12 Revolutions of 2017: Matt Maltese – Blood, Sweat & Beers EP

Matt Maltese leans back from the piano his eyes cast to the heavens, and a mischievous, border-line malevolent grin edges across his face. He closes his eyes and lets a loose sigh drift from his body. There is a decadent, deadbeat charm in the way that he moves. A sly humour and quiet self-deprecation in his words that isn’t immediately obvious on listening to his record. In this place, in his place, up on stage he plays host to a hall of ghosts, both living and dead, with a wit and charm reminiscent of dark balladeers that came before him like Cohen and Waits.

The appeal of Blood, Sweat and Beers is that it was recorded live last year in front of a small audience by Hugo White (from some band called The Maccabees) and captures this young songwriter in his natural habitat, inchoate but replete with potential. Across five tracks and a poem he shows us his dark side and its beauty, he leads us into the heart of the apocalypse and we are happily led.

As The World Caves In begins on the final night of humanity’s existence. It’s a love song for the end of the world. With the bombs about to land and extinction creeping ever closer, Matt declares his heart: “Oh girl it’s you that I lie with/As the atom bomb locks in/Oh it’s you I watch TV with”. And in these final hours he finds respite in dark humour: “You put your final suit on/I paint my fingernails/Oh we’re going out in style babe/And everything’s on sale”.

No One Won The War is Matt at his most fatalistic. He looks out on the misery of the world, on the everyday failings of people, on our ridiculous attempts to appease our guilt and notes that No One Won The War. There is bitterness here, and a deep unquenchable sadness, yet also charm. The song’s central conceit is heavy but the instrumentation is soft and intimate, his whispered baritone beguiling: “The new day is now done/Did you hear another gun?/Some folks had their fun/There’s an awful lot of blood.”

The songs on this EP are piano-led, and backed by minimal instrumentation which doesn’t include drums. Rhythm comes from the bass and from the pacing of Matt’s vocals, unhurried like a bedtime story. Strange Time sums up his approach. It tells the tale of the death of a relationship, of one last night, of darkness and lust. It is brutally honest, borderline filthy, equally nasty and sweet, and Quiff loves it: “We sure have a strange time/But we sure do it right/We sure have a strange time/We’re getting stranger every night.”

So here we stand on the outside with Matt Maltese, a little gang of freaks and geeks falling for this five track confessional. Blood, Sweat and Beers highlights the rising career of a gifted songwriter and potent lyricist. He looks at the world with an alarming honest, yet always leaves us smiling and asking for more, more of the nihilistic beauty in his darkness.

Blood, Sweat and Beers is a vinyl only release. You might be able to get it here but if not then you should grab his EP and singles from here.


12 Revolutions of 2017: Loyle Carner – Yesterday’s Gone

Loyle Carner stands front and centre on the cover of his album, but he is not alone. Family and friends crowd around him on the unkempt lawn, in front of a tenement block. People smile and giggle, nervous with the camera pointed at them. This is a moment repeated a hundred thousand times, same but different, an echo of family gatherings across the length and breadth of the UK.

Hip-hop is supposed to be brutal, frank and honest to reflect the troubled lives of its purveyors. This was true for the originators, it was true for the gangsters and it’s true for modern grime. Rather than turning his razor-sharp pen and honey-dewed drawl to everyday violence, the fraternity of gang life or the escapism of retail therapy, Loyle turns it inwards and creates a record of personal reflection, of pain and doubt and resilience and hope.

The album opener, The Isle of Arran, seduces the listener with its heavenly, gospel-tinged hook – “The Lord will find a way” – and then bares its teeth in a meditation of death, loss and grief that flickers across the flesh like the lash of a whip, pain and diffidence rising with realisation: “Clinging to that whole one/My mother said there’s no love until you show some/So I showed love and got nothing, now there’s no-one/You wonder why I couldn’t keep in tow, son.”



We roll forward and Loyle’s lines – languid, smooth and resonant – lead us into his inner existence. He contemplates the difficulties of early adulthood: struggling to get by, trying to be responsible, and the loss of innocence. Ain’t Nothing Changed is a jazz-infused eulogy to the shedding of childish freedom. He dreams of the past as he struggles with the present: “Trust, I’m all alone panicking to play it safe/This talk of paper chase is forcing me to stay awake/Living in sake of cake, yeah, others will say you’re straight/Say they got my back and that they’re praying Imma pave the way/Like it’s the great escape.”


