Archive | February 2012

soundCHECK 138 – February 23rd 2012

Heard of Auction For The Promise Club? If not, chances are you soon will have – and not just because I’m about to spend the next 400 words adding to the lexical tsunami of complimentary adjectives currently washing over the trio. But because their sassy brand of hook-smattered indie rock is beginning to make waves on a national scale. Best of all, they’re a local outfit! Sort of.

“My sister Zoe and I grew up in North Devon. But the band wasn’t together then.” We can still call them ours, right? I’m talking to Toby White Chambers, drummer in Auction For The Promise Club. The trio, whose line up is completed by Zoe White Chambers (vocals/guitar) and Perran Tremewan (guitar/keys), have been together for three years. The mention of which seems to propel Toby into some sort of mild hysteria.

“Ah! It does sound like a long time, but with the development that we have done as a band it isn’t long at all,” explains Toby – wrongly feeling the need to justify their time together. “We have recorded two videos, recorded at Abbey Road Studios and Cube Recordings, played at some amazing venues and festivals around the country and met and played to some great people.”

Hold on. Abbey Road? The most famous recording studio on the planet? Talent-phobic bands across the country would soil their skinnies given the chance to record in its hallowed grandeur. It has born sweet witness to musical legends, from The Beatles to Florence & The Machine. “It’s a beautiful space with spectacularly expensive equipment – an experience none of us will ever forget.” Check out the video for ‘If’ on YouTube for a glimpse of the band’s time there.

The Westcountry trio were shacked up in Abbey Road to record their debut EP, ‘One’, which is released digitally tomorrow (Friday 24th February). It’s the best representation yet of AFTPC’s feisty yet melodically considered indie rock. And in Zoe White Chambers they have a frontwoman whose enchanting voice is capable of both achingly beautiful, feather-light gentleness and spine-shuddering power, not least during AFTPC’s characteristically immersive choruses.  Think of a cross between Megan Thomas from Thomas Tantrum and Ritzy Bryan from The Joy Formidable and you’re getting close.

Auction For The Promise Club play in the Pavilion at The Landmark in Ilfracombe on Saturday 3rd March. You’d do well to catch them. The gig kicks off the new Live@The Landmark sessions, which aim to mix the most exciting local and national underground musical talent. Tickets cost £3 in advance from northdevontheatres.org.uk.

It’s clear that the band are excited to return to North Devon and Toby speaks fondly of the local scene: “Local venues like the Beaver Inn, The Palladium and The Joiners have always been great supporters of up and coming local acts,” insists Toby. “The North Devon music scene is growing nicely from when we were kids and they make a real effort at The Landmark to support new local music. The Music and Performance courses that are being run at Petroc and Bideford College will also help new bands come through and build the scene.”

It’s been a promising start to 2012 for Auction For The Promise Club. But promise is a difficult thing; sooner or later you have to deliver on it. With that in mind, it’s hard not to feel that this is AFTPC’s watershed moment.

You’d be brave to bet against them.

Treat yer lugholes to some action and download ‘Follow’ for free at facebook.com/auctionforthepromiseclubmusic.

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soundCHECK 137 – February 16th 2012

Some three years ago, a group of friends from North Devon organised their own private party in a shed so they could get drunk and watch each other’s bands. Their party has since grown into North Devon’s best underground indie festival, a bi-annual behemoth that has stayed fiercely loyal to its DIY roots while luring an ever more impressive selection of artists. It’s name? Beta Fest. The latest instalment takes place over the next three evenings (16th-18th February) at The Factory in Barnstaple.

So how has Beta Fest grown from its humble shed origins into a three night residency in one of Devon’s best venues? Festival organiser Tobias Matthews – who you may also know as the frontman in The Dead Betas – is typically modest:

“If I’m honest, Beta Fest’s rapid growth is down to a lot of luck. All the bands round here over the last couple of years have been fantastic. Chapters of Eden have been a huge help this year – Billy especially will be helping with sound on various days – as have other members of The Dead Betas – you will find Martron manning the monitors for a lot of the festival. I think we’ve just found a passion again in North Devon and everyone is doing what they can to get this area on the touring circuit.

“The Factory just made sense to me. I wanted the festival to get bigger and better, and though my promotional home will always be The Palladium, it’s just not big enough for what I want to achieve with the festival. The Factory is the only place I know in the area that has the capacity and the facilities for Beta Fest’s next level of evolvement. Plus, I am doing my Music Degree at Petroc and they have helped me out considerably with some of the elements of the festival.”

In tune with the Beta Fest hallmark, you can expect a line up of some of the best underground rock, punk and indie music. But there are a few extra treats in store this time around, like InMe, who have been heavyweights on the UK’s angry rock scene for the last ten years.

“When I decided that this year we were going to have an exciting headliner, I compiled a long list of bands that I, or people I knew wanted to hear. As InMe had been mentioned several times, they were added to the list. I knew as I had not worked with bigger bands before that my chances of getting one of these bands were slim. We had some offers, but due to the area we live in it was tough choosing who would sell and whether or not we could break even. Then InMe’s agent emailed and after a little negotiation we agreed a good deal all round. I was over the moon, happy that Beta Fest can be taken to the next level.”

It’s a sizeable coup to have them in North Devon. You can catch them headlining Saturday night. But there are plenty of other bands too. Who does Tobias recommend?

“I am actually really excited about seeing Castrovalva for the first time. Also Scholars, one of my favourite bands of the past year and a great bunch of guys! I am really looking forward to Fighting Fiction too, I had a few friends see them on the Lock Up stage at Reading and Leeds last year and I think they are set to go far.”

Indeed, Fighting Fiction are about to record their second session for the Radio 1 Punk Show and release their self-titled debut album at the end of the month (27th February). They play early on Saturday evening.

Local bands on the line up include The Dead Betas, Jackdaws, The Confused, Dirty Colours, Anti Caste and All Friends Are Enemies. And for Tobias, mixing the best local talent with touring bands is what it’s all about:

“I have crammed as many local bands as possible on to the line-up. If we keep going the way we are, local talent can go to promoters up country and say ‘we’ve played with all these big bands’ and it could make the difference in getting them a booking. I love music and I love the music scene in the area we live. If I can help in any way to make people across the country acknowledge what we have down here, then I will. Plus it’d be nice to see all the bands we like on our doorstep, rather than having to travel at least an hour on a work or school night.”

For full line up information, point your internet to facebook.com/betafest. Tickets are available from Beats Workin’ or www.blackholepromotions.bigcartel.com.