Name: Drop Down Smiling (Chris West - Lead Vocals/Guitar, Martin Dale - Bass/Backing Vocals, Mike Brown - Guitar/Backing Vocals, James Porter - Drums/Backing Vocals/Samples)
Sounds Like: We struggle to compare our sound to any one out there, the producer we worked with on our latest EP came up with an interesting comparison, he thinks we sound like "RHCP meets Nine Inch Nails", were not so sure, but people need to listen and let us know who they think we sound like!
History: We all met at school in Nuneaton around 10 years ago. We became friends and started dabbling in music and jamming with each other and we never stopped! We just stepped up the game and turned what we were doing into a whole new beast. Drop Down Smiling was born! In our younger days we were nominated for a Kerrang Award (Best Live Unsigned Act 2007) at the Vodafone Live Music Awards, that was a pretty awesome experience. We have also been lucky enough to support some great bands on our journey to this point in time, a highlight of which was our recent main support slot for personal favorites of ours, We Are The Ocean - we can't wait to share the stage with them again in the near future! We are also extremely proud of our recent music video for single "Why Should We Change", which has been really well received and earned the band a prestigious award from Beat100.com. The video features violent gorillas playing life-size chess with equally as angry humans!
Something Special: We're a well educated bunch, all of us took a break from the music to study for degrees around the country, we achieved this, put the pens down, picked back up the guitars and got right back to business! We're also well protected when we're out on the road, our drummer James served some time in the forces training to be a Marine, and our bassist used to throw naughty people out of clubs for a job!
Future Plans: Right now we are pushing the new EP Sign Here. We are having a great response so far and gaining a lot of air play around the country with the lead single "Why Should We Change". We are also currently in talks with a major brand who wish to license some of our music so were looking at opportunities in all markets to get our music out to as many people as possible. We have some great shows lined up in 2013 also, we are supporting Rat Attack in May and heading south to Camden in June for Kerrang's Camden Rocks festival with acts such as Fearless Vampire Killers, The Rifles, Therapy?, and loads more!
UC Takeaway: There are many artists out there who would rather play tiny, mostly empty rooms wherever they can book them as a headliner than open for another band. Drop Down Smiling know the truth: those artists are missing out on a fabulous opportunity. Look, headlining is great; the majority of people in the room are there to see you. But it keeps you in your comfort zone. When you're an opening act, half the people in the venue may have never even heard your name before. Embrace that fact! Show them all what they've been missing and build up your fanbase in every city you play. That way, when you return to that location or one nearby, you'll have a room full of new fans and old friends there to see the show. Look, everyone wants to be a rockstar on stage, closing out the night with thousands of devoted followers singing along to every word of the songs you wrote. Yet that doesn't happen overnight. So take full advantage of the chance to open for a more successful band (maybe you'll even learn a thing or two!), and check out Drop Down Smiling below!
Name: Gamble Street (Nat Austin - Lead Vocals/Guitar/Piano, Joe Devine - Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals, Jamie Byrne - Drums, Henry Green - Bass/Backing Vocals)
Sounds Like: We can't really pinpoint any band that we sound like, but we do have elements similar to Kasabian, Kings Of Leon, Biffy Clyro, The Killers, Bloc Party, Arctic Monkeys, White Lies and Muse to name a few.
History: 10 years ago, Jamie Byrne and Joe Devine used to make noises in a shed. Bad noises, apparently. Then they all went off to big bad university, where they met Nat Austin AKA Baby Noel. It was a good couple of years before Jamie received a phone call from Nat asking whether he would be up for a jam. They liked each other very much, and after a long afternoon in Jamie’s “music” room, Jamie suggested getting his old china Joe in on the action. Joe, Jamie and Nat liked this arrangement, but decided that three just wasn’t enough. Nat posted a status on a certain social networking site (let’s call it Bookface) about his elation at the progress the threesome had made. It was then that Henry Green (the handsome one) posted himself in Nat’s status, commenting on how he would like to jam with Nat et al. He then went to join the trio to make sweet sounds in Jamie’s ever-enchanting musical lair; much to the annoyance of his neighbors. Now entitled the daring Gamble Street, the awesome foursome have released a debut self-titled EP, made a music video for "Lucy" with renowned producer and black belt Daniel Watkins and have appeared on the wireless several times, including a couple of epic extravaganzas on BBC Introducing. As we speak, they continue to prod into the future with uncertain hands...
