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Review + Q&A: Falling Floors- S/T (2022, Riot Season Records/Echodelick Records)

For a psychedelic rock band Falling Floors are pretty hard to pinpoint. I found out that talking to them helped a great deal to place them better in my head. These guys are fans of Butthole Surfers and Jefferson Airplane, the weird and offshoot bands in a genre full of followers, and while they don’t sound like those oldschool heroes at all, it is clear what their aim was here. For contemporary reference I would say that Falling Floors would not be out of place inside the cult following around Hey Colossus and their modern mixture of post punk, noise rock, and psych.

This self-titled album sounds raw and heavy, and was recorded without too many overdubs I am sure, to capture a certain ferociousness and live energy. This is something you might want to plow through a little bit the first listen, but when it “clicks”, like about half way through the eight minute barn burner Infinite Switch, you are hooked.

Between every long(er) form song like the catchy Ridiculous Man, and Flawed Theme, there is a weird interlude, building up from half a minute to two minutes, before all hell breaks loose in the eighteen minute noise jam extravaganza of Elusive And Unstable Nature Of Truth. It is where Falling Floors let’s go of all restraints and just sets the controls for the heart of the sun, in their own noisy botched up psych head way.

A very interesting and mind expanding experience then, this first encounter with these UK psych mongers. Fans of the afore mentioned bands, Wrong Speed Records, GNOD, and genuinely being surprised while taking your overdose of reverb drenched rock, this is your cup of tea.

So let’s have a chat then! As hard as it was to fully grasp what Falling Floors were doing sonically, as easy is it to connect with them. In the following interview they kindly and honestly explain what they are all about and where they come from. Drummer Colin Greenwood gave us the tour…

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for Falling Floors?

We’re all grand thank you for asking. The pandemic was, in the scheme of things, pretty OK for Falling Floors. We all lived in a wild and beautiful corner of the UK where we could hunker down, hope for the best and wait for it all to pass. And without the pandemic and desire to see people and make a big, messy load of noise, the band would probably never have come to pass.

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet?

So we are Rob on guitars and vocals, Harry on bass, and me, Colin, on drums. Rob and I know each other from the London psych / prog / rock / 60s music scene. We have almost certainly exchanged sweat on a crowded dance floor. I’m originally from around here, so once everyone had moved up north we all became friends. Harry and me started jamming and then Rob joined and brought some much-needed discipline to our freeform mucking about.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

So Harry has spent a lot of time getting lost in free-noise jams and found himself hankering after a tune. Rob’s actually had some moderate success, first with Elks and then with Early Mammal, who found kinship with the London stoner / avant garde rock scene based around the Baba Yaga’s Hut nights. I’ve noodled in bands for years without achieving much of note. We all like a tune and we all like taking said tune and bashing it to a bloody pulp.

What does a regular day in your life look like?

First off we’ve all got day jobs 🤘so let’s be real here and accept there’s fair bit of selling our life, one day at a time, to suck on Mammon’s teat. And then we’re all pretty different. Harry makes films, Rob’s an academic (handy if you find yourself in a tight spot and needing a bit of emergency jurisprudence) and I’m a designer, with two kids and all that comes with that.

What is the story behind the album? It has a strong “live” feel to it, could you explain that?

Well first off we’re not session ninjas, so there’s gonna be rough edges. And then we’ve all played in bands which have recorded and mixed and EQ’d and noodled themselves to a standstill. We didn’t want to make perfect product. We’d got some songs, we were quite excited, and we wanted to capture that. We wanted to make something righteous and true in a world drowning in almost unbearable bullshit. A mini, futile, defiant stand. 

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

Ace, basically. Harry and me live in the Calder Valley, which is one of a few valleys which cut through the hills that run down the spine of England. It’s all rain and mud and moorland and wet stone and scudding clouds. Beautiful. And inspiring. The rehearsal rooms are cheap, there’s a joyous DIY spirit, and a great music scene based around a couple of fearless, supportive venues. Rob moved down south to Devon just after recording the album. He’s still in the countryside, but it’s a softer, fatter vibe down there. He claims not to miss the north, but I think he’s lying.

