Josh Kumra

March 27, 2012


Josh Kumra played at King Tut’s in Glasgow on March 5. He’s the guy that sung with Wretch 32 on the track ‘Don’t Go’, which hit No. 1 in the charts. We chinwagged to find out a little bit more about upcoming plans…

How’s everything going with the tour?

It’s been really good actually. We played King Tut’s and have sort of worked our way down, to Newcastle, Manchester, and then played London. It’s been a really good crowd. And it’s just nice to get out the studio – I’ve been in the studio for two years now doing work on my album.

Two years?

Yeah, for the last two years I’ve been in and out of the studio working on the album, so I haven’t had much time to perform.

Are you forever indebted to Wretch 32 for taking you to number one?

I think there’s a really good mutual respect between us both, and he’s actually going to be featuring on my album as well. It’s all fun.

Are you bit annoyed that he got all the glory from it?

I’ve got a lot out of it too. I’ve got good publicity and a lot of people’s heard my voice and got into it, so that’s what matters to me. I didn’t expect to get anything out of it, so to get a number one is good. What was great about it…the urban side of music, like Wretch‘s fans and stuff – I wouldn’t necessarily appeal to them, but to get them on board and liking my music is great, and that’s why I can’t complain about Wretch getting more recognition.

Is there anyone else you’d like to collaborate with?

Yeah, I’m a big fan of Birdy. I think she’s got a wicked voice. I think we’d do something great together.

You were in a lot of tips for 2012.

I’m looking forward to 2012, I think it’s gonna be incredible. The aim is to get the album out and play as many shows as possible.

Do you feel the pressure of being the ‘next big thing’?

Not at all. It’s good to have people waiting to hear your music and it definitely spurs me on to get things done. But I think its all about taking your time and making sure you do it right.

Rams’ Pocket Radio

February 14, 2012

RAMS’ POCKET RADIO/Nice and Sleazy, Glasgow/15.2.12

You’re playing Nice and Sleazy in Glasgow on Wednesday. Why should people come down to check you out?

We do things differently I think. If people like the recordings they seem to love the live thing.

Why is your live show better than anyone else’s?

I can’t comment on other people’s shows. Ours is unique, expect drums, piano and soundscapes and a slightly deconstructive take on pop music.

You’re just coming off the back of supporting Snow Patrol. How do you think your music goes down in big arenas?

We’re comfortable on that stage and the feedback has been great. It’s a totally different type of room to play but the songs and arrangements, by their nature, suit that environment really well.

How far do you think Rams’ Pocket Radio will go in the music industry?

You don’t need the music industry to be a musician.

What do you reckon is the best food accompaniment to Rams’ Pocket Radio and why?

Fressh cafe is our go to spot in Glasgow when we’re playing. Works pretty well!

The Grammy Awards were held at the weekend, but what would mean more to you – a Grammy or knowing that your collective mothers are proud of your musical career?

Our families and friends are more important than any award.

And finally, product designer Dieter Rams’ pocket radios look pretty utilitarian. Is that reflected in your music?

I sometimes have a bit of an ethical approach to writing and sometimes I’ll develop my ideas using processes similar to those I learned in my architecture days. At the end of the day it’s art, so the program is very loose. It’s for the listeners to hear, explore and take pleasure in. I think music shouldn’t need contextualising, despite how weird or wonderful the writer’s process is.

Every Time I Die

December 6, 2011

Photo: Dana Hawley

EVERY TIME I DIE/King Tut’s, Glasgow/07.11.11

You’re playing in Glasgow on 7 December. Is Scotland a place that holds many memories for you?

(Jordan Buckley, guitar): It’s just one blurry jumbled memory of awesome shows. We always play the same place and it’s always amazing. And when you’re a band that tours for a living, that’s the best memory to possibly have!

Why is your live show better than anyone else’s?

I mean, I’m told we are energetic. And are crowds are pretty rowdy and fun to watch too. Plus you never know when Keith is going to drink a beer out of someone’s fake leg.

For someone who has never heard Every Time I Die before, how would you sum up the music in three words?

Best shit ever.

There’s a time and a place for everything. So what’s the best place and best time to listen to Every Time I Die?

I would have to say the best place is in front of the stage at whatever venue we are playing on the night we are playing there. CDs are cool and all but we exist as a band to play shows for out of control kids.

Your last album, New Junk Aesthetic, came out in 2009. When’s the next one due to land?

First thing next year. It’s been done for a while, but every single CD we’ve ever made came out in the fall. We wanted to see what it would be like to put a CD out in the winter or spring. I wish there was a more exciting reason, like the studio got robbed and someone stole it so we had to rewrite everything, but no, we just wanted to switch things up.

