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Remedy - Interview

  by Peter Allison

published: 24 / 6 / 2009

Remedy - Interview


Peter Allison at a gig at the Casbah in Sheffield speaks to classic-sounding rock band Remedy about their recent debut EP and their experience and reaction to playing what was their first headlining tour

For a band that has accrued as significant a degree of critical praise as Remedy have, it is nonetheless surprising that they are still relatively unknown. Starting life as the Alcatraz House Band (not to be confused with Alcatrazz, Graham Bonnet’s band of the same name), a Led Zeppelin covers band that was created through Jenn Cherrerre’s and Graham Haswell’s love of rock music, the band evolved into Remedy, which released their first EP, 'Strange Fast Now', last year to justifiably impressive reviews. One aspect I found that stands out about Remedy is that their gigs are an incredibly visceral experience. They are one of those few bands where their gigs are even better than their album, for their passion comes to the fore. I met Remedy prior to a gig at the Casbah in Sheffield. The Casbah was formerly the Wapentake, portentously the same bar in which Def Leppard held their first gig, and has changed little since. Perhaps it was the navigating the labyrinthine corridors that reminded me of a scene from 'This is Spinal Tap', where the bewildered band find themselves lost whilst attempting to navigate their way to the stage. Remedy, which consists as well as Jenn (vocals) and Graham (guitar) of Lee Truck (bass) and Mark Dodds(drums) were found to be relaxing in their room after a sound check. Although it was near the start of their first headlining tour, Jenn was already dosing herself with throat syrup. As Jenn succinctly explained, "If your throat isn’t shot following a gig, then it isn’t rock music." I confess to having been keen to meet Remedy, as their debut EP had made a strong impression upon me, and was intrigued to discover what their experiences and reactions were to the band’s first headlining tour. PB: Firstly, can you tell me how Remedy formed? JC: Over a span of time, where we went through differing line ups. We initially started out as a covers band, and writing our own stuff on the side, but starting as a covers band we hit the pubs, learned to play well together, and then write our own material. It was only when Lee joined the band, who came from an originals band, and wanted to play original music that we started writing more of our own material. We only had one song at the time, so we kind of expanded upon it. LT: I am the inspiration! (The band laughs). PB: Obviously, Lee was a later recruitment then. How did you all come together? GH: Jenn and I went to college together, where we started the band after I found Jenn singing Eva Cassidy and Alanis Morissette covers. The bass player, who was originally in the band before, quit on the Saturday night at half eight just before we were scheduled to perform a gig on the Sunday. England had been kicked out of the World Cup so he was too upset to perform, and we were on the way too a gig! So we rang Lee, who we knew from where we rehearsed, and asked if he wanted to do a gig with us tomorrow night, and he said, “Aye”. So we rehearsed for nine hours and then did a gig, learning fifteen songs in about six hours. The gig was still fucking shit, but at least it got done, and we didn’t bottle it. MD: I met the band through their original bass player who left and knew me through some contacts at the time. PB: Did you find playing covers first helped? JC: Yeah, it helped us to gain experience on stage. As you see some bands, and you can just tell that they come from a garage, as they do not know what to do on stage, and have bedroom guitarists where they have their backs to the crowd and just stand still. It teaches you a lot on how to deal with people as well. GH: It tells you how to sound good too, as you’ve got to do your own mixing as well. When you do originals, you know how to make your amps sound good, and thus everybody else sound good, and that really helps. So overall, you sound more professional. PB: Where did the name Remedy come from? JC: We’d got a text message from a friend with lots and lots of suggestions. So it was just “pick a word”, as we had to decide pretty quick for the EP's artwork. GH: We’d been trying to think of a name for ages, and we just couldn’t think of anything, as it is really hard to think of band names. MD: Most people think the Remedy comes from the Black Crowes, but it wasn’t. It was actually our friend, Jason. JC: We do not have any connections with the Black Crowes. We just thought Remedy sounded like a nice word and nice name. PB: Speaking of the artwork, I really liked the EP’s cover. It was almost avant-garde in a sense. GH: The guy who did the artwork, called Tom, does all our pictures, and is really cool, and didn’t cost us much either. Just brought it together in one package, and had it. I really liked the front cover, as it really draws your attention. JC: Especially for our sort of specifications, which was anything and everything, but really specific and he was “okay, that sounds harsh”… But it can be quite hard to describe intended themes in artwork, but he (Tom) did a mint job. PB: How would you describe your musical style? JC: Changing (Laughs). It was hard rock, and people have picked up classic rock from it, as well as other bits and pieces. But now we are definitely a bit more melodic, and a bit more alternative. We bridge a few sub-genres, but it is still rock music. PB: I almost detected some blues or jazz influences. GH: On the EP there are all sorts of different influences, as we still hadn’t worked out what we were. JC: Some of the tracks on the EP were from nearly two years ago, and come June it will be year-old material. Obviously, we have been writing new material over the past year, so we have done more as an originals band, and grown more as an originals band, and our style is continually changing to suit us more. 