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Hardcore/Punk

The Uppers Drummer Travis Talks Influences, Playing Live, and ‘Manic Melodies’ EP

Travis of St. Louis punk band The Uppers discusses the band’s new EP ‘Manic Melodies,’ major influences, and the joys of playing live.

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The Uppers, photo by Vicious Velma
The Uppers, photo by Vicious Velma

There is no downside with The Uppers; this band is all about energy and punk-driven enthusiasm. The St. Louis, Missouri-based quintet features previous members of Hard Evidence, Time and Pressure, Better Days, and Thee Fine Lines. They combine raw punk with traditional power pop influences to create a rocking good time.

Their latest release is Manic Melodies, released this past September via Spaghetty Town Records, Blvd. Trash, and Wanda Records EU. Early on, the group made a big believer out of the great Tuk Smith. Smith is best known for his work with his previous project Biters, and his current group, Tuk Smith and the Restless Hearts. Smith agreed to produce Manic Melodies for The Uppers, helping make this the band’s most accomplished release yet.`

The Uppers formed back in 2017 and have supported celebrated acts like The Dead Boys, Dillinger 4, Pegboy, and FEAR. They have also played alongside Radioactivity, Spiritual Camp, NY Hounds, and Chubby and the Gang. Some of the festivals that the band has popped up at include Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas, The Down South Showdown in Atlanta, and Windy City Sensation in Chicago.

Today, we are joined by The Uppers drummer Travis who discusses the band’s origins, writing Manic Melodies, playing live, and more.

How would you describe your own music?

Travis: “Punchy and energetic punk-infused rock n’ roll. Every song has a sense of urgency but still maintains a tight and solid foundation. Lyrically, we’re sarcastic, cynical, and a little bit narcissistic (in an ironic way). Big hooks coupled with memorable choruses and sneaky guitar riffs make for an overall anthemic and polished sound.”

Who are your biggest influences?

“In regard to our sound, I think we collectively pull from different bands/eras, but they’re all very similar. Overall, we’re influenced by classic bands like The Boys, D Generation, The Real Kids, The Dead Boys, The Exploding Hearts, The Jabbers, The Hives, and Generation X. We wear a lot of ’77-era punk and power pop on our sleeves. As a drummer, I will always cite JohnBonzoBonham as my biggest influence.”

Tell us more about Manic Melodies. What was your experience of making it? What went on behind the scenes?

Manic Melodies was pieced together with bubble gum and tape basically a month before we recorded it. The word ‘Manic’ in the EP title truly does define the creative process. Our singer, Ryan, has a billion riffs, lyrics, and ideas in his head. Collectively, we take his idea(s) and turn them into a cohesive song. A lot of times, easier said than done, especially on this record. Tuk Smith came out to St. Louis to help us polish up the songs we had for this record over a two-day period. He tied up a lot of loose ends, as well as added some great ideas to the songs we had. In two days, Tuk helped us finalize everything, and he really helped take everything to a different level for us.

“A month later, we were at Firebrand Studios with engineer Brian Scheffer and Tuk at the helm for guidance. Tuk really brought an aura of professionalism and perfection that we all honestly lack, especially me. Over a few days, we hammered out the tunes, and the rest is history.”

The Uppers, photo by Vicious Velma

The Uppers, photo by Vicious Velma

What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened at one of your shows or on tour?

“Ryan performed our entire live set opening for Dillinger 4 in Las Vegas with his zipper down on his pants. I am pretty sure that wasn’t the first time that happened to him, and I am pretty sure his penis made a surprise appearance accidentally. He’s sorry to all that witnessed, I think.”

For those not familiar with The Uppers, can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?

“We’re all not young guys anymore, but we still have the inherent need to play punk music in a band still. All of us have been playing in punk bands since we were teenagers, and The Uppers is the culmination of years of doing the same thing. We all have done touring in other groups over the years, so the approach to The Uppers has been lower stakes at this stage in our lives. It’s more about creating songs we dig and tearing up stages as much as we can. Some people golf or go fishing, we all play in a punk band. That’s the easiest way to put it. It’s just what we do.

“The band is not only the main hobby for all of us, but it is our main social and creative outlet. Ryan and Shelby are tattooers with a brand-new shop they co-own (Encore Tattoos in St. Louis), Jimmy owns a construction business, I am in the automotive industry, and Kevin works for the St. Louis Art Museum. We’re all just working-class old-heads still driven to make the funniest music possible.”

