Lady North
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Lady North

Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom | INDIE

Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom | INDIE
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The good ol’ split single has served underground bands well and here we find two local acts, who no doubt shared a plastic pint at this years’ T Break tent, shacking up for a bit of inter-city, vinyl foreplay. Sexy it is too, once it gets its thrust on, particularly Edinburgh trio Lady North’s opening math rock mini-epic It’s All About Getting That Claude Monet (****). Meanwhile, Glasgow trio Paws add garage rock bluster with the fine Lekker (***), quickly followed by Booger (great names) but it’s Lady North’s giddily fantastic Rub ‘N’ Scrub that finally brings proceedings to a satisfactory climax. - The Skinny

What’s it like being in a new band in Scotland? Well, unless you’re actually doing it, it’s almost impossible to really know.

Sure, you can second-guess the disappointment/euphoria through an ‘official’ Tweet or Facebook post. You can even try to dismantle a context-displacing interview in a local magazine. But, the reality is, we – you, me, the following masses – will never fully understand the emotional wringer these people put themselves through.

To gain a better insight into what makes our local music makers tick, we followed Edinburgh trio Lady North around with a rather large camera and dictaphone in tow.

The boys – Jamie Steel, Paul Bannon and Scott Bullen – were surprisingly nervy at first, but they quickly forgot about our existence. Talk of toxic farts, wrestling superheroes and Bryan Adams appreciation soon arrived. As did something quite remarkable we thought was lost in most modern bands: absolute trust.

This then, isn't the story of a new band trying to make it in the music world, it's the story of three friends doing something they all believe in... - The Scotsman (Radar)

Every once in a while you hear a band who completely dispense with all the 4/4 bullshit you’ve become accustomed to and blow your fucking mind. I’m happy to say that this happened as I watched Lady North on Friday. They are a progressive, polyrhythmic machine; all angles and unexpected tangents flying straight at you.
Ali, the Pig Opera and the Helicopter is, in particular, a disjointed joy. Intricately layered guitars give way to a bizarre, almost calypso flavoured climax. Carnival’s insistent, caterwauling guitar interplay is thrilling, as is the bassist’s incessant jogging on the spot. At one point he was carving some of the most ridiculous Geddy Lee-esque lines out of his Gibson, all the while sporting a “no big deal” expression and the greatest sideburns of the night. I rarely gush, but at times they left me lost for words. - Glasgow PodcART

Edinburgh’s Alt-Folk acts may be hogging the limelight these days, but buried away in the city’s underground is a barbarous, experimental scene bursting to break out. And right at the forefront of this volumised revolution is Lady North’s skull-busting, Math-infused rattling. A torpedo strike of twitchy fingered time signatures and rampaging percussion, the apoplectic outfit conjure up bastardised rhythms that contort like Lazarus Gitu in an electric chair. They may still be cutting their teeth in the bowels of the city’s underbelly, but this young trio are already turning heads and bursting eardrums. Check. Them. Out. - Drowned In Sound

Let’s get this straight: Lady North aren't a typical Edinburgh band. For starters, no-one in this noise-wielding trio – made up of Scott Bullen, Paul Bannon and Jamie Steel - wears an overgrown beard or moth-eaten bobble hat. And there’s certainly no place for an acoustic guitar in their booming artillery of bass, drum, guitar and effects pedals. But what really singles them out as an anomaly in the city’s current musical climate is that folk music is barely on their radar, never mind in their songbook.

"To be honest, it’s quite a surprise there are so many folk bands around. I don’t know many people who listen to folk - I suppose we run in different social groups," explains Bannon, whose hexagonal drum patterns lie at the heart of Lady North’s animalistic sound. "It does seem for the last year or so there has been an over-exposure of indie-folk bands in the city, but there has also been a rising interest in the city’s electronic based acts, which are more our cup of tea. We’ve been big fans of The Japanese War Effort for a long time and have just recently got into Dead Boy Robotics in a big way."

Curiously, Lady North may actually plug the gap between the city’s more leftfield folk outfits and its electronic musicians. On the face of it, their math-predilection is easily identified; the complex, atonal rhythms, fed by Bullen’s cryptic guitar taps and Steel’s surging bass lines, bear a striking resemblance to the dissonant rock that emitted from the American Midwest in the early 90s. But underneath this intellectual exterior pounds more primal urges. This is an Edinburgh band you can actually dance to.

