Tag Archives: funk rock

Slow Mojo: bringing back the blues

The UKs own Slow Mojo are aiming to ‘bring back the blues’. Having released numerous singles so far and gigged extensively in the London underground scene, it is hard to argue that they are doing a damn good job at working towards their goal so far. We had the chance to have a brief interview with the band to discuss various topics from their music to the industry as a whole!

The band wear their influences very much on their sleeves, as evidenced by their response when asked about their influences:

Brighty (lead vox): ‘For me personally as a frontman I used to watch people like Freddie Mercury and just think the world of them, how they held the crowd in the palm of their hands, everyone’s eyes just focused on them. I’m a bit of an attention seeker and ended up becoming an MC and rapper, performing on festival stages with a DJ. I’d always been a pretty good singer. After getting bored with doing endless karaoke, I found the other guys on Gumtree and the band just came together naturally. Rest is history, as they say’.

Tim (lead guitar): ‘As a kid there would always be music being played in my house – Led Zep, AC/DC, The Doors, you name it; If it had a good guitar riff it was being played on the stereo. I remember watching DVDs of AC/DC and Angus Young shredding on the guitar and doing the chicken walk, it was nothing I had ever seen before, it was magic! First time I heard the blues was on Back To The Future where Marty McFly plays at the school dance. I got my mum to write out the lyrics for me so I could sing along and re-enact all his moves. I was hooked from then on’.

While diving deeper into their own sound, Brighty tried his best to describe it:

‘We’re a modern blues band, basically. We’ve retained that blues-influenced sound and twisted it up with harder rock, punk, funk and hip hop. It’s good fun music, it slaps you hard and we all have a hell of an energy on stage. Some of our stuff sounds a bit Red Hot Chili Peppers, some a bit Black Keys, some veers into Rage Against the Machine, and we do more blues rock stuff not dissimilar to Alex Harvey’. 

This last 18 months has been some of the toughest the music scene as a whole has ever had to deal with. When asked about how they had coped during the stream of lockdowns, they had this to say:

‘We had a gig booked literally on the week of the first lockdown. So we were left wanting with that annoying feeling of having no closure on our live music hiatus. Worse still our new drummer, Giorgio, had only joined the band a month or so prior so he was denied his first gig with us. But like all acts everywhere we just knuckled down and turned the whole experience into something more positive. We started recording more music from home – we actually recorded a fair chunk of our current output doing everything a bit DIY. Luckily we had the gear and the skills to create something pretty professional sounding. We recorded some home videos to keep up the social media conversations and then started live streaming, raising money and awareness for charities, which certainly filled some sort of void. Though the minute the lockdowns eased a little, we were all back into the studio in a heartbeat, desperate to get some semblance of what live playing felt like again’.

We wanted to make sure the boys were still enjoying themselves though, so wanted to know what their positives were of being in a band:

‘Honestly, it’s just knowing that we’re bringing people some joy. I think that’s been an especially poignant feeling in the shadow of the pandemic. Music is everything. The energy it brings us is the energy we give back to the crowd’. 

Tim: ‘I love watching the crowd react to how we perform in front of them and see them reciprocate as they start to dance and headbang. We get such a buzz from playing live and on stage that it’s like a drug and the high lasts for a good few days after a show’.

‘However, we couldn’t address the positives without also discussing the negatives, of which there were unfortunately more:

‘About the current music industry, for obvious reasons, I think I’d like to see more of a return to more big bands playing live. Don’t get me wrong I love electronic dance music in pretty much all its forms, but the appetite for proper live band music feels like it’s been waning for some time now. There’s always a balance to be struck of course, but I feel like if we’re looking towards a future of purely electronic music at the elite level, then we’re all going to miss out on so much that is special and wonderful about live music’.

Ciba (bass):  ‘We are witnessing a turning point on the music-making thing. See what Brighty just mentioned about the lack of live music and bands kind of fading away.

‘That’s related to how music is being made nowadays. When we started playing music 25 years ago we had to learn how to play an instrument, then endless practice and rehearsal, get some mates together, then more rehearsal, write songs, play together again, then get a gig and so on… Recording?! Forget about that! No computers or £50 audio interfaces. You had to sell your kidney to afford a recording studio (on a reel to reel tape recorder)! 

‘Then here we are in 2021: Young people just don’t get excited enough to go through all this hassle again. Why bother ‘putting a band together’ if all it takes to make music is an app and a laptop? You write a song, upload, get viral and voilá! 

‘This may wind down the bands IMO. There’s still some awesome musicians producing things on this new style no doubt about it, but I do miss the spontaneity of rock bands being born and raw talents popping out of the blue like before’. 

Tim: ‘More often than not today’s popular/chart music feels too ungenuine. The beat sounds the same, the lyrics are pretty uninspiring and there’s a feeling of soulless, manufacturing of music that is there to appeal to the masses that blindly listen to it because it’s in the charts and it’s annoyingly catchy. It’s a money-spinner for companies. The very fabric of music is being torn and frayed for the reasons of profit all the while people with real talent, real understanding and feeling of music and song-writing are left in the gutter because they don’t have the right amount of followers, they don’t look the part or they’re not as marketable as someone who’s willing to get their clobber off and eye-fuck the camera’. 

Giorgio (drums):

‘I think the music industry has followed the same globalization trend that we have seen in many other industries, prioritising high and safe returns over free thinking and innovation. This has made much more difficult for new emerging artists to achieve visibility and has overall impoverished the musical offer.

