Posts Tagged ‘Hands off Gretel’

Christopher Nosnibor

“I’ve fucked my wrist – chipped a bone in rehearsal.” I’m talking to Dom Smith, drummer with Seep Away. His band are due on in ten minutes. Should he even be playing? He’s not exactly a gentle percussionist. But as he and the rest of the band take to the stage to Hole’s ‘Doll Parts’, it’s clear he’s adrenalized and up for going all out. Screamer Jay is kitted out in full mini-skirted drag and looking killer. Seep Away get harder, heavier, denser and louder with each outing, and tonight, Jay is even more manic and confrontational than ever, writhing on his knees among the front rows.

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Seep Away

Brooders might have a tough act to follow, but if it bothers them, they’re not showing it. They may be young – they certainly look it – but this power trio are solid as they come. They knock out some driving grunge tunes, which are dark, dense, and weighty, but also so much more. They pack in some neat and hooky melodies alongside the chunky, bass-driven noise: in many respects, they’re the quintessence of 90s alt-rock, and they know how to nail down a hefty Nirvana-inspired riff.

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Brooders

Hands Off Gretel have drawn a decent crowd, particularly for a Thursday night that’s blessed with beer garden weather. In fact, it’s a battle to get a decent spot down the front on account of the clamour of folks with their phones out, filming. It’s not hard to see – or hear – why: they’re a killer live band, who combine a raw, ragged energy with a musical tightness. And there’s simply no sidestepping the appeal of Lauren Tate.

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Hands Off Gretel

I’ve been criticised on occasion for commenting on the physical attributes of women in bands, because despite the fact I’m equally likely to comment on the physical aspects of a man in a band, it’s not really the done thing. But Lauren Tate doesn’t so much invite the eyes to focus on her, but demands it. If the powder-blue hot pants and matching top, accompanied by knee-high socks, is sort of cutesy-sexy, the heavy eye makeup, smeared lipstick and truly ferocious full-throated vocal is terrifying. It’s the perfect paradox of appeal and repel, the cheerleader slut who’ll murder you and play with the blood. This, of course, makes her the embodiment of the grunge style; the oppositional elements of quiet / loud, melody and discord, introspection and screaming rage. And the songs encapsulate all of this perfectly. Yes: let’s not forget the songs, or the rest of the band. Both are equally essential to the band’s appeal.

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Hands Off Gretel

Tonight, airing a set built around debut album Burn the Beauty Queen, the band positively tear into the guts of those songs, channelling every ounce of fury into those angst-filled aural assault. Dropping ‘Be Mine’ as the second track of the set, it’s a shuddering, full-on bass-led attack. ‘Bad Egg’ is served with a huge dose of venomous self-loathing, and ‘One-Eyed Girl’ is pure Live Through This era Hole – although unlike their forebears, Hands Off Gretel don’t sound ropey, and you can be pretty confident they’ll make it all the way through the set. And by the end of the set, everyone’s a sweaty mess, uplifted by the joy of catharsis.

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Aural Aggro faves Hands Off Gretel return to York on Thursday and promise to bring with them a tidal wave of angry, angsty grunge rock.

They’re pitched as being ‘for fans of Nirvana, Hole and Alt Grunge’, and it’s an accurate enough summary, as their debut album Burn the Beauty Queen evidences in spades. But what it doesn’t really convey is just what a killer live act they are, and in Lauren Tate they have a real star in the making as their focal point.

Support comes from Brooders and the mighty (and seriously noisy) Seep Away. Needless to say, we’re fans.

There’s more info, including ticket links, at the Facebook event page. See you down the front!

 

 

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It’s no secret that we’re fans of Hands Off Gretel here at Aural Aggro. Burn the Beauty Queen is – in our educated, objective opinion – a bona fide contemporary grunge classic.

Following the video release of ‘Bad Egg’ at the start of April, they’ve gone and done a cracking promo for ‘Plasters’ too. Watch it here:

 

Christopher Nosnibor

This conversation happened. It didn’t quite happen as was originally planned, but shit happens and storms happen. Maidstone-based pop-rock quintet Weekend Recovery may have been late – way late, after storm Doris fucked all things traffic, meaning the journey to Leeds took an insane eight hours – to their own show on first night of their first headline tour, but they still made it on stage in fair time and finished on time, played like pros and rocked the house down in the process. All of which is to say, they may be a relatively new act, and they may be young in years, but they know how to conduct themselves, and demonstrate an admirable work ethic and commitment to what they do.

