Sunday, 6 October 2013

#174: Catching Up With...Puppet Rebellion (U&I Music Magazine - October Issue)

One of the great things about Manchester, and I'm sure the same could be said about other cities too, is the general willingness of those involved with it's unsigned scene to help each other. Sure there's more than enough pay-to-play promoters around too but with cheap venue hire and a distinct sense of solidarity between bands and fans alike they can be avoided. One band, who, having only formed earlier this year have shot to the forefront of the city's scene, are Puppet Rebellion. A five piece who've captured the imagination of Twitter and bloggers nationwide with their energetic live shows and uplifting indie-pop, Puppet Rebellion are seemingly on the up. Having recently enjoyed a support slot for Catfish & The Bottlemen and with their second release of the year on it's way in the next few months it seems as if doors are opening for the band and they couldn't be more deserving.

Bringing a handful of influences to the table, it's clear that Simon Monaghan and co are looking to bring some variation to a genre that can, at times, seem all too full of convention. 'Chemical Friends' the eponymous title track from this Summer's EP release, is a dark and frenetic track which is somewhat indicative of bands like Interpol or Editors whereas 'The Greatest Lie Ever Told' is a more upbeat and optimistic affair and which manages to feel anthemic in the confines of even the smallest venue, making it a highlight of the band's live sets.

For a band who have only been together eight or nine months, it's impressive how tight they are, and their inherent ability to be to be able to switch between aesthetics, if not complete genres, is a testament to the ease they feel playing together. Tracks with more bite, such as the aforementioned 'Chemical Friends' slot in effortlessly beside poppier, more accessible tracks like 'The New Twenty' on both record and stage alike, helping to keep things fresh whilst appealing to fans of different branches of the genre. The intelligent and sharp lyricism combined with a fresh take on a well-trodden genre make Puppet Rebellion one of the most exciting acts to emerge from Manchester in 2013, and with their live shows doing nothing to hamper their reputation it's clear that the band have absolutely no intention of slowing down their ascent to the top of their game.  

First up, Puppet Rebellion is a fairly original name. How did that come about? And does it have the political connotations it seems to?

CRAIG: It's an historical reference coined by the famous historian Shubert Engelberry in relation to an uprising in the small French village of Debaun during the long hot summer of 1611.

SIMON: Aside from old Shubert it also is a call to arms for all people in all walks of life that are feeling controlled, manipulated and powerless.  I can understand the political connotations and that’s the beauty of it because people can take from it what they want to.  There are very personal reasons behind the name but take from it what you will.

Manchester's obviously a city with a lot of stuff going on in terms of the music scene. What do you think it is about the city that has allowed such a scene to form?

CRAIG: I believe certain cities attract certain type of people. Manchester it seems to me is a magnet for musicians and music lovers. I think this probably came about originally due to the city's rich musical heritage but I think the process accelerates when you have an increasing volume of like minded people in a certain place. For example both myself and Paul, our other guitarist are originally from towns in the Midlands. We both moved here independently because of the city.

SIMON: In the old days we were quite a poor industrial city and I think that our scene probably grew from boredom, a lack of money & the hope of achieving something more than what people had.  Nowadays it’s our rich musical heritage that keeps the scene alive.  Legends are made in Manchester.  My own motivation is a mixture of the two.  I want to be remembered in Manchester like Morrissey, Tony Wilson and people like that because I came from nothing.  I want to prove that a lad from Wythenshawe with a tough upbringing, expelled from school and with stereotypically no chance of doing much with his life can achieve something through music.  There is not a better place to do that than Manchester.

'Chemical Friends' was recently played at during half-time at Old Trafford, that must've been a pretty special moment (providing none of you are stringent City fans, of course). How did that happen?

CRAIG: Yeah they've been a few really random things like that which have happened in recent months which has often come about through Simon's dedication to the world of social media. It's really exciting for sure. Luckily one of our friends happened to be at the game, so we've got a live recording too.

SIMON: Just from networking and building relationships.  Nothing more.  In the 9 months that we have been going so far it’s my proudest moment and being a big United fan one that will take some beating.

You're starting to land some fairly high profile gigs, such as supporting Catfish & The Bottlemen at Factory last week (a show I was gutted to miss). Who would you most like to see yourself on a bill with?

CRAIG: To be on the same bill as any of the modern Indie heavyweights like the Strokes or Bloc Party would be pretty special. To be honest though we're pretty happy with the progress we're making in terms of playing gradually higher profile gigs so we're confident we'll be continuing in the right direction going into the new year.

SIMON: My dream gig would be to be on the bill with Interpol or The Horrors.  This is an achievable goaland one we will work our balls off to achieve.

There's a whole host of venues catering for bands of all sizes in Manchester, what are some of your favourites, to play, or indeed watch other bands?

CRAIG: One of the things I personally love about Manchester is the sheer volume of great music venues in a relatively compact area. There are literally tons of places, which is another reason why I think the city is very special in terms of it's link to music. Some of my favourites are; The Deaf Institute, Gorilla and The Roadhouse.

SIMON: I played at the Ritz in a previous band and that was my favourite larger venue but smaller venues I like are The Castle Hotel, Dry Bar and more recently The Soup Kitchen.  Its really hard to single any out as a favourite though as we have so many top venues.  I want us to play at Deaf Institute, Gorilla & Band on the Wall as soon as possible as we have yet to play there.

Being from Manchester there's clearly a whole host of bands that you've gigged with, who are some of your favourites at the moment.

CRAIG: The Slow Readers Club (also from Manchester) are probably the ones I've enjoyed watching the most so far. They have a reasonably similar sound to us though so maybe that's why I like them!

SIMON: Ruby Tuesday, Slydigs & The Mariveaux

It seems as if the 'scene' in Manchester is fairly self-sufficient at the moment with support coming from all areas of the industry. How important do you think this kind of support and envrionment is for up-and-coming bands such as yourselves?

CRAIG: I'm not entirely sure about the specific support from the industry you're referring to. I think the best thing about the Manchester scene is that there are an abundance of music venues and an abundance of people in the city attending live gigs. Ultimately you need both of those things for music to thrive anywhere.

A question I ask all bands now. You've obviously played your fair share of gigs, so presumably drank more than your fair share of free beer. What would be in your ideal rider, and why?

CRAIG: The standard crate of lager is fine by me.

SIMON: I would like a bottle of Blantons Single Barrell which is a bourbon whiskey.  I love bourbon (A little too much sometimes) and if a promoter really wants to build a relationship with us then he needs to get me onside.  This would get me onside.

You recently released an EP to favourable responses. What's next in the pipeline for PR?

CRAIG: We are going back into the studio at the end of November to record four more tracks. This next EP will be a step up from the last one and everyone who listens to it will most likely become instant fans :-)

SIMON: Mirroring what my illustrious colleague said we are proper excited about releasing the 2nd EP.  Learning how to do all this stuff by yourself with no backing is a challenge we are relishing. We have loads of ambitious plans so I recommend you keep an eye out as we are full of surprises.

Finally, any shameless self-promotion you'd like to get out of your system?

CRAIG: The words of Simon Monaghan will soon be ringing around your ears and coming out of your mouth.

SIMON: Craig is the glue that holds things together.