Footprints in the sand are a physical metaphor for what went before and Camden as a whole is much the same. You only have to look around to see the nostalgic debris of glory days past, the statue of Camden’s favourite forbidden fruit; Amy Winehouse, or those haunts such as the Good Mixer and the Hawley Arms that were once occupied by Britpop’s boys and the ramshackle kids of the early noughties guitar revival scene to see that this place oozes rock but is it still rolling? Well the answer seems to be yes, it is, if last Saturday’s Camden Rocks Festival is anything to go by. Set over one long day, the summer sun rose and died whilst our livers did something similar.
We sent our self-inflicted but nonetheless wounded reviewer Toby down to interview two of the bands of the day. After he had he breakfast of Fosters of course. First up is SURGE.
So, who are you?
“SURGE are George King (21, frontman), Billy Fenton, (20, drums), Alan Jones (22, guitar) and David Smyth. (22, bass)”
What are your main influences?
“With the type of band we are, a four-piece guitar band, it’s really hard to not get pigeon-holed into being compared to the likes of Arctic Monkeys etc. Which is fine, they are an amazing band of course, a band that I personally would say are my favourite band. But I think it’s definitely a double-edged sword at this moment in time, within the music industry, to be compared to bands of that stature because very few people want what’s already come before. But then again we aren’t ashamed of what we are at all, it’s what we do and we are playing the sort of music that we love listening to – we aren’t going to start writing tunes that we wouldn’t want to listen to ourselves, in a shallow bid to climb the ladder. I think we are more of a Libertines-esque band purely because of how our live shows sometimes pan out. Can I just say we have the musicianship and lyricality of Arctic Monkeys and the live report and unpredictability of The Libertines? Haha both humongous claims actually – if we can be half the band either of those two bands are then I’ll be extremely happy. Let’s leave it at that haha.”
What you got planned for summer and the future?
“Over the summer we plan to release, LEMONADE – our forthcoming third single that has been stunningly-produced by Placebo’s touring guitarist, Nick Gavrilovic. It’s a great, summer tune actually so I think it’s the perfect time to put it out and we have also added in a touch of synth in places – which we have never done before, nor currently do live – which I believe manages to enhance the song without distorting what the initial track was. We aren’t sure how we are going to release it yet, obviously our previous single was released on vinyl so we are 100% sure yet but a party of sorts will definitely be had to celebrate its release.
Aside from that, we have quite a few gigs booked up in London, Leeds, Leicester, Suffolk and Essex and some slightly smaller local festivals to plough through as well, so it should be a fun couple of months.”
What do you want to bring to London – what makes you stand out from the crowd?
“In answer to your question, to London and everywhere for that matter, it’s everything we brought to our recent Jubilee club set in that our live show is just electric, raucous, sometimes unpredictable and always dripping with a sense of endearment that I think feeds through to the audience, making our shows impossible not to enjoy – if you are willing to give as much as we do.”
What would be your favourite London venue and why?
“Well, we recently played at the Camden Barfly, which was our first proper London show in all honesty – because it’s such a prestigious venue we really pushed to make it the greatest gig we have done to date – and I think we definitely achieved that. We took close to 50 people to watch us that night, something I never thought we would do considering it was an extremely late London gig that was two hours away from where most of the people we took actually live. But everyone just had a fucking raucous time and it was honestly electric in that venue when we were on..
We had people jumping onstage with us and everyone in the crowd was bellowing our songs back to us, and I think that gig really gave us a massive insight into how amazing it’d be if every night was like that. We’ve always known that being in a band is all that we have ever wanted to do, but that night really helped to cement it, that often unobtainable idea, into our minds even more.”
What emerging bands are gonna take us by storm?
“Chasin Vegas from round our way (in Essex) are phenomenal in my opinion. They have these massive, stadium-filling tunes and they do the business live as well – a rarity in my opinion. They treat every gig they do as if they are headlining Wembley or something and that’s I guess how every band should be really. I remember seeing a video of Catfish and the Bottlemen playing to like four people, but they were going for it just as much as they do now when they play to thousands – and apparently that’s the gig that helped them get signed because as luck has it, one of those four people was someone very important. So, yeah I think it’s essential for all bands to always give it everything they’ve got, regardless of how many people are watching, and Chasin Vegas do that religiously.”
Nice one guys!
You can catch SURGE at their next gig on June 19th at the Three Wise Monkeys in Colchester, Essex.
M O S E S
Toby – whilst enjoying the music – wasn’t feeling like King Kong shall we say, or as he put it ‘If I could describe the physical state of my soul, it would probably resemble something with the look and consistency of Tarmac’, ah the joy of youth, summer and all things rosey. Anyway, Toby and his partner in crime meandered in and out of shows catching, M O S E S during a blistering set that truly left the crowd wanting for more, YUCK who packed out the upstairs in Barfly suffocating the crowd with their intoxicating blend of lo-fi fuzziness, sexy guitar licks and vocal lines reminiscent of Weezer’s poptastic heyday and of course, Starsha Lee who packed enough raunchy punch in her hour set over at the Cuban to make Fidel Castro feel a little hot under the collar. Calming things down but by no means taking the foot of the volume pedal, we caught up with Black Foxxes frontman Mark after their fantastic set in the Dublin Castle…
So, what is your role in the band? Where are you guys from?
“Guitar and I sing. We have Tristan who’s our bassist, and Ant the drummer. Tris does a little backing vocals too.
We’re from Exeter and Plymouth – come up this morning for this, now we’ll have to go back. Usually up to London twice a week, it’s a nightmare.” (He laughs)
Musically, what are your aims?
“Pretty much just honest rock music, taking from the greats of the 70’s and the 80’s. With a new sort of twist I guess. My favourite people growing up where like Neil Young and Led Zeppelin and others.. So we try and incorporate that.”
Fantastic. Any new bands you like?
“There’s tons man… Unknown Mortal Orchestra? Songwriters like Ryan Adams and stuff.”
London’s a big city, what do you guys feel here? And what do you wanna bring to the fold?
“I think it’s really honest. So many bands try and play to a backing track, trying to get that perfect sound from the record. We’re not about that, and I think that everyone who saw our set tonight would have testament to that. Just raw and simple – and we’re not trying to be anyone, just doing our own thing.”
What’s your favourite venue in London and why?
“We did the Roundhouse in October with Lower Than Atlantis – it was amazing.”
Emerging bands you like – anyone you think will take us by storm?
“There’s band called October Drift – they’re really low key at the minute but they’re fucking amazing. They’re touring constantly and getting people to their live shows, just unbelievable man. Another one called Patrons too. I’ll tell you what, they’re pretty big now but phenomenal live – Nothing But Thieves. Whether you like ‘em or not on record, they’re quite poppy – but live they are a different beast.”
Got any singles or dates to shout about?
“Our new album is out August 19th – you can pre-order it now. It’s called “I’m Not Well”, with a round of singles leading up to it… for gigs; Reading and Leeds on the 10th, and Riot Fest in Chicago. It’s gonna be pretty cool”
Cool guys, we wish you luck!
So there you have it, Camden Rocks certainly provided us with a day consistent of quality music, good venues and a relaxed crowd. Not a person who attended seemed to be there to act out of turn which can often be a rare thing in today’s musical events and so the organisers should be commended for creating such a spectacle. On a final note, we were very disappointed by headliners The Cribs, who seemed to waltz in and out of musical credibility like it was a game of darts: drunk, and singing the notes for the laugh, not really caring if what you throw out hits the right spot. Until next time Camden.
Interviews by Toby Redgrave
Words by Robbie Cully