Archive | March 2010

soundCHECK 29 – March 25th 2010

So Becks in injured. His hopes of World Cup glory quashed.

And with that comes confirmation that, as well the media, the football Gods are determined to dash any chance of us bringing home the World Cup in the summer.

Poor old Mr. Beckham was one of the few in the England team unfettered by the musty stench of indiscretion. Without the gleaming tutelage of old Golden Balls many would have it that our national football team are but a bunch of injury-prone, moralistically bereft savages with jam for brains.

But they are not. They are the glue that will unite our nation this summer. William Hill have placed teasing 5/1 odds on their chances of winning the tournament. But that’s better than the chances of rolling a six when you need to evade Park Lane, Super Tax, and Mayfair to land on Pass Go. I’ll take that.

And far be it from me to provide a commentary (for those of you who are regular readers I fear you must occasionally acquiesce with my love for the beautiful game), but I won’t hear of any negativity. I love the England team with all of my heart, which skips a beat when I think about what lies ahead in the summer. They have my unconditional support.

It would seem Jonny : Black would concur. For those gargantuan riff making colon-lovers have gone and made a World Cup song!

“You’ve come this far / All you lions to Africa” it parps over the towering guitars and airtight drums that define them. The song is called ‘Stand Up’ and was recorded at Livingston Studios. It has samples of crowd cheers and everything. It’s like Pro Evo meets Guns ‘n’ Roses. And there ain’t no harm in that.

Especially with such call-to-arms lyrics as “We’re gonna be there for you / Right to the end” and “Stand up for your heroes”. Too right! May it be bellowed from the rooftops of North Devon as we bask in the twin-sun rays of World Cup glory. You can hear it and watch its video at myspace.com/jonnyblackband. Go and do it now.

My enduring fear is that our chances of winning the World Cup will implode as John Terry’s rapacious lady-appetite refuses to be quelled. And seeing as he has form when it comes to copping off with the ex-squeeze of his Left Back, I’d say pop princess Cheryl Cole could be in line for a fling that won’t even be worth having, let alone fighting for.

What odds on that sordid romance, William Hill?

soundCHECK 38 – March 18th 2010

The blueprint for taking the rock and roll bull by the horns in North Devon has been torn up and redrafted by Severe:Zero.

They’ve only gone and booked a US tour.

“We’ve got a gig the night we fly in – it’s gonna be mad”.

I’m talking to Luke Bond from the aforementioned post-hardcore heroes. Their tour starts with three nights in New York. New York! If I had the chance to take to the stage in the Big Apple the rest of my life would just be a footnote. I could die happy.

“We’ve been saying we wanted to do it for ages,” explains Bond of the band’s aspirations. “We thought ‘Why not just get out there?’ At the beginning of January we got serious about it.”

But how did they book the tour? The pastoral vistas of North Devon are about as far dissevered from the bright lights and yellow taxis of NYC as is imaginable.

“I’ve been working my backside off. It’s all about phone calls. Loads and loads of phone calls.” Bond reels off his tour-prep routine at dizzying speed. “Emailing MP3s, posting demos, ringing promoters, checking routes, checking venue specs, checking the venue’s right for the date.”

It sounds epic. But a chance encounter with Jason Gruen of US based Prelude Publishing ten years ago made everything that little bit easier. The story of their relationship is one of online romance, but not the kind you’re thinking.

“He’s just a random guy I met on the internet. He messaged us through MySpace saying he liked our music and we’ve kept in touch. I’ve met him a few times, he’s a really nice guy.”

It would seem there’s another hero in this trans-Atlantic gig-booking frenzy: British Telecom. “For £5 a month I get 10 hours of calls to the US”. Perfect.

But saving money on calls is one thing. Funding a tour is quite another.

“We’re paying for it completely off our own backs. We’ve saved up, paid for our flights, and hired an RV.” And well may it sound trite, but the fact that the Severe:Zero boys are prepared to book and fund their own US tour speaks volumes about their ambition and resolute DIY attitude.

Their last gig on these shores is next Friday (26th) at Inn On The Square in Barnstaple. They’ll be hoping to get as many people through the doors as possible to help make sure they don’t waste away in the US. Do what’s right and show your face. Not just because Severe:Zero are a goosebump-bringing, adrenaline-spiking live proposition, but because you’ll be doing your bit for one of North Devon’s most rousing and talented bands. Support comes in the capable form of Moving Targets (myspace.com/movingtargetsuk).

As my conversation with Bond ends, I ask how he’s feeling about his impending adventures. “I’m really excited. I just want to make sure we make the most of it and have a blast,” he explains. But then he reigns himself in with the poise of a man with steely determination. “But I’m worried if I get excited I’ll get sloppy. I can’t let that happen.”

Anyone that’s ever seen Severe:Zero perform live will know he has little to worry about.