August 13th 2022 19:30
Those Damn Crows
Since forming in 2014, Those Damn Crows have lived in the fast lane. They’ve broken bones mid-gig and carried on regardless. They’ve seen their audiences grow from several to several thousand. They’ve crafted a sound inspired by everything from rock and metal pioneers to confessional country stars. And now, with second album Point Of No Return, they have a UK Top 20 record.
There’s an instant quality to the Welsh rockers that lends itself to multiple song types on said record –from the propulsive, Foo Fighters-esque likes of Long Time Dead, chunky hard-hitters such as Set In Stone or moody ballads like Never Win. Building on 2018’s acclaimed debut Murder And The Motive, it’s the sort of slick, robust mix of beef and tenderness you’ll find in modern rock giants like Alter Bridge and Black Stone Cherry.
But there’s more to them than that, not least of all in frontman Shane Greenhall’s lyrics. Indeed, Point Of No Returnis no batch of bog-standard yarns about girls and getting lucky. Who Did Itdraws from the ongoing issue of suicides in their hometown of Bridgend. Sin On Skinreflects themes of depression and self-harm. Be Youarticulates identity struggles that resonate with so many of us at one point of another. Every subject on the record is personal. Shane has felt it all, seen it all...
“Sadly it was too easy to write about, because I was feeling all those things,” he explains. “My marriage was falling apart; not because of the band, it was falling apart anyway, but you add the stresses of the band and then you’re going out more, I gave up my job for the band… And then you’re constantly thinking ‘have I done the right thing?’ and you start having dark thoughts… It was a really tough period. But the beauty of songwriting is that you can make it more accessible to other people, so they can relate to it.”
Musically, too, there’s more to Those Damn Crows than meets the eye. Behind their taut, muscular yet highly melodic brand of hard rock lies a densely packed history of classic rock, punk, country, metal, grunge, pop and more. And it all started in Bridgend in the 90s, when Greenhall, drummer/childhood friend Ronnie Huxford and guitarist Ian ‘Shiner’ Thomas bonded over jams in the music room at the local comprehensive school they all attended. But it was their countless nights – and “sneaky pints” – in pubs across Wales that really taught them how to play.
“We’d go to so many jam nights,” Shane remembers, “in Bridgend, Porthcawl and Swansea… And we did covers across the board, whether it be Green Day or classics like the Kinks. The beautiful thing was when you went to these jam nights you’d hear the older musicians, and they’d do Pink Floyd and AC/DC and Zeppelin. Being kids we didn’t have enough money to have the sort of kit that these older guys had, so we’d borrow Les Pauls and stuff. It was a great experience.”
At home, meanwhile, Shane was also being fed his guitar-playing father’s Johnny Cash, Don Williams and Waylon Jennings records. “My dad used to play music every day,” he says. “Even if we were watching a movie in the living room he’d walk in and pick up his guitar and start playing. Bruce Springsteen was a big part of that too.”
After school the three friends splintered in different directions. Ronnie and Shiner formed a band playing AC/DC-style classic rock, while Shane started playing the club circuit as a duo with his brother (in order to fund the original material he was recording) – playing “anything and everything” from Bon Jovi to Johnny Cash covers. A publishing deal followed, which saw him write more songs as well as sing on albums by other artists. Subconsciously, the three of them were harnessing a collective arsenal of skills and ideas that would eventually streamline into Those Damn Crows.
In the end, to a point, it was tragedy that brought them back together. In the run-up to the band forming, Shane’s father died of cancer. “My dad passing at 58 was the wake-up call that shook me to my core,” he says. “Life is incredibly short and precious and because of that I realised you should spend it doing what you love where you can, for as long as you can. I owe him a lot as we shared a huge love for music, and as tough as it was – and still is – losing him was the most valuable lesson of all.”
Following Shane’s loss drummer Ronnie had a similar wake-up call when his mother passed away, after a brain haemorrhage. The two friends reunited and formed Those Damn Crows, along with Shiner, bassist Lloyd Wood and guitarist David Winchurch.
Today, Shane says, he still finds strength in the response at shows. "When everyone gets it that’s a wonderful feeling. And when people come up to you afterwards and talk about songs like Be You and Behind These Walls and Blink Of An Eye, and you can see people have tattoos of your lyrics…it’s incredible.”
The band pull no punches when it comes to gigs. Drums and bass chops are slick and furious. Guitars bristle with energy and feeling. At the front Greenhall radiates positivity, with the kind of humour and high-voltage appeal that often calls to mind a young Eddie Vedder or Dave Grohl. But in truth the gap between his onstage and offstage self is “pretty huge”.
“I don’t like a big fuss,” he concedes. “I’m kinda reserved, I’ve got a small circle of friends. But when I’m onstage, I feel like this is my opportunity to be who I want to be. And I love that connection with people, which I don’t tend to do in my private life, but when you’re all there for the music and out there to have a good time, that’s infectious.”