What is your main aim with your music, is it complete artistic expression, or an escape from the every day world? (or something else ;))

Make something true and honest. I can’t speak for Rob and Harry but I’d love to get wilder and weirder. It’s so easy for ideas to get censored and trimmed and sanitized. I’ve always been inspired by bands like the Butthole Surfers who made genuinely weird things, the likes of which the world had never heard before. Doing things that haven’t got a name yet, to quote Jefferson Airplane. If we could make something that was pure unfettered expression, but still had a killer tune, I’d die a happy man.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?

There isn’t really a pattern yet. Rob brought one song pretty much fully formed. Harry brought some bass lines which were the spine of another couple. And one was jammed into existence starting with a drum pattern. I hope we’ll all keep writing and contributing and it’s doesn’t become one person’s project. As for recording, we get in a room, we point microphones at things, we play the song a few times, few overdubs and we call it done. Old school.

What is “the dream” when it comes to being an artist?

Crikey. Making the charidee album with Eric, Keef and Bono obviously. No, not that. Playing something which you’re proud of, which adds something new to the world, to people who appreciate the effort. I’m sure we’d all like our Falling Floors jet, but I think them days are over.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Walk to the top of the highest hill you can find, strip to the waist and whilst wearing headphones listen to our tune ‘Infinite Switch’, square off into the wind and rain and scream your fury at all the see-you-next-tuesdays of the world. Then go home, have a nice cup of tea and kiss your kids / dogs / loved ones on the head. 

Review + Q&A: Gloin- We Found This (2022, Mothland)

I swear, these amazing Toronto, Canadian bands are randomly crossing my path, I am not even seeking them out! Yet after Comet Control, Lammping, UWUW, and C. Ross, Gloin is another crystal clear piece of evidence that there is something in the water around those parts…

Mothland label mates Yoo Doo Right already reached the Weirdo Shrine editorial desks, and Gloin are equally self-minded and weird, a little wilder even still! On their album We Found This they find themselves mixing up fiercely angular noise rock, hip shaking post punk dread, and plenty of random noises into a steaming and modern sounding cocktail that somehow tastes fresh. Fans of The Horrors, The Cramps, Hey Colossus, and Liars do take note!

The vocals are shapeshifting between male and female, while the music is equally ambiguous: is this anger and frustration? Is this gloomy dread? Is this post apocalyptic disco? The fact that Gloin does not make up their minds make them such an intriguing listen, and We Found This into an album that you will have to spin a whole bunch of times before you completely “get” it. Or do you?

So of course there are some important questions to be asked and answered. I am a lucky person to find myself being able to reach out to all these wonderful artists and that people like Gloin are kind enough to answer…

Hi Gloin! How are you doing these days? 

We’re great. We just released our latest album, We Found This. Through the label Mothland. We’re answering these questions while on the road to support it. We recorded it in 2019 but due to delays with Covid, we had to wait a long time to release it. 

Can you please introduce the band; where are you from, how did you meet? 

Gloin is; John, Richard, Simon, Vic. 

Simon Richard and John had been working on various musical projects together and apart in Toronto for a few years. Richard and John knew each other from high school, while Vic knew John’s partner from high school. When Vic moved back to Toronto after living abroad for a few years, she was looking for a new project. 

What are your musical backgrounds?

John has been a lyricist and self-taught guitarist since he was 19.

Richard has been playing guitar since he was in middle school and started up playing synth for this project.

Vic first picked up the guitar at age 11 and always dabbled in bass playing but started taking it seriously for Gloin.

Simon has been drumming for 15 years.

Where do you live, and how would you say that influences your sound?

