The Slow Readers Club

The Slow Readers Club are an electro-indie band from Manchester fronted by Aaron Starkie (vocals/keyboard) with Kurtis Starkie (vocals/guitar), James Ryan (bass) and David Whitworth (drums). 

The last couple of years have seen the band perform sell-out shows up and down the country aswell as filling tents and arenas at some of the UKs best music festivals. So far this year they have played the main stage at the Isle of Wight Festival which was a brilliant set as well as huge outdoor arenas with bands like The Charlatans and James which, in turn, has won them many more new fans along the way.

Amongst their busy schedule, Kurt answered a few questions ahead of their set at Victorious Festival, Southsea this August.

Where did the name Slow Readers Club come from?

Aaron came up with it. He said it came from a memory of when he was transitioning from junior school to senior school (Newall Green High School, Wythenshawe), He was taken on a tour of the school with our parents. We were shown the English Room, Science Labs, History Room and all that. Then we came to a room called Special Needs. He found it a frightening concept that you could be removed from the mainstream of education like that from a young age. The Slow Readers Club is meant as a rejection of that really, as a celebration of the underdog.

You have been playing as Slow Readers Club for a number of years now, when did you love for music first start?

We have all been in bands before we formed The Slow Readers Club and at some stage in our early teens we each picked an instrument of choice and developed naturally from there. I think the passion for doing so comes from being inspired by the music you love.

At what point did you know that you wanted to make this a career?

When you start out in a band at an early age you always dream big and sometimes it just takes time to get where you need to be. It’s been far from instant success for us but a gradual build up but thankfully we’ve stuck at it and produced some music we’re proud of.

Who are your main music influences?

That’s tricky to answer on behalf of everyone because there’s not a great deal of crossover when it comes to favorite artists. It’s not all necessarily what people might imagine from listening to our sound, it’s not all serious stuff. Collectively we’d probably agree that some of the pop in the 80’s has had an influence on us, perhaps more consciously for some than others. You can’t knock a bit of Jacko or Madonna. There is a good span of music genres to draw from in terms of individual tastes anyway which is a positive thing.
So when it comes to song writing, who takes the lead or do you all chip in?

A lot of the songs are written with us all in a room together, that’s the preferred method but some can come from one persons original idea and then that’s developed in the practice room and often refined in the studio. In terms of vocal melody and lyrics, that’s Aaron’s department.

Is there something particular that gives you inspiration for great lyrics?

Well this is Aaron’s department but I’ll answer from my perspective and hopefully it won’t be too far from how he see’s it. Excuse the cliche but the lyrics are usually drawn from personal experience, not necessarily direct experience but lyrics should come from a personal perspective if they’re going to have any validity.

When you have a song or recording who do you play your songs to first to gauge a reaction?

We all go home with phone recordings of new ideas from the practice room so usually our other halves will get to hear bits before we get to the studio stage but we do most of the filtering ourselves. If we don’t all think it’s decent it doesn’t tend to get worked on.

You have had an incredible couple of years and played with some amazing artists. How did it feel when you recently supported James?

It’s been great, the first gig with them was very nervy, it was the biggest stage we’d played to date and we were worried about playing to a cold crowd but the James fans have really warmed to us and we have gained a lot of new fans and a lot of experience which we are very grateful for.


I saw you play the main stage at Isle of Wight Festival this summer on the Saturday and you are playing at Victorious Festival in August, do you prefer to play to a festival crowd or a typical gig crowd?

It’s a difficult one, It’s obviously a great feeling to play a main stage at a festival, especially when you get a good reaction but ideally we’d like to sample the evening slots because our music isn’t really designed for a sunny day. The other positive element to playing our own gigs is the crowd reaction which is a huge part of the experience.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61fLYjjHTOI

You must be pretty excited about your headline tour later this year, what can we expect of it?

