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A quintessential three-piece indie band | Photo: Creative Commons
A quintessential three-piece indie band | Photo: Creative Commons
Matthew Deyn -

All Eyes on the UK: For Those About To Rock...

Globally the United Kingdom has always been a source of inspiration for those in the music industry. From pop to rock to new wave to dubstep, musicians on the island have never been in short supply of inspiration in order to craft and combine varying styles. In this article, we take a look at some of the current movements in the post-rock covid era with thoughts from leading artists on the scene today.

Anti-establishment or something else?

Although the main title of this article is in reference to Australian hard rock band AC/DC’s eighth studio album from the early ‘80s, if you look back to the rise of rock music in the UK it is clear that it was the decade prior where the rubber really hit the road. After heavy hitters such as The Beatles and the Kinks had done a great deal of groundwork in the ‘60s, the stage was set for pop-punk to rise up and take charge. While it was over in the US where anti-disco gatherings had begun to gain steam in the later stages of the 70s, prior to that, groups such as The Undertones from Derry, Northern Ireland, and Buzzcocks from Bolton, England were already making headway

It is interesting to note the variety of influences that pop-punk seemed to encompass as time went on. A unique amalgamation of new wave, alternative rock, rap, and more—it seems somewhat clear that this was a genre that had decided it wasn’t going to be boxed in from the get-go. 

Another key genre that spread its wings around the same time as Pop-punk and one that is still going strong today is Indie or “independent” rock. The name referred to independent record labels and had a somewhat pro-counter-culture meaning. When it first emerged, there was undoubtedly a lot of crossover between Indie and Pop-punk though today following its continuation after the grunge era of the ‘90s, the two terms are certainly more distinct.

Riffs, we need more riffs

To learn a bit more about the current state of play for artists in the UK, I spoke with Sam Bowden—lead guitarist for Neck Deep who won best British band in 2017 at the Rock Sound Awards. They released their fourth studio album All Distortions are Intentional in 2020.

1. Since the pandemic entered our lives how have you seen the music scene change or adapt?  

I think it’s yet to find the change that’s needed for artists. There were a lot of adjustments that musicians had to make in order to be able to reach and connect with fans. The most common one was streaming, whether that be live or pre-recorded. For a while now artists have struggled to really make what they should with labels and streaming platforms taking such high percentages. I’m yet to see the change that I think is needed but the shutting down of an entire industry forcing artists to adapt and see what’s possible really showed a lot of people what they’re capable of on their own. Live shows have also been a little strange to go back to. A lot of paid ticket holders are not showing up for shows with last-minute covid concerns. Sort of a 50/50 audience with face mask-wearing which is strange to perform to as you can’t tell if anyone is singing along and enjoying themselves. 

2. How severe do you think Brexit will affect opportunities for the young musicians of today? Does the UK need to ‘re-group and develop new platforms? 

It’s already proving difficult and more expensive to tour Europe now so I think a lot of young upcoming musicians may be put off going right away and may have to save up to be able to tour comfortably. With covid and Brexit sort of happening side by side and personally not being involved with a European tour yet it’s hard to say just how much it’s been affected but it’s definitely not positive that’s for sure. 

Sam Bowden performing on stage with Neck Deep

3. Looks like your US tour has been sweet recently! How does life touring the UK and US differ? 

It certainly has been great to get back to the stage. We released an album two months into the pandemic and never got to perform these songs so it’s been fun playing them and seeing how they’re going down. Touring the UK is usually pretty short, we typically play 5-7 shows so we’re not really out on the road more than 2 weeks for that. The US is 6/7 weeks and you are fully living on a bus.

4. What UK-based musicians or bands are you excited about currently?

Currently excited about Turnstile, they just released an insane album with great visuals alongside. Excited to see them at a show sometime. The band Camino is another band I've been jamming a lot lately. Also currently on tour with a band called Oxymorrons who are fully loaded with energy. I’m sure they will be up to big things in the future.

Taking Flyte

Flyte, are another prominent UK-based indie band that formed in London one year after Neck Deep in 2013. They have recently been back on the road performing to fans following the initial covid disruption. Their second studio album This Is Really Going to Hurt was released in early April 2021 with dates for the UK and Europe lined up for early 2022. Lead singer and guitarist Will Taylor also took the time to respond to a few questions, the answers of which you can find below.

Flyte as a three-piece

1. How would you describe your recent tour in the UK amidst the world’s happenings?

Surreal would be the only way to describe the recent UK tour. During the pandemic, we’d been connecting with our audience in every way we could—playing to them at their doorsteps, starting a film club, weekly live streams. We even announced we'd be playing on top of parliament hill on Hampstead Heath. Even though we gave 24 hours notice, a good five hundred people showed up that day, that’s how hungry people were for live music. Getting to travel the country and perform on proper stages again had begun to feel like a thing of the past. When it finally came and nothing was getting cancelled, everyone was turning up and the shows were feeling like our best ever—we just couldn’t believe it. We were one of the first acts to tour again, so we were our audiences first gig back as well. Each show brimmed with shared emotional energy we’d never felt before. 

2. How do you think your brilliant second album has been received in the UK since its release? 

Thank you for calling it so. Since its release, it seems to still be slowly reaching new ears. We still get lovely messages about how it’s helped people through breakups. Other artists have been very generous about it in the press and on social media, which has also been encouraging. You can only hope that a record you’ve made is timeless enough to continue to live on and find new audiences in the future.

3. How do you see UK Indie Rock in 2021? Are there any interesting sub-genres of note?

In the UK, there’s been an abundance of post-punk inspired bands, you could even say an over-saturation at this point. It will be interesting to see what the next fashionable genre will be. There’s a beautiful but small enclave of folk artists, predominantly from the West Country currently, perhaps that will spread. I predict more and more Americana-inspired UK artists will emerge in the coming years, bands like Big Thief and Phoebe Bridgers are already clearly making an impact over here. 

So what do you think of the current music scene in the UK? Let us know in the comments below.

Tagy All Eyes on Indie pop-punk UK

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Matthew Deyn
Originally from Lincoln (UK), now based in Prague (CZ), my interests in music are quite broad-ranging. As a teenager, I grew up listening to the Foo Fighters and chose to pick up the guitar after watching my step-dad rock out to tracks from the likes of Thin Lizzy and Status-Q…