Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Plastic Sheet Blues (or how I learnt to stop worrying and love the hair-straighteners).

Question from Brendy Robb on Tumblr. (Tumblr Reblog).

Hey guys, hope you’re having a nice long weekend.
Just listening to “back 2 skool” at work and realised that one of the lines is “who pissed on a girl on the back of the tour bus?”
What’s the story behind it?
This was sent via web form from your Bandzoogle site
Hey man!

A few years back there was a big did he / didn’t he kerfuffle about Oli Sykes from Bring Me The Horizon and their crew ALLEGEDLY pissing on a girl in the tourbus and / or hitting her with a bottle. I think it turned out he didn’t actually do it at all. The whole story was doing the rounds on the internet and it became very tawdry. There were people who clearly had no idea what had happened weighing in and bitching about it. It was just very unseemly. On Punktastic.com in the forums and I remember at the time thinking that this was about as far removed from what attracted to me about punk as I’d ever witnessed. One example of these wonderful pieces of prose is HERE.

People have mentioned to me that they perceive this line as a ‘diss’ to BMTH. I’m sorry it seems like that because that band is very good and have done some great stuff for British heavy rock and also been instrumental in helping loads of bands. I have no problem with them, and I really enjoyed Suicide Season and it’s companion remix album. The line wasn’t about them, so much as the mentality of the tabloid-style speculation on ‘piss-gate’ and the whole circus around it. Back in 2007 things were happening in punk and rock in the UK that I was finding hard to accept; a move away from the lefty ideals I loved like equality, DIY and the punk gigs being ‘safe spaces’ to a vibe more reminiscent psuedo right-wing of ‘rock n roll’ of the 80s. I loved Gallows, but I hated the way the magazines portrayed them covered in fake blood, like that was what signified punk. Maybe I was sore because bands like Five Knuckle, Capdown, Freaks Union and the bands I loved from the years before basically didn’t look quite enough like what the music magazines wanted a punk band to look like. And I saw it happening and there was a clear shift in fanbase and the emergence of a new crowd of younger kids that really didn’t give two squirts of piss for the aspects of punk rock that I loved. To me punk rock was about not giving a shit about who was the prom queen, who was in FHM that month and who was the hardest lad like at school. Not repackaging it all with added tattoos and piercings. All the endearing things about the culture of punk rock to me had just been ignored. That’s what the song’s about and to me, it fitted in with the whole imagery of the album… city-centre rock clubs full of selfish, boorish, preening little peacocks who don’t care about anything but themselves.

I remember SB6 playing this party in London and backstage was this young hardcore ‘crew’ doing coke and calling each other ‘nigga’ and I was like ‘is this what this music has become?’ Us and YM@6 were kept very busy trying to avoid them and I said ‘it’s like being back at school’ and the idea for the song was born.
And, while writing the song, this little episode of people squabbling online about whether or not Oli had pissed on this girl (who ended up looking like a fool too when all the conjecture was over) was just another ‘what the fuck am I doing here?’ moments. What has this music turned into when we’re arguing about this?

I guess over the last few years I’ve come to accept that things move on and it’s all rock n roll at the end of the day. I’m probably not as precious as I was then. The good bands from that time are still together and doing great things and the UK’s rock scene has had a massive shot in the arm from the success of those bands. The lyrics to ‘Back 2 Skool’ still stand up though I think, you only have to go to one of the trendier rock festivals of the last few years to feel that ‘school’ vibe… the cocks of the walk with the prettiest girls on their arms sneering at everyone who hasn’t got the right trainers, the smell of greasy chips in the air and the dim threat of violence ready to go off at any given moment.

"Back 2 Skool"

Who is the kid with the coolest trainers on?
Who’s getting ripped cos they got the label wrong?
Who said that he said that she was a slag
because she kissed with the boy on the bike and tongues’ll wag?
Who’s keeping up with the kid that got the tag?

I’m waiting for the bell again.
Well but you’re not it, yeah but you want it, tick and you got it.
Running to keep up again.
Well but you’re not it, yeah but you want it, tick and you got it.
Catch them once.

Now I’m singing the sound of all these songs upon the radio,
and now I’m laughing aloud at how the kids can be so cruel
and now I’m stifling down my screams
and shattered dreams to make the team,
I guess I’m back at school.

