Strawhouses
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Strawhouses

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"The first thing that you notice about Strawhouses is the wonderful, lo-fi scratched vocal of lead singer Paul which meanders between the distinctive tones of Thom Yorke and Neil Young. Only after becoming mesmerised by his halcyon tones do you start to comprehend the quality of the music that you are listening to. Strawhouses are instantaneously brilliant, their melodies haunting you for days after hearing them only once. Well done them." - Another Late Night


''Hearing a snippet of 'These are the willing' by Liverpool band 'Strawhouses' energises the soul and certainly stops you in your tracks. An epic band that have Radiohead ballads but fook me I haven’t heard anything like this for a while. 'Please Hurry' reflects a calmer sound that tucks you away from the dark city nights. '' - Glasswerk.co.uk


Hailing from Liverpool but with none of the archetypal cheek famed by Merseyside musicians, Strawhouses are a labeless musical entity is the best possible way. Over the past few years, this four piece have created something quite incomparable, severing ties to specific genres and forging their own unique sound.

Despite the intensity of Strawhouses, there seems to be an underlying current of dark humour running through their songs, perhaps making them easier to connect with. That said, Paul's vocals are layered with emotion and delivered in the most elegant fashion. The pure quality is at times pretty breath taking, and when you find yourself in a state of wonderment, you'll become aware that these guys are out on their own, front running.

Why are they not huge then? Well perhaps it's the intelligence that douses the music of Starwhouses that may go over some heads, not that they are haughty or anything. They just act as a welcome bastion of intelligent, thought-provoking musicians, when most other tradesmen settle for social observation revolving around beer, breasts and boogies in indie clubs.

Recently released EP 'Runaway Child' showcases some of their best material to date, with the title track being effortlessly epic. Garnering hundreds of comparisons to musical greats such as Radiohead, Interpol and Neil Young, Strawhouses may well be residing in the same hall of fame as them in the future. But let's not jump the gun - at the moment, there is an honesty and classy DIY aura clinging to the band that only fuels the intrigue. They're brilliantly catchy, fearlessly emotive and unyielding forward-thinkers of modern music.

Don't wait till they hit the heights of stardom, catch them now while they still retain the positive anticipation of a band who stand on the cusp of great things.

Simon S Wright

http://www.sandmanmagazine.co.uk/features/strawhousesotw.htm - Sandman Magazine


FORGET first, second, or even third time lucky. For Liverpool’s latest acoustic darlings Strawhouses, it took four attempts to get their band off the ground.

Singer, guitarist and pianist Paul Donnelly explains:

“This is about the fourth incarnation of the band. After a couple of years in the wilderness, working for Tesco, we managed to find (drummer) Stuart Mann, who had just started at LIPA, he transformed everything about the band really, introduced wrong notes (in the right way) and basically made the band great,” says Paul, 24.

“Brad (Michael Bradshaw – bass) and I have played together all our musical lives and Chris (Smith – lead guitar) was at uni with Paul,” explains Stuart.

They’ve just released their debut EP, The Runaway Child, with the help of Šproducer Jon Withnall (who's worked with Coldplay and Feeder etc) at Parr St Studios.

“It’s the first real body of work we've properly recorded and it seems to be doing the job in terms of piquing interest,” smiles Paul.

“We’re planning our second EP (which will be recorded live) for release in February,” says Stuart, 22. “Musically, I think we’re drifting from our Radiohead beginnings to an almost punk aesthetic – Killing Joke, Bunnymen etc.”

Paul adds: “After that we want to record a single and hopefully move on to an album if there's the right investment.”

The centrepiece of the EP is Runaway Child, which Paul wrote.

“It happened in one day which is always nice,” says Paul. “I'd sat down the night before messing on the guitar, and come up with the main acoustic chords and the words in the chorus – 'you only hear what you want to hear, you little runaway child', and the next day I built the track up on my digital recorder. It's basically about running away from your problems and ruining relationships...”

That sounds cheery. Must be a laugh a minute in the Donnelly household.

“There are plenty of mistakes I've made but I can't truthfully say I would want to change them as they've all shaped who I've become and the songs I've written,” says Paul.

