“Well son, a gig was what we used to call a band playing live music, in front of an audience.”
“What, people watching musicians play their instruments? Crazy!”
“I know it seems like a strange idea to you youngsters, but it used to be a fantastic experience. Actually being able to gather with friends and strangers to enjoy hearing music. It was another world.”
That’s what the situation seems like right now: no gigs, no gatherings for entertainment – the old days sometimes feel like a lifetime ago. At least it seemed a whole different world back in February 2020, before the pandemic, when I caught up with Chester based band Ryuko at Pentre Fest.
The three piece – comprising The Bobfather (guitars/vocals), Captain Andy (bass) and MattMan (drums) were something of an anomaly at the metal-centric Pentre Fest. Not that Ryuko don’t rock out, but their brand of punky, alternative rock was a little different from the other bands on show. I found their style of honest, yet far from pretentious rock’n’roll refreshing and it added a vital tone to the proceedings.
Post gig, I caught up with the band to pose some questions and contemplate the meaning of life.
Alun: First off, the cliched yet crucial discussion on influences:
Bob: It’s weird, ‘cos we’ve got influences from all over. If you listen to one of our sets, it has stages: it starts off punky, then it goes alternative rock. Then it goes a little metal/grungy, then back to punk at the end.
Matt: Drop D then back to punk! I’m a huge fan of Motorhead and Metallica, the list goes on, so me being the drummer, I was always doing these thrash beats. To go from that to stepping into this, this was more fun to me. I really enjoy myself when I’m behind the kit with these guys.
Bob: When I write the songs, I listen to quite a broad variety of music, so I think that becomes apparent in my songs. I don’t like to write the same song twice. As far as when I started out, I would say when I was a teenager, I first started listening to Nirvana, Carter USM. I also drew influences from a lot of electro – The Prodigy and stuff like that – so sometimes I’d try and work out how to play dance songs on a guitar. And then that would give me the influence to write more interesting songs. I like to try and fuse a bunch of different genres together, make it more interesting.
Andy: I listen to a lot of Neil Young; I think he’s a very diverse artist. He’s done folk, he’s also done electric stuff.
Alun: How do you promote yourselves?
Matt: I’m more into social media than these guys are. We’re promoting ourselves on Facebook, we’re gonna make a new YouTube account. That’s kind of going up and down at the moment…
Bob: We don’t know how to work it!
Alun: Where does the name Ryuko come from?
Bob: I’m really into anime and all things Japanese, Japanese music…At the time I was watching an anime called Kill la Kill. The main character is called Ryuko Matoi and I just thought it was a really cool name. Some really fun facts: Ryuko is one of the least popular names in Japan. It basically means “rebirth”, start over. So, I thought, we’re starting again, it’s a really cool name.
Andy: Well, it’s not a cool name in Japan, is it?
Bob: It’s cool to me! I think it’s cool!
Andy: I do wish we’d chosen a name that’s easier to spell and pronounce.
Bob: People can never say it.
Alun: Your cover of the Madness classic ‘Baggy Trousers’ tonight was a surprising choice, but great!
Matt: We decided to spruce that up to make it ours. The original is completely different to how I play it, I add extra little bits just to make it more funky.
Alun: Do you feel you’ve got the right band dynamic between the three of you?
Bob: We’re pretty good as we are. More people add more complications cos you’ve got to think – are they free; do they drive, are they going to be available…
Matt: I’ve got a son, he’s 9, we discuss upcoming gigs before we agree to it. If I’ve got my son and he comes along with us, if he’s allowed in the venue we play – he’s got his little ear defenders, he just sits in the corner and watches us or plays his game.
Bob: I’ve got three jobs…
Alun: Sounds like a positive environment to work in.
All: It’s got to be positive, if it’s not it just doesn’t work. If no-one’s happy, nothing gets done.
Alun: So, what’s next? What are your plans?
Bob: World domination! One step at a time…
Andy: We’ve been working on re-doing our EP, we’ve been recording on and off. Recording, playing as many gigs as we can.
And there you have it: an enjoyable chat with the gentlemen of Ryuko. Make sure you check them out live, as and when we can return to the experience of live music. If grungy, punky alt rock with some metallic crunch is your thing, then Ryuko will be just the antidote you need in these dreary times.
With apologies to Ryuko, who have waited months for this interview to see the light of day.
Check the band out here:
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Alun Jones and 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.
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 One Mcleans, Pentre, North Wales 21/02/2020 Review by Rick Tilley & Alun Jones Pictures by Beth Jones
Hi Everyone – It’s Rick.