Who read the part of the picture book
where they swear they don’t care what you wear or how you look?
Down in the playground they’re dressed like lady muck.
Who pissed on the girl in the back of the tour bus?
Back in the disco they sing to the chorus!

It’s gonna be a party, what you gonna wear?
Everyone’ll be there, life just isn’t fair.

Sent out with the boys and the girls in the big wide world
and well I took a look and found my way underground.
And soon I knew you never leave the playground.
Catch them once. Catch them twice.
Catch them three times. Never gonna get them in the end.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Sell-out, with me oh yeah.

Alright then!

A couple of rate interesting and timely little questions here…

Katy asks "1. What are your thoughts about playing some gigs recently 'for / to impress the industry' and having to plead with fans to come along and support you? Especially gigs when you clearly wern't over enthusiastic about having to drive alllll the way down to London to be there, (ie Barfly), but have to put on a great show to impress certain people..."

NOTE: If people are wondering what (we) are talking about, it’s no secret that for one reason and another we’ve been working hard to get our next record out on a label. The reasons for doing so and the differences between self-releasing and all that are all very interesting but that’s another discussion. Let’s just put it out there that our last few London shows have had some people from different labels and other industry people coming down and checking us out. At the end of the day, a show is still a show, so we’re giving everyone a proper go of it (so it shouldn’t really matter at all to someone in the crowd) but that’s one reason why we’ve been so adamant about people coming and showing support at the last few.

Well, first of all, we are always enthusiastic to do a gig and we enjoyed that gig and pretty much find a way to enjoy all the gigs we do one way or another. There was a lot of trouble with the PA at the particular gig you are talking about so maybe some of that came across but I thought everybody had a great time. Playing those kinds of things is actually really fun and different. We like a challenge. I was probably kidding to be honest!

My approach to this kind of stuff is really the same as it's always been in that 'it is what it is' is my general philosophy. As well as being a shallow hellhole full of crashing bores and egotistical bellhops, the music industry is a business with people in there that are doing a good job. There are certain hoops you've got to jump through and brass rings you have to grab if you want to have someone come and risk spending lots of money on promoting you. That’s the end of it. You don’t go to someone-else's house for dinner and tell them they have to take their shoes off because you do in yours. It doesn't work that way round. We've kept the whole thing relatively quiet but anyone that follows us closely could probably figure out what was going on with us over the last couple of months. If that can push people into caring about us and thinking further than their own concerns about us that's great, but they don’t have to. I never liked those bands that acted like the audience owes them something because they've got on a stage and played a gig. So we're going to try to get people attuned and into the idea that we're trying to find a new home for our record and consider where things are going without banging everybody over the head with it. We don't want to take anyone's support for granted and we don't think anyone owes us anything. The reason it’s taken a while is that we need it to be right and we thank everyone for being patient. But if you DO care then it's a cool time to sit up and get behind us at the moment, because we're really THAT CLOSE to make this thing happen.

Ahem… Get your tickets HERE ladies and gentlemen.

2. How sucsessful would you like to be? I went to see Frank Turner at the Hammersmith Apollo a few months back. I remeber seing him years ago, on his own, on a barstool, with an accoustic guitar and an audience of about 40. This was a seated, over 5,000 capacity venue, with chilren, families and middle-aged women screaming 'we love you', but a sea of blank faces when Against Me opened the show. It was weird. Would playing sell out arena shows make you guys happy?

I too have seen Frank Turner sat on a barstool in front of next to no one and have seen him at Reading Festival where you can't get in the tent. We've had You Me At Six play before us and have a nightmare gig where their guitar broke and now they're HUGE. You've got to look at that and be inspired, not envious. It's cool to see.

“Would playing sell-out arena shows make you guys happy?” This question is a bit like at the end of Spinal Tap and Marty Di Bergi asks Nigel Tufnell if he could be a shoe salesman. The answer; “I dunno, what are the hours?”

It really is too hard a question to answer. Without hesitation I would say that if pretty much any band acquired that amount of success to headline that kind of show it would be a cool experience, obviously. But it's the other things that would come with getting your music out there to so many people that would be most rewarding I reckon. Having that many people singing that they're proud to be living in a land where we have the right to be who we are would be amazing.

