A year is a long time in anyone’s eyes and mind. In musical terms a lot can happen and times can change in the blink of an eye. When you are based in Tyneside and go by the name of The Longsands though, the rise and rise seems to be a continuous motion.
The five-piece, who hail mainly from Cramlington, on the outskirts of Newcastle, have been around for a good few years now (since around 2006), but it is only recently that they have gone full tilt into making their music matter. The only change in which they have had to really overcome arrived with the recent departure of Bass Guitarist, Gary Ormston, in late-November. His replacement came in the form of Callum Thompson.
The Indie Rock band though has had a year to remember, and a one that was predicted when they attended a talk-in with ‘Mad Frankie Fraser.’ The Gangland legend was quoted as saying back then that “the band has a great look and their music captures the way this generations feeling right now.
“I’m sure that they will do well and I’ll advise that people buy the album or I might have to pay them a visit.”
The album referred to was the soon to be released, ‘Meet Me in Spanish City’ which includes the classics such as ‘Little Britain,’ ‘Worlds Collide,’ ‘Affair in Manchester,’ and ‘Streets and Pavements,’ amongst numerous other well-versed tracks.
The year though began with the band supporting Simon Fowler, Oscar Harrison and Ocean Colour Scene when they were invited to perform at the second birthday bash for Factory 251 back in February. Including that outing, and by the time they appeared at The Cluny on the 9th December, the lads will have played some sixteen main gigs throughout the year of 2012, as well as appearing on weekly events in and around the Tyneside area.
March would see them perform at the O2 Academy in Newcastle as a support for CAST and was to be followed just three months later by their debut album launch gig at Newcastle University. The gig was to be a 90 minute set where they not only performed tracks from their album but also some new, unheard materials.
Ian Barnes, writer and rhythm guitarist for The Longsands, was quoted in an interview during the year saying that “we will put our all into the songs.
“They are ours and we love them.”
The album launch would be supported by that of The Bluetones and Ambershift. The year was getting better by the day.
Upon the final release of ‘Meet Me in Spanish City’ interviews would come thick and fast for Barnes and the rest of The Longsands – Trevor Cox, David Stanyer, Gary Ormston and Paul Stephenson. Interviews which included Purple Soul, Football Burp and Rocksucker amongst those with the usual named publications.
The year continued with their single, ‘Shut Your Mouth,’ gaining much welcomed airtime on BBC Radio 2 and was sharp followed by interest from the legendary Eurythmics guitarist and producer, Dave Stewart after he put a request out on the social networking site, Twitter, for a good support band when in Sunderland. Not surprisingly he would soon be inundated with messages suggesting that of The Longsands.
Album reviews would also come thick and fast, the lads were fast becoming the talk of the music industry, and rightly so, especially in the eyes of north-eastern musical aficionados.
The summer of 2012 would see the band announce their attendance at several festivals and which included the SKY fest Big Weekend in Edinburgh.
More recently the lads have also been back on BBC Radio 2, this time being invited to perform a live session for the masses.
Then there was the shock for followers of The Longsands, the departure of Bass Guitarist, Gary Ormston, ‘Gaz’. Upon the announcement of his impending departure, Gaz was quoted as saying that, “Unfortunately, on a personal level for me, as things continue to progress and the future prospects of The Longsands look brighter than ever, it is now time for me to hang up my boots (or bass, more specifically!).
“As some of you will know recent developments in my personal life and the demands of my job and the band over the next 12 months have made me reach this decision which, trust me, wasn’t one I’ve enjoyed doing or found particularly easy.
“Having been in The Longsands from the beginning, calling time on it has definitely made me appreciate what I have experienced. Pinching Bruce Foxton’s wine back stage on the FTJ tour, recording the album at stupid o’clock in the morning at the studio, the album launch night in June at Newcastle University and sharing various hideously coloured Travelodge’s across the country enjoying (or at times enduring!) minimal sleep and maximum alcohol consumption night after night!
“I’d like to sign off in style and take the opportunity to thank all the fans who have, and continue to make this all possible. My last gig as The Longsands’ official bass player will now be the DVD launch at The Cluny on Sunday 9th December, although I will remain close to the band and help out wherever I can.
“I’d appreciate it if as many of you as possible could make The Cluny show and join me in a beer or 10! I, more than anyone, want to see the band succeed and wish them all the best in 2013.”
This led to the search for a replacement, and, after strenuous auditions, Tynesider Callum Thompson, was successful in becoming Ormston’s replacement, if the term was to be warranted. Upon his arrival with the band Thompson was quoted as saying that “’I’m a farmer’s son from the wilds of Seaton Sluice, brought up on Dire Straits, Rory Gallagher and Big Country. I picked up a guitar to impress the girls in school and found it only attracted the lads, stuck with it though!
“I have played guitar for 16 years now, played bass in The Din for 3 years. Recorded two albums at Trinity Heights and have performed at some awesome gigs around the region including The Sage. I have also worked on projects with Indria (traditional Indian music meets western stuff) I also play Banjo, guitar and ukulele.
“I’d like to thank the lads in the band for this opportunity and also wish Gaz the best of luck in the future.”
