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The North West of England has always had a rich history in terms of culture and music, littered with great bands and characters. The music down the years has more often than not followed a certain code, rarely choosing to diversify too far from indie and rock n roll. The punk scene was predominately left to other parts of the UK and America with ‘The Stooges’ and ‘The Ramones’ who expressed that certain raw anger through the attitude of their music. Nowadays, the world has bred a new type of angst amongst the youth, different from the seventies and early eighties. By taking the influences of the punk scene, blended with a hint of the indie rock n roll side of the north, ‘The Suzukis’, a four piece band from Wigan, remarkably capture an alternative essence to provide a sound that is energetically edgy and dark, both melodically and vocally. Lead singer Chris Veasey passionately bellows the words to craft an emphasising feeling of resentment and exasperation at the world today. His voice works in perfect synergy with the rest of the band, whose sinister and raw overtones coupled with a powerful blazing rush of adrenaline, provides the backbone that gives off a beautifully constructed and dynamic “don’t give a fuck” attitude. The rest of the band is made up of Adam Bamford on lead guitar, Stuart Robinson on drums and Robert Warnes on bass guitar.

The band themselves have known each other since childhood and are very close knit. In typical rock n roll fashion, they’ve admitted to having there fair share of squabbles, but more importantly when it comes down to it, they are all together when it matters. They have been together since 2002, and only recently has their debut album been released, perhaps reaching a new found musical maturity at the age of 25. Mel and I were invited to interview the band at their practice room in an old converted factory in Wigan and delve deeper into the bands past, reaction to the album and gigs and psyche.

NIGE: The album was released on 11th July. What has the reception been like so far?

ALL: Mixed.

ROBERT: Some people love it but some proper hate it.

CHRIS: It’s the same when we play aswell.

NIGE: Where does the inspiration come from for the sound and lyrics? What are the album’s lyrics predominately about?

CHRIS: It’s not really about one thing in particular, more whatever comes to mind but if you look at the lyrics there about all sorts of things.

NIGE: Has the music changed much from when you first started?

STUART: It was a lot more punk sounding when we first started, more rough and rawer.

CHRIS: Generally I don’t think it’s changed much though; we just got better at playing and writing songs.

ADAM: The sound hasn’t changed that much, it’s more the structure that’s got better. We used to have first chorus first chorus really fast.

CHRIS: Yeah and now it’s more first chorus first chorus then slow bit.

ADAM: We’ve probably got at least 150 songs from jamming. We play them for about 4 days and work them out and it might be about a week later we pick it up again but say “its shit that” and don’t play it again.

CHRIS: There’s some old songs on the album but when we’re playing live we only play them because it’s on the album, we never really keep songs for that long.

NIGE: Who writes the songs?

CHRIS: I write the lyrics but all the music is done by everyone.

NIGE: What kind of emotion do you want to invoke from the fans by listening to the songs?

ROBERT: Hatred!

CHRIS: I don’t think about it really, the idea is that if it gets you going while you’re playing then it’s probably going to get other people going.

ADAM: I think the idea is to try and be something else.

STUART: It’s good when you write a tune and it’s fast paced and clicks so it gets done really quickly. You look forward to playing those tunes. But the ones that don’t and you’re still working on it about a month later we just end up packing in.

ADAM: The new ones are the ones we most look forward to and enjoy playing.

STUART: I especially look forward to it being played in one key.

CHRIS: That doesn’t really affect you though does it?

STUART: It doesn’t, that’s why I enjoy it.

NIGE: Having read a bit more about the history of the band, I was surprised to learn that you’d been together since 2002, yet the debut album has just been released. What happened that took so long?

CHRIS: We were going for a few years before we got signed and then we got an EP out. Then Deltasonic, had a couple of deals with major labels but none were interested in us. We’ve had a couple of singles out in that time but every deal Deltasonic have had to put ‘The Coral’  or ‘The Rascals’ out, they’ve not wanted us to do an album because there’s been no money.

NIGE: Was their ever a point when you thought of giving it all up?

STUART: There was a point where we thought nothing was going to happen and we had no money so took a few days to think.

CHRIS: We carried on with it just for a laugh because we’d done it for years while we weren’t trying to get signed. The problem was when Delatsonic were getting us a gig in Glasgow on a Tuesday night with two people turning up. You end up fucking off work and we can’t afford to do that so you do end up thinking, “Why the fuck am I doing this?” We didn’t have the money to promote the gig or put anything out so why would people turn up.

STUART: We did a pub in London on a Thursday night and it took us six hours to get down because we got stuck in traffic. When we got there, there was one poster in this shit pub and the stage was like a window sill. We played it and drove all the way back and these lads had to take a day off work, so that’s where it pisses you off. But, these gigs now have been good, better organised, not miles away and not in the middle of the week.

ROBERT: People seem a bit more interested now the album’s out.

ADAM: I do think that the weekend gigs are the best because it’s only when you’re massive and people have taken notice why they’ll turn up on a Tuesday night. For a band not known, playing in a pub on a Tuesday, you might as well not bother.

NIGE: I noticed a fair entourage at the gig at The Roadhouse? Do they travel around with you to most gigs?

STUART: When they can, some came down to London.

ROBERT: A lot come down to the local ones but it’s mainly them getting there and back that’s an issue, not a case of getting them into the gig itself, but it’s easier on weekends.

STUART: That’s why Manchester and Liverpool are good because we’re always guaranteed at least ten fans.

NIGE: Where do you get your intensity from on stage?

CHRIS: I just like listening to our tunes and I get into it.

STUART: I think the bigger buzz is just after you’ve played perfectly and you know you’ve done it. All the way up to it I’m a little nervous, more anticipation really but when you finish, it’s always good when you know everyone’s buzzed from it.

