Monday, 24 January 2011

Alright, I'm back! Hip-Hop, Record Labels and STOODUNTS!

Hello fellow earthlings!

First of all, massive apologies for being away from the blog for so long! Basically, this period of inactivity started with me wanting more time to answer a couple of questions and then having to wait to do so and basically weeks slipped into months. But no longer! As of today I'm back on the blog and back on the questions…

So, what have we been up to then?! First of all, rest assured we've been mad busy. Unfortunately, the end of last year ended up being a bit of a damp squib what with Laila's chest infection and a few cancelled dates but I hope you guys enjoyed our new songs and the 'Addicted To Bass' cover. A few people have asked if that song a good indication of where The Boom is going with the new stuff we're writing and I'd have to say yes and no. Yes in the sense that there is a lot more going on in terms of loops and synths than we've done before but we won't be playing it quite as safe with it in terms of the song-writing as we got away with that particular cover version. We're really stretching things out at the moment and some of it feels pretty far out there... I'm doing more vocals than I ever have before. There is a lot of stuff with me rapping and Laila doing the chorus's which are really exciting for us all and certainly represent enough of a departure and progression from the way we've done things in the past that at times it does feel like a different project. It's challenging and exciting to find ways to actually sprinkle in some SB6 in terms of a bit of ska or rock or the kind of lyrical content that will be a bridge from our new stuff to our history. It's still a bit of a mystery to us how the kids that have got into us via a frantic moshpit song like say 'Blood For Oil' will take our steps towards a more dancefloor-orientated sound but we're going to be brave and bold with it. We've just finished about 10 demos and we feel we've nailed the new 'Boom' and are heading into the studio at the end of this month to record a new single. We'll keep you up to date with it from in there. Exciting times ahead!

Right then, I better get stuck into some of these questions... first, a question from James Pitt..

"Just wondered if you guys had ever considered any other side projects that take you on a different style to SB6, something like a dedicated hip-hop/dubstep/d'nb style thing?"

Personally, I've contemplated doing a proper hip-hop thing and was really dead set on it a few years ago but my interest in current hip-hop has, unfortunately, really waned. Maybe it's being immersed in it for so long but I find it a challenge to get worked up about current music. I recognise it's good but I don't always get excited about it like I did back in the day. Much as I loved early grime stuff I'd say that in particular I'm not especially feeling the electro-crossover-pop UK hip-hop thing at the moment because, for me, it strays too far from what I like most about hip-hop; the lyrical content, which, apart from the odd punchline or two, just isn't really that featured. I really like Proffessor Green at the moment and I've had a few listens to Devlin and Giggs and enjoyed Maverick Sabre's mixtape but apart from that there's not much UK stuff I've listened closely too since Braintax and Jehst etc yet I expect there's loads of great stuff out there. For us, it's finding the time and the energy. There is a lot of emcee-ing inside me that's dying to get out and to say that I'm doing more vocals on the new SB6 stuff than I've done before is an understatement. As I said above, in some respects it feels like whole new thing in which stuff I’ve only been able to express a smattering of before is well more featured so that's really satisfying my creative appetite. One thing I would say is that I'm always up for guesting or emceeing on other people's stuff so if anyone has anything please let me know...

Laila has been working on some tracks in a 80s electro style with a mutual friend of ours (the guy that did the 'While New Were Sleeping' remix on Play On) that sound great. I'm not sure exactly what the plans are there but it's good stuff. James is always tinkering about with remixes and tracks and is currently working with Mark that used to be the vocalist of Myth Of Unity and also a band from Wales called Miacca whose stuff would be well worth checking out for anyone into The King Blues or Dirty Revolution. 

This one has come from quite a few of you but it's Dave Sharpe's I'll answer now.

"So my question is, what with seeing how tight knit the whole Rebel Alliance bands were (are?), I'm wondering why bands such as Random Hand and The Skints have left the label. I refuse to believe there's any bad blood, because why would anybody lie about that? Also, tying in with this, will there be any more Rebel Alliance signings in the future?"