Now it is on to the show at The Cluny on the 9th December and then the eagerly anticipated first DVD, a live one at that, with the impending release of ‘The Longsands Live at Newcastle University’ due to hit music stores and beyond on the 12th December, just in time for Christmas, followed by a visit to Newcastle’s Think Tank where the band were deemed to be ‘unplugged’ in support of Echo & The Bunnymen and The Lightening Seeds. Several days after the band would be back again at the Think Tank, supporting Ocean Colour Scene’s Simon (Fowler) and Oscar (Harrison).
Continuance in the same vein will see The Longsands have an unforgettable 2013 that should, without question, eclipse the one they have just had in 2012.
Sponsored by EGH Radio Rocks the home of unsigned rock music, 24/7 and the home of Anne’s Rock Show, Monday’s from 9pm
From a little County Durham former pit village of Shotton Colliery stems a musical murmuring that is causing a rather large Twister across the airwaves and beyond as Stevie Stoker and his rock cohorts continue to tear up the music scene.
Having recently celebrated his 25th birthday, band founder and lead singer, Stevie Stoker has suddenly found himself looking back on over a dozen years of musical madness for the band in which he started when at school in early 2004 has this year shared the same stage as Electric Six, Status Quo, and Bumblefoot (Ron Thal of Guns ‘n’ Roses fame).
All that has gone between then and now has never wavered Stevie’s spirits and, as an only child, has had the full backing of his parents, Steve and Shirley Stoker, as well as partner Rebecca Rawlinson. It’s the kind of support network you could only dream about but for the Stoker’s, life on the road is their son’s life, and they encourage it with open arms.
Since that original formation back at school, Stevie included, there has been some eighteen members go through the doors, but the music has remained very much the same, and that is what keeps their loyal band of followers pretty much onside, so much so that they’ll travel any and everywhere around the country to support the lads, irrespective of incarnation.
“You have to think though, we had a steady line-up for five of those years but, if you want to be in a band, be in this band, then you have to stay grounded for nobody gives you a leg up, you have to work yourselves in order to get somewhere and that’s what we’ve all done,” began Stevie.
“When we first began, back in 2004, we were already doing bits of our own material and then, when Someone’s Gotta Lie was released we knew that doing that (originals) was the way forward, knew what the tracks we did, and would do, sounded like, and things would be made going forward.
“Now, when I listen back to the first album, I love it. Some of those tracks actually rock. It was all different though when we first began, we were just 13-years-old and although we set little goals, nobody wanted to be the lead singer, so I did it myself.”
From then until now Stevie hasn’t looked back with anger or regret. Far from. He is very much aware that everything happens for a reason whether it’s playing outside of school as a child entering his teenage years, those early gigs at the band’s long-term home at ‘The Fleming’ in Shotton, right through to being a full-time, gigging band who are pretty much always on the road, whether it be here in their native north-east or further afield.
“That first, proper gig we did, was at a place called Breathless at Blackhall and we but mere kids then,” continued Stevie.
“It was an amazing gig though and still one of the biggest buzzes I’ve ever had. From that moment on we all knew wanted more, much more. The Fleming, until it was knocked down, was a family haunt and where my parents met so everything was done there so it was upsetting, the end of an era, when that place went.
“Everything that we have done though has continued to build up to where we want to be and we know that we can give a lot to both the music industry, and to the people. That’s how we want to be and will always look to connect with them. We have fans who follow us everywhere, people like Jemma Henderson and Joyce Barugh, so we’ll always look to give something back.”
Over the years their many members have included that of Louis Sera, Niall Whittaker and Johnny Kell, the latter whom, other than Stevie, has had the longest individual run in the band stretching over eight years.
By the time they played alongside, and as chief support to, Bumblefoot at the O2 Academy in April this year the quartet, which included Kyle Hughes, Edward Bell and Karl Scott, where coming to the end of that particular band incarnation.
That was a special night in its own right and since then, the new quartet consisting of Matt Whitaker, Jake Grimes and Joe Major, have continued to go from strength-to-strength. Firstly, the new awesome foursome went onto play at Lechlade within two months of melding, Quo legend Francis Rossi saying afterwards that their “songs are great,” “Pink Floyd cover was great,” and that they “were loud,” – tribute indeed.
“Although the Bumblefoot gig was the best we’ve played together as a band and served a purpose from which a lot of good came out of it,” added Stevie.
“Now it’s all been about a fresh start, a clean slate with three, hardworking people who want this as much as I do. Famous Last Words was a closure piece for me, a closure and launching a new beginning and to be able to move forward – we want people to know that we are still about, to know what we are doing, and that we care about our fans.”
With a new, short-play EP due for release in early 2016 the only other thing that Twister promise is festivals, more gigs, a double tour date of which one will be of their own making, and a New Year’s Eve extravaganza at Bowburn Community Centre.
It will pretty much be the same as they have been before, on a ‘Feeding Frenzy.’
Sunderland certainly have something new and exciting to shout about as Indie Rock band, Social Room, successfully released their new single, Be Forever Mine, at Independent Sunderland at the weekend.
