BREWTOWN 20th POST: MAX RAPTOR

Wot you lookin' at from left to right: Winnington, Stevenson, Ray and Reisner

Wot you lookin’ at from left to right: Winnington, Stevenson, Ray and Reisner

So here we are with another multiple of 10 milestone article! To mark this momentous occasion that I’m making it out to be, let’s look and listen to one of the most nationally known and popular acts to come out of Burton-on-Trent in recent memory. British cousin of Ego, it’s Max Raptor!

Wil ‘Ray’ Raybould (vocals), Ben Winnington (guitar), Matt Stevenson (bass) and Pete Reisner (drums) form this hard rock quartet who have been one of the bigger national success stories to come out of Brewtown.

Their alt-punk style mixed with their widespread reputation has landed them massive support slots alongside the likes of Billy Talent and The Stranglers believe it or not!

The right look for that announcement possible! Happy but keeping up the punk image at the same time!

The right look for that announcement possible! Happy but keeping up the punk image at the same time!

Not to spoil too much right away of course, since there’s a lot to cover here! Let’s start off with the origin of the band, which stems back to 2006 from a humble academy in Barton-under-Needwood called John Taylor High School. Ray and Stevenson were friends at JT along with another gentleman called Tom Garrett (brother of Sam Garrett).

Stevenson phoned up Ray one day whilst being at uni and asked him if he’d like to have a jam. They all agreed to it along with Garrett and an old friend of Stevenson called JB Wilcox was brought in to play guitar along with Ray on vocals, Garrett on bass and the current bass Stevenson on drums.

John Taylor, along with three of the original members of MR and Reisner, has a decent alumni of future Brewtown staples such as Roz Bruce, Sam Garrett and Christian Taylor of Get Cubs just to name a few.

ROCK AND ROLL THROUGH AND THROUGH!!

ROCK AND ROLL THROUGH AND THROUGH!!

Although they formed in 2006, they sent music to each other over the Internet to prepare until March 2007 when they had their first official gig at the Victoria Inn in Derby. Ah, what a history that place has! Little did those people watching know that they witnessed the first time one of the biggest Brewtown bands performed live. Their first ever gig was apparently at a Christian Farmer’s BBQ which isn’t quite as spectacular!

Spreading the word over social media such as Myspace (yep, THIS was 2007!), they performed not just locally, but all around the country including a gig at the Joiners Arms in Southampton where the likes of Oasis, Muse and Enter Shikari have played amongst many other now mainstream acts.

Through these humble yet promising set of gigs in their first year, they started off 2008 with MR sending a rough EP over to Kerrang! Radio which, surprise surprise, was given a slot on their unsigned show for six weeks! This would not be the last time that MR had anything to do with Kerrang though!

Birmingham Festibull 2008 backed by Kerrang! Apologies for the audio, people still recorded with potatoes back then!

As well as Festibull, they performed at Cockermouth (admit it, you snickered!), a much smaller YNot and Heartfest in Barton, their old stomping ground. Other highlights alongside the festivals in 2008 included supporting Johnny Panic at The Old Bell and being set to record a new EP with Sam Bell who has worked with the likes of Snow Patrol, Bloc Party, Editors and REM!

With this amount of backing behind them, MR could only go from strength to strength. From playing Club NME and HMV showcases with the likes of Mystery Jets, Hot Club de Paris, Black Sabbath‘s Tony Iommi and Biffy Clyro, how could they not?!

But it was in June 2009 that the Raptors had their biggest break and fangasm from how it all went down! Their ‘GREAT AND THE GOOD’ tour saw them supporting not just Calvin Harris and The Zutons, but also their idols and main inspiration. Canadian punk rockers Billy Talent!

That shoe brush should have it's OWN support slot!

That shoe brush should have it’s OWN support slot!

The dates of 9th-10th June will live on in Raptor memory as they opened for Billy Talent (who discovered MR through their Myspace and invited them to open for them) to very appreciative crowds at the Newcastle o2 Academy and the Camden Underworld. It didn’t hurt that they returned to YNot as headliners and the Cock Rock Festival too (what is their obsession with cocks?….sorry).

