Category Archives: guitars

Crappy Unsigned Band Reviews #1

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I get a lot of CUB’s following me on Twitter, most of whom I’m assuming have never looked at my page but just saw me amongst the followers of some other bands and thought that their crappy music is similar and that I might follow them back. Now I’m sure you’re going, “Rick that can’t be true, you’re so funny and handsome and I’m sure these bands are just fans of yours” and you may be right but I think the majority of them just want to up their numbers, well not on my time do you hear? If you want endorsement from me then you’re going to have to earn it the hard way sunshine! (That probably sounds a bit creepy, I just mean I’ll review your band on BadTripe.com).

I posted a tweet recently saying that any CUBs who follow me will get a free review on here which may be seen by anywhere up to 5 people a day who accidentally visit my site, great exposure I’m sure for any young kids with a dream of making it in music. Plus it’s only fair, if you expect me to support your band then you should be prepared for my honest feedback.

Now before you all start banging on about art and criticism and “hey c’mon man who are you to criticise our music what have you ever done?” Well let me tell you my band signed a record deal and released an album, albeit only in the great nation of Japan but it’s still a record deal you bunch of pricks and our album is available on Amazon for £18 or roughly 2500 Yen and it has a 5 star review (from me – I tried to change my name on Amazon to Nick Dwight but it didn’t work). So there you have it, I’m better than you, my opinion is worth more now let’s do this!

 

Rogues Gallery

First up @roguesgalleryca  from Rosemead California who describe their sound as ‘quirky’, well my friends quirky as in how my old R.E teacher used to wear purple tights with orange shoes or quirky as in deliberately trapping your genitals betwixt the pages of your Nigella Lawson cookbook for sexual gratification? Let’s find out….

BadTripe Verdict: Hippy Yank Indie straight out the 90’s. I’m listening to ‘No Way Home’ and I’m hearing bits of Nada Surf and The Dead Milkmen which is no bad thing but the track lacks a major hook. I Imagine these guys like riding longboards, smoking a bowl and communicate with each other using only the word ‘dude’. More quirkiness required in my opinion and get a fucking haircut you bunch of stoner bruhs…

Tardigrades in Space

Next, from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne we have what appears to be one person going by the name of Tardigrades in Space @spacetards and with a Twitter bio that reads, “Anonymous mega-twat shitting out music in a bedroom nearer to you than you’d find comfortable” I’m definitely interested.

BadTripe Verdict: Fucking ace! Within about 3 seconds of listening to ‘Infanticide’ I knew it was for me. There’s this awesome post punk/lo-fi vibe which reminds me a bit of early Cloud Nothings, the vocals have some creepy weird effect on them which I love and the guitars skip between intricate and happy sounding riffs one minute to nice and sludgy power chords the next. The track never stops moving, a really fun listen. This is certainly Nigella level quirky and you sir have got yourself a follow and a fan.

**A quick aside – as I’ve been sat here writing this I’ve been followed by ‘Mellor Golf Club’ and I was really hoping that was a band as it’s a good name but alas it is just a golf club. Not too sure what they want with me.**

The State of How

@TheStateofHow from Orlando, Florida seem to be a very professional outfit, which won’t do them any favours around here. Professional pictures, fancy-schmancy website and an album on iTunes although I can’t tell if this is self released or through a label so are they even officially a CUB? Not sure…

BadTripe Verdict: Very well produced and strong songs, reminiscent of The Postal Service or Panic at the Disco but for me it’s just all far too polished. A harsh criticism given how tough it must be to break through, especially in the states. On paper I should like this band but they sound like quite a lot of other people would like them and that makes me not like them, you see? This sort of unpredictable, fickle attitude must be maddening for bands which is why I chose to give up music and work in Telecoms, where you can be 100% certain that everyone hates you for the reasons they have stated clearly.

Time for one more?

Ring Hollow

With a name that sounds like a bad case of dysentery, Southern California’s @RingHollow do look rather serious in their moody black and white Twitter photo. Every tweet is for a ‘new single which has just dropped’. The fact that there seems to be one a month points clearly to CUB territory.