Like in life, there is also light amongst the darkness here. No Worries shows a more sanguine attitude to adulthood: “Fear loathing on this helter skelter/When all we really need is food, clothing and shelter/Played the hand they dealt ya down ’til the last card/You claim king but only jokers have the last laugh”. In almost self-therapeutic manner, Loyle reminds himself of what’s truly important in life: Love first, success second.

No CD is a highlight. A joyous boom-bap anthem, underwritten with humorous self-deprecation, that serves as a homage both to his love of music and the music that he loves:  “Oh please, we ain’t got no P’s/Because we spent all our money on some old CDs/We got some old Jay Zs, couple ODBs/Place ’em up in perfect order ’cause my OCD.

Family and loyalty are a constantly re-occurring theme. On Florence, Loyle imagines making pancakes with the little sister he never had while, on Mrs C, he speaks of the death of a friend’s mother. Sun of Jean starts as a tribute to his mother and her strength and ends with a poem about him as a child, spoken by his mother. While Loyle may have struggled because the world wouldn’t accept him as he was, he never felt this way with his mother. Their closeness is evident, and in a way that most artists would struggle to speak about with such frankness: “Call me the son of Jean/My little submarine/Me and my mother, there ain’t nothing that can come between/Call me the son of Jean.” There is hope in this track and that really is the conclusion of this record. Look forward; don’t look back because Yesterday’s Gone:

There is so much, which is refreshing about Yesterday’s Gone: its finally crafted beats, its candid discussion of difficult topics and its humour and warmth. There is no one in hip-hop making music quite like this and that makes the album, and Loyle, very special. Both musically and lyrically, it respects the past but looks forward to the future, which is something we can all get better at.

You can grab Yesterday’s gone from Loyle’s website.


12 Revolutions of 2017: moonweather – sit down, be small

Imagine taking a few months off in order to spend some quality time doing whatever you are passionate about. This is exactly how moonweather approached the making of their first record sit down be small: During the summer months last year, Colin, Bobby and Billy came together with local musicians and created something that has left Quiff weak with wonder:

“We quit our jobs for a summer and built the studio, with help from our friend Jon. The whole idea was that we weren’t going to rush the writing and recording this time around. We simplified the amount of things we were trying to do. There weren’t any festival application deadlines, or shows to practice sets for. Just a few of us in a basement taking our time writing and recording until we were happy with the result.”, states Colin.

The opening track is an experimental sound potpourri stitching together little patches from the album without revealing too much; like a hand surrounded by haze and hope reaching out to guide you through the intricate, yet joyous tangle.

Burn Me with its remarkably well-conceived orchestration is an impeccable example of how the carefully selected instruments and feelings expressed within this multifarious swirl correlate with each other: “Notice low, red low/See your breath as it/Slows” The trumpet flutters between the pattering drums and the soothing cello, reiterating the words with pleasure and purity – an aural manifesto that is floating free but in perfect time to the beat like a nimble-footed and light-hearted dancer.

The Quiff staggers and sways as the record moves on, giddy with excitement, appeasing his thirst with a fine pinch of musical ambiguity. Heads Up plays with contrasting spirits, it leaves the beguiled listener on his own, floating in anticipation but buried in thought, a dark aftertaste whispering across his throat: “Hold your head up by a smile/Piles of garbage thrown, creeping like the sub-floor/When you know you’re dead and gone/Taste the moon on your tongue.” Colin admits that “the music has a little bit of an upbeatness to it that the lyrics don’t really share.”

Nevertheless, moonweather have the rare ability to create vivid images in Quiff’s head that make him run along a gust pebble beach, pause in wistfulness standing amongst the ever-moving throng of city life or catapult him foolishly into the sky. Too Soon is probably the album’s empathetic masterpiece. The floating guitar and subdued horns gently war with vocals of urgent supplication. It’s a song about struggling with life and making mistakes, about regret and realisation, all combined in the recurring line “I should’ve known better.”