Even if you look at interviews with me from 2006 I've always said that we are not a band that would be against being huge as a concept but I didn't realistically think that what we were doing was all that marketable because it was too crazy by design. That wasn't what we were trying to create. As time's gone on, we've evolved as a band and people and over the last few years we’ve had to think about where we’re going with this. Now I see the band differently than I did a few years ago in this regard. The new album is, in my opinion, heavier and more powerful than the old stuff but I also think it’s also hopefully more accessible. There's no shame in that, there's a skill in that kind of writing. But of course, you can’t always please everyone and even now I’ve noticed mixed reactions online to the new stuff from old fans. But we've always had that. Reactions have been very positive by and large. It's always difficult judging off a single before you hear an album anyway. It’s funny to me because I’ve seen kids citing ‘Piggy In the Middle’ as a classic dissing ‘Kids’ for instance but, to me, the riff and middle 8 on kids is heavier than any jog on the spot saxophone ska-core thing could ever be. It’s a different kind of energy and I love that youthful ska-punk madness but to be a big stage to see people bouncing to a rock riff is a different rush. That groove is completely different to our old stuff and, to me, way more 'heavy'. I read a Tumblr review the other day of us live when someone who was doubtful said he really 'got' Kids when he saw it live. If anyone’s got the impression we’ve tried to go pop, well, wait for the album. The raw and raucous energy of 'Ruff Guide' is another man's crazy mess. It's subjective at the end of the day!

Thinking about the old fans watching from the arena and losing that connection, it's weird. A lot of the times over the last five years, I've felt like our real fans have stood by us but we've, at times, felt like battered wives to the punk scene because it was so good to us as people and a band growing up. After people complaining 'Arcade Perfect' was too poppy we made (and wanted to make!) 'City Of Thieves' which was our love-letter to punk and in my opinion, our best album. But the best, punkiest moments of that album were ignored by our fans and largely not appreciated by the punk scene. In fact, all the kids that had loved Ruff Guide as teenagers and then got older didn't like 'City Of Thieves' but I have no idea what they were expected because if we'd have dropped an album with 'All In' on it in 2009 they'd have hated it. So, with that album, I realised that we were never going to please everyone. So we should please ourselves first and foremost and be what we set out to be when we started.

Sometimes you feel a huge sense of closeness and love for your fanbase and then sometimes you read some fan, or ex-fan or whatever, saying some stuff on the internet that blows your mind and you think ‘ah well, bugger what they think’. We literally have had messages telling us that our last few singles have got people back into us after not liking us for 5 years and then you get kids that used to love us talking about how we should have quit after Ben left. It’s all very hard to get to grips. It's impossible, you just try your best. With every person there are opinions about music that take in so many personal outlooks from their social circle and their age and fashion that change across time. Your band just slots into that. What represents heavy and underground and cool to a teenager in 2006 isn't going to appeal to them in the same way 6 years later if it's repeated, but the memory of it doing so the first time around will always remain like that. You just have to look to the fans you trust and believe in and take that with a pinch of salt. And remember to appreciate the good times that it does bring you!

Put it this way. I'd like to think that if a fan has ever enjoyed our music and what we've created at any point and saw us on stage now and we looked like we were genuinely having a good time and we were happy in what we were doing, whether or not they 'prefer the old stuff', I'd hope they could be happy for us. Call me an idealist but there we have it!

Happy talky talky happy talk. Talk about the things you like to do.

If you don’t have a dream. If you don’t have a dream.

How you gonna make a dream come true?

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Tumblr Question Reblog: Between your samples and Horrotheque (thanks for that find) you seem to know a lot of public domain shit, how can I get more free shit? Do you take inspiration from the White Stripes with the colour schemes, particularly the original red black and white combos, and why do you do it?

Oi oi!

The Public Domain stuff has all been something that kind of fell together from researching for the Boom records. I guess I probably err on the side of caution more than I need to but if you know it’s PD you can really go to town on it like at the beginning of ‘Strange Transformations’ which was pieced together by me from stuff across the whole broadcast (rather than being one continuous bit of prose). It’s funny because on tons of dubstep records they used big chunks of film quotes without apparently invoking the wrath of film companies so I reckon you can actually get away with a lot. I often wonder did GZA have to pay the makers of Shogun Assassin anything for the repeated use of those samples on the ‘Liquid Swords’ album (one of my favourite albums of all time, hence the little Shogun Assassin nods at the beginning of ‘Danger! Danger!’ and ‘Ya Basta!’). Because that’s the dubbed version of the film, I wonder if the fact that it’s dubbed has something to do with everyone’s ability to sample it? Probably not but it’s interesting because it’s so sampled in hip-hop.