Hey man, thanks for the question. This was a difficult one to answer because we're actually still dealing with things to be honest but as I did say I'd answer all questions in the blog, I'll give it a quick stab. There absolutely isn't any bad blood between us as a band and The Skints or Random Hand at all and, as intriguing as it may seem from the outside, it really is a case of this is boiling down to private business. Suffice to say, we found 2010 very difficult in terms of running the label and running the band, both financially and work-wise and as Rebel Alliance became bigger it got to be more work and require more finances. In terms of Rebel Alliance and it's output of bands other than SB6 in the future, we're going to take it one step at a time again and we're not going to feel too pressured to go this way or that or make any promises or statements that we can't keep. We certainly feel that what we were attempting to do with the label remains very important. A focal point like a label for bands and music in any scene is invaluable but with so many other challenges in terms of the music industry at the moment, just running SB6 is a task in itself right now. We thank everyone for their interest and support and wish those bands the best.
Stacey Jones in Devon asks "waht did you feel about the Student Tuition Fees debate? Do you think the protest action is right and works?'

Wow, that's a big gun. Well, me and Laila were actually discussing this in the van the other day before the full extent of the cuts and what was going on were revealed to the public (Laila's best mate is a Uni teacher and had told her some horror stories about what was happening in her department). Laila was very much of the opinion that not enough is done to encourage lesser privileged children to attend uni, or at least push them towards it. While I understand this viewpoint, I feel I need to be honest about my view on this and before hearing about the cuts I made the point that, in truth, I see the dilemma faced by the higher education institutes in terms funding and entry. And discussing tuition fees while completely ignoring this is simply not getting to grips with the issue. So many kids joined my uni course and dropped out which is a waste of time and money so pushing everyone towards university isn’t going to make anyone’s standard of living better. I think that the biggest challenge that is faced by the people running higher education is to engage and attract students that actually want to work hard and be there, which sounds obvious but, amongst the hoopla about fees and class (that a hell of a lot of people don't actually fully understand) it seems to rarely come up. Whether it's a working-class kid with a low level of education 'eased into' uni only to potter about for a bit and drop out or a middle-class 'gap yah' type having a 3-year party at daddy's expense they're both costing the education system if they aren't in it above the age of 18 for any reason other than to apply themselves to their course. That might sound a little stuffy but how else can you view further education in times where cuts are being made everywhere across the board? That's the problem with the myopic focus on fees and class and I feel that a lot of the coverage on the news doesn't always explore all the facets of the matter.

In principle, I'm totally and completely against raising the fees but I'd like to add the addendum that I acknowledge that more can be done in the area of money wastage in higher education. The obvious trouble with the raising of the finances it takes to get into uni is that it simply raises the stakes of debt and financial impact that the education will have in the life of a less-wealthy student to levels that may well prohibit them from attending. While for the wealthy it might be more of an impact on the wallet but it isn't life-changing. I believe it is a responsibility of the government and an adherence to the idea of a ‘United Kingdom’ to strive for the playing field of university-entry to be levelled. In my experience, there has certainly been no evidence that I've seen that someone from a wealthy background is any more likely to apply themselves in uni, many simply expect it, are expected to go and get that privilege without any consideration for what it entails. Financial inequality and class-based distinctions cause a huge amount of unfairness within the university system as a whole. So yeah, I think that university education should be accessible to all but I accept someone has to pay for it and I feel that does sometimes get ignored in hubbub. Ultimately, raising the fees is not the answer and that's the bottom line, especially when it exposes promises before the election as the blatant lies they were. What's that? What should we do about it?! I don’t know, but I know that while the government is spending the amounts that they do on military action overseas they should certainly be able to figure out how to tighten up higher education expenditure without turning universities into luxury consumer products for the highest bidder.

Anyway, as far as the protesting goes, I thought it was exciting and inspiring and heartening. I'm behind it 100% (maybe in that case 99%, the 1% for the guy that threw the fire extinguisher which compromised the credibility of the action somewhat in my opinion). I think that it's got the public standing up and looking at the problem at home in the way that a peaceful protest wouldn't. People argue that the violence compromises the message and a lot of the time I’m with that (smashing Burger King windows at a G8 summit in a ham-fisted jab at capitalism only harms the kid on minimum wage that has to clean that shit up) but in terms of something as palpable as education, people tend to be a little more magnanimous in their reaction to what’s going down. While it’s simple enough for the silent majority to sit there and caricature anti-capitalists as violent, loony, lefty wackos, it's another thing to say the same about such a culturally diverse and socially-accepted group as students. I think they shouted loud enough and expressed their anger in a constructive way and put across the disappointment a lot of people are feeling with the government's decisions at the moment.

Anyhoo, that's that for now, please keep the questions coming in a Best of wishes to Oli from the awesome Anti-Vigilante who is currently battling a serious illness and could do with all our support. Look out for our new single next month. Check out the bands Tree House Fire, Tyrannosaurus Alan and Clay Pigeon. I think that’s it!


Barney x