At this point, with their profile given a massive boost through their tour and their dates with BT, they had four record labels approaching to sign them which had to have been flattering. But after much deliberation, they signed with Salisbury-based Naim Label who they have remained with to this day.

2010 saw more great things happen for the Raptors which saw single releases from Naim, another opportunity to tour with another established punk act and to perform at one of the biggest festivals in the country! Or at least, the first of quite a few big festival slots for them!

Download? Oh, how passé!

I’ll tell you what’s not passé though. Playing 23 tour dates with The god damn Stranglers! From February to March, the Raptors toured all round the country opening for the veteran British punk act. The biggest date for them came on 19th March when they played at the Hammersmith Apollo of all places, a venue they always wanted to play at.

Whilst they were performing with The Stranglers, they gave the public a pre-emptive stream of their first single The Great And The Good which was released as a single download from iTunes, Amazon etc. on April 26th under the Naim label.

They started off the year with a supporting tour, so why not have their own headline tour? From 20th-31st July, they went on a UK headlining tour starting at the Flapper and Firkin in Birmingham and finishing up at a pretty familiar place, YNot Festival 2010.

If we place this festival ONE MORE TIME...(foreshadowing FTW)

If we place this festival ONE MORE TIME…(foreshadowing FTW)

As said earlier and shown through the video above, they were also on the card of the 2010 Download Festival performing on the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage on the 13th June where Enemo J also played that same day.

Do you believe in Deja vu? They announced a second headline UK tour for September to promote their second single release of the year Ghosts which started at The Well in Leeds on 11th September and finished at The Wig & Pen in Truro on 9th October.

After a slot at the London Freeze Festival towards the end of October, MR made a big step towards the release of their first album being guided and produced by former SixTh guitarist Dan Weller.

With co-producer Skeletor!

With co-producer Skeletor!

To harken in 2011 and to prepare for the release of their first album, they put out an EP featuring songs like Sparks, The Great and the Good, Ghosts and Conversations with Death along with an announcement that the album would be called Portraits.

They would also have a support slot with American hardcore band Attack Attack! in Wales in March to further promote Portraits and later in the month, they put it up for pre-order on Amazon.

Portraits was released for all the public to buy on April 11th which was met with great reception from both fans and critics. The critics in particular drew comparisons to The Clash and King of Blues and Kerrang magazine gave them an impressive 4K rating (out of 5 of course).

Meanwhile, everyone thinks Dave McPherson is racist!

Meanwhile, everyone thinks Dave McPherson is racist!

To further promote Portraits, they went on an another tour of the UK from May 3rd-21st which started at the Camden Barfly in London and ended at the Moho (now the Northern Quarter) in Manchester.

The band added another famous act to their CV by supporting The Darkness for three gigs in June to start off a massive Summer campaign which included Leopallooza in Cornwall, Boardmasters Festival in Newquay, Hevy Festival in Folkestone and another return to YNot.

Just after these tour dates, they released their first music video on Youtube (The Alarm was just footage from Nosferatu so it doesn’t count) for their first post-album release single The King is Dead that racked up over 1500 views in the first three days. It also has it’s own ‘making of’ video that was released a month after and was played on TV on channels like MTV, Kerrang and Scuzz!

Post-punk hard rockers in tons of make-up…seems legit!

Quite a heart-warming story rounded off the year for the Raptors as James Halstead of The Metal Hammer Podcast’s Gill and Beez show spearheaded a Facebook campaign to get Max Raptor to perform in the bedroom of a fan called Barney Hall who had written into Kerrang! magazine to state that his new favourite album was MR’s Portraits.

Sure enough, after some involvement from Kerrang! and Rock Sound, the campaign got so many likes and had spread so wide over the Internet (spawning the meme ‘We Are All Barney Hall’) that MR did a live stream of their performance in Hall’s bedroom on 18th December, an early Christmas present if there ever was one! (Listen to the audio here)

With 2012 came a major line-up change with Wilcox and Garrett departing (Wilcox had a child and Garrett pursued other music) to  former Blakfish and SOS member Reisner on drums and Chris Gilbert on guitar! Even more widespread appeal came and some of it didn’t come from a single gig/festival! In February, to coincide with the release of their second post-album single release Carolina, they went on…you guessed it…another UK tour!