“I was talking to Ian McNabb about this – you have to go through these horrible, head-wrecking, heart-breaking relationships in order to be able to write about them afterwards. It's the curse of the songwriter I'm afraid.”

Something Paul’s much more cheerful about is his beloved hometown.

“What I love about Liverpool is its honesty – I'm fiercely proud of my city – we're never away for long.”

And the city inspires many of the songs.

“I take inspiration from everything,” says Paul.

But they have mixed feelings about how 2008 has affected them, and the wider Liverpool music scene.

“Liverpool’s music scene is so strange,” says Stuart. “The city is suffering at the moment from profiteering promoters. I think that the scene is over-saturated perhaps as a result of the Capital of Culture status and LIPA. As for Paul and Ringo, I don’t really think The Beatles are relevant to Liverpool anymore.”

But Paul disagrees: “As shor- lived as it was I think it has helped the identity of the city – people in the city feel like Liverpool once again mattered on a world stage for music – there have been plenty of decent bands with good songs but there's been no band that have really mattered since the Bunnymen, and I think that's a great shame.”

But the band are united in their praise for the MTV Awards this month.

“The MTV awards were a great event to host,” says Stuart. “The buzz around MTV Music Week was great. MTV is the most relevant music institution at the moment with huge influence over musical tastes the world over.The MTV Awards were undoubtedly the most important point in the 2008 calendar for Liverpool.”

Strawhouses play Liverpool Rockscape on November 22 and the Unity Theatre on December 5. For full details see www.myspace.com/strawhouses

- Liverpool Echo


Even the band admits that they've got a Bends-era Radiohead sound, but something about the vocals and guitars drags this out of just being an over-earnest pastiche and makes it worthwhile on its own. The songs have emotional resonance, but maybe the band just take themselves a little less seriously and aren't aiming for the sixth form poetry emo market, which has led to some pretty exciting songcraft. Apart from the easy Thom Yorke comparison, lead singer Paul Donnelly sounds at times like Kevin Rowland and also, bizarrely, like that misanthrope from Interpol on a helium binge. Their songs are all pretty hooky, often in somewhat unexpected ways, such as the stuttering Unplug the Beast. Alternating between meaty ballads and rockier fare, they don't really hit any weak spots on this four song EP. They deserve to go places - Sandman Magazine



Born out of Orwellian conspiracies Liverpool band Strawhouses are on the verge of something special at the moment. The band are skirting on the edge of Liverpool’s music scene bringing their fresh and epic sounds to the fore. Liverpool’s up and coming annual music week will be a massive event and it bodes a great chance for fans to see ‘One of Liverpool’s most hotly tipped band’

Strawhouses play 2nd November at Hannah’s Bar and offers a great chance for people to see the band perform tracks from their recently released EP Runaway Child.

Glasswerk caught up with Paul Donnelly and Stuart Mann from the epic marauders mid EP tour.

Tell us a bit about Strawhouses how you did you start, how long you’ve been going

Paul ‘There have been a few incarnations of the band, dating back to 2004/5ish, but the current line up has been together since 2007. It's been an obsession of mine for roughly...8 years and counting. It's amazing to finally have the commitment of a line up, and for the line up to have a great chemistry. I met Stu after advertising....Stuart and Michael (Brad) know each other from back home. The fact that Stuart and Brad have known each other musically before Strawhouses means we have an incredibly tight rhythm section...which is nice. Chris and I met through uni, again through advertising’

Stuart ’As Paul said. Brad and I started playing around the same time (12/13) at school and have always played together. I was introduced to Paul by Alan Partridge and the rest, they say, happened between then and now.’

Who’s in the band?

Paul ’Stuart Mann (Drums), Michael BRADshaw (Bass), Chris Smith (Guitar, Bvs), Paul Donnelly (Voice, guitar, piano). But there are other contributors...Fernando Alberto Lout helps with all our web projects, such as Strawhouses Radio, and Sarah N Dipity often takes photos when we're on the road.

Where did the idea Strawhouses come from?