'Strange Fast Now' had a lot of different elements, and since then we have been able to focus it down more into our kind of band. PB: I noticed in 'Strange Fast Now' that you had very little interlinking between tracks. But I liked that as it demonstrated a broad spectrum to your music. MD: Tonight we are going to play a load of new tracks, from since we made the EP, and, although the style is starting to gel, you can still distinguish every single song. We are not one of those bands who uses the same thing all the time, as we do like to vary, and we listen to all sorts. Mostly it is how our mood takes us at the time, but we have learnt to do that, and still maintain an identifiable format. PB: I like the fact that you are different, and your music is never the same. MD: That is exactly what I am saying. We have taken all our different influences and the styles, but it is still somehow familiar to each track. GH: One of our biggest influences was Led Zeppelin, and one of my favourite things about Zeppelin is you listen through one of their albums and each songs sits in its own little place on the album. It is as if each song has its own little personality, and you can know every song as they are so different and have their own space. PB: What was the inspiration to become a musicians and singers? JC: I just kind of do it as I am not the shy person, and always like the attention ever since I was young, and I was brought up on Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith, so Robert Plant and Steve Tyler are my two biggest influences. Watching Steve Tyler on stage – which is why I have the scarves on my mike stand – he is extrovert and he is out there, and you can’t miss him ; and I have always wanted to be that on stage. GH: Ever since I can remember, I have listened to rock music, probably because of my mum and dad, and I’ve always wanted to play guitar. I didn’t start until I was sixteen, and I just never wanted to do anything different. I can’t remember wanting to do anything else. LT: When I was growing up my parents were into big bands, playing the saxophone, but my brother started playing drums before I did, and I just wanted to be better than my brother (Laughs). So that is why I took up the drums. JC: Lee is an excellent addition to the band, as he can sing, and play the piano as well PB: I read one of the core elements to the band was your disgust at the disposable nature of music. What spurred you to counter this? JC: You get a single, and then get an album, and apart from the single, it is all filler. I do not want to buy an album just for one single. So it is because you get one song by a band, and that song is brilliant but that’s it. Like everything else, each week there is a top new flavour, and everyone goes out and buys it. GH: The industry is a little bit too disposable. JC: Exactly, the disposability. You like this band, so you buy the album and buy the single; and then next week it is something completely different and you have forgotten the other guy. But people like Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith, they are still remembered from the last generation; but who from our generation are we going to remember? The Pussycat Dolls, or something? LT: The music industry has changed so much. JC: If anything, the industry has been affected by incredibly bad consumerism. PB: Have you found the internet has helped at all? JC: Oh yes, it is a lot faster to communicate en-masse. Even something simple like gigs changing or venues changing, one click, and it is up there. You receive messages from up and down the country asking where you are playing, and at what time. It is great for advertising, especially for a band with absolutely no budget like us, where you cannot advertise in 'Kerrang' or magazines, we do it all online. PB: I’ve noticed Jenn, that you have a very powerful voice which adds depth to the lyrics. Do you all collaborate in writing the songs? JC: The writing process is something we have been working on. The song side of things is something we are still learning; even for the EP where we’d came and we played. But that was only after a period of months, where we found ourselves sitting there, saying, “Go on, come up with something”. So we realise there has to be a better way of writing songs. At the moment, we get an idea, usually me or Graham, and we go over the basic melody while I sit there and hum, and then we take it to the band. Then we all develop it from an idea into a song. So melody is first and foremost what we focus on. Graham: We‘d write a full track, and sometimes without Jenn singing on it, for some songs. It is perhaps not the best way of doing it. Hence being here, finding what works, and what does not. PB: I believe this is your first tour to date. Is that correct? JC: This is the first tour where we have headlined, yes. We have had a couple of dates with Pearl Aday (Meat Loaf’s daughter-Ed), and got some useful contacts. But this is the first time we’ve headlined, and it is quite weird relying on your own name which no one knows. PB: How are you finding it so far? MD : Frustrating. Everywhere you go there are thousands of bands, and to expect people to come out and see you when they have never heard of you. It is not too bad if you are a covers band. hen you know what to expect. LT: I suppose that when you have been on at a night club that can be good, because then they can see what you are doing. MD: But I still do not think it works, as people do not do it. How many times do you see a band name advertised, and then say, “Right, I’ll go home and check them out.” You don’t do it. JC: The numbers haven’t been… staggering (Laughs). But we clearly weren’t expecting that. Like he says, no one knows us, so how do they know to come out? But more than anything we are gaining personal