Smoked & Uncut Festival
The Smoked & Uncut festivals will be taking place this summer with nine festival dates held between June and September, across The Pig and Lime Wood hotels. Set to an eclectic soundtrack, two stages will play host to a line up including the Noisettes, The Blockheads, Ward Thomas, Dr Feelgood and many more. Blackstar will be providing amps for all the festival dates and with a relaxed atmosphere, great music, a passion for great food and all within the New Forest setting the festivals promise to be a highlight of the summer. In conjunction with Smoked & Uncut, Blackstar will be giving away two tickets to a festival of your choice along with a Fly3 amp. Keep an eye on Blackstar’s Facebook page for your chance to win.
Mike Peters - The Alarm - Facebook Takeover
Mike Peters from The Alarm will be live on Blackstar’s Facebook page this Friday the 28th at 7.30pm (GMT). Mike will be performing a few songs, answering questions and talking about their upcoming UK and US tour plus the Vans Warped Tour. Also, from 11pm (GMT) Mike will be taking over Blackstar’s Facebook live from Looney Tunes Records in Babylon, New York to celebrate the release of their rare Record Store Day indie exclusive vinyl soundtrack to the documentary film “Man in the Camo Jacket”. Members of the Love Hope Strength organisation will be on hand doing swabs checking for eligibility for bone marrow donors. It’s a completely voluntary swap and a wonderful organisation. For more information on Mike Peters and the Love Hope Strength Foundation visit http://thealarm.com
Explosive and guttural, Fizzy Blood are aptly named and causing a stir. Releasing their debut EP ‘Feast” in 2015 to widespread praise the band followed this with a formidable live run of shows including support slots with Allusondrugs, The Virginmarys and The Dead Kennedys. They are about to take 2017 by storm and guitarist Benji Inkley and Paul Howells recently visited Blackstar HQ to try a range of amps and will be using an Artisan 30 and a HT Club 50 rig on their upcoming nineteen date run as support to While She Sleeps. This summer will also see Fizzy Blood kick off a hefty festival schedule which will include Camden Rocks, Download, 2000 Trees and Tramlines with more to be announced. The band is also working on their next release which is due later this year so watch this space as Fizzy Blood, powered by Blackstar amps, are set to make one hell of a dent on the UK music scene.
Gutterdammerung - London Palladium
Gutterdammerung, the rock ’n’ roll/film/gig concept from the mind of visual artist Bjorn Tagemose is taking place at the Palladium Theatre in London next week for what will be the first UK appearance of the show this year. Gutterdammerung is part rock show part immersive cinema experience featuring some of the biggest rock names on the planet including Iggy Pop, Grace Jones, Henry Rollins, Lemmy, Joshua Homme and Slash. It is known as the loudest silent movie on earth. Thanks to music director Kevin Armstrong (Iggy Pop’s guitarist) who is a longterm Blackstar endorsee, Gutterdammerung is powered by Blackstar amps. Both guitarist Kevin and Chris Jones are using Series One 1046L6 rigs. For more information visit http://gutterdammerung.com
Venom Prison Interview
Renowned as Britain’s best young death metal band Venom Prison released their debut album, Animus, last year to rave reviews and with a live show to match it has seen the band nominated for the Best New Band award at this years Metal Hammer Golden God awards. We caught up with guitarist Ash Gray to discuss the Blackstar gear used by the band, the making of the album, touring and plans for the future.
Where did it all begin for Venom Prison?
We were all in bands previous to Venom Prison but those bands either broke up or members left their previous band. Myself (Ash) and Larissa got talking about how we’ve always played in hardcore bands and how it would be new and a different approach for us to try and create a metal band, so I started demoing material and spoke to the other members of Venom Prison to see if they’d be down for joining.
You released your debut album, Animus, last year. Can you give us some details on the recording process?
We recorded the album at Vagrant Recordings in Southport with Tom Dring who we instantly clicked with. The album took 6 days in total for tracking. We slept in the studio and started at 9am and would finish up at 4am some days then repeat. When the cabin fever kicks in you really start losing your mind. Personally I feel that’s what adds to the emotion you put into a record, sometimes the most creative things you think of are at the times when your brain can’t even compute but something in your thought process spews out some insanity you would have never of thought of before.
