Sunday, 28 November 2010

YMC Backstage Interviews - Serious Sam Barrett

Yorkshire Music Collective went to the Higher Rhythm & Plugged In Yorkshire present Raw Talent live at The Cockpit on Friday. It was a brilliant night with 4 excellent acts and we managed to catch a few interviews too. The recorded interviews will be played on The Yorkshire Underground Band Show on Sunday 5th December.
Here's the one we did with Serious Sam Barrett:

YMC: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your musical background
Serious Sam Barrett: I started out playing mainly blues stuff and moved into country and lots of forms of traditional music and now I'm mainly trying to write my own stuff using those traditional styles as a starting point. That's where I'm at now, I've been playing properly for about 5 or 6 years.

YMC: When did you actually first start to play?

SSB: I've always played coz my Dad was a kind of folk singer and he got me into playing a lot so I've been playing guitar since I could get my arm round one.

YMC: I believe you've played in the States as well?

SSB: Yes, I've played in the States a few times but this year I went to do SXSW and did a few shows in Tenessee as well while I was out there. I played in Nashville which was cool

YMC: What was the audience reaction to your style of music over there?

SSB: It went great, I was kind of nervous about playing in Nashville obviously being like the home of country music its a real focal point for lots of different kinds of american traditional music so that was kind of nerve wracking but it went really really well

YMC: I suppose that it would be worrying playing the kind of music that's theirs?

SSB: I guess if they'd seen me play about 5 years ago it would have been more of a problem but nowadays I play a few traditional Yorkshire folk songs and stuff like that and I try to put into my music whats its about to be from here, so I guess I've got that different angle to them, so its a bit different to them, I'm not just going up there and singing American songs.

YMC: Where do you get your inspiration to write the songs, what do you mainly write about?

SSB: Heartbreak

YMC: As all good country songs!

SSB: Yeah, a recent one I wrote is a song about my Grandad, I've written songs about being from around here and what that means, but mainly heartbreak to be honest

YMC: Are you still playing quite a lot locally as well?

SSB: Yes, I try not to play Leeds too much but pretty much everywhere else. I play a lot in the north east, like Teeside and Tyneside and Liverpool as well

YMC: Do you find it easy to get gigs outside Yorkshire?

SSB: Yes I do nowadays but I guess I've been going a while now, its not like I'm a new band starting out, thats when its hardest, when nobody knows who you are obviously is kind of tough but nowadays its ticking over pretty nicely, its going pretty good.

YMC: Do you normally play in venues that specialise in acoustic music because sometimes its a bit difficult for acoustic players coz they get put on at the beginning of the night when people are still coming in, do you find that?

SSB: It varies a hell of a lot, I do lots and lots of different kinds of gigs, like I've always played
alongside punk bands in DIY shows where I'll play first and then there will be a metal band or a punk band or a hardcore band or whatever and I've always done that and I still do a lot of that and then I'll also play in folk clubs or country music clubs, or acoustic nights. I try and play for whoever and I get away with it as well luckily, they're all good for different reasons. Its nice to play to a really attentive acoustic audience and its nice to play for a bunch of rowdy punk dudes.

YMC: Thanks for talking to us.

SSB: Thanks

You can find out more about Sam on

Monday, 22 November 2010

Introducing...Arizona Bay

YMC chats to Rob and Rhys from Arizona Bay

YMC: How did the name come about ?

Rob: All of us are big fans of the late comedian Bill Hicks, particularly Rhys and I, so we decided to name ourselves after one of his albums. His ethos on life is something that’s always rung true with us and what we hope to achieve with this band. He was always outspoken against the mass consumerist culture of the time, which doesn’t differ too much from the culture and state in which we now find ourselves.

Rhys: We also liked the premise of ‘Arizona Bay’, that idea of an earthquake wiping out the epicentre of commerce and mainstream mediocrity, of something good coming out of what would generally be considered a disaster. That album has a large musical element anyway and has already influenced some of our favourite bands, such as Tool, so we felt its themes were something we could totally get behind and hopefully reflect in our desire to make music which has its own voice and is made for ourselves, rather than the current ‘X-Factor’ trend of churning out a ‘product’ merely to make a quick buck.

Rob: It also has had the added benefit of making people think and talk about the name and what it means, which is something that’s always been important to us in the bands we love.

YMC: How many are in the band, where did you all meet?

Rob: The band consists of myself on drums, Rhys on vocals, Sam Wood on lead guitar and Oli Tsakonas on bass. We all met at Leeds Music College whilst studying music. Sam, Rhys and I have been friends since we all started at LCM, and share fairly similar music tastes, so it was inevitable we’d get together eventually.

Rhys: Sam and I had played in a blues band together before, pretty much straight after arriving in Leeds three years ago. That band quickly broke up and it wasn’t until last year that we decided to try and do something else together, with Rob. That’s when we found and auditioned Oli.

