The Latest from The Union Choir

The Union Choir have just released the video for Your Melodica, one side of the AA release on the 28th January (the other is set-favourite Lavender).

Like debut single Eleanor (which I have a tiny cameo on), it’s being released by Cottage Industries.

Here’s the video. Predictably, it’s lush. I want a knitted version of Jon.

The Union Choir Your Melodica from David Wala on Vimeo.

I’d like to write a review and that, but I’d be totally and utterly biased, (can you blame me?). However, I will say that the first time I heard this was on my last night as a Newcastle resident, the evening of the Royal Wedding. The band played an acoustic version of the track and it felt like the perfect way to end my time in the North. In true ‘me’ style I turned up in the midst of genius Nev Clay’s set (who paused his song and gave commentary) and saw out the evening with the band and a few pints in the Head of Steam. The first time I saw Nev was my first outing ‘with the band’ so it all felt… ‘right’, but also made me not want to leave!

I’m hoping that The Union Choir ‘do a Let’s Buy Happiness‘ and publish a lovely lyric book packed with Jon-Melvin-anecdotes…


Pre-order your copy here.

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The Get Frank Podcast #3

It’s podcast time, and this month it’s ‘The One With… The Union Choir

I was really excited to interview Jon from The Union Choir as I’ve had the privilege of rehearsing and performing with the band. It’s one of those insights that not many interviewers are lucky to have, so I hope I made the most of the opportunity in the interview!

Frankie Ward and Jon Melvin

Hanging out with Jon from The Union Choir

The podcast is quite mellow this time, and I look back after recording it and wonder where all the female artists went – something I shall rectify in the next episode I’m sure. There are, however, some fantastic bands in this episode, and they stretch from the North East through to Southampton so hopefully I’m spreading out my regions a bit!

So who have I got on the podcast this time? Well I kick things off with one of those artists you’ll never forget seeing live; solo medical student Fran O’Hanlon, aka Ajimal. He’s the songwriter that, together with Martin Longstaff (The Lake Poets), is never omitted from debates on Newcastle’s best bands. Continuing the Newcastle trend, I couldn’t resist popping a top track by the North East’s most entertaining and witty act, Brilliant Mind.

In honour of one of the gigs I attended in June, I bring you a track from Pengilly’s, having had the pleasure of seeing the band in question play a strong set at The Lexington. In support of my interview with Jon, I also play two of the acts that played on the same bill as The Union Choir at Camden’s Dublin Castle; Southampton’s Doyle and the Fourfathers and guitar-tapping maestro Daryl Kellie.

If you’d like to be on the next podcast, please drop me a line by emailing frankiepromotes@gmail.com or tweeting @getfrank.

Head over to Podomatic to have a listen to the podcast now – and be sure to leave me a comment here (if you have one)

The Get Frank Podcast #2

I recently published the second of my Get Frank podcast series.

As I’ve moved to London, it’s taken a bit longer to get this episode out! I’m still learning, but I’m just starting on episode 3 now, which will feature an interview with Jon Melvin of The Union Choir (and I’m happy to report has far superior audio quality to the previous two interviews for the podcast as we managed to find a noise-free room!)

The current episode of the podcast features Matt and Matt of the wonderful Vets in Hong Kong. The London based trio defy expectations with their (mostly) acoustic lineup of instruments, creating brooding, occasionally violent sounding arrangements. Their recent self-titled EP features a mixture of DIY and studio produced recordings and is packed full of memorable melodies that are quite impossible to shake off. Live, the band’s sound comes alive with Matt Reay’s impressive percussion, which is a theatrically rhythmic sight to behold.

Podcast guests Vets in Hong Kong

Also featured on the podcast is the hotly tipped acoustic artist Daughter. Since moving to London I’ve started writing reviews for For Folk’s Sake and once of my first pieces was a review of Daughter’s new EP His Young Heart. I’m going to have to see her live soon as I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time.

There’s also ska-brilliance on the podcast, provided by Birmingham’s Glasto favourites 360, guitar packed epic-ness from North East group Holy Mammoth, a hauntingly beautiful new track from super-sized supergroup (and future guests) The Union Choir and a soothing acoustic tune to wrap things up nicely from Zygmunt Day.

Don’t forget, you can send in your own tracks for the podcast to frankiepromotes@gmail.com. Listen to the podcast here.

