Parakeet /// Interview

Parakeet’s bouncy brand of indie rock has been soundtrack-ing my summer since the release of the band’s new EP Pink Noise in June. Fronted by Mariko Doi and James Llewellyn Thomas (who you may have seen rocking out with their other projects, Yuck and The History of Apple Pie) the band have been flapping their musical wings far and wide, supporting Wavves, Palma Violets and DIIV on European tours to playing sell-out shows in Tokyo.

We caught up with Mariko (M) and James (J) from the band to find out a bit more about Parakeet, what makes the band tick and the Pink Noise EP.

Hi there, how are you and what are you up to today?

J: Hi, I’m good. Today I have to sign hundreds of pre-ordered The History of Apple Pie LPs. Mariko is home in Japan.

To those not familiar with you, how would you describe your sound?

J: Mariko plays bass, guitar and sings. I play drums. Our sound has developed from our early (unreleased/unheard) fast punk/fuzz songs into something more melodic and poppy.

You’ve recently released an EP, Pink Noise. Can you tell us a bit about it – musically and inspiration-wise?

M: I like being alone at home when I write songs with my personal things around me. I write journals and I have certain words or sentences in my notebooks. They could be things I saw, particular feelings and words I like. The phrase ‘pink noise’ stuck in my mind when I was recording with Yuck in New York. Chris Coady, the producer, used pink noise to test the gear and it had this numbing effect on me. I was picturing myself falling into this pink noise world as if I’m falling into a dream.
The song ‘Paper Town’ is about my childhood where my brother and I used to play. I have moved on and grown old like everyone else but some people can only live in memory.  I didn’t want to leave this precious memory to rust. I guess I finally found the way to keep it. This song is also a milestone musically because it’s the first song I started writing on guitar. I have this passion again for guitar playing which I haven’t had since my early teenage years.

I feel proud of how this EP turned out. It’s full of those feelings of getting lost in thoughts. I hope people can pick up on that.

Parakeet have released a limited edition cassette tape version of the EP. Vinyl has had a massive resurgence in the past few years, do you think tape can follow that trend?

M: Well for us it was just a much cheaper war to release our music, and if a free download comes with the tape release I think it’s a good way to do it. And what with Cassette Store Day coming up I think it’s definitely a popular medium. I love cassette releases.

What are the 5 albums and artists that have influenced you the most?

Collectively, probably:

Pixies – Doolittle
Television – Marquee Moon
Nirvana – In Utero
Guitar Wolf – Planet of the Wolves
Ramones – first 5 albums

What other artists do you really like at the moment and why?

J: We really like Ought. Their album is probably my favourite this year so far. We saw them play in London recently and they were really great.

What’s the best gig you have ever done and why?

J: Supporting Wavves was fun and we toured with DIIV which was cool. Touring Japan last year was amazing. We just switched round the live set-up so now Mariko is playing guitar instead of bass and we’ve gotten Max from Yuck on bass and Jack from Polterghost on guitar too. We played our first gig with this line-up recently at White Hear and I’d say it’s the best we’ve ever sounded.

What’s the worst gig you have ever done and why?

J: The worst one was in Paris on the DIIV tour. The venue had the most ridiculous decibel limit and during our set we knew people couldn’t hear a thing we were playing, it was totally farcical. Watching DIIV after was absurd; they put on a pretty energetic show and you could see them flailing about the stage, but all you could hear were people talking.

If you weren’t a musician what would you be?

J: A golfer.

What are some of the key pieces of gear you use to write your tracks?

J: Mariko uses a cheap Fender Mustang with a Tube Screamer [guitar overdrive pedal] through a Fender Princeton amp. The sound she gets from that inspires her to write songs in a certain way.

What would Parakeet the band’s ideal pet be?

A unicorn.

You both play in other bands (Mariko in Yuck and James in The History of Apple Pie). Is it hard balancing your time/creative energies between Parakeet and your other projects?

M: It’s always hard to find time to do Parakeet. Yuck released a second album early this year which involved recording, rehearsing and going on tour.

On the other hand, as a writer in Parakeet, playing music in Yuck and going on tour helped me in terms of inspiration a lot. It’s a very unique life and makes me perceive things differently. Being on the road is like leading another life. In a way, I’m freer being in two bands.

Parakeet are currently recording their first LP for release in 2015. If you can’t wait till then to check them out, see them supporting Yuck at The Lexington, Islington on Sunday 19th October.

New Music

Polarsets /// Whispers

Newcastle four-piece Polarsetshave recently shared their latest single, Whispers, ahead of the release of their album. The track lures you in slowly, and just as you begin to start grooving, the track completely dips down. Worry not, for on the other side of the silence is even more toe-tapping indie goodness. The track then continues to build and build, with a strong horn section getting their moment in the spotlight. Check it out below:

Manic Street Preachers /// The Holy Bible tour announced

Welsh rockers Manic Street Preachers have announced that they will be playing a set of shows to celebrate the 20thanniversary of the release of their third album The Holy Bible. Playing gigs in Glasgow, Manchester, Dublin and London in December, the shows will see the band perform The Holy Bible in full.