Anyway, here’s the list of sites I use to come up with the sampling stuff. The best site on the net for PD stuff is Archive.org. For City Of Thieves, and loads of other stuff, this was absolutely vital as all the public info films were from the Prelinger Archives on here which has a cool search facility.

Another thing I will do is find films that are public domain and then check them out on IMDB and check the Quotes page. If you read through the quotes and find one you like, it’s then a case of having to watch the film. Which is a good excuse for work! When we were recording City Of Thieves I was basically watching two or three old films a day.
This is a great site for all films.
This is a great list of horrors.
And this is a decent list.
The main thing though is to check through a lot of different sites because there are lots of films that were never famous enough to go on all the lists.

Of course, there is horror radio too, which is where I got the Vincent Price stuff from!


In terms of the matching colour schemes, no it was absolutely nothing to do with The White Stripes! Not a band I’ve ever really listened to but I know they’re good.

When we started the band, one of the ideas was to capture that element of bands like The Specials and The Ramones that seemed like a gang, so being colour-co-ordinated was one way of doing it. Another element was that we aren’t one of those bands like The Lost Prophets or Young Guns who are five lads of the same age who are all very handsome and dress similarly. Put us together, and we didn’t really look like a band and we knew that and that wasn’t really a good thing. Like eating food, a lot of appreciation for a band comes through the eyes, conciously or not. That’s not to say that a band has to look amazing, simply that the way they look needs to reflect the music they make. Those disparate influences were part of our music so it was fine that they were there but we wanted a way to be able to wear clothes we were comfortable in (which would be very different from person to person) but still looked ‘together’ as a package. And we still do that, but change the colour schemes around now and then. My favourite ever was the black with camoflague I think, which you can see in the ‘Sound of a Revolution’ video.

It’s funny because there was a point where we dropped doing it for a while because it got stale and Ben got really sick of it but now looking back they’re the worst photos of us live. We all look like we’re in different bands, even though we all thought individually we looked alright. So we went back to the colour scheme things, but just tried to keep it more subtle. It’s just another little gimmick of getting out there and performing as a band, just another small way to make it more interesting than stepping out of the crowd in what we would wear to the shops and going through the motions. It’s just an effort to do something.


Old school!

Ta! Great questions. Keep them coming in people and I’ll keep on blogging!

Barney :)

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Tumblr Question Reblog: Who writes most of the lyrics in the band? Do each of you contribute your own sections to each of the songs, or is it generally one person writing the whole lyric, and then sharing the sections out in the studio? Also, as we're on the subject, who wrote the line "I'm scared of you, but that don't mean a thing, you know I'm scared of dogs too"? By far my favourite lyric in the 10 years of Sonic Boom Six.

I write all the lyrics now. Nearly all the lyrics on the early stuff are mine but across the first few albums Ben started writing more stuff that we used. Yeah, I work closely with Laila and a lot of tunes we kind of write together so I’ll get a demo of a song with her singing dummy lyrics and write to those. There’s a lot of printing out and practising and going back and changing stuff as we go along.

There are songs on the first three albums where Ben wrote lots of lyrics, especially Arcade Perfect. He’d often start a song off about one thing and I’d give it a twist and take it somewhere more political and less personal which was a fun way of doing things… ‘While You Were Sleeping’, ‘September To May’, ‘Floating Away’, ‘Through The Eyes Of A Child’ and ‘Welcome To The City Of Thieves’ were all totally like that… basically songs Ben had written on his own and we added to lyrically to make the message of them relate to the rest of the Boom content. That was a really cool way of doings things and I miss it! It would be too simple to say Ben wrote the ‘song’ and chorus’ and I wrote the verses but that’s not far off. Ben wrote all the lyrics to ‘Northern Skies’ and ‘Face Forward’ and I just added the raps and he wrote ‘Flower’ and ‘Passing Through’, ‘Sister’ and ‘Not Yet’ on the BabyBoom EP which are great. On all the more rap stuff Ben wrote his own verses. There’s definitely other songs of mine where he added stuff but I can’t remember off the top of my head!

