EMQ’s with MIKE WEST

EMQ’s with MIKE WEST

Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Wirral, UK based Acoustic Heavy Blues/Rock artist, Mike West. Huge thanks to him for taking part.

What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?

I am Mike West. I play what I call Bastard Country that fuses my love for Rock and Metal with Country, Delta Blues and Folk and it means I get to weave in and out of the different genres and scenes I love and play with so many great artists.

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

I’m from the Wirral in the North West of England and it’s an interesting one. Being right on the wrong side of the River Mersey casts a Beatles sized shadow over modern artists coming from this region, and you have to work tirelessly to establish yourself as a unique voice in a sea of tribute bands and cover singers.

The Rock and Metal scene is slowly but surely gaining traction and there are so many great bands coming out of it, like Raised by Wolves and Riptide Messiah, that hopefully in a few years will have the same foothold as the Punk scene, which is great in Liverpool.

What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

My latest release was ‘Dead Fish’, a single that came out alongside a Kickstarter campaign for Griff Gristle, a comic book by Madius Comics, that is great. It’s a Folk Punk Sea Shanty that was super fun to do and is available on all streaming platforms now!

Who have been your greatest influences?

Ace Frehley made me pick up a guitar, and Johnny Cash made me switch to an acoustic. KISS and Johnny Cash have some great ideas to take away as a songwriter to keep it simple, keep it honest, and keep it engaging. If you can keep that in mind when writing a song, you should be ok.

After that it is Blues musicians like Robert Johnson and Howlin’ Wolf alongside Kris Kristofferson, Black Sabbath and Nirvana to all blend together to do whatever it is I do.

What first got you into music?

Finding “Destroyer” by KISS in my dad’s record collection definitely kick started it all, and then watching their DVDs.  There’s something about sitting down and listening to a full record that can definitely be taken for granted and just sitting there for a while and actually listening to something helps you connect with music in such a personal way. That’s why I don’t like listening to singles or if someone dares hit “shuffle” on an album, I’ll start it from the beginning.

If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?

I don’t know if I have any names but I’d love to collaborate with a Black or Death metal band and create some weird ambient noise together, or I’d like to put something together with some of the best UK Country and Rock acts, to show people what this scene has to offer.

If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

Download. It’s massively mainstream, but at the end of the day its Donington and to play such an iconic festival and place would be a dream.

What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?

I haven’t got anything weird, but I had a fan in Blackpool give me an illustration of me on stage, and that was amazing. To think someone took the time to draw it and give it to me was humbling and so cool. It’s hanging up next to all my tour posters.

If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?

Stay open minded. It’s so easy to fall into traps of “this genre is better than that genre”, or “this is mainstream, so I don’t want to listen”, and all you do is deprive yourself of finding some incredible music. I wouldn’t be where I am if I only cared about one type of music and I love discovering something that will surprise me. Stay open minded and don’t write anything off you haven’t actually listened to.

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

Lemmy. It’s still weird that the Motorhead tour that happened every winter doesn’t happen anymore, and it still bums me out that what was once such a constant in the music scene isn’t there anymore. Robert Johnson would be interesting too. One of those musicians who wasn’t appreciated till after he died. To show him what he meant to the world would be amazing.

What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?

Writing something personal and honest that connects with someone else is brilliant. It shows that we are never as alone as we think we are and, if you just reach out to someone, the odds are they will reach out back. Everyone wants to connect and it’s a beautiful thing to share.

The tribute band/cover act culture that decimates original music in venues is heart breaking. As an acoustic artist, most venues want acts to play cover songs while getting talked over and ignored by drunk people screaming out of tune to Sweet Caroline. It’s why live venues and pubs are slowly diminishing and takes its toll on the artists playing. Music has been so devalued to the point of being almost worthless that it will take a big shift for it to change. No matter how much you try and explain that all the huge acts started out somewhere so give original independent music a chance, at the end of the day they will just want you to shut the fuck up and play Jolene.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

In 2018, the UK Music industry contributed £5.2billion to the economy yet venues are closing down, musicians have day jobs and can’t afford to gig regularly, and anyone who isn’t an arena act is struggling. Regulate ticket sales and abolish ticket touts and websites. Cap the highest price of arena acts, which sucks up all disposable income for the smaller acts and venues, and just put more money into keeping the small venues and clubs open. Everything starts at grassroots level and it so easily forgotten.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

Black Sabbath – “Paranoid”.

