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SONS OF THE STAGE

Martin Hall meets four of the best new bands in Manchester  

 


THE JAKPOT


First things first, let’s get the obvious comparison out of the way with.  The Jakpot are a young band with a charismatic lead singer from Yorkshire writing about the minutiae of working class life with lyrics such as “The turning point in many of our lives/ Is when we get away with drinking on a Friday night” delivered in a broad tyke accent. “You’ve gotta accept it,” says The Jakpot’s lead singer Matt, “Alex Turner’s from High Green, I’m from Low Green.  They’re two and a half miles apart and I’ve got the same accent as him. When you go down to London , because I’m from Yorkshire and I’m the one who sings, that’s all they say.” 

 


Guitarist Neil isn’t displeased with it either but says any similarities are purely coincidental: “The link’s bound to be there but I’m quite happy with it.  They’re a good band. “When we started the early songs of The Jakpot last April or May, I’d never even heard of the Arctic Monkeys and when they started emerging the comparisons started.” Bromhead’s Jacket are the Sheffield band The Jakpot are probably the most closely aligned with and play on the same bill as them on April 12th at Jabez Clegg.   

 

Drummer Bruce says the night should be a special one: “A lot of the Bromhead’s Jacket’s fans are into us.  There’s quite a big crossover and that gig should be good.  There’s appreciation for each other’s music.” There’s certainly a lot in The Jakpot’s music to appreciate.  Songs like ‘Cleethorpes’ and ‘Turning Point’ are smart slices of English life that seem destined to soundtrack your favourite party.  A limited edition vinyl featuring ‘Too Much Time’ and ‘Fickle’ is available through their website and is well worth investing in. 

 


Matt writes the songs and says there’s no pretentiousness or grandiloquence in his lyrics: “I just write about observational stuff; stuff that’s happened to us as people or as a band and stuff that’s happened to my mates.  That’s all it is. “There’s stories in every song.  Each song’s got something behind it.  Our song ‘Family’: I used to go out with this girl a while ago and her Dad absolutely hated me.  That idea came from that.  He was a Headmaster of a school and he didn’t like me.  But headmasters don’t like anybody!” It’s difficult to imagine anybody disliking The Jakpot. Matt, Neil and Bruce seem able to see through a lot of the bullshit that goes with the music industry.   

 

They’re straight talking lads with belief in what they do who don’t pretend they listened to Gang of Four bootlegs at five years old and immediately knew they wanted to form a band. Just don’t ask them if they’re part of any scene: “We’re not scenesters,” spits Bruce, “Scenesters are about safety in numbers, staying together and telling each other they’re all great.   

 

Trendier than thou.” Adds Matt: “We’re not like that. It’s fucking bollocks really.” Worst thing about Manchester : “The rain!” Best thing about Manchester : “A lot of different people are into their music.  Everybody meets here for a certain thing that they’re into; whether it’s art or music or whatever.  There’s something for everybody.”

 


Website: www.thejakpot.co.uk; www.myspace.com/thejakpotmusic

Tour Dates: 6th April, The Silhouette, Hull
                  
10th April, Jabez Clegg, Manchester
                   12th April, The Howard, Sheffield
                   14th April, Leigh Arms, Leigh

 

 

WAXPLANET

 

Anyone searching for an insight into why Manchester ’s currently producing so many great bands need look no further than the gigs put on by promoters Akoustik Anarkhy, High Voltage and Club Blowout in recent years. Nick, the drummer in the excellent Waxplanet says these three organisations are at the epicentre of the latest Manc musical movement: “They’ve all been vital to Manchester ’s scene.  They’ve given it a vibrancy, an energy and a potency which is great.”  


Paul, the guitarist for the Manchester based four-piece, is equally keen to praise the philosophy behind those nights: “It’s good because promoters are putting nights on because they like the bands rather than for any commercial reasons.”  The group – also featuring vocalist Charlie and guitarist Dan – met at the gigs put on by those promoters: “We used to have some great nights there.  The band formed around that scene.” Such an impression did those nights make that the band’s single ‘Streets of Fire’ (available through their website from 8th May) features the lyric “3am, Northern Quarter” a reference to one particularly memorable evening, as Nick explains: “That was about the Akoustik Anarkhy and Blowout nights.   

