This year has been a year of changes. A year where bridges have been mended and new friendships forged. I started a new school and joined the team of Browse Magazine.
Now, just before I look forward to the exciting newness of 2015, I’m going to look back over the last few months of 2014 – my time with Browse and the wonderful opportunities I’ve had while being a part of the team.
It started with Issue 004: MOTHER when I was asked to review the band COAVES as part of the weekly Sesh review. Three reviewers reviewing three bands; I was glad to get these guys. Their music is that wonderful mixture of sunny tunes, guitar-lead instrumentals and copious amounts of talent. Three confident singers, they come together to produce a sublime sound, and they’re never scared to try something new and admit when something doesn’t work.
Recently, I’ve been doing some more work with COAVES, who have competed in the Scunthorpe Rock Open and supported Pigeon Detectives at Fruit, and will be starting the year working with the band to promote their single ‘Waves’. They are certainly ones to look out for.
Another of my favourite Hull bands is LIFE, who featured on the front cover of issue 009. Published the same night as they performed with Kaiser Chiefs for the Adelphi 30 celebrations, we stated that that was the reason for featuring them – Black Delta Movement had received loads of press from the Hull Daily Mail, so we felt LIFE deserved a little bit too. In truth, our editor decided that if we got them in then Meg and I might stop going on about them so much. As if!
So, on top of reviewing them at the Adelphi 30 gig, Meg and I got to interview lead singer Mez and his guitarist brother Mick: our first videoed interview for the magazine. We’d both met them before at Press Pack and the interview felt much more like a chat than a Q&A, which was the perfect way to start off this additional role for the mag. We were both glad that there wasn’t the room for us to feature on the screen – the confidence for this would come later…
As time has progressed, I’ve taken on more and more at Browse. But issue 013 (unlucky for some) was one I felt particularly proud of. Our cover band were The Talks, an amazing ska band who I realised I had first seen perform on an episode of Hollyoaks! Working hard over the half term, I contacted the band for a text interview while they were touring Europe for their album launch, as well as writing the bio, an album review and then headed out on a schoolnight to review their hometown gig at the Welly. It was fantastic to work with them, pestering them to meet deadlines and then hugging a very sweaty Pat at the end of their gig.
And their album is one I play over and over. It’s fantastic for that Friday night feeling, when you’re physically destroyed after the working week but emotionally ready to go out and party for the weekend. Energetic tunes with meaningful lyrics – it’s easy to miss the message within the words, but you should listen to them carefully the next time you get a chance.
This leads me directly into the first time I featured on a video interview. As with issue 013, I took on writing the main features of issue 016: Black Delta Movement. Having annoyed myself at being too busy to interview Hillbilly Troupe in the previous issue, I was excited to be working with this band. I’d reviewed them as part of many of the festivals, the Adelphi 30 gig and as part of Hulloween, but I’d never reviewed them as the focal feature.
I’ve often felt the disadvantage of not being born and bred in Hull. I didn’t go to school with any member of the bands in the area – I’ve taught a couple – and often my face is just one of many in a crowd. But these lads didn’t care about that. Bass player Liam informed me that his mum reads all my stuff, and the pre-interview chat was comfortable and relaxed.
My confidence soared from this point; not just on-screen but generally in myself. I was at the point where I knew people were reading my stuff and offering me some positive feedback (always lovely to hear) and I was taking on more and more opportunities, putting myself out there and becoming a firm feature within the magazine.
To pick a final feature is actually the hardest of them all. But I went with another band who I have interviewed and reviewed, now a couple of times. This feature was actually all a bit last minute for me. For issue 012, I met up with La Bête Blooms for a short video interview and a review of their EP launch at Fruit. Nobody else was free to interview, so I agreed. This was fine, all planned and going as expected. That was until I was informed that the person reviewing wasn’t able to make it. I turned to Luke, our photographer, and sagged at the concept of the late night before school. But I was there and it was due to finish before midnight – not too late.
I had listened to their tracks as part of the research for the interview, so I had an idea of what to expect. They’d mentioned that their live sound was quite different to their mastered and recorded stuff. But I was not in any way prepared for what I experienced in the intimate back room of Fruit. I commented that there is a beast within the band, and I stand by that. Dan Mawer is one of the nicest guys I have ever met: he never misses the chance to say hello if you’re in the same room as him, he always asks how the mag is doing, and his smile is the most positively charming sight you’ll see at the Sesh on a Tuesday. Then you throw a guitar his way and get him on that stage and you’re blinded by the transformation. That smile will be there at the start, but a guitar solo later and he is smashing the place up. I was amazed to see every mic stand upturned by the end of the set, and recall rushing home to write up my notes so that the review included everything I took from my first La Bête Blooms experience.
Four months of working for the magazine, now I can’t imagine my life without at least one gig a week and lists of artists I need to contact. My CD collection has taken on a strong Hull accent. My friends fall into two categories: those I gig with and those who listen to my constant reviews of gigs (even if they’ve just read it online).
I’ve always said you should start the year as you mean to go on. And so Browse Mag Sessions #2: NYE is the place I will be: alongside friends old and new, amidst writers, photographers, musicians and readers.
2015 sees a lot of new starts for me, but being a part of Browse is something I am pleased to say will continue. Here’s to more exciting experiences.