Friday, 17 August 2012

Blaggers N' Liars 

Mixing that classic British guitar sound with some big U.S rock influences and topping it off with a rep' for putting on some pretty amazing shows, Kav Blaggers is back and announces his support slot with Kasabian, Carl Stanley donned his Casual Musings coat and caught up with him to chat about his forthcoming releases...

Hi Kav,...its all go for you right now isn't it, new single due for release with your first album out to follow later this year, has it been a busy year for you up to now?

'Yeah man its absolutely crazy at the moment, our first release was the Blaggers and Liars EP with Howard Marks but this is the first full album, I play live backed by my band of blaggers- its more of a live thing to be honest, not anything we record under. Everything is performed and recorded under KAV, I suppose the closest way I could describe it would be Neil Young & Crazy Horse or Dylan playing with the band, that kinda vibe.

The albums influenced by the energy of both London and LA and was recorded in both cities, in the industrial part of down town LA- in an old factory, with the basis of some of the songs which were recorded in London at The Fortress. It was mainly me and Josh Ostrander (producer) who's in a band called Eastern Confidence Champions, and my drummer Jim Portas. I've been based over in LA for the past couple of years, trying the songs out on the west coast audiences and that's where the sound really developed- LA is a great city, you can play great gigs every few weeks. One minute your at Silverlake Lounge, The Echo, The Satellite and the next you could be playing The Viper Room, The Ely Ray or The Roxy.'

'Band of Blaggers', great long have you been as a group and are they really good at blagging, the group?..who's chief blagger in the band?

'Yeah I thought I'd better give the band a name when I started to introduce them on stage, the name really comes from the single 'Blaggers n' Liars' which came out in March. I was nick-named Kav Blaggers so I thought yeah, sounds good and gave the musicians the same name- I think its more the type of thing the 50's-60's groups used to do.
I see as were turning the word blaggers into a positive rather than a negative word, you have to blag your self into situations to get any where in life. I think everyone is good at blagging when they've a gun to their heads (figure of speech of course) the song is actually dissing Blaggers 'n liars so we took the name back because it sounded cool, in the US nobody really knows what a blagger is, so its a cool name with no meaning but some thing that's just rock'n'roll.'

Really liked your last single which was all about the 'blag',... 'Blaggers and Liars', a full on rock'n'roll fuck-off to the phonies in the industry as well as a great tune to boot- next is the new single 'King Of The World' this coming September, is it anything like Blaggers and Lairs, that sex pistols energy and real catchy riffs or something totally different.

'Yeah that's a great way to put it, there are a lot of fakers out there. A blagger is a good way to describe them- We know your there and were coming to get you!, I come across them all the time and I can smell them a mile off. They spend more time on their haircuts than learning to play their fuckin instruments or listening to music that means something, the industry is full of them. They have the idea but just don't have the soul, opportunists rather than music fans as its something they do because someone else says its cool, I could never play music just to fit in (best not to get me started, its my blood boiling point) 

'King of the World' is definitely a rock'n'roll tune, Its got a fast-paced dirty vibe to it-but its not punk. Its about the underdog, the fighter and the individual, its about over coming and succeeding against all odds what ever they maybe. Everyone can be a king or a champion- it just depends what you measure it against.'  

Blaggers n' Liars 

Whats the new albums general sound and vibe like, you really get that mix of both the classic British stuff like the Stone's with the US sound of groups like Nirvana and Iggy, it has that trans-Atlantic cross/over in there doesn't it?

'That's pretty bang on to be honest, that's the vibe of the new album.'

You've grafted hard to get where you are haven't you, from starting the club nights at Turnmills to playing with the Mondays as well as the bands you've had yourself like Sonic Audio, not forgetting the 'Getloaded' fests which really took off and still going today, how have you managed to cover and deal with so much in such a short time?

'Well, all that came at once, In 2003 I'd just moved to London and I'd been running club nights called 'Groove Harder' up and down the country. With Mani, Shaun Ryder, Bez, Hooky and Clint Boon etc, guest DJ alongside my old band A.K.A Weave playing live. It was a fairly newish thing then so all the nights we did were pretty massive.
I moved back to London and no one was doing it that way so I started Get Loaded at Turnmills with the Turnmills crew and Shaun Ryder, it all just kicked off very quickly because we had a great team. Everybody was really good at their jobs and wanted to just get involved so it became really popular. Before we knew it we'd taken on the festival at Clapham Common. 
I was a kid barely in my 20's but it was great to have everyone respect you as part of it and it was great when Tony Wilson got involved- he DJ'd a few of the nights then he'd ring and make me book someone whether I thought they would work or not, you just couldn't say 'no' to him...that was the best.It was great to get his approval on what we were doing. 
It was mental at the time trying to juggle the promoters hat ,playing with my other band Sonic Audio as well as the Mondays stuff and DJ'ing but I loved every minute...the contrast was great! But now I couldn't imagine that because I'm so heavily involved with whats happening with the band, trying to do anything else would be nearly impossible right now.
Regarding the fests...I don't have anything to do with 'Getloaded' the festival anymore and I haven't since playing with The Mondays really.'