"We try to be non-genre specific, we definitely don’t want to be pigeon holed as a certain sound," says Bullen of the band’s floor-filling appeal. "A lot of people have said we’re a dance rock band. And while I have nothing against it as a label it caused an adverse reaction in my head, leading the last three songs I've written to be far more spacey and with less driving rhythms and more ethereal noise. We basically want to be relevant, modern, interesting and to always maintain our musical sense of humour."

Born from rival factions of a snowboarding (or “shneebogging”, as Bullen puts it) and instrument club, Lady North has been a long time coming. Initially a post hardcore four-piece, the band’s current incarnation has evolved through years of late night pontificating, an increasing interest in the virtues of funk and, perhaps most importantly, the departure of vocalist Ali Shiels. Instead of relying on a voice to hog the limelight, it’s the music that must shoulder the glare – a responsibility the band are steadily growing used to.

"We don’t make any conscious attempt to compensate for not having a singer," says Steel. "The music should speak for itself and shouldn't need vocals to set a tone or tell the listener how they should be feeling. Also having no vocals helps us stay away from any one genre: if your singer screams you're typically typecast as an emo band or if he growls you're a metal band, regardless of what the instruments are doing. Maybe this way people can hear the music as it should be heard and not have to worry if we're punk/indie/metal enough for them."

With only a few tracks committed to record so far (although their debut EP is due out in spring), Lady North are a force that needs to be witnessed live. Founded on Bannon’s aggressive clatter of drum and cowbell, their distorted blasts are almost Martian in sound; splattering out as free-form waves of propulsive melody that are deconstructed, note by note, before rebuilding into a strangling cacophony. It’s tight, sure, but it’s not sleek. There’s a queer intuition that goes beyond the hours spent holed up in a practice room, turning each show into a unique, almost organic, experience.

"No matter how much we prepare or how well we know the songs, it all comes down to the sound on stage," says Bannon. "When Scott has a loop going, I need to hear his amp so I am playing in sync with the loop. If I can’t hear it clearly and I’m slightly off time, any subsequent loops Scott records will be out of time as he has been following what I’ve been playing. In saying that, if Scott’s original loop is out of time, we’re all f***ed."

Their brutal live outings have already earned Lady North a stellar reputation, both with punters and the local authorities – the band proudly picked up an ASBO after a particularly rowdy flat party last year. And if their experiences in 2010 - which included a mesmerizing role in the final Versus with Foundling Wheel and Dead Boy Robotics and a support slot with fellow noise-mongers Bronto Skylift - have taught them anything, it’s that compromise isn’t an option.

"We’ve learned that what’s more important than playing perfectly is playing with conviction and without inhibitions. That’s what people really pick up on," says Bannon. "That and some bad-ass dance moves." - The Scotsman (Radar)

They’ve only just started pummelling local punters with their pneumatic math-rock, but in 2011 Lady North’s noggin-crunching sonics will stretch way beyond the central belt. It’s been too long since an Auld Reekie outfit has crafted such a ferocious entanglement of guitar, bass and drum, but the wait, which has dragged on through myriad drab alt-folk combos, has been worth it.

Think Don Caballero gyrating against Foals’ triangular, floor-filling rhythms like a hyper-sexed teenager and you’re only half way there. It’s more than that. Much, much more.

So far, a trickling of online cuts has only hinted at the band’s muscle. But live, well, Lady North is a seething, stomach acid-frothing ogre of sound that rams its fist into your face again, and again, and again.

Riding on the kind of apoplectic percussion that signatures Battles’ more barbarian efforts, swathes of matadorial guitar expulse with such brutal urgency it induces lashings of cold, stinking sweat: part in fear, part in utter exhilaration. Believe me, no matter who you are, you need this band in 2011. - The Scotsman (Radar)

With nerve-ends clearly jangling, local noise-mongers Lady North are first to the fore. The trio’s tectonic throbs of guitar, drum and bass have been making in-roads into the Scottish music scene over the last six months, providing a contrasting blast (and I do mean blast) of refreshing air to alt-folk’s gentile snoozing. And, despite a few jittery opening moments, their five song assault merely feeds their reputation as intriguing and unpredictable purveyors of pulsing math rock.

