Chemistry Lane – An interview

I first met Dan from Chemistry Lane at the 6 Music Festival in Manchester early this year. It was late and I was spectacularly drunk. Mark King from Level 42 fame was buying drinks for everybody but us. We bonded over such rejection.

Dan told me about his band and gave me a CD to listen to. I threatened to start a blog so that I could feature bands such as his. I didn’t know if I’d like Chemistry Lane back then but suspected I would.

 

I’ve been sent things in the post since – press releases and videos on beautifully designed, bright orange memory sticks. For Chemistry Lane, the image, style, product and concept is important.

We had a crazy, mad night dancing in the silent disco at the Off The Tracks summer festival. It was also spectacularly drunken. Earlier, Chemistry Lane had proved to be one of the highlights of the whole festival. I loved their approach to live performance. I loved their sound. They have answered my questions in delightful fashion. This is well worth a read.

Introduce Chemistry Lane to the readers of Sonic Breakfast in no more than 100 words….

Bridging the gap between the intensity and momentum of a rock band, and the clinical electro loops of dance floor hypnosis, Chemistry Lane surf waves of paranoia that redirect your gaze toward the illusion, like sleight of hand in reverse. Or we make the music that we want to hear that hasn’t been made by anyone else yet.

Where does the name ‘Chemistry Lane’ come from?

Choosing the name was quite a lengthy process, suggestions would come and go, gloried by some of the band, pilloried by others. In the end, Sam noticed a rather unique street name in Sandycroft, North Wales and it was the offering that met with the least resistance. Chemistry Lane were born.

What’s been the highlight of 2014 to date for Chemistry Lane?

Our first gig of 2014 was supporting 65daysofstatic. Playing with a band which we all hold in great esteem in our hometown was pretty special. FestEvol at the Kazimier in Liverpool was a superb event, very enjoyable to play with the added bonus of some fine reviews. The same was true for Off the Tracks Festival in Derbyshire, however the undoubted highlight was releasing our debut single ‘Faustian’. Making the accompanying video was a fun experience though we fear we may lose drummer Sean to Hollywood after his much-lauded and captivating performance.

What’s the process that’s involved in writing your material?

It’s like an argument where everyone is on the same side but no-one agrees, like a jigsaw where you don’t have all the pieces, the box, or any type of illustration, and reaching a consensus is occasionally like trying to catch a lubricated eel in a tumble dryer.

Getting signed to the Victoria Warehouse label. How did that happen and how do you see that developing?

We were approached after our second self-released EP launch by the founder of Victoria Warehouse Records Danny Hambrook. That night saw us take the visual element of our show to new levels with lights, visuals and video projected against an all white background. This also included the band dressing all in white, a look that becomes bassist Dan surprisingly well. Our set had reached a point where we felt we were breaking new ground and really starting to connect with audiences, and that was recognised by the label.

The label provides an opportunity to have our releases distributed and promoted, and hopefully make the most of the opportunities that can arise from the growth of the label. The labels attachment to the Victoria Warehouse venue which recently hosted the BBC 6Music festival is also an exciting prospect.

If you were curating a festival, who would be your headliners (dead or alive)?

Good Question. We could quite easily have spent the remainder of 2014 debating this, but we’re now super professional and have an album to record so we’ve settled on:

The Who (circa 1970)
The Doors (circa 1967)
Ziggy Stardust (circa 1973)
Fugazi (circa 1998)
Marvin Gaye (circa 1971)

What’s the music scene like in Chester? What do you most like about living there and what do you most despise?

Chester has some good bands but there isn’t much of a ‘scene’ as such. Like us, the bands with a bit more ambition play the odd gig in Chester but focus their attentions further afield. Chester has some good restaurants and a zoo. We find the low crime rate beneficial when taking a late night stroll listening to minimal electronica.

‘Despise’ is a strong word for peace loving folks such as ourselves, but the Tory council run by mustachioed masons is a definite negative, as is the lack of a cinema or theatre. These factors made the Chester’s recent bid to become the City of Culture rather comedic. But it does have some good schools and a zoo.

Should those watching the video to ‘Faustian’ believe that it offers them an insight into the lives of Chemistry Lane? Are any of your influences seen within the images?

The video is cut through with a definite Orwellian influence and carries a political/social observation that a lot of people can relate to. Maybe this speaks of our hometown too. A typically Cestrian existential crisis surely involves a resident rising one morning and realising they’re never going to escape middle management in a multinational banking and financial services corporation and even if they could, they wouldn’t.

Where will Chemistry Lane be in twelve months time? What will you look to have achieved?

Our primary aim is to have our debut album finished, released and for us to be happy with the result. The plan is also to gain wider exposure through the album, bigger gigs and festivals, measured by the increasing nature of our font size on gig posters.


King Capisce – Never Spoken

My review from last weeks Spring Off The Tracks festival is complete and published here.

I’m on the festival treadmill now, running ever faster to keep up with the demands of pretty much doing one a weekend throughout the summer. Later today, I head across to Cheltenham for the Wychwood festival.