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?

Whichever is the easiest way for someone to get music is the best. I didn’t shit myself over hearing War Pigs for the first time and wonder if this was the best format for it. I do enjoy sitting and listening to records for an evening and having that as the sole focus.

What’s the best gig that you have played to date?

I did a great hometown show in Liverpool with Amigo the Devil at the beginning of the year which was awesome. I’m a huge fan of Amigo the Devil and to get to do a gig locally as well is always a trip.

If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?

I write and draw my own comics when I have a chance and just launched a podcast called ‘Into the Van’, so it would still be something creative and engaging. If you can connect with someone and create something that helps explore what you believe in, then you have to go for it.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

I’d want to throw a BBQ and invite my mates round to just hang out. Music is important but sometimes you need an off day with a decent burger and some whiskey. It would be awkward to invite your heroes round and then accidentally poison them with undercooked food because you were worried about missing the story of Johnny Cash getting arrested for flower picking!

If one of my mates dropped out though, I’d get Bigfoot!

What’s next for the band?

“The Next Life” is coming out this year, my first full length record that expands on my sound and adds fiddle, pedal steel, slide guitar, and brings a new depth and level to these songs you haven’t heard yet! Then I’ll be touring the UK and Europe and popping up at some independent festivals along the way!

What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?

Head to https://mike333west.com/ and you can get free music there along with links to all my socials. Sign up to my newsletter while you’re there!

Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?

Well they ain’t called Jaffa Biscuits…

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

It’s easy to go negative in the music scene. Envy can always rear its head when you see a band/promoter/whatever doing well, and it’s so easy to throw stones in this day and age, on and offline. It’s so important to remember we are all in this together and that the rising tide lifts all boats. Positivity and encouragement will be what builds this scene to greatness and supporting the upcoming bands will make it last. Stay Heavy my friends!

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Pentre Fest 2020 – Day 2 22/02/20 – Mike West

Disclaimer: This photo album is solely the property of Beth Jones. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of these images, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Pentre Fest 2020 – Day 2 – 22/02/20

Pentre Fest 2020 Day Two
Mcleans, Pentre, North Wales
22/02/2020
Review by Rick Tilley, Alun Jones and Beth Jones
Pictures by Beth Jones

Rick Here.

Saturday’s Pentre Fest, Day Two review is a collaborative affair between myself, Alun and Beth. I’ve made it clear who wrote what and I would like to thank them for their help, as well as looking after a broken 52 year old (me!) who cannot get around as quickly as he used to!

On the Saturday morning, pleasantly surprised that we weren’t hurting as much as we thought we might, we set off back to Mcleans, pausing only to pick up Powerzone’s Dani Maguire on the way, ready for a full day of Metal and Acoustic performances. It was noticeably quieter upon arriving, but a fair amount of alcohol had been consumed on the Friday, so I imagine there were a few sore heads! However, the always faithful had dragged themselves out of bed to watch the opening band of the day on the main stage…

Cheerfully Undiagnosed

Pop/Punker Cheerfully Undiagnosed (aka Adam Robinson) had also performed early on the Saturday at Pentre Fest the previous year, waking everyone up and putting a smile on our collective faces. Now expanded to a two piece, (with the addition of a drummer) they did the same this year. Vocalist/Guitarist Adam will probably be the first to admit that the material is simple, but he performs it with a huge glint of fun in his eyes and is very comical to boot. Getting a selection of hungover and tired metallers to sing along to tracks such as ‘I’ve Just Been Sick’ and ‘Unsolicited Dick Pic’ was hilarious to watch and take part in and it’s just the sort of thing you need to kick your day into gear!