The genuine storytelling is complemented by the neatly styled musical arrangements, which reflect a sense of togetherness. That sit down be small is a team effort is plainly audible in every song and this has a great impact on the record’s cohesiveness. The result is manifested within the process; refined by the innovative input from a dozen musicians: “There was just a constant feedback loop happening, and people were adding all their different flavors to the mix. We’d try to explain to them the part that we wanted them to play and then they’d come up with something totally new and unexpected. The whole process was just so unpredictable and exciting.”

2017 has been a year of extraordinary songs rather than the coherent records that are so essential for the Quiff’s survival, his love and longing – and moonweather fed the Quiff well with the band’s precise feeling for timing, the sheer beauty of instrumentation and the common bond this album creates.

Self-critically, Colin, Bobby and Billy (and now Michael) are already planning their next undertaking: “We’re working on our second album right now, and it’s a goal of ours to have lyrics that are a little more concrete in what they mean, with stronger themes threaded throughout every song.”

You can get the moonweather record (for free) from their Bandcamp page.

12 Revolutions from 2017: Dan Auerbach – Waiting On A Song

We ease past the spluttering procession of trucks and Sunday drivers, wheels sliding across the smooth tarmac, the road stretching lazily in front of us as it undulates its way to the distant horizon. The world feels endless but narrowly defined, the vast tracts of tall pines on either side holding us in place, keeping us on track. The only way to move is forward. We are trapped but free, lost in the first heady days of the summer, somewhere between anywhere and nowhere and Dan Auerbach is our soundtrack.

On his second album, Waiting On A Song, Auerbach has left behind the gritty, broiling blues of the Black Keys, widening out his songbook to incorporate breezy folk pop, pristine orchestral funk and lazy, countrified acoustic unrest. Now with his own studio, and a bunch of production credits behind him, he seems like a man at ease with himself. The album’s title track, a joyful homage to the song-writing process, is followed by Malibu Man, a rising chorus of strings giving way to a glorious shimmy of horns. It’s a soundtrack to a way of life: “I moved from New York, with my boogie board/And bought a big house on the ocean/Stopped eating meat, I took the shoes off my feet/Just because I took the notion.” The song’s central character, his sparkling eyes and lazy smile breaking through an unshaven face, holds a cocktail in hand as he saunters down the beach.

And so we saunter with him through a pair of fuzzy guitar pop gems. Livin’ In Sin and Shine on Me – the latter in particular bringing the kind of chorus hooks and clap-along joy that merits a full ensemble of jiving housewives, swinging shopkeepers and pirouetting policeman – only to be hit by the earnest lonesomeness of King Of A One Horse Town. Now the streets have emptied and our bedraggled king kicks pebbles through an empty parking lot. Summer gives way to autumn and then winter. Snowfall tumbles around him as he shivers past the abandoned lots of half-built dreams, paralysed by his own fear:  “Guess I’ll stay on desolation row/Go get stoned and hang around/The beat of my drum is the only sound/I would jump into the ocean but I’m scared I’d drown.”

This song is the essence of this album. On the surface it’s bright and free – a series of wondrously effortless pop moments found with immaculate poise – but lyrically there are lines which unpick this ease. As you peel back the layers you see the intricacy and depth that lies beneath. Our Malibu Man is lonely and without roots. Shine on Me is more grasping, hopeful optimism than assured happiness. Even Stand By My Girl, an ode to loving monogamy is underwritten with anxiety: “I’m gonna stand by my girl, don’t think I won’t/I’m gonna stand by my girl, because she’ll kill me if I don’t.”

In reality, of course, it’s not all sadness and the durability of this record comes from its ability to balance light and dark. Yes, we swing to its casual beat and sense of escapism but we also find empathy in its disquiet and alienation. On Never In My Wildest Dreams, Auerbach writes of love and freedom, embracing us in a wave of delightful acoustic guitar and warm, fecund horns. But it’s a love that he hopes for, not one that he has yet reached: “Never in my wildest dreams/Would I be loving you/Never in my wildest dreams/Would my dreams come true.”

Waiting On A Song is one of the quiet success stories of this past year. A supposedly summer record that manages to be for all seasons. For some it may be a little too derivative, and certainly it’s nothing we haven’t heard before, but it’s musically adept, finely crafted and constructed with a sly subtlety which can be easily overlooked. Give yourself a treat and grab this album from Easy Eye Records.



