Wednesday, April 26, 2023

CHECK THIS OUT | 'Loud, Bright and Violent' - Sunshine Riot

With latest single 'Man on the TV', Boston's Sunshine Riot have rounded out and released their Loud, Bright and Violent EP.

We've covered other tracks from this one here at Tour Bus Tunes, so it would be amiss if we didn't give a shout out to the final unheard number from this one - especially because it's another banger. Big crashing choruses are unleashed between more reserved verses. Clever and stylish guitar work runs throughout, adding an extra touch of class...much like how the track adds more quality to an already excellent outing in Loud, Bright and Violent.

'I'm not sure we're ever trying to make any uniform statement with any record… we just do the best we can to find some songs that we hope folks will enjoy,' says vocalist Jonny Orton about the EP. 'That said, I suppose we are saying ‘Sunshine Riot ain't dead yet and our distortion pedals still work.’ We continue to feel awfully lucky to still be making music together. Been a weird few years, in the music world and beyond, so it feels pretty darn good to put this one out.'


Loud, Bright and Violent is out now.

For all things Sunshine Riot click here.

Friday, April 21, 2023

INTERVIEW | 'Your Dreams Are Worth Fighting For' - Faïnn Talks New Single 'Golden' and Returning To Performing

found her voice again.

After a vocal injury derailed her performing career, the Nashville songstress took not just a step but an entire leap back from the stage. Now, after a little detour via the publishing world and vocal coaching, she's back doing what she loves most - and her latest track, 'Golden', taken from an upcoming EP, is proof that she's never sounded better.

She took some time to chat with us about her journey, the new single and her plans for the year! 

You've had an interesting musical journey to get to this point right now, on the cusp of releasing your debut EP. It's also an inspiring journey as you came back from a vocal injury...and you came back from a place where, is it fair to say, you retreated from all things performing?

I honestly stopped doing everything. It all came to a head my last year in college. I walked away from my senior recital thinking 'I'm never going to sing again'. I didn't sing for five years. I didn't do anything. I didn't write, I didn't sing. Physically and emotionally, it was painful.

Working in the music business, especially in publishing, I spent most of [that] career working alongside songwriters and they're just so inspiring. At that point in time, I thought I was never writing again. Just being around some wonderful people writing music got the fire going in me again. It came with my voice first - I didn't even contemplate writing. I just wanted to start singing. That was what I grew up doing, it was my first love. I started tiptoeing and all of the things I said I'd never do again were the things I ended up doing. 

You did retrain as a vocal coach. Was that retraining and refocusing to this new career one of those little tiptoes back into the realms of performing? Or was it just from a point where you loved singing and wanted to remain, in some way, part of that sphere?

It was a little bit of both. I was fortune to have great relationships with voice teachers in my life. My first teacher, I was in middle school, she helped me grow as a musician so much. Then in college, I had a great relationship with my teacher too. It was one of those things where I appreciated what that brings to a vocalist, the things that you can learn - how your voice works, what you do well and working one on one with someone. I really responded well to that and I wanted to be a part of that again in some way. At the time I wasn't really thinking about performing, I wanted to learn more about the voice and how it works and help other people...and if I got more comfortable singing too then great! 

Did that decision to transition to a vocal coach ultimately prove to be a blessing in disguise and bring out a better understanding of your own voice?

It really did help me. Learning more about how the voice works and the science behind it helped to inform me and reference back like 'oh, maybe that wasn't the best decision to lock myself in a practice room for hours a day and hammer things'. I learned how to be kind to my voice because I'm a very driven person. If you tell me to do something, I want to do it perfectly. Earlier in life, I was going for that perfection. That was my goal and that isn't attainable. I was wearing myself out in the process. That was a big learning thing. Having a better relationship and being kind to my voice and knowing when to stop and take breaks...that sounds like something that should be intuitive but it's not always. Teaching and coaching other vocalists now, I see that's a common trait in a lot of singers to keep going and 'get it right'...but that's not always the best thing, you can run yourself into the ground.

What was it that finally gave you the push to pursue performing again? And writing? And, ultimately, this EP?