https://www.facebook.com/Cheerfully-Undiagnosed-1791893794227072/

Edd Case

One person we certainly hadn’t expected to see was Edd Case. In the week running up to Pentre Fest Edd had been taken ill, spending two days in hospital, so to see him turn up on the Saturday with his guitar, looking like death warmed up was a bit of a shock. After telling him off, he proceeded to blow us all away on the acoustic stage with a short set of songs, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him play or sound better. His original songs are beautifully written and any covers he plays are turned completely on their head, always recognisable but played in a way only he can. He was excellent but, like Brian, he was still ‘a very naughty boy’ for turning up!

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100014628035630

Stormrider

Next up on the main stage we were due to get our first proper Metal fix of the day from a band I hadn’t seen live before but was really looking forward to, Manchester based NWOTHM four piece Stormrider and ‘by the power of Greyskull’ did they deliver. If, like me, you love a good dose of Trad Metal, mixed up with some Power and Thrash influences, played as tightly as a gnat’s chuff and delivered with the force of a Challenger Tank then you’ll love Stormrider. Their not long enough set was excellent and looking around at the growing crowd it was clear I wasn’t the only one who thought so. Afterwards I immediately went and bought their EP and hope it isn’t too long before we see them again!

https://www.facebook.com/stormriderofficial/

I nipped outside for a breather and immediately got caught up talking to people. For my sins I missed most of the next artist on the acoustic stage but, luckily, Alun didn’t so here are his thoughts on Rhiannon.

Rhiannon Petrou (Why’d You Wanna Know)

Sadly, Pentre Fest suffered a few casualties this year. One such example was on the acoustic stage, where Rachel Sian Roberts, one half of the newly formed duo, Why’d You Wanna Know, was hospitalised and (obviously) unable to perform. But the show must go on: and Rhiannon performed a short but enjoyable set on the acoustic stage. Admittedly out of her comfort zone, playing guitar as well as singing (having only started to learn guitar a month ago) she soldiered on and won plaudits for her effort. Only a few minor mistakes were noticed – and easily forgiven. Possessing a beautiful singing voice she even managed to add a ghostly, ethereal sheen to a cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’ – making it sound good for the first time ever!

https://www.facebook.com/Whyd-You-Wanna-Know-105145631078966/

RipTide

Having seen the end of Rhiannon’s set and thinking what a beautiful voice she had, I headed back to the main stage to get another blast of METAL, this time from Huddersfield Thrashers RipTide, another band I hadn’t seen live before. Now Thrash is one of my favourite genres. I’m old enough to have been around when it all began and saw bands such as Exciter, Exodus, Testament and Destruction etc play when they were starting out. I was also lucky enough to see Sy Keeler’s first gig singing with Onslaught, which still stands as one of the best live performances I’ve ever witnessed. Why am I on a trip down memory lane you may ask? Well, RipTide filled me with that same sense of open-mouthed awe I got as a teenager witnessing my idols for the first time. They possess everything a Thrash band needs and they do it with style. There’s definitely an old-school ‘Bay Area’ element to their sound, but it’s mixed with a modern-day twist and slightly harsher vocals, which brings everything into the 21st Century. They were incredibly tight, playing at break neck speed when they needed to, but slowing down and leaving space for the groove as well. A highlight of the weekend, you must not miss them if they gig near you!

https://www.facebook.com/RipTideThrash/

Mine and Beth’s recent return to Ever Metal, for some reason, seemed to be going down well for many people attending and I got chatting again outside after Riptide. This meant I missed the beginning of Mike West’s set on the acoustic stage. Having seen him before I knew he was good, but Alun hadn’t, so here’s what he thought!

