Oh, The Libertines. One of my all time favourite bands for so many reasons. The name alone is enough to bring years of memories flooding back – the good, the bad, and the occasionally ugly.
For anyone who grew up loving rock and indie music in the 00s, the album covers to both Up the Bracket and The Libertines will be perpetually seared into our memories.
Instantly recognisable; the youthful, care free faces of Pete Doherty and Carl Barat defining an era of leather jacket clad recklessness.
I’ve been lucky enough to see The Libertines a few times over the years, in both large, as well as tiny, intimate settings. Living in Camden for 6 hazy years, meant it was almost impossible not to bump into them, either together or separately, at some point along the way. Being local also meant that finding out early about secret Libertines gigs in pubs such as The Dublin Castle and Blues Kitchen (luckily for us, opposite our flat) was a common occurrence. I have three words for you- so…much…sweat.
A quiet Tuesday night with zero expectations looming over it; dinner and a catch up with a friend, maybe a few more drinks to follow. When you live in Manchester, it’s this kind of night that has all the potential to become something much more than it set out to be.
(I promise you now, this has everything to do with Naked Six. Bear with me. )
Everything was starting to sound ‘same old same old’ to me and I couldn’t put my finger on why – anyone who knows me well, will tell you that the only things that get me up in the morning are music, finding the next exciting gig to head to, and the thought of the Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special getting a little closer every day. It seemed odd that for a little while, I felt like I’d fallen out of love with some of my favourite bands and songs, or at least had no desire to listen to anything, either old or new. My drum kit had also been left to gather dust; the Vic Firth logo on the sticks in the exact same position I’d left them about a week earlier, and the little kink in the rug next to my kick pedal, after a heavy fight with a Queens of the Stone Age classic, still kinked. I was due to be at another gig that Tuesday evening – a bit of heavy, rocky, local goodness that would usually have been my ideal night, but just not today. I was starting to worry I’d fallen out of love with the thing that usually keeps me going.
(No really – this is about Naked Six. Stay with me.)
Dinner with one of my best friends was a fun one, wine flowed too easily and we made friends with the family unfortunate enough to be sitting next to us at Mackie Mayor. We thought we’d move on, and on passing the Rose and Monkey Continue reading “Naked Six + Other Stories”
As any true Mancunian knows, sunshine and a blue sky is not to be laughed at, even if it is still only 9 degrees. Seeing as my umbrella hasn’t seen the light of day for over three days now (I’ve definitely just tempted fate and I’m sorry in advance!), I couldn’t resist bringing you some summery catchy chorus festival tunes to match- Hawaiian shirt compulsory. After seeing the incredible TOUTS and their fab support, Inhaler, last night at Night and Day (look out for a little more on this gig soon), I’m on more of a new music run today. We’ve got a big handful of Northern goodness as always!
The modern music scene is a tough nut to crack, and new music can come and go in the blink of an eye. Every now and then, a band comes along that stops you in your tracks, and you know you’re hearing something special; on that note, let me introduce you to Mercury Machine.
Another great addition to the world of Manchester music, this band is about to make their mark with the release of a new album. I was lucky enough to catch them in between their busy rehearsal schedule, to find out a little more about what makes them stand out from the crowd.
First things first, introduce us to ‘Mercury machine’. How did you all come together as a band?
Mercury Machine was founded by Lee 7 years ago in his Stockport studio; he had the central vision for the band, is the chief songwriter, lead singer and guitarist. In the early days, he would invite musician friends to his studio and host parties, whilst creating tracks for people in order to add their creative input. These events sowed the seeds from which Mercury Machine has grown. Long time friend, Carl (bass), joined him around that time, alongside our visual artist and friend Liam, who now makes our videos and designs our artwork.
A number of different musicians passed through the band until the perfect line up was established- Tim has been the guitarist for 3 years now, along with Gav on drums. Kade (Keys/Synth) joined a little later, and has been with us for just over a year. The great thing about this line-up is that we all bring different skills that compliment each other, which is how we feel a band should be.
Where are you all from?
