Friday 4 October 2019

Mike Herrera Podcast...this week done in Manchester

Just following on from last week, here's a link to Mike's podcast. You can listen to it on here or click the little down arrow in the Square to download.

Cool podcast worth a listen:


Monday 30 September 2019

Mike Herrera: Songs and Stories - The DanceHouse Manchester

OK be prepared for full on fanboy mode...

Fanboy Background 
MxPx, a huge influence on my punk fandom, so much so it obviously created my username and blog sign off name. I was originally introduced to MxPx Doin' Time in the late 90's by my best friend (and fellow sometimes blogger) Richard.

We started our early teens heavily into music 80% of the time was Green Day, Blink-182, Mest, MxPx, Millencolin, Goldfinger, New Found Glory, Anti-Flag, Offspring, Stiff Little Fingers...heck the list goes on! But there are a few bands that top the list, forever in our playlists and often start most our nights out or long car rides to gigs, especially... MxPx - Punk Rawk Show and Doin' Time, was perfect for our early teen rebellions.

We've seen so many of those bands countless times at festivals and gigs but over the years I've continued to support Mest and MxPx via cd, mp3, sharing and recently crowdfunding, fully expecting them to just be bands of Nostalgia and bands i only ever get to listen via some form of media. 
Last year we met Tony Lovato and saw Mest in the UK, ticking off all but 1 of those original teen influence bands. It was amazing to stand a talk with Tony, humbling and awesome... leaving 1 more person/band.

MxPx have always been there, never been able to get to see them live. During the crowdfunding of the self title MxPx last year I so wished to be able to pay for the personal appearance reward... if i didn't have a house and commitments I truly would have, but this is real life, I messaged MxPx, PxPx and Mike directly to get the band to tour the UK! Heck I scowered US and Canada gigs to see if I could get to them to coincide with some of the trips I already had out there.

I had given the hope of seeing, let alone, meeting MxPx/Mike.

Fast forward, Fireball 2019
Less Than Jake and Goldfinger billed at the Ritz Manchester, I want to go, but realistically I saw LTJ in august and Goldfinger a few years back. Money was low, my best mate was days away from his 2nd child and I was reside to not going alone..... until I saw that Mike was actually bassist for Goldfinger now!! Not only that, he was bringing is Songs and Stories gig to the UK 1x ticket, Booked to fireball.

I also got ready at 9am for the Songs and Stories sales release... boom, tickets 1 and 2 we're mine :D (just needed a buddy, to go with or id go alone to be honest)
Fireball... going alone, awesome bands and if i get to at least see Mike that's going to be cool enough.I go alone, enjoy the fucking awesomeness of GF and  LTJ. 2 songs from the end of Goldfingers set Mike says we'll be at the Merch stand after this... I've already bought a GF shirt 30mins ago but fuck I head over to that stand immediately... Ha, sweaty and happy I met Mike!  (See last week's blog)

Fast forward 6 days;
Mike Herrera Songs and Stories 

It was a very intimate acoustic gig, maybe 150 people, we're sat front row (at this point it took my Mother with me - long story which will become clear soon - shes a music lover but new to Mike Herrera, although had listened to my punk collections for 20+ years). 

Listening to just Mike, his guitar and some amazing stories - from the influences of old songs to new songs, from drinking tequila and eating Taco Bell, to being told his daughter loves him 'All of it'. 

I was not sure if this was going to be twee or awkward, I just didn't know what to expect. It was neither of that, Mike was a true performer, either on stage with 10 other people with a crowd full of rowdy punk rockers or alone onstage with a handful of fans - He knows how to create a great time. Major Respect.

The Stories were Topical, Relevant, Recent (eg saving 2 people from drowning in the canal in Manchester) and what really got me was the Mental Health, the struggles we all go through - and Mikes recognition of this... more over by doing a beautiful rendition of Millencolin's No Cigar (I think I fell in love with this)
[I didnt record much, but this as so worth it - Apologies I did this in vertical for Instagram story- though the horizontal ones will remain private anyway]

Also got a cool snippet of Doin' Time and Lets Ride, but those are both for my Buddies would couldn't be here due to New Family arrivals!!

