Interviews


Keeping time: An Interview with The Amorettes’ Hannah McKay


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It’s been a prolific couple of years for the Scottish trio of The Amorettes. After a bunch of tours supporting Black Star Riders, Ash and Danko Jones, and the release of their second album ‘Game On’. The band now find themselves undertaking another tour at the beginning in April, as well as preparing to go into the studio to produce their third studio album.

They’re also nominated for a selection of awards this Saturday at the Pure Rawk Awards, as well as being on the bill at the event to close the show. Drummer, Hannah McKay took some time out to talk to Shaun Neary about the bands experiences, expectations for the new album and future plans.

Thank you for taking the time to chat with Pure Rawk. How are you doing?

No problem at all. Doing great thanks, incredibly busy, gearing up for recording the next album in a few weeks time, shortly followed by a UK tour with The Treatment. Set to be another busy year for us, really excited and the new songs sounding cool!

As a band, you turn 7 this month, if I’m not mistaken. Before the 7 years together, how long have you been playing music prior to the band forming?

7 years.. wow. Yes it will be! Feels like we’re only getting started! Pre Amorettes we had always been really into music. Gill and I met on a music course at college and got talking over a love of the same bands. Initially I took up drums aged 15 and started performing at high school and had a band that played the school ‘rock night’ a few times. Joined a local band who played around our area after I left school and when The Amorettes got started I decided to commit fully to that and it just seems to have grown and grown since. We got my sister Heather in on bass as she had been sitting playing in her bedroom with no band and was getting pretty good and that was it!

You’ve been nominated for six Pure Rawk Awards taking place on March 12th, which is rapidly closing in on us. Three collectively for Band Of The Year, Album Artwork and Album of the year, and three individually as musicians. What was your initial reaction when you got the news?

Its just nice to be recognised when there are more and more great new bands appearing at the moment. The current rock scene is looking pretty healthy! 2015 was a whirlwind year for us. We really worked our butts off, got stuck in and learned so much getting out onto the touring circuit for the first time and playing alongside some brilliant bands and alongside some of our heroes. I think its safe to say each of us have really grown as players what with the constant gigging and playing night after night, we have really worked at it and improved and with the new material we are challenging ourselves more. Even if we dont actually win anything its still pretty satisfying to be involved and I’m sure it will be a great party. Thank you Pure Rawk for the nominations! 

The band have had a busy, not to mention high profile year, you’ve had a fairly hectic touring schedule with Europe and Black Star Riders, Gun, Thunder, Ash and Danko Jones to name a few. What’s that been like?

It all kicked off in March 2015 with Europe and Black Star Riders and we closed the year touring the UK with Ash in December.. what happened in between.. I’m not quite sure!! No really, the amount we learned about touring and ‘the biz’ in general last year was incredible. Watching these great bands go out onstage every night and really work a crowd so effortlessly was pretty inspiring and we watched and took a lot in from all these seasoned performers. There are also plenty of bizarre moments, we were in Holland playing the same venue as Marilyn Manson and we spied him in catering wearing a pair of aviators checking out what was for dinner. We also found ourselves in Clinton Cards trying to pick out a birthday card for Scott Gorham. These people you have only ever seen in magazines or had posters of in your bedroom. They are just ordinary people. I wont lie, it can be tiring. Its a lot of driving and a lot of sitting around waiting. Your entire day is based around stepping out onto the stage that night. But the adrenaline of the show, seeing new places and meeting loads of new people, it’s addictive and you don’t know what to do with yourself when you go home. 

With the touring, the promoting of “Game On”, and planning for the third album factored in, where do you find the time for rehearsals, personal time, etc?

Apart from a one off show in Workington at the end of January, we have had a lot of time away from gigging so far this year, to really focus, write and piece the new songs together. We try to get together to write and rehearse as much as we can. While you’re away touring and playing night after night it keeps you pretty tight as a band anyway. I’m realising now we aren’t really ones for writing on the road, some bands do, some don’t. I’ve seen some bands playing around with new ideas at sound checks. Might be something we begin to do in time. We rehearse in a club so a couple of post rehearsal jager bombs are becoming tradition. 

For the upcoming third album, you’ve gone with PledgeMusic for marketing. Is this your first time going this route, and how has the experience been so far?

Yes first time with Pledge and it has been an awesome experience so far. We were amazed at how quickly we reached target and we are still going! We are all so, so grateful to everyone who has gotten involved and helped us out. It really means a lot. We have been keeping fans updated regularly with little video updates and are giving the fans something back. We have a guitar and a bass up for grabs as well as a painting from bass player Heather. Looking forward to having pledgers in the studio with us, the group backing vocals should be fun. Feels like more of a joint effort. The support has been amazing and it makes me feel proud to know there are people out there so keen to help newer bands progress. 