Rob: He was the first and only bass player we auditioned and fits in really well with the sound we were going for.

YMC: Who writes the songs?

Rhys: I tend to get the bare bones of songs together on my own and then bring them out for the rest of the guys to flesh out. I generally have a vague idea of where a song should end up but it’s a really collaborative working process that hopefully means we’re each putting our own stamp on each song as well as creating some sort of ‘sound’ that characterises the band.

Rob: Rhys has the most songwriting experience but we are now starting to be a far more collaborative force. I wrote the last song on our EP and we’ve now started working on material together far more than we have done in the past.

Rhys: Yeah, when the band started I already had a backlog of songs and ideas that we were able to roll with. Now we’re working a lot more on completely new material which gives everyone greater scope to contribute.

YMC: Who are your main influences?

Rob: We all come from vaguely similar musical backgrounds and therefore share a common thread with certain influences, mostly 60s and 70s bands: Sabbath, Zeppelin, The Who, The Stones, etc.

Rhys: We obviously each have our own defining influences too though, for instance a lot of my songwriting influences are people like Neil Young, Tom Waits, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan.

Rob: Yeah, we each have our individual heroes. For me it’s Bill Ward, Vinnie Appice, John Bonham and Matt Cameron.

Rhys: Cameron’s a pretty important one given what we’re trying to do and his involvement with the 90s Seattle scene. Despite our eclectic influences I think the most prevalent are the 90s bands that we’re into. Bands like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Screaming Trees...they all still sound relevant today and are far more in tune with the mission-statement of this band. That energy and intensity is something that we hope to convey in this band too.

YMC: You're all from different parts of the UK, how does the Leeds music scene differ to where you are from?

Rob: I think Leeds is a great place to be if you’re a musician. I’m from Durham and there wasn’t really much of a scene there, so to have a city with a scene that is really geared towards all different types of live music and supporting unsigned bands is just brilliant.

Rhys: Yeah, I’m from Wales and there is a very vibrant scene there but it’s so spread out it’s really hard for new bands to really make a name for themselves. With the centre of Leeds having so many venues and promoters working it’s a lot easier for a band to establish themselves within the scene and build a fanbase provided you’re willing to work hard. It’s certainly something we’re constantly working on.

YMC: You are about to release your first EP (although with 8 tracks it could almost be considered an album), was it easy to decide which tracks to put on it? Tell us a bit about the recording process.

Rhys: The EP is really a collection of all the original material we were playing live at the time, and we decided that it would be best to record material which we’d been honing live for the past 6 months. In that way, it encapsulates the very early stages of the band forming its sound through all the songs we wrote together in the initial months we were together.

Rob: We recorded it with a couple of friends of ours, Tom Bramley and Simon Green, who we met through college. Tom really had a big hand in the mixing process and shaping of the record’s sound, and because we knew the material back to front we were really able to focus on just getting the best performance possible down.

YMC: You are now starting a mini tour, do you have plans to do a large tour at some stage?

Rob: Yeah, we’d love to. We’re hoping to begin organising something for next year as soon as we get through these current dates. This time we’re mainly focusing on The North and hitting venues in Leeds, Bolton and Liverpool amongst others, so we’d really like to expand on that and play a bit further afield next time.

Rhys: We’re predominantly a live band, and we feel like the only way to really grow as a band and build your fanbase is to play live, so we intend to do just that, as much as possible.

Find out more on

Monday, 8 November 2010


Penguin are releasing their EP "This Is Believing" today through Dead Sober Records. YMC caught up with the inseparable threesome and decided to split them up and ask them the same questions, here's what they have to say.

YMC: Tell us something about the band,  Penguin, how did you meet, how long have you been playing together?

Matt: Danny and Joel have always known each other since an early age. I first met Joel in high school, then went through a couple of bands together until Danny opted in as bass player. We've been playing together for around 4 years now, only really starting to write our own material within the last couple of years.

Danny: I have known Joel for as long as I can remember (since crèche when I was about 2 years old). We were always involved in music in primary school and in high school. When Cornish moved over here, he and Joel were in a band together; at around this time I started playing bass guitar. After about 6 months we decided to start a band to play a showcase of music at our school which was called Hemstock. The day before the show we had our first practice and threw together some covers that we all knew. Hemstock was our first gig, it was in 2006 and we have been together ever since. In 2008 we won a competition at the loft in Castleford and that's when our now manager and Joel's cousin took an interest in us. Since then he has been getting us gigs and I think its safe to say that we wouldn't be doing even nearly as well as we are without his help, he brought us onto the music scene something which was new to all of us, even Mark, and he's been helping us ever since.