Any plans for the next album?
We have already started writing for our next record, you can’t really sit on an album thinking “oh I’ll write another one when I have to” if you don’t have a constant flow of writing you won’t improve yourself and keep that consistency and progression in your writing. I’m always hungry to write more songs as it is, I’m not saying that’s how it works for everyone but for myself personally this works.
How does the writing process work within the band?
The band gets together with a bunch of ideas, even if it’s a drum pattern to help start a guitar idea or vice versa. We then demo it in a home studio where we can take a step back and listen to what we’ve created. Once we are happy with it, we will go into a room and practice it live then back to the home studio to tweak certain parts. This process pretty much goes back and forth till we are satisfied with what we have.
Do you feel more at home in the studio or on the stage?
I can’t really compare them as I have a strong liking towards both, they both offer different experiences. Studio you watch what you have created get built up section by section until you see the final results which are an unexplainable feeling. The stage you get to show that off but thirty times louder to people that already like the music you’ve released or new people discovering the band. They both go hand in hand.
What Blackstar equipment are you currently using?
I and Ben (Thomas) are using the Blackstar HT-Metal and the HT Metal 412 guitar cabinets.
What made you switch to Blackstar?
We had the pleasure of visiting Blackstar in Northampton for a day to test out equipment, I tried a bunch of heads that I really liked however once I plugged into the HT-Metal 100 I knew this machine would be perfect for the sound Venom Prison needs. I’ve been searching for an amp that can give me the low-end resonance but maintain note definition and clarity, having the two HT-Metal amplifiers play side by side live really cuts through the mix and complements each other perfectly. I haven’t really found a balance as good as this with another amplifier till now.
How was the recent tour with Suicide Silence?
The tour was a success for Venom Prison, we took the tour completely oblivious to how it would be for the band. It was an opportunity to play to a crowd that probably have never heard of the band, the response to the shows and compliments online were positive.
It was your first tour using Blackstar, how did you find the gear on tour?
Great, the Blackstar equipment made the guitar tones sound huge every night. We took out full stack cabinets just to make sure it was loud enough.The gear on tour worked flawlessly every evening and not a single problem arose which is a rare thing to say.
Do you have a favourite country outside of the UK that you enjoy playing the most?
Only being a band for around 2 years now, we haven’t really visited many places twice yet, still discovering what places are the best for the band but generally speaking anywhere in Germany is normally a good show.
Do you have a favourite song to play live?
I can’t really pinpoint one song if I’m honest, they all offer something unique and different throughout the set. Our live set doesn’t have any breaks it’s either song into song or sample then into a song so it feels relentless from start to finish.
What does the future hold for Venom Prison?
This month we leave for our tour with Darkest Hour across UK and Europe, as for Festivals we have Ieper Festival, Void Festival and Download announced. More shows, tours and festivals are to be announced shortly. For recording I can not say a definite date/estimate but we are currently writing and working towards it.
Counterfeit European Tour '17
Counterfeit are in the middle of their European tour and will hit the UK this week. The tour will see the band play twenty eight shows across Europe including ten dates in the UK. The tour is in support of their debut album, Together We Are Stronger which was released on March 17th to rave reviews. All three guitarist in the band use Series One 1046L6 stacks. For more information on the band, the tour and their debut album visit http://therealcounterfeit.com
Ritual Festival 2017
Ritual Festival takes place this weekend in Leeds. The one day, two staged event focuses on the heavier doom/death metal and roughly eighteen to twenty acts will perform throughout the day. Longterm Blackstar endorsee Ihsahn will be headlining the event and along with his guitarist they will be using their Series one stacks. Blackstar will also be providing amps for both stages at the festival. For more information on the festival visit http://www.ritualfest.co.uk/
Hawthorne Heights World Tour 2017
Blackstar Amplification has announced a new partnership with American post-hardcore band Hawthorne Heights. This Dayton, Ohio band will be one of the Headlining bands on the upcoming Warped Tour ‘17, a rock festival already supported by Blackstar, and officially using Blackstar’s HT Venue Amps during their world tour.
