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Written by DJ Astrocreep   
Saturday, 03 February 2018 04:00

In a new personal segment from me, each month I'll be bringing you an unsigned or small label band that have caught my ear, either through seeing them live at a gig or by reviewing one of their releases. With this inaugural effort, I will be focusing on Awooga, from Sheffield.


They are signed to Rockosmos and consist of brothers Tam and Taz, on bass/vox and drums respectively, along with lead guitarist James. They picked up a ‘Hot New Band’ award from both Metal Hammer and Kerrang! magazines last year. To start us off, here' s a video from their first album, ‘V Column’:



So, guys, can you tell me a bit about your band for anyone that doesn't know you yet?


Tam: Well, we're a Space Rock band, that's how we've been termed. It's heavy, though, melodic, expansive, a bit proggy, but it's got elements of doom and other heavy stuff in there.


You're with Sel (Balamir)'s label now?


Tam: Yeah, Rockosmos.


How was it that you got signed with Rockosmos?


Tam: Well, we ended up doing a tour in 2014 with Amplifier, Sel's band. We had sent him a bit of a cheeky message, asking if we could do the tour with him, expecting no response, but he came back to us and said, 'Yeah, I love you guys'. We got back and I think about a year later, he had set up a label, then said 'We want you on it!'. We said Hell Yeah!


How long had you been going before you got that tour?


Tam: Well, we had been jamming together and done a few things, but it was about 2011 really by the time we released our first thing.


James: Yeah, we had been playing together a lot of years.


Tam: We probably started jamming around 2009. It's a bit hazy you see. We were a bit drunk and it was a bit smoky. *all laugh*


James: The first part of which, I was playing the saxophone!


Tam: Yeah! That's a strange Awooga fact. We started out as bass, drums and saxophone!


James: I fed a delay pedal into a guitar amp.


Tam: We tried to rip Morphine off, if anyone has heard of those, but we decided we were a bit shit *laughs*. You should listen to them if you haven't!


James: Yeah, I was playing sax, and I can't really play the saxophone!


Was there any particular band or artist that guided you towards the sound you chose for the band?


Awooga 1


James: We came from slightly different, but similar schools of thought. I think Tam's from more of a grunge song background, whereas I like bands like Isis and Neurosis, with big, expansive 10 minute songs, so I guess it's like a bit of an amalgamation of the two.


Tam: That's a good way of looking at it, actually. Taz has also got an insanely broad taste. He's into his jazz, bits of flair that crop in our music from that world.


James: Yeah, he doesn't really play like a rock drummer, but hits it as hard as a rock drummer would.


Tam: I suppose it's an inevitability when you're 6'7, that you'll hit a bit harder *all laugh*. I don't really know though, we didn't try to sound like anything. The only time we did was when you *points at James* tried to play sax, and it sucked, so we just started playing and saw what came out.


What difficulties did you have, when starting out, to put yourselves out there? Was there anything, in particular, you think slowed your progress when you started?


Tam: We didn't really have a lot of trouble because we were involved in the music scene anyway, quite closely. Me and James, at the time, were both front of house engineers and monitor engineers, so we knew people and could get into it.


James: I think it was because we jammed for a few years, but didn't actually release any music. We never really had an aim or a goal, bar just to play music.


Tam: It was that musical turning point as well, with the internet, we kinda didn't know where it was going to go. We were putting stuff online. Myspace was where we first started jamming and putting stuff out. I don't think we were even called Awooga then, I think we were called something else. When we were putting that out, we didn't really have a focus, like James said, but once we did get the focus and started working with good producers and such, it all kinda tied in. The focus was probably the biggest hurdle that we had.


How long did it take for you to release your first album/EP?


Tam: It's been ice ages *all laugh* before releasing actual material. I'd say it was 2011, Fifth Calling, which was the first. It doesn't really exist anymore, as the label took both that and the next release Artifacts, then amalgamated them into Alpha from the best.


James: It wasn't full releases.


Tam: Yeah, they were self-released.


James: We burned a few CDs, took them to gigs and the like...


Tam: Sold them for a fiver *laughs*. There was no real distribution like we have behind us now, or any kind of PR or such.


James: No one hears them, really *all laugh again*


Do you think self-releasing is maybe the way forward for bands starting off now?



Tam: Yes and no. I think it really depends on the music. With band music, I'd say you have to really look at how you release it. Since we've released stuff, recorded professionally with PR and such, it's opened so many doors. I would advise people not to self-release, if they can and go down the route of at least trying to do it in a professional manner. Sometimes it works though, when you self-release. I think it just depends on your music and what kind of audience you've got.


James: I think if you've already got an audience there, like what Sel is doing with Amplifier, he's already got the audience and the backing of a label. I think if you're starting from nothing, there are so many bands now, there is so much going on, it's just white noise.


Tam: The making of recordings now is pretty easy, even for good quality, in your practice room. Some of the stuff we have demoed sounds way better than what we attempted to record a couple of years ago.


James: Yeah, if you had paid to go to a studio 10 years ago, you can make a better recording yourself now, with a laptop.


Tam: So yeah, I guess you could self-release. You have got to start there, I think. You certainly have to start there, if you're brand new, but I'd look to further that, certainly.


What is the local (Sheffield) scene like?


James: Metal's quite big in Sheffield. You've got bands like Bring Me The Horizon, While She Sleeps, Malevolence, who are from Sheffield. Dance music's also big here, as there's a lot of students here and obviously Indie, because of the whole Arctic Monkeys thing. There are quite a lot of scenes, but they're quite segregated. There are gigs on every night of the week, Tramlines (festival) during the summer, so there's a lot going on, yeah.


Do you think that's helped you, then? You (Tam) are the manager of  a venue (West Street Live), so do you think those two factors have helped you?


Tam: In some ways, as we've been involved in this all our lives. It's all we've ever done, been involved in music, so it's hard to say *laughs*. Music is basically our whole life and the two overlap quite frequently. I suppose, yeah, it's helped a lot.


So, what do you think for a new band, that doesn't have the same background as either of you do, would be a good recommendation for ways of starting up?


James: I think a lot of bands start up, and they'll just gig, gig, gig, gig, gig. I think that's just completely pointless, you should lock yourself away in a practice room. Write the best songs you can, get them as tight as you can. Cut them up, analyse them.


Tam: Be brutal!


James: Yeah, be brutal about the material. then release something and play the shows. I think a lot of the bands I see spend a lot of their efforts on the shows. No one is going to remember that show in 20 years, but a good record, someone in 20 years could remember that record.


Tam: It's probably worth playing a couple of shows together at first, to make sure you can all play together live.


James: Yeah, of course, but don't waste your creative energy on shows. Save it, store it up and make good music.


When you started off, did you play some/lots of covers at first?


Tam: I think we've only ever covered Rush. We've only ever played Limelight and Sub Divisions, they're the only two covers I can remember. Oh wait, we did T-Rex and Tool, too. Yeah, we started jamming covers at first, like a lot of other bands do. I was in a band before that did that. It's good, that we all kind of centred around that same music, but we haven't really done many covers with Awooga.


Finally, what's up next for Awooga?


Tam: Next thing for Awooga is the release of our Album ‘Conduit’, recorded in Vigo, Spain. We will be touring the UK in March with label mates Amplifier.!


‘Alpha’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.


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