experience. We always intended to evolve from a covers band, and with the song writing and everything, the next step is to get some extra experience, and take it from there. We do not like standing still, once we’ve done something. We’ve got an EP. Now let’s try touring. We need to know that we are still taking steps, because once you have sat too long on something and become stagnant, you lose the flow, and so you’ve got to keep pushing and pushing and pushing. GH: Last night we were playing Scarborough, and the venue was huge. But we played to four people we had brought from Middlesbrough. We were playing, in a venue that holds five hundred people, to only four people. We went on at half ten, and finished at half eleven. At twelve we were sat in our dress-room, looked outside and there were 150 people in the club. As soon as the club night starts after half eleven, the people will come out, but they do not come out for us. So we were playing to nobody. JC: They don’t come out for the bands; they come out for the midnight club with all their Kings of Leon, and music that they know. So that is one of the things we are finding out: which cities have a following for original music, and which one does not. Mark:But last night we got on really well with the manager, so obviously that is another contract, and any decent support for what we might be able to get there, if theres a crowd. It is all about getting the contacts, so there is the silver lining, so to speak. PB: You’ve already mentioned touring with Pearl Aday. Is there anybody else you would like to tour with? GH: There is a bit of a divide in Remedy. I like Metallica, Lee fucking loves Metallica, and Mark hates Metallica. JC: Mark actually likes Metallica. He just likes to wind everybody up! (Laughs) LT: Incubus, they are one of the best bands in the world! JC: If No Doubt ever reformed, I would love to tour with them. GH: Paramore – How can you not like Paramore? JC: Only because every female singer that comes out between now and the next three years is going to be, “Oh you want to be like Paramore.”.(Shakes her head in exasperation) No! PB: Are there any countries you would like to tour as well? MD: Japan, one of my goals in life is to tour Japan. JC: That is because you like Asian people. I think Europe would be better suited for us, if only because over there we are the kind of music that sells. GH: We’ve just played London, and had a strange experience on Tuesday, where it was a rock style magazine showcase night. We played with four bands, where one band played bizarre ambient music that had no structure. The next was a punk-ska band, then we came on and everyone found us to be far too normal. If this had been in Newcastle, with the ambient band, it would have been the opposite effect. I think rock music just doesn’t get received as well as it used to in England, although for certain parts of the country that is not true. JC: Rock music is not left field or weird enough now. People often claim it is not original enough; but what is original now? Do you want original, or do you want some weird left-field thing with no structure and can’t sing it, where people claim it is so amazing and original, yet it is not a song. So it is frustrating when people say we have no originality, when we wrote it so therefore it is original. PB: You are playing Hard Rock Hell 3 later in the year. How did that come about? JC: Me, bugging people. I got in touch with one of the promoters for the festival, said we could like to play, and asked how we could get on. The simple thing was, he said get on the forums, register yourself, and have people make comments. For at the end, the people moderating the forums literally count the number of people who have said, “Yes, we would like this band to attend”, and that is how you get on. Dead easy. Remedy have a mailing list of about six hundred people, so I sent an e-mail saying “Remedy are playing Hard Rock Hell. Go say hi on this forum, and you like Remedy”; and people did which I was really surprised at. So we got enough votes to be considered and we convinced them. PB: I come from the North East – Middlesbrough to be precise – how did you find the reaction in your hometown? Graham: We do quite well, up near Newcastle and where we live in North and South Shields,and have a greater following there. JC: We sell more at the covers gigs, than at the originals gigs. We used to be a covers band, and had been for four years. The people that had come to see us as Alcatraz, doing the Led Zeppelin covers and things like that, crossed over and have been happy enough to listen to our original stuff because a lot the people we know them by face, who always come along, and now we are reaching the point locally, that people are coming to see Remedy, and while they may know us as being “that covers band”, but it is Remedy they have heard of. So it is going really well, and people are increasingly coming to see Remedy. It is slowly overtaking, and it really helps. One of the advantages of having being a covers band is that we already have a captive audience, and you can go, “we are just going to play you one of our songs now, and see what you think”. So because we are writing in a similar vein to our influences, it all kind of gels and mixes well. PB: You have also been receiving a lot of positive reviews in the music press as well haven’t you? JC: Yeah, I think it’s great that they have done it, because we are an unknown, and because we are unsigned. But it shows that there are people willing to support an unknown band. If people keep giving us opportunities and fair comments, then we’ll keep trying to write better music. PB: Jen, you also work in the PR business. How do you find combining this and Remedy? JC: Having good bosses (Laughs). They are very supportive of me, because they run a label,Global Records, they are not going to hinder what Remedy are trying to do. They are meant to be