Categories
Indie/Indie Rock Pop/Indie Pop Reviews Uncategorized

Indie Idols: Will and the People

Image by Daniel Harris

Have you ever attended a concert and decided to skip the support acts? After all, they’re not who you’re there to see and one more drink in the bar is so tempting! If you have, I must say I think you missed out on some possibly brilliant music. I used to think that the support acts were just an unnecessary warm up to the main event, however, I have come to realize the error of my ways, and have since discovered some impeccable artists supporting others. This month’s Indie Idol is evidence of that. In 2019, I attended a Barns Courtney concert at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, London, and had looked up the support acts, Ulysses Wells and Will and the People, on Spotify before going in. Now I must admit, I was not entirely convinced of Will and the People’s music when I first heard it but after seeing them perform, in their underwear I might add, I was hooked. Their performance was incredibly energetic, charismatic and addictive, and I have since seen them again – most recently at Boardmasters festival just over a week ago. At which their performance was once again sublime and full of frontman Will Rendle’s usual antics – crowd surfing for example.

Hailing from Brighton, Will and the People formed in 2010 with brothers Will and Jamie Rendle (although Jamie joined later), Charlie Harman and Jim Ralphs and are considered by many as one of “the most down to earth bands, who appreciate every single one of their fans and put 110% into their live shows!”* It is with no doubt that Will and the People definitely go over and above with their gigs, the atmosphere is electric and shows tend to be a generally riotous experience, whether they’re the support or headline act, Will and the People will be a highlight of your night. The band have so far released four albums, with a new one promised for November, and it is difficult to classify Will and the People’s music into a single genre as every song is so distinct from each other that the variation is like a signature of the group. One of the band’s earliest tracks, Lion in the Morning Sun, for instance, has some very obvious pop music vibes but is full of ska and reggae fervour, with a strong but fast paced walking beat, almost reminiscent of the ska-punk or 2 tone genre that rose to popularity with bands like The Specials or The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, whereas more recent tracks like Justify, a track released in September of last year, has a more emotional rock ballad sound merged with rap elements and ethereal aspects similar to that of the band Evanescence. 

Of the band’s work, the song that stands out most to me as something special is the 2019 single Gigantic. Lyrically, the track tells the story of love, specifically familial love and how the people you choose to surround yourself with and those who love you can make the world better than anything. It discusses the sentiment that you would do anything for your family and friends, as evidenced in the first lyric, “I could be there for you, if you want me to,” as well as, the idea that even if you’re feeling down or lonely you will always have your family and friends to fall back on, just as they would have you, no matter how far away you are. The accompanying music video effortlessly depicts the warmth and sentimentality of the song, as it is presented as a sort of home video, going from door to door collecting relatives, young and old, to go to a large family get together. Hearing Will call his grandmother in the opening seconds really elevates that feeling of the music video and overall creates a human connection with the audience as you almost feel like you are part of the family.

Lucky for all who love them, Will and the People have a new single coming out on the 27th. In two days! Animal, a long awaited song that has been all over the world in its production stages, is sure to blow your mind. And! To add to the excitement, are on tour around the UK right now, and then all over Europe in the first few months of 2022.

*Quote from Tom Embling, who saw WATP on the 22nd in Bristol, where they, once again, performed in underwear. The tour wardrobe must be very compact!

Categories
Why We Love

Why We Love: Insecure Men

Three years ago today, the London-based band Insecure Men released their eponymous debut album.

After releasing two albums (Insecure Men and Karaoke for One) back to back in 2018 and wading through the subsequent touring, Insecure Men have maintained radio silence. However, rumors that the much-beloved band are due to surface in one form or another continue to buzz round the niches of the internet. 

Formed in 2015, Insecure Men is composed chiefly of Saul Adamczewski (Fat White Family, Warmduscher) and Ben Romans-Hopcraft (Childhood, Warmduscher) with sax player Alex White and a rotating array of keyboardists, percussionists, back-up singers and lyricists. 

