Sun Sep 1 2019

8:00 PM (Doors 7:00 PM)

The Basement East

917 Woodland St Nashville, TN 37206

$20 ADV / $23 DOS

Ages 18+

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Band of Skulls w/ Demob Happy

  • Band of Skulls

    Band of Skulls

    Rock

    It takes only seconds of Band of Skulls’ fifth album, Love Is All You Love, to realise that they are no longer the band you thought they were. Carnivorous begins with a fanfare of synths, which lead into a pounding, throbbing dancefloor bassline, an Arabesque lead guitar figure, and electronic percussion patterns – yet underneath it all there’s still a blisteringly powerful rock’n’roll band. “Carnivorous opened the window for the thought: What can we do now? What are we capable of?” says bassist and singer Emma Richardson. “It was the first step towards taking a risk, and it was an exciting feeling early on that led to the album going down this path.”

    This path is one in which the best bits of the Band of Skulls who have established themselves as one of Britain’s most exciting and successful rock’n’roll bands are meshed with something new. The result is an album that doesn’t skimp on the force of overdriven guitars, but combines the sounds of a live band with electronic programming and the pop genius of producer Richard X (M.I.A., Goldfrapp, Sugababes, Pet Shop Boys) to create a record that sounds like a band reborn.

    That Band of Skulls was going to have to change was inevitable once drummer Matt Hayward told RIchardson and singer/guitarist Russell Marsden he was leaving the group at the end of 2016, once they had finished touring their fourth album, By Default. “We became a songwriting duo,” Marsden says, “which has a completely different feel to being a songwriting band. We didn’t know what that felt like until it happened and it changed the dynamic of the creative process.”

    Instead of three creative people in competition to push their ideas forward, Band of Skulls became more collaborative in their writing, with Richardson and Marsden bouncing ideas off each other from their respective home studios in Southampton through the first part of 2017, and embracing new ideas in their composition. “We started work using drum machines and different electronic ways to write,” Richardson says. Marsden adds: “We're singers and guitar players, so getting our hands on in that department was exciting and challenging. That was the beginning of this. I think the record's feel is different because we had to wrangle it out of something.”

    In summer 2017 they teamed up with RIchard X for sporadic sessions at Miloco Studios in London, and set about the next phase. “By the end it was more of a collaboration than a traditional artist-producer relationship,” Marsden says. “It wasn’t forced – it was very natural. And the best ideas won out.” The duo then went back to their home studios for a second wave of writing that produced some of the album’s standouts – We’re Alive, the title track, and Cool Your Battles.

    But what they didn’t have was a Band of Skulls record – they had a huge array of demos, and a load of electronic programming. The next step, in early 2018, was to go to Smokestack Studios in Nashville for live tracking, with Julian Dorio of Eagles of Death Metal filling in on drums. This wasn’t to finish the record, but to bring out the second element of Love Is All You Love: the rock band.

    “We took the tapes back to London, without anyone knowing what they were going to be,” Marsden says. “There were some songs that had been really transformed in Nashville: Love Is All You Love got another level of soul with that human element, from not being so precise. And Sound of You really changed. Before it had a minimal electro drumkit, but Julian added something that really humanised it, and it an amazing subtlety that wasn’t there before.”

    That was the traditional part of the production. “Everything else was not traditional at all,” Marsden says. “But it was important to us to have that layer in the record, and that live feel.” But the real alchemy was yet to come.

    Back in the UK, the band teamed up again with Richard X (who hadn’t come to Nashville) where they set about taking the three sets of elements they had accumulated – their home demos, their work at Miloco, and the Nashville band tracking sessions – and combining them into a coherent whole. “It started out as trial and error,” Richardson says, “and then it transformed into a fully-fledged idea of combining the live and electronic elements.”

    Richard X is credited as a co-writer on four songs (Sound of You, Thanks a Lot, Gold, and That’s My Trouble, which, oddly, is one of the album’s most straightahead rock songs), but it was his input across all 10 songs that gave the album its bright, shiny, accessible sound.

    “That’s totally down to him,” Marsden says. “We’re lofi by nature. Everything we brought to him was lofi – maybe uncomfortably lofi by his standards – so that was his challenge. We were distorting synths, and hiding huge modular synths under the basslines of some of the songs. Even in a rock song like That’s My Trouble, the guitars are treated like synths – that’s the way he conceived it. In the end, the final feel of a record is down to the producer, but there’s an element that’s always the band that stays relatively consistent.”

