Muertos are a prime example of the reason why everyone should get to gigs early and catch the support bands. I caught these guys on the support slot at a New Candys gig and they were brilliant! A great 4 track EP is available from WrongWay Records , with a few vinyl copies still available. A great introduction to Muertos is the track Black Box, this is the one that really got my attention way back in Shrewsbury.
With a debut album due for release next month, I caught up with the band to find out a little more about them. They are DeAnna Avis, Marc Crane & Tom Lewis and hail from Essex.
Who are you and why did you start the band?
Marc: De and Tom used to play in another band together a good while back. I used to play in another band around the same kind of scene, so we all knew each other back then. All of our bands split and for a few years or so nothing was going down, so myself and De got in touch and decided to create something new from the ashes and get things going again.
De: Yep, I met Marc when he was playing in a vampire garage rock band, Von Jergo. They were making quite a sensation around Essex, and Tom and I were in a political, brash, riot grrrl band at the same time, Death of the Elephant. So our paths crossed a lot at gigs and festivals. We kept in touch and then Marc and I decided to join forces and start writing songs in his dad’s front room. It was very low fi and the musical chemistry was awesome from the start. You never know with these kind of things but we just clicked!
What do you guys want to achieve as a band? What story do you have to tell the world?
De: For me, music is an exploration of all the difficult experiences I’ve been through, a way of processing the highs and lows of life. We write about quite heavy topics, our songs have always been quite personal. So the story I’d like to tell to the world is that it doesn’t matter what you’ve been through, you can get through it. I urge you, anyone who’s struggling – nothing is forever, and that’s the beauty of it all. We’ve been on a hell of a ride, if I even tried to go into it I could write a novel – but we write songs instead. It’s such a buzz to connect with other people who get it.
When you get out of bed, what makes you want to create music? What gives you the drive to make records and play live?
De: For me, it’s two main things. One is needing to express myself and being frustrated at always seeing the boys being the ones who got to shout and strut their stuff while the girls were relegated to being fangirls in the audience. When I started, I wasn’t confident writing music at all – it terrified me. But I thought fuck it if I’m going to be quiet – it’s not in my nature. So yeah, basically I play music to be a pain in the ass, because I think it’s my duty to shake things up, and I’d like to encourage other girls to get out there and start getting their share of the limelight the guys have always had. The other side of it is that I just plain love music, and have always played it as I was raised in a musical family. But I want to emphasise – even coming from that kind of supportive background, there is a hell of a lot of societal conditioning to undo to make you feel that it’s OK to make music as a girl, or get over the thought that you’re not playing the ‘right’ type of music. So I busted out of the box of just playing classical and violin music and ripped open the pandora’s box of punk. That’s why I play, to rip open all the boxes.
I’m a massive fan of bands like Spacemen 3, The Black Angels and BJM, I think I hear hints of them in your music. Who are your biggest influences?
Marc: I’m a big fan of them too. I think listening to those kinds of bands helped me get experimental with guitar playing and this eased me into learning to play. Before I knew any chords I was just into making interesting sounds with feedback and creating atmosphere. Black Sunday by Cypress Hill was one of the first albums I owned when I was young, that album had a big impact on me. It sounded so dark and dangerous.
De: Thank you so much, that’s so cool! My biggest influences are: Mazzy Star, Kathleen Hanna, PJ Harvey, Peaches, 90s west coast hip hop, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Von Bondies, The Raveonettes and last but not least, because it’s been my longest enduring love, Mexican music. I’m inspired by any woman who plays an instrument and sings – they rule my heart.
The album is out in August, describe it in your own words!
Marc: Its a deranged, melancholy trip that will make you want to dance. I also think we managed to successfully compress our three personalities and view points into a black round disc that sounds good.
De: It’s the sound of my therapy sessions put to music. It’s the sound of our inner psyche put to feedback and swirling hypnotic guitars. It’s the sound of our brain waves, our emotions, our love and our pain. I think that it sounds damn good too.
I love the new single ‘Suck It Up’, Where did the inspiration for it come from?
