Wales have just been thumped out of sight, again, by France in the rugby, so I'm in a bit of a depressed mood. And I have to face a telephone interview. I don't like telephones much. Should be easier than face to face, but I' not convinced.
So anyway, travelling down the telephone line at speeds known to some and not to others, this is what was said when talking to Seratone, whose demo was in the last issue.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make out all the answers from the tape. I guess it became a competition of who could talk the quietest on the phone. I thought I'd win, but well ... So, some parts of the interview were finished by e-mail. Which meant it turned into a solo interview with Nicky. Look, just shut up now OK!! Mistakes happen. I'm human!
Seratone were a four piece band, now they're a three piece and a drum machine, although that may change soon. At the moment, Seratone consist of Gemma - Vocals, Nicky - Bass / Vocals, Chris - guitars. That's them below in the picture stolen shamelessly from their website, as are the rest of the images here.
First up is Nicky - bass and vocals, with a bit about the history of the band.
Right, we formed in June last year, with Stef, whose now left. It was four of us, and me, Chris and Gemma had been in a band about 3 years ago, which was called Martha's Vineyard. We had a drummer, but, y'know, him and the singer didn't really get on, so we ended up splitting up. Chris had been writing some stuff, so over the summer me and him got together and decided to start another band with Gemma.
We started gigging in July and did loads of gigs over the summer - we just wanted to do as many as possible and get in people's faces. But one thing we've learned it that it's better to give some gigs a miss. We played this one gig with a young death metal band who played mainly covers, including Korn covers, and Stef got the idea to wear his `Korn R Shit' t-shirt on stage (he liked antagonising people), which of course didn't go down very well with the band or their audience.
They were pretty pretentious anyway though, that's the downside of metal I reckon - all these kids going around thinking they're so hard and that anyone who doesn't like their kind of music is inferior, that's a load of crap cause people who like any type of alternative music should stick together, not fight amongst themselves. All this "I like heavier music than you so I'm harder than you" crap - does it really matter???
(Nope, it doesn't. Something that amuses me, and is becoming a dominating part of the interviews I do, is how more open-minded are people these days? How ready to accept the different sub-genres. How ready to accept UK bands. How ready to accept the old and new can mix. Different sub-genres can mix. You don't need to talk like you're from LA if you're from the UK. How individual are you really?
Basically, has anything REALLY changed in the last decade, or is it just the superficial face of music. Scratch below the surface, and all the old prejudices remain.
I think you should be openminded enough to give it all a shot, but, well, that's coming from someone who these days feels like a total outsider of the scene. Too old fashioned to be new metal. Too into new bands to be trad metal. Too metal to be punk, not KEEPING IT REAL enough to be hardcore. Too inept to dance and therefore be part of the techno industrio gonzoid scene. And too scared to wear make up. Sorry, I digress, lost it again there. Back to the interview.)
I'd not yet asked about the name, but Nicky jumps in ahead of that one anyway.
Um...actually there's not at lot I can say about this one, if I remember correctly then it's from a gland called Seratonin in the brain which controls whether you're happy or not
So, with Stef having left the band, who are things going to change, songwriting, and are there plans to replace him.
We're hoping to go ahead without replacing him really. Obviously there's some disadvantages, cos he had some cool melodies, but we're much more of a unit now and we get on really well. We're not stressed as we were known to have big arguments during sound checks. So personality wise it's a lot better. You can also hear all the instruments a lot clearer now, there's not anyone getting drowned out now. I know a lot of 3 piece bands that have a great sound, so I don't think that will be a problem.
Also, it looks like the guy who used to drum for us in Martha's Vineyard is going to join the band, so by summer we should have a permanent drummer for gigs. We've been `borrowing' a drummer from another local band for big gigs, and I've even managed to rope my boyfriend in to drum for us in London, but it's certainly time we replaced the drum machine for good.
As for the songs, Chris writes a lot of songs, Gemma's got shitloads of lyrics all the time, so we should be allright.
So do you think the actual sound will change, was Stef a major component of the sound?
