Thrash Hits Verdict: Once again, Leeds is putting the rest of the UK to shame. Black Moth are the latest in a line of superb bands coming out of the North of England right now – you’ll be seeing even more Future Hits from Yorkshire over the coming weeks. Black Moth caught our attention when we found out they had been taken under the wing (pun intended) of Gentlemans Pistols‘ frontman and guitarist, James Atkinson. Our interest was cemented when we heard their quite frankly awesome blend of riffs and wails. We caught up with the band’s vocalist, Harriet Hyde, to find out just what it is about the North that keeps producing such killer bands.
Describe your sound in 3 words.
Filthy winged beasts
How did you meet?
Jimmy [Swainston, guitar] and I met in school and have been in bands together since we were 13. Dave [bass] joined us when we were at uni and we formed a 60s garage band called The Bacchae who were influenced by The Stooges, The Monks, The Sonics etc… then Dom [drums] joined us a couple of years ago. We started to get much heavier in our song writing so we stopped trying to restrict our sound to an era and just followed our rapidly increasing infatuation with darker, heavier stoner/doom riffs. Thus, Black Moth was born. And our latest addition, Nico, only joined us on second guitar a couple of months ago. He’s in a super sweet rockabilly band called X-Ray Cat Trio so his style is very different to Jimmy’s but will certainly bring an interesting new element to the pot.
What made you want to start a band?
I think we were all born with the innate knowledge that that’s what we were going to do because none of us remembers a time when we weren’t trying to form a band of some sort. On my part, some of my earliest and strongest memories are of headbanging to Sabbath records with my Dad or dancing around to the Supremes with my Mum. PJ Harvey was a huge early inspiration, I thought she was amazing and captivating and I wanted to be a strong woman performer like her. We love what we do and follow it with feverish fixation.
Where did the name come from?
After living with an obscure, unpronounceable, unspellable name like The Bacchae, we just wanted something fierce that instantly evoked our sound. The idea is rooted in evolutionary theory of “industrial melanism” – where nature gets blacker and blacker in response to pollutants darkening the landscape. I have always loved the imagery of the moth though, particularly in Tennessee Williams’ poem ‘Lament for the Moths’, where the moths are the artists of the world that are downtrodden by mammoths. A battle cry to kick against the pricks! Or at least waft them away with your big, beautiful wings…
Where did you grow up? How do you think it’s affected your music?
We all grew up in different places, myself and Jim down south until the age of 16 when we moved to Leeds, Nick and Dom in the North West, and Dave in Hull. I think more than “where”, it would be “when” that’s affected our influences. We are grew up in the 90s age of grunge and all loved bands like Nirvana, Pixies, Mudhoney and Soundgarden as kids. I think this period of music is still an influence on us, although obviously our tastes have evolved a lot since then.
Why do you think Leeds seems to punch above its weight (at least in comparison to other, similar-sized cities in the UK) when it comes to heavy music?
It’s undeniable that Leeds and Bradford are frothing at the gash with bad ass heavy rock bands. Perhaps there is something in the water that is imbuing us Northerners with our gnarly talents…. But it is surely in part due to the brilliant support network of quality venues, cheap, well-run rehearsal spaces and “good guy” promoters. We have access to quality records and impeccable advice from Jumbo, Crash and Relic, and some excellent venues that support local heaviness such as Santiago’s (our spiritual home), The Brudenell, and The Cockpit… Although we’re gutted to have lost The Well recently to “The Man”. Where we once saw Black Cobra, Weedeater, Earth and Kylesa, smug dullards will now wine and dine.
Can you explain your connection to Gentlemans Pistols to our readers?
We’ve known Atko (James Atkinson) for years and used to go along to his club nights such as Hard Ride when we were 18 and that’s where we first heard Gentlemans Pistols play live. We’ve always thought they were an incredible band and have followed them ever since. They just get better and better. When we formed our own band (initially The Bacchae), Atko recorded and produced our demo for us and he did the same for Black Moth. This time, he and Jim Moth set up a label and new club night for the release of a 7″ single: ‘The Articulate Dead’. They named it High Magik. Unfortunately there have only been two High Magik club nights so far due to multiple band commitments, but when they do come around, they’re pretty special.
We’ve supported Gents on a couple of occasions and both have been an honour. They are a huge inspiration to us and Atko has given us plenty of sound advice in the time we’ve known him. They’re also a fucking hoot – hazy memories of certain members performing strip teases along the bar of our local pub etc, etc…
So far, what has been the best thing about being in a band?
Touring, this is by far the most fun thing about being in a band, and it’s why you do it despite all the trials and tribulations. It’s ten times better than going on holiday or just travelling around as a tourist as you’re going directly to your kind of people in every city you visit. Recording is fun too, but nothing beats going on tour, especially in Germany where they take you into their homes and treat you like family. We’ve made some amazing friends.
Having said all this we have just had an amazing studio experience. The ten days spent recording our debut album, The Killing Jar, at 2FLY in Sheffield with our producer Jim Sclavunos (Drummer of Grinderman and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds) and engineer Dave Sanderson was the most fun we’ve ever had offstage. Layering up different sounds and seeing what weird and wonderful effects would work within the context of our songs… It was ultimately very rewarding as we are stoked with the results! It will be released on 07 May through New Heavy Sounds.
Watch an album teaser for Black Moth’s forthcoming full-length, :
What bands do you consider as part of your scene or as your peers?
I think everyone knows there is a pretty immense scene for heavy music in West Yorkshire at the minute. Too name but a few: Hawk Eyes, Pulled Apart by Horses, Humanfly, These Monsters, Shields, Blacklisters, That Fucking Tank, Normal Man, Mother/Destroyer and Cut Yourself In Half. All gloriously heavy but in entirely different ways… And outside of Leeds, bands that very much excite us include The Bendal Interlude, Turbowolf, and London’s growing doom scene including the likes of Slabdragger, Throne and Limb.
What’s the best and/or funniest show you’ve played?
Best show ever has to be last time we played at the Alte Hackerei in Karslruhe, Germany. After a total van disaster, we arrived just in the nick of time in a taxi that cost the insurance company £500. The venue was packed full of party people. We must have played about two encores and ended up repeating songs and dredging up old covers as we ran out of material… the crowd kept literally screaming for more. Germans fucking rule.
What other band should everyone find out about?
Fellow Leeds band Blacklisters. They are about to release their debut album on the excellent Brew Records – and going on how immense they are live, it’s going to be fierce as hell.
As you’ve no doubt read above, Black Moth’s debut album, The Killing Jar, is out on 07 May 2012 on New Heavy Sounds. We’ve already heard it and it is a beast. Whether you live north or south, you’ll be able to catch Black Moth performing live later this Spring, as they’ll be playing at both Live At Leeds and this year’s Camden Crawl.