Will it be the best thing you’ve ever written?

It already is! I mosh to it every morning when I wake up.

Foster The People

November 22, 2011

FOSTER THE PEOPLE/QMU, Glasgow/22.11.11

There’s a lot of sold out dates on this UK tour. Did you expect to become so popular here?

(Cubbie Fink): I think we were definitely pleased to hear that everything’s been selling well. We’ve been to the UK several times now for different festivals and we recorded some of our record in London, so I feel like the UK has kind of become a second home. It’ll be our sixth or seventh trip over there this year.

Would you say Foster The People are better live or on record?

I feel like we’re getting a lot of compliments where people think the live show is better than the record. It was pretty difficult for a long time to figure out just because there’s a lot of electronic music going on, so it took time to really dial it in and figure out who would play what and how we would play it live. I feel like we’re at a place now where we’re working well and people are enjoying it. It’s definitely a huge compliment when people say we’re better live.

Do you pay a lot of attention to what people say – critics as well?

I don’t think we do. There’s a small circle of people that we trust and that we will want a critique from because we’re always looking to progress as band, so if there’s something that somebody sees that’s worth critiquing then we’ll listen to it. But I don’t think we really read into much of the reviews – we kind of just do our own thing and hope that we’re progressing and growing.

Speaking about growing – is the second album in the pipeline?

We’re definitely starting to think about it for sure. On the last US tour we brought out a portable studio with us, and Mark started conceptualising his ideas and working on some stuff. We’ve been talking a lot in the last few weeks about direction and how we’re going to approach it. The unfortunate thing this year is that we’ve been so busy touring that we haven’t had a free second to get into a room together and be creative. We definitely don’t want too much time to pass without another record.

It seems like the second album is usually regarded as the most difficult. Will yours will be better than your first album?

We’re hoping so. It’s definitely a daunting task, the sophomore album, and we realise how much is riding on it. We have watched a lot of bands come and go after their first, so we’re very aware of it and we’re going to do our best to make it better than the first. Not depart too far from where we are today, but continue to grow. We’re aware that we need to continue to make music that’s accessible, but I think we’re going to bush the boundaries to a certain extent.

On the whole, your music sounds quite happy. Are you a happy person?

Yeah, I’d say we’re all pretty happy people. That’s one of the most difficult things to do; to make music that sounds joyful without being cheesy or corny. I think Mark Foster has a knack for that, and his songs are pretty multi-layered. A lot of times it will have a joyful melody, but it will be juggled with thought-provoking or dark lyrics. Most of his music has a pretty interesting dichotomy.

Do you care about commercial success?

I think commercial success can be a bit ambigious. We definitely care about having a career and we care about doing what we love. As far as the fame side of it, that’s something that we definitely did not set out in search of. I think we’re just more concered about making good music and if people enjoy it, come to our shows and buy a record then we’ll be happy.

The James Cleaver Quintet

November 15, 2011

THE JAMES CLEAVER QUINTET/King Tut’s, Glasgow/16.11.11

You’re playing Glasgow tomorrow night. Why should people come down and check it out?

(Maud and Paul): If people want to have an enlightening experience through several dimensions we recommend you come to the show and receive the nicest punch in the ear-drums you’ll ever get.

Is Scotland a place that holds many memories for you?

Maud’s Aunt lives in Bridge of Allan so he’s got a bunch of fond memories. As far as the band goes, one time Jim and Maud downed a bottle of Buckfast each, which set them up for a two hour drum ‘n bass rave in the back of the van, topless, standing on their seats losing their minds.

Why is your live show better than anyone else’s?

It’s better than anyone else’s because half way through our set, Dave Benson Phillips runs on stage and gunges a random member of the audience.

How would you sell your music to someone that has never heard it before?

Threaten their loved ones.

Your album just got called the ‘debut album of the year’ by Kerrang! magazine. We’re inclined to agree with them, but do you pay much attention to critics?

That’s very kind of you! We certainly like to check out what people are saying about our music, but as far as actually ‘listening’ to what they have to say, it doesn’t change what we think about our music, and it’ll never change what we do or who we are. At the end of the day only Satan can judge us…

You’re from Kent. Does your music reflect what it’s like to live in Kent?

Paul, Martin and Jack are from Kent but Jim and Maud are from Eastbourne, where the band started. It’s certainly reflective of a lot of small town frustrations, especially the general lack of creative ambition small towns breed, and the obvious want to get out. But we’re not singing directly about the towns, like how much I hate the guy that runs the Millie’s Cookies shop in Eastbourne and shit like that.

And finally – you were recently the stars of a Lucozade advert, playing Feeder’s ‘Buck Rogers’ down a road. But what’s your favourite energy drink?