The Uppers ‘Manic Melodies’ album artwork

The Uppers ‘Manic Melodies’ album artwork

What are some of the newer bands that you are listening to or enjoy?

“We’ve all been really digging Spiritual Cramp and their entire body of work as well as Comino, The Chisel, Restraining Order, RMBLR, High Vis, Loosey, Crime Line, Fast Eddy, Bad Mother, and Criminal Kids.”

Which do you enjoy the most: writing, recording, practicing, or playing live?

“Speaking for myself, I can say I hate recording as a drummer. It really shows me how ‘not tight’ or ‘polished’ I truly am, but it also pushes me to get better. I always leave a recording session better than when I went in. I just have a problem with stressing myself out.

“Personally, shows and practice really do it for me. Practice is a time to hang out with the band, bullshit/catch up, test new ideas, and overall just enjoy the company of the maniacs I play with. Shows are ‘it’ for all of us, though, at the end of the day. Having the finished product to show off (album) is amazing, but nothing beats a well-attended gig when the crowd is into the songs.

“Writing music is fun, but we either take forever to finish something or we ‘shit’ it out in a couple of hours. There’s no real process aside from, ‘hurry up and record this song on voice memo while we still remember it!’ when we’re writing. The good thing about us is we normally all agree, ‘it’ll work itself out to something cool once we hit the studio,’ and honestly, it always does with some fine-tuning and rehearsal. Playing shows is where it’s at, though.”

What’s next for you?

“We’re currently writing for our next release. We are going the route of an EP again. We’re hoping to have six to eight songs (more than the usual four for us) ready by late spring/early summer. We’re more than halfway there at this point!

“The direction and sound of the new stuff will not deviate too far from what our listeners have come to expect. We’ve got a ballad, fast punk rock burners, and even a recreation of a B-side/fan favourite planned. At this point, we do not tour, but we have and usually will play a few out-of-state gigs when invited (in the past, we’ve played Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas and The Down South Showdown in Atlanta, for example).”

Politics and music. Yay, nay, or what the hay?

“When it comes to The Uppers, we choose to ‘shut the fuck up about serious shit and rock.’ We just focus on rocking; let the nerds argue about politics.”

Born in 2003, V13 was a socio-political website that, in 2005, morphed into PureGrainAudio and spent 15 years developing into one of Canada's (and the world’s) leading music sites. On the eve of the site’s 15th anniversary, a full re-launch and rebrand takes us back to our roots and opens the door to a full suite of Music, Film, TV, and Cultural content.

Album News

Cosmic Ninja Evolve Their Genre Bending Style on New EP ‘Filth’

Bristol rock ravers Cosmic Ninja evolve their genre-bending sound on their brand new EP ‘Filth,’ released earlier this month.

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Cosmic Ninja, photo by Pacific Curd Photography
Cosmic Ninja, photo by Pacific Curd Photography

Cosmic Ninja has been taking the UK by storm over the last few years with their eclectic sound and raucous live show. The band has just released their most accomplished and exciting work in their new EP, Filth.

Their energetic appeal, disregard for genre conventions, and punk ethos have made the band stand out in a deeply creative scene. Filth is packed full of tracks that feel distinctive and
packed full of unique character while embedded with Cosmic Ninja DNA.

Recorded with John Mitchell (Enter Shikari, Architects) at Outhouse Studios in Reading, the EP bursts with energy and intensity throughout, melding impassioned political lyrics with dizzying electronics and huge riffs. From the angst-filled raps to the soaring, memorable choruses, the diversity and guile shown on the new EP are staggering, and with their sights set on themes like the political status quo, injustice, equality, and mental health, their message feels clearer and more important than ever.

A track that exemplifies the feel of the EP is “Stone Cold,” a track as dynamic and unpredictable as anything you’ll hear this year. Euphoric synths compliment a sound that skitters from groovy to melodic to spiky before reaching its apex with a colossal metal breakdown. Everything about the track feels laser-focused and precise, embodying everything that Cosmic Ninja is.

Filth is blessed with an abundance of similar highlights and moments of awe-inspiring creativity throughout. The powerful, socially conscious messaging that adorns these tracks feels vital and relevant, and the conviction in the dual vocals makes for a release that feels as authentic and pure as it does all-encompassing.

Cosmic Ninja ‘Filth’ EP album artwork

Cosmic Ninja ‘Filth’ EP album artwork

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Album News

Bayside Announces ‘There Are Worse Things Than Being Alive’ Due April 5th

Esteemed punk act Bayside is thrilled to announce their forthcoming album ‘There Are Worse Things Than Being Alive.’