EAT, SLEEP, TOUR, REPEAT!

EAT, SLEEP, TOUR, REPEAT!

Towards the end of the tour (the Portland Arms gig date on the 19th to be exact), they released their second official music video for Carolina directed by well-known music portrait photographer Tom Barnes who also directed the video for The King is Dead. The video soon received TV airplay on Scuzz much like their previous effort.

In between working on a second album in Bristol this time, they were nominated for Best Punk for the American Independent Music Awards! That was nice of them! They didn’t win the judge’s award, but they did win the Vox Populi (voice of the people) award which was the award based on the fan’s choice. The people have spoken!

Not only that, but they got more national attention when video game developers Codemasters decided to not only feature The King is Dead in the soundtrack of their game DiRT Showdown, but also had the song play over the official international trailer for the game!

It’s not Forza, but it’ll have to do!

And yet they still missed the scent of home! After festivals in Brighton on the same card as Maximo Park, they returned to Burton-on-Trent to be a part of Burtfest, playing to a moshin’ main stage crowd on June 16th! Bet you never thought you’d hear that festival’s name again did you? MUAHAHA!!!

After performing twice at the 2000 Trees Festival in July and ANOTHER YNot, they had massive news to deliver. Said news was that they would be playing at the appropriately massive Reading and Leeds Festival in August!

Not only were they playing at the festival, they also played on the BBC Introducing stage (them again!) in a set that brought a whole festival’s load of new fans with them and were the subject of a ‘cock-rockumentary’ filmed and edited by Stalbridge-based photographer Marianne Harris.

Gilbert sums it all up best!

Happy Raptor!

Towards the end of August, they released their third single Patron Saint of Nothing which was also the last single from Portraits they released in order to give that last hurrah to the first album before moving onto new material which they would play at gigs for the rest of the year.

Onwards to 2013 as MR were right at work developing the sound for their second album and announcing the year’s tour dates on social media which would include Hit the Deck in Bristol, Takedown in Southampton, TRUCK in Oxford (the Uni’s brilliant minds at work!) and a SIXTH SUCCESSIVE YNOT! They are to YNot what Arcade Fire are to…every festival!

In between these festivals, they released their first single Breakers from their then upcoming second album which was played on Zane Lowe’s Radio 1 show in June as well as having a music video.

Your visual aneurysm for the day!

Also in between the festival performances, they would gain two support slots with well-known punk acts (Of course!) with one being a 14 date tour with DINOSAUR PILE-UP and the other being with Alkaline Trio at the Islington O2 Academy.

September saw the second single release England Breathes on the 2nd and a free digital download of Grace and Favours on the 29th before the album itself Mother’s Ruin was brought out on the 30th to some damn good reception from fans and critics again!

This was just in time for another line-up change in October which saw Gilbert replaced by Winnington which was described by the Burton Mail as a ‘Doctor Who-like regeneration’!

Hopefully it wasn't this frightening!

Hopefully it wasn’t this frightening!

With a memorable performance at the UK Vans Warped Tour in London and having Radio 1 airplay once again in November (Must Work Harder was played), they announced two co-headliner tours with one in December with Attention Thieves and We Are Fiction and the other in January 2014 with Fort Hope.

Speaking of, with 2014 having rolled right around and with the festival announcements of Camden Rocks and goddamn Sonisphere being on MR’s minds along with new material, only time will tell how much more will come their way!

NOW! After all that, the gigs all over the country with many well-established acts and a whole nation of fans accrued, I bet you’re wondering how Brewtown Music thinks the music itself holds up? Well…………..

Property of Orion Studios and Warner Bros. Standard copyright procedure, sorry!

Alright, alright! I think that these four lads (seven if you count all members past and present) have made for some damn exciting press for the Brewtown scene and rightly so! With a band name inspired by the Guatemalan god of drinking and smoking and a dinosaur, you think they’d make a big impression wouldn’t you?