Joel: Me and Danny have known each other since we were toddlers and grown up together. Matt moved to Yorkshire about 6 -7ish years ago. We've been together as a band for roughly 4 years

YMC: How did the name come about, have Penguin-the people that sell books threatened legal action yet?

Danny: Before our début appearance at Hemstock we decided we needed to come up with a name. This involved a number of group brain storms in lessons, mainly English and French when there wasn't anything better to do. We came up with a multitude of ridiculous names such as Big Oily Men and Aquatic Giraffes to name just a few. We 
finally agreed on the name Drunken Penguins and we used this name until early last year. We decided to change our name for a couple of reasons. Firstly we felt we had outgrown it, we had changed our style and we felt a name change was well over due, and secondly we were turned down gigs because apparently our name made ties with underage binge drinking and no Penguin the publishers haven't threatened legal actions just yet, lets hope it stays that way.

Joel: No lawsuit threats as of yet! We were originally called Drunken Penguins, but we changed it to sound less childish.

Matt: Not yet! but if Danny keeps wearing his Penguin brand clothing we might have another lawsuit on our hands! It came around when we were all bored in class and the band started out being called Drunken Penguins, but later on promoters started to question whether the name was intended to promote teenage binge drinking, so we dropped the drunken and 's'.

YMC:  How would you describe your music, using more than 15 words?

Joel: We always find it difficult to put a name to our music, it doesn't really fall into any specfic genre. I suppose it's like.. alternative powerpop?

Matt: *sigh* this is always the toughest question. Usually it's a case of less than 5 words or in 1! We tend to describe it differently between ourselves, but I always come back to the very broad term 'alternative'.

Danny: We write music that we like, taking influences from anything and everything that we listen to. We try to make our songs as interesting as possible and we like to challenge ourselves. I would probably describe our music as alternative rock which is probably a bit of vague description but we have been described as "power pop" and "emo", the latter of which I don't really agree with.

YMC: Who mainly writes the songs?

Danny: We mostly write as a group, someone will bring an idea to a practice and we will go from there. However Cornish early on earned the nick name "Harmony Man" as he does write a lot of the vocal harmonies. Joel is defintely the most critical which can be irritating but it always works out for the best so its probably a good thing.

Matt: All of us write, whether that's separately or together we all contribute. Lately Danny has become a virtuoso on acoustic guitar, so I'm beginning to get quite worried about where my duties are in the band!

Joel: All of us.

YMC:  Whose the best dancer drunk, whose the best dancer sober?

Joel: Peewee can do the worm, with or without alcohol, so I think he wins both hands down.

Matt: Joel is definitely the best dancer sober, he can swing his hips like a motown legend! but if you give Danny enough to drink, he'll end up break dancing! his best move is 'the worm', no joke.

Dan: I don't know about best but Joel's probably the most entertaining from a spectators point of view, especially when he has had a few too many. As for the best sober dancer, that would have to be Cornish, the man can throw out some pretty mean shapes when he wants to. I would probably compare him to a young Beyonce crossed with an overly enthusiastic gangsta rapper "kicking it old school style".

YMC: Tell us something interesting about the artwork- writing-recording process of the songs on the new Dead Sober Records release EP-"This Is Believing"

Dan: We recorded the tracks at different places with different people. The first and third tracks we recorded in a studio in an industrial estate at the other side of Wakefield. It was a great studio and the guy we worked with was fantastic. The second and last tracks we recorded with Mike Heaton at his mums house in Heckmondwike which was a great day, Mike's an ace bloke and he's been helping us out for a while and we were all really happy with the final result.

Joel: Matt's girlfriend drew the album artwork, she's a really good artist!

Matt: This ep is really just two separate recording sessions thrown together so that we can start to get our music out to a wider audience. there was no definitive plan on writing or recording, because we are all so busy and commit 50% of our lives to the band and another 50% on whatever else we're doing. The artwork was a rough sketch my girlfriend drew out about 2 years ago, she's a fantastic artist and is so supportive in
everything the band does.

YMC: Who were your main influences growing up, who are your main influences now?

Matt: Growing up I only really started listening to music at the age of around 12. linkin park was my first favourite band, but I distinctively remember my dad showing me 'Stairway to Heaven' by Led Zeppelin around that age. I found myself really getting into american punk and loving bands such as Green Day & the Dead Kennedys, but i've also always had a love for film scores and soundtracks for film. Right now I could give an endless list for my influences, but the band's main influences really depend on who's writing the material as we're all so different in our tastes.

