Battery Face
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Battery Face

Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom | SELF

Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom | SELF
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"Battery Face: Playing By Their Own Rules"

Originally hailing from the northeast, Battery Face don't take themselves too seriously – instead they just want to play their own kind of "loud party rock" and make girls dance. But there's still a hard edge to this resolutely self-sufficient power trio.

FEATURE BY CHRIS MCCALL.
PUBLISHED 10 SEPTEMBER 2012

Debate has raged in the northeast of Scotland about whether it will see any lasting benefits from its time as Western Europe’s number one fossil fuel provider. Aberdeen councillors last month rejected a stupendously ambitious scheme, partly funded by oil tycoons, which would have swept away the city’s Victorian sunken gardens and replaced them with a multi-million pound city square, a decision which prompted much soul-searching about whether the city was taking sufficient advantage of its oil boom. But the north-east produces more than one precious resource – since around the turn of the century it has also been providing us with some of Scotland’s most dynamic musical talent.

“Aberdeen was a good place to grow up and play music because at the time there were a lot of like-minded people doing cool stuff,” says Alastair Chivers, frontman of Glasgow-based Battery Face and former resident of Stonehaven.

“Members of Found, Jesus H. Foxx, Douglas Firs, Moon Unit/Nackt Insecten, Super Adventure Club, Noma, and Copy Haho were all there around that time, and because it’s a smaller city and slightly isolated, the music scene incorporated everyone – so you would get this idea of DIY and helping each other out.”

That can-do spirit is central to everything that Battery Face are about. Their electrifying debut album Addams Family Values was recorded and mixed by the band themselves, with the end result sounding unlike anything else you are likely to hear from these shores this year.

The band are a power trio that came together in their adopted hometown of Glasgow at the tail end of 2010, having slowly built a reputation as “noise party boys” ever since. It would be a stretch to call them a super-group, but keen-eyed fans of the local scene will recognise each constituent member from prior projects.

Drummer Rikki Will pounded the skins for Copy Haho – who are now on “indefinite hiatus” following the release of their debut album last year – and Project: Venhell; the latter band also featuring brother Gav, the man responsible for DIY label Electropapknit, which released Addams Family Values last month.

Alastair, who also records under the name Deathpodal, has been friends with the Wills brothers since attending the same school in Stonehaven – a town of less than 10,000 souls, 15 miles south of Aberdeen. All three have long since made their home in Glasgow, and it’s in the city’s 13th Note Cafe that The Skinny meets them for a beer and a blether one balmy Wednesday night.

“With Battery Face, we wanted to do something pretty different, make it fucked up, but with a groove to it,” starts Alastair. “We’re not a serious band in the sense that we’re going to look moody in photos. This is fun for us because we’re playing music that we’re digging at the moment, and we’re trying to make it that each show is a party people can dance at – a loud party with girls.”

“Although I’ve not seen many dancing girls at our gigs so far,” Rikki points out. “That’s definitely something we need to work on.” Each track on Addams Family Values takes its name from a member of America’s most famous fictional family. Opening number Gomez sets the tone, whilst Wednesday is left to bring the party to a close. Lurch, the band’s recent single, is one of several highlights, accompanied by an impressively original video filmed by one of the band’s many associates on a high-end digital camera paid for by poker winnings.

"The name Addams Family Values was just something Rikki thought would be funny and we all went with it,” Alastair explains. “There’s no actual thought put in to lyrics for each song just because it’s called Gomez or something, certain songs suited certain names. I mean, Lurch is a pretty good Lurch. We were pretty conscious that we didn’t want Addams Family Values to have a message, we wanted it to sound loud, rockin’ and interesting."

And before you say it: there's nothing creepy or kooky about this album. It's built on the solid foundation of Rikki's piston-like drumming, and powered by industrial-strength riffs from Gav and Alastair. The distorted, distant vocals add a slightly surreal edge, whilst the wailing organ that’s liberally deployed throughout sounds very much like the one last heard being brutalised by John Cale in the Velvet Underground circa 1967. With no track clocking in at longer than three and a half minutes, this is a short, sharp shock of a record that still sticks long in the memory.

“We wanted something that sounded loud and live,” says Alastair. "We basically jammed a lot at the start of the band and songs came together quickly, which were refined by playing shows. After a while we thought, ‘man, we better record an album or something.’

“It was a fairly easy choice to make,” he elaborates. “We booked out a practice room in Glasgow for six hours, spent ages setting the room up and then recorded every song we had using our own mics, a couple of laptops and our friend Sean Armstrong, who recorded the session on four track. All the overdubs we did at Gav and Rikki’s house. Mixing was a bitch though.

"We’re pretty DIY, as in we do a lot of things ourselves – shows, recording, artwork, mixing, printing... which might not be as immediate as working with professional engineers and so on, but the finished album is something that sounds how we want it to sound and we didn’t spend ridiculous amounts of money on it.”