The aggression and frustration in our music is heavily influenced by the diminishing art culture in Toronto. In a lot of ways, it’s an extremely difficult city to thrive in yet that is also what feeds a driving force within us and I think that is evident in our music. We are surrounded by competition urgency and impatience.

What does a typical day in your lives look like?

We all work full-time in various trades and try to balance work, art, and personal lives in a way where we are not half assing’ anything.

What can you tell me about the writing and recording process of We Found This?

One person comes in with a riff that they have worked on and loved. They present it to the band and from there we might destroy it or reinvent it but either way we usually have a “no bad ideas” attitude. When we’re stumped we sometimes try to think of the most chaotic direction a song could go and do that and honestly it’s usually pretty sick or at least inspiring. John writes all the lyrics. When we bring a song into the studio it can come out a bit different because we are also open to creative ideas from our recording engineer Dylan Frankland. 

How do your lyrics usually come into being?

Lyrics are written sporadically. Some songs are more thought out than others, but all lyrics lean towards shared frustrations at that point in time. The frustrations for this record range from struggles financially, work life, toxic masculinity and religion, but are really based around any personal or shared struggles at that point in time. Lyrics are written far in advance of the instrumentals, during or in the studio when it comes time to sing. The strategy for vocals is always changing.

Can you tell me what music’s on the daily band playlist?

Vic: Any energetic pop music, catchy punk music, or extremely emotional ambient music and of course a good gay beat.

John: Warmduscher, Gilla band, Full of Hell, Portal, Dry Cleaning, Cola, and Viagra Boys.

Rich: CCR, Jim Croce, Gillian Weltch, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Lou Reed.

Simon: Anything funky, groovy, scary, noisy. A lot of BADBDNOTGOOD, N8Noface and Full of Hell lately.

What is “the dream” for your band? And what are your immediate future plans?

To play music full-time. 

Immediate plans are to just keep givin’er.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Channel your rage, listen to our record, and let it out.

Review + Q&A: Haress- Ghosts (2022, Wrong Speed Records)

Wrong Speed Records is a very interesting and relatively new record label from the UK, established by Joe Thompson, who you might also know as the bass player in Hey Colossus. It appears he has an exquisite and very wide taste in music, and Haress from Wales are the latest formidable example thereof.

When you close your eyes and listen to Ghosts, you can almost hear the morning mist crawling over the green Welsh fields, a river streaming nearby, the gentle tranquility and subtle excitement of another dawn in the countryside. The music is gentle, with explorative guitar parts, sparse and ephemeral vocals, a hint of folk in the bass lines, and other more experimental musical instruments that add to this atmosphere.

It harks back to the earliest of postrock days and the youthful naivety of Slint‘s Spiderland. It’s dreamier than that iconic album though, and in its folkier and quieter parts it also reminds of a very different Slint affiliate; Will Oldham, and his Superwolf colab with Matt Sweeney in particular. It’s sleepy music, but it keeps you on the edge of your seat. Having cited these 90s influences, it is perhaps cool to mention that Lungfish‘s Nathan Bell also added a bit of trumpet to the album.

Personally, I fell deeply in love with Ghosts. There is something about the guitar tone, the pace of the music, and the general tranquility that completely connected with me on a level that I cannot really put into the right words, and will therefore stop trying. Better to see if it connects with you in the same way…

I had loads of question for this enigmatic music group, which luckily Dave and Elizabeth (main people in the band) answered all kind of together as one person,  except question seven, which Thomas the vocalist answered…

Hi guys, how have you been these past pandemic years?

We were lucky we kept our heads above water, lockdown in the countryside was like a quieter version of an already quiet place.  Although it was a bad time there were many positives –

it was a treat to have some time, to be together with our daughter, I (Liz) collaborated and recorded a remote album with Dominic Plucknett from Van Coeur https://stillplucknett.bandcamp.com/album/bandas-sonoras ) and Haress got to do a Black Sabbath cover for the Supersonic online festival https://youtu.be/vNf7TaOjUiE ).

