HAIRCUT 100: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A with guitarist GRAHAM JONES!

 

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HAIRCUT 100 Revisited

Haircut 100’s debut album Pelican West remains one of the truly great albums of the ‘80s. Inspired by everything from Jazz and Latin music to ‘60s Pop and Post-Punk, the 1982 album was a breath of fresh air at a time when pretentious ‘Popstar’ posing was more important than making music. From Bob Sargents warm and crisp production and singer/guitarist Nick Heyward’s Pop smarts, to the inventive horn arrangements, Pelican West was an album inspired by many styles embedded in the past, yet sounded modern and fresh. The band’s ability to embrace their influences while also creating their own unique sound is what makes Pelican West a timeless album. It is not rooted to a particular time period, so you can still play it thirty four years later without feeling that the album has dated itself. You can’t say that about other career-defining albums from this time period including The Human League’s Dare, Culture Club’s Colour By Numbers, Duran Duran’s Rio or any number of so-called New Wave classics.

Initially lumped in with the British Jazz Funk movement, Haircut 100 were a true musical phenomenon formed by Heyward and bassist Les Nemes. Guitarist Graham Jones completed the original trio. The band grew into a sextet with the addition of percussionist Marc Fox, drummer Blair Cunningham and horn player Phil Smith. The band’s first three singles – “Favorite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl),” “Love Plus One,” and “Fantastic Day” – became radio hits all over the world, and even earned airplay on the then-still-fresh MTV. To many, this fresh and seemingly wholesome band came out of nowhere and became a sensation. They may have been treated like teen idols in the UK, but other countries – including the U.S. – focused on the music. The album itself was filled to the brim with great songs, many of which could have easily been a hit had they been released as singles (I’m looking at you in particular, “Lemon Firebrigade”!). When the band released the Pop-tastic post-album single “Nobody’s Fool,” it was obvious that Heyward’s songwriting skills were still top notch.

However, the band’s massive success proved to be their downfall. Faced with the enormous pressure of writing a follow-up album, Heyward quit the band in the midst of recording sessions. Nick pursued a solo career (the lushly-produced North Of A Miracle contained a few of the songs the band had been working on prior to his departure) while the rest of the band soldiered on. By the time the sorely overlooked and quite wonderful second Haircut 100 album Paint And Paint was released, the band was down to a quartet (Cunningham had also left the band). The band quietly broke up a short time later. Though they have reunited in some form or another over the last decade for live shows, no new recordings have emerged.

Now, with the release of the Deluxe 2CD Edition of Pelican West – featuring additional non-album tracks and remixes – being reissued on Cherry Pop, Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to catch up with H100 guitarist Graham Jones and send him off a few questions in hopes of discovering more about this classic album…

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PET SHOP BOYS: Spaz reviews the album SUPER!

   Super, the 13th studio album by British duo Pet Shop Boys, is a prime example of why the Electronic/Dance act will never be part of a nostalgic ‘80s package tour – they are too busy moving into the future to live in the past. When they scored their first big hit 31 years ago with “West End Girls,” PSB were a delicious mixture of smarmy Pop and then-modern Electronica. Vocalist Neil Tennant’s deadpan (and slightly campy) vocals and Chris Lowe’s melodic, percolating Euro/Electropop backdrop made for some exciting records back in the day, earning them worldwide success and hits in every corner of the world.  By the ‘90s, their star had faded a bit in the U.S. although they still released innovative and exciting albums that were snapped up by audiences In vastly different time zones than the States. Thankfully, PSB have continued to make fresh, forward-thinking records over the years. They’ve kept on top of Dance and Electronic music trends and have embraced them wholeheartedly.  You’ll still find elements of their ‘80s and ‘90s sound on Super but you’ll be sorely disappointed if you’re looking for “West End Girls 2016” because Neil and Chris have moved on.

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Anthrax’s FOR ALL KINGS Makes Top Ten Debut On Billboard’s Top 200 Albums Chart!

Multi-Grammy  nominee Anthrax have blasted into Billboard’s Top 10 with their 11th studio album, For All Kings, bowing at #9-bullet on the Top  200 Albums Chart and selling 34,000 units.  This debut eclipses the #12  debut made by the band’s 2011 Grammy-nominated, critically-acclaimed Worship Music.