Marc: The strange world that surrounds us! This song is about wanting to get away from it all. Away from the orange goblin in the White House, Brexit, horrible commutes and shattered economy. It’s that feeling, when you are wound up and the least helpful thing someone can do is tell you to calm down and it makes you want to bang their head into a table. This song exists on that space of tension, where you want to BURN EVERYTHING. There is no tidy resolution to this story – we don’t do happy endings. You just have to get on with it and suck it up!
A band with a bright future in front of them I think! Thanks to De & Marc for sparing some time to answer a few questions. You can see Muertos for yourselves on the following dates. Try to catch them if you can, they’re pretty captivating!
Two London gigs coming up in August with Roadkill Records (who are awesome):
The Lock Tavern, Camden: Sat 4th August (Roadkill Records Weekender)
Shacklewell Arms, London: Fri 24th August (Our debut album launch party!)
The Bassment, Chelmsford: Saturday 27th October
Muertos are also playing The Psych Weekender in Manchester for Astral Elevator in September:
Night People: Sun 16th September
MOLTEN EARTH Mixed genre Bay Area experimental / punk / dark wave / industrial acts gather at an underground space in Oakland next Saturday July 28th for raising money for the Florence Project, an organization bringing together separated families at the Arizona border. There will be live performances, DJ’s raffles, and who knows what else. For a brief preview of what to expect sonically; Moira Scar blast out loud, dense, sonic explosions of Queer forward dark wave/ acid punk, with a wide array of sonic approaches on their just released “Wound World, Part 1” Also performing, Oakland’s Daisy World known for their uniquely original psychedelic, antagonistic, dark, noisy punk sets that fly by before you even know you’re in a tripped out fog of inverted reality. Daisy World is a well oiled machine with razor like precision, and thunderous drumming, walls of drenched guitars and basses that bend together like a tripods of intense sound of chaos. Echoed vocals scream and cascade right on the cusp of the mix; beautiful intense sound. Also on the bill is Oakland’s Yama Uba, on Psychic Eye Records is darkwave and dark noise from the singer/bassist of Ötzi, with their unique and crafted blending of heavy and intentioned takes on industrial, dark wave, and noise. Sailor Neptune of the bay area industrial collective S.B.S.M. will be opening the event, stay tuned for a link to their work but for now it’s under wraps, as well as a resurrection of bay area morphing anti-conceptual troublemakers x/Nerfbau. Dj Sly Ida will be providing the relief in between blasts of sonic mayhem and even some enjoyment. Look up these artists and support their work if possible.
DILATEDEARS “Nightlight” (A SOUNDESIGN RECORDINGS, 2013)
S.B.S.M. “Ashes” (Joy / Rage, 2016)
DAVID MOLINA “Wall And Tongues Music” (Rogue Pulse/ Gravity Collapse, Ratskin 2017)
MOIRA SCAR “Erased” (Wound World Part 1, 2018. Psychic Eye/ Near Dark)
GERMSVOYCE “Médecine For A Wolverine” (unreleased, 2015)
YAMA UBA “Angel” (Demo) (Unreleased, Psychic Eye 2018)
NERFBAU “GasTank/Gunhand” (Placenta Recordings, 2014)
DAISY WORLD “US, Weakly” ( self released, 2016)
MAYA SONGBIRD “Living In Harmony” (Welcome To The Dark Side”, 2017)
BEAST NEST “Relief” (A History Of Sexual Violence, 2018)
JASMINE INFINITI “Scratchy A” (New World Disorder, 2018)
DAX PIERSON “Macrobid” (Rogue Pulse/Gracity Collapse, 2017)
SYLVESTER “I Need Somebody To Love Tonight” (1979)
There will also be a raffles and the artists will be collecting donations at the door, and profits will be donated to the Florence Project. if you’d like to donate directly.
Black Doldrums are a band I’ve followed for a while now, there’s something about them that really seems to connect with me. Not sure what, but after seeing them live a few times and chatting at gigs it’s not something that can easily be explained. Why do we music fans seem to have a natural affinity to one band more than another? Most people I know like loads of bands of many varied and differing sounds, as do I. The music is obviously the point of first connection, and most likely the only one for most fans & the bands they listen to. Other than the occasional social media interaction here and there. So what creates the ‘chemistry’ between an artist and the people who listen to their music? That’s the million dollar question I suppose. If anyone reading this can tell me I’d be much obliged!
