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NEW CITY KINGS

New City Kings = two brothers, Mark and Ben Konstantinovic (who spoke to us before they play the Replay With Rob Da Bank stage at Bestival on Sunday) and rhythm section Charlie Roberts and Ben Nyari. Hailing from the green and pleasant pastures of Essex, these four boys have got a touch of The Gaslight Anthem about them (if the Gaslight Anthem grew up in England, rather than the US of A). They released the live acoustic track ‘Swords and Cannonballs’ earlier in April 2013 and have had a packed summer of touring. Here’s what the brothers Konstantinovic had to say.

 

 Hi there, one half of New City Kings. Considering the fact that you put out ‘Swords and Canonballs’ as a live acoustic track, do you feel that people should experience New City Kings in a live set up first and foremost?

Mark: Definitely - we’ve just started out so I think acoustic is the first port of call, we usually write and work with songs like this before we develop them - Sometimes its interesting to watch the progression of a track from acoustic to a full production.

 Why did you start making music together?

Ben: We had all been playing in other bands for years, but when we started rehearsing together, it seemed to gel and really work. We could actually see some potential in the music.

 Does having two brothers in the band create a different dynamic from the usual ‘four mates’ set up?

Mark: I’d say so - there’s always alot of tension, drama, emotion, and unbeatable teamwork when you have the same blood in a band. Id say it brings out a deeper form of creativity, and a more intense form of pressure.

Ben: one of the hardest things about being in a band is finding a group of people that you can get on with 24/7 and trust, so if one of them is your brother it makes things a bit easier!

 It looks like you’ve had a busy summer of touring, what’s your secret to surviving and still having fun on the road?

Mark: Charlie Roberts, our bass player doubles up as our full time stand up comic. You can’t hate anyone when he’s around

 Who’s the biggest prank-player in New City Kings and why?

Mark: Once an egg got smashed on someones head. The retaliation is not for this interview, and since then pranks have really slowed…

Ben: Definitely me… but I can’t tell you what they are as the others haven’t worked it out yet.

 What’s been your favourite show so far?

Mark: Probably when we had the chance to do a hometown show at an old club called Hooga. It was a crazy show! Im sure it wont take the top spot for long, the London shows get better and better each time we play there.

Ben: Our hometown show in Chelmsford, it went off that night, it was crazy, the reception and noise was amazing!

 Do any of you have really memorable gig-going memories?

Mark: I once saw Santana in Reno, but the highlight was an insanely good support called Robert Randolph - I love it when you get blown away by a brand new band you’ve never seen or heard of before.

Ben: Definitely when every single member from Robert Randolph and the family band, got up up and did a rotor of everyone playing each others instruments one by one, that was impressive!

 Your biggest disaster you have ever had at a festival?

Mark: Having our monitors go down and playing blind for the whole set. Still had a great show though, good to have a challenge now and again!

Ben: Walking on to the mainstage at Brownstock and playing the first chord to start off our show as a torrential downpour came along and shut down the stage and put an instant end to our set, and footpedals.

 Finally, Why should people come to watch New City Kings at Bestival? 

Mark: Because we’re new, lap-tapping, dual drum soloing, gang vocaling, guitar playing Brits

Ben: Come along and you will see why!

 

CHAMPS

Local Isle of Wight 3 piece Champs are one of the most exciting prospects the island has seen in many a year and that is definitely saying something.

 Already signed to indie giants Play it Again Sam, Champs are two thirds The Shutes and one third The Bees and all indie brilliance, already championed by the likes of Huw Stephens and Demot O’Leary, Champs are definitely here to stay. 

RUEN BROTHERS

People will be writing a lot about Ruen Brothers over the coming weeks and months. It may seem to some that they have appeared from out of the ether, the only warning a brief NME preview and a blog by former Rough Trade Records head honcho James Endeacott, who gushed, “There’s a new sound in town… the cats and the crazies are crawling the walls… It’s that time again… A band comes along and the core of the music business goes billy mental…”

It’s certainly been a wild two weeks for the boys from Scunthorpe.

In fact, the journey to the cusp of the big time has been a long and mercurial ride for brothers Henry (23) and Rupert (22). They’ve toured the bars of Britain out of a knackered old van, had more line-up changes than Queens Of The Stone Age and more costume changes than Bowie, but, from Chuck Berry-inspired pub act via a quick go at electronica, the brothers Ruen, (or Stansall to their postman) have finally found their stride.