The pledge for this album has reached almost twice it’s goal, congratulations on that. You’re off to Wales for the recording. Can you give us a bit of insight on the recording of an album, estimated length of time, what you enjoy, pitfalls of spending lots of time in the studio, etc?

We were blown away. Its really spurred us on to keep doing what we are doing. Thanks to everyone!! So the plan is to record at Leeders Vale Studios in Wales for around 3 weeks, with Nick Brine engineering, his past work including The Darkness, Ash, Stereophonics to name a few and Luke Morley from Thunder to produce. I can’t wait to get started. We initially got to know Luke when we supported The Union in Edinburgh a few years back and we did a short European tour with Thunder toward the end of last year. I think it helps the fact he’s seen us live quite a bit now and knows our sound. We really want to create that big sound in the studio as much as we can. Generally being in the studio can be time consuming, from past experience I start to think I am the worst drummer in the world, you naturally want to play your absolute best and sometimes your insecurities start to creep in listening to takes and it sounds nothing like you thought it did. It can be an odd, unnatural environent, playing in a room alone with everyone sitting staring through the control room window. I think its something where the more you do it the more comfortable you become and you start to really create an environent you feel most relaxed.  

I think Nick and Luke will make a great team. The new songs are sounding great so far and I am genuinely so excited to hear the final outcome. Like I said before we will have pledgers in the studio with us so its going to be a real team effort and a great laugh I’m sure. Very excited!

Once the album surfaces, ones assumes it’s back on the road again, are there any particular cities or venues that you really look forward to playing?

So after recording I think we are home for around 10 days then out for another UK run of shows supporting The Treatment. A great band from Cambridge who’s latest album ‘Generation Me’ is getting great reviews. We always look forward to the Barfly gigs in Camden, infact any show we have played in London seems to have gone down a storm. We always love getting back there. Sheffield crowds have been pretty nuts to and Glasgow of course. Looks like we will get to a few places on the Treatment tour we havent been yet, Portsmouth and Stoke on Trent. I know we are all keen to get back out to Europe this year. We seem to gained a bit of a following already in France in particular. We’ve had an absolutley amazing reception out there every time. So we hope to be back there soon after the new album hits. Some big festivals may be on the cards this summer.. we will see. Watch this space!

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Whats the most bizarre gig that the band has had to date?

I know the answer to that one right away and I’m sure Gill and Heather would answer the same.. It was Workington Town Centre in summer 2014!! We well and truly payed our dues with this one..
So the van pulled up into a busy shopping precinct and we got out to be told there was no stage we were to set up on the ground outside Costa. So we unloaded our full backline and played an hours set to people out shopping, wandering past eating a Greggs sausage roll. It was odd. Really odd but hilarious. After we left we found out that the police had been called soon after as there had been complaints from Clinton Cards.. I totally get it! We arent exactly subtle! 

So we came back to play Workington Town Hall this year and we were able to have a joke with the crowd.. ” the last time we played here you called the fuzz!!” 

Final question: Create your dream gig. Pick two other bands, current or disbanded, to share the bill with, and the venue. What would they be and why?

Being Scottish I think I’d bring back the Glasgow Apollo. Legendary venue now closed down. I’d have us supporting Joan Jett & The Blackhearts because I just love them to bits and Little Richard would be on the bill to because hes just one of the greatest rock n roll performers ever!.. that would be an awesome show. 

Thank you again, for taking the time out to chat. We look forward to seeing you on March 12th!

Thanks PureRawk and see you on the 12th!

The Amorettes will be playing at the following dates and venues:

11th March: Barfly, Camden, UK
12th March: Pure Rawk Awards, Boston Music Room, London, UK
27th April: Waterfront, Norwich, UK
28th April: Oobleck, Birmingham, UK
29th April: Clwb Ifor Bach, Wales, UK
1st May: Corporation, Sheffield, UK
2nd May: O2 Academy 2, Oxford, UK
4th May: Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth, UK
5th May: Key Club, Leeds, UK
6th May: Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton, UK
7th May: Sugarmill, Stoke On Trent, UK
9th May: O2 Academy, Newcastle, UK
10th May: Stereo, Glasgow, UK
11th May: Satans Hollow, Manchester, UK
12th May: Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, UK
13th May: O2 Islington, London, UK
23rd July 2016 : Middle of Nowhere Festival, Stafford, UK
12th August 2016 : Viking Festival, Ebbw Vale, Wales, UK

For more information and tickets, please visit theamorettes.com.


Interview: A therapy? session with Michael McKeegan.