As well as getting used to playing tracks from the album live again, bassist Nicky Wire has stated that the band are also having to prepare for the shows emotionally, saying “That album was always about something more, so we’ve got to get that in our psyche.” The Holy Bible was written and recorded at a significant phase in the history of the Manics. At the time, rhythm guitarist and lyricist Richey Edwards was battling depression, alcohol abuse, self-harm and anorexia whilst the album was the last release before his infamous disappearance towards the beginning of 1995.

The tour will therefore be a bittersweet one for the band – celebrating an album acclaimed as one of the best musical products of the decade, whilst also remembering the darkest period of the band’s past.

Tickets go on sale at 9am Friday September 26thfor the following dates:

8th December                                  Glasgow Barrowland

10th, 11thDecember                        Manchester Albert Hall

13thDecember                                Dublin Olympia Theatre

15th, 16th, 17th December                London Roundhouse     

Here’s the video for ‘Faster’ from The Holy Bible:


Bengal Lancers /// Interview

London based Bengal Lancers consist of Charlie, Max and Harry. Having met and formed at university, the trio have now relocated to London to pursue their music. Their influences include Two Door Cinema Club and The Maccabees. Having recently released their single Morning Light, the boys are heading back into the studio to create the next Bengal Lancers chapter. We recently caught up with Harry (H) and Max (M).

Hi there, how are you and what are you up to today?

Hey there, I’m doing good thanks! Just sat struggling with the typical 9 to 5 but got the new Royal Blood album on in the background keeping me sane. Charlie’s been nagging Max and I to listen to it; it’s an absolute beast of an album!

To those not familiar with you, how would you describe your sound?

We’re quite rhythmic but with a lot of bite. We’ve got quite a mixed sound spanning from shoe-gaze to disco. We get compared to Foals, Maccabees and Bombay Bicycle Clubs later work quite a lot.

What’s the story behind your name?

H: The name comes from when I was watching “The Darjeeling Limited” round a friend’s one morning after a night out. At the end, the three main characters leap on a train called “the Bengal Lancer” whilst the Kinks are being played on the soundtrack. It really stood out.

How do you write songs? Does one of you take the lead or is it a collaborative process? 

M: Sometimes Harry’s written an entire song and we just play it, but generally someone writes a riff or chord progression, then we get together and experiment with it until a song comes together. Harry then writes lyrics and that’s it!
H: Max is being far too generous here! I’ll end up sending a riff over to the boys that I’ve had stuck in my head, but by the time we get in the studio and play together it’s something else entirely. Charlie’s bass lines are a massive game changer with stuff like this. He makes some insane licks and by then Max and I have both have totally changed what we were playing. Max then does something and yet again it moves about. 

M: Yeah, sometimes we’ll have been playing a song for months and suddenly someone will change what they’re playing, and the whole song will be completely different.

Where do you find inspiration?

M: Most of my lyrics are kind of depressing, generally about negative things that have happened to me, or I see happening to other people. I can’t write songs when I’m happy!
H: I like to think I write about personal experiences, a lot of my recent stuff has been dealing with moving back to London and getting back into the swing of being back home in the capital. 

How do you work around a lack of inspiration? 

H: I usually end up looking back over old ideas that have picked up dust to see if there’s anything in them or go back to learning other tracks by other bands. I’ve started learning some Ben Howard and it’s done wonders for my finger-picking/creativity! 
M: I like writing songs that sound like they’re about something deep, but are actually about mundane things. You can make a song about going to Tesco remarkably angsty if you want to! In terms of guitar, just writing a huge volume of riffs normally turns out something good. Although I’ve only recently started trying to write stuff for the band, so nothing’s been grabbed yet!

What are the 5 albums and artists that have influenced you the most?

H: Jimmy Eat World – Bleed American: This was the album that got me into playing guitar, I remember hearing the solo to “Get it faster” in the car and going “This! This is what I want to do!” The whole album is perfect from start to finish.

Frightened Rabbit – The Midnight Organ Fight: I’m an absolute sucker for the Scottish rock scene; We were promised Jetpacks, Biffy Clyro, Twilight Sad are all fantastic, but Frightened Rabbit stole the show. This album opened my eyes to them. Everything about this blew me away and I’ve been a huge fan of the Frabbit ever since.

Queens of the Stone Age – It’s hard to pick an exact album for these guys; “you think I ain’t worth a dollar…” on ‘Songs for the Deaf” still stands as one of the most explosive intros to an album I’m ever heard. The presence these boys have on stage is something else. Josh Homme is a Demi-God.