Well, obviously it’s got to be Lucozade. We love Lucozade, I bathe in Lucozade every week so I don’t have to sleep and I have more time to drink more Lucozade.

The Darkness

November 8, 2011

THE DARKNESS/HMV Picturehouse, Edinburgh & O2 Academy, Glasgow/09.11.11, 10.11.11

You’re playing in Edinburgh and Glasgow next month. Do you have many fond memories of playing in Scotland?

(Frankie Poullain, bass): No, Scottish people are c*nts…just joking! We have so many memories. We played a blinder at King Tut’s in 2003 and lured girls onto the bus and then tried to get them off when we realised the logistical difficulties of taking them down to Liverpool with us. Then a few months later we tore up the Barrowland, Phil Kay came on in a catsuit instead of Justin, and all of us sweating litres onstage and drinking gallons off. Then Edinburgh for the MTV awards and Christine Aguilera dressed up like a poodle rocker introducing us onto the stage. Finally, headlining T in the Park in 2004. All in the space of 12 months.

You’ve been back together for a little while now. How’s the reunion gone so far?

Japan was incredible, huge queues at the autograph signing, and we got a great reception in Finland, Spain and Sweden. But this is where it starts really, this tour – a new show, new songs, lots of surprises in store. Hopefully for the band too. We’d like to surprise ourselves and see what we’re capable of lean, mean and sober. Until we go away and get wrecked behind each other’s backs…

When you initially got back together did you find it tricky to remember the old songs?

Yes. Harder for me because I was the least practiced. Dan and Jus have gone up a level, their guitar playing is sensational at the moment, as they’ve been playing continuously on different projects. And Jus is singing like a sparrow. A buff sparrow in a catsuit.

This is your first UK tour in five years. What should fans expect from your live set?

Thrillingly daft mind-tingling heart-soaring genre-defying musical sounds. Some new stuff, some things we’ve never done before. Scary things. Songs we’ve never played before. We’re gonna have to be better than ever because we’ve never had a support band as wild and potentially show stealing as Foxy Shazam.

This year’s appearance at Download Festival was one of your first performances since you got back together. It seems like a lot of pressure. How was it?

Petrifying and purifying. Like walking through flames, what’s that Bukowski poetry book called again? ‘Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame’. We love pressure because we egg each other on and do imaginary chicken seed tossing at the feet of whoever is the most scared, just like kids.

How’s the glam rock scene in the UK right now? Have you noticed many changes in it since you were first making music?

I wasn’t aware of one. I suppose we have a glam tinge, but I’m not sure that Mud and Slade are influences on us. The Christmas song maybe contributed to that – and the 2ft flares that we all wore…but there’s nothing flared about our songs.

And finally – a lot of people don’t really take The Darkness seriously. Do you care?

That depends.  Maybe it’s better to take enjoying yourself more seriously than you do self pity and wallowing in misery. Some of our songs are more serious than others, we just tend to present them all in a colourful and vaudevillian manner. We don’t take ourselves and each other seriously but we do take our songs and performances seriously. We’re a bit twisted, we like to push the boundaries of taste. Contrary. I suppose that’s the word.

Ultimately we find the so called ‘cool’ bands to be quite dull and conformist. We don’t like rules. Why would you play in a rock ‘n’ roll band if you were an obeyer of rules? That’s against the rules – of rock ‘n’ roll.

By Finlay Matheson

Michael Kiwanuka

October 25, 2011

Michael Kiwanuka/Brel, Glasgow/27.10.11

You’re playing Glasgow on 27 October. Why should people come down and check you out?

That’s up to the people to decide.

Is Scotland a place that holds many memories for you?

I haven’t been to Scotland much. Hopefully the 27th will become a nice memory to talk about in the future.

What is the best time of the day to listen to your music?

I’d say the evening is the best.

You supported Adele this year, who obviously has enjoyed massive success recently. Do you ever think you’ll get that big?

I don’t know, but I’m sure it will be a nice feeling if I did.

What do you reckon is the most prevalent inspiration that comes through in your music?

I’d say a mixture of soul singers I enjoy, like Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye with a lot of the folk sensibilities of singers like Terry Callier and even sprinkles of Bob Dylan.

How would you rate your 2011 so far?

Amazing. Loads of really cool things have happened including supporting Adele and releasing the two EPs thus far. Hopefully there’s more to come.


October 25, 2011

This week we’re running a competition for you to win tickets to Creatures of the Night, a Halloween themed street party in Ashton Lane. It’s being put on by Miller Genuine Draft and taking place this Saturday, with a host of musical talent on show, including Foals, who will be DJing. We had the quickest of the quick chats with the band’s keyboard player Edwin Congreave ahead of their journey north of the border to find out more.

