Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Interview with Jamie Yorke and Dec Fox of Blame Bilston

Critical Mass: Thanks for taking the time to talk with Critical Mass guys. So, the new album, Yesterday Again, is officially out in the U.K. and will be out shortly here in the states. How has the response been to the new album? 

Jamie: I think the response has been great. We've had a lot of people sending us messages sharing their thoughts on the album and so far it's been really positive, so we're really pleased and we hope it continues. We just want to find a way of getting the album to reach more people!!

Dec: I think the response has been great, people close to us have a commented on how much they enjoy the album but also it seems to have brought new people in who appreciate our music to, which is really nice.

CM: How do you feel this album is different from your last release? 

Jamie: Well, I'd say the album is different to our previous release for a few reasons: 
It's better quality, better songs and since "Ta-ta For Now" I've recruited Dec on bass, who has written some amazing bass lines and we mesh really well. And we bounce off of each other, but before with "Ta-ta For Now" that was pretty much just me, so this time around it's been more fun! And overall I'd say the attitude towards the album was to record it at our pace
and not to cut any corners.

Dec Fox: I enjoyed Ta-ta For Now as I could see what Jamie was trying to achieve and I think with this album we're both pleased with the quality of recording and as well as the range of styles we've incorporated. For example, going from songs like Sunshine, Silly Little Black Bird, Strange Girl and Adolescence 

CM: I can still hear some old school alternative influences in your songs. Bands like Alice in Chains and especially Nirvana come to mind. Do you still look at those bands as major influences when it comes to songwriting?

Jamie:  When it comes to influences we often get branded for just sounding like a "Nirvana" rip off by people who obviously didn't listen to a lot of the "grunge movement". We have many, influences and yes it'd definitely fair to say Nirvana and Alice In Chains are a big influence, but we also have many others. We try to create a sound mixed with a lot of different elements from a lot of different genres such as Psychedelic, "Grunge", Punk Rock ( E.g The Germs ), and Hardcore punk. 

CM: Speaking of songwriting, do you find it easier to write songs now as opposed to early on? And do you feel you've both grown as a songwriters? 

Jamie:  For me, writing songs, is neither easy nor difficult. for me it's a release, if I didn't have that I think I'd probably implode haha. In an average week I write between 3-5 songs in that time span. and I think I've definitely grown, especially by having a full band behind me, who are all very competent musicians.

Dec Fox: I feel I have definitely grown as a song writer as me and Jamie both understand  the creative mindset behind each others songs, so we are able to make each others songs better, also now being in a band where we play a lot it has improved me as a musician and its made me work harder and be more willing to branch out into other styles

CM: You have some really powerful songs on this album in the forms of Alien Whore and RaPe ApE dEbAtE. Can we expect more heavy hitters like this on upcoming releases? 
Jamie: Definitely. "RaPe ApE dEbAtE" is literally the most metaphorical song on the entire record, its angry but at times, I think it's sweet. (Hear me out) It's gentle in an aggressive way. "Alien Whore" is a funny one, as when I wrote it, I had two ideas in my head a softer version or a hard punky version. After showing the song to Dec, we went with the heavier version and he wrote the bridge to that song as we felt it was lacking something. and we enjoy writing these heavy songs just as much as we enjoy writing our softer songs, so there fore we want to always incorporate both of our styles.

CM: You also have a pretty controversial track in What If God Were Gay. Here, in America, Homosexuality is more accepted than ever...except in the eyes of the Government who try and keep same sex marriages illegal. Personally, I have no issues with it. Where do you stand on same sex marriage? And how different is it in your native country as opposed to here in the states?
Jamie: "What If God Were Gay?" That's a track I've been asked about a few times and I don't do this often, but why not haha.  The song is literally me (and I'm sure the rest of the band word agree with me) just being pissed off with how homophobia can still be found in our current society. It's ridiculous. People are people, why can't we just let them be happy? And we are all for same sex marriage and over here they "say" it's fine. But we live in a very.."secluded" area in England, where racism and homophobia is still very prominent, which we are fully against.

CM: You have a lot to say in your music. And it's pretty deep material, which I find refreshing. Do you try and stay ahead with the times as far as socially conscience goes? Or do you just write from the heart?

Jamie: Every song I've ever written and will ever write is from the heart. It can be me dealing with a personal 
issue, or me just being pissed off about certain things in this world and example used before "homophobia". But it's not always about the lyrics. I like the music to reflect how I'm feeling as well. I personally like writing lyrics that are either metaphorical, or sarcastic as you can still say what you want to say, but no one knows which way to perceive it.

Dec: although I do not write vocals or lyrics the tone of the song I write tends to reflect the mood I am and it just comes naturally.

CM: With the release of Yesterday again, will we see Blame Bilston hitting the road for some tour dates in the near future?