 

They were all around this area ( Oldham Street ) at that time.  It was a night where they had Nine Black Alps and The Longcut on – I think Bloc Party played that night as well.  We were jumping between venues to catch each band and we met each other through that.” The band is certainly clued up with the current scene and has nothing but praise for other groups: “Fear of Music are great, I really enjoyed playing with them. Polytechnic are good – saw them the other week,” enthuses Paul. “We’ve played with Liam Frost a couple of times – he’s very good.  When we first started there were bands like The Longcut and Nine Black Alps.   

 

The thing is with Manchester is there’s not one ‘sound’.  Liam Frost, Fear Of Music – there’s not any defining sound, every band is different.” Adds Nick: “It’s unified by the scene not the sound.” Waxplanet’s sound stubbornly refuses to be pigeonholed either.  There are crunching guitars but isn’t rock ‘n’ roll.  There’s life affirming soaring melodies but it isn’t pop music.  It makes you want to dance but it isn’t dance music.  Comparisons with World Of Twist are perhaps the most accurate and even the NME struggled to pinpoint it, describing ‘Streets On Fire’ in their What’s On The Stereo column as: “Pixies + Cribs + Futureheads = extreme marvellousness.” So what does the future hold for Waxplanet?  Paul explains: “We’re dead keen to make a really, really strong debut album.   

 

We work really hard on all our songs.  We’re still developing as a band.  Every time we come out of the rehearsal room we’re getting nearer to where we want the band to be.  We’re getting better all the time.” Nice planet.  They’ll take it.



Worst thing about Manchester : Too much rain!
Best thing about Manchester :  “ Manchester ’s a great place to be in a band; there’s a great music scene that fosters new bands.”


Website: www.waxplanet.co.uk; www.myspace.com/waxplanet


Tour dates: 1st April, The Grapes, Sheffield
                  12th April, Jabez Clegg, Manchester
                  15th April, Brixton Windmill, London
                  21st April, Barfly, Liverpool
                  22nd April, The Faversham, Leeds
                  29th April, Rampant Lion, Manchester
                  4th May, Little Civic, Wolverhampton
                  5th May, Club Nirvana, Wigan
                  8th May, Fibbers, York
                13th May, Barfly, London

                         14th May, Barfly, Cardiff

 




CHERRY GHOST
             

 

Singer-songwriters are still seen as fey or effeminate by some people.  Surprisingly singer-songwriter Simon Aldred, a.k.a Cherry Ghost agrees with them: “I don’t particularly like singer-songwriters as such. “I’m not really a fan of acoustic music unless it’s slightly dark or skewed.  I’m into bands, which is part of the reason I’m calling this Cherry Ghost.  I don’t want to be another fucking guy with a guitar on his knee because it’s painfully dull.  My recordings have got strings and samples and drum loops and all that carry on.  They sound like a band to a certain degree anyway.”  

 

Tipped by many to be the dark (sparkle) horse of 2006, Aldred is making some of the best music to come out of the North West in the last decade.  Sounding like “Walt Disney meets Willie Nelson” songs like ‘People Help The People’ and ‘Mathematics’ are beautifully crafted, rich slices of wonderment that manage to be both reflective and hopeful at the same time. So what’s the process behind his song writing?  “There isn’t really a process,” says Aldred, “I just sit down with a guitar on my knee and usually something comes out.   

 

I could be there eight hours a day, seven days a week and nothing would happen but then I could pick it up for five minutes and come up with something.  You’ve just got to keep trying it and never overstretch yourself.  Just leave it.  It’s a mysterious process of events, really.  I’ll sit there, strum and it just kind of happens”.
Whatever it is that just kind of happens, it certainly seems to be working: “I’ve been offered several record deals in the last two or three months so I’ve just got to decide really.  Major label or independent; I’ve got to decide which route to go down. 
 

