We caught up with Joe and Glen from Avalanche Party last week. One of the most exciting and raucous live bands around we know. Their music, described as feral and primal garage-punk, very much sums up the visuals but we wanted to get under the skin of these guys let loose from the North Yorkshire moors and find out what is going on under the murky surface. Avalanche Party are Jordan Bell and Jared Thorpe on vocals and guitar, Kane Waterfield on drums, Joe Bell on bass and Glen Adkins on keys.
Avalanche Party – hello! How has 2018 been for you so far?
Joe: Hiya. Yeah, 2018 has been alright hasn’t it?
Glen: Yeah, yeah – it’s shaping up to be.
Joe: It’s been a bit of a slow burner because we were that busy last year we took a deliberate decision just to take a little bit of a break from the gigging and just write cos we’ve been sat on about twenty songs and we haven’t been able to finish – when you’re all working a full-time job it’s a bit difficult to get time off so we’ve just been writing. We’ve started gigging again and now we’re touring properly, we’re doing a tour for This Feeling from March onwards.
Glen: To the end of April.
Joe: Yeah, we’ve done four or five gigs and they’ve all been really well attended and sweaty.
What can we expect from these forthcoming gigs then?
Joe: More sweat! Energy I guess. We don’t take ourselves too seriously with it and we just have a laugh really.
You’ve just signed to Primary Talent International. So what does that mean for you? What plans are happening there?
Joe: With Primary Talent, because we’ve been so self-sufficient since we started, it’s hopefully going to mean for us we get help from the management to get us over that next step.
Glen: Gives us more time to focus on making the music.
Joe: Yeah, I mean it’s great, it’s been an odd transition from being a band that did everything too – whether that’s a promo or getting ourselves to gigs and all that. We still do all the socials and all the gigging has been taken on by other people which has been fucking great!
Joe: Well like as Glen said, and while you don’t want to be a walking talking fucking band cliché, it’s nice to get together to do that sort of stuff than doing shifts each to get gigs in fucking Barnsley. Hopefully we’ll also get a few more festivals – cos for bands that are unsigned it can be fucking difficult. We did alright last year but there were plenty more we didn’t get selected for because we didn’t have a booking agent. I mean it’s pretty weird when you look at their roster and they have people like fucking Gwen Stefani and then there’s a band from Castleton from the middle of nowhere. But we’ll see. Early days but excited.
Whats the story with a single or new release?
Joe: Our latest single release is called ‘Porcelain’ and came out on March 2nd on Clue Records. It’s the second one we’ve done with them as we signed a two-single deal with them.
Glen: It’s on vinyl – our first vinyl.
Kate: Oh, I do like a bit of vinyl.
Joe: Yeah, so do we but we’ve never been able to fucking afford it before – we’re pretty poor where we’re from.
Did you design the cover?
Joe: Yeah, Glen does all our design work and graphics so all credit to him.
Glen, you do all the artistry then? Where does that come from? How did that start?
Glenn: Well, I trained in product design, but now I do video, editing, signage work.
Joe: Alright Glen, stop whoring yourself out.
Kate: Well, if I need any signs I’ll know where to come…
Joe: Yes, if you need design work – I’ll give you my card…
You’re from Castleton is that right? How does Castleton and your background reflect in your music?
Glen: I’m from Darlington not Castleton – I’ll give you a short background – our drummer comes from Whitby, me, Joe and Jordan live in Castleton and then Jared lives in York.
Joe: We convene in the moors. So when promoters say can you do this gig for twenty quid and two warm beers you can’t really say yes. Because it takes sixty quid to get to a fucking gig for all five of us. Me and Jordan are brothers, we’ve always lived on the moors, we didn’t go to school we were homeschooled so I guess, not in a bad way, but we were isolated growing up. Playing gigs we didn’t have a school full of mates to come to gigs and be our fan base, we had friends of course but we had to get our fan base purely from gigging. So Middlesbrough is kind of our scene and you see bands coming and going all the time and just want to sound like the next fucking Vampire Weekend or whatever and they all kind of mesh. We don’t mind bands who are popular being influenced by music of the time but we don’t really do that. The moors are all pretty bleak and remote but a lovely place and I suppose it does influence our music differently to the way a city band would be.
Do you have venues that you play there?
Glen: Yes. We’ve played the two pubs there many times.
Kate: I love Castleton – which pubs?
Rachel: Not that Castleton… I thought exactly the same. I was surprised I didn’t know their faces.
Joe: No there’s another one! My best mate went to uni in Sheffield and I went to visit him and by the time I got to Sheffield I was pretty tired after my shift and I saw a signpost for Castleton and I was like – eh?
Kate: Yeah, we do have our own remote Castleton just round the corner.