    Lyrically, Love Is All You Love is affected by our troubled times. “It influences you whether you like it or not,” Richardson says. “You get affected by the fear of it all and that sense of powerlessness. But there was a concerted effort not to make a depressing record about it all, because I don’t think anyone wants to hear a dark, depressing record about these times. We wanted to have that feeling of euphoria in song, because we weren’t getting it anywhere.”

    So songs such as Cool Your Battles, Love Is All You Love and We’re Alive are more about finding unity and shared humanity than howling into the existential void. “We’re focussing on the positive,” Richardson says. “There’s so much, and people don’t often focus on the positive. I think that’s to our detriment sometimes. Music, as well as making you think, should entertain and uplift, as well as making a statement. It’s supposed to make you feel something, and if you can make someone feel better about interacting with other people, that’s a good thing.”

    Love Is All You Love charts bold new ground for Band of Skulls: a tough rock’n’roll record with gleaming pop hooks; an album where melancholy and euphoria combine in equal measure. It’s an album that points a way forward, something the band themselves recognise.

    “It's so important if you're working in any creative field to stop and look back and then put yourself under pressure to try something you've never done before, because usually that's when the best work comes, when you don't know what's going to happen next,” Richardson says. “If you try something you haven't done, it reveals what you could do in the future. If you take risks, you come up with more ideas – things are flowing now, and we've already started writing the next album.”

    For now, though, Love Is All You Love is something to, well, love.

    Love Is All You Love is released April 12, 2019 on So Recordings

  • Demob Happy

    Demob Happy

    Alternative Rock

    A deep introspective trip for the ages, Newcastle-formed, Brighton-based trio Demob Happy’s second album ‘Holy Doom’ peers into the depths of the human soul. Within each person, there exists good and evil, a yin-yang axis we each try to navigate. There’s a sinner inside every saint. With a gemini spirit, this remarkable full-length pinballs between pure holiness and the lure of the devil, often within the space of one whirlwind song.

     

    In 2017 and looking ahead to 2018, it might seem like darkness is getting the upper hand, but ‘Holy Doom’ is less a reflection of the times and more a crucial, very current look at how we collectively internalise what’s going on in the world. It asks pertinent questions: what lurks inside us? What brings out the darkness we harbour? And how do we combat it?

     

    Before explaining what makes ‘Holy Doom’ such an essential record for the year ahead, it’s important to examine Demob Happy’s place in the world. Six years in the making, 2015 debut ‘Dream Soda’ cemented them as a resolute DIY force who’d played the long game, unwilling to follow any trend, unphased by guitar music’s apparent stale patch. Hailing from their hub on the coast’s Nowhere Man Café, they emerged with a sweat and dirt-stained statement of intent, a rock debut that shunned convention and left every available route open for the road ahead. Their next move was anyone’s guess.

     

    Turn to 2016, however, and collectively the band were under strain. They found themselves a member down – following the departure of Matthew Renforth – as well as being “let down” by a lot of people. “All of us emotionally suffered, all in the space of a few months. It was only in January this year when we started to come out the rut,” states frontman / bassist Matthew Marcantonio.

     

    It’s this relative struggle, and the united spirit they combated it with, which defines this second album. ‘Holy Doom’’s title is split into two halves (‘Holy’ representing our potential for kindness, ‘Doom’ our capability for wickedness), and the album itself follows suit. Whereas ‘Dream Soda’ had the childish, fidgety spirit of popping candy exploding on the tongue, its follow-up looks inwards.

     

    In part, this introspection stemmed from personal problems affecting frontman / bassist Matthew Marcantonio, shortly after the release of the debut. He suffered from depression, anxiety, and a nasty break-up. He wasn’t alone in finding 2016 a trial. Drummer Thomas Armstrong and guitarist Adam Godfrey had struggles of their own. These feelings are often burrowed up and left to fester, but Demob Happy decided to put everything out in the open.

     

    On ‘Dream Soda’, Marcantonio’s lyrics were laced with wild ideas and conspiracy theories, always looking outwards and at the big picture. In his own words, he put to paper “everything I’d learned since I was 18 years old… Since you smoke your first joint and then you start to see the world differently.” He’d shied away from a more personal songwriting style, because of fears he’d resort to clichés or cheesy, woe-is-me emotives. “Thinking about myself was never something I wanted to do. Until it became absolutely clear that I needed an outlet for this stuff. I’d never needed an outlet before. I was fine. My mind and my life was fine. But if you bury [those feelings], things get worse.” As the world around Marcantonio changed, as did his output.