Joel: I grew up listening to everything from Zeppelin and Floyd to Bob Marley and UB40. When I was learning drums I took a lot from Travis Barker and Dave Grohl, the Foo's have influenced all 3 of us pretty heavily. We listened to a lot of bands like Biffy Clyro and Twin Atlantic while we were tying to find our sound, that style of musicianship and songwriting was something we all really respected and took influence from.
Dan: When I was younger my favourite band was "The Red Hot Chili Peppers" who's bassist inspired me to take up the instrument. I went to see them on there 'Stadium Arcadium' tour which was my first real live music experience. I was also introduced, at quite a young age, to Led Zeppelin by my big brother Joe which defiantly encouraged my love of rock music. I still love these bands and flea still blows me away. Influences now include Foo Fighters, Biffy Clyro, Twin Atlantic and more recently Manchester Orchestra and Queens of the Stone Age. I think we could probably all agree on these bands but we each have our own guilty pleasures, in my case Take That and Mcfly.

YMC:  You played the BBC Introducing stage at Leeds & Reading this year, that's a big gig for a young band, did any of you, throw up before, during or after?

Joel: Amazingly, I managed to boycott any vomit for the entire weekend, which is a first at Leeds for me.

Dan: We didn't throw up before but I was actually shaking at the prospect of playing what was, and still is, our biggest gig to date. As for during that would have been both very funny and kind of disgusting but no. I manage to hold off vomit until sometime in the early hours of Sunday morning, this was probably due to a combination of raving and drinking a little to much.

Matt: Throw up? that's a very straight forward question! We were all shaking beforehand, even Joel who "never  get's nervous".

YMC:  Rumour has it Melvyn Benn himself, flew up from Reading Festival to the Leeds Festival site to catch your live set, are you still in touch?

Matt: Well, after the summer I imagine that he has a lot of preparation to do for next year's festival season. We haven't been in touch because there hasn't been any reason to, although we will keep him up-to-date with everything we're doing.

Joel: I think our manager's been in touch with him since the festivals yeah.

Dan: Yeah, so we have been told which was quite an honour. We got chance to speak to him after at Leeds and we even bumped into him down at Reading, his presence there was due to the infamous Axel Rose I think. We haven't spoke to him since as far as I am aware but it would be nice to hear from him again, maybe about Leeds 2011.

YMC: What were the best moments/bands you saw at Leeds. What were the best moments/bands you saw at Reading

Dan: We didn't really stay in Reading for long but the highlight for me was probably a band called Soul Circus who we played with on the BBC Introducing stage. They were a fantastic band and we got to see them twice. At Leeds my highlights were Pulled Apart by Horses, who were absolutely awesome, watching Biffy Clyro from the side of the main stage and actually meeting Simon Neil! All thanks to a guy from Scream Promotions called Tony Cook, Legend!

Matt: I don't want to get myself stressed about slots given to performers who couldn't deliver in my opinion, but the list could go on for amazing talent at that festival! Pulled Apart by Horses were absolutely mind-blowing! but then the best moment for us was watching Biffy Clyro from the side of the main stage at Leeds, that was truly other-worldy. 

Joel: We didn't really catch much music at Reading, although Watchmen were pretty cool. Watching Biffy from the side of the main stage did it for me, and when we met Simon.

YMC:  Where would you hope to  see yourselves in one year's time?

Joel: In an ideal world, touring with a debut album, but we can all dream.

Dan: Well still gigging for a start, maybe with some big support slots. We have played with some great bands recently and hopefully we can keep doing so. I'd love to get some more of our tracks recorded and we will just keep practicing and writing.

Matt: I'd hope for more songs to be honest, I'm trying to manage my time so that writing is a possibility but it's proving hard so far. At the moment we have at least one gig every week, and that is something I would like to continue doing.

YMC:  You have enough songs in your live set, for an album, is that part of the long term planning, can we expect a Penguin album in 2011 possibly?

Matt: It depends on what you'd call an album now. Artists have began more and more to write what are considered 'concept albums', and not just a bunch of songs thrown together to make a cd. I think if I ever got the opportunity to make an album, I'd have to put my heart and soul into all aspects of it.

Dan: All being well yes. It's something we'd all love to do and if the opportunity presents its self to us I think we'd be silly to turn it down. So fingers crossed.

Joel: you never know..

YMC: Do you blog?

Dan: I don't at the minute as I'm not really sure how it works. It has been explained to me but I'm not great with computers. I think I'm going to have to make the effort to figure it out and I think Mark, our manager would rather it be sooner than later.

Joel: Matt does..

Matt: Yes we do! ... - it will begin to get updated more often when I find the time!

YMC: Please list your top 3 fav social networking pages separate to your own, please list your own top 3 social networking pages.

Matt: <> . This is the only site I can think of separate to ours. It is a fantastic way for bands on the road to keep fans up-to-date with verything that's going on during a tour or studio session.

YMC: Finally if a venue - promoter wants to book Penguin, how do they go about it?

Dan: Well they can get in touch with us on Myspace or get in touch with are manager Mark Small at

Joel: They can call our manager Mark Small on 07841 373195 or email him at