It was one of those 'I'm never going to do this' things. I had it in my head that I was a terrible writer. Working with a lot of songwriters, I saw what great songs were and I didn't feel like I met that bar. At first,  I was like 'I'm not going to write, I'm just going to release covers'. It helps me flex more of a creative muscle - I started with songs from the 80s, taking those and finding a different way to interpret them. That's where it began. 

I actually started wanting to work towards an EP but I was too scared. There were things that I wanted to say but I thought someone else could say it better. I started reaching out to songwriter friends and saying 'I'm looking for some songs and this is what I'm going for'. I had the idea of what I wanted to say and so I had [them] start sending me things. Some of those things were great. The title track of the EP, 'Force', is not a song that I wrote. It's a song that my producer wrote and it's absolutely incredible. The more I started listening to other songs, the more I was like 'there's nothing quite like saying things specifically yourself' That's when I started getting back into writing and really fell back in love with it pretty quickly - like 'why was I so scared of this?' *laughs* Finding the write people to co-write with has been a really big help. I'm writing with wonderful people and it's a fun collaborative experience.

Your latest track, 'Golden', is one of those songs you wrote for this upcoming EP! And it's a beautiful track for your husband, a sweet thank you to him for all his support...and we love it! But what was his reaction when he heard it? When did you first share it with him?

I actually played the work tape for him that day. He's such an emotional guy, he cried *laughs*. He cries more than I do and it's great. I've written a few songs about him but that one got him!

The song came to life with help from close friends. When writing and recording, especially coming back into music, it must be special to get to share and create all that with a close circle...

Starting off working on this EP, one of my best friends Femke - who is a songwriter/producer - we met when I was working at the publishing company - she was a writer, I've known her for ten years. That was really special to have our friendship experienced in a different way as we hadn't worked together. That's been really great. 

'Golden' especially, writing it with my friend Julie Lavery, man...that was such a special thing. This was one of the more recent songs that I wrote, it was about a year ago. I wasn't planning on putting it on the EP. I had another song in mind but as we were putting the songs together, [that] one song felt [like] it was too dark and a little too depressing *laughs*. I love dark and depressing songs but it didn't quite fit what I was trying to say. I had played 'Golden' a couple of times at some shows last year and that was the one that people kept coming up and saying 'I really liked that one' so [I thought] let's just record it. Writing it with Julie, she has such a great relationship with her husband, Spencer, who co-produced this one [so] I knew she was the perfect person to write a song about a marriage and having a great relationship.

That song is, obviously, a very personal one. Is it important for you to share a vulnerable side with your music?

Definitely. I always try to be super honest in all of my songs, everything that I write. Sometimes it's really scary but with this one, the only pressure I felt was that I didn't want to write a super cheesy love song. My husband and I have been together for seventeen years. We've seen a lot of ups and downs and life together. I wanted it to mean something and have depth to it and I think we did that. Being vulnerable is hard but is the most important thing. There's satisfaction when a song is complete and you've been honest. 

What I adore about your music is that it's not confined to one thing, one genre. There's a wealth of different things about it that makes it sound so great. What, especially when it comes to this upcoming EP, have been your influences?

I really love big cinematic sounds. Lana Del Ray is definitely an influence. The artist Léon, she's indie-pop and has these beautiful cinematic swirls in her music that I absolutely love. We went kind of went, especially with 'Sometimes', with a 90s/early 00s Dido vibe - I love going back and listening to her stuff, it's so good, the production is amazing! These last two songs 'Golden' and 'Force', feel a little like Florence and the Machine for me - I love her so much.

We have that EP to look forward to but what else does the year have in store for you?

I'm getting ready to do a residency at a place in East Nashville. I'm excited about that and getting out and performing a lot more. I'm hoping, sometime, to make it over to the UK. That's definitely a goal to come and play some shows. Honestly, [I'm] just really excited to start working on the next thing. I've already been working on some ideas for the next project and starting to write as well. This EP has been so special being my first one and I've learned so much from it. I'm excited to dig in and start something new.

And, finally, to close things out...what do you want people to gain from listening to your music?

I want people to take away a sense of hope. That's a really big thing. I love a good sad song, of course, but I really want people to listen to my music and feel encouraged. That whatever is going in their life, things are going to be okay eventually. That was the sentiment of 'Sometimes' but I want that to be an ongoing theme. Your dreams are worth fighting for - that's what I say all the time, because for a long time I didn't think mine were. 