The six-piece, fronted by vocalist Matty Smith and consisting of Alex Gunn (bassist), Adam Potts (guitar), Simon Bewick (guitar) and Chris Leonard (keys), with the injured drummer, Sticks, being ably replaced by Tim Harker.
With support coming from Teesside band, Plastic, Independent was filling nicely by the time Social Room took centre stage, and what a performance they gave with debut single SR7 as much received as latest hit, Be Forever Mine was.
Not only did first and last go down well but others, One More Round, Great Escape and a very rousing rendition of Underworld’s Born Slippy added to what can only be described as exhilarating, thunderous, a classic show for the ages, was put out by Sunderland’s finest sextet.
The crowd were with the lads from the off and, as their set progressed, the vocal support increased peaking with football-esque chants of Social Room, chants the band not only played to, but increased their tempo of.
Looking towards an exciting new year these indie diamonds are certainly a one to watch with Be Forever Mine putting the band onto a new spectrum; if you’ve not seen them live then see them, if you have seen them then you certainly need to go back.
Social Room and Be Forever Mine were certainly not Born Slippy and if you want One More Round then Let Me See You Work It.
Time stood still for nobody on August 12 as indie rockers, The Longsands, made their eagerly anticipated return to the music scene, showing little sign of a recent hiatus as they, quite literally, rocked The Cluny.
Backed already by celebrity support in Bez from the Happy Mondays, and Whispering Bob Harris from BBC Radio 2 they made sure that the fans got all that and more when performing tracks old, and new for their adoring fans.
They were there, in their hundreds, old and young alike – even former ‘Sands guitarist, Gaz Ormston put in an appearance in support of his former colleagues.
Craig Redpath and The Red Jets opened in style and set the tone for what would fast become an exhilarating night of non-stop indie rock that was certainly worth the journey out.
When they finally took the stage The Cluny erupted, rightly so as it had been a while since they last played together as a full band.
Opening proceedings with the first track from their new album, a masterpiece in ‘Adrenaline Junkie Flu,’ embarking upon a full repertoire of sound from both ‘Meet Me in Spanish City’ and ‘Us & Them.’
There was even time for an unscheduled acoustic set mid-show thanks to an issue with Callum Thompson’s guitar that needed urgent repair, showing that anything can happen performing live.
Interaction with the fans was in order throughout, it always is at a Longsands gig; they don’t demand it, it just comes naturally for who they’ve become, more so as tracks such as Bully, Where’s My Daddy Gone and Scissors and Stone among others.
Favourites such as Streets and Pavements, North South Divide, Standing in the Shadows and Little Britain got deserved, welcome reception.
Trevor Cox and Ian Barnes vocalised to the hilt, Callum Thompson and David Stanyer chipped in with their own around their strumming to their hearts content, and Paul Stephenson had his drums reverberating around the venue adding extra to the occasion.
No matter what they played from their impressive catalogue of music, Longsands followers old and new hung on every last note.
It was like they had never been away, and the return, well it could be the start of something really special.
The end result was stunning! At the back end of last year fans were finally treated to two new releases, both unique in their own right. The first was released days before the General Election and was entitled ‘Tomorrow we Vote,’ a classic track timed to perfection; although Ian insists it’s timing was completely coincidental!
Newcastle-based all-female trio, Scream of Sirens, are a rock band out to make a lot of noise and show that, in the words of their latest single, they are going to ‘Get Some.’
Fronted by vocalist Steph Dawson and flanked by Ruth Cranston (guitar and vocals) and Emma Anderson (drums and vocals), the trio only recently came into the scene in their current form late last year and are presently making announcements aplenty regarding singles, signing with a publishing company, and enlisting the guidance of a Media & PR specialist.
“We were approached by Wipe Out Music Publishing’s John Esplen as they were very interested in what we’ve been doing,” began Ruth.
“He’d heard our single ‘Get Some’ on BBC Introducing and liked the differing styles which we offer (in comparison to other clients they have). They’ve already got a good, varied roster so we are definitely looking forward to working with them.
“Our EP, Scream, which was released earlier this year, has been signed over to them and we’ve been afforded plenty of options to work with them in the future which is great for us.”
That EP contains tracks such as ‘Let You Go’ and ‘Get Some’ which came fast on the back of a debut show which saw them supporting Cherie Currie, the voice of The Runaways, putting them straight into the mix and which had Currie saying afterwards: “You rock, great band, keep it up!”
In the twelve months ‘Scream’ has done just that, screamed at the rock-loving public meaning they are looking at more, and sooner than later, Ruth adding: “Both the EP and the single, ‘Get Some’ has been going down really well which is amazing for us, we’re delighted they done as well as they have.
“The single, ‘Let You Go,’ has been done for a video now which will be released in the next few weeks and we’re hoping we can get another one out before the end of the year, after that, and a few gigs, we’ll take a little time to finalise the album which comes out later next year.”
Whilst planning their album for 2017 this year for Scream of Sirens will finish with October finales at the Vintage Rock Bar in Doncaster, and at the Blazing Rag in Mossley, and the possibility of two regional shows just for good measure.