What are your roots then Kav? You're a Leicester lad aren't you? Asian background not to mention a pretty handy guitarist,..has it always been the guitar, singing and song writing for you?

'We have quite an international family really with a lot of different nationalities from all over the world but yeah I'm a Leicester lad and my main background is north Indian/Punjabi. My granddads were both fighting men with the British Army in World War 2, I believe the exact descendants of north India are the Aryans and the armies of Alexander the Great who made that part of the world their own. Then it was the Sikhs who fought against the Mughal invaders before the British came.
So my family has a lot of heritage and history, I suppose everyone does really if they look into there own background- the worlds been mixed a thousand times over- I'm not that bothered where you are from, more about where your going. 
But personally I'd class my self as a writer first, then a musician I guess.'

'I started real early playing with toy guitars when I was around 4yrs old. Writing was the first thing learning 3 chords from a Dylan song book so from there I went on to try writing my own songs, then my auntie left all her vinyls at my mums when I was 8/9. An incredible collection including the Stones, Elvis, the Beatles, Dylan and loads others which I just started playing, falling in love with the sounds, Sgt Pepper was my favourite. I loved it and from there I got into bands like Guns & Roses, Nirvana and Alice in Chains as well as Motown and old school funk but the band for me in my teens was Oasis, I was an Oasis kid...which opened me up to The Stone Roses and The Mondays. I was all over Black Grape and used to blast out 'Its Great When your Straight, Yeah' in my headphones walking home from school everyday, Primal Scream were also another big band for me. In my teens I carried on finding new stuff like Beastie Boys, NWA, Otis Redding, The Chemical Brothers and groups like the Space Monkeys and by this time I'd started fronting my own garage band and playing around Leicester, I was fourteen and knew straight away, this was it.

The singing just happened because I was writing songs but when the singer didn't turn up I just got up and did it and guess I've always kept that attitude and that's why I do the KAV thing now. I keep people in my band who are up for it all the time, keeping the energy pounding. The lads I have now are brilliant and I love em...Kieth from The Farm is also a professor at LIPA Music Academy in Liverpool and one of my best mates, he's just sent one of his graduates George our way a few weeks back who's an amazing bass player, Ive got a great Geordie lad Dan McGarrypn guitar and Jim my drummer who's been with me from the start.'

I also get the feeling your quite a respected guitarist/artist, especially stateside playing well known venues like The Viper Room as well as the people you've worked with over there, the US crowds seem to really take to the bands sound don't they?

'LA is a huge part of how this band has evolved, its like a home town to me and its where we've created the sound and vibe of the band, I've written a lot of songs over there. Ever since I went over there to play Coachella with the Mondays I just fell in love with the place, LA really seemed to welcome us in and yeah, they seem to really dig our sound, we've played some top gigs over there and made some great friends as well as supporters of the band.
This is the longest time I've been away from LA actually -almost a year but that's because we've just been so busy over hear, London's brilliant for us at the moment and I've have really enjoyed being back. We want to release the album and do the circuit in Europe first, then take it back to the States.'

I know you'll get asked all the time but what was it like, for you as an musician, working with Shaun and playing in the Happy Mondays? It seems Shaun really enjoyed performing and recording with you and you both worked well together.

'My time with Shaun was brilliant and I love and respect the man, I miss him as well because I haven't seen or spoke to him since my last gig with The Mondays at V fest 2007, but that's just the way things work out in music- you just get caught up in your own shit. I first booked Shaun as a DJ at one of my nights in Leicester then he started touring with my band A.K.A Weave. We became good friends and I DJ'd with him for a bit then the next thing  we were doing the Getloaded stuff and I said we should headline as SWR, but Shaun said lets get the Mondays back together and you play guitar, and that was it.
My time in the Mondays was eventful, you know...people say it must of been crazy, you couldn't of made it up. I was working with one of my all time favourite vocalists and we became good friends. I was a kid and he looked after me and taught me a lot, he trusted me and it gave me a lot of confidence with the role he gave me and let me go with it, he always said it was my apprenticeship. It was an absolute pleasure for me touring the world and playing the songs I listened to as a kid.

Its great all the members of the Mondays are back together now, they started it together, the magic and the name they built up so its great they're getting to do it again, yeah... I'm made up for them. When I had to learn Mark Day's guitar parts I realised what a great guitarist he his, I knew he was good but my respect levels went through the roof...and the best part of it all is that Paul and Shaun are talking again. The only person I've really seen since is Bez and its always good to see him! we both joined Datarock on stage at the Garage a few months back.'

August has turned out as a busy month gig wise, you've just headlined the club NME nights, played the Olympic shows at Hyde Park and looking next to supporting Kasabian at Brixton Academy on the 20th,..itching to get out there and play some of the new stuff?

