Tuesday 14 June 2011

The First - Her Royal Highness

A first listen on PC speakers is not the way to hear this album. Get yourself a bassy set of cans and slap in a jack for some cyber-Thai punk rock beats dusted down with a sprinkle of Goldfrapp.

Opening track Canary gives you an indication of what you are in for. There’s a lot of styles going on here; think Adam Ant in a blender with some drum n’ bass thrown in and Blondie on steroids – that would be some party. No doubt this image alone would make you sing like a canary. After being audibly beaten with a very large stick, Her Royal Highness take you straight into another stomper: Cherry on Top. Bands don’t like to be compared to other artists, but this one just makes you think of Goldfrapp getting jiggy with Marilyn Manson, an image most of us don’t really want but oddly can’t turn away from. This is a stand-out track with some great bass lines going on and you can see this being a real crowd-pleaser at gigs.

Things slow down for You’ve Got Something and it’s got a nice variation of synth sounds going on; perfectly placed on the album to break up the pace from the first two tracks. It’s almost like a soundscape that you’d expect to find in Blade Runner... or a film about kitsch Thai robots trying to take over the world with their visceral pop sounds, whichever you prefer! Then we get to One Night in Berlin. It reminds me of the time I went to see the ‘Rhythm Drum and Dance’ show at the Fringe Festival last year. I went for the drum element but ended up being assaulted with the trashiest Euro-pop combined with disco lighting; it was like a timewarp! One Night in Berlin opens like a sequence from that show, so it seems that was HRH’s plan. They’ve certainly captured that Berlin feel but the lyrics weren’t really capturing anything more.

I’ll be honest, I was a little apprehensive about reviewing HRH; mainly because this doesn’t tend to be a genre that I know a great deal about but, having said that, I can feel the quality present on this album. It’s a brave step for most bands to want to do something different and break traditional band setups without a drummer in tow. It could well be the case that to fully experience HRH, you would need to see them live, which is true for most bands. I’d be interested in witnessing that event as I do believe that HRH have something to offer. The First has given a good introduction to the band and is a testament to the ever-increasing Edinburgh music scene. I look forward to seeing Her Royal Highness ripping up the dance floor in a venue soon.


Wednesday 8 June 2011

Friends are Friends (née Epic26)

The scene-veteran Edinburgh dance-punk band Epic26 have decided to re-launch the band under the new name Friends are Friends. Is this just a simple rebranding? Or is it a whole new band?

edRock.net contact frontman Nick Paterson for the answers.

edRock.net: Where did the new name come from? Is this just a name change? Or does it mean something specific for the band?

Nick Paterson: We decided we fancied a fresh challenge. We had a lot of amazing times with Epic26, but felt that it was perhaps time to move on to a new project since our sound, and line-up, had evolved so much from when we first started.

The idea of being able to start again was appealing; a chance to change direction and make a fresh start. We'd learnt a lot from being in Epic26, so we know what mistakes not to repeat. We're a bit older and wiser now!

The name Friends Are Friends, I suppose, was inspired by our song Our Friends Are Friends. It means something different to each of us individually and will probably mean something different to everybody who is interested in our music; that’s what we want.

How much of your set now will be Epic26 songs and how much of it is new?

Our current set includes some of our previous tracks like Sorry It Hurts purely because it’s a great live song to play and also, if we never played it, I’m sure we would get some grief. Anyone that has seen us this year will have heard our new tracks like LIDO, Our Friends are Friends [where the new band name comes from] and Losing My Head which are planned for release in the next coming months. So in answer to your question, 50/50, but we're going to be introducing new tracks as much as we can.

Epic26 went through a major change in core sound over the years—what do you attribute this to, and is it changing again with Friends are Friends?

Our sound has developed so much over the years due to developing an appreciation of dance/house music, that and the fact our line up has changed. When Kelvin joined it gave us the opportunity to have a more modern sound and improved us technically. Also, supporting bands like Everything Everything and Fenech Soler have inspired us to write in a more intelligent manner. Our sound seems to be evolving all the time. Expect more melody and generally better crafted songs. We like a good groove these days.

What is the ‘Friends are Friends sound’ in your own words?

Our live sound definitely has a pop feel to it; it’s upbeat, exciting and most importantly, entertaining.

You mentioned a few line-up changes. What is your current line-up and what are the new members bringing to the table?

Our current line up is Allan - bass/synth, Kelvin - guitar/synth/vocals/programming, Euan - drums, myself (Nick) - vocals/guitar/synth. We were all brought up on completely different music but we all appreciate similar modern stuff. It helps when it comes to writing as we're all on the same page. I suppose I bring a pop/R&B sound to the band whereas Kelvin likes alt-dance/ math rock with odd timings and complex arrangements, Allan likes a nice groove and Euan brings a bit of a trad rock feel to our sound. We all enjoy a good beat, a sweet melody and a catchy chorus though.

Epic26 were well known to have a loyal fanbase, what has been their reaction to the rebranding?

So far we have had a good response from our fanbase in regards to our name change. They seem to understand that some things need to change in order to develop and evolve rather than stay the same and they hope things work out for the best. We are happy with the feedback we have had and hope that people will carry on enjoying our music.

What’s next for Friends are Friends? Gigs? Releases?

We are recording as much as we can at the moment. We just released our first track Losing My Head, which you can get if you join our mailing list or you can find it on iTunes etc. We're planning on releasing a few tracks over the next few months two of which will be LIDO and Our Friends Are Friends, and as always anyone on our mailing list will receive it pre-release.
Myke Hall