For all things Faïnn, click here.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

HOT TRACK | 'Tormentor' - Enter Sceptre

Enter...Enter Sceptre with their captivating new single 'Tormentor'.

Enter Sceptre is Cascina Caradonna's brainchild, with 'Tormentor' their second single - debut 'Majesty' dropped at the start of the year. Both releases set an exciting yet perhaps enigmatic foundation, one that is undoubtedly solid yet, in some senses, very much like quicksand...because you find yourself being pulled into these atmospheric pieces - worlds - that Cascina is creating.

'Tormentor' brings ominous vibes, opening with orchestral tones, vocals rippling out as the track builds and builds into a brilliant burst of synths, Cascina's enchanting voice carrying the transition of sounds. It's brilliant and bold, striking and stylish.

'I started with the line, 'you don’t know, where I go, my Tormentor' as the melody came to me during a stale class one morning. I wrote verse after verse in my notebook, nodding my head every so often to assure the teacher I was in agreement with her lecture. Back at home that night I began crafting the beat, pads and lead line for the instrumental bit. The bulk of the song made me want to dance, and was so upbeat and happy,' Cascina shares about the track. 'There had to be more pain. I crafted an intro out of violins, and pretty soon had two completely separate songs on my hands. Transitioning from one section to the other was a complete accident as the delay effect on my vocals was being modulated as the tempo rose. The feedback of it in the silence was so good that I kept it as it was, and enjoyed the journey the song presented itself as.'

More music is slated to come this year and we at Tour Bus Tunes can't wait.


For all things Enter Sceptre click here.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

HOT TRACK | 'Don't Wake Me' - Already Dead & BOS The Rapper


Photo Credit: Berto Media

Already Dead and BOS The Rapper team up on 'Don't Wake Me', delivering a slamming track which you'd be forgiven for thinking was their everyday presentation rather than a rare tag team.

Their dynamic is dynamite. Already Dead's punk meets BOS (pronounced boss)'s hip-hop, the different styles meshing wonderfully and wickedly. A song for the dreamers, it inspires a desire to get out and see the world and, most importantly, let your dreams drive you.

Definitely check this one out.

'It's about traveling, the desire to move, and see new places and being restless when you're stuck in one spot. I love an open highway at night, driving and seeing the bright lights of a big city I've never been to creep towards me. Something inside always wants to be some place I haven't seen, having a beer with someone I haven't met. It's about dreaming of music being the vehicle that makes it happen, touring and performing in buildings we might never see again.' - BOS The Rapper on the track.

'Don't Wake Me' is out now.

For all things Already Dead click here, and for all things BOS The Rapper click here.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

INTERVIEW | 'Art Shouldn't Be Filtered' - Charlie & Margot Talk 'Joyride' and Solo Endeavours

Don't let the name trick you. Charlie & Margot is one man - one man who has, finally, decided to go things on his own.

Joyride is Matteo DeBenedetti's debut record, one that has been a longtime coming. After years cutting his teeth in various bands, Matteo decided to step into the spotlight and launch his own solo project. The result? Charlie & Margot and an absolutely stellar first record.

Matteo took some chat to chat with us about going solo for this artistic endeavour! 


One of your singles, 'lonely', was written about self-evaluation about a time of isolation - quarantine - and the months that followed. How much of this album, Joyride, was born out of those quarantine times?  

That's a good question. It's more indirect than anything. I was playing in another band, and the quarantine era sorta proved to be the death of that band which led to me starting this. So it's indirectly related. 

Covid-19 and everything that came with it was incredibly transformative for me and my whole life, being an artist and learning what it means to take time and self-evaluate [which] I had a lot of time to do. In a lot of ways, it had a lot to do with the way these songs were written but none of them were, per se, written during quarantine.

Something that I was going through during that time and [something] that song is heavily influenced by is that my wife and I, for the entire duration of our relationship, the norm was for me to be away for a few weeks, touring and travelling. When that moment in time happened, I was obviously forced to be at home. It was so weird. It was the first time in our relationship where we were just together all the time. I didn't know what that was like because I was so used to not having that be the case.

Do you ever feel apprehensive about sharing those songs that show those more vulnerable feelings and experiences? Those personal sort of songs?