Can you introduce Haress? When did you meet each other and how did you start a band?

Hello, this is Elizabeth Still and David Hand.  We met each other through playing in a band called Red Panda many moons ago. Haress was formed out of necessity as the drummer from our previous band (Black Octagon – https://blackoctagon.bandcamp.com/ ) was becoming a parent plus there were location logistics etc etc

We decided to do a band that meant we didn’t have to rely on anyone outside of the two of us and where we could practice from home – try and make it easy.  

We first expanded the band when we played at our festival called Sineater in 2016 ( https://youtu.be/Rpfh8VsiPmc ) when Chris Summerlin (Hey Colossus, Kogumaza) and Pete Simonelli (Enablers) joined us on stage, it was a great thing to discover we could successfully and quite easily expand and diversify.

The heart of Haress is us as a duo, we mostly write the tracks so they can be performed that way. When we expand the band it becomes something different.

For the first record and Ghosts, Haress expands to include Chris on guitar, David Smyth (Kling Klang, Mind Mountain) on drums and Thomas House (Sweet Williams, Charlottefield) on vocal.  They also feature Nathan Bell (Lungfish, Human Bell).

I love the way “Ghosts” sounds! How did you decide on your sound? Is it a naturally evolving thing, or a very conscious result of planned decisions?

For Ghosts many of the tracks were quite new and hadn’t been played live. So this was an evolution. We were staying at Erbistock Mill (a disused water mill in Wales) so it was quite an intense process. Some things turned out very different to how we thought- but that’s the joy of collaborating with other musicians . Now the tracks can exist in different forms – we like that.

Can you tell me where Haress is from? Somehow I picture a rural surroundings…are you inspired by nature at all?

Haress are from a town called Bishop’s Castle in Shropshire, right on the Welsh border: glorious countryside and a pretty remote little town, very much the rural setting you picture. We have lived here for nearly 14 years and then amazingly David and Chris have just moved here as well, which is great. Thomas currently lives in Zaragoza in Spain.

We’re totally inspired by nature, I’d say it was impossible to not be (living where we do) but nature has been a lifelong love. 

Can you tell me how you make music together? When do you decide when a song is a song? 

It’s usually the result of the interplay of our 2 guitars, often acoustic, often in the house, that then get shifted to electric at some point. Then we will try playing them live and this usually gives you a good idea if it’s ready yet. With the ‘big band’ version it’s usually an expansion of the 2 guitar parts – although while recording Ghosts there were full-on band collaborations from the ground up.

Can you tell me about the collaborations with other musicians on the album? 

This record (like the first LP) has our friend Nathan Bell playing on it. We once put out a solo record of Nathan’s years ago https://lancashireandsomerset.bandcamp.com/album/nathan-bell-colors ) and have played shows and toured with him over the years. He played trumpet on stage with Black Octagon once and I guess that sowed the seeds for a future recording. This record he went an extra step and came up with this crazy throat singing part as well! Sounds amazing.

Dave (Smyth) plays drums so emotively for us, knowing when to hold back in the arrangement and when to bring the heavy weight! 

Chris brings wizardry, expertly punctuating, creating texture and unexpected joys with guitar and Echoplex and unending knowledge.

Thomas‘ vocal happened remotely as well. We talk about it a bit but Tom sings on the tracks he chooses to. It brings a seismic dimensional shift to the band and the record.

What are your greatest inspirations for the lyrics? 

Thomas: The music, and what I know of where it comes from. I wait for stories and images that I think fit the feeling and intention, and then I expand on those or chip away at them until they’re what they should be.

What is your goal for Haress?

I guess just keep doing it: more collaborations, play more places outside of the ’standard’ venue

Will you perform live, and when will you come visit me in the Netherlands 😉

We hope to perform live later in the year with the ‘Big Band’ and we would love to play in the Netherlands

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do immediately after reading this interview?

Go outside