We are keen to get out and show people some new songs we’ve been working on. A lot of people have got onto us in recent times and will want to see us based on existing releases which will form the majority of our set but we want to add some new stuff in for the people who’ve already seen us a number of times in the last year. Hopefully people won’t be disappointed.

Based on their back catalogue to date, I doubt very much anyone will be disappointed!

Tickets for their headline UK tour “Through the shadows” are already going like hotcakes with some shows already sold out. Be sure to catch them live across the UK this summer including at Victorious Festival, Southsea in Portsmouth this August Bank Holiday weekendm or on their headline tour.
https://www.victoriousfestival.co.uk/buy-tickets/

http://theslowreadersclub.co.uk/

https://open.spotify.com/user/theslowreadersclub

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Eyes to the Skies

Eyes to the Skies are a 4 piece alternative indie rock band from the South of England. Alex, George, Mike and Jonno have just supported local bands Kill ’em dead and Undergroud Pilots at The Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth and ahead of their set at Victorious Festival in Southsea, frontman Alex found time to chat about their band and whats coming up for Eyes to the Skies:

So how did you all meet? 

George and I have been friends with each other since we were about 3 or 4. We’ve known each other forever and have so far failed to get rid of each other! We both met the other two, Jon and Mike, in college! We were all studying Music together at South Downs College in Hampshire. 

Where did the name ‘Eyes To The Skies’ come from?

Well, thats an easy answer that one, Throughout life I’ve had some battles with health related issues and you know when you’re feeling down you sometimes just look up at the sky and you hope someones there looking out for you. It came from that really. Just thinking.. Eyes To The Skies sounds kind of catchy! So we stuck with it. 

You have deemed yourselves as an alternative-indie band, who are your main musical influences? 

The thing that is great with our band is that we’re all from a similar background music wise, but we all bring our own influences to the table. As a whole our sound is influenced by Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys, Catfish and the Bottlemen and many more. But at the same time we try our best to develop our own sound. 

Would you say that they are some of your favourite artists
We all listen to pretty similar stuff, but at the same time we all have our own guilty secrets. Myself, I’m a huge fan of Catfish and the Bottlemen. Our drummer Mike is heavy on Arcade Fire and Queens of the Stone Age. Jonno’s influenced by Devin Townsend & Catfish and the Bottlemen. Our guitarist George is pretty much the man to talk to when it comes to music, He’s into anything and everything. 

I believe thats the best way to be, to be open minded about music. Do you all get involved with Songwriting?

When it comes to songwriting it usually starts with me sitting on my bed with my acoustic, and then I’d usually film myself playing this idea with some vocals and pass it to Mike and George. They then both pitch in their bits and then we take it to the practice room and craft our parts and it all comes together. Lately the last few songs we’ve been writing, George and I have just been sending videos back and forth to each other with different various ideas and bits n bobs. 

What gives you inspiration for great lyrics? 

 It’s more like, as and when they come. I’m usually always writing down cheeky one liners, hearing things people say and thinking, corr I’ll have that, that’ll be a good opening line and then I go from there. I’ve written about many different things, a few songs here and there about having arguments, a couple of songs about a time in my life when I got really unwell. They are hard and emotional songs to write at times but it just rolls off of the end of the pen and onto paper! I love songwriting. 

So after all the work that goes into the writing and construction of a song, who do you play the tracks to first in order to gauge a reaction? 

Usually to be honest with you, once we’ve got a new song together or a new idea if I’m sat on my bed and I’ve written some new lines and a simple chord sequence, I’d usually go play it to my Mum and be like ‘What about this one’ She usually says It’s amazing! But thats what a mother would do always, Right? So to be honest we just practice the songs together at Casemates Rehearsal Studios in Portsmouth. When we think they are gig ready, then we take them out and see what the crowd reactions are. Thankfully so far it’s been rather class! 

You are playing a few festivals this summer including Victorious Festival, tell me how that came about? 
So this year at Victorious we’ve been invited to play on the Academy of Music Performance stage by our old lecturers at South Downs College! We loved our time at college, it was great and its where we as a band formed. So it just feels fitting to be asked to play on their stage at the festival! And we’ve been gifted the Headline slot of the Saturday night! It’s going to be class! We’re hoping to be on a bigger stage at Victorious 2018 as well! 