The Truth behind the Fiction?

I’m working on some more stripped back tunes away from the big, bold pop themes of Get Frank right now.

When I lived in Birmingham I spent a lot of time gigging with just me and my guitar. It was terrifying, I lacked confidence in my ability to play and I was desperate for a band.

Awake, Not Drifting by Get Frank

Since working with Get Frank in Newcastle I’ve decided that sometimes I’d like to be a bit more selfish and play music totally as I envisioned it – or at least certain aspects of it. Sometimes listening to a band can be overwhelming, and you forget that the music you’re listening to is rooted in themes and feelings. Get Frank songs used to be all about the emotions that I felt when writing them – and to some extent still are – but some of them are from a different, past writer and I feel the need to breakaway and do something different.

It can be quite scary to take lyrics to a band and practice them. Playing solo I get to skip this step, and move onto the even scarier stage of playing them straight to an audience. At first I didn’t think I was ready, but if I get some practice in with my guitar, who knows?

Escapology by Truth Fiction

The song above is my first rough demo from my ‘solo venture’ as Truth Fiction. There’s a loose (and musically common) concept to the name of the ‘project’ (if you like that term), as some songs will be true to my life and some inspired by fiction. Others will be a mixture. I learnt a lot about song writing from my very valuable time providing supplementary vocals and instrumentation for The Union Choir, from the image-packed lyricism of the songs, to the emotive construction of the music itself. They are one of the best bands I’ve ever known so I’m lucky to have been a part of it, if only for a little while.

For now I’ll continue to record with just me and a guitar performing live in my room. It’s tempting to build up recordings by doing everything closed microphone style, layering with various bits of precussion, but whilst I’m still playing these songs on my own I’ll keep things raw.

Please listen/download Escapology, and let me know if you’d like to hear more.

The Velvet Choir

Next Friday (10th December) I’m playing a festive gig with The Union Choir at Newcastle’s Cluny.

It’s for NARC magazine‘s annual ‘Stars in their Eyes Xmas Party‘ event where a selection of North East acts perform three cover versions of songs by a band of their choice.

Anticipation for the event is high, with acoustic folkers Rainfalldown performing (sadly June Carter-less) as Johnny Cash (and band), post punk revivalists Cult Image as The Ramones, Holy Mammoth as Blink 182 and us, The Union Choir, as The Velvet Underground and Nico. Amazing Radio‘s Tom Cotton will also be DJ-ing… as himself.

Velvet dress by George @ Asda, £14

[Post bath I decided not to leave the house hence the absence of makeup/decent hair. I did try to make myself ‘decent’ by removing the red eye in this photo, but it’s left me looking even odder!]

With every gig comes the occasionally frantic question of what to wear. I’ve decided to take our incarnation as The Velvet Underground (and yes, technically I’m ‘Nico’) quite literally by wearing this velvet number by George @ Asda. I found it online and headed into the Heaton Asda Living store on a whim after snow rendered me unable to travel to Birmingham. I’d decided to get some bubble bath and have a sulky soak as i’d taken the day off work for my journey to the midlands, but then this dress was too tempting to resist trying… It was reduced from £24 to £14 and is a beautiful shape, texture and colour. It’s not too risque lengthwise (but has a slit at the front so could be if I’m not careful!) You can find it online here.

I haven’t accessorised fully in the photo but I’m wearing pearly mary jane style shoes (with a ribbon tie) and a charm bracelet pendant necklace that my dad got me as a graduation present. I’m also wearing a fake pearl headband by Accessorize but I think I’ll ‘toughen things up’ with my leather jacket, smokey eyes and loose hair for the gig itself.

Hope you can make it down!

Check off my Christmas list?

I haven’t thought too much about Christmas too much, although there are a few ‘dream’ items I’m er… day dreaming about.

My birthday is December 27th so I often get ‘joint presents’ – or simply none at all. I mean, it’s not all about the gifts of course, but this is a ‘lifestyle’ blog type thing so I gathered I might as well pop some pics online!

Vivienne Westwood Anglomania & Melissa booties

Now, these boots may seem excessive at £80 – £90 a pop but they’re exactly what I need to get me through the next four months up in the snowy, snowy North East! I’ve been walking in the snow for the past few days and it seems that my flowery George @ Asda wellies just aren’t going to cut it anymore. I hate having to carry spare shoes around with me too – but with rubber booties this glam and special I simply wouldn’t need to!

