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 #13: Fantastik 4

The original 4 from left to right: Beesley, Rio Hellyer, Ady Hellyer and Rowlands

The original 4 from left to right: Beesley, Rio Hellyer, Ady Hellyer and Rowlands

I do usually have a rule on Brewtown Music saying that I won’t write about cover bands unless there are certain circumstances that drive me to write one about one. Well this one is half covers, half originals and they recently decided to call it a day after over seven years together. So I thought, let’s give them a Brewtown send-off! No comic relation, Fantastik 4.

Dave Rowlands (lead vocals, guitar), Ady Hellyer (lead guitar, keys, backing vocals), Rio Hellyer (bass, backing vocals, mandolin) and Nick Beesley (drums) originally made up this veteran band that went from another Midlands cover band to one of the most sought-after quartets out there.

Right, that's THAT joke out the way!

Well, that’s THAT joke out the way!

Formed in April 2006, F4 started out as just a covers band with the band’s own Mr Fantastic, Dave Rowlands (and just as flexible…with schedules! Not like that!). Their first two gigs in the next month for a wedding party at Dunstall Cricket Club and another wedding party on New Years Eve in Belper! Then the grannies went from the ‘bent-0ver’ dance to moshing!

In between a full year’s worth of gigs amounting to 50 in 2007, mostly in Burton pubs like The Royal Oak, The Punch Bowl and The Shoulder of Mutton in Barton, F4 decided that in order to stand out from all the other rock cover bands, they were going to write some material of their own.

Their new material which included titles like Sturm and Drang and Dent were well-received by the public (at least the public that saw them) in between the familiar crowd-pleasing cover sets that they performed on cards with the likes of fellow Burton-based cover band Rockaholic and Tilted Smile.

Vorspung durch Fantastik!

Come 2008, they had branched out from gigging in Burton and playing private wedding parties to playing all around the Midlands. Two big performances of this year came in March with a performance at the Sitwell Tavern, a place they would return to twice in that same year with one return getting a review from Derby-based DJ and magazine publisher Mick Moonshine.

Another 2008 highlight was their weekend at the second Conkers Live Aid (the first had Tony Hadley headline!) in Moira where they performed a set ‘as’ Pink Floyd on Saturday and U2 on Sunday. This high-profile show (which they would return to multiple times over the next few years) gave their fan base a big boost as well as their public profile.

Since they had a great response to their original material and not just playing ‘Mr Brightside’ for the umpteenth time, 2009 saw them perform not just in the Midlands, but all over the UK, reaching as far as the O2 Indigo in London besides the odd show in Nottingham, Leicester and Birmingham. How did they get to London you ask? Why through a competition for unsigned bands of course!

The essence of independent music!

The essence of independent music!

Through the end of August to the end of September, F4 were part of the Surface Unsigned competition in which they first made the Regional Finals in Birmingham (after 6 months and 5 heats), with two dates at Brum’s O2 Academy on 30th August and 12th September. They then were able to make it to the National Finals in London playing back to back nights on the 26th and 27th September. They were very well-received in both Finals.

To get this far, for a Burton-based cover band (well half of one anyway), was quite an achievement but of course I’ve gone on about Burton’s music triumphs before so I won’t dwell TOO much! We still have a few more years to go!

The next two years were pretty similar, in which I mean they continued to be a success in both their town of origin and further afield, getting booked for festivals and national gigs including Warwick, Liverpool and London many more times. To build the hype for their long-awaited debut album, they released the four track EP It’s All About You in April 2011.

No McFly here thankfully!

No McFly here thankfully!

After the tragic death of local music legend Pete Youngman, the bands of Burtfest 2011 held on 17th-18th June dedicated their sets to him including F4 who were supported greatly by Youngman and often joined them for a jam or two. They also participated in the second, and so far, only other Burtfest the following year which held over 100 local acts and both Dave and Ady performed a set with Dave Ball, but I probably told you that already. Still, mentioning it for the newcomers is good too you know!

Their long-awaited debut album It is What it Is was released in April 2012 which contained ten original songs plus an alternative acoustic piano ballad version of Dent. As this album went public and post-Burtfest, Rio decided to pursue her own solo musical endeavours which left the group without a bassist. Although Rowlands played bass from time to time, the group decided to hold auditions and try-outs for the position. Former Lady and the Tramp guitarist JJ Jones was considered (and performed with them as GladeFest in August) but they eventually decided on Dan Bounds who remained their bassist until their departure from the scene.

They just kept going in 2013 as they always did, with an odd cheeky acoustic set from Dave and Ady whenever they had the chance. In June, they were given some radio play on national independent music station XRPRadio and in July they performed alongside Tilted Smile and the Roz Bruce Infusion for the Moira Furnace Festival organised by local music promoter Lavy.

The sad news came in October when the band announced on their Facebook that they would be calling it quits after nearly 8 years together and that their farewell tour would culminate in a final hurrah at the Wetmore Whistle where they would be joined by Rio, JJ and a very appreciative crowd.

And many a tear was shed...

And many a tear was shed…

It’s come down to this though of course, what about the music itself? Well, half of their output isn’t even theirs and talking about covers is something I said I won’t do here so let’s look at the stuff that WAS theirs.

F4 list their influences as Led Zeppelin, Paul Weller, Elvis Costello and U2 among many others. Aside from doing covers by most likely all of those bands, it also shows in their originals, with an eclectic mix of classic and modern rock like “Sgt Pepper meets Madchester” as David Couchman from Surface Unsigned put it.

Playing Pulp’s Common People and Stereophonics’ Dakota was a gateway sure, but they soon became well-known for their own material too with the Elvis Costello-like vocals of Rowlands and solid musicianship amongst the band itself showing that this wasn’t just another cover band and their song Dent was a great way of introducing their own catalogue to the public.

Right from the opening fuzzy bass and guitar harmonies, you can tell it’s going to be a stand-out song. This combined with the daunting rhythm of the song creates a great feeling of uncertainty which is significant to the title, at least according to your humble narrator, who looked up the dictionary definition of ‘dent’ instead of trying to use my brain which said: “a hollow or depression in a surface.” This could be true of this song mind you.

There’s definitely a feeling of trying to keep a plainly visible insecurity hidden here in the lyrics which appears to be what Rowlands is going for when he sings:

Between insanity and fame

Is a face that looks the same

Destination right or wrong.

And if you fall across that line

Your opinion also mine

Would you sacrifice your soul?

I think a lot of us can relate to feeling pressured into conformity whilst showing discomfort at the idea of losing yourself in the process. At least that’s what I think the song is getting at anyway. But once again, I could be completely wrong so see for yourself what you make of it with the above video.

After calling it a day this weekend past, Fantastik 4 have lived up to their name in many a Brewtown eye, with their well-played covers for the casual clientele and their well-made originals for the music lovers out there. They, along with promoters of course, helped hype up the Midlands music scene in a big way and paved the way for many more bands to follow. Give them a listen and they may come back in some form or another, you never know. Aloha F4, until we meet again, this has been Brewtown Music serving you another fine brew of Midlands tunes.

F4 Archives

Official Website: http://fantastik4.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/F4Burton

Reverbnation: http://www.reverbnation.com/fantastik4

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/Fantastik4midlands

It is What it Is on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/it-is-what-it-is/id519824084

F4 logo

Goodbye F4