With crashing chords and thunderous vocals, Max Raptor have a hard rock/punk sound that is all their own and doesn’t come across at all whiny or petulant unlike some other bands who try to pull this style off. Each song has the potential to stick with you and have you screaming and chanting along with them, though there are some softer songs thrown in to calm you down (Heavy Hearts).

The lyrics of their song paint vivid pictures whether they be of domestic violence and broken families (Carolina) to painting a pretty cynical view of life in Britain (a good chunk of their discography)! If I were to choose two of these to check out, I’d go with The King is Dead and England Breathes.

The first of these selected tracks The King is Dead is a great primer for those who want to get into MR’s sound as it gives you a raw, visceral and blaring sound that is sure to give you the impetus to want to punch the guy moshing next to you in the face! (Seriously though, don’t do that. Use the nearest wall instead)

Ray gives you a pretty good idea of what to expect vocally with guttural conviction to what he’s singing and can lead you in unison to chant along the chorus of a song which gives you a taste of that Max Raptor brand cynicism and anger. The backing harmonies for the bridge only egg you on to join in further!

It paints, or should I say hammers on the canvas, a picture of a successful man’s life falling apart with the video above helping that image along (yay bondage!). Towards the end of the song, anger management is attempted with cool calm winter seas being the calming image in place which does no good in this scenario as we get right back to the anger. Definitely one for those down on their luck and wanting an empathetic release!

When the horse jumps it’s jump and it falls at the fence

You’re the first man to know.

What a joke that it is, there’s a time and a place

For this hole in the floor…

THE KING IS DEAD! THE KING IS DEAD!

Second out of the two, England Breathes sounds like a pretty patriotic number, but if you know the irony that permeates through punk music, you’ll know it’s got quite a sarcastic and biting side to it. The heavy guitar work, rumbling bass, pounding drums and passionate vocals are all there but it’s the lyrics that make it stand out.

The chorus in particular sums up a sincerely straight-forward attitude that is displayed by many English people who just want to get on with things and live their lives. It’s personal pride, not patriotic pride.

That’s not saying it as a local music fanboy, that’s the overall music fan in me wanting to scream “England breathes as it does, in and out and get over it!” because it gives me something to feel at least happy or content with the country I live in that it takes a Midlands band to produce a response like this! Still though, check it out for yourself. Don’t just take my word for it!

Whew! In closing, it’s been a long and epic journey for Max Raptor who have served as one of the biggest examples of Brewtown’s scene hitting the big time and leaving a massive dent in it! I can’t do their work justice, even with this massive post dedicated to them, so do yourself a favour and experience their stuff! It’s the 20 Brewtown brew, come on!! Either way, this has been Brewtown Music, serving you a big helping of Midlands tunes!

Max Raptor’s stuff

Official Website: http://maxraptor.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maxraptor

Naim Label page: http://www.naimlabel.com/artist-max-raptor.aspx

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/maxraptoryeah

Reverbnation: http://www.reverbnation.com/maxraptor

Myspace: https://myspace.com/maxraptor

Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Raptor

maxraptor_logo_black

Max Raptor 2

Brewtown #19: thedistancing

Going the Distancing from left to right: Kendrick, Sarah Lawrence, Keri Lawrence, Brindley, Jones

Going the Distancing from left to right: Kendrick, Sarah Lawrence, Keri Lawrence, Brindley, Jones

On the 19th Brewtown post and 2nd edition of Throwback Thursday, we’ll look at a band who broke up early last year, but whose four years together as a band showcased an array of talent, including the ‘Voice of Burton’! Be prepared to go The Distancing.

Jonathon Brindley (vocals), Tom Kendrick (lead guitar), Keri Lawrence (bass), Sarah Lawrence (drums), Jay Jones (guitar) and Tim Kenyon (former guitar until 2012) made up this alt rock group who gained the love and respect of many in Burton on Trent and around with their hard-sounding, but enjoyable tunes backed up by a big lead vocal.

Describing their music as (pardonnez mois francais) “huge shit-hot alternative rock tunes”, The Distancing became a go-to band for any venue in Burton that needed a loud, high-energy show.

And that's just from Lawrence's mohawk!