When one talks about the music scene in Northern Ireland, there really hasn’t been one band or artist more dominant throughout the 90s, 00’s, and now in 2016 and still showing no signs of slowing down, then one can only be talking about Antrim’s own, Therapy? ‘Tides’, the third single from the bands 14th studio album ‘Disquiet’ is due for physical release in April. Bassist and resident Evil Priest, Michael McKeegan took some time out to chat to Shaun Neary before the band headed back out on the road.

Thank you for taking the time out to have a chat with Pure Rawk. How has 2016 been treating you so far?

No problems at all! So far 2016 has been great, we’re just back from a short run of shows in Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Switzerland and France all which went really well. They’re countries we haven’t played a lot in the last few years so it was brilliant to get back and play for enthusiastic crowds. Now we’re just gearing up for the UK “Infernal Love & More!” shows which start next week.

Going back a couple of years. Therapy? received the Oh Yeah Legend Award at the NI Music Prize in November 2014, sharing the honour with the likes of Gary Moore, The Undertones and Stiff Little Fingers. I was fortunate enough to be at Mandela Hall in Belfast for that event, but what did that night mean to you, back then and looking at it now in retrospect?

Apart from the fact it was a brilliant night and we all had a lot of fun, it was indeed a massive honour to receive the award. We grew up listening to bands like the Undertones, SLF, Gary Moore etc. so to be considered in that same company was amazing. Really chuffed and I think, no matter what people say, it’s always nice to be recognised in your home country.

Tides is being released on April 15th, the third single from Disquiet but it will be the first single from the album to see a physical release. Does Record Store Day falling on April 16th have anything to do with this? Or were there other reasons for moving back from digital only to hard copy?

To be honest I hadn’t even thought about the Record Store Day thing! Erm, I’m sure that can only be a bonus to the release but it was a simple matter of scheduling that this date was chosen. With regard to the hard copy, I think the label has been encouraged by the feedback to Disquiet and a lot of the people who buy our music like a physical release. As a collector of vinyl/CDs myself I do always try and seek out the hard copy if possible.

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You spent last year promoting both the 20th anniversary of ‘Infernal Love’ and ‘Disquiet’ on tour (with dates still ongoing for 2016). Is there any additional pressure in terms of playing a classic album from start to finish, while at the same time promoting new material? Does performing ‘Infernal Love’ live take away from the pushing of the new album?

Initially when we agreed to do the “Infernal Love” (and “Troublegum”) dates we knew there might be a bit of confusion with regard to which show people were going to get on the night but I feel in most places we’ve done a “Disquiet” run of shows and then done the ‘album’ shows. In fact it’s worked out really well, on the Disquiet shows we play 8-9 songs of the new album and then on the “Infernal Love” shows we do a second set of tunes and there’s at least 3-4 Disquiet tunes in there as well. Certainly no one has complained as yet and I think do the “Troublegum” and “Infernal Love” shows have got a few of the older fans back out to see the band (I do appreciate not everyone wants to see a band play mostly new stuff) and we’ve had some great feedback from them. It’s all worked really well I feel, the only downside is remembering which ‘head’ one has to wear at which show, there’s a huge amount of songs in the ‘pot’ now which means we’re constantly rehearsing and revising the tunes.

On the subject of anniversary editions, both ‘Troublegum’ and ‘Infernal Love’ got remastered and expanded for their 20th anniversary. Are there any plans for a beefed up version of ‘Nurse’ for its 25th anniversary in 2017?

No plans as such, that would be up to Universal Music who own those albums, as “Troublegum” and “Infernal Love” were the biggest sellers of that era it seemed logical they’d do them first. There is a great remaster of Nurse in the Gemil Boxset we released a few years ago and I do have a lot of cool archive stuff (demos, studio out takes) if an expanded version was ever planned.

Do you enjoy performing full albums live, like the ’Troublegum’ and ‘Infernal Love’ anniversary tours, or does the novelty wear off fairly quickly?

I actually really enjoy doing those sets. We were never the type of band to record a couple of ‘single’ type songs and then pad the rest of an album out with filler so each song has its own unique character and vibe. Obviously with an album like Infernal Love the mood is key so we’ve been enjoying the challenge of recreating it live especially as there is a lot of extra instrumentation on there. Also when we toured those albums in the mid-90’s there were quite a few songs we never or rarely played live so it’s been good to re-visited and reclaim them for the live show. The audience reaction is key though, it’s amazing what a positive response we get playing those songs, it’s very much appreciated from our end.

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Over time, you’ve had many guests join you on stage during performances, Lesley Rankine, VerseChorusVerse, Nathan Connolly just to name a few. Is there anyone yet that you haven’t had share a stage for a song or two that hasn’t been scratched off the wish list yet?

James Dean Bradfield and James Hetfield are two that spring immediately to mind.

Ian Curtis and Joy Division have been obvious influences throughout the bands career. Have you seen the Joy Division documentary, or the Anton Corbijn movie?, Or have you read either of Peter Hook or Bernard Sumners books?