encouraging that sort of thing, and my working for them has helped me see the industry side of it, as it grounds you a lot. You really see there is a dirty side to it, and a hard side to it. We are not going to end up thinking. “we’re the most amazing thing, we are gonna get spotted, and we’re gonna be famous”. No, we know it doesn’t work like that; as we know there’s going to be be a lot of years and a lot of hard work. In this industry, you have to take whatever helping hand you can get, and, if I work in PR, then I am going to use it. I’d be an idiot not to. If you were in my position, you would do exactly the same thing. PB: Are the rumours true an album is being compiled? GH: We are tentatively working one one, and have been since the EP was released. MD: I think the main thing with this album though, is what we are not going to rush it. We intend to take a month or so, to purely focus on the writing, and make sure we are 100% happy. So we can then get it done, get it out, and just gig it. I think when you are changing songs all the time, it can be restless for the crowd, as some of them want familiarity after they have seen us a couple of times, and hear the songs they liked. LT: We are busy going through a change in sound, so we need to write twenty songs and record them all until we’re happy. We do not want to rush through an album and not be happy with it a year down the line. JC: We have found we rush everything. We rush to finish anything, and are late for everything. But we want to do this album properly, and we are playing some songs tonight that will be on the album. So as we have started writing and playing them, we can ideally tighten them We said the EP was a blend of six different styles and genres, and proved that we can be varied: we can give you that and we can give you this, and here are six singles. But this one is going to be more focused, and we would really like someone to come along and say, “I would like to put you in the studio”. So we will be making some demos to send off, and see what happens. But, no rush. MD: Everything we have done has been late, despite being rushed. But in many ways I believe we work best under pressure. But I think we are really going to take our time with this. We are not in demand at the moment, so that takes the pressure off you. If we were in demand, it would be a lot harder. PB: Were you satisfied with your EP? JC: At first (Laughs). We are constantly moving forwards, and at the time that was what we wanted to do, and it was the best learning experience we could have had, about the process of making the EP, and recording it even, and how you get your sound, so it was an essential learning process. GH: When we went in to record the EP, our favourite song was 'Last Demand', but since we recorded the album 'Desire' has become the song we all like the most. Some of them now do not sound right, as they do not sound like us, as we keep constantly moving on. MD: I think Remedy’s latest song is the best one we have ever done. JC: Again, our latest song we have written is our favourite (Pauses. If we can write each song and each song that has been written is now our favourite, it kind of shows that we like the song. So if we write a song that is “Yeah, it’s okay as an album filler”, then we wouldn’t bother with that song. We want to be really passionate about the songs we write, and hence why we want to write a load of them, so we can pick them out, and ensure they are 100% passionate. PB: Has there been a time when three of you have been happy with a song, and one of you hasn’t? LT: As we all write the songs, we are all in the same frame, so we all pick up on each others vibe, and know where it is going. So there have been a few pieces that we have written, and then finished, but two weeks later ditched, as we were all unhappy with it. We wrote a song for three hours the other day, then listened to it, and then completely rehashed the entire song in three minutes. We had been so focused on each section of the song, that we had actually written eighteen different sections. So it wasn’t so much the material, but the structure of the song. We chopped it right down the middle, and it was much better. JC: Three hours of writing resolved in three minutes (Laughs). But because we had all listened to it, we realised it was not working, as you had finished the song and could not remember what had happened at the beginning. GH: We started recording ourselves at writing sessions and that is a big help. For when you listen to it later, your perspective is totally different. So it is really, really helpful to a later listen back to it, for you can absorb it more rather than being focused on just your part. PB: What does the future hold for Remedy? GH:We are just figuring out the process. As we have just done this tour, we know we cannot just go down south and expect to play to people. Next time we go down, as there has been no one there, we can expect no one there next time. So we are going to try and find out how we can get on better supporting tours. PB: From what you have been saying, this tour has made you learn a lot? JC: People say create an audience in your own home town, and then move out. But we have been playing our own home town for four years, and needed to see what was out there. So we have learned a lot through trial and error, and that is no bad thing. PB: Remedy, thank you. The photographs that accompany this article were taken by Peter Allison.

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live reviews

Casbah, Sheffield, 20/6/2009
At the Casbah in Sheffield, Peter Allison watches up-and-coming classic-rock infleunced group Remedy, who were on their first headlining tour, play a flawless and commanding set


Strange Fast Now (2009)
Strong debut EP from South Shields-based hard rock band Remedy who have elements of the Black Crowes and Led Zeppelin

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