I don't want to go too much into the show because I think you should experience this yourself, either as MxPx fans, Mike Herrera Fans, or just genuine Music Lovers. There is still time to catch the London Gig or I'm sure this will be available in some other form of media in the future.

The best part is Mike's love of the fans, to get out there and publised his meeting spots/time - without charging 'meet and greets' bullshit.

(More over he did something extremely special I'll post a little later on socials and then re-share here later )

Overall - 10/10
Excellent mix of well delivered stories & Perfect performance and vocals!

Favourites (if I had to)

Lets Ride - Reminds me of my time in the Rockies earlier this year
Doin Time - All Time Favourite of mine
No Cigar - Just wow, the story and influence on Mike, it really hit home.

[My Mum's] Late Again, she relates to never being on time (In fairness she was ready at 6pm exactly so shes got better now x)

Cheers Mike, hope to see you and the rest of MxPx real soon.

For Now, Mx

Thursday 26 September 2019

An American Werewolf in Manchester - Ice Nine Kills

Funny how things work out, isn't it? One day, on a long car trip, probably to some dam on some lake near snake pass in the peak district, the wife and I had some random metal Spotify playlist on. One random track on this random playlist came from a band called Ice Nine Kills. After a little chuckle at how random the name of the band playing this random song from the random playlist was, we listened to the song. "The American Nightmare" was the song, and good lord, it kicked ass!

After a few days, we listened to this band again, this time they were singing a ridiculously catchy song about Crystal Lake. "Isn't that where Jason Vorhees killed a bunch of teenagers?" One of us asked the other.

After a few more days and weeks, we found ourselves getting obsessed with this album from Ice Nine Kills. "The Silver Scream" is the band's fifth album, and every song on the (heavy as fuck) album is inspired by a different horror film. Fantastic!!! 

After a little look on Google, we found out that Ice Nine is a chemical compound from a sci-fi novel, that when a single drop touches water, it turns it to ice. Ice Nine, does indeed, Kill. But, more importantly, on this Google search we discovered that Ice Nine Kills were playing very soon, very close. We obviously bought tickets. Funny how things work out, isn't it?

That gig was on Wednesday. In Manchester's Club Academy. The support came from a lively bunch of young lads from Yorkshire called Values, they were endearing and engaging and heavy enough to warm this already sweltering room up for the main event.

Before the band came on, the usual backing track of AC\DC and Rage songs were replaced by orchestral horror movie scores. That was until the crowd unexpectedly broke into a tuneful rendition of "that" Smash Mouth song. Not sure why, but it was wonderful.

The band burst on a stage decorated with red balloons and chainsaws and pounded into that very song we fell in love with, "The American Nightmare" was every bit as bad-ass live as it was that first time we heard it. Every member of the band wearing a costume inspired by the songs from the album. Singer Spencer Charnas conducting the crowd with a series of masks and props, and his unsettling body language cut the figure of the very slasher villains he was singing about.

The whole gig was a balls to the wall metal fest and a celebration of all things horror, a great way to get everyone in the mood for Halloween next month.

Notable highlights from the set were, Texas Chainsaw Massacre inspired 'Savages' which had the whole room jumping and moshing and singing along, and the song they closed with, inspired by Pennywise the Dancing Clown 'IT is The End', which had the frontman, donned in a creepy clown mask ensuring the basement venue that "We all float down here".

It's been ages since I had so much fun! This is a great band and certainly one to keep an eye out for, especially if you're into this new generation of Metalcore bands. For fans of While She Sleeps, In Flames and the mighty Parkway Drive, these guys make a lot of noise, and are doing something a bit different. It's unique, it's fun, it's clever and I reckon it's just the beginning of the golden age of the Silver Scream.

Tuesday 24 September 2019

Fireball 2019! Goldfinger & Less Than Jake

This was my first actual gig I've been to alone, I've seen bands by myself at festivals, but never  full gig alone... why haven't I done this before? IT WAS AMAZING.

Having seen Less Than Jake at Slamdunk and Goldfinger not long back, as well as trying to save money I almost gave this a miss. Then I saw Mike Herrera was playing on bass and he also announced an acoustic gig at the Dancehouse... Well I couldn't say no, ticket bought and it was worth it. Not managed to see MxPx live, despite the huge influence Doin Time and Punk Rawk Show has had on my life, so I needed to get there. 