Before you get into
reading about Day One at Pentre Fest I would like send our love to Ian ‘Fozzy’ Forrester
of North East Wales Metal Productions. Very sadly, Fozzy’s Mum passed away just
before the Festival yet, in what must have been an incredibly difficult time
for him and his family, Fozzy was present on both days manning the sound desk
on the acoustic stage and running the event in the professional manner to which
we have become accustomed. Many of you reading this know Fozzy and what a gem
of a bloke he is and I hope you can all join me in wishing him and his family
all the very best. This review is dedicated to Fozzy’s Mum!
It doesn’t seem possible that this was our third trip to
Pentre Fest, the last two years seem to have gone by in a blur of gigs, photos,
reviews, interviews, albums and laughs but, once again, Ian ‘Fozzy’ Forrester,
Ian ‘Beany’ North and Frank Williams of North East Wales Metal Productions had
assembled a ‘must see’ line-up of bands and acoustic acts who would be
appearing over the two days at Mcleans, Pentre. Our gratitude and thanks must
go out to them for continuing to persevere at a time when getting people to
come out and see original music is something of a struggle. I would also like
to welcome our colleague, friend and fellow Ever Metal reviewer Alun Jones who
was at the Festival on both days and has kindly submitted his thoughts on some
of the bands!
Pentre isn’t a big place and, therefore, Mcleans is somewhat
stuck in the middle of The Twilight Zone so, within an hour of arriving on
Friday evening, it was wonderful to see that so many people were turning up.
This was easily the biggest crowd we had seen at the venue for any event. On
top of that we knew pretty much everyone so the atmosphere was amazing!
Oliver Carins (Scarfoot)
Local legend Edd Case, who usually hosts the acoustic stage,
wasn’t around on the Friday as he was very poorly, and with us also being in
the midst of a series of storms bad enough to get their own names the decision
had been made to move the second stage inside so after a small delay, Oliver
Carins (Vocalist/Guitarist with Scarfoot) got things underway with a wonderful
cover of John Butler’s ‘Ocean’. Personally, I think Oliver’s confidence has
grown considerably over the last few months but this was the first time I had
seen him playing acoustically and a very talented guitarist he is indeed!
In what seemed like seconds Oliver was done and, suddenly,
we were all heading to see Cry For Mercy open things up properly on the Main
Cry For Mercy
If you want to open a Festival with a bang then Rock/Blues
power trio Cry For Mercy provide it. We’ve now seen them a fair few times over
the last twelve months and they never disappoint. Vocalist/bassist Kevin James
Plant has a wonderfully soulful voice with just the right amount of gravel (he
can sure play the bass well when he wants to as well), guitarist Andy Cutty
lets the riffs fly and the solos fly higher and drummer Steven Taylor provides
an ultra-solid beat with plenty of smiles. They treated us to some brand new
tracks from their forthcoming EP as well as from last year’s “Overload” release
and they all ROCK! It struck me a few weeks back that they remind me a little of
Mama’s Boys, who I saw play on a number of occasions in the 1980’s and that’s
high praise because I’m a big fan of Pat ‘The Professor’ McManus. Cry For Mercy
Back on the acoustic stage it was time for Oliver again but
this time with the rest of Scarfoot. They all know how Beth and I feel but I’m
going to say it again. Since new bassist Rhys Jones joined them last year
Scarfoot have gone from strength to strength. There is a new found confidence
in them and it shines through in their performances. This was a first for them
as they had never played a ‘stripped back’ set before but it worked very well.
As I have become more familiar with their music it’s fair to say that it isn’t
your standard fare. It combines many influences and genres and comes across as
occasionally schizophrenic (in a good way) and having two vocalists (drummer
Phil Eakins also sings) sets them apart. If you’re familiar with the band
Primus, imagine a saner version of them and you’ll be on the path that leads to
the road that sits on the hill that Scarfoot inhabit. Lovely guys too!
Off to the main stage again. This time it was for (drum
roll) the one…the only…the leg-ends… Lullaby For a Unicorn!! These four guys
have become really good friends over the last couple of years and we love ‘em
to bits. Before they went on stage we were treated to lots of stories of their
antics the previous week when they played the main stage at HRH Metal and
predictably they had us in stitches (if you haven’t already then go and seek
out the photos online). For this gig they had a new friend on stage…a
synthesizer, apparently something they will be using a lot more in the future.