These are not easy times for being in a band, and the economics of the music industry in the twenty-first century mean that music-making can only be a sideline or hobby for most. But the way to make it is to treat music-making like a full-tie job: it takes 110% just to get off your arse and tour without label backing. Weekend Recovery – with a bit of crowdfunding assistance have taken the enormous leap from local band occasionally venturing further afield, to proper touring entity, in order to promote their new single ‘Don’t Try and Stop Me’.

AA: Before becoming Weekend Recovery in April last year, you and your fellow band-members were the Lauren Forster Band. Why the change?

LF: We changed it because I didn’t feel like being called Lorin Jane Forster Band. Credit to my band mates who work very bloody hard – also it’s really tricky to get higher up a bill when people think you’re an acoustic act.

So more about making clear you’re a proper band, rather than a solo artist with backing?

That’s exactly it.

Why Weekend Recovery?

Well, I personally wanted Ninja Pandas, but I got voted out, she explains. I can’t help but laugh. Ninja Pandas would have been ace. But perhaps not as easy to be taken seriously with. It actually comes from my guitarist Jordan’s favourite band The Darkness’ song ‘Friday Night’.

Ok, so I do find it difficult to digest the fact that The Darkness could be anyone’s favourite band – other than perhaps Justin Hawkins’ mum, but I let it ride. Because there’s a time for music snobbery and being a twat, and time to rein it in. Weekend Recovery don’t sound like The Darkness, or any other second-rate Queen tribute, or any other overblown pomp-rock.

You describe yourselves as pop rock. Pop is often a dirty word in rock circles, and pop-punk tends to be lame as, but Weekend Recovery have some serious nuts on the evidence of your first two singles. Musically, who inspires you – and why?

Personally, I love Paramore. I’m sure that’s obvious and Katy Perry is my hero! But I love Bikini Kill and Slaves as well, so a real mismatch.

In context, those seemingly incongruous juxtapositions work well, and yes, they do come through in the music. For my money, I’d take Weekend Recovery over Paramore (too obvious, and Hayley’s voice grates) or Katy Perry (too bubblegum and lacking in substance) any day. Here is a band with some substance, not to mention a singer with a decent voice. But I’m curious: how about the rest of the band, and to what extent do they contribute to the songwriting and development?

They love a variety of music – Artur likes funk; Jordan loves The Darkness; Sean, Aerosmith, and Matt metal and Little Mix. I write the songs, lyrics and melody, but the lads jazz ‘em up.

That’s one hell of a range, and no mistake. It shouldn’t work. I daren’t ask if she’s having me on about metal and Little Mix, but then, I have a hefty stack of albums by Sunn O))) and Godflesh in a collection which also houses records by A-Ha, Duran Duran, and even a Stefan Denis 12”. What would you say distinguishes you from other bands?

It’s hard to say, because there are sooooo many bands. She had a point. We’re at band overload, a point of saturation beyond saturation. I receive in the region of up to a hundred releases a week to check out, and in truth, half of my emails don’t even get opened. And so it comes down to bands putting themselves out there and pushing like hell. We work really very hard and not afraid to fail, she says. And perhaps that’s it, in a nutshell: fearlessness is the key.

Image: how important is it? I’m aware of the fact I’m asking this question of a woman who strolled nonchalantly into a tiny venue wearing a calf-length animal-print coat and then performed in a crop-top on a wild night in Leeds in February. It’s not that she radiated ego, but a sense of occasion and role.

I think it’s important that the crowd know who the band is and doesn’t just think it’s a random person off the street – if that makes sense.

Weekend Recovery 1

It does: jeans and t-shirt bands just look like they don’t care and could be just anyone. Everyone’s anonymous: we need bands who look like bands, rather than guys who’ve wandered on stage after a shift in some IT department. So I push a bit further. Women in rock: there are many, and yet I still get the impression it’s not an easy ride. What’s your experience so far?

I rise to it, like I’ve had the looks and the ‘oh here we go’ but I’m more of a bloke than most of ‘em.

I can believe this. She may be smiley and affable, but it’s abundantly clear that Lorin has colossal balls, at least metaphorically. You’ve toured and played support to other bands – notably Hands Off Gretel – but this is your first proper headline tour: how does it feel?