Yes, there is but that's the whole reason I make music. It allows me's such a corny thing to say but music is very therapeutic and, for me, that's such an important thing to be able to experience. I have had songs that have definitely specifically been written about a person or something. I'm a hard believer that art shouldn't be filtered regardless of who or what it is about. For me, it is totally a cathartic release to write about stuff in songs. It is difficult and it does makes me embarrassed sometimes when my wife or somebody else that I've written a song about says 'is this song about me?' *laughs* But, you know, it's art. That's the way it goes. Nothing is off limits.

You also have 'sleeping', a song that's about taking things into your own hands, and realising that need to do so. With that band falling through due to the pandemic and you, now, being here as a solo artist, was that song - and that realisation - one that had been bubbling away in you for a while?

I guess so, in a way. Very early on, I was able to recognise that 'I want to be in charge of this'. It was always tough for me, and it's probably making me sound like a control freak. That's ultimately what led to the formation of this project. I was in this other band and, towards the end of it, we were not getting along. I'm still good friends with the two of them but it was just really tough. When the pandemic happened, it just got more and more tough and that's when it all came to fruition at the same time. 

That's pretty much what that song is about. It was a hard thing for me to realise. I have been in many different projects in my life and they've all came to the same point where I'm just like 'man, I wanna step away from this because it's not fulfilling'. That's what that song is about.

Even though it was the best creative decision for yourself, was it still a daunting prospect to go solo? You'd always been in bands, it must've been a big transition from having others to just yourself.

It was daunting. It's still a little scary for me to deal with. There are a whole other set of nuances and things to figure out when you're doing it alone. The creative side of things is great because I don't have to worry about disagreements. But, then, there's always something that is gained from collaborating, in my opinion, that isn't there anymore. If somebody doesn't like a song, it's fully my responsibility *laughs* I can't say 'oh, so-and-so wrote that part'. No, I wrote it all, it's a hundred percent me. It's terrifying in a lot of ways. It's great in a lot of ways. It's a tricky thing. For all the issues that aren't there, there are issues that are there. I don't have anybody to talk to about things I'm wondering, and I don't have anyone to share the burden of organising or booking stuff. It's a lot more work.

It is a solo venture but you worked with Erik Kase Romero, a close friend, who produced the record. What is it like to work with him?

He was actually in the last band that I was talking about. Erik is one of my all time favourite people. I met him about ten years ago. I was playing in a band and we went to a studio. Erik was the house engineer and producer at this studio. We immediately were friends. We have this parallel, our paths have been very parallel for the last ten years. It's nice that I can reach out to him as a friend and he's willing to work on my stuff. He's an in demand producer and does such good work. It's nice that I can always count on him.

With him being in that previous band, right before you decided to make this move, was there any hesitation on your part to ask him to help be a part of this project?

No, not at all. He's someone that I have learned a lot about music and art and relationships from. He's somebody that I, at this point in my life, feel comfortable to ask anything. I would say that it was even a good way to put aside any bitterness of the other project dissolving and help us move forward.

Joyride's album art is strikingly very simplistic, with it simply being the album title written on a white background. Was that done pointedly, to make the focus be on the music as opposed to the album art?

Yes and no. Each of the singles have had a film photo. What I've been doing, over the course of the last four years, is get more into photography...but in a funny way. I started shooting photos of  things that are seemingly mundane - [such as] my dogs around the house, my wife laying on the couch, the TV, the light, the outside of our house...just random photos. I had this realisation. I have all these photos on my phone and they're different things, people posing and doing funny things. [But] the things that I'm going to want to see, in forty years when I look back, are not the funny photos of people posing and doing stupid stuff. I'm going to want to see the inside of my house when nobody knew there was a photo being taken. Candid, mundane things. So I started snapping tons of [those] photos and that was the genesis of the idea of the record. I wanted to capture this feeling of a specific point in my life and what I was going through. That's what the songs are about, what the single artwork have been about. 

For the record cover, I was sifting through hundreds and hundreds of photos. I sifting and sifting and sifting and I couldn't find one that I felt completely summed up the feeling of the record. I had a handful of people scribble the word 'joyride' on a piece of paper. That one is my cousin's, she put that and sent it to me. The plan is that we're going to do completely blank vinyl art - there's going to be a vinyl release in the next couple of months - and that's the cover. Inside there's going to be a compilation of all the photos that I have taken and meshed together into one.'