It was a superb addition to their arsenal and turned vocalist Justin into a
demented looking/sounding Jean-Michel Jarre! There wasn’t a colouring
competition this time but we were treated to the usual array of Party
Poppers/Cannons and, in an attempt to get the audience to love them even more
than they already do, had bought shots for everyone which they dished out
mid-set. Never predictable but always fantastic, Lullaby For A Unicorn are
totally unique. In an age with thousands of sound-alike bands we should all be
very thankful for that!
After replenishing our drinks (reviewing is very thirsty
work I’ll have you know!) we went back to the restaurant…er, I mean acoustic
stage, to see the next act, Daniel Moran.
I’ve seen Dan twice before, once with his previous band
Ashen Reach and at Beth’s Charity Gig last December with his main band, the
wonderful Reaper, but I had yet to see him perform acoustically and what a
talent he is, especially for someone so young! He launched into a fabulous set,
punctuated with jokes and witty banter and it’s plainly obvious that he lives,
eats and breathes music. He has incredible vocal range, is a fabulous guitarist
and relishes every moment that he can play and entertain. Finishing with a
cover of ‘Why?’ from Devin Townsends’s most recent album “Empath” would be a
challenge for most, but not Dan, who pretty much nailed every note and left the
audience in awe. He is also a lovely chap so do me a favour and go and watch
him wherever you can. People like Dan don’t come around too often!
With the turnaround time between the two stages working like
clockwork, by the time I’d been to the loo and had a quick vape the mighty
Impavidus were already half way through their opening track over on the main
stage. It had been more than a year since I had last seen them live, far too
long for my liking, and I was soon banging my head as much as my battered spine
would allow me to. Vocalist Michelle Adamson has the voice of an angel and
devil rolled into one. Her clean singing is haunting but her growl matches
Angela Gossow for venom. In fact, classic era Arch Enemy is who Impavidus
remind me of most. They may possess huge groove and power and be as heavy as a
stampeding rhino but melody plays a massive part in the music and their songs
are incredibly catchy. It was also great to see their ex-drummer, the gentleman
that is John Badger, fill in for them one last time! Impavidus really should be
more well-known than they are!
After the wonderful set from Impavidus I was hurting and in
need of a break so I’m now going to pass you over to Alun who went to watch the
final act of the night on the acoustic stage.
Ryuko presented a couple of surprises on Friday night’s
acoustic stage. First off, they were fully plugged in and electric. Second,
they play more of an alternative rock sound, which was something of a contrast
to the majority of other Pentre Fest bands. Readers may not be aware, though,
that I am in fact King of Grunge, with my 90’s credentials well proven. Ryuko’s
set included some melody and even jangly pop along with heavier riffs, which
was an enjoyable diversion in a Dinosaur Jr/Nirvana style. Well performed,
Ryuko just need to test their audience further and throw in additional
surprises in either a ‘Negative Creep’ or ‘About a Girl’ vein.
With medication taken, drink in hand and the pain in my back
calming down a little bit I returned to the main hall to find our ‘Master Of
Ceremonies’ Beany hosting The Tequila Game! This was basically The Jäger Game
without Jäger!! It involves a large number of slightly inebriated and
good-natured MetalHeads rolling pound coins towards a bottle of booze to see
who can get the closest. Winner gets the bottle and the money raised goes to
charity. It is always good fun and was the perfect lead in to our Friday night
If you haven’t seen, or at least heard of, Witch Tripper
then you must live under a rock at the bottom of the sea. On any given weekend
they will be playing somewhere in the UK or Ireland and they never stop. They
arrived at Pentre Fest with incredible new drummer, Christopher Reed, in tow
and proceeded to do what Witch Tripper does magnificently…blow the roof off.
Vocalist/Lead Guitarist Richie Barlow is a manic ball of sweat and hair by the
end of the first track and bassist ‘Stoff’ is a slightly more reserved, but no
less brilliant rumble of thunder. Together, the three of them play an enticing
mix of Stoner, Rock, Metal and Grunge all held together with lashings of heavy
groove and they never fail to put a smile on your face, regardless of how many
times you’ve seen them. As usual they were on fire and brought the Friday proceedings
to a close, just as it had started a few hours earlier, with a bang!
With an audible sigh, that only happens when every band has
played a blinder, the crowd started dispersing to different areas of the pub
for another swift pint, a smoke, a chat and to chill before heading out into
the horrendous weather (the wind sounded like something out of a Hammer Horror
film) to waiting Camper Vans, Hotels or homes. It had been an incredibly
successful evening not just from a band perspective but also for the number of
people who had turned up. As usual, Beth and I were completely knackered and
hurting but we both knew that the line-up for Saturday was going to be
Disclaimer: This review and photographs are solely the property of Rick Tilley, Beth Jones, Alun 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.