Next on their agenda, Alastair is keen to embark on a tour that reaches beyond the Scottish circuit, a task that relative old hands Rikki and Gav have both completed several times with previous bands. With his contacts book at the ready, Gav is in the midst of organising their first full UK expedition, which is pencilled in for November. Alastair has also been playing his part in promoting the Battery Face brand. Whilst at a Kurt Vile gig in Manchester recently, he found himself face to face with Bury’s most famous son, the venerable Mark E Smith of The Fall. “I went over to say hello and he instantly said: ‘You're in a band! What you called?’ I said Battery Face. He replies: ‘Barry Face?’ No, Battery Face. 'Battery Face? Nah change it back to Barry Face, it's much better.'"

Smith has made a 30 year career out of playing by his own rules, but that doesn’t mean Battery Face will pay attention to his suggestions. This is a band that one imagines will always prefer to do it their way. - The Skinny


Discography

Electropapknit Vol. 1 Compilation - Electropapknit Records - December 2010

Demo (EP) - Electropapknit Records / self release - November 2011

Addams Family Values (album) - Dirty Beard Monthly / Electropapknit Records - June 2012

Cider Says (single) - Strange Fish Records - January 2013

Radio plays through AmazingRadio, BBC Radio Scotland, Castle FM, Central Wales, Error FM, Fresh Air Edinburgh, Gashouse Radio, Heartland FM, Houndstooth Radio, Hoxton FM, KA Radio, Post 303 Radio, Pulse Radio, Radio Phoenix, Subcity, This Is Fake DIY.

Podcasts / streams on Cows Are Just Food, Dauphin Mag, Favourite Son, Jockrock, radioSPIN, RaveChild, The Skinny, STV, TiltSpin, YouthlessFanzine, The Waiting Room, VideoClipper, ZRadio.

Photos

Bio

Battery Face was formed in 2010 by school friends Alastair Chivers, Gavin Will and Rikki Will. Having played in other bands and projects, including Rikki playing drums for indie-poppers Copy Haho, they came together with the aim of constructing a sound that was creative, fun and that had a groove.

Drawing influence from a number of styles including post punk, noise rock and alternative pop, Battery Face jammed for several months, recording every practice and listening back to the sessions for ideas. This organic process focused their experimental but catchy style and supplied the material for their debut album released this year, entitled ‘Addams Family Values’ - a title they thought was funny, at the time.

Recorded, mixed and mastered completely by the band, ‘Addams Family Values’ has generated extensive radio plays and coverage on online blogs and Scottish magazines.

This strong DIY punk work ethic as well as their loud and fast live shows has resulted in Battery Face supporting a number of renowned touring bands including Les Savy Fav, Acoustic Ladyland (Seb Rochford), Young Legionnaires, Munch Munch, Dope Body, Take A Worm For A Walk Week, That Fucking Tank and Shield Your Eyes.
Upcoming shows include opening for psychedelic legends Gong and supporting Sub Pop grungers Metz.

During a chance meeting with Mark E. Smith they were told they should change their name “to Barry Face, it's much better".

Early next year Battery Face will release their new single ‘Cider Says’ out through Strange Fish Records featuring a remix by Rock Action favourites Errors and have already started booking a spring UK tour. Playing SXSW will not only ensure that they can reach more promoters and countries to play but improve an already growing fan base.

Some bands that have had some sort of impact on the style and attitudes of Battery Face are:

Fugazi, Sonic Youth, Minutemen, Bob Log III, The Locust, Part Chimp, The Melvins, Liars, Times New Viking, Sub Pop Records, Thank You, Darondo, Bjork, Sparks, SST Records, Little Richard, The Shadows, Scott Walker, Blur, The Fall, Pavement, The Monks, R. Stevie Moore, Primus, Magazine, Dinosaur Jr, The Nerves and the bands their friends are in.

Videos:

Cider Says (not released yet)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoJLcXcoPjQ&feature=youtu.be

Lurch

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mB-emr9reZI

"fast references to noise rock that are rhythmically irresistible and blessed by an explosive power that blasts out continuously. Everything roars, from the drums, to the guitars where the sound staggers about the strings like a drunk, while remaining in constant equilibrium, producing moments that are unembellished and scratched by that tormented magic of the 1970s."

- YOUTHLESSfanzine

"an energetic fusion of acerbic art-punk and dense synth pop. Their ability to slide from water-tight, turn-on-a-dime riffs into frenzied free noise is remarkable"

- The Skinny

"reminds me a little of Can... excellent, excellent, EXCELLENT SOUNDS!"

- Mark Ryan, Amazing Radio

"a noisy circus made by art-punkers who know where to stand between the catchiest Fugazi and the funniest Sonic Youth."

- radioSPIN