Brewtown #22: The Red Monroes

Marilyn never posed like this from left to right: Fitton, Alexander, Dolman and Woods

Marilyn never posed like this from left to right: Fitton, Woods, Dolman and Holmes (Alexander unpictured, sorry!)

As we continue on through our jaunt through the acts of Brewtown, we today look at a band that had another identity through the noughties, but have reformed in a more modest sense. Boop-boop-be-do, it’s The Red Monroes!

Philip Fitton (Lead vocals, Guitar), Sean Alexander (Lead Guitar, B Vox), Rob Dolman (Drums, B Vox), Damien Woods (Keys, Synth, B Vox) and David Holmes (Bass, B Vox) make up this five piece that go back longer than the small time they’ve been around as the Ruby Marilyns!

Although starting the RMs just last year, Fitton has led with another band called The Risks who made a big impact themselves in the scene since they formed nearly a decade ago. Let’s take a look at that history up till now shall we?

Just watch out for Fitton along the way. He get's very hungry!

Just watch out for Fitton along the way. He get’s very hungry!

Just to clarify, this is still an article on The Red Monroes, so I’ll keep The Risks’ stuff as brief as I can, but to start, Fitton formed The Risks back in 2005 with Alexander, Holmes and a drummer by the name of Kev until eventually getting replaced by Dolman. Kev everybody!

Originally, they were a covers band under the pretense of securing gigs but after a couple of bookings, they started writing their own material and as Dolman came in, they were performed a Fantastik 4 hybrid set of covers and originals.

Their style of music was hard indie and punk from the main musicians and with an Elvis Costello-esque vocal performance tinged with some Bryan Ferry-like vibrato from Fitton.

Vibrating so hard he may as well have DualShock printed on his body! 2:07 onwards in particular!

Highlights for The Risks included a TV appearance on Sky Sports (Kitten Pyramid level fame here!), support slots for Little Man Tate, The Futureheads and The Rascals and a gig at the 2007 Glastonbudget. Also, they performed at Liverpool’s world famous venue The Cavern Club which Fitton and Dolman were hugely proud of being big Beatles fans.

Over a successful couple of years and some well-received gigs in Nottingham and Manchester’s O2 Academy, things fizzled out for The Risks and so they decided to call it quits in 2009.

However, in 2012, Fitton, Dolman and Holmes thought it would be nice to start performing again, but a new identity was needed. And this is where the story of The Red Monroes begins!

Finally, I've been waiting ages for you to get going with that!

Finally, I’ve been waiting ages for you to get going with that!

Though they would begin writing and rehearsals around about November 2012 and through the Winter/Spring of 2013, they wouldn’t get their first official gig until June where they started out in big style, at the Victoria Inn in Derby, a regular place for The Risks to perform.

Woods was added to the line-up on synth to further develop the sound of TRM as well as some new show slots, including a return to the Wetmore Whistle (Risks popular venue again) and performing at mini festival Hilton Party in the Park in July.

Ashby’s BUNKA venue was also on the cards for July, a venue where hip hop legend Grandmaster Flash played with Jacob ‘Jaws’ Wilshaw of Raptorial!

Why am I showing this pic? Because it's awesome and I can! MWAHAHA!!

Why am I showing this pic? Because it’s awesome and I can! MWAHAHA!!

But on topic of the article, the Autumn saw more promotion of their debut EP and two more gigs at The Vic with the first being a headlining gig on top of solo local talent in October and the second supporting The Vibe and Get Cubs in November.

Before finishing their EP, they added one last lead guitar layer provided by Alexander who made the band a quintet in December. After a private demo amongst friends and family was given a thumbs up, they looked to release the EP in Spring 2014.

Sure enough, they did release their debut self titled EP on April 4th for release on iTunes, Google Play and physical release for gigs. To further promote the EP, they decided to reach further afield than Burton. Say…Canada…yeah that’ll do!

Yep, sure I’m not stereotyping here eh?

They were actually promoted twice on Canadian radio stations! One of them being 103.7FM CFBU Brock University Student Radio in Ontario (rolls right off the tongue eh?) in April and CISM 89.3 French Canadian radio in May!

With further gigs in the pipeline including one supporting Star From Ivy at the Whistle in mid-May, TRM will know doubt be looking to gain back that old attention-grabbing fire back from their days as The Risks. I’d say they’re on their way.

Still, regardless of this journey, what about the material? Well I’m glad you asked that. The evolution of the sound from Risks to Reds has been an interesting one and in some ways for the better so…

Come on then! Bored first person drummer is bored!