If Off The Tracks taught me anything (I think I was aware of this anyway) it was to not be fearful of jazz-rock experimentation. A few years ago, a band described in a programme in such a way would have had me running for the hills afraid that I had finally lost my marbles.

But, Sheffield- based, King Kapisce are described as jazz-rock and they were one of the OTT highlights. To call them jazz-rock omits the other influences that mix into this cauldron. It was impossible not to tap a foot, to shake a head or to stroke a beard (I don’t have one but the man sitting behind me didn’t seem to mind) over the sounds they created.

They normally have two sax players to pump stacks of soul over a complex mesh of drum and guitar-led sound. But at OTT, they offer humble apologies for one of the band has left them for a holiday in America. We didn’t need to know this. There’s enough going on without needing more.

King Capisce make instrumental music. Their new record is ‘The Future Cannot Be Born Yet, It Is Waiting For The Past To Die’.

Regular readers of Sonic Breakfast might have noticed that I’m somebody who often gets excited about lyrics. The fact that King Kapisce are completely instrumental is not a hindrance. I closed my eyes during their set and let my imagination run wild. I climbed that tree and jumped across the tops. I threw myself from that plane and flapped my arms like an eagle with wings. I surfed on that wave until it washed over me.

Try it out yourself. Where might this take you?

 

 

Hot Feet – Sedation

 Back from a great time at the Spring Bank Holiday Off The Tracks. A full review will appear on eFestivals this week once I’ve recovered enough to write it up. I tried to blog from there but couldn’t get a good enough signal to allow for uploading. Here’s something I wrote yesterday (Sunday) morning…

 

I’ve returned to my car to survey the lie of the land. The grass is soggy;puddles sit on the surface suggesting it could be a slipping and sliding affair to get out of this car park.

From elsewhere, the roar of Super Bikes has just kicked in again. The thunderous throttling hum has been a constant this weekend though it has sometimes been drowned out by low flying planes about to land and mostly been hidden by the live music on offer. 

I am here at Off The Tracks. My belly aches suggesting that one of the 80 real ales lives on inside me (Just to clarify, I didn’t have 80) and blue sky is trying to break out from behind the cloud. My hands are no longer cold. An extra layer of socks are keeping my feet warm.

 

But my feet aren’t hot. I’d go as far as suggesting that the only Hot Feet here yesterday were the band of that name from Stroud who entertained from a threshing barn. Hot Feet opened up an early evening session. Punters were still feeling the effects of the hog roast, the incredible, electric, storm that left everybody rushing for cover and a break for beer so Hot Feet’s languishing folk-fuelled laments hit a sweet spot.

I sat on a bench towards the front and marvelled at their display. The drunken, bumbling compere introduced this band as one with the best female vocalist we’d see all weekend. Marianne certainly did impress. A voice, fragile and pure, yet with a hint of rural ruddiness. These are songs rooted in farmyard barn simplicity that break out into urban sprawls of sound. 

And I find it rather charming. They’re apparently playing at Wychwood next weekend, another festival I’m reviewing. My mind is made up that I’ll see them there again. No cold feet from these quarters. 

 

 

The Moulettes – Lady Vengeance

It’s a repeat post. I’ve already talked about the Moulettes. Their music does make me happy. 

But I have a few reasons to repeat… 

(1) I’ve just seen their video for new song, ‘Lady Vengeance’. It’s arty animation and I’m pretty sure that I quite like it – only pretty sure because it’s a bit fantastical and I’m not completely clear what it’s telling me about my life. This is a track that’s been described as ‘noir trip hop’. I’ve always found the music of Portishead pretty dark but if this is digging deeper then it ought to garnish respect.

(2) I’ve been listening to their new album, ‘Constellations’ for some time now. It’s getting a full release on June 2nd and it’s definitely a record to watch out for. The press release sums it all up really neatly. 

” ‘Constellations’ crosses varied and expansive musical territory over its ten tracks. As songwriter, cellist and front singer Hannah Miller notes, “People can listen to Moulettes and hear Shostakovich, Miles Davis, Pentangle, Pink Floyd, Bjork and Skrillex. That is where we’ve all come from…everyone shares in over 80 years of recorded music history”.

(3) I’m off to my first camping festival of 2014 this weekend. I’ve heard great things about the spring ‘Off The Tracks’ at Donington Farmhouse but have only been once before. My good friend, Richard Haswell, was celebrating a special birthday. His love of steam trains meant that a fine group of his friends spent a day having a beer ridden picnic whilst travelling up and down the line between Leicester and Loughborough. We ended the day by spending a night at ‘Off The Tracks’. Such was my level of inebriation, I can only recall staggering and swaying whilst the Alabama 3 nailed it on a main stage. Hopefully, I’ll remember more about this weekend. The Moulettes are playing and I intend to be dancing like a whirling dervish when they take to the stage in the afternoon sunshine (or May drizzle). 

Perhaps I’ll see you there?