What can we expect from your set at Victorious Festival this year? 
At our set at Victorious this year you can expect a proper guitar band playing with volume and energy! Come along and check us out! We try to make every show we do feel as big as a stadium even if the venue is super small! A big thing for us is talking to the crowd, getting on a proper friendly basis with the audience is always class

What is next for Eyes To The Skies? 
Well, we’re releasing our single ‘Don’t’ on the second week of August! It’s going to be available on all platforms. We’re going to be gigging anywhere and everything! 2018 is going to be huge for us for gigs. We’ve got lots planned. Heading over to play a few shows in Europe supporting bands then we will be headlining our own shows! And further throughout the rest of this year, we’ve got some super exciting things to announce that we’re totally buzzing for. 

Speaking to such a young and enthusiastic band with such fantatic ambition is very exciting and I am looking forward to seeing their set at Victorious Festival on 26th August aswell as hearing about the exciting annoucments that they have in store later this year.

Victorious Festival 25 – 27 August 2017- August Bank Holiday- Southsea Seafront

https://www.victoriousfestival.co.uk/buy-tickets/


Louis Berry- A modern day rock n roller

You may have heard Louis Berry without even realising and you would be excused for thinking it was an older record straight out of the sixties as his sensational vocals really allow him to stand out in a crowd.


A string of incredible releases has meant he has been dubbed a modern day rock and roller and one of Liverpools finest exports. His retro sound but young face puts him in the same league as the likes of George Ezra, Ben Howard and Jake Bugg and all utilise their raw talent to create timeless vocals that become an instant hit with the audience

It was Berrys debut single .45 that really grabbed the nations attention and was also given the title of Radio 1s hottest record in the world. The lyrics throughout all his tracks are of real issues and problems that he has seen happen around him such as severe hardship and his brutally honest writing mean that he can share his experiences and life stories with the world ready for in similar positions to relate. He is true to his roots and background with his authentic Liverpudlian streaming through his hard hitting lyrics. 

His honesty stretches to how he want to be percieved and he is very frank about where he sits amongst other artists. Louis Berry is a true musician with raw musical talent, you would never see electronic gear such as laptops appear during his sets and you are highly unlikely to see him collabarate with a host of other writers or have someone else write his music for him.

Recording with the legendary producer Jacquire King, Louis Berry debut album is set to be released soon but in the mean time you should be listening to his fantastic music with my favourite being “Rebel.”

His gravelly voice is very addictive and the extreamly talented singer songwriter puts on an immense show and really controls the stage. Having already spent the last couple of years appearing at some of the UKs top festivals, Louis Berry is set to go from strength to strength increasing his fan base as he goes. 

Louis is playing Reading and Leeds Festival this year and I am very excited to see his set.

http://www.readingfestival.com/reading-festival-2017-tickets

http://www.leedsfestival.com/tickets-0

Robbie Williams becomes first ever patron for charity “Music Support”

Today marks the day that the incredible charity “Music Support” gained its first patron, a music icon, Robbie Williams.


Financially promoted by BRIT Trust, Music Support is a charity working within the music industry to provide help for those suffering with alchoholism, addiction or any form of mental or emotional health issue. Williams has been in the spotlight for many years and pubically tackled similar issues over the years, has said “This is such a timely undertaking and I am very happy to be its first patron.”

This momentous occasion will certainly bring valuable attention to the charity and Music Support Co-Founder and Trustee Andy Franks, said: “I was overwhelmed when Tim Clark called to say Robbie agreed to act as Patron for Music Support. We are incredibly grateful and honoured. Having Robbie on board will help bring Music Support to the attention of so many more people who may need our services, and to raise the funds to allow us to provide those services.