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Bayside, photo by Will Buckley
Bayside, photo by Will Buckley

Esteemed punk act Bayside is thrilled to announce their forthcoming album, There Are Worse Things Than Being Alive. The highly anticipated record serves as a follow-up to their dynamic 2019 release, Interrobang, and features tracks from the previously released The Red and The Blue EPs as well as six brand new songs. These new songs see the band continue to captivate with a mix of introspective storytelling and a powerful blend of punk, rock, and metal. There Are Worse Things Than Being Alive is set to leave an indelible mark on the music scene, solidifying Bayside’s position as one of the most influential bands of their generation.

Fans can stream Bayside’s haunting new single “The Devils” and can pre-save/pre-order There Are Worse Things Than Being Alive, out digitally on April 5th and physically on May 10th.

On the new single, frontman Anthony Raneri shares:

“We just wanted to write a ripper that keeps you on your toes. The chant was a melody that I kept humming to myself when I was walking my dogs. I put some words to it and we were going to use it as a bridge. We loved it so much we thought the song had to start that way.”

Fans can hear new music live for the first time on Bayside’s forthcoming North American headline tour. The Worse Things Than Being Alive tour, kicking off on April 3rd in Pittsburgh, features support from Finch, Armor For Sleep, and Winona Fighter.

Raneri adds:

“We’re so excited to be touring with a couple of real pioneers in this genre. It’s been close to 20 years since we played a show with either band. So excited to finally run it back.”

Additional stops on The Worse Things Than Being Alive tour include Baltimore, Nashville, Austin, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, New York, and more. Tickets, including VIP packages, are on sale now at: www.baysidebayside.com.

Bayside ‘There Are Worse Things Than Being Alive’ album artwork

Bayside ‘There Are Worse Things Than Being Alive’ album artwork

Tour Dates:

April 3 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Roxian Theatre
April 4 – Sayreville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom
April 5 – Baltimore, MD @ Rams Head Live
April 6 – Raleigh, NC @ The Ritz
April 7 – Nashville, TN @ Brooklyn Bowl
April 9 – Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade (Heaven)
April 10 – Orlando, FL @ House of Blues
April 12 – Houston, TX @ House of Blues
April 13 – Austin, TX @ Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheatre
April 14 – Dallas, TX @ House of Blues
April 16 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Van Buren
April 17 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
April 19 – Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues
April 20 – San Diego, CA @ The Observatory North Park
April 21 – Berkeley, CA @ The UC Theatre
April 23 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
April 24 – Seattle, WA @ Showbox SoDo
April 26 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Union Events Center
April 27 – Denver, CO @ Fillmore Auditorium
April 29 – Chicago, IL @ House of Blues
April 30 – Cincinnati, OH @ Bogart’s
May 1 – Detroit, MI @ The Fillmore Detroit
May 3 – Philadelphia, PA @ Franklin Music Hall +
May 4 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5 +
May 5 – Boston, MA @ Roadrunner +

+ – Indicates no Winona Fighter

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Alternative/Rock

The V13 Fix #004 w/ Darkest Hour, Glitterer, LowLives and more

From pop to metalcore, experimental grindcore to indie, each week The V13 Fix will bring you a roundup of all the new music worth hearing…

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The V13 Fix

Welcome to the latest The V13 Fix our weekly round-up of some of the best albums, singles and EPs to drop in our laps/inboxes this week. From pop to black metal to experimental pop to punk rock, there is something for everyone in this mix of new music. Check out and support all the bands and labels if you like what you hear and if there is a particular album you like, make sure you head over to Spotify and check out one of our specially curated playlists where there is more great new music added daily.

Alternatively, if you’re in a band or want one of your bands considered for inclusion get in touch. While we can’t guarantee every album or EP we receive will be included, there are still plenty of other ways we can support you.

So, without further ado, sit back, plug in your headphones and get this week’s V13 Fix of new music…

Crossfaith
Zero’ [Single]

When Japanese genre-smashers Crossfaith exploded onto the scene with their brutal, electronic-laced metalcore, the world sat up and paid attention. Well, after twelve months regrouping, the band are back with this new single, a massive statement that they’re ready to pick up where they left off but with a new energy. This new slice of heaviness from the band is packed dangerously full of pulsating electronics and pummelling metalcore. Equally as explosive as it is anthemic, “Zero” heralds a new chapter from the band who, after hitting the reset button twelve months ago, have returned with a vengeance.