12 Revolutions from 2017: Patch & The Giant – All That We Had, We Stole

Angie’s trumpet flares and detonates. Nick’s bass stomps and strides. On strings, Gabe and Derek compose a dulcet roar in the background. Luke steps towards the microphone, his throat raw, his voice a tired and beautiful bark, to tell us the stories of the forgotten.

Patch & The Giant’s debut album All That We Had, We Stole is peopled by a cast of the downtrodden: Butchers and their beasts, anonymous buskers, lovers left behind, ageless mothers and crying fathers, blooded soldiers and lost sailors, heavy-browed brothers and actors without words. These are the tales of those gathered amongst the muck and the mire. It seeks them out and finds dignity and beauty in the undulations of their seemingly prosaic existence.

Local Man is a strident call to arms. The accordion stirs and sways, the strings raise us to our feet in honour of the barely visible musician in the background of our lives and his “songs of freedom/and of loneliness and joy.” We are gracefully berated for our ignorance of his humble vocation: “But if you’d ever stop to pause and listen/You’d see what is missing/But all your eyes and all your ears/Are vacant/Eluding time.”

Having lifted our spirit, the album turns and shows us a darker side. The Day You Went To Sea is a paean to family and love and to death and loss. Its warm, sepia-tinted nostalgia has an undercurrent of violence and confusion: “A song can be the best of me/A heart devoid of melody/A book that took on grass and leaves/A man could falls on bloody knees/To give you all you need.”

Flowers may be the closest thing this album contains to a love song, though whether for a lost love or a lost life, it’s never clear. We are drawn in by the intimacy of this song, the audience mouthing the words, not singing, for fear of breaking its fragile beauty. There is regret but also hope – a small flame nurtured between the lines of its evocative and elegant imagery: “Lavender blue/All that’s good I stole from you/A faceless gain/Lavender black/Shake the devil from your back/I’ll take your weight.”

Were this a decade ago – in the epicentre of the indie fold revival – Patch & The Giant would be in the vanguard, and this album would be gracing enough radio playlists to grant them the time and freedom to write and record at will. Instead, they are bringing their euphoric and delicate songs to a tiny corner of our musical consciousness. Perhaps the groundedness that comes with this is what gives them their essence, but if All That We Had, We Stole is the standard they are setting then they surely won’t stay hidden for long.

You can purchase All That We Had, We Stole direct from Patch on CD and Vinyl.

12 Revolutions of 2017: Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – French Press

The rain skewers down from left to right, the wind rolling across the swollen, churning ground grappling and grasping at the last of us, shaking us numb. Up on stage at End Of The Road, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever occupy a tiny square of space, the 5 of them huddled together in almost indecent proximity, as if they can protect each other from the coming storm. Fragments of beats and chunks of guitar roar from the speakers in defiance of the weather.

The record rolls in with French Press, a glistening, airy echo of guitar, the pulsing thud of a snare and  the sweep of rhythm guitar and bass, like wheels turning on an endless stretch of wet tarmac. A melodious grumble kicks in: “I’m alright/If you asked me/But you never do/Is this thing on?/I’m coming at you.”

Across a mere 25 minutes, they come at you. Driven on by a rhythm section of perpetual motion and sharp, harmonious guitar hooks. Overburdened and overwhelmed by an excess of feeling and an increasingly desperate sense of distance, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever take shelter from the storm in these songs. There is love, lust, loss, disappointment, frustration, confusion, bemusement, anger and resentment glittering like broken glass in the corners of the opaque stories this band tell, each track a literate, lyrical journey.

Musically, they are lost in the post-punk and alt-rock of the 1980’s. Their guitar work is unabashedly similar to the Go-Betweens, a brittle blend of sugar and salt that, in lesser hands, would only sound like a pale imitation. It is their closeness, as if they were playing within each other, that gives it authenticity.

Sick Bug is the embodiment of the raucous, wild storm. We are buffeted back and forth by angular guitars and a driving rhythm until the briefest moment of calm in the middle, the eye of the storm, and then we are dragged back into the tempest.