Dec: Well we cannot wait to start playing regularly, but first we're sorting out a few logistical issues that are holding us back. We're also moving to a city with the band so at the moment this is taking up most of our time. But we're still playing a few local shows and then come January we'll be on the move up and down the country! 

CM: Will there be any new material by years end? And will we see any singles from the album released?

Jamie: It's hard for us not to release something instantly as all we do is work on songs together and so we'll definitely be releasing at least and EP or two before the years end. With regards to singles, we're currently trying to sort out a video for Adolescence and we did shoot a video for "Silly Little Black Bird" however we're still toying with the idea of releasing it.

CM: As always, it's been nothing short of a pleasure talking with you guys. The new album is amazing and I wanna wish you guys all the best in the future. Thanks again for talking with Critical Mass guys.

Jamie: The pleasure has been ours, thank you for listening to the record and for taking the time to speak with us. We look forward to the release in the states! Peace & Love - Jamie/Dec

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Music Reviews: "Sorry To Keep You Waiting: A Tribute To The Methadones"

Editors Note: Recently my record label, Infested Records, put out a compilation CD to pay tribute to one of Chicago's greatest punk bands, The Methadones. All the bands featured on this CD put their heart and soul into capturing what was so great about this band and their music. My old friend Teresa Spann asked if she could review the CD for Critical Mass. Without hesitation, I agreed. After all, she's the bands biggest fan and number one supporter of all things Dan Schafer. So, here it is! Enjoy!


A proper introduction might be nice.  My first tribute album was for the Kinks called “Give the People What They Want.”  I bought it because of the Briefs not knowing much about the Kinks.   The Briefs killed it and because of that album, I love the Kinks!  I’m not into most of the other bands on the record but the music made me want to know what the Kinks had to offer.  It’s was a good precedent for me for what a tribute album should be, good enough to like the bands on it and good enough to find out about the original band.

The Methadones were the first band that I loved.  I’m talking about the kind of love that makes you find their first album, and read the liner notes to see who they thank.  This love then has you buy the albums of those bands to see if they returned the thanks.  It’s a consuming love that has you hop in your car for what you think is a 2 hour drive to some never before ventured city which turns into a 4 hour drive into the middle of America but not bat an eye because it is your opportunity to see them live for the 2nd time that year after just meeting and seeing them play 8 months earlier (true story). When they recognize you when they walk in the venue a tear forms in your eye, then that love is validated and justified.

The Methadones music speaks to me and I’m listening to every single note so intensely that my ears hurt.  Dan’s sugar money voice, Pete’s metal thumping bass, Soucy’s maniac drums, and Mike’s sweaty guitar combine to into this artistic experience that challenges you to live better and be better at everything!  Starting as a side project with an original lineup that included B-face and Lumley, several albums had been recorded down the street from my place.  Although I complained often about residing in Indiana, I really didn’t mind living in Lafayette, because the Methadones had recorded here.  

I could prattle on about the Methdones, and I haven’t said hardly anything since they called it a day.  I lost my first love.  Nothing will ever replace it and talking about it is like pulling the scab off a wound trying to heal.  It hurts, makes it messy, and doesn’t heal quite right leaving a scar that isn’t pretty.  A tribute album for one of my most beloved bands isn’t going to be fair or objective.  These are terrible qualities for a review of something subjective.  It can’t be.  Messing with my heart is a dangerous undertaking and I will protect it with the utmost security but as long as you can appreciate where I’m coming from you know that it’s honest.  That’s what I think a good review should be at the crux.

I am thankful that I’ve seen at least five of the contributing bands live and was excited to see their names on the track list.  For some reason, Dan’s voice is the right pitch to make my insides melt with joy.  I love just about every single band that he’s been a part of and his musical quality is, for me, on level that’s really really hard to match.  Because of this, I didn’t hold back on some of the songs.   Please keep this in mind, because I’m am aware if you “don’t start none, there won’t be none.”  I volunteered to do this, but as their self-proclaimed biggest fan, I’m going to be the harshest critic.

Track by Track:

Solitude by the Fairmonts is choice start.  It’s the first song on Ill at Ease, the first album.  It’s a decent start.  Definitely makes me want to hear their stuff.

The Promdates are from Norway and I got to see them last summer when they were on tour with/as the Parasites.  I like these guys, their stuff is really good.  When I saw their name on the list I was stoaked because I talked to them about the Methadones.  I usually talk to everyone about the Methadones.  They did a good job.  Mess We Made is from Not Economically Viable; the lead singer said that this was his favorite album.  I’ve heard another band cover this song at a live show, this I like better.

Hygiene Aisle from Ill At Ease is my favorite Methadones song (if I had to choose) followed very closely by Ugly Things About You. I’m also aware that the person who contributed this song has been known as a racist.  I don’t want to people to think that I’m coming from predisposed criticism.  I don’t like this song, I think it sucks that this person decided to take a song that punches you in the balls by turning it into an acoustic wet willy.  Aside:  The Specials said it best: “If you have a racist friend, now is the time, now is the time for your friendship to end.”