Pick up your copy of “Zero” from here.

Darkest Hour
Perpetual | Terminal
MNRK Heavy

It’s incredible when you realise that Perpetual | Termainal is the tenth album in the rollercoaster career of US metalcore/metallic hardcore mob Darkest Hour. Spirit and dogged determination has kept the band going to this point and it is a theme which provides the heartbeat of this savage collection. Guitarist Mike Schleibaum explains: “The record’s theme centers around the duality of survival while embracing rebirth,” and, hearing the band hurtle through each of the eleven tracks, Perpetual | Terminal certainly feels like the sound of a band who have been reborn. An uncompromising, unrelenting metal assault, Perpetual | Terminal highlights exactly why heavy music would be worse off without Darkest Hour in it.

Pick up your copy of Perpetual | Terminal from here.

Morta Skuld
Creation Undone
Peaceville Records

Now, even though the new wave of modern death metal bands is doing a sterling job in keeping the flag flying high for the genre, sometimes it’s nice just to take a trip back into some of the old-school bands. Having formed in Milwaukee in 1990, Morta Skuld are still battering away with their latest offering from the death metal stalwarts indicating no sign of slowing down. For fans of the likes of Obituary, Morbid Angel and Deicide, the band expertly combine groovy moshy sections, blastbeats with swamp born vocals. Creation Undone isn’t metalcore, it’s not deathcore, there are no symphonies, this is just straight between the eyes brutality.

Pick up your copy of Creation Undone from here.

M.U.T.T.
Dirty Deeds
Quiet Panic

M.U.T.T. are a trashy punk rock band straight from the gutters of the San Fransisco punk rock scene. There isn’t much you need to know about the kind of punk rock M.U.T.T. peddle except that it comes devoid of airs and graces. Taking a route one approach, M.U.T.T’s punk noise is covered in snot and packed with attitude. Formed from the ashes of Culture Abuse, the project has moved on from the more rock and roll stylings of their debut album, Bad To The Bone, into more trashy waters. Offerings like “Downtown Boy” come with a suitably unpleasant sneer plastered across their face and, while this EP might a fairly brief listen, M.U.T.T pack plenty of bite into those eighteen or so raucous minutes.

Pick up your copy of Dirty Deeds from here.

Gen & The Degenerates
ANTI-FUN Propaganda
Marshall Records

Alt-punk collective Gen & The Degenerates tattoo their principals proudly onto their debut album. Written to a backdrop of disaster, tragedy and misfortune, ANTI-FUN Propaganda comes from a world of late nights and early mornings, sexuality, gender politics and mortality. It’s a punk rock album at its beating heart but, as vocalist Gen puts it, comes with a humourous approach and a love of dirty disco pop. Lyrically, tracks like “Famous” may come from a dark, bleak place but, as the video for “Big Hit Single” highlights, there is a wry smile and a sense of sarcasm nipping away at the subject matter to make sure we don’t lose sight of the fact that, while a quick look outside your window will show a world imploding on itself, it’s important to enjoy what time we have while we’re here.

Pick up your copy of ANTI-FUN Propaganda from here.

Glitterer
Rationale
ANTI-

Following his previous band Title Fight ceased touring, lead singer and songwriter Ned Russin needed a creative outlet. The creative outlet soon manifested into what originally started out as solo project but, six years later, has blossomed into a fully-fledged band and the release of their fourth album, but debut as a full band, Rationale. An album with a sound deeply entrenched in the DC hardcore and indie rock scenes, Rationale is a rowdy listen packed with jarring indie guitars and slick pop melodies with the cohesiveness paying testament to the fact that Russin has found bandmates who share his creative vision.

Pick up your copy of Rationale from here.

Hands of Kalliach
Corryvreckan
Prosthetic Records

Spawned from the minds of Edinburgh, Scotland husband and wife duo have blended together melodic death metal melded with Scottish folk music to create an album that is a work of art. The title of the album is inspired by enormous whirlpool, Corryvreckan, which lies between some of the western isles of Scotland. As harsh yet as beautiful as the inspiration behind it, Corryvreckan is a jaw-dropping piece of work. Soaring passages of melancholic Scottish folk music crash into brutal death metal, like two perfectly matched components. Through the folk music, the pair capture a drama and the emotion that can only come from being truly living and breathing it. When matched up with the extremities of the death metal scene, the end result is utterly majestic.