I mean Punk, ska, LTJ, Goldfinger at the Ritz with a little bit of MxPx touch. There. There. There! It was everything you expect and more, and finally got to hear Rest Of My Life live! Amazing.

I'm going to sign off now but expect more next week


Saturday 21 September 2019

Crazy week in the Punk Genre

How amazing is this week! Blink-182 dropped their Latest Album NINE. Green Day announcement for Single, album and world tour with none other than Fall Out Boy and Weezer. We have Goldfinger and Less Than Jake playing the UK this week... and fuck! Mike Harrera is going an intimate gig too. I've said it before that MxPx are the last in my bucket list of Punk legends I really need to see, and whilst it's not The full set up, I'm so buzzin about Mike!!
I never expected to see Mest, ever, after 15 years they turned up at little old Town Bolton, UK. And even more so meeting and chatting with Tony for a few hours showed how humble and gracious he was.
And definitely never anticipated on seeing MXPX anytime soon... So much so I'm going alone just to see them.

We've seen Millencolin, last year was Less Than Jake for the first time. All this on top of previous idols such as Billie, Tre and Mike! Blink 182 a few years ago, Matt Skiba too!! Antiflag last year (twice). Stiff little fingers (every year they tour).
Amongst a raft of up and coming new Punk stars (False Heads and so on).

But honestly MxPx and Mike are the final one my list, to sit and have a pint with, shake the hand of the guy that set out my music path. Doin Time and Punk Rock Show and the pinnacle tracks of all great playlist.

Major stoked for Monday and Sunday this week! Mx

Saturday 10 August 2019

Slipknot - We Are Not Your Kind

So, how do I define Slipknot? It seems so easy, yet so difficult.

In 2001 I went to see Slipknot, in the TurbinenHalle in Oberhausen, Germany. My Mum drove me and my mate to the gig, in a dark warehouse of a venue. Ozzfest never came to Germany, so we had a sort of "best of". Amen, Mudvayne and Static-X supported Slipknot, who, at the time had only 1 major label release. If I were to define them in 2001, they were an angry, scary group of kids dressed as horror movie serial killers, worshipping Satan, and making a lot of noise. They playfully jumped around the crowded stage, tossing goats heads, pissing themselves, jumping into the crowd, and kicking over drinks at the bar. It was brilliant!

A few months after the gig, I lined up at my local record store on a sunny August morning to get their second album, Iowa. It changed my life! These 9 heroes had somehow managed to make their heavy, scary sound even heavier and scarier.

The following year I went to see Slipknot again, this time in Essen, Germany. This time with 5 friends! This time there were fireworks, a drum kit that span upside down, the new masks looked all professional and they sounded unreal! Against all odds, these 9 weirdos in masks were starting to catch on.

Now, fast forward to June 2019. Somehow I find myself standing in front of a huge stage, once again, waiting for Slipknot to come on and rip a layer of skin off my face. They are now headlining the biggest metal festival on earth. I look to my left and see a kid on his Dad's shoulders with the dreadlocked ghost mask I remember seeing at that sweaty hall in Germany. Slipknot have come so far in 2 decades. They are huge, they are important, they are mainstream, and guess what, maggots, They Are Back!

Their new record came out yesterday. It almost picks up where Iowa left off.

I don't want to take anything away from the albums between Iowa and We Are Not Your Kind. After all, their 3rd album gave use Duality, Slipknot's 'Enter Sandman', their big hit, their dancefloor filler. All Hope Has Gone gave us the epic 'Snuff' along with it's chilling video. The Grey Chapter was also a wicked album, paying tribute to Slipknot's fallen brother, Paul Grey. None of them quite managed to grab me the way Iowa did, though.

The new album did grab me, but instead of grabbing me by the heart, it grabbed me by the balls, and it hurt! I will admit, the first time I listened, I didn't quite get it. I didn't like it!
I also didn't like Corey Taylor's new mask when I saw it. Which is kind of the point. In 2001 I was finding my feet musically. I was rebelling against the norm. I was doing things I shouldn't because people didn't like it. I was different. I still am, but now I am one of those grown ups I was rebelling against. The feeling of uncomfort I had listening to this new album, was the feeling of uncomfort I was trying to personify back then. Once I figured that out, I was ready, I am back in the mindframe of that 17 year old, and I am ready to have some fun. Isn't music amazing?

So, yeah, the album. We Are Not Your Kind (the title taken from lyrics from All Out Life which came out earlier this year, which, weirdly, isn't on this album) is Slipknot's sixth album. The album is built from the ashes of band conflict, departed members and tragedy, but I'm not here to talk about that, Google it if you want. I'm here to talk about the music, and this record certainly delivers on that front.

Track 1, Insert Coin: Slipknot's albums tend to begin with atmospheric, instrumental, weird intros, and that's what this is. It's a build to something sinister. "I'm counting all the killers" are the only lyrics before we burst into Track 2.
Unsainted was released a few months ago. It became an instant hit. It introduced the new masks, it built the hype for this latest incarnation of Slipknot. A heavy bastard of a song with the catchiest chorus since Duality. Over 4 million YouTube hits in its first day! By the time I saw Slipknot at Download, I had listened to this song so much it felt like an old song. It's ace! Go listen to it! It's the new dancefloor one. It may very well be Slipknot's best!

Track 3, Birth Of The Cruel was released a few days ago. Can a song be deceptively heavy? Because this is! It's slower, it begins with clean vocals, but by the end, it's aggressive and destructive. We are off to a great start!

Death Because Of Death is track 4, and with its 1:20 run time, it serves as an interlude. Chanted lyrics set to a monotonous drum pattern breaks the album up slightly before the next act beings.

Track 5 and this is what I am talking about!!! Nero Forte is a beast! It's my track of the album! It's so familiarly Slipknot, fast, growly, painful verses! The chorus is something brand new though, a high pitched angelic line followed by an aggressive growling hook. Insane military drumming, chunky power riffs and lyrics that basically scream Fuck You! This is what I wanted! "You can do your worst to me, at the end of the day that's what you do best".

Critical Darling is up next. This is very much a paint by numbers Slipknot song. The big verses are loud and fast, the chorus is catchy, and the whole thing builds to a pumping final burst. You know what you're getting with this, and it's so simple to see why today's metal bands have really followed the flow set by Slipknot. This will be loved by the old faithful!

If Critical Darling is the typical Slipknot song, Track 7 is something totally different. Broody and moody, A Liar's Funeral is deep and depressing and very experimental for a band who have definitely settled on a sound.

Red Flag follows, and we are back to normal. The lyrics, again, take centre stage, but the distinctive guitars supplement them perfectly while the drums will give your heart a good work out. This is heavy! Proper heavy! One for the gym, but nothing special.

Track 9, What's Next is our second interlude. It serves as a mini intro for Spiders. Almost childlike piano keys sound like they are straight from a horror film. I'll admit I didn't like Spiders at first. It's weird, it's not what I wanted to hear, it's almost a pop song. I found myself listening to it again and again. It's good fun! My wife told me I don't like change, she is right. Change is good. I'm gonna end up listening to this the most!

Track 11 already? Now this song, Orphan, sounds like it was ripped straight from Iowa! It's brutal, it's certainly Slipknot! The machine gun drums and screechy guitars are so familiar, and once again, a funky chorus that will bleed its way into your brain, before a screamed "I am the Orphan, The one who kills your world" bridges us back to the quick verses.

I wouldn't recommend listening to the next track alone in the dark. My Pain is scary as shit. A low hum is followed by a rhythmical chiming, before the lyrics creep in to freak you out. This is straight from the head of that psychotic Clown, M. Shawn Crahan. It's fucked!

Track 13 slowly builds up afterwards. Not Long For This World, features the clean vocals we have grown to love from Corey Taylor's other band Stone Sour, however, this is still a Slipknot song, and it's the atmosphere that makes it feel that way. 
A band that have 9 members have the tool
s to do things differently. The 3 drummers are so prominently featured throughout this whole album, Jay Weinberg sits behind the main drum kit, while the Clown and the mysterious new anonymous member clamber all over their custom designed kit of barrels and bass drums, while providing backing vocals for lead vocalist Corey Taylor. The duo of guitarists, Mick Thompson and Jim Root keep the whole thing sounding rhythmical and distinctive. But the atmosphere is what sets this band apart from other bands and that is provided by bassist V-Man, and the 2 DJs Craig Jones and Sid Wilson (who's new mask is SICK).

It all comes together for the final track, and the 3rd track I had heard before the album had come out. Solway Firth isn't the full stop at the end of an essay, it's the middle finger at the end of the rant. If the album serves as an angry outburst, this song is the punch in the face! It's toe curlingly heavy, and it's an assault on all your senses.

So I didn't like it at first. I don't think I was supposed to. This isn't music to make you feel good. This isn't a Christmas album by Michael Bublé. This is Slipknot. These are the bad guys. They want you to feel uncomfortable. They want you to feel their pain. They want to drag you through the dirt. They want you to accept what they are, and in turn accept who you are. They want to be there with you, every step of the way. We are in this together. We are not normal, we are not all the same, we are not afraid of change, we are not afraid of anything, We Are Not Your Kind.

So, how I define Slipknot?
Simple, I don't! Slipknot define me!

Thursday 8 August 2019


In these times of MySpace, Instagram, Twitter and Faceparty, it is almost impossible to remain elusive. We know everything about our celebrities. We know about Corey Taylor's testicles, Noel Gallagher's feelings towards Scotland, and Kanye West's… well everything. This makes Tool seem rather unique. We know exactly how much they want us to know, which isn't much.

So, without taking selfies on private jets, bringing out a set of Pop Vinyl figures or even appearing in their own music videos, how have Tool publicised themselves enough to headline major festivals? The answer is so simple. Tool fucking rock!

Last week Tool finally released their back catalogue onto streaming sites. Before now, the only legal way to listen to Tool would be to buy a record. Don't get me wrong, the best way to listen to Tool is playing one of their 4 stellar albums from front to back, but to have them on Spotify, to be able to add their tracks to playlists, or listen to them in the gym, is such a cool thing!

This may also open up Tool to an entirely new fanbase. The casual metal fan who never really got them, or the younger listener who has never bought a CD or even seen a cassette tape. For those people, I have put together a "best of" playlist of Tool songs. However, I don't want you to listen to it. Tool aren't a casual band that you put on in the background, or just listen to a couple of tunes while waiting for your bus. You listen to Tool and that is what you do. You turn the lights off, you play the album from start to finish, and you get lost in the music.

If the music finally being streamable isn't enough. Tool have also released the title track for their new album 'Fear Inoculim', their first studio recorded release in 13 years!

The almost 11 minute song begins hauntingly and atmospherically, until the psychedelic instruments join the track one by one. Danny Carey's drums, as with many Tool songs, take centre stage, the unpredictable time patterns confuse and unsettle you. That is until Maynard James Keenan's distinctive, liquid soft vocals calm the mood. Guitarist Adam Jones keeps the rhythm and leads the ever changing sound, while Bassist Justin Chancellor keeps the whole thing sounding very familiar. This is a Tool song, this is what we are used to, yet it is brand new. It's precisely what we needed to hear, and exactly what the band want us to hear.

I saw Tool for a second time at Download Festival this summer, and once again they mesmerized the crowd. They do everything so differently. There is no focus on the musicians, Maynard doesn't even have a spotlight on him, instead choosing to stand at the back of the stage, often not even facing the crowd. In Tool Maynard isn't a front man, he is merely another instrument. Tool don't post their tea on social media. I've never seen a single gym selfie of Danny Carey, and to be able to move about the drum kit the way he does, just 2 years away from being 60, he must have an intense gym regime. No, Tool aren't the social type, choosing to put graphics and videos on the stage screens rather than themselves, but when they sound the way they sound, the music completely speaks for itself.

The album, Fear Inoculum is out at the end of the month. Before it drops, I insist you go listen to Ænima and Lateralus from start to finish, just to get yourself prepared. Once you do, you will almost certainly want to listen to Opiate and 10,000 Days from start to finish too. Then, maybe, just maybe, you will be ready for Fear Inoculum. I know what to expect, any Tool fan knows what's coming, and at the same time we have no idea what to expect. It's all very clever!

Fuck it all! Tool are back!

Friday 24 May 2019

Weekend Debt - Living Under the Influence EP & Launch Party

Ahh I can talk for days so I've broken this into parts incase you want to skip sections... the EP, the journey, the gossip and the gig. I'm writing this tired and won't get chance to this weekend as were at Slamdunk Festival and I'll be worse after that, so apologies for mistakes!

Living Under The Influence EP
Damn this is a step up both technical and in the orchestration! It's amazing. We finally get a released version of Tories, Tour De France (see previous post for more on that), Miss Cougar... Name says it all. My favourite on this Il Padrino, which starts with some synths and an obscene number of build-ups! COME ON BABY

Launch Party @ Nice N Sleazy, Glasgow 23rd May

It's a Thursday night, 200miles away from Manchester, we have work at 9am Friday - a 4hour Strategic meeting to start that day too! Any normal person would wait until the band play a local venue.
No, we're driving the 3hours to the gig and back in the same night.

Both me and Richard book Thursday off to allow us time to get North. At noon we set off, playlist at the ready, Monster Energy & Snacks at hand... Fast forward several hours, a Nando's and a couple of JDs we get to Nice N Sleazy and settle in for the evening.

Talking with WD
Whilst we sip our several JDs, (only a few, no drink driving people!) We catch up with Russell and Harvey, whilst Calvin and Grant are off interviewing / podcasting at the booth next to us.
I've not heard/read that yet, I'll share it when the lads share, but I'm pretty sure it didn't have a patch on the unrecorded conversations that went down on at our booth ;-).
I'll leave those stories between us, but maybe 'The Rus & Harv Podcast' will one day be a thing, then you can find out yourself about 2tonne TVs, Midnight Road Painting, Snakes Procreating and Balcony Scaling.

Ok I will touch on that last one, as that's the story of why the lads were tired. Getting locked out of their flat after late night practice the night before...tales of lost keys, unanswered the buzzers, a construction fence as a pseudo-ladder and balcony scaling. They finally got into their flat at 2am, before having to get up early for photoshoots! 

Got to be honest, I'm feeling very tired, only on 4 hours sleep myself and a long day and drive, sometimes I wonder why we do this to ourselves. 
Ha, nah, this is why we do it, the conversations, the people, THE MUSIC. When a gig starts, that energy from the stage and crowd absorbs into you, you bounce into another world!

The Gig
The support acts Third Party and Two Tone Television were both great warm ups. 

Third Party (check out track RPB on Spotify), they have a different MO, often did some instrument and lead vocal switching which kept us in our toes. Very they're good! Punky / Indie / Heavy - at times they held a similar sound to False Heads!!!

Two Tone Television (check out The Heavy) they were also pretty heavy indie I liked their sound, at this point I was little preoccupied so can't comment too much, I'd definitely say they are a band to listen to and their now in my playlists

Weekend Debt
So this is the 4th time watching these guys, actually, first time with this line up - with Calvin on guitar. I was unsure how things would be without Ewan, I knew the EP was awesome and the sounds were on another level, but the guys have matured, I'm sure this is partly due to natural growth and a technical skill brought by Calvin... Undoubtedly an amazing guitarist!

The setlist was a good set, I don't want to dwell too much on the that, you know we know these guys are good. They are excelling, vocally even better than ever, entertaining both on and off stage. From Grants goosebump generating solo Magnetic Girl to Russell's sheer enthusiasm bouncing more and more as the gig goes on. Harvey with his crowd pleasing/teasing and 'Technical ability' fixing unruly Instruments... And as I said, Calvins guitar skills just another level.

My favourite parts are the rework of some of their previous tracks, adding new layers and tones. I love bands who have great studio tracks but actually perform them slightly differently and with more breadth, it's like you get several versions of a great song! On top of this, some cool feedback effects and even got a pit during Il Pedrino!

Tho the best bit, the suprise - 303 AM ... Fucking... 303 AM.... With a 2 minute solo and crowd energising buildup, I managed to get a little bit of it on video! This needs to be on every gig, infact I'd take 10minutes of this it was fucking Awesome. Plus 303 is my favourite track so this was even better!


Ahh we finally get home at 2am. New merch in hand too! Mega thanks to the lads, worth the journey, and I can tell you when these guys play your town - get there! If they aren't playing near you, get to Scotland.

For now!
Michael & Richard

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