If you ever find your love for music waning, take a trip to Leeds. It’s a hotbed of supportive folk, and top new acts - as Menace Beach’s Ryan Needham explains.
“I moved to Leeds five years ago almost to the day, and at that point, I think I'd pretty much decided to stop making music, or at least no longer have it as the all-conquering consumer of every drop of life force that I had. That soon changed after being in the city for like one month, though. It really seems like if you live in Leeds and you have even the vaguest interest in playing music then you'll end up playing in a band or putting shows on and meeting people that make you whether you like it or not. This place just seems to drag it out of people, it makes you want to do good things because there are so many good things and people around that it all just seems possible and worthwhile.”
The best record shop in the country. The guys at Jumbo have been really supportive of us from the day I took our first 4-track cassette in there to see if they'd stick it in the ‘local produce' section. The last thing I got was the Urusei Yatsura BBC Sessions vinyl. The people there are super helpful and they love an excuse for an event or an exclusive and have lots of in store shows. A couple of weeks ago was the Jumbo 45 year anniversary and they had an all day party in an abandoned shop next door, Ultimate Painting were incredible.
Outlaws Yacht Club
This bar is next to my house and as far as I'm aware they are pretty unique in Leeds for putting on spoken word events and have held talks with people such as Anton Newcombe, Lætitia Sadier, Irvine Welsh, Alan McGee, Tim Burgess, Don Letts; amongst many more. It's got a genuine kind of European feel and has great beers, a great art space, they sell records, and there's even a hairdressers out the back.
Dead good new pub on North Street with an event space and gallery upstairs. This place is really new and has been set up by passionate guys who have been putting shows and events in Leeds for years. I'm including this largely because it recently ended my quest for the best pub Sunday dinner ever.
Brudenell Social Club
I guess this place needs no introduction but it just keeps getting better and better. A social club bang in the middle of an area largely populated by students, musicians, and artists. It's a place for the community where the magic happens and now they even sell pie and peas super cheap. The first Menace Beach show was here and Nathan has really helped us along ever since. The gig listings are second to none and pretty much every night of the week. Last week I saw Wand and Preoccupations in there on the same night. I wish I lived closer to that place.
Consistently great promoters in Leeds. They seem to get on exciting new artists super early and put together pretty eclectic and quality listings. I've been to shows on a whim by artists that are not necessarily in my regular listening realm or whatever, just cause I trust them. I guess this is why they do festivals such as Beacons so well. We also often have band pizza and burger afternoon meetings in their venue, Belgrave Music Hall, too. Delightful.
Suburban Home Studio
Studio of MJ from Hookworms where he's recorded everything from Menace Beach up to this record, as well as a crazily great list of records from Cowtown, Hookworms, Eagulls, Martha, Pinact, Joanna Gruesome, Traams, Doe, Bruising etc etc. It’s quite recently been rebuilt and refurbished after the horrible floods last Christmas and the new place is a work of art in itself. It just feels really calming and creative and the rooms sound better than ever.
These are brand new and I really want them to play our album launch show at the Brudenell in February. MJ just recorded them and I've only heard two songs but it's super exciting in that the lyrics are great and challenging and it feels unpredictable and sometimes dangerous and a bit no-wave and post-punk and dark. Really into them.
The first record has just come out on Sonic Cathedral. I first saw the solo version of Xam Duo at Liverpool Psych fest when I had a real mid-tour everlasting hangover tired and miserable thing going on, and watching this was just revelatory and it reinvigorated me for the rest of the tour. Genuinely. I don't claim to know a lot about this kind of music but its electronic and minimal and hypnotic and based around an ever-evolving modular synth setup and saxophone. I can just have the record on loop all day it's just so nourishing.
All I've heard of this band are some GarageBand demos but I just know it's going to be good as it's the new band from Lins Wilson, who's done a ton of great stuff before and played in Menace Beach a few times. Also featuring Tom from Pulled apart By Horses and Nestor from Menace Beach. Their first show is tomorrow at the Brudenell supporting Traams and its gonna be big riffs and west coast psych swiftly followed by partying with the Traams guys cause we haven't seen them for ages and they are sleeping on our floor.