Led by Scott Bullen’s android guitar, each sonically-perplexing number is serrated by percussion so shuddering it could rectify any clogging bowel obstructions. But Lady North are no avant-garde thrash merchants; tonight they show a tuition that captures wider strains of funk, reggae and prog, and an eagerness that tears apart at convention with gnarling effects pedals and toxic, gyrating basslines. In short, it’s an exhilarating opening set and one that’s met with a barrage of clapped palms from Sneaky’s expanding masses. - Drowned In Sound

You walk down Duke Street in Glasgow, carrying your electric guitar, your effects pedals, heading to your first away gig – a major coup for an Edinburgh band trying to make inroads to the UNESCO City of Music. You’re with your bandmates – who also happen to be your mate-mates. You get up to that bit where Duke Street turns into a post-industrial outback. Then Paul, your drummer, tells you he's been reading the map wrong; you'll have to double back, and quick, to make the gig on time. You make it by a thread, only for the barman to serve you with the news that you should have been emailed earlier today – ‘the gig's been cancelled boys’.

It's enough to shake any aspiring musician, especially the instrumental trio inquestion, whose more ‘math-rock’ (humour us here) tendencies might seem more natural a fit in the west than their native Auld Reekie. Enter: Lady North.

Scott Bullen, primary songwriter and de facto leader of the outfit, recounts the story with humour and candour in the back room of a Leith bar, as he and bandmates – bassist Jamie Steel and drummer Paul Bannon – reflect on the band's history to date.

The birth of Lady North occurred in a Corstorphine car park, according to Bullen, set to the soundtrack of the 2006 album Easter by now-defunct American post-hardcore group These Arms Are Snakes. "They're the band that we communed with,” says Bullen. “I remember me and him [nods to Bannon] being in this white van he used to have at Tesco in Corstorphine when we first heard that album. Just listening and saying 'I can't believe how good this sounds'. Like crazy hardcore dreams.” Of the Seattle band’s sustained influence on his own approach to songcraft, Bannon attributes: “The way they play really short things that are repetitive, then things will change, like the timing that they're in – that influenced the way I write; very short, very sharp things that will loop better and get bigger and bigger. That's the sort of thing that'll amuse me more."

Paying the ultimate respect, the band took its name from the ninth track on Easter and set about forging its own sound in the practice room, time signature by time signature. A major breakthrough for the boys came in the guise of what at the time seemed like a crisis – the departure of singer Ali [Shiels]. Opting for studies in Glasgow, the split left the band seemingly voiceless, but the now-trio of Lady North had their spirits raised once they hit the practice room. "It was like a light went on," admits Steel. "We're an instrumental band now. It just felt so much more natural."

Bannon – who also puts in time with Steel in Dupec as well as handling the trap kit for Dead Boy Robotics – elaborates: "I think because we don't have a singer, we have a lot more room to work. We don't have to worry about writing lyrics or the way that he sings."

With this newfound focus on instrumentation, the band's early output garnered unavoidable comparisons to Oxford manufacturers of danceable, staccato guitar-laced tracks Foals and math-rock godfathers Don Caballero, both of whom Bullen concedes have made an impact on their style. "I had a wee nap today, and I listened to What Burns Never Returns by Don Cab," he says. "As you're having a nap, it's nice – as much as it's crazy and all." The (math) rock’n’roll lifestyle comes at a price for Bullen – who supports his efforts in Lady North by putting in time at a high street retailer. So it seems excusable if he's Delivering The Groceries At 138 Beats Per Minute in his dreams during a wee lie down in-between two very different lives.

As for Foals, Bullen acknowledges that the band got him experimenting with guitar triplets, something shared with another band he says he draws yet more inspiration from – Battles, one of Warp Records’ finest. The ‘everything at the wall’ aesthetic allure of that Brooklyn outfit – in addition to a touch of Minus the Bear – crops up tastefully on their latest collection of recorded tracks, which the band plan to release as an EP later this year.

In addition to the musicality of Battles, Bullen suggests the production of Mirrored has led them to seek a refined recording, making the EP's production a more prolonged affair. “We're trying to get more of a bigger, more atmospheric sound but it's not quite coming across yet," he says of the trial and error process.

Cards close to the chest, the band are also in tentative talks with Edinburgh specialist label Gerry Loves Records about releasing a split vinyl. However the music finds its way out, they’re in unanimous agreement that they need to find a way to marry the increasing complexity of the sound with the kinetic energy of their live performance, something they pride themselves on delivering.