BadTripe Verdict: Generic metal yawnathon. This kind of metal has been done to death, just a bloke shouting over some arbitrary Ibanez guitar and a shuddering double bass drum. I like a bit of metal but there’s got to be something to distinguish it from everything else. Not for me I’m afraid chaps, maybe just lighten up a bit? It’s all so angsty why not write a song about the pleasant feeling of using a hair dryer on your balls on a chilly winter’s morning or the satisfaction one derives from knowing one’s spice cupboard is really well stocked. Just some ideas.

Well that wraps it up for this week. Hopefully I’ll get some more bands to review soon and make this a regular thing. Until then good luck to all you Crappy Unsigned Bands out there! It’s really hard but whatever happens it’s a fucksight more fun than having an actual job and responsibility and shit so think yourselves lucky and just enjoy it while you can.

Much love! x

 

 

 

 

 

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Things I miss about being in a band

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Don Draper sums it up best in that awesome scene in Mad Men when he says that the word ‘nostalgia’ literally means a pain, associated with a memory. It’s an ache for a time you wish you could revisit, if only for a little while. Well played Don you really nailed that one.

That’s how I feel when I think about my band Boy Called Roy, possibly the greatest band ever to have lived on planet earth and definitely the most talented, sexiest and hardest group of young men ever to pick up an instrument, that’s a matter of historical fact.

On my way in to work this morning I was listening to the new record from a young band called Marmozets and by Christ, it’s amazing. Sometimes it’s hard to put in to words exactly what makes a record good. Good lyrics, good melodies, good production, good riffs all play a part but really what makes me love, rather than just appreciate a record is when you can hear the passion and the love that the band clearly have for their music and for each other. These kids are only 18 and they’ve put everything they have in to making this wonderful record, without letting anything stop them from doing what they want to do.

Now I’m not saying we could take Marmozets in a battle of the bands, no fucking way could we, but we did have that spark, that slightly chaotic energy that makes music fun and a little unpredictable. Listening to them really took me back. We made songs which we thought were amazing and it didn’t really matter to us what anyone else thought of them, which was probably for the best! Anyway here’s what I miss, starting with the boys in the band.

Nicky Kurs

Nick

Instrument: Guitar

Skills: Accents, hiding, fighting

Likes: A good cigar, colourful trainers, scrumpy jack

Weaknesses: Cushion based OCD

I first met Nick at the infamous Ballard Hall, halls of residence in Sheffield. He was wearing a Wu Tang Clan sleeveless hoodie and greeted me by calling me a “fucking northern monkey.” I assume he meant it as a term of endearment as we remain friends to this day 13 years later. Nick’s role in the band was primarily lead guitar. I enjoyed the fact that he steadfastly refused to learn the actual song as a whole and would only actually know his individual lead guitar part. He never played guitar purely for fun either, only when we were doing band stuff.

Adam Halvorsen

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Instrument: Drums

Skills: Eating, choke-slamming, parenting

Likes: Chablis, pork, drum & bass

Weaknesses: Sink puker

Again, I met Adam in halls at the same time as I met Nick. When I first arrived at halls I was a bit disappointed because all the people I’d met seemed a little bit safe. Adam and Nick were sharing a room to begin with and I wandered past it one night and saw Adam spinning some D&B on his decks at a horrifically antisocial volume whilst swigging a clearly expensive Chablis straight out the bottle. I immediately decided that Adam and Nick would be my friends. Adam is really great at eating. One night at a party some poor fool had passed out and left an entire curry sitting out on the side, rice, naan, sides, the works, Adam was straight on that. The guys mate pathetically tried to stop him by saying, “don’t eat that, it’s his breakfast.” Adam’s response, “your breakfast? It’s my dinner sunshine, give it here.” Still makes me laugh to this day.

Steve Dickey

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Instrument: Bass Guitar

Skills: Maths

Likes: Maths, cocktails, death metal

Weaknesses: Diabetes

Steve joined the band slightly later after Adam started working in a shoe shop with him. Steve is a clever little fuck and was doing maths at Sheffield Uni. He ended up not only getting a first but also getting the highest degree mark that anyone at Sheff Uni has ever actually got in maths. It took him a bit of time to settle in and he described the rest of us as, “a complete bunch of wasters.” It’s a good job we had Steve as he was definitely the most organised, both musically speaking and in general life.