Anyway, seeking answers to this I asked the Black Doldrums a few things about themselves to see if I could work it out any further. But only ended up asking myself more questions. The usual things were asked, ‘whats your influences…’How did you get together…etc……’ but that’s what made me think a bit differently. Most of the bands I love all quote the same influences, The Beatles, The Stones, The Clash, BJM, Spacemen 3 etc. So if they are all influenced by listening to the same records as kids, and it inspired them to want to start a band to create music, why do they all sound so different? interpretation, imagination, background, resources? Obviously some bands wear their influences firmly attached to their sleeves as badges of honour. The bands that take their influences and take them to new places and expand them, take you to another place, these are the bands that excite me as a music lover. Writing this post has made me think a lot about things the last few weeks, possibly due to lack of sleep working night shift! But that’s the other thing music should do, it should make you ask questions don’t you think?
The new single off the eagerly anticipated second album is a step further down the sonic trail with a more topical feel than the earlier releases off the debut ‘Peoples Temple’ album. I asked Sophie & Kev that between them are ‘Black Doldrums’ if this was an intentional thing or just my own take on it.
S: It wasn’t intentional, I suppose it’s more that all the songs have meaning and similar subject matter but maybe with Rope it’s easier to interpret that way, particularly because the video accompanying it may have supported the lyrics. Each song is open to everyone’s individual interpretation and I suppose, yes some songs on the new material could be, as could, maybe Sidewinder.
K. It’s funny really, someone else said that our new single was very much of the time recently which is interesting because I’m not sure what is of the time. I suppose I write about what’s going on around me and like to keep it accessible and open. If it’s considered current then that’s cool.
Not just me then! Anyone who has seen Black Doldrums play live knows how together and tight they are, creating a far wider and greater sound than would sometimes seem possible from just a guitar & a drum kit. Is it down to practice or some hidden chemistry?
S: I honestly don’t know, we get told a lot that our sound defies our “number” ie there’s two of us, our aim is to surprise people I suppose in that respect.
K: Yeah we like to play in a way that gives people the full experience of a full band. It’s difficult at times but challenging and worth it when people are surprised.
As a band that play lots of shows I wondered what keeps them going through all the endless hours sitting in a van that must entail
S: I can get very tired, but it’s the same with anything. The point is you’re choosing to do it and you’re doing what you love. It’s not the same as making ends meet in an 8 hr a day office job that bores the shit out of you. Anyone that moans about touring should probably shut up!
K: Totally agree with this! no names mentioned but you come across a lot of self entitled musicians that moan about touring. We’re just grateful for playing and getting a chance to see all these places and always humbled by people who make the effort to come to shows.
So to conclude, why do we like a particular band over another for no apparent reason? I suggest you get yourselves down to see Black Doldrums play a show and find out for yourselves! Much appreciation to Kev & Sophie for taking the time to chat to me at their gigs and answering a few emails. Just waiting on the new album release date now guys!
Manchester.London.New York.Berlin. All cities that we associate with having rich and varied musical histories and influences. They are all cultural melting pots of cities that have spawned some of the greatest bands of all time. As a lover of the kind of music that is never going to be called mainstream, I stumbled across a band going by the name of Firefriend. As I listened to their music, I heard the typical influences, the likes of Joy Division, The Sex Pistols,Velvet Undergound & The Jesus And Mary Chain. Nothing out of the ordinary there, I thought. Great band, cool sounds. I became a little more interested, as you do, and found the band hailed from São Paulo, Brazil of all places. This is where my mind struggled somewhat.
Brazil. I ask anyone to give me an image of the country and it will be Copacabana beach, the Amazon, the 1970 World Cup team(best team ever to take to a football pitch!), the Samba or Christ The Redeamer. Even the Favelas. Not a brand of shoegaze psych that sounds like it came from a disused factory in the North of England, or an abondoned building in Berlin. I wanted to know more.