"That's all we wanna do,” says Bullen.”Put on a semi-decent live show, especially as we don't have vocals. If you go see a band with vocals, the singer will speak to you; he sets the tone. Because we don't have that, we need something to be staring at."

Lady North's spiritual forebears tend to bring a certain electricity to the stage, so it's no surprise the trio feel the need to up their game when the high profiles support slots come knocking, one of which involved attempting to trump Chicagoan post-rockers Maps and Atlases at a packed Sneaky Pete’s recently. "That was a really, really good show,” beams Bullen, still. “Maps and Atlases have been one of our favourite bands since they released Trees, Swallows, Houses years ago.” But the band all agreed they were too star-struck to give their heroes much in the way of chat.

"You just wanna be like ‘I love you, I love you, I love you so much’’...think I came across as a bit of a dick, 'cause I didn't know what to say to them," Bullen admits. "But that was one of the best gigs we've played … opening for a band that we love."

Officials for the Scottish Alternative Music Awards might have caught that show, or one of the other inspired performances they’ve given over the last 12 months, as Lady North were tipped for Best Live Act for 2010. Although the band didn't win and Bullen couldn't even make the ceremony at Classic Grand, Steel says it wasn't a total loss: "There were Jägermeister Girls, scantily clad and giving us test tubes full of Jägermeister… so that was like, a bonus."

Or at least a warmer reception than they had the first time they visited Glasgow. Coming back to the story, Bullen explains that the barman – after informing them their gig had been axed – saw the band's plight and offered them fifth support on the bill for another show happening that night, though admittedly it wasn’t Lady North’s usual clientele. "We're playing to a Sunday league football team – screaming 'Play us something we know!' And to be fair, I've never gone as crazy on stage - I was absolutely loving it." - The Skinny


Lady North / LOVES005 Vinyl
Label: Gerry Loves Records
Released: June 2011

Track Listing:
1. It's All About Gettin' That Claude Monet
2. Pussy Whips & Acid Trips
3. Rub 'N' Scrub

YouTube Channel;

Official 'It's All About Gettin' That Claude Monet' Video;




Scott Bullen (Guitar)
Jamie Steel (Bass)
Paul Bannon (Drums)

Lady North are a pneumatic dance-math-rock band hailing from Edinburgh, Scotland. The trio’s tectonic throbs of guitar, drum and bass have been making in-roads into the Scottish music scene over the last twelve months. Tipped by Scotsman Radar as the Act to Watch in 2011 and by DJ Vic Galloway in 2012, receiving nominations for ‘Best Live Act’ at the Scottish Alternative Music Awards 2011 and 'Best Rock/Alternative Act' in 2012, as well as winning a lucrative slot at the T Break Stage at T in the Park, Lady North have fast gained the reputation of intriguing and unpredictable purveyors of pulsing instrumental rock. Led by Scott Bullen’s android guitar, Jamie Steel’s gyrating basslines and Paul Bannon’s apoplectic percussion, the three tear apart convention, combining math with wider strains of funk, reggae and prog. They create a seething, stomach acid-frothing ogre of sound that must not be missed. No matter who you are, you need to check out this band live.

In the last 12 months Lady North have:

- Tipped as one of the Top 10 acts to watch in Scotland in 2011

- Featured in the Scotsman Radar website, including an interview and photo story feature titled "What life is really like in an unsigned band"

- Supported their heroes, math-folk band Maps & Atlases (Chicago)

- Received a nomination for 'Best Live Act' at last years Scottish Alternative Music Awards

- Received a nomination for 'Best Rock/Alternative' act at this years Scottish Alternative Music Awards

- Were the focus of a two page spread in Scotland's largest independent listings and event magazine The Skinny

- One of 16 acts cherry-picked out of 1000 entries to play the T Break Stage at Scotland's biggest festival, T in the Park

- Have been played on regional radio BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Radio 1 (Vic Galloway & Ally McCrae's shows), as well as numerous Scottish Podcast, specifically the influential Glasgow PodcART

- Vic Galloway’s ‘Breakout Band’ on his BBC Radio Scotland show; played ‘Claude’

- 'Standouts’ at the years T In The Park by The List (Issue 683) for our “power-prog heroics”

- 7” split single review in The Skinny. Our contribution received 4/5 stars

- Our debut 7” was officially released through Gerry Loves Records (which coincided with a successful mini-tour). Fastest selling single in Gerry Loves history

- One of Vic Galloway's 35 Scottish Artists to Watch in 2012