Warning: Don’t Feed The Zgulls

The Leeds music scene can appear to be dominated by neo-soul and jazz at first glance, with venues like Headrow House, Sela Bar, Belgrave Music Hall and many more tending to stick with these styles of music. However, you don’t have to dig too deep to find a lively DIY scene just under the surface. Bands like Frank, Spearmint Tongues and Venus, to name just three are keeping the spirit of punk alive in the city. Another band that are beginning to make ripples into the circuit is 3-piece punk band Zgulls. In order to get a better understanding of what fuels the energetic trio I sat down with Guitarist/Vocalist Harvey and Drummer Adam.

The first time I saw Zgulls, they had much more of a Sludge Metal influence, and also were taking the form of a four piece. It’s been almost a year since they played their first gig under the Zgulls moniker, and they have done nothing but mature since, only Adam and Harvey survive of the original four members. They are now joined by George on bass, who isn’t present at the meeting, and have taken a much more classic punk approach to their music, Harvey used the term Garage-Punk to define the Zgulls sound, whereas Adam simply stated that ‘When people ask me what music we play, I just say loud and hard.’ When questioned on how the band originated Harvey replied that they had found a mutual love of heavier music, and that ‘We both love playing live music… And this is the best music for us to express ourselves onstage.’ They certainly aren’t wrong there, there’s not many bands in Leeds that can boast having a stage presence as raucous as Zgulls, they tear their way through a set, Adam’s raw drumming can fill the room alone, but with Harvey’s roaring vocals, and George’s rampageous movement, it all combines create a truly unique environment. Zgulls have been making a name for themselves with regular gigs, curious as to what environment they crave in a venue I asked which their favourite they’ve played so far was, Harvey said ‘Hyde Park Book Club, quite a small intimate gig yet the room was filled out, and it has the whole underground punk vibe, so it suited our music perfectly’, Adam agreed with this statement. When pushed for the worst night they’d had the pleasure of performing at Adam suggested Liverpool’s Jacaranda, however this was soon replaced with a local festival they’d played, saying ‘The weekend was great, but the thing that put me off was that everyone was sat down, tough crowd.’

Harvey (left) and Adam (right)
Image taken by myself during talks with Zgulls
https://www.facebook.com/ZGULLSband/

Adam and Harvey work as the main tour de force of the song writing, ‘Harvey will have a riff or a chord sequence in his head,’ Adam says, ‘Then we’ll go downstairs and get it tight, with George joining later.’ However they are also keen to point out that some of their newer material is built around George’s bass. Harvey also stated that ‘We all write our own instrumental parts… and me and Adam will usually just get drunk and write the lyrics.’ He also speaks about the content of the lyrics in Zgulls songs, ‘There isn’t really a theme, a lot of the time they aren’t too meaningful, but more about conveying the energy of the song.’ The lack of depth to the lyrics works well, as it allows you to focus on the music entirely, without wondering if there is much of a story behind the song. Zgulls tend to shy away from covers, saying that they have tried a Queens of The Stone Age song before, and Blew by Nirvana, but prefer to perform their originals. If you get the chance to see them play, it is more than likely that you’ll hear their entire songbook, crammed full of short, powerful and furious moments.

Zgulls playing Wharf Chambers, from left to right Harvey, Adam and Jack (temporary bassist)
Photo taken by Luke Hallett
https://www.facebook.com/ZGULLSband/

I was curious to the motivation behind the band, so I queried whether they were in it for fame and fortune, to which Adam replied, ‘No, we just do it for a good time,’ they both expanded further, saying how they would like for as many people to hear, and hopefully be inspired by, their music as possible, but mainly they just want to perform in front of an audience. With this I asked whether they had any advice for anyone who may be wanting to start their own band, Harvey stated ‘Just go for it, write what you enjoy, and if people don’t like it, they don’t like it, it’s fine.’ Adam reinforced the statement by saying, ‘Don’t think too much about it, just play what you want.’ There isn’t too much in the way of accessible listening available for Zgulls right now, with a few songs being found on Soundcloud, but nothing particularly recent, however they are ‘hoping to get some releases out soon, on spotify and the like. If you’d like to hear us, just come to our gigs. It’s about more than just the music, it’s about the energy behind the songs.’