 

I’ve got a few options, which is good and bad.  Good because it’s what every band aims to do and bad because it’s a huge decision and it’s important I make the right one.” Whatever his choice, don’t expect Aldred to become the next Athlete or James Blunt: “I don’t want to become some big fucking middle of the road band, doing cuddly stuff with smug couples standing in the aisles.” Aldred’s stuff is far more gritty and authentic than the bland garbage churned out in the mainstream and he credits Manchester for this: “The fierce environment of Manchester is fucking great.  It really keeps you on your toes.  Oasis moved down to Hampshire to their big country house and their lust for life went. “There’s a lot to be said for the grey slated roofs and the pissing down rain.”



Worst thing about Manchester: “The rain!”
Best thing:  “Also the rain because it keeps your feet on the ground.  If I moved to London or LA to record an album like some bands do who get a lot of cash all of a sudden, your edge goes and you become a little bit too cosy.  There’s some kind of sadistic pleasure I get in stepping out the door and being fucking rained on!  It keeps you alive – keep in the rain, you’ll keep your edge!


Website: www.myspace.com/cherryghostband




FEAR OF MUSIC  


As far as realising childhood ambitions go, playing Glastonbury and signing a major record deal is pretty much up there with scoring in an FA Cup Final or knocking out Mike Tyson.  Not that Joe Rose, the 19 year old singer of Fear Of Music, is likely to succumb to hyperbole: “Playing Glastonbury was great.  We only played a half-hour set in this tent in front of about twenty people - probably because we were up against New Order and Coldplay – but it was a really fun show.  The gig was only a quite minor part of what was a pretty strange and wonderful experience.”  


And as for signing for Sony?  “They seemed the most keen to let us do what we wanted to do.  They had a lot of faith in us.  We just wanted somebody who would give us that support.  Sony reassured us they weren’t going to change what we do, they’re happy with what we do.”Although Rose manages to keep his feet on the ground his band could well soar up to the stratosphere.  Fear Of Music started gigging in 2003 and created an immediate buzz.  Bassist Ali Esmaail was just 14 when the nascent group were playing venues such as The Star and Garter but Rose says hype about the band’s youth never distracted them or detracted from their ambition: “I suppose we found it quite frustrating.  I think at first it seemed like people were focusing on that too much.  After a while, people started talking about the music a lot more. 
 

 

The band first formed when we were about 12 or 13.  At that point, it was just me, Chris and Ali.  Mike didn’t join till a couple of years later.” Despite not being the oldest – that distinction goes to guitarist Mike Ward, a wizened 20 – Rose has emerged as the main driving force: “I write the songs in their most basic form – just a chord structure, melody and lyrics.  I bring it to the band and they write all their own parts and bring it out of its shell. It’s definitely a collective effort but I suppose I’m the songwriter of the band.” And there’s no chance Rose wants the band to rest on their laurels or take time out: “We’ve just finished our second EP and we’re writing new songs and getting back into playing again because we’ve obviously been very busy over the whole signing period.   

 

We’re trying to put new stuff together.  We’re just getting used to being a band again, writing songs, working towards an album and getting back into it.” And he’s pleased to be a contemporary of some of the best bands around: “I feel really close to the scene that produced bands like The Longcut and Nine Black Alps – it means a lot to me.  I certainly feel I’ve been inspired by those bands. “They’re making incredible music.  The past couple of years have been amazing for music and I think that’s been especially true in Manchester.”



Worst thing about Manchester: “I honestly can’t think of anything!”
Best thing about Manchester: “The music scene.”


Website: www.fearofmusic.com; www.myspace.com/fearofmusic


Tour Dates: 8th April 2006, Joshua Brooks, Manchester
        17th April 2006, Coliseum, Coventry
         20th April 2006, The Charlotte, Leicester

 

 

 

 
   
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