Anglomania and Melissa Cream Bow Bootie

Aglomania & Melissa Button Detail Glitter Ankle Boots

I’m not sure which design I prefer most! I originally wanted the gold version but having just found the cream booties I’m beginning to sway in my preferences!

River Island hooded fur coat

I found this ‘fantasy fur’ coat in River Island on an emergency winter coat shopping trip the other day, but alas! They did not have my size – in the picture below I’m wearing a coat three sizes up!

 

River Island hooded fur coat

I love this coat because of how amazing and large the hood is. The coat is gorgeous and amazing to touch. I’ve not seen too many fake fur coats that I’ve felt I could wear because of the sheer bulk of them, but this version is sleek, smooth and lovely. I’m a tad depressed that I can’t find it online either – as usual, I’ve hyperlinked all photos to the ‘home’ of the products but I had to link this picture to a cream version.

Hohner soprano melodica (in C)

I sing, play glockenspiel and melodica for The Union Choir

Hohner soprano melodica

This melodica has ‘button keys’ which keep the melodica nicely neat and compact in size. I could easily keep it in my handbag for gigs too! (Plus loads of my favourite bands, such as Tuung, use this particular model for gigs and recordings.)

So yes, these are my top three!

The perfect LBLD?

I’ve always dreamed of finding that ‘perfect Little Black Dress’

I thought I found it for a mere £9.99 in H&M today but when I got to the dressing room it just didn’t fit right.

I had places to be so had to leave the strapless, shiny black pleated bargain behind with the shop assistants. Feeling down I moved to leave the shop but stopped in my tracks near the exit… By Jupiter! I had found it!

It was wrinkly, not in my size and made of fake leather! I had to buy a size up but it means it will be perfect for casual winter layering (for the Amazing Radio office) whilst not being a too tight and ‘fetish’ looking. Once off the hanger and on my body the wrinkles disappeared and gave an almost smooth look.

Faux leather dress, £14.99, white shirt both by H&M

Faux leather dress, £14.99, white shirt both by H&M

It’s the perfect day-to-night dress too. Here I toughen it up a little with my Peacocks grey hiking boots.

Boots £20 by Peacocks

I quite like it with my red heels too; there’s plenty a pair of shoes that would work with this dress which is why I adore it so.

I have a gig with The Union Choir in support of The Winter Hill Transmission’s single launch next Friday (19th November) and I’m not sure if I should wear this or the Primark dress below…

Dress £15, by Primark

The flash of my camera has made the underskirt of this dress look a lot shinier than it actually is. It reminds me of a Peacocks dress I saw in a magazine (but it’s a lot nicer in the lace detailing department and £8 cheaper.) I have to wear it with a belt because the empire line design into the full skirt is so unflattering I was tempted to take it back. The swift addition of the belt made me have a sudden change of heart.

I think that the leather look dress might be better for The Union Choir gig, and the crochet dress for my first Get Frank gig on the 25th November – but again, I’m not sure.

Help me out? Which one for which occasion?!

A terrifying musical debut!

I’m playing my first gig as ‘Member No.11’ of The Union Choir tomorrow at The Star and Shadow Cinema with Brilliant Mind, O’Messy Life and John Egdell tomorrow… and I can hardly contain my excitement.

For this isn’t any old gig… this is a Halloween special!

Wig by Smiffy's, jacket by Religion, top by H&M and faux leather trousers, £38 by Topshop

I was going to go as a convict before realising that I should probably have some kind of matching stripy hat. I’d already ordered the handcuffs for less than a pound from Amazon so I invested another pound in a bandit mask. I don’t think I’ll wear the mask over my eyes much because it covers my nose and is a bit too wide for my face! I decided to keep the handcuffs for my costume by pretending that I’m a robber that has been ‘picked up and put in a police van in cuffs, but escaped en route to the cells.’ My amazing manager Kev at Amazing Radio found the wig in a cupboard and said I could have it so I’m wearing it to ‘up the bad girl status’.

If there’s any night of the year that you can go ultra vampy with deep, dark lips and messy black eyes it’s Halloween so I’m preparing to go all out with my crayons!

