Words and Pictures: Adrian Hextall / MindHex Media
There’s something about The Water Rats. A feeling as you walk through the door to suggest you’re entering something with more than a hint of colour, more than a dollop of history and more importantly the sense that you’re entering a venue that not only serves up some cracking beer and grub but also has played and continues to play host to some of the foremost rock bands that our fair country has produced over the last 50 plus years.
It’s legacy goes back to the 1500’s and if you click HERE, then you’ll find out some of the immense facts about the place. This, my dear American chums, is what history in your capital city really looks like.
Our story dates back to the 1980’s when the premises were bought by “The Grand Order of Water Rats”, a showbiz charity organisation, who have had legends such as Charles Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy, Norman Wisdom and current “King Rat” Rick Wakeman within their ranks. And so, the venue’s name was changed to “The Water Rats”. Many other bands have added to the rich tapestry of the venue’s history, Including the London debuts of both “Oasis” in January 1994, and “The Beta Band” in July 1997. Adding to these, Katy Perry, The Courteeners and Ra Ra Riot also appeared here prior to international success.
At the same time the premises turned into the venue we know so well today, a small band was forming in Christchurch, New Zealand. Desperate Measures have been around since the 1980’s but it’s now, that lead singer and Editor of Vive le Rock magazine Eugene Butcher, having relocated to London and in true Blues Brothers style, has put the band back together. We therefore find a revamped and re-energised lineup that just wants to play good music for the masses. “How long are you guys on for tonight?” an excited voice asks Eugene and drummer James Sherry before the show. “Oh about 30, maybe 40 minutes max. Any longer than that and we’ll get really tired!” Who says rock ‘n’ roll is dead eh?
The tight set times in reality mean that we also get a couple of other quality acts thrown into the mix and that can only make the evening so much the better. It just helps add to The Water Rats wonderful musical legacy at the end of the day and how is that a bad thing?
First out of the door, a bassist and drummer duo, Yur Mum. If I stopped there, you’d say ‘huh?’ and move on but… keep reading dear friends because Yur Mum hail originally from Brazil and play a mix of punk rock with some great alternative rock elements thrown into the equation as well. The bass guitar played by lead vocalist Anelise Kunz is pushed through pedals and amps to give her sound as much of a lead guitar feel as it does bass and in drummer Fabio Couto the due have someone who gives them power and depth with each track.
You can’t pin Yur Mum to a particular genre because they blend punk, grunge, desert rock and have enough about them to retain their Brazilian music sensibilities to keep everything wholly unique. I tried to tell my best friend that Yur Mum is quite aggressive and loud and that I’d like to put them aside to really get to grips with them. One misunderstanding and a slap later and we finally agreed that Yur Mum (and not Your Mum) really need to be heard live because the energy and passion they project has to be experienced first hand.
New single Say Say is out on June 21st – Click HERE for more info.
The Heat Inc.
An Englishman, a Parisian (because Frenchman is apparently insulting) and two Italians (one of whom is really a Berliner and the other who lives in the UK) walk into a bar. What should lead nicely into joke just gave me an aneurysm trying to think that through but what it does mean is that the main support are in place and ready to perform in advance of the night’s headliners. Based in London, the band (with drummer Maurizio Vitale flying in from Berlin as an when needed on the stool) have recently ramped up the number of gigs they are playing in advance of their debut album, ‘Asleep In The Ejector Seat’, being released. The album is a banger (review to follow soon) and will only be available initially on a limited run of 300 copies on vinyl and is out on July 21st.
Their set, another tight 30 odd minutes is like the perfect bottle of red wine, containing a glorious bouquet with hints of The Rolling Stones, Stooges, Ramones, The Clash, Nick Cave and Pixies. With the wind blowing in the right direction, you’ll also get a dash of Blondie, and more than a hint of Jim Morrison at his finest from energetic front man Jon Dodd.
It’s difficult to really say just what makes them one of the most exciting live bands treading the boards at the moment but each one of the quartet brings not only their unique sound to the mix but a little bit of their heritage and culture as well and that, I think, makes all the difference.
The raft of singles that have hit the airwaves since mid ’21 got an airing with personal favourite ‘Draw Blood For Proof’ giving me the widest of grins as the band thundered through notable events over the last 70 plus years. A conversation with Jon is needed to get to the bottom of the lyrics as there’s much to digest and a lot of digging to do to truly understand what the band have to say.
Marco Simoncelli brings a dirty, fuzz driven sound to the songs and if he’s not hitting overdrive to punch the song into the brain then Nicolas Rigot is found with a bass that can hammer home the message in case you didn’t quite get it the first time. Maurizio Vitale, the resident Berlitalian as we shall henceforth refer to him remains a veritable powerhouse of energy and as a result there were signs of visible awe in the crowd.
This bodes so well for the band’s show in at Retro, Manchester on June 5th Tickets can be found HERE:
‘Asleep in the Ejector Seat’ can be purchased HERE:
The reformed and supremely energised Desperate Measures clearly needed a UK base to allow them to develop finally start releasing the music that the original band had threatened to do back in the 80’s.
With Eugene Butcher front and centre, and bassist Ricky McGuire (U.K SUBS, The Men They Couldn’t Hang) to his left, the band is completed by former K-Line/Done Lying Down drummer James Sherry along with (currently on day release from Rich Ragany and The Digressions), former Glitterati guitarist Gaff.
It’s a line up that brings home the raw energy and impact of the band that delivered the 4 track ‘1984’ EP, and ‘Wasted Again’, highlighting just how good the punk scene could have been in New Zealand. Logically though, what better place than London, the true home of punk rock, for a Desperate Measures rebirth.
Eugene roared, swore and gestured as only a true professional could do with Gaff looking every inch the reincarnation of Joey Ramone peeling off lick after lick and riff after riff. Ricky and James, again the seasoned pros (and no, that’s not suggesting an age thing more that it’s better to know what you’re doing than being young, sounding shit and calling it Punk Rock!) presented a formidable rhythm section.
It was also launch day as May 12th saw the band release latest single ‘Back To The Rats’ which also sounded great live as did the stupendous ‘Lost Angels’.
With tracks off recent EP ‘Rinsed’ reminding us just what to look forward to when new album drops in October this year, Desperate Measures did what they promised to do when asked how long they were on stage for. They came, saw, played, left a significant impact and departed… most likely for the bar! And why not ?
The band also play Call of the Wild festival at the end of May,
and can also be seen at Rebellion Festival (of course) where they will be playing alongside Yur Mum as well.