The record rises through the storm reaching above the clouds for the closing track, Fountain of Good Fortune. Here everything is a little clearer, certainty emerging from the discord and we find a radiant jewel of alternative pop with a hard-boiled heart: “I see a problem/I’m not willing to address/And I take pleasure/In not wanting to impress/’Cos I’m drinking/From the fountain of good fortune.”


French Press is a record of beguiling ambiguity. Their lyrics are both enigmatic and sincere. Their music as disgruntled and distant as a storm on the horizon, yet as close and comfortable as a passing dream. With a debut album and a new tour on the way, they are a band to watch in 2018.

You can purchase this record from the glorious wonder that is Bandcamp.

12 Revolutions from 2017: Jen Cloher – Jen Cloher

It’s difficult to talk about the Jen Cloher record without mentioning Courtney Barnett. Jen’s wife is woven through its fabric of confusion, contemplation, anger and hope. Yet, this is a natural by-product of Jen’s candid approach to song-writing rather than any attempt to replicate Courtney’s successful template.

It’s a record of shifting moods, musically and lyrically. The opening salvo Forgot Myself and Analysis Paralysis lay bare her confusion at life both personal and public. There is an aching discord in the music here, echoed lyrically, as Jen struggles to come to terms with her own thoughts and how they stand in opposition to her everyday: “Oh God, I forgot myself/ Oh god, I forgot my health/Seen it coming but it’s too late now”, she intones, the words sparse and naked and troubling.

The mood shifts and we are walking the street contemplating the quiet suburban gloss of modern Australia. There is anger on Regional Echoes (“Wealth gone to waste/The Australian dream is fading/Stolen anyway”) but it’s couched in a stoicism that extends into the record’s high point, the slight and beautiful Sensory Memory. There is loneliness here, but a realisation that this is her choice, that it’s fine as long as her lover comes home again.

The second side begins with a harsh counterpoint. The anger becomes more visceral and this is reflected in a muscular, edgy guitar sound that manages to finds the perfect balance between sweet and sour. Shoegazers, with its indignation at the music industry, has perhaps the most memorably vehement lyrical moment (“Most critics are pussies who want to look cool/Those who can, they do/Those who can’t review/What’s hot today is forgotten tomorrow”) but dig deeper and you find that Strong Woman and Kinda Biblical rail hard against the rise of the populist right and the failings of modern gender politics, while Great Australian Bite questions the cultural depths of modern society:

What makes this record complete is the final mood shift, from angry to hopeful. It’s Jen’s adoration of music which moves us here. In Loose Magic she recalls a Dirty Three concert and the sense of freedom that came with their music (if you don’t know them, start here, and then listen to everything). This is clearest in Waiting in the Wings, a stunning piano-led ode to positivity: “There’s no meaning but the meaning you create/ And no end to all the things that you can make/ To be kind/ Truly kind/ Is radical.

Jen Cloher has created an album of great balance and depth. At times this is not an easy record. Her honesty can be brutal. But it also carries a quiet grace and a tender intimacy, like a secret shared between two lovers.

You can buy this record just about everywhere but, personally, Quiff loves Bandcamp or direct from  Marathon Records.

Enter, Joy Room


The crowd sparks and fires, rising as one to the beat. The people at the periphery wheel away with childish exuberance before lunging back towards the centre, so that it looks synchronised, pre-ordained almost, like a firework going off. Up on stage, Ned is slouched low over his kit, the machine-gun fire of drumsticks eventually proving too much for the snare, which topples and rolls away from his despairing reach. Jasper’s bass weaves through the spaces between the violent, pop-tinged thrusts of Luca’s guitar like mortar between bricks. Up front, George is up on his toes, whirling like a prizefighter before a bout, dancing back and forth across that thin line between self-assurance and arrogance. It’s chaotic, up on surface, but Joy Room don’t stop.

It’s quiet outside the Green Door Store – a robust, compact little venue tucked away under the railway station, its brickwork stained almost grey by age and industrial-strength smog – but not for long. We’re sat at a broken picnic table, ashtray overflowing with dog-ends, half-drunk G&Ts leaking from plastic cups, when Joy Room bound over to meet us. These four old school friends from London are obviously comfortable in each other’s company. Their conversation is rowdy, inflated by alcohol and high spirits, laughter bursting from the sides like steam from an old locomotive. However, as we settle down to chat, beneath the veneer of wayward mayhem, we meet a group who are polite and friendly, grateful and humble in the face of the attention they receive and more than willing to discuss the inner-workings of a band on the rise.