On the Clock by Back Alley Riot, has the right amount of anger for this song from the Methadones/Copyrights split (the last album) and puts a smile on my face!

I just got to see the Young Rochelles at Insub this year for the first time and I think they are cool.  I hadn’t seen a singing drummer before in a pop punk band.  I don’t count the Jetty Boys because he does mostly backing vocals.  Their version of Less Than Zero from Not Economically Viable is exactly how a tribute song should be done!  

I was fortunate enough to start 2013 at a show where the Manges played this live.  It almost made me cry.  I love this song and the Manges!  I remember having my friends call me on the phone asking me why the Methadones were on MTV when Say Goodbye to Your Generation from Career Objective opened up some show that had nothing to do with music.  I was so proud!

Okay, there really can’t be enough said to how jacked it was that the DeeCracks couldn’t get into the US to tour.  A permission slip to do something you love is the dumbest thing ever!  I know plenty of people with a college degree that are complete idiots!  A piece of paper shouldn’t have that much power, yet we live in a world where it does.  It sucks and blows!  Yes!  I love that the DeeCracks played I’m About to Crack from Career Objective.  It’s like you knew it was coming, it’s in their name, duh.

Transistor Radio is my favorite song off of Not Economically Viable.  Jason Duarte’s cover is not bad.  I knew that is wasn’t bad when I instinctively started to sing along upon my first listen of the album.  I recently just met him as well (didn’t even know it either, I’m that person), what a nice guy!

Falling Forward came off of This Won’t Hurt was covered by Deyv Dee and Alex Rose.  This is my own bias, I didn’t like this song.  This song was on This Won’t Hurt and I was in denial about the end of the Methadones being an actual possibility.  The band had changed and I wasn’t going to admit that the break was coming.  This Won’t Hurt did hurt, liars!  The album has some really good songs on it, but in retrospect this was my own stubbornness ignoring the inevitable.

I don’t like the last Methadones album.  I would have been happy with the split with the Copyrights being the end.  It had some fantastic songs.  A nice sending off, but there were still some songs that needed to be put out.  The last album is untitled/self-titled and seems like it was one last hook up that was drunk and sloppy where you want to forget but you’ve got a gross rash that won’t go away so you can’t ever forget (not a true story, but you get what I’m saying).  Not to say that Braceface didn’t do a good job.  I just can’t be objective.

Far Away from the Skunk Muffins, makes me want to make sure I have a band tee with their name on it.  They did a really good job.

I love that in being a Methadones fan, I got to be exposed to other fans that love the Methadones as much as I do.  I get why Arielle is spelled two ways.  It’s a sweet tribute to a sweet lady.  I want to listen to original work by the Heartaches and Hangovers.  This song is pretty complicated with heavy vocals.  They did tried and did alright, but Dan has that sugar money voice so any comparison to the original wouldn’t be fair.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been to plenty of Methadones shows where Dan didn’t seem to have a full bank on that sugar money, usually it was made up for by Mike jokes.  This song was just not that great.

I just saw the Parasites perform You Don’t Know Me Anymore live two nights ago.   It was way better live, like most music.  Parasites should have their own tribute if they don’t already.  Fantastic!

Whole Lot of Nothing by CHaMOMILE was a hard initial listen.  After a few more go rounds,  I liked it and was singing along.  This band should be good live, I have a feeling.

Suddenly Cool is such a good song.  I can relate to the lyrics and it’s loaded with pop!  The Piniellas did good work!

Already Gone by the Shallow Hearts was a decent effort but came up short relative to the other songs on the album.  By far, it was the weakest entry.  The beauty of the Methadones was that a song seemed simple but had lots of musical layers that weak vocals and soft drums will expose and make you feel kind of bad like a pedo in a trench coat.

I believe was kind of a surprise on This Won’t Hurt.  This song definitely gave way that a transition was already underway within the band.  The start was so angry with the middle finger to society and your boss but then the heart’s exposed and made you listen twice or three times to make sure that all that anger and unhappiness doesn’t mean that you don’t want to be loved and happy.  Frank Makak’s I believe definitely made me listen at least 3 times to make for sure, it’s good.

At first I was disappointed that there were no ladies that seemed to share my love for the Methadones, but Girlcrush gave a great rendition of Far Away.  It rocks just as well as the first and doesn’t leave any regret that this song is on the album twice.

Past Mistakes by the Aquaholics was by far the icing on an otherwise decent tribute album.  I like that it was instrumental; it meant I didn’t have to make the harsh vocal comparisons.

The album should make you want to check out the original Methadones, and definitely the bands that contributed!  I just hope that the Methadones know that they are well deserved of a tribute album and all the work done by everyone to make it came from a place of love and respect.  I love and miss the Methadones!
4 / 5 Stars