And that’s just from Kendrick’s mohawk!

Keri and Sarah, being brother and sister, has obviously met long before the band began! Their first musical project Garter, named after the Star and Garter pub which has hosted many gigs in Burton for years, only fuelled their own love of the local music scene and being a part of it so the time had come to expand bringing in a few more members.

Enter Jonny Brindley, the ‘Voice of Burton’ and frontman of other Brewtown bands such as Six Weeks Falling and These Things Exist which also featured Kitten Pyramid‘s Mark Hamon on bass. Having known Brindley for years and with SWF being a long-term break at this point, Keri brought him in to see how it would all work out.

To complete the band (at least for then), Keri looked to travelling guitarist/drummer Tim Kenyon who has been part of many orchestras through drumming and a few bands through drumming and guitar work. For this occasion, Kenyon became the main guitar player in the band and thus, The Distancing had come into being.

And THIS happens right away for them! Lucky shmucks!

And THIS happens right away for them! Lucky shmucks!

Summer of 2010 was a good starting point for them as they had their first ever gig at The Appleby as part of Geekfest in July. The poster above shows they were received so well that they were put on the card to support Midlands metal veterans Enemo J in August! They would also support EJ’s album launch at The Old Bell in Derby come December.

In between all these first few months of gigs, they would be recording for their first album at Arch Recordings Studios having written and worked on their material since 2009. Although some of the material was based on songs that wouldn’t gel with SWF’s style like Sorry and Love Song.

They did gel very well with the style of The Distancing though and eventually made into onto the self-titled album. The album they set out to do was to make sure that their songs were all diverse rock songs that didn’t have two songs that sounded the same, displaying this through their gigs which mainly took place in Burton and Derby at pubs like the The Royal Oak and The Wetmore Whistle.

To demonstrate, here’s them performing a cover! Still though, it’s an interesting take, particularly in the vocals.

To start 2011, the band set their sights high by auditioning for that year’s Glastonbudget festival at the Wetmore Whistle set up by local music initiative WIRED. Despite a well-received set, they didn’t make the cut, but Roz Bruce did so at least some local talent got through!

Regardless of not getting into Glastonbudget, they soldiered on and kept gigging and recording for their album with gigs including their first headliner at the Whistle hosted by Arch Presents, another support slot for Enemo J at the Old Bell in June and a Battle of the Bands competition hosted by The Star Foundation in July which also featured Great Scott, Lucida Scroll and the eventual winners Buried From Below.

Arch Creations would be good to The Distancing as it would with most of the local talent as they would feature at many other Arch gigs including the Royal Oak launch night that took place in November which also featured Great Scott and Star From Ivy.

But not our broccoli overlord! From this picture's date, he comes later!

But not our broccoli overlord! From this picture’s date, he comes later!

And by later, I mean 2012! In Feburary, The Distancing amongst many other local artists and bands were given the opportunity for their music to be choices for the public to create their own ‘Arch Presents mix tape’ which would allow them to pick four songs from a list that featured The Distancing‘s songs The World Turns and Revenge.

A line-up change came in March though, with Kendrick deputising on guitar with Kenyon before eventually replacing him full-time as Kenyon pursued other musical interests in a more classical persuasion again.

In June, the band were featured on the 100+ band card of Burtfest 2012 (yes THAT festival again!) performing a set on the Arch Creations stage on the same day that Riding The Low would headline that stage that night!

Maybe Paddy could have used his Hollywood status to bring Lonely Island in to cameo on this! How could they not? (Damn Youtube blocking the title to kill that joke!)

Another line-up addition came in August with Jones (formerly of Lady and the Tramp and Fantastik 4) deputising on guitar with Kendrick this time. Hold on, didn’t the band have an album in the works for about two years?

Well I’m glad you asked that question me, because after nearly three years of writing songs and recording, they finally released their eleven track self-titled album in October.

Sadly though, due to work and other musical commitments, the band decided to call it a day on February 2013 playing their final headlining gig at the Star and Garter with Lucida Scroll, Frank Hunter and Quinn Lam supporting. Only time will tell if their post-album material will be released one day on an EP as originally intended…

But for now, savour the memories.

