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Review + Q&A: The Web Of Lies- Nude With Demon (2022, Wrong Speed Records)

Last week I snatched away the -at least for now- very last Amazon copy of Nude With Demon, the debut album by UK’s The Web Of Lies. On their bandcamp, as well as on their label Wrong Speed Records the albums have also gone so I guess for promotional purposed this review is pretty darn void. And yet, if you haven’t been informed about this record I feel strongly compelled to right that wrong for you.

So what’s going on? The Web Of Lies is a duo of British musicians with a great network of likeminded souls who together forged a unique amalgamation of jingly jangly 60s garage rock, 90s noise punk, and freakish folk antics. It’s like they dug up the corpses of The Velvet Underground, took them for a dive and met up with Sonic Youth for an underwater garage noise rock jam. I’m just dropping those references to give your ears something to hold on to because in reality it is rather hard to reference Nude With Demon to anything but itself, and that is also its strongest power.

You need to work on your relationship with this album, then it will reveal itself. The songs usually rely on heavy angular riffing, rather than steady verse/chorus structures which makes the album a tough nut to crack at first, but a very playable album at the same time that will open up slowly and gradually while you spin the hell out of it. Its many layers, contributed by its many guest players will one by one unfurl themselves and the album will in time become like a good friend, always ready for an insightful conversation and plenty of depth.

The Web Of Lies, like their label mates Haress, have delivered a unique piece of modern guitar music that puts their home Wrong Speed Records at the forefront of record labels to watch this year and the next. Make sure to jump on the bandwagon soon though, because their records sell out in no time. Don’t say you weren’t warned!

WoL: Evil rock group

The Web Of Lies is Edwin Stevens and Neil Robinson together with an array of other musicians that Edwin will introduce when I talk to him through the internet. Please take your time to learn about this amazing bunch of artists and check out their other music as well!

How have you guys been lately? How has the covid period been for the band?

I can’t speak for Neil- I know he’s finishing the new Buffet Lunch album, so I’m going to assume he’s doing good. I see him post loads of pictures of nice hills and nature and mushrooms and that, which is nice. I’m having the month from Hell but looking forward to doing some nice stuff soon. We put the record together during covid, recording all the main bits at the arse end of 2020 and at the start of 2021. It was shit but I’m glad we got a record done.

Can you tell me about your musical backgrounds? 

I’ve been lucky enough to play in a fair few bits over the years; Irma Vep (a solo thing) and Yerba Mansa (a duo with Andrew Cheetham) are probably the most consistent ‘projects’, or whatever. I play a bit of guitar in The Birthmarks when I can, we are unfortunately separated by a few hundred miles but I love it. 

I first met Neil when he was drumming with a band called Hyacinth Girl in Manchester over ten years ago. He moved to London and played with loads of people, I won’t list them all, he’s a class act and a much sought after legend. We met again when he moved to Edinburgh (has since moved to Glasgow, where I now live) and was playing bass with his current group, Buffet Lunch who are an amazing band. 

All the contributors on the record have rich musical histories that should be dived deep into:

Jess Higgins, who sings, is an artist living in Glasgow who played in an amazing band called Vital Idles as well as doing her own solo work. Rory Maclean who plays bass on Receiver also played with them. He has new project called Essen which is very claaasss.

Kathy Gray who also sings on the album currently plays in two amazing things called Nape Neck and Mia La Metta (her solo stuff). I met her years ago playing in a legendary No Wave group called Beards

Dylan Hughes, who sings on The Golden Road is my closest friend from back home in Wales. We used to play in the bands Klaus Kinski and Sex Hands together. He’s the main song writer in The Birthmarks and released his own solo album last year called Imaginary Shelves

DBH who plays violin on The Golden Road has played with too many people to list. He is a true musical genius. He played on nearly all my solo records. His albums under the name DBH are all incredible and can be found via Thread Recordings

Tim Bishop is this weird guy I know from back in Wales who played in loads of bands in the eighties. Y Legs is the most popular of his groups. 

Neil Campbell is an absolute legend who’s discography is deep and mental and varied, it’s a joy to get into. He plays with Vibracathedral Orchestra and his own solo Astral Social Club, two of my absolute favourite groups of all time (amongst loads and loads and loads of other things)

How did you find each other to start this magical band called The Web Of Lies? 

Neil and I were recruited by our friend Doig to help him play some shows with his project, Robert Sotelo and I really loved playing with him. I demoed a solo record during lockdown and had some songs left over that I felt didn’t suit the ‘feel’ of the album and thought Neil would be good to play on them, and that’s when I decided to start this project. 

The band has a very distinctive sound, its quite hard to pinpoint… how did your “sound” come into existence? 

I’m not really sure. The guitars are tuned to different octaves of two notes, usually either C or G or or D or F. It depends on the song. I can’t remember properly. Maybe it’s something to do with that? Neil is really good at keeping the song solid and consistent and listenable. I’m not very good at that. 

The guests we have on the record are all incredible and singular artists in their own right. I’m very grateful for the music they contributed and help make the record what it is. I think that they all bring their own unique voice to the album and song by song take it to places I wouldn’t necessarily expect. 

What is your connection to Chris Summerlin and Wrong Speed Records?

My friend Tom House sent Chris the record who then sent it to Joe Thompson who then said they would like to put it out, which was great. We also stayed with Chris at his home in Nottingham when we were on tour with Robert Sotelo. A lovely man. They’re both really nice guys and I’m very grateful to be able to put the stuff out with them. 

How did you decide on the band name? Will your answer be a lie and is there a way to know?

No word of a lie: I wanted to use the name for a while; I had made an album called Irma Vep & The Web of LiesWe Don’t Talk About It, where the underlying theme was kind of all about repression through guilt and the aftermath of that. I felt the name was quite powerful, imagery wise, or something, hence why I used it for this. It’s an umbrella for a smorgasbord of non stop idiot thoughts. 

I find the cover art very intriguing, it’s reminds me of the Guernica in a way 🙂 Who did it and how does it relate to the music?

Thank you, that’s nice! I made it. Some of it is taken from a collage I did for a poster for a friend of mine ages ago, and other bits were taken from just stuff I had been messing around for a while on photoshop and that.

I wanted it to be like looking at a map, it has bits from the songs in it. The peace sign on the upside down Dante’s 9 layers of hell thing is a nod to the peace sign that was painted on the mountain where I grew up in Llanfairfechan, North Wales… I don’t know what else to say about it really…Seasons In The Abyss is my favourite Slayer album, that’s why I drew that on there. That was going to be the actual cover but I chickened out. I like the art for Fall albums and Country Teasers records where there’s loads of writing on it. I like words as art on album covers and stuff. I just ripped them off really. 

What does an average day look like in the lives of the members of the band? Do you jam a lot for instance?

We’re not really a ‘band’. More of a duo, recording project or something. Me and Neil record stuff when we can and email it to guests and hope they’re up for it. I can’t speak for everyone else, but an average day for me is farting about with my one year old or going to work at the pub. 

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

Immediate plans are to record a new album. We’re both finishing off other projects at the minute. The songs are written, it’s just a case of going to Neil and seeing what he thinks. “The dream” is to hopefully one day play live. Neil isn’t up for it, and my life is too hectic at the moment to fathom getting people together to play as a full band. Maybe after the next album when we have a few more songs to pull from I’ll see who’s up for it and try and play some shows and all that. 

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

Have a nice day!

(Hi jasper, thanks for this, we don’t really have a band photo but please use this image I drew)

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