Posts Tagged ‘Emo’

“On the internet it is so easy to be boring”

This presents a ominous challenge, as it’s highly unlikely that you, the reader, is not on-line right now…

So goes the beginning of the interview with Max from King of Cats. Ostensibly a band, but it’s very much Max’s brainchild. KoC have been bubbling under the emo/indie radar for a while now. Touring the UK and America and releasing rare and very desirable 7”s. Their anonymity may well change soon with the release of their new album.

We begin by discussing the relative merits of internet promotion. Which can be wholly summed up with this:

Max: I’m addicted to Eminem’s Facebook updates, he’s such a committed Dad, what a guy.
CK: Does he not write songs about wanting to kill his kids’ mother?
Max: No, he writes songs about wanting to kill the mums of other peoples children.
CK: Is that the a sign of being a committed father?

Abruptly moving on… It can’t have escaped anyone’s attention that there has been a boom in people playing fuzzy guitars, dressing ‘slacker’ and generally aping the American sound of the 80s/early90s. KoC’s sound is unashamedly US. What does max thing about the revival? “It gets a bit boring to be honest. One good thing though is that a lot of the bands that were doing the purist 90s alt-rock thing have started so go down weird routes. A good example would be the band Something. Which feels like the natural progression for that kind of thing”. Interestingly for someone that comes from Oxford, “Oxford sucks loads” he uses many American idioms, “CDs are whack obviously, did I just use the word whack?” and is positively revolted by the word ‘gigs’ “it’s shows!” You wonder if it goes with the territory or if it’s a bad habit picked up by many British people, “a bit of both, I love the music so much it just becomes part of the culture”.

Talking about the KoC sound Max quips “I don’t mind being labelled emo”. Quick education folks: emo was a worthy and interesting genre in the 90s that had its name appropriated by bands in 00s that are too terrible to even put in print. Hardcore got boring and people wanted to express a softer side. One problem with playing vulnerable music, is the reaction you it can harbour in the – shall we say – less mannered public. “I used to play on my own all the time when I was younger and not invite any of my friends. Just to see the reaction I’d get. I was a lot more screamy then. I was touring with Ides and played this shit place in Bournemouth. There was about 20 stag parties there and I remember getting a really antagonistic response, people were getting aggressive, but I really liked it. I like the cathartic release and power of just screaming into a mic at people”

Max is also part of Reeks of Effort. A small DIY label and community filled with equally intrepid, under the radar bands. They have an all-dayer in Brighton coming up soon, that is so far shrouded in secrecy – we’ll keep you posted folks. A testament to just how DIY Reeks of Effort are is their reluctance to put on gigs even in venues. Pitching up in living rooms with cheap amps, audience cross-legged on the floor. A hat passed around to pay the bands travel. Really special gigs, everyone paying particular attention to the band, completely devoid of rockstar pretention. Amazingly, considering there was about 30 people at each of the last two shows (gigs), they were featured in Pitchforks end of year lists??? It should be said it was Owen from Joanna Gruesome that mentioned it in an interview and he is also the drummer in KoC. But it’s still brilliant, right. I ask Max if working the band around the busy schedule of Joanna Gruesome is a challenge? “not really, if you want to make something work, you always can”

With that in mind 2014 is shaping up to be busy. Having released various odds and sods, they are releasing their de facto debut record Working Out – on the ever-so-cool Art is Hard label. With recording just finishing as this goes to print; touring nationally and supporting the rather spiffing PAWS at Sticky Mikes (17/02).

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There seems to be a lot of emo/gruffish/post-hardcore kicking about at the moment. It is tempting to just place the lot under the umbrella of ‘alt-rock’. It’s probable the unwieldy named Secret Plot to Blow Up The Entire Universe wouldn’t like that.

Or maybe they wouldn’t care? The come-one-come-all environment of I only Miss You When I Want To suggests four guys who’d probably hand you a brewski and laugh it off.

No less than three of the nine songs feature the nineties in their lyrics or title. That’s all you need to know. Yearning is the subject, bittersweet the object. Chances are by the time you reach 30 you won’t have achieved your goals, your flat is a shithole and you are skint, but who cares, Secret Plot… are on tonight and all your old mates are there. It’s fine.

As loathsome the term, ‘grungey’ are the amps, high emotion the register. It’s all unabashed abandon and let it all out – with added tape hiss. Tellingly, there is more than a passing resemblance to Basement’s Colourmeinkindness going on, albeit less mawkish.

In final track ‘I Only Miss You When I Want To’ the angst gets to its logical conclusion, “I’m a failure and I want to die” he pleads. It’s a bit much. Arch drama isn’t really what this is all about and that aside it’s group hugs all round. In fact, at points it gets a bit soppier than is entirely necessary. Particularly on ‘Tips for Staying Sweet…’ It’s nice that you are over the macho hardcore thing guys, but show a little courage.

If you are a bit older than you care to think about, and can remember emo the first time around, you are in good company. Secret Plot are here to carry the burden and soothe away all those problems of your own making.

Namatjira are that heady mix of post-rock, emo, and post-hardcore. That is what they do. If you like that you will like this, if you don’t, you won’t.

It is completely competent in those fields and you will enjoy it if that is what you are looking for. If not, you won’t.

The album sounds like the other bands within those parameters. It is completely honest and authentic. The crux is, if you like that, go and buy it. If not, this won’t convert you.

There’s the odd ‘piano is my second instrument’ segue, but yes,  that is literally it.

Post-rock, emo, and post-hardcore, that’s what it does. It does that.