Mike West

If the connection between metal and outlaw country isn’t obvious to any readers, I can only pity you. I’ve never witnessed Mike West before, but his amalgamation of southern rock, dusty country and swampy blues was a delight to my old whiskey-soaked soul. Mike delivers his songs with a hard rockin’ swagger, as if he’s just busted out of Tombstone jail and is riding across the plains, lamenting women and fortunes lost. A great voice and an outstanding presence, Mike is one to catch when you can. Has anyone done a “Wild West” gag yet? If not, there’s a headline for us there!

https://www.facebook.com/mikewest333/

Folorn Hope

After Mike’s great set, it wasn’t long before our Master of Ceremonies ‘Beany’ was rounding everyone up to head back to the main stage. He didn’t have to coerce me because I had been looking forward to seeing Forlorn Hope for about a year. Historical Heavy Metal may sound odd to some (although, it’s never done Sabaton any harm) but Forlorn Hope manage it with aplomb. They have been described as “a musical version of Bernard Cornwall’s ‘Sharpe’ novels” and I couldn’t put it any better myself. They haven’t been together that long, but arrived on stage like a much more seasoned outfit. Their Classic Heavy Metal sound mixed with Military History of the Peninsular War of 1807-1814 lyrics and a little in-between song humour from vocalist/rhythm guitarist Chris Simpson works perfectly and you should really seek them out. If there is one negative it is that keyboard player Jade McKenna doesn’t get more involved or smile. Her playing is more than acceptable, and the keyboards definitely add something to the music, but she looks very ‘stiff’ on stage compared to the rest of the band!

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialForlornHope/

By this point my spine was starting to groan and I needed a break, so I’ll leave you in the more than capable hands of Beth who went to check out Ben MIlford on the Acoustic Stage.

Ben Milford

Normally we’re used to seeing Ben shredding in the shadows, as he’s the super skilled, but incredibly humble, guitarist in OMV. His acoustic performance wasn’t just a new experience for us – it was also the first time he’d done an acoustic set on his own. Talking to him beforehand, we discovered that he was pretty nervous about it, because it meant stepping out of his comfort zone by singing as well as playing. He needn’t have been nervous though, because his performance was brilliant, and he has a lovely voice. On a couple of songs, he had extra vocal support from his band mate Richie, front man of OMV, and the unstoppable Edd Case! To be honest though, he didn’t need it. He did a fabulous job on his own, and we got to see another side of him, which we really liked.

Scars Of Remembrance

Sore back or not, I wasn’t going to miss our friends in Scars Of Remembrance, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made for a long time, so I hope you don’t mind me waxing lyrical! Since vocalist Mike Edwards’ departure from the band late last year, SOR have been without a steady frontman. They’d decided that, for this gig, guitarist Mark Harris was going to sing (he already does backing vocals and has a good voice), but it was clear beforehand that he was in pain. It turns out he had cracked two ribs in a fall and wasn’t able to play guitar, and I think there were nerves within the band as to how this was going to go down.

They needn’t have worried, because within half a song, the now much more healthy crowd was looking at the stage and at each other in astonishment. Regardless of the pain he was in, which must have been very uncomfortable and deserves a medal on its own, no-one could quite believe the voice (both clean and screamed) that was coming from Mark’s lungs. He is a very quiet individual off stage, but this was an absolutely mesmerising performance, and easily the best I had ever seen Scars Of Remembrance play. Having just four of them on stage gives them more space. Bassist Karl Ditcher certainly came out of his shell (he also joined in on backing vocals presenting an excellent bear-like roar), guitarist Daniel Dawson admirably covered the missing guitar with his riffing, and drummer Ben Burke played like a man possessed, thumping the living daylights out of the kit. However, Mark was the star of the show and it’s quite obvious that they don’t need to find a new singer!

Afterwards, many people spent an awful lot of time telling them this, and I really hope they listen. I already thought they were a great band, but this performance elevated them to the next level! My band of the weekend bar none!

https://www.facebook.com/scarsofremembrance/

Back at the acoustic stage it was time for Adam Robinson to play a set and I shall leave Beth to tell you about that.

