Posts Tagged ‘Joanna Gruesome’

“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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I wasn’t sure what to expect from this. Not actually a secret gig (the Facebook invite was public) but you definitely had to know it was on to go. It was advertised as a ‘basement show’. For a seaside town Brighton has a baffling obsession with basement flats and some of them are spectacularly damp and dingy. Fortunately this was quite respectable and even had a ‘sea theme’ – bits of foam cut into strangely endearing fish and tentacled things.

First up was Trust Fund, who’d come all the way from Bristol to do a solo show. Which, given there was about 30 people there and it was free, shows incredible dedication to the scene. Effectively an acoustic show he chose a big noisy electric instead (the choice of all tonights acts) and made a marvellously early emo racket which somehow managed to be both wallowing and euphoric. It was claimed at the beginning he wrote the lyrics on the train but I’m not so sure. The delivery was just too well executed.

Ides (also of lo-fi heroes Joanna Gruesome) put in a completely unignorable performance and also managed to evoke completely opposing emotions, being both welcoming and alienating at the same time. She was confessional, fragile and aggressive, but with a nervous charm. A horribly obvious but apt comparison would be Moon Pix era Cat Power, sorry. She has a 7” coming out in August. Should be excellent.

Considering it was the launch night of King of Cats new cassette, it’s now a solo show and they tapes aren’t ready. Nevermind… What we get is an incredible, high-octane 30 minute performance from frontman Max. His voice half eager child and half screaming maniac that belies his amiable exterior. The songs are amusing tales of the un-cool filled with oblique pop culture references – Marilyn Manson, Dr Strangelove. I’d call it anti-folk but the sheer amount of distortion sees away with that. The rest of the band join in for the last 2 songs and the crowd sing along and it’s a rapturous end to lovely summer evening.