Come on then! Bored first person drummer is bored!

Their music from their Risks days did seem more raw in the sense it was more rooted in punk than anything else. Songs like Change Your Ways from their rough demos did sound like a heavier Elvis Costello number!

But with the Monroes, there’s power there, but it seems more heartfelt and romantic as well as the production being more slick and polished. Not to it’s detriment, it’s just an observation.

Songs like Don’t Waste Your Shadow and Take My Hand seem much more romantic, optimistic and catchy pop rock numbers than the punk sounds of previous times but…they are romantic, optimistic and catchy so there’s a big upside to the style change.

The first of two recommended tracks is Information was put up as a free download on their Soundcloud as a preview for their EP and it was a pretty good call.

It displays the upbeat Indie melodies that came with their style change including harmonic guitar riffs and the synth/piano featured on the whole EP that adds to the happy nature.

The lyrics are also a consistency with their new sound, with romantic themes such as a new woman coming into your life that was miserable before and the ‘Information’ being the facts needed to be heard by the singer to get him out of the slump he’s in. You can listen to it above.

The second of these tracks, Light of the Corner, is even more happy and joyous than the previous song! It’s quite the feat, but it will leave you with a bigger smile on your face!

The jangly guitars, the melodic piano, brisk drum beat and vivacious vibrato vocals (say that 5 times fast!) make it an essential gateway into the sound of TRM.

You say the words that make it all seem right

Can’t understand why I blame it on myself….

Where the light is a corner we found!

Fitton sings about that special place in private where you can just make out with your partner and not have to care about anyone around you looking. No smooth jazz needed, just happy Indie sing-alongs! If you care to check it out for yourself, by all means do so!

In conclusion, The Red Monroes/Fitton and co have definitely shifted in tone from what they were nearly ten years ago, but I’d say it’s a refreshing change. A much more upbeat approach to counter the anger in certain musical facets is always refreshing, at least to me. Either way, this has been Brewtown Music serving you a hearty brew of Midlands tunes!

The Reds’ stuff

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

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/the-red-monroes

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3k7D2tS4pWB2xzWB3r_BbQ

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRedMonroes

The Risks’ Unsigned page: http://www.unsigned.com/therisks

The Risks’ Myspace: https://myspace.com/therisksderby

The Red Monroes 2

Brewtown #21: Wet Lettuce and the Magik Bean

Colourful characters from left to right: Wyatt, Hutchings, Jordan, Houlbrooke and Waddell

Colourful characters from left to right: Wyatt, Hutchings, Jordan, Houlbrooke and Waddell

Hey, we’re back with Brewtown once again and to start off this next order of local music, we’re going to look at a hard rock/metal act with a slightly psychedelic/naughty name. If you know what I mean, it’s Wet Lettuce and the Magik Bean!

Kyle Jordan (Vocals), Gaz Waddell (Drums), Lewis Hutchings (Bass), Dan Houlbrooke (First guitar) and Sam Wyatt (Second guitar) are the five ingredients for this strange-sounding recipe that provides a lot of suggestion and hard rock…and more suggestion!

These lads, like other young acts such as Mario’s Nicotine Parlour and The Arcadians have only been around for less than two years but have been working their way into local favour and into our heads with their bizarre and did I mention suggestion?!

Yes you did! Now get on with the article!!

Yes you did! Now get on with the article!!

Four young men (no vocalist yet and bassist then was Robin Nichols) were part of a music course at Burton college who decided to test out some of their instrumental tracks that they had written together and formed the band on May 22nd 2012. Instrumental because they didn’t have a vocalist yet.

Their first gig was, oddly enough, something to do with college with a music evening at the Brewhouse Performing Arts Centre called Pick ‘N’ Mix organised by the college that also featured Lucida Scroll and Great Scott.

However, they didn’t make their official live debut until October where they opened the Deafbox Promotions launch night at the Star and Garter pub on a card which also featured The Distancing and 5 Days of November.

Dah! I thought I erased that image from my brain!

Dah! Dammit Millsy, I thought I erased that image from my brain!

In the midst of this debut, they were busy uploading demo tracks to Soundcloud and searching for a permanent singer. The latter wouldn’t come just yet, but it did come later in the next year.

The first two gigs of 2013 for the Wets were both in the same month, April to be exact with the 13th giving them a support slot once again alongside Lucida Scroll and put on by DeafBox and on the 20th at Branston’s Gate Inn with CURV and Double Helix put on by Septic Sounds. Unfortunately, the latter gig was cancelled due to Nichols breaking his wrist. Damn!