Joe: It’s proper remote. In the middle of nowhere. You’ll have to come up. Middlesbrough is our local scene but its still half an hour away. Middlesbrough is a good scene, like Teeside. Bands like the Chapman Family and High Plane Drifters, growing up to bands like that massively influenced us and even bands at the minute like Plaza from Hartlepool – we’re really good friends with them. Bands on the scene – and it is a really eclectic scene – everyone does support each other. I mean even when we announced the agent stuff and that we’d play Reading and Leeds, we got so many nice messages from everyone on the scene. And vice versa – when we hear people are doing well from our neck of the woods … we can only help each other.
So, your music has been described as garage punk, punk at its most feral, and garage at its most primal. So how does that happen. What is your process?
Joe: How does it become so primal? Feral? Well, I don’t really know as that’s something other people have said about us and it has been said quite a lot. I guess it’s performance based. I mean in terms of lyrics, Jordan does all the lyrics, but I think the primal and feral descriptions I guess would be more about people watching us.
Glenn: Maybe it’s because you’re trapped in Castleton and when get out of Castleton you go AAAAARRRGGHH!
Joe: It is like proper Viking invaders when we come out of there, proper assault of the city going out to London or any city – it’s proper pillaging.
What themes do the songs cover?
Glen: Well, our new single essentially, is about love isn’t it?
Glen: And our previous single was definitely about that too wasn’t it?
Joe: I guess everything we write is pretty positive. Even when the subject matter might not appear positive there’s a positive aspect to it. That’s what I get out of Jordan’s lyrics, but after reading this he might say ‘No.’ (laughs) but we had an interview the other day and someone touched on the political side of things which was weird as I’ve never thought of us as a political band at all.
Glenn: There’s definitely bands that we play with like Cabbage who share a political viewpoint and we definitely agree with those views. But we’ll just sing about the grouse and the moors and they can sing about Tony Blair.
Joe: Who knows what we’ll sing about but the music starts with us so you never know.
Who is your favourite unsigned band would you say?
Joe: The Blinders are like our little brothers man – we knew them before they moved to Manchester so again they’re doing great things at the moment. We’re playing strangely enough with Strange Bones and they supported us the other night and they’re top lads.
Glen: Top lads they were.
Joe: Yeah. When you play with bands like the Blinders or Strange Bones – we could go on but I don’t want to keep naming bands in case I miss someone out – but when you play with bands like that there’s no competition. It’s great to play with bands like that cos you have to fucking up your game man, you know? You’ve got to be on it. They’re just examples of two bands that we’ve played with recently to give you an idea.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
Glenn: So vast, I’d listen to virtually everything. I went through phases of hip-hop, house music. Well, yes, I listen to the best of everything – definitely brought up on The Beatles and Stones and Small Faces then found my own way after that.
Joe: Similar really. I guess all our parents were playing music so we heard a lot of music.They might not play instruments but they listen to a lot of it. I guess for me and Jordan, we could be snowed in for weeks and there was nothing other to do but listen to music: Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Jimi Hendrix, a lot of Hendrix. I was pretty sure I was born to a Hendrix song – yes I was – it was Voodoo Child actually!
Being a northern band, do you feel there is still a north/south divide in terms of the music industry?
Glenn: There probably is in the music industry. I suppose for our genre, the north of England is viewed altogether as a whole which is working and is pulling the attention away from the south.
Joe: I think in terms of industry, I think Glen is probably right, as everything is pretty much southern based as we’re finding out – it costs you a fucking fortune in train tickets as you two will know. I don’t think there are any bands like us not in our particular scene anyway and I think we’re from the north and we go pillaging south to play gigs and then we fuck off back up north.
Glen: Everything north of Birmingham gets called North now.
Joe: The scene in the north for us is pretty fucking strong so we’re ok right now and I think it works for us in the north. I think London is pretty saturated now and bands are having to travel further north like Manchester.
Glenn: The days of having to move to London to make it are over, aren’t they?
Joe: In terms of the scene I don’t think there is any particular divide you know although I don’t think many people up north are fans of The Sherlocks you know … we should give them Glen’s card actually cos he’s really good on photoshop.
Glen: I’d do a better job definitely.
Joe: Let’s not give it any more publicity!
You’ve been chosen by the PRS Open Fund – what does that mean for you and what can we expect?
Glen: It means we can record…
Kate: It means here’s a wad of cash…
Joe: It means a lot of fucking Buckfast.
Glen: It just means we don’t have to stress about having to record which is amazing.
Joe: For us, because we have been so self-sufficient and so DIY before we started gigging, regular, aside from the band, me, Jordan and Kane would do a covers band. In the early days we booked in to rough pubs in Stockton and so on and we had to make a little bit of money to help us but no this is different. It means we have a little bit of a cushion. We still have to budget things as we’re not being given an endless wad of cash but it’s quite nice to have the luxury of being able to be a bit more selective choosing the studio we go to or being open to working with a producer. It opens up a bit more and gives you a bit more freedom, for sure.
Glen: It was nice to have that sort of backing cos obviously they think it’s worthwhile and not everyone gets that.
Joe: Yeah cos not everyone gets chosen and we’re very grateful and will use this wisely.
Rachel: Wisely with mountains of Buckfast?