The charity was founded in April 2016 by some very influential people all of whom had experiences of recovery and addiction. This included the likes of Andy Franks (previously Robbie Williams tour manager), musician Mark Richardson and addiction treatment expert Johan Sorensen and with ample knowledge of industry aswell as the personal experiences of addiction, were able to create a project specifically aimed at those involved in music. A place renowned for its challenges to people suffering with these issues.

The service has come a long way in its first 15 months, initially offering a support helpline, it now has expanded to be able to provide clear support, assistance and guidance to appropriate professional help such as therapists, psychaiatrists and residetial treatement centres. Since growing, callers are able to recieve a range of services from an empathetic and friendly ear to short ot long term residential treatments. Counselling sessions have been made available to artists on tour via Skype and Music Supports Crisis team have been able to offer on location assistance aswell. 

These services have, up to now, been funded by the client however the charity have a short term goal to be able to provide needs and means tested scholarships and either discounted or free treatments from their network of highly dedictated and supportive professionals. 

During the course of this summer, and with the support of Festival Republic and The BRIT trust, Music Support have been providing “Safe Tents” and selected festivals across the UK. Safe Tents are an area of the festival where artists, festival staff and crew are able to spend a quiet moment in an alcohol and drug free space. Here they can speak to someone who can help assist them in the range of invaluable treatments available to them to suit their concerns. 

UK Summer Festival Safe Tent schedules (completed)

– Download Festival

– Glastonbury Festival

UK Summer Festval Safe Tent Schedule coming up

– British Summer Time- Hyde Park

– Wireless Festival

– Latitude Festival

– V Festival (Weston Park and Hylands Park)

– Reading and Leeds Festival

Having self funded the launch of this amazing charity, Music support is now heavily reliant on donations to further fund its programme. To donate please visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/music-support

http://musicsupport.org/

Matt Wills- Omeara 29th June 2017

When it comes to new music there is plenty of incredible acts coming into the lime light and Matt Wills is one of them. 

His headline show at Omeara, london was scheduled for May 2017 but had to be cancelled at short notice however was promptly rescheduled for 29th June and I went along to see his talent live!


Walking around London Bridge and around the Borough Market area there is deep reminders of recent terror events however there are also incredible signs of solidarity and love which line the way towards the beautiful venue Omeara.

      
Omeara is a 350 capacity music venue and club space that has been created by Mumford and Sons star Ben Lovett. It is ideally located in the heart of Londons Borough Market and has played host to some incredible acts in the 8 months that it has been opened. The building as fantastic facilities and the music venue room has a period ballroom feel to it offering the perfect intimate gig setting. 


I got to the venue at the tail end of Matts support act Lauren Faith. Lauren gave a fantastic performance, getting the audience warmed up ready for the headliner later in the evening. Lauren premiered her new single Rush which is available from 5th July.

After a quick stage set up change over, the Omeara had filled out in time for Matt Wills to take to the stage. Humbled by the number of people who had attended, Matt went on to command the stage in a sterling performace that was wonderful to see. WIth the support of his incredibly talented band, tracks such as “Ellie get your gun”, “ADX”, “Wallflower” and my personal favourite “Emily” were played with a large number of fans in the audience singing along word for word. A guest appearance from Devlin got the crowd into a frenzy whilst the pair performed “Hurricane” and a short by sweet cover of Bastilles “Warmth” added some variety to Matts first headline show.


I have followed Matt Wills success over the past few months and felt proud to witness this fantastic performance. Matt is an incredibly talented singer/ song writer whose lyrics are real and honest and with the world as it is at the moment, this honesty means that the listener can relate entirely. 

His talent is unbelieveable and whilst I would encourage every single person to check out his music, I would equally insist that you have to see him live as he is a fantastic performer. 

“Virtue” is his latest single and was released on 30th June with his debut album “Cigerettes and city lights” being released 21st July but available to pre order now.

Matt Wills will be playing live at Victorious Festival August Bank holiday.

https://www.victoriousfestival.co.uk/