Scary as hell! If it weren’t for Hands Off Gretel I probably never would have had the kick up the arse to think ‘hell this can be done on your own without help of agency or pluggers, etc.’ – but we love it, love meeting other bands and seeing the country and what every city’s music scene has to offer!

From the live clips I’ve seen on-line so far, and from your show in Leeds on the first night of your tour, I get the impression you’re a band who thrive on playing live: is this the case, and what does playing live mean for you?

You get such a different atmosphere from playing live than a recording, the energy is something that you can’t expel to your fans from playing in a studio – I think anyway – it’s an experience you can only share to a live audience. Also, I love meeting people that like our music!

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What’s in the pipeline for Weekend Recovery once you’re done with the tour?

Well, we’re supporting Skinny Girl Diet, which I’m super amped about, then it’s back in the studio I imagine, and then take over the world!

No two ways about it: Skinny Girl Diet is an ace support to bag. And I always say that ubiquity is the key to world domination.

It totally is! Yes, we’re supporting them at the Lady Luck on 30th March, which is funnily enough where we supported HOG.

It’s funny what goes around comes around, and perhaps this is fate. Weekend Recovery aren’t only a hard-grafting band, but a band who are intent on driving their own career path and making their own luck. Armed with a bunch of killer tunes and a go get ‘em attitude, if ever a band did deserve world domination, it’s Weekend Recovery.

‘Don’t Try And Stop Me’ is out now.

Grunge is not dead. What’s more, with Hands Off Gretel, it’s kicking, scratching an hollering loud and angry. Having grabbed our attention last year, they’re starting 2017 in suitably fiery fashion, with a new self-released video. ‘World Against She’ is an angst-spitting belter. You can watch it here, and we srongly recommend that you do:

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s an interesting demographic spread in the Fulford Arms tonight, almost evenly split between middle-agers and young alt types. This will make perfect sense to anyone who’s already heard Hands Off Gretel: founded and fronted by 19-year old Lauren Tate, they’re the sound of youthful angst, raw and brimming with rage and entirely relatable to their peers. Their sound also bears more than a passing resemblance to early Hole, and in Lauren, there’s the wild energy of late 80s / early 90s Courtney Love that’s instantly recognisable to those who remember that far back. I’m conflicted: downcast at being reminded so starkly that I’m now in the middle-age camp, elated that I was there the first time around and also that there are young bands with this much passion and this much gut making music that’s real and fearless.

Humble Scoundrel kick things off and while they’re also young, they’re also seriously good. They’re fronted by a guy who looks kinda nerdy in his specs, but said front man is renowned Leeds band poster / flyer / t-shirt etc. artist Tommings, and they’re no flappy weaklings: the plaid-shirted power trio kick out a decent brand of rocking indie with some strong harmonies and some elastic 90s alt/rock basslines whacked through a BigMuff and cranked up to gut-churning levels to give them something special. The lead vocals are poppy, but countered by some crunching guitars. Somewhere around the mid-point, they drop a ‘quiet track. It’s built around a gothy Celtic guitar line over some thumping martial drumming, and it brings some well-placed variation in a strong set, and the between-song banter is genuinely amusing.

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Humble Scoundrel

It’s been just shy of a year since I last saw Seep Away play, and they’ve come on no end in the intervening months. Tighter, louder, more in-yer-face, it’s their increased confidence that really makes the difference, and this – and a triangle – is what drives their full-throttle bass-driven grindpunkthrash racket. Jay Sillence raves and lurches around like a man possessed, while the musical proponents of the band – Max Watt (guitar, backing growls), Dani Barge (bass) and Dom Smith (drums) – give it their all. I’m always drawn to bands who pour in every last ounce of energy into a performance, largely because it’s indicative of their passion and commitment, and to see a band who sound great but are clearly coasting just doesn’t provide the same excitement. That Dom’s on the brink of exhaustion by the last track, but powers through at a hundred miles an hour tells pretty much all you need to know about the frenetic force of their live assault. Carnage of the best kind.