“We feel Hawthorne Heights hits its stride with an edgy, creative modern punk pop sound that fits the mindset of the Blackstar brand,” shared Loren Molinare, Blackstar’s US Product Manager. “They have a good rep of being an innovative, hardworking, talented band. We are proud to support them at Play Warped 17 and their world tour,” added Molinare.
"I'm excited to bring the great cleans and amazing crunch tones of Blackstar’s HT Stage 100 on the road with us. Blackstar’s rugged and road-ready HT Venue amps have everything I need for both live and in the studio with Hawthorne Heights. I love the ISF control feature. It offers an amazing amount of versatility in a single head," shared Mark McMillon, Lead Guitar and Vocals for Hawthorne Heights.
For more information on Hawthorne Heights and their upcoming tour visit www.hawthorneheights.com and www.vanswarpedtour.com.
The Basement Sessions
Four times a year Blackstar invite some of their most talented artists to perform in our recording studio called ‘The Basement’. These live sessions are recorded in front of a small, passionate crowd and have resulted in the Basement Sessions, an exciting live music show posted on both our YouTube and Facebook page for the world to enjoy. We have been lucky enough to be graced by the presence of such talent as Jared James Nichols, Dead Sea Skulls, Marcus Bonfanti and Emp!re. With plenty more Basement Sessions in the pipeline we look forward to bringing you the peak in live music. To check out some of The Basement Sessions visit our YouTube page https://www.youtube.com/user/Blackstaramps
Ray BLK was the winner of the BBC Sound of 2017 award beating other promising artist such as Rag ’n’ Bone Man, The Amazons and Declan McKenna to name but a few. She was also nominated for best newcomer at the 2016 MOBO awards and came to prominence after a stunning performance of Later With Jools Holland last year. Ray BLK and her band, which includes Blackstar endorsee Gaetan Judd on guitar, will be supporting Emili Sande on her European tour kicking off in Brixton this week. Gaetan will be using his Artist 30 combo.
Gus G. on tour in Europe
While Firewind is currently on tour in Europe promoting their highly successful new album "Immortals", Gus G. has also announced his next European solo tour for April. This run of dates supporting Steve Stevens will see Gus teaming up with James-Paul Luna (Holy Grail) for some special acoustic sets. Before this Gus will be playing two shows in Japan, Tokyo and Osaka followed by a show in Seoul, South Korea. For more information visit http://www.gusgofficial.com/home.html
The SXSW festival which takes place in Austin, Texas every year is underway. The music festival is the largest of its kind in the world with more than 2200 official performers and bands playing in more than 100 venues. One of these venues is the British Music Embassy which is the hub for all the years British music activity. Blackstar will be providing amps for this venue once again and this year we will also be providing equipment for the Loudwire and CLRVYNT event at Townsquare HQ along with the Laguntas and Flood Magazine events. It promises to be another amazing festival and Blackstar will be there in full force!
Backyard Babies Tour
With 20 years behind them Backyard Babies have not only developed into one of Sweden’s best rock bands but also reached the rest of the world. The band returned to the rock scene after a five years hiatus in 2015, releasing the critically acclaimed album “Four By Four” and they are ready to hit the UK roads once more. The band will join Black Star Riders on a full regional tour and kick off the UK leg in Glasgow this week. Singer and guitarist Nicke Borg is a longterm Blackstar endorsee and will be using his Series One rig for the tour. For more information on the band and the tour visit http://backyardbabies.com
Sex Pistols guitarist and Jonsey's Juke Box host, Steve Jones stopped by the Korg USA/Blackstar artist lounge in LA to pick up his handwired Artisan 30. Steve has been loving the tone of the host of Blackstar artists using the Artisan Series and wanted to get one for himself.
Young Guns European Tour
Young Guns are kicking off their European co-headline tour with Lower Than Atlantis this weekend. The tour will see them play twelve dates across the Europe with the UK leg of the tour starting in Norwich next week. Young Guns guitarist Fraser Taylor is a longterm Blackstar Endorsee and will be using his Series One rig for the tour. For more information visit http://www.weareyoungguns.com