Something Special: Joe is a confused Master (almost) of Physics and avid follower of 13 different faiths. Nat is currently growing his hair as long as possible in order to train it to play the guitar for him. Jamie has taken so long in the bathroom, it has now been two weeks since their last gig and he is still scrubbing (allegedly) away. Henry once managed to acquire a stool from a certain fast food outlet (let’s call them Kurger Bing).
Future Plans: We’re looking to tour in the Autumn and are gigging all over the UK. Eventually our goal is world domination. Please ‘like’ and/or follow us to keep up to date with info.
UC Takeaway: When you have a tough job - and let's face it, any music industry position can be difficult, but especially for those solo artists and bands making their own way through it all - one of your biggest assets can be your sense of humor. The guys of Gamble Street are pretty silly (come on, did you read the interview?) and honestly that may be what saves them one day. A lot of bad things happen in life, and being able to laugh about them only makes you stronger. Not only that, but the ability find the humor in the darker moments will bring you closer as a group, solidifying a friendship, a kinship, a band. Sharing a chuckle at the end of a day when nothing has gone your way is perhaps the best way to make it through such an unforgiving industry. So smile, laugh, enjoy playing music with your friends, and check out Gamble Street below!
Name: TAUK (Alric Carter, Charlie Dolan, Matt Jalbert, Isaac Teel)
Sounds Like: Battles, Phish, STS9, Explosions in the Sky
History: Matt, Charlie, and myself [AC] have been playing music together since grade school. We started a band as something fun to do and soon after we realized that playing music together felt right. We meet Isaac not too long ago and he just fit right into the dynamic and has helped this band grow in severals ways. It's great when you have a group of friends all working towards the same goal.
Something Special: We're all avid food fans and each have appetites for days. Ribs, hanger steak, rib-eye, lamb shank-you name it, we'll eat it. On tour we planned out where we're going to eat based on where "Man vs. Food" visits. I highly recommend this method.
Future Plans: We recently released our new album, Homunculus and will be touring this summer and fall. We'll also be playing sets at Summer Camp Music Fest (Chillicothe, IL), FloydFest (Floyd, VA), and MazFest (Roscoe, NY) so keep and eye out for us!
UC Takeaway: Festivals like the ones TAUK is playing this summer are a fantastic way to get your name out into the musical world. Drawing music lovers from all walks of life, festivals often feature several major headliners, the fame of whom allows for dozens to hundreds of lesser-known acts to play to thousands of potential fans. In the summer months, all sorts of musical events pop-up across the country and the globe, some huge and long-standing, others brand-new startups, all looking for the next big musical acts to perform. A little research and you're bound to find one either a) nearby, b) specific to the type of music you play, or c) both. From touring festivals like Warped Tour to weekend celebrations such as Lollapalooza or the Reading and Leeds Festivals, there are so many options out there with slots and/or competitions for unsigned acts that it's just silly for independent artists not to try to play at least one. So consider reaching out to some of the incredible events being put on in the coming months and check out TAUK below!
Name: Apollo Junction (Jamie – Croons, Matt – Strums, Ben – Plucks, Sam – Twiddles, Jonny - Bangs)
Sounds Like: We sound exactly how we want to sound; we were always massively influenced by our Mum and Dads record collection. From the Beatles, ABBA, Motown Classics, Talking Heads to Pink Floyd, we were then blessed to be born into a generation of brilliant English music like Oasis, Blur and Pulp. So through musical osmosis I guess we picked up the "pop song". We all listen to modern tunes and gain influence from the top DJs. Music is such an incredible art form you can take influence from anywhere!
