“It was recorded by our friend Barclay Brennan in his room, using only one mic” Miz, out of Failure by Design, types enthusiastically, submitting their demo, “so were really pleased with the outcome..” .
Call this a demo, Punk? is, of course, a little bit raw in places, but at no point does that detract from how enjoyable this little disc is. In fact, such is the energy that’s packed in to these short, spiky little pop-punk tunes, that the minimal levels of production just add a boisterous, peppy sort of charm to it. It’s pleasingly melodic, too, in a similar way to some of the more emotional pop-punk that was around in the 1990s before it became emo. And I mean that in a very good way: when pop-punk still had balls, but all of a sudden had bigger emotions to struggle with, the very best of it managed to channel those frustrations back in to the music and deliver startlingly clear emotional messages with angst and immediacy and then hammer them home with a killer melody. That’s exactly what Failure By Design have achieved here.
Yes, it’s only a demo, but it’s not that short and it’s ever so sweet: the hooks dropping in just the right places and the songs embellished in just the right places by any combination from the three vocals and two guitars used in making this record. It’s stripped down just enough to really showcase the excellent quality of the songs, but they’ve got enough behind them to really hit you from the first listen. They’re great fun, too: catchy, but with real substance: the melodies will keep you coming back, and the songs have enough in them for you to discover something new each time you do. It’s a winning combination, and makes for an excellent little record. A demo not just of promise, but of genuine quality.
Enjoy Failure By Design here, on facebook here, and get the demo from here.
What starts off as a seemingly samey sounding EP finds itself locked in the back of your head, nagging to get out, nagging to be played again. You find yourself humming the riffs, your finger drawing itself closer and closer towards the play button, just one more time?
Ask me for an example of a great punk band and I will give you the same answer every time, The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Thin Lizzy, I’d even go so far as saying early Maiden but some would disagree. Ask me why and my answer will vary depending on the band. Sometimes it’s the pure aggression, the “fuck you” attitude; the almost animal like instinct to beat shit out of your best friend in a smoky hall filled with, well, Punks! The other reason for my deep set passion for punk rock music comes from the rawness of the songs themselves, the ability to sit down in a room and record a punk rock masterpiece with only one microphone, to get down to the nitty-gritty and release something that is comprised of nothing more than 3 chords, blood, sweat and tears. Failure by Design fall under the latter, and they encapsulate it perfectly in every strike of the snare, every line sung and every chord played.
The EP starts unpredictably, I found myself looking back at the title thinking “where is the punk in this?” as the soft and subtle intro to “Pirates vs Moshpits” played out. It wasn’t a question I asked myself for long as the intro broke down into a pool of noise and into the main body of the song. Miz (Vocals) instantly catches you unawares with a line that can only be described as deep and telling of the bands passion for what they do, reminiscent of the old arrogant spirit of our punk forefathers. He seems to switch back and forth between a more American style of singing and an almost Jamie T style of hard-nosed British rap but carries it off seamlessly and effortlessly. Backed up by the raw talents of Marc (Drums) with his splashy hi-hats, Mat (Guitar) sliding from chord to chord with powerful precision and Dave (Bass) pounding out a ruthless assault of noise that brings the whole song into a crescendo of punk mastery. Catchy to say the least this song opens up the EP perfectly to those lovers of the old ways but leaves a suitable space for those new to the genre.
“Kelly Krogan is English” gets back to basics. Targeted towards those wearing “suits and ties” it brings to light the ever present gap between the classes and defends the ways of those among us who choose music as a way of life. The chorus throws itself into full swing with crowd like chanting, attacking the subject of the song by simply declaring “we have friends in higher places”. Breaking down into a ska like refrain Miz again brings on another bout of rap like vocals this time making no mistake that this is not just a song, this is three minutes and nine seconds of pure fighting spirit and captures the essence of the emotions behind it flawlessly. As for Kelly Krogan?…Your guess is as good as mine!
Character based music seems to be a favourite of the band with the aptly named “My Best Friend Charlie”. Which on the surface appears to be based on a mix between substance abuse and the age old childhood fear of monsters in the cupboard but in this case instead of running from said fear, it talks of embracing it. Enter Charlie, a monster who teaches the young boy of which the song is written that “life isn’t like the movies”, in itself the track is ironic and slightly silly but it has a nice feel to it. This one to me perhaps shares the biggest message of the entire EP, embrace your fears, don’t do drugs and whatever you do, don’t believe your parents when they say there’s no monster in the closet!
As the EP starts to work itself into a close, the penultimate track, entitled “I Am My Own Worst Chaperone” has a more steady, even feel to it. Cutting loose from the bunch this song seems to take advantage of more riff based, bass driven and calmer drum styles as well as a softer vocal compared to the rest of what has already show to be a much harder compilation of music. Mat really gets to show off his talents here, loosing two strings and letting his fingers walk a bit more, allowing the bass to contrast with the rest of the instruments within the song. Again, clearly a song based around substance abuse but this time swaying towards the sex, drugs and Rock & Roll mixture that always seems to rear its head in popular musical culture, regardless of the decade or the genre, solid proof that these boys are the real thing.
In music I always hate to make a comparison but when I found myself listening to “Lancaster Avenue” i found it impossible not to, I couldn’t help myself! With a vocal talent from guitarist Mat reminiscent of the great Tim Armstrong this track could’ve been written by the legends, “Rancid” themselves. This track for me showed an entirely different side to Failure by Design. We’ve had the arrogance, the fighting spirit, the drive of what is clearly four very talented guys, but this one really stood out for me, this one defines the band and sets them comfortably in the shoes that many have tried to fill and have failed.
I am far from saying this EP is perfect, worth paying for or a grand masterpiece worthy of the Hall of Fame, that isn’t for me to decide, but for me it’s raw, it’s honest and it’s a force to be reckoned with. This, ladies and gentlemen, is Punk Rock!
This record was inspired (but does not sound anything like:) by the following bands:
The Wonder Years, Set Your Goals, Brand New, Blink 182, Such Gold, Title Fight, Sum 41, The Ataris, Basement, Rancid, NOFX, The Starting Line, Less Than Jake, The Jam, The Clash, Refused, Crime in Stereo, New Found Glory, Sky Blue and many more that we have forgotten right now.
So we went into the studio a couple of weeks ago and quickly got down two VERY ROUGH demo’s. Their getting mastered and should be with us soon.
Hopefully getting a review of our old five track demo “Call this a demo, PUNK!” done soon, if you would like to do one yourself please email it to email@example.com .. the demo can be downloaded here:
This page is looking pretty damn bare right now, but soon enough it will be full of life and frolics.
Were working hard to record some new material, get some good show’s and give the UK underground pop-punk scene a kick up the ass.
We love what bands such as Basement, Ten Speed Bicycle, Apologies I have none etc, are doing. We have a huge passion for bands like The Wonder Years, Such Gold, Man Overboard, Title Fight, Brand New, Me vs Hero, I Call Fives, Sonic Boom Six, Fireworks, The Movielife blah blah blah
Our sound encompasses our love for all those bands and for many other’s from many genres, hope you stay with us and watch us progress. Come along to our show’s if we play near you!