But for now, savour the memories.

Regardless, how does the material fare? Their first album definitely shows off their capacity to rock and makes for a diverse listen and their latest material makes for an interesting ‘what could be’ situation as well.

While there are many voices in the Brewtown scene, ‘The Voice of Burton’ is a title that Brindley has earned with his vocals ranging from smooth balladeer to wailing rocker, all done effortlessly with impressive projection and charisma. The rest of the band of course provide a great backdrop for Brindley to sing to with each of them showing influence from many different styles including Manic Street Preachers to Pearl Jam particularly with the often Eddie Vedder approach of their frontman.

Two songs I will give a quick look at as a recommendation for you will be Leaving Singapore and The World Turns, both of which are the sixth and eleventh (also final) track of their self-titled album.

LEAVING SINGAPORE

Right off the bat, Leaving Singapore has a great four chord opener leading into a rousing and passionate sing-along track that each of the band members brings their gusto to in droves. I personally have a soft spot for sing-along, raise your beer glasses belters being into singing myself so the way this song is put together is right up my alley!

The song was originally intended for Brindley’s old group Brackenwood who formed way back in 2004 and with that band being described as ‘energetic’, in transitioned very well into The Distancing‘s style with the brisk drums and roaring guitars.

The point of view of the song seems to be told from a man who goes from buzzing from a night of intoxicated frivolity in another country with a beautiful woman to feeling sad that he has left and wishes to be with her again. Typical heartbreak holidays eh?

In Singapore, I was higher than I’ve been before

And the scene was so right, city shining lights and

The most beautiful thing I’d ever seen

And I confessed to you, nothing compares to you

How can you sleep without me, how can you dream without me?

How can you sleep when I’m not there?

If that’s a bit too depressing to be your sing-along, then The World Turns will be a bit more of a joyous, if destructive option for you! By destructive I don’t mean that it’ll make you want to break things, it’s just the type of world-beating vibe it gives off!

While this song does start off a bit down in the dumps, with the person in the song feeling lonely and broken on a weekend just trying to find something to do or cling to, but as the verse swells into the chorus, the guy takes a slightly more triumphant approach and says “What the hell, I’ll try to enjoy myself!” as everything else feels like it’s crashing down on him.

We’re singing love songs while the world blows to bits

We’re taking nothing and I can’t get over it…

Lights come down as the world turns round, I’m unbelievable.

This is a song that really calls for the Voice of Brewtown which he really does sounding as world-beating as the lyrics show him to be feeling. Give it a listen and see what you personally make of it.

In closing, The Distancing were a great act to have around in the Midlands music scene, mixing many styles of rock to create a powerhouse performance for every gig and a good body of work to show for it. Here’s to a possible return, or at least a reminder of the joy they brought to those who heard them. This has been Brewtown Music serving you a fine vintage Midland tune brew.

The Distancing’s stuff

Official Website: http://thedistancing.bigcartel.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheDistancing

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/the_distancing

Reverbnation: http://www.reverbnation.com/TheDistancing

Distancing 3

Brewtown #18: Green Fortune

Emerald Luck from left to right: Sutton, Faint, Mark Knight, Kay Knight

Emerald Luck from left to right: Sutton, Faint, Mark Knight, Kay Knight

Folk has already been represented on this site’s What Else Is Out There? section with The Offbeat, but today, it’s time to give props to a bit of Brewtown folk with a lot of members both past and present! As luck would have it, it’s Green Fortune.

Mark Knight (mandola, lead vocals), Kay Knight (percussion, backing vocals), Rhys Jones (Harmonica), Carl Sutton (Guitar), Andy Faint (percussion), Stiv Hogg (bass) and Rhys Knight (occasional percussion or bass) make up this Midlands folk collective who have been described as a band that John Peel would have loved!

Though they have not been featured on Radio 1 by John Peel (they formed after he died but still), they still have gained a modest Midlands following and have added some much needed folk variety to the Brewtown scene…besides the Wurzels!

Oh they're not from round 'ere, but they left their mark...on my poor eyes!