Rick White

Rick

Instrument: Guitar, Vocals

Skills: Exceptionally gifted chef, ruggedly handsome but in a friendly accessible kind of way, musical genius

Likes: A good hearty stew and a pint of ale

Weaknesses: Lazy, moody, forgetful, can’t really sing

Me, the author, obvs. I started the band really. It was my idea and I found us a rehearsal room so we could get started so I take all the credit. I used to write the basic song structures just as chords on the guitar and then I’d take them to the boys and they’d become something different via a lengthy process of fighting and bickering. I wasn’t the original singer though, that role was thrust upon me due to a series of incidents and being the only band member who knew all the words to the songs (I can’t lie too much I still wanted to do it, I’m an incurable show off). The original singer was this guy :-

James Fairclough 

Jamie

Instrument: Vocals, harmonica

Skills: Talking at great length on any subject, lyrical genius

Likes: Political debate, whisky, pizza

Weaknesses: If you put him in a straight jacket in a padded cell he’d still manage to make a mess and get lost.

I don’t use the term ‘flawed genius’ lightly but here we have one. I met Jamie at a party and liked him immediately. He sounds like Boris Johnson and looks like a beat poet. We started talking and I said I was starting a band and he said he was a singer. So I picked up a guitar with only four strings and told him to sing something and to my surprise he just started, in front of everyone. Singing his own crazy, imaginative lyrics which were almost like spoken word. His confidence amazed me, once we were rehearsing above a kebab shop and the owner came upstairs to tell us to, “shut the fuck up.” Jamie was halfway down a bottle of Jameson and retorted with, “you can’t stifle the creative process man!” He ended up leaving the band after a series of musical differences, he was the archetypal lead singer.

One of my favourite memories of jamie was when we were on stage playing a gig and I looked over at him trying to smoke a cigarette, drink a beer, sing in to his microphone and take his jacket off all at the same time. Legend.

So that’s the boys, here’s what I actually miss!

Rehearsing at Kurs Manor

Kurs Manor

Nick’s parents, Paul and Marcella Kurs are originally from Czechoslovakia and came over to Britain in the 1960’s. Together they started the family wine business. They import great wine, mainly from France and Paul will also help collectors to put together a portfolio. They live in a big old awesome house in Hertfordshire, which has a number of out buildings which include two wine cellars and an old stables and this was where we used to rehearse. As you can imagine it was fucking brilliant. Marcel cooks like a fucking maniac and after a weekend of rehearsing it was a matter of principle that we all sit down for a four course meal on the Sunday, this would be accompanied by a range of fine wines and lively debate. If you’re going to sit around the Kurs table then you better fucking well learn to have an opinion and quick! If you go to bed early Paul will say, “OK, good night pussy.” Marcel always takes an interest in what you’re doing with your life and will tell you straight if you’re making a mess of it. Some of her one liners are incredible, a personal favourite was when she asked my ex-girlfriend if she was pregnant. She was just fat.

Rehearsing at Kurs Manor was always a pleasure. I’ve got so many great memories of that place and quite honestly Marcel and Paul basically kept me alive for a while by supporting both Nick and myself through his final year of Uni. I’ll never really be able to thank them enough.

Recording at 2Fly Studios

Smyth

This incredibly handsome man is Alan Smyth. He’s basically the Grand-Daddy of the Sheffield music scene, he’s recorded everything decent to come out of the city including Pulp, Long Blondes, Arctic Monkeys & 65 Days of Static. We recorded all of our demos at 2Fly studios which is basically just a very small shed on an industrial estate. Before we first went in to record with Smyth we were speculating as to what he might be like in person and for some reason Nick, having never actually met him, did an impression of him with a Scottish accent, introducing him thusly, “There’s 3 things Alan Smyth likes to do boys; drink Cinzano, eat pussy and make fucking fabulous music.” As it turned out he didn’t say anything like that and he wasn’t Scottish but he did come out with some belters. Every time we asked him to change something on the record he’d say something like, “I know. I’m five steps ahead of you, always.” To do our first demo we spent two 12 hour days in 2Fly studios during which time Alan didn’t eat any actual food, he just survived on black coffee, cigarettes and extra strong mints.

I don’t think he loved our music but I like to think he quite liked us. He told us that he’d never met a band with four egos the size of ours and that he didn’t actually produce our songs he just pressed record and then let us fight it out amongst ourselves. His exact words were, “You all think you’re the best, you all want to be in charge and you all want to be the lead singer.” He was dead right.