Starting 18 months ago, from the ashes of George and Luca’s previous band, they stole Jasper from another group and started searching for a drummer:

George: We just wanted to get some songs together… We tried Ned out and we were like… He’s the best because he just had this kinda groove.

Luca: I got an old reel-to-reel tape player that my Dad gave me and we recorded to it… and it sounded so sick.

This rough, lo-fi sound is the most distinctive element of Joy Room’s early work, including their compelling catchy first single Late At Night that got them attention from BBC Introducing:

Jasper: It was funny how Late At Night came out… just us and our instruments, this kinda basement garage vibe, loadsa amps everywhere and we just smashed it out in a day.

Is this their song-writing process, helter-skelter and rough? Is their sound purposefully unsophisticated?

George: Me and Luca smack ’em up and then we smash ‘em around like a pinball machine.

Ned: Then the band come together and it’s formed.

George: I have to believe in the lyrics but other than that, it’s the musical idea that’s best that wins.

The belief in the lyrics is important. During the live set there are brief interludes where George tells us the stories that lie behind their songs. There is a naked honesty to these tales that are at the heart of the band’s relationship with the audience. These everyday recollections are also our own and this gives their music a cathartic edge:

George: Yeah, the lyrics are fun but just straight up. If I don’t really believe that, if I’m not like, this has happened to me then… I have to know that I’ve gone through it… Every lyric that I’ve written, Luca has been there beside me as I was having a beer, thinking about or crying about it, whatever it’s been. We’ve been through everything we’re singing about, you know.

This story-telling urge implies a deeper well of artistic ambition than is initially obvious. As they themselves admit, the early material wears its influences on its sleeve. There is a dash of The Strokes, a sprinkle of the Queens of The Stone Age and a fair scattering of the Kings of Leon. But, how do they grow beyond this?

Luca: We’ve slowed down our songs a bit because Jasper’s got this amazing slinky bass style and recently we’ve been finding a way to really play into his strengths.

Ned: It’s still got the older style feel but we’re breaking into something else.

Jasper: We’re still experimenting with everything, you know.

Luca: I never wanna feel comfortable, I always wanna move.

So what does this mean in terms of recording? How will they take this ambition and put it onto record?

Luca: We’ve had a bit of a weird experience with a few producers where we’d go in and record these tracks and, just like, nothing come of it.

George: Recording is so important… You can record a song and it doesn’t come off as cool, but it’s a cool song. You can record a song that’s not very cool but comes off as so cool because of the recording. It’s about getting that balance and we’re trying to figure out how to do that for ourselves.

Luca: You meet producers… A lot of them don’t keep up with the moment and they can make it all a bit naff. Like ‘Yeah, I can do The Strokes sound. You like The Strokes? I’ll do that.’ And then you’ll come out and it’ll sound like The Strokes but, it’s confused, we want it to sound like us.

This is the essence of Joy Room. There is a wide-eyed, raucousness to their approach which can hide the utter belief in their ability and the ambition not just to be another band but to be the band:

George: We hold ourselves up to our idols and our idols are really good musicians. So we always try to be the best musicians we can be and that sometimes is fucking hard for us and quite a stressful, rocky road cause we’re pushing ourselves.

Luca: It’s about having a unique feeling. Like, if I have a select emotion and attribute that with a band then I would like to be someone’s select emotion… I want to be like that kinda of band.

George: We’re checking off influences. We’re starting to get through the Kings of Leon and The Strokes. I mean, at the very end of the spectrum, we’ve got a long way to get there, there’s like Radiohead, David Bowie and Prince. If you can end up there, you’re killing it.

And with that, Joy Room bounce away, seemingly without a care in the world. They may not have outgrown their influences yet. They may roll into town shouting along to Ophelia by The Band like students on their way to a festival. They may burn the night away dancing to Faithless, Orbital and Underworld only sleeping to the first stirring of sunlight. But, their energy is infectious, stretching out to encompass passers-by who come to share their love and their anecdotes of all things Joy Room. And this energy, allied with a tireless musicality and serious ambition, marks them as group we should expect big things from.








