ve released things from three artists – B of the Bang, The Boy I Used to Be, and Rickyfitts.

How much do you have to restock for orders?

We order as we need replenishment. We work with twelve different distributors and labels, and nothing’s changed in that respect. You still go to the labels and distribution and there are weekly pre-sale order sheets and lots of catalogues that come out that you order from.

We’ve got quite a bit of stock, and when we get new music we turn over some of the A-Z section quite often to keep it all fresh, as we continually get new releases in. Every week on average, we get at least twenty new releases in a week. This week, it’s probably about thirty. We also restock as we get a lot of orders coming in online.You’ve just got to get to know your customer base, take a bit of a punt and being a music fan is obviously a big help. You certainly satisfy that, because you keep buying lots of records!