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Seep Away

There’s a crush for the front at the little low-staged venue for Hands Off Gretel, and it’sno surprise: while their aural assault is quite something, they’re a live band you need to see as well as hear. Lauren – dressed in hot-pants and ripped tights, a tiara nestled in her long dreadlocks and ‘BURN’ scrawled onto her chest in makeup – is high-kicking and hollering hard from the start as they tear through a set which showcases the majority of their incendiary Burn the Beauty Queen album.

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Hands Off Gretel

Every track is a highlight (although I’m personally pleased to hear ‘Bad Egg’), and while Lauren is obviously the focal point and an immense presence on stage – not to mention a singer of immense power, with a terrifying, full-throated holler, and to describer her as a compelling performer would be an understatement – it wouldn’t work if they didn’t operate as such a cohesive unit. Hands Off Gretel are a band, an a strong one, who really work the quiet/loud dynamic, and when they break out into the chorus riffs, they really give it.

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Hands Off Gretel

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Hands Off Gretel

By the end of the set, the stage is awash with beer – on account of numerous spillages and the fact Lauren has a tendency to cool herself by pouring it over herself – and perspiration. Lauren’s makeup is smeared, and after a racketous rendition of ‘Oh Shit’, they don’t bother to leave the stage before encoring with a killer one-two of ‘Eating Simon’ and ‘My Size’. When it comes to blistering intensity, Hands Off Gretel have got it nailed, and judging by tonight’s turnout, there’s a real thirst for their brand of angst-laden rage.

16th September 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Hands Off Gretel, formed only a year or so back, have already received frothing endorsements from Shirley Manson, Kate Nash and Linda Perry. The primary focus of such enthusiasm is nineteen-year-old Lauren Tate, who draws her inspiration from the likes of Brody Dalle and Courtney Love. It’s perhaps easy to forget that Courtney was, at one time, a formidable and fierce front woman: the first to Hole albums, Pretty on the Inside in particular, were raw, confrontational and really screamed home just tough women in rock could be.

Described as ‘a powerhouse of creativity’, Tate’s not only the band’s frontwoman and songwriter, but she also designs the band’ merchandise and is responsible for their videos, album artwork and photography. Some may say that it’s an example of control freakery, but bands tend to need someone with ambition, focus and (metaphorical) balls to make things happen, as musicians are, all too often, slack fuckers.

Without wishing to denigrate the contributions of the other band members – Burn the Beauty Queen is clearly a collective effort – and the sonic impact is more than a solo effort.

They come snarling out of the traps with high octane grunge-rager ‘Always Right’ and as much as it’s reminiscent of early Hole, L7, Babes in Toyland and Solar Race are equally a fitting comparison. There’ so much attitude here, and so much fire.

‘Always Miserable’ is so stripped back as to be no-fi to begin, but then halfway through its seven-minutes, it positively erupts in driving riffage and overloading guitar assault and vitriol. ‘bash my brains out, I’m so bored,’ Lauren sneers and hollers nihilistically amidst a tempest of driving guitars. She’s pissed off, alright. And over the course of the album, she vents on alienation, angst and (self) loathing with raw-throated rage, while the musical backing works the classic quiet / loud dynamic perfectly. And when they slow the pace and tone down the overdrive, as on ‘Little Man’ (and again, I’m reminded of Solar Race here), it’s stark and bleak as hell. It also provides a neat counterbalance to the three-chord stomp-and-holler tracks like ‘Oh Shit’, and if single cut ‘Teethin’’ is their concession to a pop track, it’s in the tradition of, say ‘Violet’ or Nymphs at their best (whatddaya mean, you’ve never heard of Nymphs? Sort it out!).

If Burn the Beauty Queen sounds like it’s from the school of ’94, that’s because what goes around comes around, and frankly, the whole pop/punk, post-hardcore and limp, packaged angst of what counts as ‘alternative’ for most of ‘the kids’ these days lacks guts and conviction. Paramore? Fuck that. The fact Lauren Tate is half my age suggests it’s not my nostalgia for the grunge era that makes me prick up my ears at Burn the Beauty Queen, but the fact there’s a new generation tapping into that primal release that only three chord and complete loathing of everything can give. And Burn the Beauty Queen is a great album: it’s got the rawness and authenticity that made grunge exciting. The fact that Tate looks the part will no doubt help Hands Off Gretel get exposure they might otherwise not have done, but to be clear, it’s the music – the power and the passion that crackles from every note – which is what makes Burn the Beauty Queen an essential album.

 

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