Joyride is out now.

For all things Charlie & Margot, click here

Thursday, April 6, 2023

PREMIERE | Joyride - Charlie & Margot

Tour Bus Tunes are thrilled to bring you an exclusive first listen of Joyride, the exciting debut album from Charlie & Margot.

The musical project of Matteo DeBenedetti, a New Jersey native who cut his teeth playing the east coast DIY circuit, Charlie & Margot sees DeBenedetti step into the spotlight with his own music...and, man, the results are wonderful.

The record was produced by longtime friend, Erik Kase Romero.

'Erik is one of my all time favourite people. I met him about ten years ago. I was playing in a band and we went to a studio. Erik was the house engineer and producer at this studio. We immediately were friends. We have this parallel, our paths have been very parallel for the last ten years,' Matteo shared with us. 'It's nice that I can reach out to him as a friend and he's willing to work on my stuff. He's an in demand producer and does such good work. It's nice that I can always count on him.'

The cover art is simple yet striking and, even more excitingly, designs are already in place for an upcoming vinyl release.

'I had a handful of people scribble the word 'joyride' on a piece of paper. That one is my cousin's, she put that and sent it to me. The plan is that we're going to do completely blank vinyl art - there's going to be a vinyl release in the next couple of months - and that's the cover. Inside there's going to be a compilation of all the photos that I have taken and meshed together into one.' 

Joyride officially releases tomorrow but you can check it out NOW below, exclusively on Tour Bus Tunes.

For all things Charlie & Margot, click here

Stay tuned for our interview with Matteo coming next week.

Monday, April 3, 2023

REVIEW | 'Minnesota Fats' - Robotic Hawks

Robotic Hawks are 'three old bald guys' (vocalist Tyler Pollard's words, not mine!) who, on their latest offering Minnesota Fats bring the energy.

Above all else, they bring heart.

Take the title track. Through using the life story of the man dubbed 'Minnesota Fats', a pool hustler called Rudolf Wanderone, the trio deftly use the analogy to explore the struggles and challenges of being a musician. It's smart songwriting and the result is wonderful, inspiring as it tells of perseverance in the name of art - and with its perfect combination of bass, guitars and drums, is one of those addictive songs, a song that you can't help but bop along to. With fun choruses, it's hard not to be joining in with this song in some capacity...or finding yourself relating to.

'I felt the story served as a great parallel to the struggles of musicians and artists. To non-artists, lack of financial success or global domination represents failure, losing,' Pollard shares. 'However, to me, I’m still here, I’m still playing and writing music that I’m proud of, which overrides that negative expectation/perception. Music is my purpose and my unwillingness to stop doing it makes me a winner. So, I guess ‘Fats’ is really about self-awareness, self-validation, ownership, and perspective. All artists are losers and winners, depending on who you ask.'

In the middle of the pack is 'Turn Away'. Soundwise, it contrasts the lyrics - its got that strong driving anthem-esque feeling about it, sonically, yet lyrically it's about someone who is 'hopelessly fading' as they deal with all the emotional implications from the breakdown of a relationship. And that contrast? That contrast works, ultimately creating this sense of optimism that shit happens but we can continue. I like that, and I like these guys' spin on this sort of situation.

'I'm Not Your Man' is a cover, the original having been released in 1986 by Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers. I wasn't familiar with the track myself, admittedly, but after listening to it after hearing this version, I can safely say it was an inspired choice, and an even more inspired interpretation - there's real affection for this track from these guys, it's obvious. It opens with a piercing riff, immediately grabbing you, before breaking into a bluesy rock number with a brilliant bassline. It feels wonderfully throwback, leaning at a perfectly retro angle and, yet, has the potential to feel infinitely fresh. 

I finished this EP with a smile on my face, and the absolute need to hit replay.

Give it a listen and brighten up your Monday (or any day)!

Track List

1. Minnesota Fats

2. Turn Away

3. I'm Not Your Man


Minnesota Fats is out now

For all things Robotic Hawks click here.

INTERVIEW | 'Songwriting Is The Ultimate Test of Vulnerability' - Samantha LaPorta

Songwriting is the ultimate test of vulnerability. That's what Samantha LaPorta believes, and it is something that shines though her mu...