Pick up your copy of Corryvreckan from here.

Job For A Cowboy
Moon Healer
Metal Blade

For fans of iconic progressive death metal outfit Job For A Cowboy, it’s been almost a decade since new music was last heard from the band. Having teased for a number of years, the band are now back with their follow-up to 2014’s Sun Eater pretty much picking up where the 2014 album dropped off. Unsurprisingly, Moon Healer is the kind of album you really need to invest your time and effort into to really appreciate. Skim over it and you’ll find another incredible album in the Glendale’s musical armoury. Dig under the surface and you’ll find yourself immersed in a world which thematically picks up the story from Sun Eater while musically delivers it in a tightly woven package of complex, experimental, progressive death metal.

Pick up your copy of Moon Healer from here.

Austrian Death Machine
Quad Brutal
Napalm Records

Ten years since their last outing, Austrian Death Machine are back with Quad Brutal, their first album for new home Napalm Records. Formed fifteen years ago by As I Lay Dying vocalist Tim Lambesis, the Arnie-inspired neck-wrecking death machine is back reinspired and reinvigorated. Joined by a bunch of friends from across the metalcore scene including members of Ov Sulfur and Wolves At The Gate, Lambesis is back with another full-throttle, adrenaline-fueled metal feast. With more muscle than your typical weights room, Quad Brutal is just pumped-to-fuck, beefed-up metal. There’s nothing fancy about this. No need to put your brain into gear, Quad Brutal is just here for when another couple of plates on the end of that bar just doesn’t seem enough.

Pick up your copy of Quad Brutal from here.

Royal Tusk
Altruistic
MNRK Heavy

To date, Alberta, Canada three-piece Royal Tusk have gigged with a veritable Who’s Who of Rock from Slash to Halestorm while, during the pandemic, frontman Daniel sang on viral at-home collabs with Stone Sour, In Flames, and Mastodon. Listening to the hard rockers third album and you can probably pinpoint all of those inspirations seeping through the thumping anthems. Full of hard rock bangers like “Fire In Your Veins” and “The Death of Common Sense” to “Hated”, Altruistic has the perfect blend of melody, singalong choruses and power. Of the album, bassist Sandy MacKinnon says “I really hope you want to blast it in your car and headbang” and we can’t think of a better way to enjoy Altruistic than that.

Pick up your copy of Altruistic from here.

Borkanagar
Fall
Century Media

Honouring commitments delayed by the pandemic means that it has been almost five years since we have heard a new full-length album from Norwegian progressive folk/black metal band Borknagar. Reading into the whole process the band go through to write an album though, you do get the feeling Fall would have taken as long pandemic or not. An unrushed, flawlessly-crafted peice of work, Fall sounds like Borknagar frontman Øystein G. Brun has worked tirelessly to ensure that every moment of this album plays out like a story. Blast of grim, violent black metal weave through epic passages of progressive rock and folk to tell a tale of survival. Heading towards their third decade, Fall feels like the Norwegians are still riding at the top of their game.

Pick up your copy of Fall from here.

Mother Mother
Grief Chapter
Warner Music / Parlophone

It’s fair to say that 2021’s album INSIDE catapulted Canadian indie rock troop Mother Mother to new heights. Piling up an incredible 300 million streams for said album Grief Chapter has some task ahead of it. The ninth album of their career finds the band at their most energized despite it focusing, lyrically at least, on themes of death and mourning. This is an album that transcends genres not only over the course of the twelve tracks but, as demonstrated on the brilliant opener “Nobody Escapes” or the stomping “Normalize”, many times within songs. An album which may come from a morbid place lyrically, by the end, will have you well and truly hooked.

Pick up your copy of Grief Chapter from here.

Lowlives
Loser’ [Single]
Spinefarm Records

It’s the year 2000 and Wheatus earworm “Teenage Dirtbag” is rapidly becoming one of the biggest hits of the year. An anthem for misfits, outcasts and losers, it’s a song we hold close to our hearts even 24 years later. Now, West Coast alt-rockers have gone and written their own version. A wonderfully hopeful slice of slacker rock, “Loser” has an almost pleading air to the chorus while the melody is lifted straight from the grunge/alt-rock 2000s. The track is taken from the band’s upcoming debut album, Freaking Out, so don’t worry if you’re going through that misfit phase because Lowlives have got your back.

Pick up your copy of Freaking Out from here.

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