     

    Anyone in love with ‘Dream Soda’’s deranged spirit won’t feel at a loss, however. In tightly-wound second LP highlight ‘Loosen It’, the guitar lines are still dagger-toothed and gristly. ‘Maker of Mine’ bounces off the walls like the debut’s finest moments. But revelations appear through the cracks, like the title-track’s sinister, synth-swept, sleepy-eyed embrace, or ‘Running Around’’s mammoth ebb-and-flow between abstract build and violent noise.

     

    Settling into the same Carmarthenshire, Wales cottage that birthed their debut, the trio wrote ‘Holy Doom’ in isolation – the kind that lends itself to madness. “It’s so isolating out there. None of us can drive. Unless the woman who owns the farm happens to drive past and asks if we need anything from the shop, we’re alone.” They arrived in Wales with a foolproof, exact plan. They had a precise sound in their heads before they collectively put it to tape. Things got weird. Marcantonio and his bandmates drew venn diagrams of “six intersecting circles” and pinned them to the walls. “We had key charts. Symbols for certain feelings evoked in songs.” If one song fell somewhat outside the boundaries for their ultimate objective, it was scrapped. “We got technical and mathematical. Not because it’s calculated, but that’s how our brains function.”

     

    From there, they recorded the bulk of the album in summer 2017 with Ian Davenport (Band of Skulls, Gaz Coombes) in Oxfordshire – save for the drums, where they reunited with ‘Dream Soda’ deskman Christoph Skirl to capture the perfect, crisp sound they required. It was then mixed by Adrian Bushby (Foo Fighters, Muse) and mastered by Geoff Pesche (Pulp, New Order) at London’s Abbey Road Studios.

     

    It baffles some diehard Demob fans, and this writer, as to why they’re not already one of the country’s biggest bands. But they’re a group who thrive in the in-betweens. They’re loud, but not in the jarring, bombastic way that tends to guarantee main stage festival slots. There’s serious restraint at play, what Marcantonio describes as “low-key, small and 70’s.” They’re far more emotionally bare on ‘Holy Doom’, but they don’t resort to wailed choruses and lighters-in-the-air sap.

     

    Throughout their early career, they’ve cited Queens of the Stone Age and The Beatles as big inspirations. And although you can make several direct sonic comparisons to ‘Holy Doom’ and those legendary bands, that’s not 100% the point. “We appreciate what they don’t do,” insists Marcantonio. “What I mean is, you can turn up a Queens record really loud, and it sounds amazing. They haven’t tried to jam loads of guitars, drums and cymbals. It would sound impressive for three seconds, and then your ears would start to bleed.” He continues: “Some bands start out by chasing a hip sound. We’ve wanted to steer clear from that attitude. Perhaps to our detriment. We’ve not been decipherable, or able to be pigeonholed.”

     

    Frankly, it can take time to fall for their subtle, stylish charm. Marcantonio is even attuned with thinking it might take several albums to win people round. “We knew that if we did anything approaching what other bands do, there’s no point. It comes from a place of passion, not wanting to play by the rules. We think if we do our thing, we’ll rise to the top. We don’t see this album as a make or break thing. It’s a stepping stone.” For what it’s worth, ‘Holy Doom’’s themes, sonic touchstones are the complete antithesis to rock’s default mode in the late 00’s. “And that’s exactly what we wanted to be,” Marcantonio smiles.

     

     

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ALL ALL AGES and 18+ SHOWS ARE NO RE-ENTRY. If you leave the venue, you will not be allowed back in. Thanks!

Band of Skulls w/ Demob Happy

Sun Sep 1 2019 8:00 PM

(Doors 7:00 PM)

The Basement East Nashville TN
Band of Skulls w/ Demob Happy

$20 ADV / $23 DOS Ages 18+

Please correct the information below.

Select ticket quantity.

Complete the security check.

Select Tickets

Ages 18+
limit 4 per person
G.A.
$20.00

Delivery Method

ticketFast
UPS
Will Call

Terms & Conditions

This event is 18 and over. Any Ticket holder unable to present valid identification indicating that they are at least 18 years of age will not be admitted to this event, and will not be eligible for a refund. ALL PATRONS MUST BRING A VALID FORM OF IDENTIFICATION.
WE ONLY ACCEPT TICKETWEB TICKETS.
BACKPACKS are not allowed inside the venue.
Most shows are standing room only.
Handicap accommodations can be arranged.

ALL ALL AGES and 18+ SHOWS ARE NO RE-ENTRY. If you leave the venue, you will not be allowed back in. Thanks!