‘However, this process is not irreversible. I believe change can happen, starting with small steps, both from the top and from the bottom. From the top, with Record Labels and distributors (like Spotify) allowing for specific programmes to fairly promote emerging artists. This already happens in many other industries and can be highly rewarding for both parties. And from the bottom, with us musicians and listeners getting back in our old habits of looking for new bands, listening to new tunes and going to a local live concert, finding some time to step away from the mainstream distribution. If we think about it, it is much easier now than it was in the past, with everything just one click away. In a couple of years, we may find ourselves interested in a much bigger variety of music styles and with a music industry much more receptive of our interests’.

The band are thankfully already back to gigging, with them not long having played their return gig at Fiddler’s Elbow in Camden. We had to ask them about it, of course!

‘[it was] The best. I mean, we anticipated it would feel pretty amazing and it ended up being ten times better. We had our first gig in about 16 months in Camden Town and the atmosphere was just electric. You could sense that the crowd was up for it, that something had been missing and we were all in there ready to rock as one. We just went hell for leather. We sweated the sweat of a year and a half’s worth of missed gigs. Unbelievably, that was also Giorgio our drummer’s first live gig with us since joining in February 2020’!

As usual here at Overtone we like to ask the bands what song they wish they could have written, and I have to say that Slow Mojo did not disappoint in their response:

Brighty( lead vox): ‘So many to pick from! All things considered and given that we play this as our favourite cover song, I’d have to say Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash’.

‘For me personally, I think it would be Money for Nothing by Dire Straits. That song is just everything to me: one of the finest guitar riffs ever written; wonderfully wry social commentary in the lyrics; and road trips with my dad’.

Tim: ‘Lenny by Stevie Ray Vaughan. The man wrote the song for his wife and you can actually hear the love and emotion he has in the way he plays and attacks certain notes, it’s absolutely awe-inspiring’. 

Giorgio: ‘oh, difficult one… Money by Pink Floyd maybe…’

We also ask the band what was next for them:

‘We are in fact right in the middle of recording our last few tunes for what is planned as an EP release this year. We do have a few more gigs lined up, to be confirmed, so we’ll keep everyone posted about that on our social media and we’re going full-on with festival season next year’.

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Blue Kubricks: the Leeds-based band are ready to take over the funk/alt world

Leeds-based band Blue Kubricks have been bringing their fun brand of funk/alt-rock to the UK underground scene for the last few years. The quintet has begun to amass quite the following from their various singles released from 2019 onwards, as well as some impressive gigs both live and on stream. With just five singles released so far, the band are already making an impression on the UK scene.

Starting with their debut track, ‘Incomplete’, it opens on an almost 90’s pop-rock style acoustic guitar chord progression before the rest of the band join in over the top that keeps the mood light and fun. The vocals come in and don’t change the feeling at all, sounding like a British Eddie Vedder or Scott Stapp. I’m a sucker for this style of music, both for the style and nostalgia. There isn’t too much to talk about in terms of structure or changes in this song; it’s just a straight-up pop-rock song featuring catchy, soaring vocals and some simple but awesome instrumentation behind it. There is a brilliant little guitar solo towards the end too. A great song!

‘Heroin’ opens on some instrumentation more reminiscent of Red Hot Chili Peppers or even Reef – the guitar playing being fantastic and working so well over the slightly simpler drumbeats and bassline. The vocals fit perfectly over the top of it all too, having such a great tone and style to them. There again isn’t too much in the way of dynamics in the song, but the genre and type of music almost excuses that and it doesn’t need too many massive transitions as the entire song is catchy and entertaining. It does mean it’s a tad hard to hear where the choruses are though, I have to admit. Another awesome solo follows what I think is the second chorus, this one definitely channels some heavy John Frusciante vibes. I enjoyed this even more than the first one and it makes the Overtone 2020 playlist!

‘You’re a Beach’ definitely lives up to its title with its opening riff, it feels like it would fit straight in on the Hawaiian coast! It impresses me that the band can seem to change their style a fair bit between each song while also maintaining their own sound throughout too, something that even big mainstream bands struggle with a fair bit at times. It also has the most indistinguishable chorus of all of the songs so far, it sounds awesome and the backing vocals making it sound even more catchy than it already was. There’s also a little funky bass fill before a guitar solo, both of them sounding fantastic and again very RHCP-y! Another final, catchy chorus ends another great song.

‘Jermaine’ mixes things up, opening on a great piano melody instead of guitars and somehow gives off even more of a 90’s vibe than their debut. It took me far too long to realise that this was going to be a completely instrumental song, getting to nearly a minute into a two-and-a-half-minute track before realising I hadn’t heard any vocals yet. This is, however, an excellent song – a calm, slow showcase of some simple yet emotional, impactful piano melodies backed by minimalistic drums and some strings towards the end. It’s a fantastic little track that would work perfectly in an album setting, even if it is a little odd for a standalone single.

The final single, and the most recent, is ‘Latin.’ It is obviously the heaviest song the band has released so far – the vocals opening it up with a slightly harsher tone before a pretty great guitar riff comes in behind, accompanied by some cymbal heavy drums. It quickly builds into the catchiest, biggest and best chorus they have I’d say. We also get another fantastic guitar solo before the final chorus, it sounding technically difficult and pretty damn impressive. The band go balls to the wall for the whole three minutes of this track and I love it, giving them a harder edge and changing their style yet again. It may be my favourite song by them, but it’s a pretty hard choice!

Overall: I honestly loved each and every one of Blue Kubrick’s songs. They were all interesting and different in their way and, while slightly indie in their mixing, they were different enough from the dozens and dozens of Artic Monkeys clones in this country that it made me like them so much more. Their sound is an amalgamation of so many different bands who I already like and I honestly cannot wait to hear more, and not just to see what style they come out with next!

Score: 8/10

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