We are a Manchester band and this is central to our identity. It permeates our music and we are very proud of it.
Mercury Machine’s home/ rehearsal studio is in an old 19th century cotton Mill in East Manchester- there’s a boxing gym upstairs, a mini golf course next door and all kinds of community based projects happening there. This is great, because it means we are situated in a hub of activity. It’s also very inspiring architecture to be surrounded by– all the red brickwork, large windows and lots of old world internal fittings.
Our name itself is of local significance, as it links to one of the first commercial computers ever to be developed here in Manchester- The Mercury ‘Machine’. There are more details on our Facebook pages about this if people are interested.
There has always been a buzz around the Manchester music scene- do you ever feel pressured to fit into a certain mould? What do you think makes you stand out?
We’re very proud and comfortable about being a Manchester band. There’s a really good feel around things here at the moment. Lot’s of independent promoters, bloggers and online Radio shows. If anything it means we’re spoilt for opportunities here to connect with people. In terms of fitting into a mould, we have our own thing going on but there’s no doubt, there a bit of Manc swagger in there.
How would you describe your music style to anyone who hasn’t heard your music before?
There are many influences on the band’s sound- I think we should say 80s inspired, although we suspect this is quite obvious when you listen to our songs! It’s been previously described as dark electro, synth-wave, indie and industrial- all these terms are fair. We use synths and this is a central part of Lee’s song writing. We’re also a band that loves technology, Sci Fi, Marvel, superheroes and all things futuristic.
What can you tell us about the new album? Are there any standout songs for you?
Lee has literally just finished mixing the new album last week, after an epic period of late nights and coming close to madness! We’re obviously biased, but we think we have something really special- there is a link between the songs; they connect and fit together to create an overarching story. Ultimately, we’re excited for other people to hear it and get some feedback.
Each member of the band has a different favourite, but I think we all share a love for ‘Aurora’. The overall structure, central piano and synth parts make it really stand out. Our album launch gig is at Night People on Saturday 16th Feb in Manchester, in partnership with Scruff of The Neck promotions. We’d love for people to come down and see what they think.
Which artists do you look up to?
As a band we are massive Gary Numan fans. He was a pioneering artist who used synths in new ways, his performance style was and still is very inspiring. We see massive parallels between him, Lee and our music. To be honest we’ve already been tweeting him, as our dream is to do collaboration with him in some way. If we keep knocking on his door, hopefully one day soon he’ll answer!
Finally… are there any artists that you’re particularly enjoying listening to at the moment, or anyone you would recommend to the Blue Light Beat readers?
To stop any arguments, it’s probably easier if we answer this individually..!
Tim (Guitarist): Depeche Mode Live in Berlin. Awesome album, the way they build the atmosphere and connection with the Audience is amazing.
Lee (Songwriter and Singer): Ha, Mercury Machine. I’ve not had a chance to listen to anything else recently!
Carl (Bass): My playlists always feature Led Zeppelin and Radiohead. My parents were both Led Zep fans and this influenced the rockier side of me. Radiohead, particularly The Bends and OK Computer came out at a pivotal point in my life and inspired me to learn the guitar and want to be in a band.
Kade (Keyboards): Gunship and their new album ‘Dark all day’.
Gav (Drummer): Gary Numan’s first solo album ‘The Pleasure Principle’ Great synth hooks and warm drum grooves.
A big thanks to Mercury Machine for giving up their all important gig prep time to speak to Blue Light Beat – catch them at Night People on Saturday 16th February – get your tickets here!
Hands up, who has Sunday night dread? You? Oh yes and you too? Well it looks like we’re all in this together then aren’t we! How about a shiny new playlist to make us all feel better?
If you’re a follower of the New/Old/Undersold playlists, then you’ll know what it’s all about already. If you’re a first timer, click on the Playlist menu at the top of the page and have a little read about the music you’ll find in this section (you’ll have a great time, honestly).
Tonight I’ve given you some little gems to brighten up your Sunday- we’ve got everything from brand new artists, who I’ve no doubt in my mind will be headlining in no time at all, as well as a shimmy all the way back to the 70s.