Featured Artist – Bellow Below

11 03 2012

MATH ROCK MADNESS FROM SOME GIFTED OVERLADS

Picture the scene. I’m sitting, loaded with the cold, at a gig, quite enjoying myself so far despite how ill I am, when on walk a band full of handsome swines going by the name Bellow Below. I watch, filled with interest, wondering what my fellow label mates are going to produce and within seconds they are battering through music so complex and, basically, amazing that I stand bolt upright and race to near enough the front of the stage, ignoring the nightmare headrush I have just gifted to myself. Yes. That is exactly how much of an impact Bellow Below had on me. I watched with awe as this 4-piece band glided through tapping strewn musical passages with ease flinging themselves about the stage as if they are auditioning for a permanent slot in the Dillinger Escape Plan. It was pretty much the most intense live show I have seen in ages. And I left impressed. Very impressed. And a little in love with the band.

It’s pretty safe to say that since their formation Bellow Below have made some decent headway in the Glasgow music scene. They have released a stunning E.P. (which I will get to in a minute), been signed to the Glasgow label Overlook Records, alongside bands such as Trapped In Kansas, The Darien Venture, Salo and my own band Vasa, and have been catching the attention of several music lovelies in the Glasgow area, such as the folks at Glasgow podCart. Its pretty obvious to all that these guys are going to be a band to watch this coming year.

After I recovered from Bellow Below beasting my senses with their amazing live show (and after several tellings off from my friend and band-mate Blaine for not having checked them out previously) I went home and listened to the Bellow Below EP to get a better feel for their recorded work. And if this isn’t one of the most bizarrly amazing recordings I have heard in a while. Guitar parts interweaving effortlessly in ways I could never have previously thought possible, powerful drum lines and some really engaging bass patterns bring this EP to life along with some startling vocal harmonies that jump from the ethereal to the downright just plain catchy. Listening to it, it was like the gorgeous love baby of The Black Keys and Bronto Skylift with various other aspects thrown in to make the child even more beautiful. Plain and simple, this is musical madness at its brilliant best. Kicking off the EP was the track “What Do You Want Out Of This?” a track which really backs up my previous Bronto/Black Keys love baby comparison. It begins with some reverbed (and if i’m not mistaken reverse delayed) guitar but what really grabbed my attention was the breathy and calming vocal harmonies that begin the song. Don’t get to comfy because it then launches into some math lovelyness with tapped guitar lines resembling Trapped In Kansas but with some really sludgy guitar tones thrown into the mix. This first song facilitates about three or four different genre styles and really lets the listener know what kind of listening adventure they are in for. The two tracks that really caught my attention on this E.P. were “Buffalo of Lies & A Goose To Go” and “It Shouldn’t Work Therefore It Doesn’t”. These two tracks single handedly showcase everything Bellow Below are about. They are not here to write cheery, poppy 4/4 music. They are here to mess with your mind, produce some seriously challenging listening experiences and push the barriers of math music. Check out the Bellow Below E.P. right here on the Overlook Records SoundCloud.

Bellow Below E.P.

Stand out track was, for me, “Buffalo Of Lies & A Goose To Go”. This is pretty much Bellow Below at their mental best. It kicks off in the same vein as a LITE track, strange sampled noises build up into a simple drum beat as every instrument begins to make its way into the song. As this track progresses it is like a listening adventure you’d take if you were enjoying some Mr. Bungle. It’s mind bending. This track embodies the reason I love this band. Challenge the hell out of me and i’ll love you. They do just that and more. This song hops from one dynamic to another. Passages of guitar tapping suddenly launch into a full frontal assault of rock and then back again. But, the beauty of this track lies in the last minute. Where it all descends into some real stunning musicianship and leaves me wondering how Bellow Below can manage to keep time with each other on stage. I urge you – STRONGLY – to check out this E.P. If you are any sort of math-rock fan you will come awy from this E.P. feeling great. It is some real amazing work and I can only commend the guys in Bellow Below for going out and having the guts to produce some of this amazing music. It may not be to everyone’s taste but bollocks to them, they’re wrong. This is a band you need to check out, be it live or with their E.P. they are not to be missed.

Above is a live performance of Bellow Below playing the Ayrshire Showcase (track is Stranger Danger)

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

 

Bellow Below!! Introduce yourself to all the eligible bachelors out there. Give us a little background into your band and how you formed.

Hello, eligible bachelors. We’re from Ayr and we tend to play loud, fast, complicated stuff. We’ve all been playing music together for years, in one for or another, but Bellow Below was formed in 2010. It’s kind of our way of reconciling our individual styles into one band. Working out pretty good, so far!

 

Now. Your music itself is quite difficult to place into a stable genre bracket. Was it always your intention to write challenging music and how would you yourself describe your music?

We like writing music that is challenging to play, cause it’s the only way we’re going to get better. Hopefully that translates as being interesting to listen to. We tend to describe our music as being prog rock viewed through a pop prism, so there’s weird guitar sounds and dense chords and stupid drum solos, but with big melodies and hooks and such. Mostly, we just don’t want to be dull.

 

How has your E.P. Been received since you released it? Has it received a lot of positive press about it?

It’s been received very well! It’s been downloaded quite a lot and there’s been some lovely feedback from the blogs and indie press.

 

You were recently signed to Overlook Records. How did this opportunity come about and are you happy to be associated to a label seeing as your band is only in its early years?

We’ve always been good friends with Chris, Colin and Liam from playing with Trapped In Kansas and The Darien Venture. They’ve always been very encouraging, so when we started thinking seriously about putting out these tracks there was never any doubt that it would be through Overlook. We’re very happy. They’re great to work with and seeing our name on the same roster as Trapped, Darien, Vasa, So Many Animal Calls and Salo is pretty good for our egos.

 

So. What’s the plans for the coming year? Any big gigs or new releases or raunchy promo shots coming our way?

We’re currently prepping our next E.P., due for release in summer. It’s very exciting: it still sounds like us, but levelled-up a few notches. Our first E.P was the musical equivalent of Sonic the Hedgehog diving through Earthworm Jim levels. So the second E.P. Is hopefully going to sound like Sonic AND Tails diving through Earthworm Jim 2 levels.

 

What has been your biggest/most well received gig since the band has formed? Your live performance is very intense. Have you found that this allows fans to form a stronger connection to the band as they see how much you enjoy playing your own music?

We played with Tera Melos last summer. That was huge for us. It’s actually hard to process that it happened. We’re still in shock, months later. We just try to give every performance our all. We’d be devastated if someone told us they were bored or disappointed with our show. We literally out everything we’ve got into each gig and, as long as you do that, the audience won’t think you’re wasting their time. Even when things have gone horribly wrong, people still seem to have a good time.

 

Are there any bands in the Glasgow scene that have really turned your head via Facebook/SoundCloud or having played gigs with them?

They’re from Dundee, so we’re cheating slightly, but Pensioner really knocked us out when we played with them. Their album’s brilliant too.

 

As a finish. Hit me with a random fact about the band or an individual band member. The more bizarre the better.

Richard’s had a letter published in the Dragonball Z comic

(Mega-nerdyness – I appreciate that)

 

AAAAAAAAAAAAND i’m spent! Thanks to the OVERLADS in Bellow Below for doing this rag-tag interview and I will threaten you at point blank range if you do not go listen to them (http://www.facebook.com/bellowbelow).

My next feature is going to be a personal first for me. More news to come soon

John


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