So if it feels like you’ve spent a little too much time up high in a pseudo-Badu Appletree, come on down and listen to Zgulls play Lending Rooms on May 2nd, supporting Indigo Lo.

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Loosey Goosey Presents Sunday Dreamin’ – Review

On the 10th of March, a new Leeds based events company, Loosey Goosey, hosted their first event at Hyde Park Book Club; this was Sunday Dreamin’. Three exciting local bands played: Limbo Days, Bad Idea and Pepe Sylvia. Illuminated by a plethora of fairy lights, the stage glowed as if in anticipation and the gig-space had been decorated with knitted wall-hangings, pictures of ‘Loosey Goosey’ geese and the ever-present image of Jack Black’s face.

https://www.facebook.com/Loosey-Goosey-Promotions-766755350323611/

First on were Limbo Days, a project fronted by The Slumdogs Elliot Gaspar, and they got off to a raucous start. Their own brand of rock ‘n’ roll brings together the influences of acts like The Style Council, Miles Kane and The Beatles. From their memorable first few songs, it is clear that they have great potential, however, it was when Gaspar lay down his guitar and took his seat behind a piano that the artistry of the band was realised, a seemingly effortless change between the two instruments provided grooves that were suited less for moshing and more for dancing. A brilliant start to the evening, leaving many of us wondering if the night had climaxed too soon.

Limbo Days’ Elliot Gaspar – https://www.facebook.com/Limbo-Days

After a short interval the next band, Bad Idea, took to the stage. Previously just a two-piece consisting of Guitarist/Vocalist Sarah and drummer Daniel, they brought along another two friends for Sunday Dreamin’. At this point in the evening, the room had begun to fill up, and I soon understood why. Bad Idea have their own distinct trademark on the dream pop sound, occasionally dipping into a more shoegaze feel, all laid down with roaring guitars drenched in reverb and a rhythm section that makes it an band that you can’t help but dance to. Their sound filled the small venue, and a musical charge moved through the crowd; not a single body in the room stood still. Any thoughts that Limbo Days had been a premature peak for Sunday Dreamin’ were now put to rest. If you ever get the chance, I would suggest that it is a very good idea to go and hear Bad Idea.

Bad Idea’s Sarah and Rachel – https://www.facebook.com/badideadude/

Once the dust had settled in the wake of Bad Idea, it was the turn of Pepe Sylvia to entertain the audience. Looking like a band displaced in time and that should have been picked up by Postcard in the 80s, a unique blend of folk and psych brings these Leeds-based rockers into a genre that stands somewhere between The Decemberists and Neutral Milk Hotel. The stage presence of both Limbo Days and Bad Idea is nothing to be sniffed at, but Pepe Sylvia proved to be something else entirely. Not a single member remained on the same instrument that they started the set with, continually moving between instruments and transforming the sound, it was clear that the entire group were passionate about every note played. The quality of playing didn’t differ, and each member was a master of every instrument they picked up, beautiful harmonies filled out any sonic space that wasn’t being used by the five-piece. At the end of their planned set, they brought an audience member out of the crowd, who then grabbed a guitar and the group began to play once again. They played a song that they hadn’t played at all since this audience member had left the band almost two years ago. This addition of a past member created new sense of energy upon stage, and as the song came to an end the applause roared around the venue.

Pepe Sylvia – https://www.facebook.com/pepesylviaband/

That Sunday night, Loosey Goosey brought a plethora of incredible bands to the Hyde Park Book Club stage and the night was an overwhelming success. Perfectly balanced for some true Sunday Dreamin’, the chill yet danceable lineup wowed everyone that filled the small space.

Here’s to hoping that we haven’t seen the last of Loosey Goosey’s Sunday Dreamin’.