It’s been said that you’ve got to hit the lows to feel the highs. Those Damn Crows have experienced lows and channelled them into their music, to deeply cathartic effect for them and their growing, fiercely loyal ‘Crow family’.
And the highs? They’re just getting started…
With an average age of 25, Mason Hill is on a steep upward progression. This award winning band has supported Inglorious, Airbourne and Gun, made festival appearances at Download, Planet Rockstock, TRNSMT and Steelhouse, and played their own sold out headline shows at The Cathouse, The Garage and King Tuts.
This is a new band very much in demand! The Scottish quintet's brand of Modern Hard Rock results in a batch of uncompromising riffs accompanied by anthemic sing along choruses and stadium friendly ballads. Their high energy live shows impress wherever they play, and they display the swagger and confidence of a band that has being doing it for more than twenty years.
THE STORY SO FAR
In 2008 two school friends, vocalist Scott Taylor and lead guitarist James Bird, acted on their musical chemistry and hooked up to write songs. The duo found success, winning the Scottish section of the European battle of the bands Surface Festival competition. This led to a performance at the O2 in London, but more importantly, planting seeds of what the future may hold.
With appetites well and truly whetted, Taylor and Bird formed Mason Hill in 2013 with drummer Craig McFetridge being the first to join the ranks. After a few personnel changes, bassist Matthew Ward settled into the role in 2015, with guitarist Marc Montgomery completing the line-up in 2016 - allowing Taylor to concentrate solely on vocals.
Mason Hill spent the next few years "learning their craft" on stages up and down the UK. This included high profile shows supporting the likes of Graham Bonnet (Rainbow), Snakecharmer (feat. ex-Whitesnake, Thunder & Wishbone Ash members), Toseland, Marco Mendoza (Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy, Ted Nugent, The Dead Daisies) and Stone Broken.
“this is the best new heavy rock act currently performing in the UK.”
“a prodigious talent that belies their fledgling years.”
In December 2015 the band released their debut E.P, the self-titled 'Mason Hill', featuring four tracks which highlighted exactly why this band are turning heads - outstanding songs that demonstrated a maturity far beyond their years. Recorded at The Foundry Music Lab with Sandy Jones (Wet Wet Wet) in the producer's chair, the E.P has been critically acclaimed amongst the music press and fans alike.
2016 brought several breakthroughs in the band's career, firstly the invitation to perform on The Rising Stage at Ramblin' Man Fair, headlined by Whitesnake and Black Stone Cherry, winning the UK wide Highway To Hell battle of the bands competition that earned them opening the main stage slot at Hard Rock Hell, alongside the likes of Ugly Kid Joe, Ratt and Glenn Hughes, appearing at Winterstorm Festival, alongside the likes of Ricky Warwick, Last in Line (ex-Dio) and Inglorious to selling out their first ever headline show at the famous Cathouse Rock Club in Glasgow with one month left to spare - a feat only achieved in recent times by Anthrax and Black Stone Cherry.
The career progression continued into early 2017 when the band was special guest to Inglorious in London at their sold out second album launch show, appeared triumphantly at Download on The Boardie Takeover Stage, opened for Airbourne at their sold-out show in Edinburgh. and returned to their hometown for their second headline show at G2. Again this sold out with demand so great that it was upgraded to the 750 capacity The Garage where the likes of Magnum, Tesla and Symphony X have performed - packing the place to the rafters
The first promo video “'Now You See Me” was released in 2017, which to date has more than a quarter of a million views. The year ended with support for GUN at Glasgow Barrowlands in December plus an appearanceat Planet Rockstock:
"Fresh-faced Glasgow boys Mason Hill were nothing short of a triumph. Completely packing out the room, they served up a rock and roll storm from the offset with anthems like ‘Now You See Me’ before showing off another side of their art with powerful closer ‘Where I Belong’ that delved into rock ballad territory. In fact, the Planet Rockstock faithful were so won over we’ve been inundated with requests for Mason Hill to be bumped up the bill in 2018”(Planet Rock)
In 2018 there has been a strong focus on writing and developing new material with a view to the much anticipated debut album. The first show of the year was at Glasgow’s King Tuts which sold out in three days, ten weeks in advance of show!
“Ladies and gentlemen - Mason Hill are back with fire in their belly. This group of high achievers carry the pressure of early success but as they take to the stage to the intro tape, it is obvious they have class and confidence..." (Down The Front Media)
"There are few up and coming acts in Scotland that have made a notable impression as swiftly as Glasgow rockers Mason Hill. They have grown in popularity and garnered an insane following like nothing else” (SMS, Scotland)
“Mason Hill never disappoint; in fact they always take it to the next level every time you see them” (Jace Media)
This was followed by an appearance at TRNSMT on the same day as Queen, and Steelhouse Festival in Wales alongside such as Black Star Riders, Glenn Hughes and Myles Kennedy.
The latter part of 2018 saw Mason Hill going out on tour supporting The Dan Reed Network at shows across the UK and a return to Planet Rockstock, by popular demand after their performance in 2017, this time on the main stage.