History: Where to start! First we have all been in bands before not the same band however so we all hated each other. We knew each other quite well and we had chatted about forming a band for about a week or two and we went out for a drink in a pub called the Junction. Ben and Matt were talking about Rocky films and football and things that blokes argue about. Sam came over saying he owned a pair of Rocky’s shorts from Rocky 3. THEN a massive argument about where Apollo Creed had given him them or not. Thankfully a couple of girls wandered up and said "You look like you lot are a band - are you?"... Jamie decided to say we are and hand out roles and say we were ‘The Apollo Junction’. We got rid of the "The" in the name and yeah the rest as they say is history!
Something Special: Ben can complete the whole of Sonic 1 & 2 without losing a life that’s pretty amazing! Matt’s a weird spiritual type one day he will be in a catholic church the next a hindu temple... he calls himself ecumenical. Jamie is a massive film buff he has a DVD collection like a library it’s terrifying. Sam is a computer geek I think he could crack into the bank of England if he wanted to. Jonny is the beat drummer in the world by some distance his does not waste his time doing anything else!
Future Plans: We are releasing an EP very very soon which is so exciting it’s going to be called Begin, Almost There, Endings. This going to be a massive summer for us as we festivals lined up and some massive gigs in our capitol.
UC Takeaway: "Our advice is this, work hard, work harder than anyone else," Apollo Junction told us. "When people are sleep be up writing melodies and lyrics. Be ready to get in the van and go anywhere and gig anytime. Dare to dream, send out blind CDs, and support other bands as they may help you someday. Most important of all never give up the dream dies when you stop." Forget all those notions you have of rock stars sleeping all day, drinking all night, staying in fantastic places while on the road playing sold-out arenas and living large. No, the reality for most artists - especially independent musicians - is that it's a 24/7 grind. It's not easy, and you have to be willing to put your whole heart and soul into doing whatever it takes to make it. To put it simply, in the words of Apollo Junction, "work hard, work harder than anyone else." If you do so, not only will you reap the rewards of your hard work, but others will take notice. Building a positive reputation in the music industry early on will only help you as your career grows. So give it 110% and check out Apollo Junction below!
Sounds Like: Regina Spektor on some days, more like Bob Dylan on others.
History: It all began when I watched The Beatles “Yellow Submarine” when I was four years old. Since then, I’ve lived and breathed music. I was born and raised in Berlin where I started gigging and writing songs when I was a teenager. As soon as I finished school, I packed my bag, snatched my guitar and came to London with a one-way ticket. Since then I’ve been writing songs and gigging across the UK. Last year I had the amazing opportunity to work with Gordon Raphael on my first album (which we actually recorded back in Berlin!). The album The Real Thing is out now and I look forward to touring with it as much as possible.
Something Special: I was a weird kid and did not even acknowledge that there was music later than 1969 until I was about 14… Oh, and I know the Who’s rock operas "Tommy" and "Quadrophenia" off by heart.
Future Plans: I’ve just released my first album on April 19th and am now going on tour throughout the UK and mainland Europe throughout this year. Hopefully I’ll make it back to New York for some more shows and maybe recording album number two later on in the year!
UC Takeaway: According to Roxanne de Bastion herself, "I do all my touring via public transport – buses and trains are us!" All independent artists achieve different levels of fame. Some will become household names, while others will remain known to only a few. But no matter how high your star rises, you can always make a difference and use your influence to support the issues closest to your heart. Environmental issues are a perfect example of this. While an artist like Jack Johnson may have the ability to turn a massive tour into an arena for his fans to learn more about the issues affecting the world around them, many smaller artists do not have that luxury. That doesn’t, however, mean you can’t make an impact. Whether you’re touring via public transportation or connecting with a different local non-profit in each city you play, you can always use your music for the greater good. So think about how you can add philanthropy into your musical career, and check out Roxanne de Bastion below!