Oh they’re not from round ‘ere, but they left their mark…on my poor eyes!

The leader Mark Knight, like Scott Milligan of Kitten Pyramid, always had been into music since childhood and had grown up listening to Johnny Cash, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie who were modern day legends back then. How times change and the nostalgia whores weep!

His first experiences with bands grew mostly out of his love for punk music in the 70s and 80s such as with beyond obscure bands like Filth and Mad Dogs (who I WON’T be doing pieces on, research would take forever!) and also joined The Gift with fellow veteran Midlands musician Bruno Gallone in 1985. After a few outings in the 90s with bands like Rezist and Digweed, Mark bought a slightly contrasting instrument to his punk years in 2005; his trusty mandola which he plays in GF to this day.

Though it's not THAT uncommon for the mandola and punk to go together.

Though it’s not THAT uncommon for the mandola and punk to go together.

It wasn’t until 2007 that the idea of Green Fortune came to the heads of both Knight and childhood friend Jude Hackett during a drunk curry night out because hey, they weren’t getting older and they had nothing to lose but their dignity, which let’s be honest, is entirely overrated. Isn’t that right Kanye?

The yellowish-blueish gamblers were officially formed in the summer of 2008 with the original line-up of Mr and Mrs Knight, Hackett (bass), Sarah Devine (vocals) and Scud Stevens (percussion).

Hackett and Mr Knight started writing music before adding these new members to the line-up which would be changing quite a bit over the next five years. Not to Iron Butterfly levels but they’ve had a fair few members.

Plus their songs aren’t 17 minutes long either so this is the mootest of moot points!

After beginning to rehearse both at home and in Moira along with the first couple of live shows (one with a bar patron expecting Metallica and getting Fleetwood Mac from them, supposedly!), GF showed that folk had a place amongst it’s heavier rock contemporaries in the Midlands music scene.

In 2009, they requested the help of Burton College to set up some sessions for their first set of tunes such as The Rose, Running in Circles and Permanence in Change to be recorded and stored on Myspace (ah those were the days…) and Reverbnation for all to see.

Although they were an originals band first and foremost, which is good since I mainly cover those here (COVER ORIGINAL bands? Aren’t I confusing?), they did do a folkified cover of the Buzzcocks most famous hit Ever Fallen In Love which later had a video directed by Derby-based film-maker Adam Stevenson.

Despite Hackett leaving in 2009, the line-up soon became larger the next year when stand-up bass player Louise Hughes replaced Hackett, violinist Joy Gravestock and harmonica player Rhys Jones joined the fray also with Jones playing on the same bill as GF one night. Faint also replaced Stevens later on in the year.

Music-wise in 2010, GF released their first single which was My Daemon Lover/Gypsy’s Curse, the former of which also had a music video directed by Adam Stevenson. A big highlight for them was to play at the Midlands’ largest creative arts festival Bearded Theory supporting The Wonder Stuff and Doctor and the Medics.

With 2011 came new members such as guitarist Carl Sutton and percussionist Andy Faint with the departure of Devine and Stevens and news delivered to them in April that the video for My Daemon Lover would be played on the BBC Big Screens in both Leicester and Derby!

High vis' an all!

High vis’ an all!

In May, they had their first radio interview with Ashby-based community station Hermitage FM and they took part in the Ashby Arts Festival to coincide with the interview.

To round off the year, the band released their second dual single Ever Fallen in Love/ On Icarus Wings on iTunes like they had done with their previous single and would do with their third dual single in 2012 Empty Skies/ Where Do I Begin?

Also in 2012, they joined the likes of Scott Milligan and Star From Ivy to start the Arch Creations Revolution to help build more interest in the Brewtown scene in the run-up to Burtfest.

When you think revolution, you think googly-eyed broccoli. Guevara be damned!

When you think revolution, you think googly-eyed broccoli. Guevara be damned!

Though they were not on the card for Burtfest, they were on the card for the first Gladefest taking place at Rosliston Forestry Centre at the end of August alongside the Roz Bruce Infusion and The Offbeat.

It was also the last gig for Hughes who was replaced by Mark’s son Rhys Knight who you may know from Mario’s Nicotine Parlour and debuted with the band at the Moira Folk Furnace Festival.