Adam Robinson (Cheerfully Undiagnosed)

Still stoked from what I’d just seen on the main stage, I headed back to the acoustic room to watch Adam Robinson deliver his second set of the day, this time acoustically and on his own. It was no less cheerful than his earlier offering, and his witty banter and repartee kept the crowd enthralled. Again, his chosen songs weren’t overly fussy or complex, just good fun. He is a great act if the audience need a bit of a giggle and a livener, and his endearing stage persona could warm the hearts of even the coldest of souls!

At this point, along with Dani from Powerzone, we had arranged to interview the bonafide superstar, and absolute gentleman, that is Luke Appleton (Iced Earth & Absolva), alongside Rishi Mehta (Babylon Fire) who would be performing an acoustic set together later that day. While we did that Alun was watching OMV and here are his thoughts!

OMV

On the main stage, OMV entered dressed like a bunch of West Coast gangsters in masks and bandanas. Introduced as “hardcore street metal”, these guys definitely showed some great musical skills and energy. Somewhere between Bodycount, Suicidal Tendencies and Biohazard is where I’d stack them. Either way, OMV delivered some brutal songs and bounced around with massive crossover riffs. They were very entertaining, although hugely confrontational onstage – I wasn’t sure if they were actually going to pistol whip the audience into submission. The music has enough intensity and power to speak for itself.

https://www.facebook.com/omvmetalband/

While I took a plethora of pain killers, washed down with a pint (don’t have a go at me) Beth headed to the acoustic stage to watch the second performance of the weekend from the excellent Cry For Mercy.

Cry For Mercy Acoustic

We’re quickly running out of adjectives to describe these guys, but I’ll have a bash at a few more here, to describe their set on the acoustic stage! We’re big fans of these guys at Ever Metal, and have seen them many times now, but not stripped back like this. As usual though, their performance was a masterclass in how to deliver a great acoustic rock and blues set. Drummer Steven Taylor kept the rhythms going on Cajon, which gave the set that extra acoustic feel, and the grooves were upheld by guitarist Andy Cutty and bassist/vocalist Kev Plant. This set upheld their super-tight musicianship, with all of them on point all of the time. One of the things I like most about them is how comfortable they look when they play. The feel they give to the music is both smooth and charismatic, and you can’t help being drawn into it, making toe-tapping and head nodding obligatory! This set was so chilled that it would not have been out of place on a ‘hideout’ stage at a midsummer festival somewhere in the Texas Deep South. It oozed groove and proved just how versatile these guys are.

https://www.facebook.com/cryformercyofficial/

By now I was going numb so I knew I could manage some more music and I went back to the main stage to watch Son Of Boar, however Alun rather enjoyed their set (I did too), so he’s written this short, but very complimentary review.

Son Of Boar

They have a cool name, and they looked pretty cool on stage in matching denim battle-vests. From the very first notes of the bass rumbling on the very first song, I had a feeling that Son of Boar would be something special. I wasn’t wrong. These Bradford bruisers have everything in spades: they’re unfeasibly heavy; they have slow, doomy riffs with a Sabbath-like infectiousness and they have a sludgy, swampy groove that can pack an aggressive punk punch. The best band of Pentre Fest 2020 as far as I was concerned, Son of Boar were superb. I even bought a t-shirt!

https://www.facebook.com/SonOBoar/

At this point Edd Case played a second set on the acoustic stage and it was the one time, all weekend, we missed a performance. However, as we’d seen him earlier in the day and he was still a very naughty boy for even turning up, he’s going to forgive us…aren’t you Edd?

Severenth

Back at the main stage it was time for the awesome Severenth to play and, once again, they showed why it is so good to have them back on the scene. When these guys were around the first time they toured the US and played the hallowed Wacken Open Air, among others and their pedigree shone through from start to finish. Vocalist Peet Bailey is a wonderful frontman, possessing a huge voice and bags of energy, Ben Jones thunders on the bass, guitarists Jack Somers and Adam Sidor are the perfect foils for each other, and drummer Dave Roberts is a mass of arms and rhythm. Together they a make a brutal, but very catchy team, and the sooner they release a new album the better!