The last time we recorded at 2Fly we took a flip chart with us in a bid to be more organised and record our progress and note down what we still needed to do. By the end of day two the flip chart contained nothing except drawings of phalluses and a detailed sketch, drawn by Nick of a woman (he claimed it was my Mum) resting her tits on a tray.

Playing gigs

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To be quite honest, playing gigs was often more trouble than it was worth. It takes quite a large amount of organisation and man hours to get four people and a load of equipment to Derby on a Tuesday night to play to an audience of five people and an Alsation. If it weren’t for the cheap beer and two for one sambuca shots we might as well needn’t have bothered. BCR gigs were always quite unpredictable, someone would usually break a string or forget the whole song and we also had a habit of playing all of our material as fast as we possibly could. 1,2,3,4 GO!!! This, combined with the often terrible sound quality at small live music venues meant that sometimes it was just a slightly bewildering experience for the audience. Sometimes though, when it went right it was fucking amazing. We always had an energy and a good presence on stage. We always gave it everything and people seemed to like that we weren’t the most accomplished musicians in the world but  at least we didn’t just stand there trying to look cool.

The first gig we did with me as the singer was a good one and was summed up by this amazing reviewer :-

“The frontman drawls his way through a tight set of upbeat, catchy numbers which accompany his infectious and impossibly large grin. It’s a smile so ample that the guy’s head looks like a honeydew melon with a segment hacked out of it.”

– Gigwise 2005

http://www.gigwise.com/reviews/9048/friday-300905-a-cult-called-karrianna-a-boy-called-roy-@-in-the-city-dry-bar-manchester

I was quite pleased with this review even though Nick did call me Melon Head for about 2 years.

The Creative Process

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Generally speaking what happened was, one of us had an idea, a riff, a few chords, a bit of a song and would present it to the group, usually caveated with a small speech along the lines of, “It’s not finished, and I only wrote it in like 5 minutes and I haven’t really got any lyrics for it yet…”

Then we’d all have an argument about how the rest of it should go. This was usually accompanied by some top class bantz like this classic exchange:

Adam:  “Nick that guitar part is making me want to vomit everywhere whenever you play it.”

Nick: “Your face makes me want to vomit.”

And so on and so forth. You had to stand up for your ideas, especially if it was a song you’d written. What we’d usually do is try it one of two ways and try to reach a consensus on which sounded better and go with that, once a decision had been made it could never be changed!

Our other issue was that we got bored quite easily, this used to infuriate the hell out of Steve in particular. We’d write an amazing opening to a song, then we’d do the verse and then we’d cobble together a chorus and then we’d go, “I reckon that’s pretty much done! Verse, chorus, end. Job done.”

If we didn’t do this then we usually ended up complicating it beyond belief which usually involved Adam doing thirty different drum beats in one song, curated by Steve and his mathematical brain going, “OK, 4/4 beat for four bars then it’s double time for half a bar then it goes in to disco beat for eight bars then go on to the ride for 4 bars then back on to high hat for two bars then it’s half time for one bar then back to disco beat then the breakdown then the end.”

Pretty difficult to remember especially given the industrial volumes of cannabis we were fond of smoking.

drumming = not easy

drumming = not easy

Being your own gang

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This is what being in a band is really all about. It’s you lot versus the world. The best moments aren’t playing gigs and looking cool and pulling loads of groupies (‘cos that certainly NEVER happened). It’s the moment when you finally nail that new song you’ve been working on for ages and everyone gets it right all the way through for the first time. You feel a sense of triumph that you and your ragtag bunch of mates have managed to create something together out of nothing. When you reach a point where you feel confident playing together and you get your instruments sounding good, there really is no better feeling, it’s fucking magic! Then once you’ve done it, you don’t really care if anyone else hears it, just as long as you’ve managed to record a tinny version of it on to a CD which you can listen to over and over again for the rest of the night and enjoy.

I had a chat with Adam the other night and we both said how much we miss it and how we took it for granted at the time. You can’t go back though, it was a perfect little moment in time which none of us will ever forget. Nick used to record a lot of our rehearsals on his video camera but the footage has disappeared. Adam swears that some of it is on the hard drive of a now defunct computer which may or may not still be in his shed. What I wouldn’t give to sit down and watch a bit of that. Maybe in another 10 years.

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