I really loved Ben’s ability to make a big chorus line in a song stick in your head and the way he crafted proper songs, he’s a very good songwriter. He was massively influential on me. He believed that you shouldn’t, if possible, write music then write lyrics over it… you should come up with the chorus, beat, vibe whatever with the chorus of the song so the song is there before you write the lyrics. That means the song’s lyrics and music are married together. For instance, if you think of something you want to write about (say kids involved so heavily in the punk scene squabbles that they miss what’s happening in the world that’s important) and then come up with a phrase to describe it, you should have the phrase on the tip of your tongue and then pick up the guitar and marry it to music. ‘Meanwhile, Back In The Real World’ was me trying to write a song with that concept. It was a song that sounded like Mouthwash but with a concept of song and strength of chorus that was like a Ben song and what he’d been pushing me to do.

I wrote the dog line. ‘Rum Little Skallywag’ just started off as a song I wrote myself on an acoustic guitar so it was quite personal but it fit on the album. That’s a funny lyric to pick up on! I think most people like ‘Knob Head’ on ‘Monkey See, Monkey Do’ (not a line I ever thought people would pick up on) and people like ‘getting on together like chips and samosas’ from what I’ve heard.

Without starting to sound like Paul Simon on Classic Albums(!) or something, I think my favourite lyrics by us are ‘September To May’. That started as a song by Ben about people moving from Manchester and getting jobs in the city and I added the whole extra layer of fairweather student political activity which, for me, made it one of our best songs because it’s not something I recall ever hearing another song about. It’s an attempt of that marriage of the personal and the political that makes bands like The Clash get their message through on some songs like ‘Stay Free’. Not that ‘September To May’ is on that level but lyrically that’s a song I’m very proud of us for. I’m also very proud of the lyrics to ‘Jericho’ which are mine… ‘You seem surprised our race survived, you’d almost call us civilised’. Knowing I liked that line my girlfriend got an artist to put them in a framed picture for me. But I’ve only ever met one fan that liked that song!

On the new album I aimed to get rid of writing for a ‘target audience’ (i.e. like on ‘Meanwhile’ and ‘Bigger Than Punk Rock’ which are basically about the punk scene) and tried to write for everyday people. I wanted to stop second guessing what people were like who were listening to it. There is a song called ‘Gary Got A Gun’ that is going to really challenge people I think. I’m proud of that one too but that might be famous last words. We’ll wait and see...

September To May

Walking down Oxford road,
It seems that nothings changed,
Why does it leave me cold?
Must be more than Manchester rain,
Great place to piss a loan away,
But god forbid you’d ever stay.

Come and go, come and go, come and go.
(You used to be a friend of mine)
Come and go, come and go, come and go.
(You left that life behind)
Have you really changed so much since then,
Has it really been that long?
One minute you’re here and then you’re gone.

Oh when the locals quaint?
Oh weren’t the protests fun?
Second you graduate,
Join daddy’s firm in London,
Last seasons look inside the halls,
Was having Che Guevara hanging from your wall,
Three foot tall!
I guess those lies were just your size,
While you were dreaming of the money and sunny skies.

Come and go, come and go, come and go.
(You used to be a friend of mine)
Come and go, come and go, come and go.
(You left that life behind)
I thought that we were gunna smash that system,
Sing along to the Billy Bragg song,
One minute you’re here now you’re gone.

Took a little time to find out,
Took a little time to find out.
Took a little time to find out,
Took a little time to find out.


See you Come and go, come and go, come and go.
(You used to be a friend of mine)
Come and go, come and go, come and go.
(You left that life behind)
Have I really changed so much since then,
Has it really been that long?
One minute you’re here and now you’re gone.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Here we go! Music, gear and bass-playing…