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialSeverenth/

We were now heading towards the climax of the Festival, but there were still two performances to go. First up were the headliners on the acoustic stage, namely Luke Appleton (Iced Earth, Absolva) and Rishi Mehta (Babylon Fire) who put on a wonderful performance. As Alun hadn’t seen Luke acoustically before he kindly supplied the write-up of the set!

Luke Appleton and Rishi Mehta

A really fantastic set was delivered by Mr Luke Appleton on the acoustic stage. In truth, this was a duo performance with Rishi Mehta (of Babylon Fire) playing too, and it was a genuine highlight of Pentre Fest 2020. Dubbed “acoustic metal”, the songs were both suitably laidback, yet delivered with a metal edge. Expertly performed, we had tunes from Luke’s solo “Snake Eyes” project, plus of course some Iced Earth and Absolva numbers. Not to mention a bit of Dio and Tenacious D for good measure! A real class act in every sense of the word, and both very talented and down-to-earth gentlemen.

https://www.facebook.com/lukeappletonofficial/

WomenOwar

After a short break, where some of us braved the horrendous wind that was pummelling Mcleans outside (actually, now I think about it, bearing in mind who was due to appear onstage, it could well have been the ‘True Metal wind of Joey DeMaio’s 24 string bass guitar), we headed back to the main stage to witness the climax of Pentre Fest 2020 – WomenOwar!! Now, there had been rumblings (no, not from my stomach) that WomenOwar were threatening to pull out of their performance as there’d been a massive argument between Floss The Boss and Davina Shenkles over who was going to wear the deep blue eyeliner and baby oil, but luckily tragedy was averted! Of course, had this been the real Manowar we would all have been sat twiddling our thumbs calling Joey a complete and utter wan…!

Yes I’m joking, sort of! WomenOwar are an ‘all women, not all women’ Manowar Tribute band and they were absolutely brilliant! Formed for a one-off performance in 2018 they now find themselves in demand, possibly because Manowar really do argue over who is going to wield the He-Man sword and get the best painted on six-pack, but more likely because they are very funny and play the songs superbly!

Made up from members of the awesome Dakesis, Fury and Christgrinder you just knew the musical prowess was going to be top notch, and so it proved to be. Armed with a wig and mascara collection that Steel Panther would be proud of (in fact Manowar would be proud of it as well), they proceeded to blow us all away with a majestic set of Manowar classics that the crowd lapped up! It was the perfect climax to a wonderful weekend. As it says on their website “the band have weathered even the most unconquerable challenges to consistently bring you 100% of the Manowar for 1% of the price of actual Manowar”, and that says everything really. Go see them! You won’t be disappointed, because WomenOwar will actually turn up and play!!

https://www.facebook.com/womenowarband/

So, that’s Pentre Fest wrapped up for another year. In all seriousness, it was incredible and everyone I spoke to enjoyed themselves immensely. Sound was perfect all weekend on both stages and the only thing that let us down was the weather but having the sometimes ‘not acoustic’ stage inside really worked well!

Massive thanks must go to the team at North East Wales Metal Productions for assembling another cracking line-up of bands and acoustic artists, and especially to Fozzy for getting through what must have been an awful weekend for him.

We were all well looked after by Pat and the staff at Mcleans, they do a sterling job, the bands were friendly and approachable all weekend and, of course, it wouldn’t be the same without all of you who turned up to watch.

Pentre Fest is a wonderful grass roots event and it should be thoroughly applauded. I’m already primed for 2021!

LINKS:

https://www.facebook.com/pentrefest/
https://www.facebook.com/N.E.WMetalProductions/
https://www.facebook.com/GoodforaudioEntertainment/
https://www.facebook.com/McleansPubLive/
https://www.facebook.com/Powerzonemetal/
https://www.facebook.com/TheImpactZoneOnRadioDeeside/
https://www.facebook.com/LA1Audio/
https://www.facebook.com/evermetal2017/

Disclaimer: This review and photographs are solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.