'Yeah its been great so NME was fantastic- it was packed and the place was literally bouncing, the energy in there was incredible- it was probably one of the best gigs we've played. I cant wait for the Kasabian gig, I've known the lads from Leicester since we were pretty young, they are one of the biggest bands and its massive for us, I'm buzzing about it and it shows we must be doing things right to be even considered as its one of the hottest supports in music at the moment, especially with it being Brixton Academy.'

...and if there was anything you would love to 'blag' Kav, what would it be...

'A time machine.'

© Carl Stanley / Causal Musings From Suburbia - August 2012

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Heaton Park - A Month On

Heaton Park - A Month On


I wanted to wait a while before i put my thoughts down on here about The Stone Roses playing their three comeback gigs at Heaton Park in Manchester. Not because i couldn't think of anything to write, but because i wanted to let the dust settle in my mind about just how good it really was. 
My initial reaction as i walked out of Heaton Park on the Sunday evening was that i had just witnessed probably the finest live performance in my lifetime. As i got back to the hotel in Manchester city centre i felt the same way. As i carried on drinking until 3am i felt the same. When i woke up bleary eyed and with the fucker of all hangovers on Monday morning i still felt the same. Would i still feel the same as the weeks passed by though? Would i still feel like it was a monumental moment when the effects of the booze and chemicals wore off and i had slipped idly back into the mundane and grey world of work?

Well, exactly a month has passed and I'm still absolutely convinced that it was magical and that The Roses are still the most important band of my generation. I can't think of a single other act out there who could gather together 75,000 people from all four corners of these isles for three nights running and create a vibe where everyone was buzzing and getting off on the music without the merest hint of moodiness - see Oasis / Beady Eye / Kasabian live for details of this - or the feeling you'd wasted your money. The closest vibe to it that i'd experinced at a gig previously was Paul Weller at Finsbury Park in 1996, but i put that down to too many beers and being off my tits on Ecstacy, but that's a different blog for a different day. 

Having opted to cram in more valuable drinking time, it was decided to give the support acts a miss. Which was a bit of a shame really because i fancied seeing The Wailers but hey-ho when the beers are going down nicely not even the prospect of Marley's mates could tempt us away. After getting out of the taxi -shared with an old Portsmouth 657 Crew fella, his teenage daughter and her very odd, pilled up older mate - and making our way into Heaton Park it was a relief I'd left my desert boots back at the hotel and opted for a knackered old pair of Adidas Rekord, because the place was ankle deep in mud. Never mind though, more beers were consumed - the queueing system appeared to have sorted itself out from the Friday when people snapped at the waiting time and stormed the bar - and the sun started to dip down behind the trees. We found ourselves a spot to the right hand side of the stage, supped up our beer (but didn't collect our fags) and waited for the strains of Stoned Love by The Supremes to come wafting out of the PA. As it did so the atmosphere changed and you could see and feel people start bobbing up and down in anticipation of seeing Brown, Squire, Mani & Reni come onstage and smash out the tunes we loved so much in our youth. As a footnote to this can i just say that trying to Northern Soul dance in ankle deep mud is not really advisable and you will get mud on your favourite Harrington jacket as a result. 

I won't labour the point or bore you with a song-by-song review because lets face it, we all know that the set list runs something like this and if you don't know any of these songs then I'm not sure why you've read this far...

'I Wanna Be Adored'
'Mersey Paradise'
'(Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister'
'Sally Cinnamon'
'Where Angels Play'
'Shoot You Down'
'Bye Bye Badman'
'Ten Storey Love Song'
'Standing Here'
'Fools Gold'
'Something's Burning'
'Don't Stop'
'Love Spreads'
'Made Of Stone'
'This Is The One'
'She Bangs The Drums'
'Elizabeth My Dear'
'I Am The Resurrection'

... which lets face it - apart from missing out Elephant Stone - is as good a greatest hits set as you'll get from any band. The stand out moments for me were a beautiful rendition of (Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister, the absolutely nuts Don't Stop & The psychedelic outro of I Am The Resurrection. All topped off with an Olympic opening ceremony sized firework display to a soundtrack of Redemption Song by Bob Marley. You know it's been a good day when you manage to grab a cab back into town within 5 minutes of walking out of the gates for the knock-down price of twenty quid!

To all the know-it-alls and the 'i was there the first time round maaaaaan and they won't be the same' doom merchants, you were wrong. You were very, very wrong. They pulled it off in a way that will be talked about for years to come. In a way that made me look at the music industry today and wonder where another band like them is going to come from? A band with a front man as charismatic as Brown? A band with a guitarist as mind bendingly loud and brilliant as Squire? A band with a rhythm section of Mani & Reni that The Meters would be proud of? Let's face it, they are a complete one-off and for my money we'll never, ever see a band that can do what they do again. So a month later with the dust settled and my thoughts straight i am absolutely 100% certain it was by a country mile the greatest gig I'd ever seen.

As Mani said to the audience on the Friday night  "not bad for a bunch of old cunts!"

Rob H - Aug 2012 - dedicated to the memory of Chris Brahney. RIP kiddo - One love.