Paul ’The name or the band? The name came from 'grasping at straws' for a new band name....the night I had it I was visited by three spirits who showed me what life would be like without the formation of Strawhouses. 'Strawhouses' is also the name of the band playing in Gone With The Wind's opening section. It's also the name of a certain vintage of French wine. Actually, it's just the first one of these that's true...I was sitting there 'grasping at straws' for a new name and made the lateral connection to Strawhouses

Stuart ’ I preferred the name "Burning Fist.

Your early demo started to grab some light towards the band because of its intelligent lyrics on tracks like "These Are The Willing" etc where do you get the ideas for lyrics from and how do you formulate the songs

Paul ’The lyrics are about literally everything....that thing on our myspace under influences: 'neon lights, politicians, girls', sums up our subject matter perfectly really....I am as likely to come up with a song about corruption in the government as I am about Heroin addicts on Hardman Street as I am about a girl who has just dumped me....I am constantly keeping a log of my thoughts and ideas for lyrics in my lyric books, or in my phone if I don't have my lyric books handy. Therefore I always have some starting points to work off. I'll get a riff I like, throw in an arbitrary verse/bridge section with an intersting (see: hideous) key change to please Stuart, (and to sound like Bowie), and maybe record a few minutes of it and build a track around it. If you keep everything fresh and try and write it as quickly as possible, that's when the best songs come out...I then take my demos to the band, who painstakingly arrange it roughly a year after I write them. There's always a big gap between writing them and taking them to the band. I have to live with them first, and when I show them to other people, they're no longer mine....which is fine but it's nice to keep them mine for a while’.

Stuart ‘Going off on a tangent, Paul's lyrics I then try to imitate (when appropriate) in my playing, rhythmically and sonically’

Tell us how you came to doing the new EP Runaway Child which on first listen sounds a real epic and will probably surprise many people. You were doing an acoustic tour in the summer?

Paul ’We were doing an acoustic tour Jan 08 - April 08, whilst Stuart and Brad were in the Alps. Chris and I got very close on that tour, there was this great sense of us against the world. When the boys came back, they were very enthusiastic about picking up the band...we had made some decent headway in those few months with some concerted gig effort. We were suddenly a great live band, Brad's bass playing just made everything so much tighter...so after a few months of gigging, our wonderful management (who had been responsible for the acoustic tour) decided that we should release something...and we were all itching to record something new. I fought for us to keep it to 4 tracks, so that we could concentrate on making it absolutely h - Glasswerk.co.uk


Strawhouses - These are the Willing, Sunlight, Photophobia 4/5

Memorable songs from Strawhouses, one of Liverpool's most hotly tipped bands of the moment.

With a sound that reminds of Radiohead, Joy Division, The Smiths, Interpol and Jeff Buckley, whilst remaining entirely their own, the gorgeous, lilting melodies, and intense, thoughtful lyrics make this a disc to savour every delicious moment of. Sheer class, and engaging from the very first moments to the very last, this is an ep to cherish.


Jade Wright - Liverpool Echo


"Strawhouses are one of the most professional bands I've seen in the festival so far. They ooze talent and style, they're lyrically brilliant and they put on one hell of a show. Somewhat reminiscent of Alberta Cross, the harmonies and chord progressions are spot on. During the set the front man broke a string on his guitar, during which he grabbed another and tuned it up right there and then before carrying on with the song. These guys have practiced a lot, and their polished overall sound is testament to this. They are true musicians."

Surface Unsigned Festival Review
- Surface Unsigned


Discography

2007: Parr Street Demo Sessions
These are the Willing
Sunlight

2008: Runaway Child EP
Runaway Child
Unplug The Beast
Scrapped Metal
Snowed In

(Coming soon)
February 2009: 'Live in Session' EP/DVD
April 2009: Single release 'A Good Night Out'

Photos

Bio

Their musical influences are diverse; from the melody kings of Radiohead, REM and U2, to the tribal beats of Killing Joke, to the darkest moments of Joy Division and The Smiths.

Interpol meets Jeff Buckley in a darkened alley where cats have fights but at least they stand up for themsleves who are we to judge