If you’re reading this, you’ve noticed that I’ve moved my blog from Blogspot to here on Tumblr. The problem was, that I was finding it hard to get motivated to write a blog on Blogspot because you get very little in terms of feedback and it’s just one of those things where one day becomes a week, becomes a month etc. There’s rarely a day goes by that I’m not doing something band-related so it’s sometimes difficult to fit in and I’m often contacting people on Twitter, Facebook and the mail-outs so it’s easy to forget about a blog. I guess it’s the instant gratification of Twitter that make them so easy to just jump in and out of but I often reflect on the fact that if I was to put half the man-hours I spend shooting the shizzle on there on something constructive then I’d have something to show for my time. Ah well, I guess at least I don’t play computer games any more. Anyway, here we are on Tumblr where sharing is easier and everything’s a little more pretty and fun. In theory. It’s going to be business as usual blog-wise, please send me questions and all that good stuff. But this is much easier, you can do it from here…
All that being said, my questions folder in my email is bulging so I’m gonna get through just a couple of these and make a new start this year. I’ll try and do something much more often and hopefully a bit more activity and interaction will inspire me to do it. There’s been some really interesting questions coming in about where we are with The Boom at the moment so I’ll get into those after these that have been waiting for ages…
Kev asks… One of the worst bits about underground music is that they’ll never be in guitar magazines or other spots where you can talk about actual gear and techniques, it does my head in. So, if you could talk me through some of the rigs in the band? I know Nick and Ben had crazy different styles and James seems to take a spacier approach, evidenced in the Midas stuff and his synth skillz, and the guitar tone on the newer records is completely different.
This is a really interesting question but a slightly difficult one to answer at the moment because it’s very much undecided in terms of moving forward with the new material… maybe I should take you through that. In the past, we always had a very clear idea of arrangements and being able to play stuff live as a unit, starting with the bass, drums and vocals of the first couple of records. On “City Of Thieves” we knew everything we were playing and Nick and Ben knew exactly what each other were playing as guitar left and right and we could sit down and play the album ‘live’ and it would sound that way (the versions of the City Of Thieves tunes we did on The Punk Show session are testament to that…). That was very deliberate. With the new album we recorded it was totally differently… between the amount of stuff that went on it and the different way it was written, all those rules went out of the window. We literally demo’d and wrote the songs directly onto a free DAW called Reaper on a laptop and added and subtracted from there adding synths, loops, beats and all that much more like a dance or pop act. This was done because we wanted it to sound like that, but we also had so much happening live with the sequencers, it wouldn’t have made sense to write without them. We would jam in a room once we had some ideas but the ideas would come from different places. James sits there on his own with all the instruments and writes pretty much alone once he’s got an idea and then brings a finished piece of music for everyone to put stuff on. Nick brings in riffs and we jam them and me and Laila and everyone will try to turn them into songs. I will come in with anything from a riff to a pretty-much finished song so the way of writing became very much based around the central idea of the recording. The upshot of all this is that when we got into the studio to record it properly there was a lot of stuff where in terms of the bass and guitars we weren’t even sure of who was supposed to be playing it. We kept a lot of the bass off the original demos and, for instance on bass, there is tons of stuff that I didn’t play. There’s metal bits on the album where I don’t play the bass because I can’t. What this has meant is that when we’ve come to have to approach playing the new album live, it’s going to be very interesting. There is a huge amount of stuff on the album where I’m doing so much vocals that having me stood there playing bass is taking away from the performance. On the King Blues tour, I was playing bass on ‘Kids’ and then I decided to drop that because the song was dying. On the forth date of the tour or so, I switched to being away from the bass and suddenly the song came alive. So the new songs are going to have to go in that direction. But that’s not the perfect compromise, because we’re dropping a whole guitar that’s part of the track. So the point of all this is that we don’t know exactly what we’re going to be doing once the new album comes around and we don’t know how we’re going to approach things… clear as mud.
In terms of the guitars, James and Nick are quite different players. James is very good with the more modern metal stuff and is fantastic with stuff he’s made up himself with a herbal remedy and an evening in. Nick is more versatile and solid as a straight-up rock / pop guitarist and picks things up quicker and is easier to jam with. I’m guessing that, looking forward, even if we do have to bring a new bass player into the mix, Nick’s still going to be the ‘main’ guitarist in that he plays on everything and James will hopefully be able to do some live synth work on stuff like, say, ‘Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!’ to make the synths side of things more interesting and organic. Its cool the way that we’ve all been able to move in and out and between in terms of roles but at some point we’re going to have to ‘shit or get off the pot’ as they say and maybe bring someone else into the fold as a live bass player or multi-instrumentalist.