He did write some good songs. Two of the songs on the demo were songs that he'd written, so what we'll have to do with those two is that Repetition we want to re-write, cos I don't think it's fair to use stuff he's written. I wouldn't be happy if I left a band and they did that. So he wrote good songs, but he only wrote three songs that we used.
There was one song with quite a lengthy bit at the end which I don't think we'll be able to do now, so the songs will be kept a bit more to the point I suppose.
On some of the songs on the demo, they're a bit punky, and there's always a guitar going in the background. But the list of influences the band cite seems to suggest room for more experimentation. Do you think that'll happen?
More experimentation? I don't know. We've been working on some new stuff today, which is quite mellow really, I don't know if it's more experimental.
There was talk of a chance to go down to London to do a showcase gig. Is that still going to happen?
Yep, we're going down to London for a gig on June 13th at the Fusilier & Firkin in Camden Town. It's a North East showcase organised by a local promotions company called Live Wired, and I think there's about 7 bands including us who will be playing. We're first on, around about 1pm probably (it's an all day thing). It should be fun, apart from the fact that London scares the shit out of me!!
And there's an album of Newcastle based bands being released soon, which will include a Seratone track. Any more details on that. Time for Nicky to return with the details.
Well, it's all going to be ready around mid-June, with showcases of the featured bands planned for throughout July at Newcastle Arts Centre's Black Swan venue. We'll probably be playing around mid-July when I come home from Leeds. It's a double CD featuring 37 bands, covering quite a wide variety of music, from rock and indie through to dance, funk and acoustic numbers.
There's a lot of decent bands in the North East, and hopefully this CD will help to promote the local scene, especially seeing as Sound City is in Newcastle this year. I worked on putting together the album with Pete Ferry, the guy who owns the company who are releasing it (and he's also the venue manager of the Newcastle Arts Centre venue), so I've heard all the tracks and there's certainly a wide variety of types of music - from rock and indie, to funk, dance and acoustic numbers. The artwork is looking really good aswell - there's going to be a 16 page colour booklet featuring band info and photos. As far as I know the album is only going to be sold in the North East, but many if it's successful (which of course it will be!) then something could be sorted out for wider distribution. Anyway, it's about time that people realised that there's more to the North East music scene than Kenickie, The Lighthouse Family and The Wildhearts!!
We'd definitely like to get something out on CD soon, but we haven't got the money, so we're going to be applying for a grant.
Returning to the demo, Nicky goes on to discuss some of the newest material that they've written. So new, it was written today. World exclusives or what!
We want to do a new demo, partly to redo the songs after Stef leaving, and partly cos we've written some new stuff which we really like. We've got a new acousticy one, which doesn't have any drums on it at all and that really shows off Gemmas voice, so we're really pleased with that one. It would be a real contrast as well.
While in Leeds a few weeks ago, I picked up the local free thing, which described the band as a Nirvana/Bush sounding band. Neither of which I heard in the demo.
Nicky laughs, I don't know where they got their information from. And Bush, I think Chris would probably be quite offended by that. I don't know how they got the connection, they obviously haven't heard us. It's funny when you get titles like that stuck on you really. That'll be interesting though to hear how people describe us though. Oh yeah, Chris is just saying him and Gemma did an interview last year and we were described as Minor Threat jamming with Elastica.
Ok, and finally, have you set any goals for yourselves for this year.
Something we're certainly like to do more of is support slots with known bands - we supported King Prawn last year which was cool cause we all admire the band, and we also got a last-minute support slot with Pitchshifter at Newcastle Riverside this month (May) which was a nice surprise! We hadn't played together as a band for 3 weeks beforehand (seeing as I study and live in Leeds most of the time) and one of the songs I only got to hear the day before, so it could quite easily have been a disaster. We were a bit worried that the crowd wouldn'tbe very open to a band they'd never heard before (I've seen plenty of support bands go down pretty badly at that venue before) but luckily we got a pretty good response - except for a few wankers who were heckling us after each song. Luckily we knew who they were, a death metal band who we've (mistakenly) played gigs with before who were obviously jealous that we got the support slot instead of their shitty band - ha ha!!