An hour before Henry and Rupert (joined by drummer Charlie Hart and bassist Gary Cleaver) are due to take the stage at The Notting Hill Arts Club, there is an audible buzz in the air. The band, along with sound men, radio men, friends and fans, are cramped around a long table in a dimly-lit Thai restaurant. Zane Lowe has just played their single ‘Aces’ on his Radio One Show. Bassist Gary shakes his head over his Pad Thai in disbelief, “I might have to quit my job now!”

Later, after a few acoustic warm-up acts leave the stage, the Ruen Brothers are ready to go. Radio One’s Jason Carter takes to the stage and begins to pour out his love for them. He is interrupted by the sound engineer. Apparently the crowd need to move forward, as there’s a bottleneck of people craning and clamouring to get a glimpse of the stage. It’s a small club and for the next 20 minutes it gets very cosy indeed. It’s a situation Foo Fighters’ sound-man Miti Adhikari describes as “a feeding frenzy”. He’s not wrong.

The boys kick off with a cover of Charlie Rich’s 1960s classic ‘Lonely Weekends’. After that, they slip straight into their own work, belting out four brilliant originals in quick succession.

‘Walk Like A Man’ carries on in the same 60s rock’n’roll vein, with lead guitarist Rupert breaking into a harmonica/guitar solo.

‘Hold Me Tight’ and ‘Sunnyside Of Town’ follow, attempting to swirl together the best parts of Roy Orbison, Joy Division and The Beatles. Throughout, Charlie attacks the drums as though he has a blood-feud with the skins. There’s a heaviness to his drumming, reminiscent of the Arctic Monkeys’ Matt Helders.

This is undoubtedly the tightest band Henry and Rupert have found themselves in. Watching Ruen Brothers play is both retrograde and futuristic; sort of like Heartbeat, if it was directed by Michael Bay. Sort of.

 

PARLOUR FLAMES

Parlour Flames is a musical collaboration between former OASIS rhythm guitarist Bonehead [aka Paul Arthurs] and the Manchester based singer songwriter Vinny Peculiar [aka Alan Wilkes].

Since leaving OASIS in 1999 Boneheadhas worked on projects with Andy Rourke & Mike Joyce [The Smiths], he’s also toured with Thailand’s Sek Loso and spent a spell co- hosting the Manchester Music Show on BBC Radio Manchester. Bonehead played bass in Vinny’s band on a string of European shows in 2007 and guitar on the Vinny Peculiar album Other People Like Me [2011].

 

Vinny continues to write, record and perform as a solo artist, releasing records through his Shadrack & Duxbury label. Past collaborations include Luke Haines [the Auteurs] and Bill Drummond [KLF, SOUP ART, The 17]; former Smiths Mike Joyce, Andy Rourke & Craig Gannon were his band members at various times between 2004-2007. He has released nine albums of outsider pop music with a lyrical sensibility; he’s often likened to Jarvis Cocker or Neil Hannon.

 

‘Parlour Flames’ is the title of the debut album. Vinny and Bonehead have written and produced, playing guitars, basses, pianos and keyboards. Vinny sings and writes the lyrics. The record features Che Beresford [Badly Drawn Boy] on drums and percussion, Semay Woo on cellos, Anna Zweck [Samson & Delilah] on flute and backing vocals, Bob Marsh [Badly Drawn Boy, I Am Kloot] on trumpets & fugal horn. Ollie Collins [Cherry Ghost] played bass on a couple of tracks. The record was engineered by Dave Fyfe, and produced by Parlour Flames, it’s described as ‘an eclectic mix of guitar-based pop with a psychedelic twist, a folk-art-rock record, lyrically engaging and melodic’.

DOG IS DEAD

Nottingham 5 piece Dog is Dead have already taken their home town by storm and are well on their way to global domination with an army of fans that bands 10 years down the line would be envious of, let alone a band that’s only just released their debut long player.

Indie pop at its shiniest and most joyful, their sound is the perfect antidote to the cynical world of music that surrounds us, heart on sleeve lyrics and outrageously catchy pop hooks combine to ensure that these dogs have many days in front of them.