In certain circles, Insecure Men are seen as veritable gods of the London alt scene—or maybe something better than gods, as the fruits of their labor are generally to be had more directly (and can be replayed until the groove wears out on the vinyl, or your Airpods die.) Their music is both soothing and thought-provoking: it makes you pay attention. It wakes you up.

Their Bandcamp bio attempts to explain their complex, layered sound: “Insecure Men…blend together exotica, easy listening, lounge and timeless pop music…”

Karaoke for One (which features a photo of Rasputin on the cover) is a record entirely composed of covers. Peter Andre’s Mysterious Girl makes an unforgettably bizarre and touching appearance, in which Adamczewski’s vocals somehow manage to turn the pop ditty into something deeper, a sincere paean to a cold, unreachable lover-–up until the last five seconds, in which he spits out an exasperated, “Fuck!” followed by a hack of phlegm. That’s Insecure Men for ya, keepin’ it real. 

Their debut album, Insecure Men, was produced by Sean Lennon, and features original compositions running the gamut between effervescent pop (Subaru Nights and I Don’t Wanna Dance with My Baby) lilting, pseudo-Hawaiian melodies (Heathrow and Ulster) and songs to make the skin crawl (Mekong Glitter and Whitney Houston and I.)

There are many crossovers from Romans-Hopcraft’s highly acclaimed band Childhood in the instrumentation and vocals, and traces of the Fat White Family in the lyrics (often insidious subject matter delivered in dulcet tones that make you forget exactly what story you’re being told.)

During the touring efforts for the album, Insecure Men were quite vocal about their intentions to continue on as a band, going so far as to announce in an interview that they’d already written a third album. Whether or not it will be come to fruition remains to be seen, but we can certainly hope that a release date hovers on the horizon.

Insecure Men have a knack for making the roughest bits of life bearable—or at least, they succeed in provoking us to have a laugh at ourselves, to let go of seriousness and embrace the escapist pleasures of “exotica pop,” with every fibre of our beings.

And God knows, we could all use a bit of escapism right now. 

You can find Insecure Men on Bandcamp and Spotify. 

Header Photo Credit: Neil Thomson

Categories
Jazz/Blues Soul/R&B

Premiere: FAZE – Carried Away

Offering up a standout blend of Funk, Soul and Jazz with even more elements thrown into that mix, FAZE are a band proving they aim to sound like no one else with the release of their debut single ‘Carried Away’. A truly unmissable playing style along with some fantastic vocals, these young but extremely talented musicians wouldn’t seem out of place performing alongside some of the outstanding artists who first inspired them.

To find out a bit more, we caught up with the 5-piece neo-funk band from London just after the release of their new single. Be sure to expect many great things from this group, there’s no shame being Carried Away when it comes to FAZE.

J: Here with me to talk a bit about their new single is FAZE’s very own Yazmine, Ryan and Indigo. Hey, guys! How’s lockdown 2 been for you so far?

Yazmine: Hey, James! Lockdown 2 has been less of a nuisance than Lockdown 1 so far. I’m still at work, so not much has changed for me! A pain we can’t rehearse or record properly, but we’re hoping to be free December 2nd!

Ryan: Lockdown 2 has been a period of adjustability for me to be honest! Being under lockdown is not ideal but being able to adjust to circumstances is key.

Indigo: It’s been painful, just as musicians were starting to get gigs again! Luckily, we’ve still got a couple of function gigs lined up in 2021.

J: So for those only just finding out about you, tell us a bit about the music you’ve set out to create.

Yazmine: We write wacky, funk tunes with elements from 70s disco, neo-soul and classic rock. Expect rhythmic keys, groovy bass, sharp beats, lavish solos and cheeky lyrics! Everyone so far has had a different interpretation, so we’re calling it ‘neo-funk’!

J: Have most of you been in bands in the past, or is your first experience writing with other musicians?

Yazmine: Yes, we’re all pretty experienced musicians. I’ve been in jazz bands, orchestras and rock bands during my time at school and college! I also write solo stuff but FAZE is obviously my favourite 😉

Ryan: I have worked with quite a few bands in the past – my main role is behind the kit though!

Indigo: Yep, I started with youth jazz bands, and I’m now playing with many bands of many genres, including neo-soul, blues and big band jazz.