Interpol – I’d be lying if I didn’t include Interpol up here: the ambient guitar work on “Turn on the Bright Lights” has massively influenced my sound as a player in the past few years. It’s great to hear them stepping up the game in El Pintor this year. Bank’s solo work as Julien Plenti is fantastic as well.

Bon Iver – Bon Iver: This album really made me start thinking about songwriting. The honesty of the whole thing and the sheer simplicity of it gets to you. This is one man bearing it all and it’s an absolute masterpiece.

Who would you most like to go on tour with? 

M: Definitely Bombay Bicycle Club. Music style fits and they just seem like a nice bunch of guys.
H: Have to agree with Max on this one, I saw them at Sziget and they seemed to have a great time on stage, would be awesome to join them!

What other artists do you really like at the moment and why?

H: I’ve been listening to a lot of Death Cab for Cutie at the moment, they’re great albums to travel with. I can tell you 100% that we’ve all been listening to Royal Blood. I still can’t understand how two guys can make that much noise!

What are your guilty listening pleasures?

M: I really love all the remixes of the One Pound Fish song. Outstanding.
H: I’m (not so secretly) a big fan of Katy Perry ‘Dark Horse’ – I’d love to re-work it for a cover. 

What’s the best gig you have ever done and why?

It has to be Main stage at the Leicester O2 for our university’s Summer Ball … bagging a supporting spot with Wretch 32 and Rudimental.

What’s the worst gig you have ever done and why?

H: Before Max was lumped up with us, Charlie and I were playing acoustic sets around Leicester. We played our first gig together in a student bar and it was absolutely jam-packed. To substitute a drummer I often just used my loop pedal. After layering up and getting our groove on all of a sudden everything cut out. The power to the pedals cut, stopping everything we’d layered in the process. Safe to say we stood there in silence for a while, equally as confused as every one else. We managed to get the power back, but the damage was done. I felt like an absolute arsehat.

What can we expect from you in the foreseeable future? 

We have a couple of gigs coming up, and a couple more in the pipeline. The dates are Sunday 21st of September at the New Cross Inn, and the 18th October at Brixton Oxjam, but you’ll be able to find more details on our Facebook page nearer the time! 

Finally, if you weren’t a musician what would you be?

I’d probably end up in Journalism. I’d love to get in to travel or gig write ups – free food, free music, free travel! That’d be the life.

Check out Morning Light below, and keep your eyes peeled for more info about their upcoming releases.


Black Light White Light /// Gold Into Dreams

Danish rock outfit Black Light White Light have announced the release date of their sophomore album Gold Into Dreams. The record drops October 6th, the same date as the release of the new single from the album ‘Operators’.

Black Light White Light have been garnering much love from the music press, getting shout outs from the likes of Drowned In Sound and Artrocker. The new album comes with the backing of producer Chris “Frenchie” Smith who has also produced albums for Jet and The Dandy Warhols.

Their big sound has a classic psychedelic rock feel to it but there is also a distinct Brit-rock flavour to the band, with their melodies (and lead singer’s hair) evoking an instant comparison to Oasis.

Check out the video below for ‘Sex and Fury’, a track from the upcoming album, also available on the band’s SoundCloud page.

Gold Into Dreams is available for pre-order here.


Jaws /// Be Slowly

Birmingham boys Jawshave very kindly made their new album, Be Slowly, available to stream one week before its release. Think of it as a try before you buy (you’re most probably going to want to buy). You can catch Jaws on tour around the country throughout September. Check out the album and tour dates below:
Tour Dates
15th September – The Haunt, Bristol
16th September – Exchange, Bristol,
17th September – Bodega, Nottingam
18th September – McCluskys, Kingston
19th September – Garage, London
20th September – The Oobeleck, Birmingham
22nd September – Deaf Institute, Manchester
23rd September – Belgrave, Leeds
24th September – Think Tank, Newcastle
25th September – King Tuts, Glasgow
26th September – East Village Arts Centre, Liverpool

Cloud Castle Lake /// A Wolf Howling + Sync

The implicit tranquility in a name like Cloud Castle Lake is a far cry from the audible product. The ethereal, post-rock extravaganza that is ‘A Wolf Howling’ showcases the band’s versatility when compared with their other offering ‘Sync’. Though definitely in the same ball park, ‘A Wolf Howling’ has a much more Radiohead-esque vibe, with the tense minor keyboard groove providing an unsettling background to Daniel McAuley’s…wolf-like…falsetto.

The band’s upcoming E.P ‘Dandelion’ is due for release via Happy Valley Records on 19.09.14 in Ireland, and 22.09.14 in the UK. Pre-order the 12” vinyl here.

Listen to ‘A Wolf Howling’ and ‘Sync’ below: