To keep the Festival feeling going, I have chosen a band who have had a lot of experience with festivals and gigs ranging from Staffordshire to Tennessee! A blistering trio that even the birthplace of rock n roll couldn’t ignore, I present Lee Matkin On bass guitar! Or as they’re more commonly known: Tilted Smile.
Jack Poxon (vocals, guitar) and Lee Matkin (bass) and Jason Tunnicliffe (drums) make up one of the most hard-working hard rock bands that the Burton Music scene has to offer and their hard work has paid off in a lot of ways both in and outside the UK.
Jack and Lee started the band with ex drummer Ben Edmonds in 2005 with the intent to create a massive sound that would sound as if there were twice as many of them performing. A sound that was “Fast, Visual, Edgy, Rock & Roll.” Personally, I don’t feel that an act should label themselves as ‘edgy’ because it is a very subjective term. What is edgy and new to someone may be old hat to another. I’m not holding that against these guys because they are a talented band, it’s just a pet peeve of mine I wanted to get out the way. Moving on…
With the original line-up, Tilted spent their first year doing the regular new band thing of getting and doing gigs in their town, then to other towns, to cities and then all round the country gaining a decent following along the way and putting their blood, sweat and tears into every performance they did.
But it wasn’t until 2006 that their journey was kicked into overdrive with one competition. The Jack Daniels’ Best New UK Band of that year was awarded to Tilted with a grand prize (and boy was it grand!) of being able to perform and record an album live at the legendary Sun Studio! You know the place that Elvis guy recorded an album or two.
To this momentous occasion, the band took advantage of their time in Memphis and Nashville to promote their music with live performances at Nashville’s Exit/In (past performers include Muddy Waters, The Ramones and Elvis Costello) and Memphis night club Hi Tone (that once housed Kang Rhee, Elvis’ karate teacher!) The recording session at Sun Studio itself lasted for 6 hours and was explained further in the Live at Sun Studio album sleeve notes:
“With adrenaline pumping we played through the whole night on a battered drum-kit and without guitar amps in a room that hadn’t been altered since the 50s. From November 2006 to January 2009 we have been working hard on these recordings to get them to a standard we feel proud of.”
Even with the handicaps of some of the old recording equipment, the album was released in April 2009 with alterations here and there to the sound to make the final result sound more polished but still keep that live feel and that IS important as I’ll explain in a bit.
If you have a bit of time and want to see their journey through Tennessee, check out the playlist below!
But this trans-Atlantic trip is not the only achievement they have under their belts. In eight years as a band, they have toured extensively in the UK, performed on radio stations like KERRANG! FM, Nashville Scene and BBC Radio Bristol, played at festivals all over Britain and even in Norway whilst sharing bills with bands such as Maximo Park, Feeder, Echo & The Bunny Men and Hayseed Dixie to name only four! Norway is not the only European country they have performed in though as they have spent a week of Spring of 2013 touring Poland where they soon gained more continental fans! This tour is in preparation for a new album that is set to be released in the near future.
However, putting aside the history of the band and knowing how much effort and hard work has been put into making Tilted a band that can not only breach their country lines but their continent lines as well, how does their music fare up? Decent in terms of music, but they really shine through live!
The musicianship between these three is tight, crisp and loud which is just what you want with rock n roll. Poxon’s guitar and vocals are equally as loud and penetrating as each other and Matkin’s bass with Tunnicliffe’s drumming add to the frantic sound. I may have ranted earlier about their use of the word ‘edgy’ but I can’t deny the fast and raw power behind the music. Lyrically, there’s nothing majorly new about Tilted’s work with songs like You’re not the One, Black Heart Fever and 3AM which do sound like they belong on a Black Keys album. I will leave links to their music at the end of this article so you can judge for yourself so you can say what the hell do know?!
But seeing them live is what really sets them apart from a lot of acts in the Midlands music scene. This is the ‘visual’ part from their bad description really comes into play (not that it would on an audio track anyway but you know what I mean). Poxon’s lean guitar and vocal work is combined with a storming physical presence with slamming power chords, the inability to just stay in one place, more ‘guitar o faces’ than Jimmy Page and a one leg pose that has become a trademark for Poxon’s live performances.
Of course if a still photo of what could easily look like Jack falling backwards after tripping on a discarded beer can doesn’t convince you, then observe the clip below of the band performing a new song Voices at this year’s Y Not Festival.
This is a prime example of Poxon doing what he does best, providing a visual performance as well as an aural performance (‘Au’ no ‘o’ you dirty buggers!) which is what a live gig should aim to do. Either expand on the listening experience that a fan already has or introduce a newcomer to the band in the most energetic and charismatic way possible.
Even with Poxon on full display for everyone to see, Matkin and Tunnicliffe are do their job with gusto of their own. Matkin having his own time to shine with a bass solo here and there and his own chemistry with Poxon on stage which borders on bromance if you know how long they’ve been together in this band playing with their instruments in front of each other…I’ll go stand in the corner.
Am I allowed to come back now? OK, good!
Tunnicliffe’s drum work provides a pounding beat to a lot of the songs that jacks up the energy to 12 and even though Poxon does not partake in a drum solo war with Tunnicliffe as he used to do with Reynolds when he was in the band, the powerful drum work still cannot be ignored.
If you want straight-forward, well-performed, raw rock n roll with a leader whose energy could power the Hadron Collider, check these guys out. Though I would say they are better seen live simply because of Poxon’s charisma and extreme mobility as well as his great chemistry with his band mates. People over 4000 miles away have seen them, so what’s your excuse? This has been Brew Town Music serving you another fine brew of Midlands tunes.
Official website: http://www.tiltedsmile.co.uk