I haven’t read the books but seen that movie and several documentaries (of varying accuracy and quality). Amazing band, the songs still sound powerful and the mood of those records is incredibly immersive. I have that Heart & Soul boxset which is a great overview of the band from their formative years onwards, I’d recommend that to anyone looking to check them out.

Your first release, ‘Babyteeth’, was produced by Mudd Wallace who sadly passed away at the end of December. How influential was Mudd’s input to the sound on ‘Babyteeth’?

Yeah, it was incredibly sad to hear he’d passed away, great guy and a big part of the NI music scene. To be honest we couldn’t have had a better producer for our first recording as he was really keen to ensure we were happy with the sound and entertained our more off the wall ideas. I imagine a lot of provincial producers at the time would have tried and talked us out of making some of those choices, Unfortunately we didn’t have a lot of time to ‘produce’ the songs as it was a very quick session, we just banged out our (at the time) live set and then added overdubs and mixed it quickly. Interesting fact about Babyteeth, as the budget was so non-existent Mudd let us record on the end of other bands tape reels. This was cool until we needed to get the masters for the release of Babyteeth and he couldn’t find where “Animal Bones” was. As a result the version you hear on the record is a rough mix taken from a regular cassette we had been listening to at home. The final mixed version never turned up, I think it was stuck on the end of some other bands reel and recorded over in due course.

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During the few periods of Therapy? downtime, Andy has put out a couple of solo albums. Are there any plans for any solo projects from any of the band in the near future?

 Andy and myself have a noise/ambient/spoken word project called East Antrim and have recorded 17 or so pieces which we hope to release soon and Neil and Andy have another drums/voice project which they’ve been working on. Like a lot of these things it’s down to time and getting a window to release them, obviously Therapy? is busy at the minute so that’s always the number one priority.

An obligatory obvious question! From 1989 to present, a career that spans four decades, is there one particular point in the bands career that you could take a look back and say “I probably would have done this differently?”, or has everything gone to plan in all of that time?

To be honest I don’t have any moments like that career-wise, it’s all worked out pretty a-ok as far as I’m concerned. Everyone’s sane, we all get on great and there’s a lot of creative energy in the band, no regrets at all.

So what’s next for the band once the tour finishes up?

We do these UK shows then have a couple of shows in Turkey then a load of summer festivals and probably continue working on new material. There are a few other vague plans coming together at the minute but as with anything in rock and roll, let’s wait and see.

Currently, Therapy? are on tour, in the UK. Upcoming dates include The Sugarmill, Stoke on the 11th of March, The Rescue Rooms in Nottingham on the 12th of March and Whitby Gothic Weekend on the 22nd of April. Once again, we’d like to thank Michael for taking time from the bands hectic schedule to talk with us.


“We cannot stop, and we will not stop” – An Interview with The Scaramanga Six


The Scaramanga Six have been making music for 20 years now, and have eight studio albums and a long list of EP’s to their name. Yet despite this, and even though the underground music sites have been championing their dramatic pop rock for some time, they have yet to find themselves basking in the public adoration that they’ve long deserved.

With the release of album number eight The Terrifying Dream maybe that could all change. Multi-instrumentalist Paul Morricone, one half of the twin brother axis around which the band revolves, talks dreams, musicals and forcing the band’s music into the centre of your attention. Continue Reading


“We’re only in it for the puns” – An interview with Kleine Schweine


Their tunes rarely break the two minute mark and their song titles are a never ending assault of punnage, so on this evidence you might think that Leeds’ Kleine Schweine are just another throw away punk band, but you’d be wrong. With lyrics that are as much a history lesson as they are a skewering of modern day politics, Kleine Schweine are a band who, in the tradition of groups such as Dead Kennedys, marry hard hitting lyrics to humour, buzzsaw guitars, aggression and hooks.

Earlier this year they released their second album In Your Own Back Yard via Pledge music, and in October they’ll be taking their raucous punk rock to the unusual climes of Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. Bassist Declan Hogan took some time out from writing political puns to answer a few questions. Continue Reading


“I just hope people venture out from behind a computer screen” – An Interview with The Spitfires


It would come as no surprise to those that have heard The Spitfires’ music that a chunk of their influences come from the late 70’s and early 80’s, but the band’s attitude and youth make them very much a band with both feet firmly planted in the present.

After making waves with some energetic live shows that impressed the likes of Paul Weller and The Specials, both of whom took them out on tour, they have built up an impressive fanbase. Now they’re heading out on a lengthy tour of the UK, and their debut album Response is just around the corner, so 2015 is set to be a big year for these four lads from Watford.

Pure Rawk caught up with front man Billy Sullivan to ask about the new album, new members and tempting people away from their computers… Continue Reading