The Decline of The International Playboy

Morrissey the ex-frontman of The Smiths, one of the biggest indie bands to come out of the 80s, has announced his very own residency on Broadway, to be hosted at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. While there has been a roar of excitement from the singer’s hardcore fans, the announcement begs us to question whether a has-been is worthy of such a residency. There was a time in the 1980s when Morrissey was a strong opponent of the unjust Thatcher, however his political ideologies appear to have swung from left to further right than his old adversary.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by AP/REX/Shutterstock (8560892e) British singer and songwriter Morrissey, the former front man of the alternative rock group The Smiths, performances during his concert in Mexico City Morrissey, Mexico City, Mexico – 31 Mar 2017

In 2017, while being interviewed for the German magazine Der Spiegel, Morrissey made several comments showing support for both Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, who had both recently come under attack for sexual abuse allegations. After accusing the magazine of misquoting him, the audio of the interview was released, confirming his stance on the topic.

As well as his position on the two accused rapists, Morrissey has also shown support recently for politician Anne Marie Waters, an Islamophobic figure who was compared to Hitler by other far-right politicians, including Nigel Farage. In 2018, after accusing the United Kingdom Independence Party of rigging the leadership election against Waters, Morrissey announced his support for her new party ‘For Britain’. This move was particularly unexpected by Morrissey and Smiths fans, as he had previously been known as a left wing activist, who had spoke out against several injustices to minorities, including accusing Barack Obama of not doing enough for black Americans. His support of right wing politics and racial aggravation makes the residency seem like a regressive step for Broadway, with the success of the politically conscious musical Hamilton recently having taken the world by storm, does it really make sense to allow Morrissey to use the stage as a platform for promoting his own beliefs? Because we all know that he loves to make his opinions heard, and will take any opportunity to do so.

While widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the late 20th century, do Morrissey’s recent views counteract any form of relevance that he should be allowed in the 21st century? And perhaps more importantly do we as the public have an obligation to let Morrissey know that his hate has no place in 2019? While there are other figures who do much more in the way of damage to the public’s perception of issues within our society, Morrissey still poses himself as a threat and we should take his views at face value. Concluding on this is it fair to allow an Islamophobic, Rapist-Defending, Fame-Clinging, Has-Been a stage that allows him to preach his ideals to 1,509 people a night? To me the answer seems clear, no.

Morrissey Announces Broadway Residency

The ex-The Smiths frontman, Steven Patrick Morrissey—more commonly referred to simply as Morrissey—has announced his upcoming Broadway residency, to take place at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre; ‘Longtime fans of Moz will get a rare opportunity to see the star branch out into new territory,’ a press release proclaims. This appearance follows several years of Morrissey canceling shows, and the residency will allow fans to watch the seminal indie icon perform a retrospective of both familiar hits and lesser-known songs alike. With his upcoming release: California Sun, a new album which will feature covers of other artists’ songs and is scheduled for release on 24th May 2019, it’s probable that his Broadway performances will also include songs that have inspired the artist throughout his near forty-year long career.

Steven Patrick Morrissey – billboard.com

After the 1987 release of Strangeways Here We Come, a rift that had been forming for a while between members of The Smiths widened greatly, ultimately forcing a split. Morrissey had already been working on a solo album, Viva Hate which included the single Everyday is Like Sunday, and this release would fortify the now former indie band frontman as a bonafide pop-star in his own right. The first few years of Morrissey’s solo career saw the release of another single, widely considered one of his best, The Last of the Famous International Playboys, along with Ouija Board, Ouija Board, followed by his second, highly praised, album, Bona Drag. Perhaps we could expect to hear these songs and albums featuring heavily in the Broadway residency, having been the basis for the regeneration of Morrissey’s image after turning away from long-time collaborator Johnny Marr.

Since the disbandment of The Smiths, Morrissey has remained well within the public spotlight through both his solo album releases and his often controversial stance on political issues, the latter of which have regularly caused controversy in the media. And, while much of the public’s perception of Morrissey has been plummeting in recent years, his fan following remains strong and a Broadway residency may help to boost this once again. His recent tours have had to be cut short frequently due to a cancer diagnosis; however, the shows that go ahead are still filled with adoring fans who sing along to every word. And so, while there is an aura of discontent surrounding the residency announcement, the ‘Pope of Mope’ is making it clear that he continues to be a powerful force in the music industry today.

Tickets go on sale on March 8th via Ticketmaster, seven dates have so far been announced.