Introducing The Family Chain

We’ve all seen bands where the band are too cool to say anything, or too cool to give a shit about anything, and I hate that. I just want to be a band that shows that we fucking want to do this.

It’s Friday evening and the street heaves and sways with anticipation. Loosely formed groups of friends and co-workers coagulate around the benches, conversation and laughter rising above the constant growl of background traffic as alcohol acts as a release valve to inhibition.

About a month ago, a stranger in a bar recommended a song called One Born Every Minute by The Family Chain, their only song it seemed, and we liked it, a lot. Intrigued, we asked if they’d be willing to chat to us over a friendly beverage.

The band were formed last year by 3 close friends – George (Vocals/Guitar), Andrew (Bass/Backing Vocals) and Sam (Guitar) – an old idea finally coming to fruition, but only finalised their line-up in February when they met Ollie (Drums), through a mixture of good luck and hard work. With the band being so new, we start by discussing how they find writing songs together and whether this leads to conflict. Does George who “writes the essence of the songsfeel put out?

George: At first, I was like this is my baby what are you doing to it? But, actually, I’ve found the best songs come through accepting others ideas and giving it a go. Because at the end of it, if it doesn’t work you’ll drop it. You wouldn’t persevere with something if it sounds shit.

Ollie: Like, it’s almost as if we’ve hit a different approach collaborating together, a different energy, I suppose.

It’s this creativity that has been the impetus for the songs The Family Chain are currently recording and plan to release alongside “some secret stuff” in early autumn. They openly admit that their set has changed dramatically and that their sound has broadened so that, while they maintain the same fundamental style, One Born Every Minute “seems like a million years ago”.

For newer fans, like us here at Quiff, this leads to a question about what you can expect when you see The Family Chain, live. While the band see clear progress in their studio work it’s when they speak about performing that they really come to life:

George: Live is where it’s more intense and there’s more feeling. I’m still learning how to put feeling and intensity into recordings, as well. Live is more vulnerable and we don’t always know what is going to happen.

Ollie: Live, when you see and hear it for what it actually organically is, it becomes 3D. We’ve definitely got a more intense approach to playing live than when we’re recording.

The band’s passion for live music is clear. On stage, it’s revealed through the intensity of their performance, which is reflected in the audience’s reaction.

George: When we’re playing, when you look at people’s faces the median reaction is confusion. I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s me. I basically perform like I’m about to piss myself… After every set I’m convinced I’m gonna have some sort of breakdown because I’ve just gone too overboard. But I wouldn’t do it any other way, whether they’re freaked out or not… I want people to know that I mean it.

Ollie: I think energy does that, though. The more energy we put into it, the more energy the audience feel. You have more chance of someone coming out of that gig and wanting to discuss that with other people.

The importance of this intensity is to make a connection with the audience, to make them feel a part of The Family Chain and it means leaving nothing on the stage. This intensity, though, doesn’t transfer into ambition. That’s not to say that The Family Chain aren’t driven. Like most musicians they’d love to do what they love, full-time, for money – this is not shocking. It’s just that they want any success to be organic. It’s about focusing on their music and audience:

Ollie: A decent, strong fanbase that actually appreciates the music and then whatever that leads to from there, then great… as long as we’ve got that fanbase, and people come and see the concerts and enjoy the music.

George: My dream situation would be that we’ve got a really dedicated group of people who have gone past the confusion and actually really like the band. I’ve been doing bands for 10 years and it’s all I’m gonna do. I’m gonna be 70 and making little, shitty albums in my shed whilst my grandkids slam on the door for more biscuits. Even if in 2 years we had no deal, no management, no anything, but we had people who really loved our music, then I’d be happy.

In an age, where bands are only a few 100 likes away from stardom or 30 mediocre seconds away from being shuffled out of rotation, The Family Chain are a surprisingly old-fashioned band. They believe in not being too cool to say what you mean, in giving a shit, in spilling sweat to make a connection with people and that, through organic growth, success can be achieved. Perhaps, they’re naïve, perhaps they just measure success differently.

George: When we did that show… there was these 3 kids who came up afterwards who were from the same route as me. ‘Man we see you get on the 270 bus, every day.’ Likes and stuff, it does have a big impact but, at the same time, I’d much rather make a human connection with someone.

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