ADAM: We usually know about three tunes in whether it’s going to be a good one. Sometimes you can be in sound check and it sounds ace but then sounds shit on stage and you can’t enjoy it as much, even if people tell you that you sound ace afterwards.

STUART: You know the good gigs because it feels like you’ve only been on about five minutes, but it can drag when it’s not going so well.

CHRIS: That’s when you start cutting songs, and not playing that slow one. [laughs]

NIGE: Considering the type of band that you are, there must be a couple of stories from gigs, what’s the most rock n roll one so far?

ADAM: We were in New York and got friendly with a fella that had guns and that. We came out of a club and he was just there, but we’d seen him before we went in. We asked him if there were any clubs to get into and he said “yeah come with me.” He came back with a micro scooter and a ghetto blaster and we ended up walking around New York with him. He robbed some ale for us out of a shop and then he said, “come back to my lockup”, and it was just this storage unit with all his stuff in. He pulled out a couple of guns which were illegal in New York and ended up running around making a video with these guns shooting this Calvin Klein billboard with Jennifer Aniston on or someone like that. It was just surreal, we didn’t know him and we could’ve got shot or arrested.

ROBERT & CHRIS: Another one was when we played The Krazy House in Liverpool and there was a massive brawl. One of our mates tried to get on stage and all the bouncers gathered round and one pushed him heavily in the head, which was really uncalled for. Everyone went mental and piled in, it was funny as fuck. There’s a video of that on youtube too.

NIGE: Which bands inspire you?

ADAM: I’m more into rap music. Don’t get me wrong I like my bands but I am into rap music.

ROBERT: Radiohead’ are probably mine.

STUART: Primal Scream’, pretty much anything really. ‘Trojan Covers: The Beatles’, reggae versions.

CHRIS: The cover to “Live and Let Die” on that ‘Trojan Covers: The Beatles’ is better than the original. I’m into ‘The Stooges’, ‘The Fall’, and early ‘Verve’ stuff though, all sorts really.

NIGE: Finally, what are you like as friends in the band?

ADAM: We’re always together, kind of like a very loud married couple, we’ve been together nine years which is longer than a lot of people’s marriages.

CHRIS: Bickering non stop.

STUART: There have been a few fights within the band.

CHRIS: Loads of fights, He broke his hand on my head once (points at Robert).

ROBERT: But we made friends really quickly and kicked off with someone else because he was trying to rob our seats.

NIGE: That’s all just part of being in a band....

The Suzukis’ debut album is now available at all the usual outlets and it really is an explosive way to announce their arrival, managing to blend a combination of great bands yet still sounding original in their own right. Imagine the darkness of ‘Joy Division’, the mood of ‘Nirvana’ and the energy of ‘The Sex Pistols’ and ‘The Stooges’ and this is what you get. It’s the sort of real music that makes you drive at top speed with two fingers up at those that have a limited vision and foresight, hell bent on controlling your environment, failing to have a clue on what life’s really about. This is highlighted in the song ‘Personal Patrol’ which seems to be about comparing our society to a big brother type society that limits out thoughts and feelings, making many people “plastic” in soul. ‘The Suzukis’ aren’t a carbon copy of their predecessors by any means, but they do invoke a similar emotion, striking at the deepest core of your edgier alternative side of personality, something a band hasn’t been able to do with such soulful aggression for some time.

The album itself opens with the highly intensified, ‘Are You Happy With Yourself’, a very punk like track with limited vocals, almost willing you to change your train of thought if you’re not happy. Following this is the dark fast paced track of ‘Built In’ which has quite a psychotic vibe with the pedal work of the guitar in the verses. Then comes a slower, almost psychedelic track of ‘Really High’ with excellent use of the bass and lead guitar, plucked at random points to create a kind of vibrating drug induced state. The energy of the tracks continues with ‘Boring Hell’ and ‘Back at the Factory’. ‘Reasons for Leaving’ again has the energy of the punk scene in the choruses but the verses are much slower and enter into that dark psychotic/psychedelic state again. ‘Chris Veasey Told me so’ written by Chris, refers to himself as the third person as what someone says about him. My personal favourite, ‘Personal Patrol’ is next and from the opening haunting guitar riff you are immediately drawn into this hypnotic track about the control imposed in today’s society. The video fits to the tune sublimely and mirrors what the song is about, I particular love the subtitle bit of the henchman with the “plastic face” who says, “We have one that can see”.

Emphasising a mind controlled existence that’s attempted to be imposed upon us in this day and age. ‘Join Us’ and ‘HMS Greyface’ maintain the fast paced energy of punk influence as the intensity flows and gathers momentum within the songs. Finally, they end on a much slower track, ‘How Long’, which is actually performed exceptionally considering the overall indie punk theme of the album, displaying a flexibility to their sound, but still keeping in line with that solemn and edgy vibe.

‘The Suzukis’ have all the tools required to becoming one of the best bands of their generation and are now beginning to rumble up a stir. I loved their laid back demeanour and humour when interviewing them, full of banter within the band, and even I couldn’t escape it as they took the piss out of me for mistakenly admitting I downloaded the album on iTunes whilst waiting for a Karl Pilkington podcast to download, prompting the band to say, “So, we’re just a Karl Pilkington after thought, that’s all we are.” The funny part being they are certainly not, as I have considerably bought into this band and everything they stand for and hope they become a big success in the future. To listen to the album is one thing, but to watch them live is a completely different atmosphere, but both are worthy experiences that need to be witnessed first hand.

Interview by Nigel Cartner 27/07/11
Photos by Mel

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