Joe: It won’t all go on Buckfast. It’s funny because people drink it now – I don’t want to sound like we’ve spread the stuff around because we haven’t but I know the Blinders started drinking it after they’d drunk it with us. A few bands have started as well. When you’re playing it’s great- it’s like caffeine and alcohol. It’s great while you’re gigging. It gets you loose and it gets you wired at the same time. You’ll drink it just to warm you up.
Kate: My Mum’s from up there, so I spent my formative years up in Northumberland and it’s everywhere. We always were given it. Even as kids it was great even for a cold.
Glen: Well, it is a tonic wine!
Kate: It’s brewed by monks – it’s good stuff. I went to the monastery where it was brewed.
Joe: For a laugh, we even wrote to them once seeing if they’d like to endorse us but strangely they didn’t seem interested – they didn’t seem to want to be associated with us!
Rachel: Strange, so did I for Northern Exposure.
We caught up with Jordan a few days later to get an insight on the lyrics…
Lets talk a little about the lyrics, when did you start writing? Where did it stem from and how old were you?
Jordan: Tough question. A rough guess would be at 4.56pm on 4th August 1984. I wanted to do something special for my 10th birthday. It stemmed from a desire to convey information with a detail and keenness that wasn’t afforded to what I was doing before – a kind of mid range grunting sound. That only gets you so far. You can’t really get to the meat of the matter. Although now I’m finding that the universal open-ended quality of a grunt is perhaps more communicative in fact than using real words. I intend to combine it with a wooaahhh woooahhhh on our debut album, we’ll see how that goes.
Does it come easy to you, is it challenging or would you say you’ve always been a creative type of person?
Jordan: It’s easy. I know loads of words. I used to read the dictionary every night before bed, cover to cover. There’s not a word I don’t know. Recidivist. I know that one. Whelk. Conflagration. Murk. Berk. Jerk. Lurk. Berserk. Redundant, that’s a good one coz that’s what words are becoming. In the next dictionary revision they’re going to take out all the words we don’t need and make them extinct. Strip it right down to the fifty or so bare essentials. Then if you need to add a bit of colour to your writing, use an emoji. I’ve just written a song completely out of emojis, I hope it’s going to be on our debut album.
In your opinion what was your best song you have written?
Jordan: Serious answer – You haven’t heard it yet so I can’t say. Wait and see.
What’s your personal favourite lyric of all time?
Jordan: Loads isn’t there. I’ll narrow it down to things I’m listening to right now – Townes Van Zandt is great, he’s got a song called ‘Nothin’ that I really like. ‘Hey mama when you leave, don’t leave a thing behind, I don’t want nothin, I can’t use nothin’ They aren’t stand out words themselves but they fit the song so well. ‘Waiting Round To Die’ is a good one too. Very sad.
Then there’s a guy called Bill Carter who played in The Screaming Blue Messiahs who I really like. His stuff is all American obsessed, about big cars and guns and the american dream and he’s got songs called ‘Jesus Chrysler Drives A Dodge’ and ‘Four Engines Burning Over The USA’. It’s very surreal and apocalyptic. ‘I woke up this morning bent on destruction I’m the last jet pilot with 20/20 vision and mind bending power on a mission from God’. They were an amazing band. Then there’d be stuff by Nick Cave, Cohen, Iggy, Dylan, but it’s really a very deep dark hole and you’d never get out.
New single Porcelain… Where did the inspiration for that come from? What are these depths of deprivation you speak of?
Jordan: It’s degradation Rachel. The depths of degradation. The New York Times told me I really need to work on my diction so I’ve been taking classes, tip of the tongue, teeth and the lips and that. It’s about trying please someone else so much that you lose all sense of self and before you know it you’ve became a pathetic womble like creation.
You have an almost possessed stage presence (in a good way) How did you develop that persona to switch on and off while performing? I’m guessing you don’t always wander around like that…
Jordan: No idea what you’re talking about… X
FOLLOW, WATCH AND LISTEN:
First single of 2018 “Porcelain” is OUT NOW for streaming / download on all formats.
Apple Music: http://hyperurl.co/PorcelainAppleMusic
Google Play: http://hyperurl.co/PorcelainGooglePlay
UPCOMING UK TOUR DATES // (** – This Feeling shows)
11th // Brighton The Hope & Ruin
15th // BBC Radio 6 Music (Live Session)
16th // Birmingham The Sunflower Lounge **
17th // Leicester The Scholar **
31st // Nottingham The Bodega
5th // Cardiff The Moon Cardiff **
6th // Bristol Mother’s Ruin **
7th // London The Water Rats **
14th // Leeds Lending Room **
20th // Manchester Jimmy’s **
21th // Sheffield Café Totem **
27th // Glasgow Broadcast **
28th // Edinburgh Sneaky Pete’s **
23rd // Stockton The Georgian Theatre, Stockton
ADV TICKETS: www.avalancheparty.com
KATE O’BRIEN & RACHEL BROWN
Gareth Burroughs Model D Photography