So instead of taking the easy option and asking Google, I took the time to ask the band themselves. Don’t ask me why, I’m no jounalist or writer, but I felt compelled to learn more about the Northern British sounding band from São Paulo, Brazil.
So, in the words of Yury & Julia of Firefriend, I’ll let them tell the story of how the band came to be.
I asked how the band came about, and what influenced them, all the way over in Brazil.
Yury: My parents were hippies here in São Paulo back in the 70’s, I grew up immersed in the heady scents of incense & weed, listening to Jimi Hendrix, The Stones, Pink Floyd, Beatles and Led Zeppelin a lot, since year zero. Then a friend of mine went to London in the 80’s and brought back albums from the likes of Joy Division, Sex Pistols, Jesus And Mary Chain and those records blew my mind. All these sounds combined were groundbreaking and definitely mind-bending, for kids in all corners of the world — those records were like messages from another galaxy to me. It’s fascinating how they make you see reality through another prism. I bought my first guitar just after I got my hands on a mixtape of The Velvet Underground & Nico. That changed my life forever. I bet this is the history of thousands of teenagers living elsewhere on this planet. We start recognizing each other and suddenly we are at someone’s house jamming pretty loud and talking about shows and bands and then there’s an underground scene going on, first with xerox zines and then websites documenting the pulse of our musical community. It was like that back then as it’s still like that today. There are hundreds of bands messing around here.
Julia: Music has been part of my life since I was a kid, I have always needed music to deal with my life. I enjoy the energy of rock’n’roll and always looked for sounds that make my mind travel. This could come from any genre/style, it depends only on how you feel at that particular moment, how open you are to the sounds.
So, how does this translate into European tours and success in the USA & Australia? Not even Yury is sure.
Yury: Surprisingly, it was easier to get noticed & heard outside of Brazil. All reviews and interviews we got after our last album come from Europe, the United States and even Australia. Now there must be a lot of reasons for that, but I’m not sure why, yet. We’ll play in the UK, France, Denmark, and Germany in September, let’s see if we’re going to learn why it’s happening this way!
Pretty sure the reason their music has spread across the Continents is because, great music is great music. Wherever it comes from!
I asked about the latest Firefriend album Sulfur, the bands 9th physical release and how the band maintain their motivation and fresh sounds.
Julia: I love to try new ideas, experimentation is an endless joy. Sometimes it feels like I’m entering new territories using new gear, new effects, it opens our sensibilities to new textures and melodies. That’s my way to keep doing new things.
Yury: Noise and melodies, if you push them out of the genre’s tradition and into the contemporary landscape, you gotta a really enticing monster to behold. That’s an adventure we dig, it helps us feel alive, it helps us build connections with people from every corner, it’s a dialogue that helps us to learn more about who we are. Every piece we read, watch, hear, every person we meet, there are multiple sources of meaning spinning in this astonishing swirl — give them a structure, a shape, and then you have something which you can stand on.
A more personal question I put to the band was the reasons behind making music and why they feel compelled to make it.
Yury: I need music to fill out the void of existence — the 21st century’s so mad. Truth is dead, god is dead, war is everywhere. Industrial trash is everywhere, in the sea, the air, our food and the natural world. Advertising keeps confusing everybody with its fake smiles — music is where one can breathe at last. So I need music to live here on this planet. We all need art, life is more than debts and TV shows. Art & music change our minds and cells and suddenly we are there answering with more music, our music, to feed that fire, to keep it burning.
Julia: It’s a release — and being able to make the kind of music you want to hear, that makes me happy!
Back to the reason I got intrigued by the band in the 1st place, Julia & Yury give me their feelings on the album Sulfur.
Julia: Close your eyes and let it take you somewhere else.
Yury: It tastes like the 21st century — Visceral & dark.
Here’s the latest song to be crafted by Firefriend, ‘Surface To Air’ Available from the 27th July fom the bands Bandcamp site
I would like to thank Yury & Julia for taking the time out to give me a brief insight into the band, and how a shoegaze/psych band came about in São Paulo, Brazil. Many thanks to Yury’s friend for buying the records and taking them all the way back to São Paulo.