Their first festival date came in July the day after another gig at the Star and Garter. This was at the Grass Roots Festival at Appleby Magna in Leicestershire which would also feature acts as diverse as Them Deviants, Theia and The Vibe.

The ideal landscape for electric funk and vagina innuendos.

The ideal landscape for hard funk and vagina innuendos.

The next couple on months would be a very brief public hiatus for the Bean to prepare for the announcement of their next few gigs and the arrival of their fifth member, which would be that ever so mysterious lead singer I was on about earlier. To hype up the singer’s debut, they announced they had laid down some vocal lines for their EP on Facebook.

At the end of October, they supported Theia this time for an acoustic set at the Dog Inn and with it, introduced Jordan to the mix as permanent vocalist! As November rolled round, they got themselves a support slot with Star From Ivy of all bands at the Wetmore Whistle which was also the first time they performed at the famous Burton venue.

In mid November, they would hype up a big gig in Crewe supporting Birmingham-based Indie act Dumb at The Box, so much so selling physical tickets for the event! They would also play at The Shed in Leicester which would become a favourite venue for them outside of Burton.

Though it’s not from The Shed, here’s a performance clip of theirs of a track called Dissonance. Appropriate given the video quality!

Come 2014 (we’re already in the current year? Jayzus!!), they were ready to unveil their material in recorded form for the launch of their debut EP Bad Llama. It took place at The Shed, appropriate given the great reception they had the last time they performed their, with support from Swad band Genziani’s Jukebox.

With performances at the Musician in Leicester and further performances at the Whistle alongside The Arcadians, they gained a bit more online attention when reviewer Theguywithastick posted a positive write-up about their EP and the band in general.

They have recently done another gig at The Shed alongside French rock act Eyes of Verona hosted by Dreaming in Colour Productions and encouraged fans to vote for them to be a part of Slam Dunk Festival hosted by Kerrang. Best of luck to them for then, but for now, that’s about it. The history of Wet Lettuce and the Magik Bean everyone!

Huzzah! Here's an anthropomorphic bikini-clad llama for your troubles!

Huzzah! Here’s an anthropomorphic bikini-clad llama for your troubles!

Despite the short history, there’s still the music to listen out for. So, how does THAT fare? Originally, I didn’t think much of these guys, what with them having formed through a college music project and all, but with time I’ve come to appreciate their performances seeing what they can do with more than just one music genre.

Wet Lettuce are an act with an eclectic inspiration ranging from the likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane’s Addiction and Biffy Clyro and show that they aren’t willing to be seen as just one style, though still classed as alternative.

The music itself can show no-nonsense aggression (Bad Llama title track), psychedelic clashes of harmonies (Dissonance, oddly enough!) or laid back funk (Translation) which vocalist Jordan adapts to pretty well, either by a smooth croon or a Max Raptor-like scream!

A prime example of this and recommended number is Take Wing. Starting off with brisk drum beats and dirty guitar riffs that are reminiscent of the beginning of The Strokes‘ track The Modern Age, the track leaps from your headphones and looks to give you a sense of what the band has to offer in terms of musical merit.

It shows that they have a knack for a hook if they push for it, since they had to make do without a vocalist originally and be an instrumental act to start off with the main riff mentioned earlier giving the song an almost menacing and sneaky texture.

Lyrically, the song seems to suggest a free and easy lifestyle, whether that involve going out and looking for a wild night out or just doing whatever the guy wants to, with the title alluding to flying away from it all.

Maybe I will, maybe I won’t…

I guess I can tell, I’m under your spell

Cos it’s a situation I’m not willing to sell

Whether it be about sex (the band name, come on!) or having a hedonistic time with your mates, it gives off the ‘don’t give a damn’ vibe that we’ve come to expect with rock n roll music, which they pull off quite well.

It is just a taste of their discography, seeing how they have only been around since 2012 and a lot of that time was moving on from just being a college project to being a legitimate band. But it’s a sweet taste for now!

Below is the studio EP version if you found the live version above a bit rough, so I suggest checking it out for yourself as I always suggest seeing how I could always be talking a load of bull!

To finish, Wet Lettuce and the Magik Bean could prove to be dark horses in the Burton music scene. Though starting off from the classroom, their new material has proved they can perform alongside the bigger acts and carve out their own unique identity. Watch out for them, Leicester certainly has anyway!

But from Burton, this is Brewtown Music serving you another fine brew of Midlands tunes!

The Bean’s stuff

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

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/wet-lettuce-magik-bean

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

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClldCchMUgT4XCrZBQwOncw

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Magik_Bean

Wet Lettuce