J: A big question; Why do you all enjoy playing ‘neo-funk’? What was it that inspired you so much that you just had to form a band?

Johnny: Neo-funk is something fresh and exciting. It’s not a well-known genre yet, but we’re setting out to change that!

Ryan: Neo-funk is a fusion of some of my favourite genres which also allows room for a lot of creativity – especially from a drumming perspective. When the opportunity came around to join FAZE, I was excited to get on board.

Yazmine: I got inspired to form a band whilst I was at college, I wanted to get into function work and started a band with some of my mates at school. We all got pretty busy, and the function work fell through so I thought ‘Screw it! Let’s meet some new people’. I downloaded this app Vampr which is basically Tinder for musicians, I met Ryan first, he had some crazy drumming riffs on his page and lived nearby, so we set up a rehearsal, and the rest is history- haha!

J: How would you all describe your music taste, was it tricky finding people who wanted to write in the same sort of style?

Yazmine: I think we’re all heavily influenced by R&B, Gospel, Jazz, Funkadelic and Disco tunes – it was very lucky that we all connected so quickly and had that in common. I grew up listening to CHIC, Parliament, Jackson 5, Erykah Badu and D’Angelo, and I love them all so much. When you’ve heard so much fantastic music, I think you become like a sponge and just soak it all in! The tunes just came bursting out when we started jamming together.

J: So tell me, how does a band even go about recording and releasing their first single in lockdown? Has it been harder/easier?

Ryan: It isn’t the most straightforward process, but we’ve all had to adjust to new ways of doing things. It would ideally be a lot easier without restrictions!

Yazmine: We were lucky that Carried Away has been waiting in the wings for a while before we decided to release. We had to finish up mixing and mastering which could be done remotely by our friend CHRIS XYLO (he’s an absolute wizard!) Planning the single release has actually been easier since I’ve had more time to stay at home and work on it. Since more people are at home, I think we’ve all had time to listen to more music/ read more books/ discover more art, so we’re grateful for that!

Johnny: We’ve successfully recorded three lockdown sessions during this weird time which you can find on our YouTube channel, that process was interesting and was easier than expected thanks to Ryan’s spotless drumming. We’re saving our new tracks for recording after Lockdown so we can get them perfect, we are certainly perfectionists!

J: Tell us all about your new single ‘Carried Away,’ why did you decide to start writing your own tunes and what gave you the idea for this track?

Timmy: After a couple of months playing covers and function gigs, I think we quickly discovered that we could write. During rehearsals in-between songs I’d often play these soulful chord progressions off the top of my head, and we’d go off on this wild jam tangent with loads of improv, different feels etc.! We were all feeling the vibes, so I think it was that first original jam was when FAZE started.

Yazmine: I wrote this track after coming home on the train one night after a fantastic gig. The crowd was wild, and we all went out afterwards and had such a great night. I pulled a bit of an all-nighter that night and woke up the next afternoon exhausted but filled with such excitement. That high you get after you come off stage is exceptional, and the feeling lasts for days afterwards! The lyrics just started coming out, and I sat at my piano and wrote the first draft. I put it to the boys a couple of weeks later, and they brought the vision to life!

J: So this new song is all about ‘life as a musician’ and the highs and lows that come with the job – is that something you’ve all felt an especially relevant subject at the moment?

Yazmine: We know none of us can hardly get carried away with anything at the moment! For us, it’s about fantasy and hope as well as reality. We want listeners to be able to listen to our track and escape from the current world at the moment as well as get inspired for the future. Soon it’ll be all of our jobs to get out there and support live music again. We ain’t going nowhere!

J: What sort of things can we expect to see next from you guys? Any hints?

Johnny: Trust me when I say Carried Away is only the tip of the iceberg! We’ve got so much music written – about to record our next two singles. Our next track will be called MALIBU – think palm trees, indulgent groove and holiday fantasy! Whilst sitting on our sofas at home in the middle of winter, we can only dream – so why not!

You can keep up to date with all the upcoming music from FAZE on their Instagram and Facebook @fazebandofficial

Find FAZE on Spotify here.