In a further development Mason Hill agreed to part ways with Frontiers Records.
Florence Black are a rock band from Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. The band are three self-taught, childhood friends, lead vocalist/guitarist Tristan Thomas (24), bassist/backing vocalist Jordan Evans (26) and drummer/backing vocalist Perry Davies (24).
Florence Black already have 3 successful EPs behind them and will release their highly anticipated debut album in late 2021. The band worked on demos with Michael Paget (Bullet For My Valentine) at his home studio throughout 2020 and after winning the PRS Momentum Fund were able to record their album with producer Romesh Dodangoda (Long Wave Recording Studio) in November/December 2020 ready for release/tour in late 2021.
Their latest single ‘CAN YOU FEEL IT?’ (released May 28th 2021) is taken from the forthcoming album and reached number 3 in the iTunes Rock Chart. It has also earned the band the award of Classic Rock Magazine ‘Track of the Week’. The music video was directed and filmed by Arran McKenzie (While She Sleeps).
Florence Black’s previous single, ‘Bird On A Chain’, reached the number 1 spot in the UK iTunes Rock chart (August 2020), and to date the song has amassed a huge 2.1 million streams on Spotify.
“BAD ASS MAN! Really good.” - Corey Taylor (Stone Sour / Slipknot)
Florence Black have supported Stone Sour (2017, EU); Reef (2019); and Those Damn Crows (2020) amongst many others. In addition to their own headline run and a variety of festivals and shows booked into 2022, Florence Black will tour the UK/EU in support of Bokassa this October.
Florence Black hit the stage like dynamite, consistently incredible live. Prolific singer/songwriter Tristan Thomas (24, vocals, guitar) owns the room from the off with his huge voice, charismatic stage presence and astonishing technical ability. Tristan is partnered up front by the thunderous energy of Jordan Evans (26, backing vocals, bass) and backed by the rock solid grooves of Perry Davies (24, backing vocals, drums). All three musicians give explosive, highly physical performances that transfix the audience throughout. Florence Black are a must see live band.
Memorably beautiful melodies, crushing heavy riffs and retro vibes combine to create Florence Black’s MASSIVE live sound.
…Yes, there really are only three of them up there!..
Emerging South Wales Alt-Rock outfit, TRIBELESS follow-up a successful stint supporting Those Damn Crows last year with new single, ‘Formed By Us’, available to stream and download on the 16th of April. After releasing several lockdown videos throughout 2020, the band started 2021 by welcoming new members Craig Williams (guitar) and Morgan Price (bass) into the fold. When it was safe to do so, they wasted no time in entering the studio with Grammy-nominated producer, Romesh Dodangoda (Bring Me The Horizon, Holding Absence, Motorhead, Twin Atlantic, Lower Than Atlantis) to record their first songs as a four-piece.
The first track to be released is ‘Formed By Us’ - a precision-drilled slab of contemporary rock centred around an emotionally-charged vocal by Lydia McDonald that showcases both her power and vulnerability. TRIBELESS hail from the fertile musical hotbed of South Wales – an area renowned for producing a fine lineage of stellar, globally successful talent. Theirs is music founded on taut and technical percussive arrangements – dynamic and skilfully arranged songs built to fill large rooms – intricate melodies paired with giant-sized choruses, equal parts anthemic firepower, subtle electronic nuance and progressive, modern alt-rock.
James and the Cold Gun
Cardiff, South Wales alternative rock duo James and the Cold Gun are pleased to reveal their new single ‘Plug Me In’, set for release on 21st May 2021 via Gallows’ label Venn Records.
Alongside the news, the band are delighted to announce they will support SALEM (featuring Creeper front man Will Gould) on their ‘Join The Church’ October 2021 UK tour dates, with tickets on sale now (see below for full listings).
The track is the follow-up to previous single ‘Long Way Home’ which picked up an avalanche of early support from some of rock’s most respected taste-makers, including Kerrang! Magazine, Rock Sound, Punktastic, Dead Press, Running Punks, BBC Introducing Wales, Deezer’s Hot New Rock playlist, Triple J’s Short Fast Loud, Apple Music’s New In Rock, Beez at Mosh Talks on Twitch, Alex Baker at Kerrang! Radio, John Kennedy at Radio X, and Daniel P Carter on the BBC Radio One Rock Show.
A rock and roll ripper so intense that guitarist James Joseph (ex-Holding Absence) actually got a nosebleed tracking the vocals for the song, he says of the track: “'Plug Me In' is a love letter to volume, it's for the times where you feel completely lost and rely on music to make you 'feel something.”
“The past year has been difficult for us all and I think nearly everyone can relate to feelings of helplessness or feeling like 'groundhog day'—getting into a garage and turning our amps up as loud as possible has been such a cathartic release for us.”
Putting the guitar front and centre, the 'solo' at the end of the new single is actually played by 8 different people—all of the band members, producer Adrian Bushby, his assistant engineer, photographer friend of the band Feisal Khazragi, and their drummer’s girlfriend Chloe.