In November, they had a big support spot for a gig headlined by Derby folk musician and BBC Horizon award winner Lucy Ward at the Snibston Discovery Museum. She has a Wikipedia article with a decent amount of information so that’s nice.

Not Icarus’ Wings but it’s close!

As 2013 rolled round, the position of bassist was batted around from person to person including Rhys Knight, Leicester-based bassist Mark Kinton, formerly of Three Legged Dog, Burton music promoter and former Star and Garter pub owner Paul ‘Lavy’ Latham and former Deadtime Philarmonic bassist Stiv Hogg.

Rhys Knight also would deputise on percussion when Faint was unavailable such as at 2013’s Moira Furnace Festival and Gladefest II which had support from Tilted Smile and The March, a band they would later support at the Wetmore Whistle in September.

But in October was when they had a true triumph! How so? After a number of months of leaping into the Top 10 of the Midlands Folk charts on Reverbnation, they finally achieved No1 status, even beating out Lucy Ward! So who supports who now then, hmmm?

It's like being top of the Conference North division, but still, it's a victory!

It’s like being top of the Conference North division, but still, it’s a victory!

And coming into 2014, they continue to gig and record their music in and around the Midlands with Jones on temporary leave and Rhys Knight as temporary bassist. Temporary tempura tempest! (Let’s just go to the music part of the article now please!)

So music-wise, how do the Overseal gypsy band fare? Well this is the other side of the folk spectrum compared to The Offbeat. Whereas that band is innocent and bouncy, Green Fortune is more raunchy and gritty with the punk influences and mature subject matter.

Each band member provides and past members have provided a layer of great importance. Not even the bells provided by Kay Knight feel insignificant alongside the bass of Hughes or the mandola of Mark Knight. Their music is both enjoyable and enchanting to listen to.

Their songs can range from being about gothic romance (My Daemon Lover) to a rousing sing-along (The Seventh Magpie) all done in the style of a traditional folk band with a punk edge to them along with very interesting arrangements of old punk classics such as the before mentioned Ever Fallen In Love and the Stranglers’ hit Golden Brown.

THE GYPSY’S CURSE

Two tracks that I will recommend here are The Gypsy’s Curse and Empty Skies. To start, The Gypsy’s Curse shows off the band’s energy and flair whilst telling the story of a man who fell in love with someone he shouldn’t have fallen in love with (I’m honestly not talking about their Buzzcocks cover, shut up!)

The vocals go back and forth between Devine and Mark Knight with both providing their own vocal strengths with Knight’s being more rough and worried and Devine’s being more calm and conniving.

Music-wise, it’s quite upbeat whilst keeping the sinister minor key, keeping with the theme of the song which the lyrics reinforce whenever the chorus comes along:

Since I met that gypsy woman

There’s a black dog crossing my path, a raven at my shoulder

Touched that wild rover and brought down the gypsy’s curse

The second song Empty Skies however, is much calmer and beautiful sounding with the violin, harmonica and mandola featuring prominently throughout. Knight’s vocals are softer this time around and have a more emotional weight here and are the main vocals in the song.

It’s a song that tries to seek out the clarity much needed in life’s journey that could only be seen through an un-clouded ’empty sky’. Not to be confused with the Elton John album or 2011 film though!

It’s a great demonstration of their soft-spoken side that goes well alongside their more upbeat and energetic songs that provide a good variety to their catalogue. As always, check for yourself if you don’t believe me!

Summarising, Green Fortune provide some good folk variety like Great Scott provide good hip hop variety to a predominantly electric rock scene. Their lyrics tell an interesting tale and their music provides an entertaining backdrop. Highly recommended for lovers of the Pogues and The Levellers.

As always, this has been Brewtown Music serving you another fine brew of Midlands tunes.

Green Fortune’s stuff

Official Website (currently down but could be back up again): http://www.greenfortune.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Green-Fortune/

Reverbnation: http://www.reverbnation.com/greenfortune

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/GreenFortuneUK

Twitter: https://twitter.com/greenfolk

GF