Are you pleased to be coming back to Scotland? Is it a place that holds many memories for you?

I love coming up to Scotland, it’s a fantastic place. My sister actually lives in Glasgow, so it’s especially nice to be up there as it means I get to see her.

What sort of tunes should the punters expect in your DJ set?

They can expect a complete mixture. I’m a massive underground house fan, so will definitely be throwing a few tracks into the mix, as well as some more mainstream, recognisable tracks – I might even throw in a bit of MJ on the night.

Halloween is a’coming – will you be dressing up for your set?

I’ve only ever dressed up once in my entire life, and won’t be repeating that mistake again. That said, I might think about wearing a wig from the set…

What’s your favourite Halloween memory?

I grew up in a very religious family, so we didn’t celebrate Halloween when I was growing up. It’s only as I got older that I really started to go out and make the most of Halloween. I’m sure ‘Creatures of the Night’ will be a night to remember!

Veronica Falls

October 18, 2011

VERONICA FALLS/Captain’s Rest, Glasgow/22.10.11

You’re playing in Glasgow on 22 October. Why should people come down and check you out?

(Patrick Doyle, drums): Because otherwise the show will be empty and nobody wants that, do they?

Why is your live show better than anyone else’s?

I never said it was! But it probably is…

You’ve got strong links with Scotland, with half the band originally from Glasgow, before moving to London. How much of Scotland do you think comes through in your music?

I think any influences that come out in music are only ever subconscious, so it’s kind of impossible to say. But I know that I’m personally influenced by a lot of Scottish music, so hopefully some of it comes out in our music.

What is the best time of the day to listen to Veronica Falls?

At night, in the dark, in a club, hopefully with a smoke machine in full blaze.

You recently released your self-titled debut album. Have you been pleased with music critics’ response to it?

I haven’t had a chance to read much of it as we’ve been on the road for the last few weeks, but maybe that’s a good thing. I tend to read too much into reviews sometimes, which can be pretty unhelpful.

What’s 2012 got in store for Veronica Falls?

Shoulder length hair, hopefully.

And finally – Veronica falls over on the street. Do you help her up?

Absolutely not.

Numbers and Letters

October 11, 2011

Numbers and Letters: Life’s a picnic

NUMBERS AND LETTERS/Various venues across Scotland/11 Oct – 16 Oct

You’re playing a number of shows in Scotland this week. Why should people come down and check you out?

(Katie Hasty, frontlady): This is Numbers And Letters‘ overseas debut, so we’re beyond excited and I think it will show. We are debuting T-shirts, which we’ve never done before; we also have a pay-what-you-want CD model, so you can get a CD for free. But importantly, we fancy ourselves as people persons – we like to talk to the audience, before during and after. The tunes are assorted, so like them as you will; but we’ll clink your glass afterward regardless. James Apollo is also threatening to tear off his shirt mid-song.

Is Scotland a place that holds many memories for you?

It does. I studied at the University of Edinburgh for a number of months during the fall and winter of 2003, when I was 20. While I don’t remember much ‘studying’, I was formally introduced to scotch and varietal gin. People here are incredibly friendly, they like talking about where they’re from. I also remember war protests and the Isle of Skye very keenly.

Are Numbers and Letters best heard live, or on record?

Our upcoming full-length recording is going to be phenomenal, but I write a lot of songs that involve death, water and death by water. So listening to the album is – forgive the pun – more fully immersive. Live, we play those same songs but between them I take time out to make fun of such seriousness.

You’ve got Admiral Fallow’s Joe Rattray on bass for the tour. How did that come about?

We shared a bill with Admiral Fallow when they made their way through New York, and it was just one big fat love-in. I just love their album so much. Their manager has been an incredible force in helping to get us over here, and Joe’s playing made such an impression. We’re very lucky to have him on.

You also let people have your CDs for free. Is that a good business model?

For immediate return: certainly not. But I’d rather people hear our music and pay nothing than having the cost of a CD barring them from checking it out. We’ve allowed people to pay what they want for more than 800 CDs now; I hand-make every cover for more production value, to have a connection to the physical object. The music ‘business’ has lost that lovin’ feeling, so I like to bring it back in a teeny, tiny way. And I hope when we finish our album, folks will come back around, and that’s where the ‘model’ works.

Outside of the band, you’re a music journalist. Ignoring any nepotism, how would you critique your music in one sentence?

Numbers And Letters has a nice, neutral name.’

And finally, what are best – letters or numbers?

I’m a numbers kind of girl, myself. Preferably 4 and 7.