The album also topped the Hard Rock Albums chart in both  the U.S. and Canada with its #1 debuts, and landed at #5 and #7 respectively on  the U.S. and Canada’s Top Current Albums charts.  Additionally, For  All Kings debuted at #2 on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart, #2 on  the Independent Albums chart, #4 Physical Albums, and #5 Vinyl Albums chart.

“We share this Top 10 victory with all of our  fans,” said the band’s Charlie Benante.  “Heavy metal is alive  and well.”

Since For All Kings was released  Friday, February 26, it has held the #1  position on both the iTunes Heavy Metal Albums sales chart and Amazon’s Best  Sellers in Metal chart.  In addition, the album’s first single,  “Breathing Lightning,” debuted last week in the Top 40 on both the
Mediabase Active Rock Chart and on BDS.

 

 

Press has also been an enormous champion of For  All Kings:  “The album is thrash perfection…”    “…a near flawless album…5 out of 5 stars…”   “…one of Anthrax’s best CDs of all time, a sparkling  triumph…” “…a surefire album-of-the-year contender…”

For All Kings is the band’s 11th studio  album, was produced by Jay Ruston, and is their first album since 1990’s Persistence  of Time to be written specifically for Joey Belladonna’s soaring vocals, an integral part of Anthrax’s classic signature sound. And the album IS  classic Anthrax, with the band’s metal thrash roots clearly front-and-center,  and lyrics that tackle topics such as the struggle to grow up and be  responsible, having blind faith and selling your soul, how the way you  live your life affects everyone around you, and murder and martyrdom rooted in  an ideology.

“Thank you so much to everyone who loves the record  we made,” added Anthrax’s Scott Ian.  “The response to For  All Kings has been fantastic, seriously, thank you all so much.”

Anthrax is currently on tour in South America with Iron  Maiden and will return to the U.S. for a series of festival dates in the  Spring.

MAJOR LAZER take their ‘Mission’ to Cuba!

AMPED’s very own MAJOR LAZER were the first major American group to perform in Cuba “since the U.S. eased relations with the Caribbean’s largest island.” This news caps off a successful 12 month period that saw Major Lazer’s “Lean On” become Spotify’s most streamed song of all time!

You can read about this ‘major’ event HERE.

Check out a short clip of the crowed courtesy of the trio’s Facebook page!

Looks like Diplo, Walshy Fire and Jillionaire are living up to the title of their 2015 album, Peace Is The Mission!

 

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AFI side project BLAQK AUDIO to release MATERIAL on April 15!

Blaqk Audio, the electronic side endeavor of AFI’s Jade Puget and Davey Havok debuting August 14 in the form of the debut album CexCells actually had its genesis some five or six years ago even further back if one considers the duo’s shared love for the electronic music of the 1980s. Mixed by Dave Bascombe (Depeche Mode, Tears For Fears, Suede), CexCells expands upon and fully indulges the dark electronic textures that have influenced and pervaded the duo’s work for years. The results range from evocation of prime era Depeche Mode and early Ministry (“Stiff Kittens,” “Where Would You Like Them Left?,” “Bitter For Sweet”) to four on the floor club-friendly fare (“On A Friday,” “Snuff on Digital”-the latter being the first song written for the project, dating back to 2001-2002) to vulnerable balladry (“Wake Up, Open the Door and Escape to the Sea,” “The Fear of Being Found”)- all suffused with the common threads of Havok’s signature dark vocal and lyrical stylings and Puget’s epic, emotional arrangements.

TRACK LISTING:

Waiting To Be Told

First To Love

Ceremonial (Burst Into Stars)

Anointed

To Be Alone

Black at the Center

Curious Friends

Graphic Violence

I’m A Mess

Material

You Will Hate Me

TOUR

May 04 San Diego, CA House of Blues

May 05 Santa Ana, CA Observatory

May 06 Los Angeles, CA Troubadour

May 07 Sacramento, CA Ace of Spades

May 10 Portland, OR Doug Fir Lounge

May 11 Seattle,WA Croc

May 13 Salt Lake City, UT In The Venue

May 14 Denver, CO Bluebird

May 16 Saint Paul, MN Turf Club

May 17 Chicago,IL Bottom Lounge

May 18 Toronto,ON Mod Club

May 20 Cambridge, MA Sinclair

May 21 Washington, DC U Street Music Hall

May 22 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom

June 4 Mountain View, CA Live 105 BFD