Sam of

Alvin and the Angry Barrels


1.  Firstly introduce us to your band - give us a compacted history and insight into your comrades?

We're Alvin and the Angry Barrels, a 3 piece Ska/Punk band from a little town in Herefordshire called Leominster. Mike plays drums and comes from a metal background, Nath plays bass and has played in various bands over the years but I talked him out of retirement to join this rag tag band of ours! I'm Sam and 'sing' and play guitar, I  had been knocking around writing some tracks and recording a little myself but it was always with a band in mind.  Been together for a couple of years and started playing gigs about 18 months or so ago. We've just cut our first 4 track EP in a studio built in our friends shed!

2.      Why ska/punk - what dragged you to this situation and do you ever envision a time when other generic ponds may be paddled in and a few alternating tadpoles of tunery are wanked off?

I've always listened to this kind of music and the bands I've played in have always been in some vein of punk. Kind of a believer in 'stick to what you know' it would be fair to say we aren't exactly breaking new ground with what we do but there is always an effort to make our own sound, even if it does have roots in things we've all heard before.

I'm not sure our tunes will ever stray far from our punk/ska origins but we do have some slower, more dub/reggae sounding tracks. I'm not sure how much I agree with the idea that everything has to be 'new' I don't think there is anything wrong with working within your inspirations and what you know. If you spend the whole time trying to make something new you end up too far away from what you started out for.

3.  Your local area mate - the good, the bad and the ugly - name, shame and make a claim - push or punish, the chance is yours.

There are some really good people around Herefordshire who are really trying to forge something good for local musicians. Rich Lovell and Minky Cuadra are two people we have worked a lot with, they run the Hereford Underground revolution and they have given us some brilliant opportunities in the last year or so. There are others though, Matt Broom who runs Twisted Cleff Promotions and Stephen Goode of No Poetry, they put on great nights in Hereford. I'm sure there are lots of others but these are the guys I've worked with directly and yeah, they do very good work. There is also a little venue called Reet Petite in our home town of Leominster that is making a massive effort to put bands on and not just the stuff you would expect from a pub in a small town. It isn't always easy finding a platform to shout and bang out punk tunes and they are very accommodating.

4.  Hiccup Von Mousesquasher the 3rd has an eight legged girlfriend called Raspberry.  She has 8 vaginas too and a complete set of golf clubs with rubber handles.  Guest are invited to play a round of golf using the said equipment and the 8 vaginas but this is not enough.  There needs to be more holes and more course (or coarse) management.  If you had the role, how would you improve the general layout and length of the course.  Also would you kill Peter Allis for 30 rupees?

Allis, Allis, who the fuck is Allis? He can keep his 30 rupees and people can always just play the back 9...

5.  The song you are most proud of pleased and the one thing in life you would say defined you as a person?

Well Nath our bassist informed me at practice last night that he doesn't rate my favourite track but anyway... A track called ‘Shagger Pat’ which is a slowed down heavy ska/reggae tune, probably the best lyrics I've written and it is a little out of our usual wheel house musically. As for a defining moment, I dunno, a loss of a close friend, birth of my son, being lucky enough to hear Green Day and Rancid before falling foul of pop shit that was around at the same time.

6.  The best and worst gigs your band has played thus far and the immediate ambitions you have as a musician?

Best gig, probably a recent gig we played with two other punk bands in the area Terminal Rage and Pigdaze in Hereford. Good turnout, played well, the other bands did the same, really good night. We did play with Culture Shock just before Christmas but we played like a bag of shit so I ain't picking that!

Worst? We played in a local pub to pretty much the bar staff and a couple of close friends, it was so quiet even our bassist got distracted by Match of the Day and fucked up one of our tracks. Pub gigs can be so hit or miss!

As for immediate ambitions,  it is all about the tunes, keep writing more and importantly better tunes. I gave up trying to be an amazing guitarist a long time ago but song writing is where I really try and put the work in. I'm shit compared to the other two in the band so I've got to be good at something.

7.  Your gripes within the scene sir and the one thing that keeps you highly motivated?

Don't think I have any real gripes, I think people, well some people, make a real effort to try and make something of a scene. One thing that does kinda bug me is when you are very clearly a band doing original material and this is clearly stated and then they ask 'for a few more covers next time' nah you are alright mate. That generally is a product of having to play places that don't really want a punk band shouting at their punters but you know, we are learning which places are more accepting of that.  The motivation is simple, make music that we like and we think is good, then if other people think the same then that is good. I know there are people out there with an ear for what we, and bands like us do. It is just trying to reach them.

8.  Fascist Potatoes - they are ruining the vegetable plot of peace with their dictating and green hating ways.  Horticultural war is near, I am armed with a Carrot of Death - what is your chosen weapon sir and, why!

Biological warfare, release the communist caterpillar and let them fall.

9.  The song writing process always fascinates me - from a blank board comes sounds and words and an end construction that can make or break.  Please give us some insight into the journey from silent A to musical B?

Songs for us usually start out with the lyrics, that can be in the form of a single line , a phrase, something overheard on a train that makes me think 'Ha that's brilliant' or 'Stupid bastard' that line/phrase will bounce around for a couple of days until it becomes 5/6 lines and then a verse and then it just builds lyrically until I have enough for a song.

Once I get to that stage I will work out some general ideas for the music until it vaguely sounds like a song. Once at that point I take it to practice where Nath and MIke (the two who actually know how songs work and get timings and all that shit) tell me what is shit about it, what is good about it, what we can add, what we can change and over the course of a couple of practices we bang it out until it resembles a song.

Never more than a couple of minutes long, we are pretty lean when it comes to our tracks, if we can play something once instead of four times we will do it, every time.  The lyrics for me are most important, the music is a vehicle for them, I think that comes from probably being better at writing lyrics than writing music but yeah, lyrics come first then find something to make song out of it.

10.  Elongated peanuts - are they the ruination of the railways system or the only way to get inside the head of fruity astrology Russell Grant?

Ruining the railways, well apart from the dry roasted ones, they are alright.

11.  For any new bands coming onto the block what words of advice would you offer and what 3 words of war would you tell them to always abide by?

Just to make sure the tunes are decent and be original. That doesn't mean be original in a sense that you should be writing punk songs on the xylophone while your mate recites hymns over the top, that's just shit. I mean try and write your own tunes and make them as good as they fucking can be. Don't worry about pleasing people, once you pander to the crowd you are fucked as a creative force in my opinion. I guess that is my 3 words of war 'Always be Original'

12.  And at last - promote sir, promote - masturbate the shaft of glory and splash out a mess that attracts we perverted listeners and limp-wristed voyeurs!

Here is the usual link to our Facebook page

We have some decent gigs in Herefordshire over the next couple of months, Reet Petite in Leominster on the 9th Sept and then some stuff in Hereford, all the dates are on our FB page. Getting people to gigs is what we want to do, while you are there you can pick up a copy of our CD, it’s only a couple of quid or you can contact us on FB for a copy if you are really keen! That being said, if you like to hear a racket and like to hear honest original tunes played somewhere near well then we might be the band for you so check it out!