In terms of the actual gear we’re using, click the picture below and that answers that. I’ve posted it properly below on the Tumblr so you can get a better look. Apart from a few additions to Nick’s arsenal like a new delay pedal, it’s pretty much the same…

While we’re at it, why bass? Do you have sausage fingers, think it’s the cooler hip-hopier approach or just prefer a back seat? 
I definitely didn’t and don’t have sausage fingers(!) There was a variety of reasons. Bass is very much my first instrument and I felt I was late in actually taking learning music seriously (I was about 16) so I felt that picking up bass was more achievable in terms of learning to be good more quickly. To be honest, it totally is. Any bass player that tells you otherwise is trying to defend the instrument, which is fine, because it is a rich and interesting instrument in lots of ways but it is easier to pick up and play at a basic level. My school mate Simon played guitar really well and Neil (as in Neil Macca who is still our drummer now) played the drums really well so I learned the bass, basically (argh!). My dad was a bass player and played bass for some decent names like Rufus Thomas back in the day and there was always an acoustic guitar in my house, so I was always familiar with instruments in general. But being a stubborn little sod I was always resistant to picking them up and taking lessons etc. When I eventually did, it was to help my mate Simon to play his GCSE music and accompanied him by playing ‘Under The Bridge’ by RCHP on bass, just as a favour to him and it was the first thing I learned. Inspired that I could play something by a band I liked, I dived head on in and decided I was a bass player and he, Neil and I were a band. And it went from there.

I think I liked the bass because I was so into rap-rock with bands like Rage Against The Machine, Fishbone and Primus who always had interesting bass stuff going on before I even realised it. And then there was the whole Cypress Hill, Dr Dre stuff I liked too which was all basslines so it just fitted with me right away. I’ve always listened to music with the question ‘does it move my neck back and forward?’ as something that was vital. And then as time went on and I got into ska and punk and hardcore and drum n bass, it became almost chicken and egg but I always liked the stuff that was bouncy, with what I would consider good rhythm sections, be it The Specials or The Smiths or Bob Marley or Green Day. I never had that ‘two-guitarists with a bass player stuck at the back’ like Oasis and Radiohead in my head because I always had that Led Zeppelin 3-piece plus vocalist archetype. The whole taking a back-seat thing wasn’t a thought to me. In RHCP Flea was as cool and in your face as the guitarist, as was Timmy C in Rage and Geezer Butler in Black Sabbath and Eric Avery in Jane’s Addiction. Even with the whole ska-punk thing, I was always drawn to the bouncy stuff like King Prawn and Suicide Machines over the chaotic brass-on-punk, say, Lightyear and MU330. When Big D and The Kids Table slowed down and did Strictly Rude I became a massive fan, I think that’s because I’m pre-disposed to liking more groovy stuff rather than liking it because I’m a bass player. Maybe that’s just how I hear things so maybe that’s why I can play the bass and make up basslines. I dunno.

I guess sometimes wish I’d have learnt guitar or piano earlier, because I think my song-writing would be better in terms of chord progressions. Being a bass player, I kind of liked to write a bassline and shout on it and call it a song and didn’t get the idea of chord movements and the like until much later and didn’t really get totally on top of that aspect of song-writing until ‘Ruff Guide’ (even on our original SB6 demo some of the chord progressions are unconventional. Shit might be a better word). But what I will say for bass is that if you’re wanting to write whole arrangements being the middle-person in the mix gives you an immersion into an arrangement where you are in a great place to know exactly what everyone is doing in a song, drums, guitars, vocals and all. That’s why I think people like Charles Mingus and a lot of bass players make good band leaders. Being in a band, I’ve always written songs and found being behind the bass a very comfortable place to listen to what EVERYONE is doing when writing songs whereas, say, the drummer, has to concentrate on what they’re doing. Cos the bass in SB6 is quite simple, it gives me time and space to check everything else out. Nowadays I definitely write more on the guitar or just in my head but I ultimately think of myself as a bass player. Even if I move onto more vocals and leave the bass behind in the future, I think I will still write on it and always jam with it. The bass is good.
Anyway, that was fun, sorry if it’s a bit long-winded. I get on one and just break on through to the other side as Jim Morrison was so fond of saying. I’ve still got a ton of questions to answer but maybe if I can reblog silly pictures of girls on roller skates and cupcakes between blogs, I might be more drawn back to this page. I think I’ve already got more people following this than the other blog and I’ve imported all the old stuff so sonicboomsix.blogspot is dead. Long live sonicboomsix.tumblr!
Until The Sunlight Comes…

Barney x