2016 A Rockstar Review
FROM THE HIGHS TO THE LOWS, THE POP CULTURE TO THE POLITICS, 2016 HAS BEEN RATHER BONKERS. LUCKILY, WE’VE A CRACK TEAM OF ROCKERS ON HAND TO HELP US MAKE SENSE OF IT ALL…
is the season to be jolly, tra-la-la-la, tra-l… Oh, bollocks to this.as the calendar year trudges wearily towards Kerristmas, it is time to reflect on what has befallen us privately and publicly since last time we sang Auld Lang Syne and watched some disappointing fireworks.
Nominate a word to describe 2016 and that word might well be ‘shithouse’. But given that this may not be true for everyone, on a chilly afternoon last week Kerrang! convened at Soho’s Garlic & Shots – a locus of the London rock scene – for drinks and discussion about this most turbulent of years.
Joining us: Mike Duce from Lower Than Atlantis, Lande Hekt from Muncie Girls, Rob Damiani from Don Broco and Elijah Witt from Cane Hill. On the agenda: music, telly, politics and more. Stoking the fire: raised voices, flailed arms, beers and untold amounts of throat-burning shots (or, for Mike, a few soft drinks).
Lights, camera, conversation…
THE YEAR IN MUSIC…
LANDE: “I’ve heard lots of good music this year. I’d particularly like to nominate a band called Pinegrove, who are so good.they put out an album called Cardinal, which is really great.” MIKE: “I’d nominate Nonstop Feeling by Turnstile. Also a band called Angel Du$t I think are really good.” ROB: “I heard some super-exclusive demos by a band called Lower Than Atlantis. I want you to understand that I’m not saying this simply as a means of bumming Mike…” MIKE: “You can if you want.” ROB: “But we heard their demos the other day and it was just sick. It was great to hear something so fresh and exciting in rock music.” MIKE: “You’re going to make me cry… Can I change mine to Don Broco?” ELIJAH: “I’m gonna go for Knocked Loose, ’cause they’re really good and they gave me a free shirt.”
MIKE: “There’s been a lot of people recently that have been saying that rock music is dead and so on. And I find that really annoying and a really ignorant thing to say. Rock music will always be alive so long as it’s in everyone’s faces, and bubbling away underneath in the underground.t here’s always gonna be a load of good bands, it’s just a question of whether or not you want to go out and find them.”
ROB: “I disagree with you there, Mike, and I would say that rock music is not in good health. If you look at the ’80s, the average Joe would listen to Guns N’ Roses and Bon Jovi; in the 1990s you had nu-metal, which was everywhere. But we’re in this current state of time where rock music isn’t as popular as it used to be. There’s still incredible music out there, it’s just not in vogue at the moment.”
LANDE: “But you don’t have to be as big as Beyoncé to make a difference.you can make a difference to just one person.”
LANDE: “I think in terms of musicians and artists dying, some of them were old. But I think it’s symbolic of this shit year we’re having.” MIKE: “I don’t want to sound like a prick, but of the people who died this year – Prince, say, or David Bowie – I never listened to their music, so I’m not going to pretend that I was affected when they died. I wasn’t. I found it so bizarre that my Twitter feed exploded with people going,‘oh my God, these people have died!’” ROB: “I think it was different if you do love their music, though.” ELIJAH: “I don’t understand people who go crazy when someone who they don’t know dies. If you like that person’s music, well, the music’s still there.” MIKE: “That’s what I love about making music. However irrelevant it may be, I know that when I die the music will outlive me and will be there forever.” LANDE: “But you feel that you know [an artist] through the music they’ve made, though.” ROB: “Yeah, and you feel that something has been taken away when they die. I mean, I wasn’t as affected as some people, but I get it.and I do feel it as well.”
BEDTIME DEMOCRACY… FOR
ELIJAH: “I’m not even gonna fucking go there. I voted for Hillary [Clinton] in the election.there’s no way I was gonna vote for a racist, misogynist piece of shit, who likes to get fake tans and won’t live full-time in the White House and wants to spend hundreds of million dollars travelling back and forth to Washington, and who has invited his white supremacist friends into the cabinet.as a nice boy with Jewish blood, I’m not gonna have voted for the white supremacist.” ROB: “Why did [failed Democratic nominee and liberal] Bernie [Sanders] have no chance?” ELIJAH: “Well that’s who I would have voted for if I had the chance. Hillary had her money and her connections and they decided that Bernie wasn’t going to win.and millennials don’t go out and vote because they think that their voice doesn’t matter, and that we’ve been taught since we were young that everything’s rigged anyway, so why bother? So they didn’t go out and vote.and, do you know what, I think the xenophobia of Brexit probably started the whole thing.” LANDE: “I think that it probably did.” MIKE: “You know what, I’m a musician and this is a music magazine.two things I don’t talk about are politics and religion.” ROB: “Good answer. But with Brexit I voted to remain, although I think that the arguments were very poorly presented.there was very little information. But when I looked at it I thought that I like being part of Europe and so went with that.and as for being in a band, which is obviously something that affects all of us, going to any country outside Europe is a fucking ballache. In Europe, it’s a lot less fucking hassle.at least it is for now.” MIKE: “I reckon [Brexit is] gonna really affect a lot of bands, especially lower-level touring bands. Before, you could just about break even on a European support tour; after Brexit, it’s going to be much more difficult.” LANDE: “It’s gonna be a lot harder for bands at our level, that is for sure.” ROB: “The horrible truth about being a UK band is that the country is too small to really make a living. You have to tour Europe. If you break America, then that’s great. But there are a lot of bands that make a decent living from being a European band, and Brexit is going to affect a lot of UK bands.”
