Currently causing waves across the UK punk underground, Welsh five-piece The Arteries may be just a bunch of friends who like to play music together and party, but with their punk anthems that mix a love of skate/pop punk and classic rock (think Descendents meets AC/DC and you're on the right track) they're one of the most exhilarating new bands on the scene as demonstrated on 2009's Blood, Sweat and Beers.
In an interview with Ian Chaddock, bassist/vocalist Jamie Morrison talks about the band's history, storming debut album and their excitement to be playing this year's Fest in Gainesville, FL.
You formed back in 2005. How did you all know each other and what was your first gig like?
Apart from Tim, who joined the band a bit later on (in 2006) we all met when we were little kids through being a similar age and being into skateboarding and alternative music. We come from a pretty small town so I guess if there are people into the same kind of music and activities as you then you quickly meet and become friends. We would hang out together at the weekends and play terrible songs in my garden shed as fast as possible, we continued to do so for years under the name Silicone Fish! But the 'Fish never got a break, maybe it was because we were five 14 year-old kids that couldn't play our instruments!? Anyways, so in 2005 we formed The Arteries, wrote some new songs and played our first show with Big D and the Kids Table in Swansea to a couple of friends - I don't remember it being that bad to be honest.
Your sound incorporates a range of influences, from skate punk to classic rock - I've seen you cover bands such as The Descendents, AC/DC and The Beastie Boys. Who are your biggest influences? It it exciting to meld these styles into what you play?
I guess that collectively our 'biggest influences' are pretty different to what we like individually. But collectively the list definitely would include; AC/DC, Descendents, None More Black, early Weezer, Thin Lizzy, Consumed, anything to do with Ian Mackaye, anything to do with Chuck Ragan or Chris Wollard, and anything to do with John 'Speedo' Reis. As for melding the styles, I don't really think that is something you should consciously do when writing songs, or at least it's not something that we do - I mean, this is the kinda music that we are into, so it's the kinda music that comes out when we write songs.
I read on your blog you guys lamenting what has happened to Epitaph and the Warped Tour. Why do you think this is?
Oh man, what shambles Epitaph and the Warped Tour have become! The question probably goes more like this; "That stuff is so '90s, How can we make a shit load of dirty money off of dumb MySpace kids?" The fact that Epitaph's roster and the Warped Tour's line-up isn't filled with melodic punk bands isn't what pisses me off, it's that fact that it's riddled with bullshit. I don't think that you should have to be a 'skate punk band' to be on Epitaph, I mean all that stuff is cool but the fact is that Epitaph were a great label long before the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater game. It's just fucked to think that once upon a time bands like Hot Water Music and the Descendents graced the stage and today it's fucking You Me At Six, Aiden and BrokeNCYDE - seriously, who is picking this 'punk' festival shit? Thank fuck for the Fest!
The Arteries are an awesome party and house show band. What would you say is the craziest, most drunken show you've ever played?
It would probably have to be a living room show that we played last March in Sunderland. It was one of the funniest and craziest times I've ever had - not just our set, but the whole night! I'm not going to go into details because it's probably a case of, "you had to be there," but it was a blast. Ssssnakes topped off the night with a shambolic, seriously drunken set and it was nuts. the floor was so wet that nobody in the room could stand up without falling straight back down and Pugs kissed some chick as he was playing bass - that looked pretty badass from where I was lying.
Your Blood, Sweat & Beers debut album was initially self-released as three coloured 10"s last year. Are you guys fans of the vinyl format? What do you think of its resurgence?
Yeah sure, it's definitely my favourite format - did it ever really go away? I guess that is one of the coolest things about the punk scene - vinyl can survive. People download albums so they are on their iPods but they are still gonna want to own the real deal record.
Earlier this year you released the album on CD through the respected London independent label Household Name. How did you hook up with those guys and are you happy to be on a label alongside great bands such as Milloy and The Cut Ups?
Yeah when they asked if we would like them to put out our album on CD we were really happy. We met Lil through playing shows that he had put on in Brixton and then met Kafren soon after. The Cut Ups got asked to do their album through Household Name just before we went on tour with them in the summer of '08 and we talked about how cool it would be if we were both on the same label, and now we are so that rules!
How has the scene in Swansea changed since you formed? It seems that the UK punk/hardcore scene is stronger than it's been for a long time.
The punk scene in Swansea is really great - it's small but tight. It's pretty much always been the same here, there are a small handful of people that work really hard to keep it this way (ourselves included) and build on it without losing the sense of community. And as for the rest of the UK - yeah, I would agree with you. There are loads of good things happening all over, it's really cool how everyone involved in the UK punk scene automatically has friends in small pockets throughout the country.
You went into the studio and laid down four new tracks recently. How was that experience?
It was really great, we recorded with a lovely dude named Pete Miles in Devon. He has a really beautiful place in the countryside and loads of awesome equipment. We just had a fun day and got to swim in a river and play with his dog - total blast! Also, this time we recorded everything apart from vocals live in his living room, which felt great. We didn't use headphones or anything, it was just like having a band practice - somehow intense and relaxed at the same time.
Are you excited to be releasing a split with your friends in The Cut Ups this October? What will the other two tracks go on?
Yeah it's really cool, The Cut Ups are quite easily my favourite band so it's not only cool, it's an honour. I'm pretty sure I speak for the other four when saying that. As for the other songs, we have been asked to appear on a 7" as part of the Art of the Underground series that Alex from Lemuria puts out. We are really happy about that too as it wasn't something that was planned, we just recorded the songs because we had time to do so.
You have a lot of touring coming up. You're heading over to France, Belgium and the Netherlands in September. Will that be your first time touring mainland Europe? Excited to play there? I think you'll go down brilliantly there!
Thanks! Yeah, apart from two short trips to France it will be our first time playing in Europe, we can't wait. We are just heading over on our own, Pugs is coming with to do merch. It will be cool.
You're off to play the Fest in October. You must be pumped to be on the bill, alongside so many great UK bands?
Really pumped! I've been the last two years just to hang so it feels great to be playing it this year. And it's great to have some UK bands that we are really good friends with going over to play too, it just means that partying will be that much more fun!
What is your most memorable day of the Fest from previous years?
It would probably have to be the Friday of Fest 7. Myself and Pugs flew out from London in the early morning of the same day because we had just finished playing some shows with Strung Out and it was the next possible flight. We spent the night on the cold floor of Heathrow Airport and when we woke up had a fucking travelling mission to get through because we bought cheap ass flights that stopped in a hundred other countries and states before Florida! By the time we got to Gainesville it was almost 10pm and we had missed out on a load of bands that we really wanted to see. We ran to the Atlantic, sunk some beers and watched Chris Wollard - what a perfect way to wind down and start the weekend!
Who are you definitely going to watch at this year's Fest?
I'm gonna try and see loads of bands, but a few that I'm really excited about are Cheeky, Lemuria, Tim Barry, Dead To Me, Pretty Boy Thorson and the F n A's, Drag the River… There are too many awesome bands to list, I just wish that the Ergs! would reform! I think that Miles is pretty excited about seeing Torche play.
What is it that you think makes the Fest so special?
It's like having all the good shows that happen in the UK in one year over the space of a weekend and attending the massive party are friends from all over the world - sounds like fun!
Anything else on the horizon?
Hopefully album number two! We are trying our best to write songs right now but we always seem to be fucked for time. The plan was to record it over the Christmas break but that might be ambitious. Watch this space I guess. Oh and one day we would like to tour with the Donnas.
Thanks for taking the time to talk Jamie.
No worries dude!