A CULTURE OF CRUELTY…
MIKE: “I would say that while a lot of racists voted Brexit, not everyone who voted Brexit was a racist.” ROB: “But it did very quickly turn into a racist issue.” ELIJAH: “In the States we’ve had people painting swastikas in public, on the subway, people shouting
racist abuse, fuckin’ [Ku Klux] Klan rallies. It’s the rise of the white supremacist.” LANDE: “But we had racist attacks before Brexit and before Trump. I’m not doubting that the numbers have increased, but I’d also say that the media has caught on to this being something to talk about now. But at least people are noticing racism now, and some are condemning it in the way it should be condemned.” ELIJAH: “But they’re also talking about registering Muslims [in the U.S.], which is how [things like] the Holocaust started.” LANDE: “But in the UK, one of the reasons for the rise in xenophobia and fear is down to the fact that we’ve had a Tory government since 2010 and they stripped all our benefits and rights and power – or that’s how it feels, anyway – and obviously the working class people got really angry, so I think, ‘Fuck the Tories.’ And in came Nigel Farage saying,‘so,
you’ve lost your home and people in your family have lost their jobs… here’s who to blame.’ He blamed immigrants, and some people went for that line.”
ROB: “And this is what happens – it’s what happens with so many populist movements. It gathers momentum and people think,‘oh well, we can blame our problems on someone else.’ I think it’s human nature to want to do that. It’s despicable, but that’s the gang mentality. I think that’s the human condition.we’ve seen it happen in history over and over again.”
SCREEN FOR ME…
MIKE: “For me, the best TV show I’ve seen in 2016 has got to be Stranger Things.” ELIJAH: “Black Mirror.” MIKE: “Some of that was filmed in [Mike’s hometown] watford!” ELIJAH: “It’s like a modern-day Twilight Zone. It delves into technology and where it’s taking us.there’s an episode where people wear contact lenses where they can pause and rewind what they’re seeing.and if you go on Facebook you can actually see that people are developing lenses where you can do that.” MIKE: “I like Stranger Things because it was inspired by all the movies that I’ve grown up with. It’s influenced by Spielberg’s stuff, it’s influenced by Stephen King… I just love the way it’s shot.and the soundtrack is great as well.” ROB: “Plus the actors are fucking sick.”
LANDE: “I didn’t watch Stranger Things because someone told me it was scary and I can’t deal with scary stuff. If it’s anything like that then I just can’t sleep afterwards. But I do like the [Ken Loach] film I, Daniel Blake. It’s about an older person who has a heart attack but is judged fit for work by the benefits authority. It’s about him and others being denied the benefits that they’re entitled to. It’s such a moving film.
I cried seven times while watching it.”
LOVE & LAUGHTER…
MIKE: “I’ve actually got a good story for this.this year a really good friend of mine,tom Searle [Architects’ guitarist], died.tom was an amazing and talented person, and at his wake there was a load of bands there and of course we all got to talking. For me personally, I realised that all of the UK rock bands in our little bubble – and I’ve been guilty of this – should stop trying to outdo each other.we’re all trying to do the same thing, so we should all be working together to promote what we do, to promote this underground scene.we should all be working together instead of competing with each other.and the way I felt at Tom’s wake has lasted, as well, a million per cent.” ELIJAH: “I actually saw [Tom’s] last show… I know nothing about the band, but it was the most emotionally fulfilling show I’ve seen in my whole life. I felt blessed to have seen that musician before he passed away. I actually don’t care for live music – I don’t go to shows. I don’t really care. But that day I went from side-stage to out in the crowd and it was the best show I’ve ever seen.” LANDE: “I think it’s difficult for me to have any perspective on 2016 because it hasn’t ended yet…” ELIJAH: “2016 was the year of the racist and the white supremacist. Nothing good has come out of this year. Jack shit.” MIKE: “Actually, 2016 has been the happiest year of my life. For me personally I’ve cleaned up my act and I’m just much happier as a person. I’m happier at the end of the year than I was at the start of it.” ELIJAH: “I’m unhappier.” ROB: “For me, there was three or four days of 2016 that really changed my life, and that was when I went on holiday to Lanzarote with Mike…” MIKE: “Yeah, we went on holiday together!” ROB: “As a band it’s really hard to go on holiday.you can never book anything because you don’t know if you’re gonna be off on tour. But somehow we made these dates work…” MIKE: “We booked it a few days before, and quite a lot of us went.and it was so great. Me and Rob did karaoke, too – Mysterious Girl by Peter Andre…” LANDE: “That’s a brilliant song!” ROB: “I know, right! We dressed up, too…” MIKE: “We didn’t dress up.” ROB: “Is my memory playing tricks on me?” MIKE: “Yeah. But the point is, that even in 2016 it’s possible to have good memories!”
“NOTHING GOOD HAS COME OUT OF THIS YEAR!” ELIJAH WITT, CANE HILL
ELIJAH WITT CANE HILL With hindsight, that tray should have given us an indication as to how this would go… MIKE DUCE LOWER THAN ATLANTIS
LANDE HEKT MUNCIE GIRLS ROB DAMIANI DON BROCO
The idea for a new supergroup, Don Muncie, wouldn’t seem so good come morning Um, guys, you know we’ve got an interview to do… Guys? Lande would sneakily dispose of her shot in a plant pot later on
The fiercest debate of the day: whose turn it was to go to the bar next Mike’s Santa hat wasn’t the most traditional Best call it a day here, we reckon…