The Union Choir are playing last and I’ll only be practicing with the some of the band for the first time on the afternoon before the gig so personally, it’s going to be nerve wracking stuff! I’ve also been known for writing and interviewing bands for the radio so to suddenly make my Newcastle stage debut in front of a lot of them will be quite terrifying.

Me and Anna, the cellist from The Union Choir will be carving a couple of pumpkins before practice tomorrow so I’ll pop some photos of them on shortly. Apparently South Shields (where many band members are based) is all out of pumpkins so we may be a few jack o’lanterns down!

The doors for the gig open tomorrow at 7.30pm so I hope to see you there! And don’t forget to leave a comment telling me what you’re dressing up as!

Stone Roses

The other day I received a parcel…

 

The welcoming label!

 

I don’t really get many parcels so I was rather excited… particularly when I opened it and found a note handwritten on luxury paper just for me!

 

How pretty!?

 

I was sent the mystery package by Stone Bridge, a Kent based luxury hair accessories company that had spotted my curly tresses and thought that they could do them justice!

I lived in Kent for about eleven years so hearing that an international company was successfully flourishing not far from where I grew up was something to feel proud of. Kent isn’t really known for much other than hops and livestock, so it’s nice to see something slightly more… well… fashionable!

The company was set up by entrepreneur Melissa Hill. In 2006 she spotted a gap in the market for couture hair accessories and set about commissioning wearable works of art from around the world as well as ordering pieces from highly skilled designers from America, France and Italy (and further afield.) Due to the handcrafting processes that go into each piece, each design is of limited quantity which means I’m rather unlikely to turn up wearing the same head gear as someone else!

 

Almost real: Rose Silk Alice Band by Stone Bridge

 

Now I have to apologise for the following pics… I have finally spent some pennies on a nice compact camera, but I’m awaiting the delivery of a tripod so I can finally start posing proper. What I’ll be doing in the near future is assembling potential outfits to match one certain item, such as this alice band or other hair bands and barrettes.

My approach to fancy headgear is a bit like shoes – why own something if you can’t wear it more than once? The white colour of this headband makes many think of formal occasions such as weddings and christenings but I think it’s got potential for far more outings. I’ve often worn dramatic feathery headbands and fascinators to Get Frank gigs in the past so I’m definitely looking forward to having fun with this white beauty.

 

Lipfinity Lasting Lip Tint in #06 by Max Factor, £6.99

 

 

Click on the pic to check out more Rose Silk Alice Band colours.

 

I also like to post outfits for occasions so my next challenge is to compile something to wear for my first gig with The Union Choir on Friday. It’s at Plugged Inn in Sunderland (yup, no idea where it is exactly) and I’m going to have to head straight to the venue after work at Amazing Radio. I’m thinking that this head band is absolutely perfect for the gig because even if I’m stuck wearing my casual work clothes, this head band will provide a slice of instant glam to proceedings!

Another lovely thing about this head band is that it’s ultra comfy – some alice bands I’ve owned in the past have been too tight or snagged my hair upon removal – causing headaches in both senses of the word! Also I don’t face the problems I had with my headband in this post, where the head band kept slipping so much I’ll probably never wear it out of the house again.

My super talented friend Ruth Kilpatrick took a couple of photos of me wearing the head band at an Amazing Radio session interview I did with Charly Coombes and the New Breed for this Wednesday’s Afternoon Show so hopefully I’ll post those soon with a potential Friday gig outfit and a bit more about Stone Bridge themselves – let’s get supporting independents eh?

Where do you think I should wear the Rose Silk Alice Band? Comments and suggestions much appreciated!

 

Transmission – Ready to take off!

In my previous post I talked about some of the bands who were about to play this weekend’s Transmission events.

Unfortunately I lack a camera so have no pics of my own, but head to Jazzy Lemon’s Flickr photostream to check out some amazing shots of Tom Robinson rocking out with The Union Choir and Brilliant Mind. Here’s one of me and fellow Amazing Radio broadcaster, Tom Cotton watching the spell binding Nadine Shah.

All eleven acts I saw (completely free courtesy of the wonderful guys and girls at Generator) were on fabulous form. I particularly enjoyed cardigan clad post punk rockers Cult Image, blossoming math rock act Toyger (as in ‘Toight like a…”) Vinyl Jacket turned in a tight performance of fantastic calypso pop tracks with fantastic energy and boundless charisma. What was even more shocking was the revelation that temporary guitarist Stuart (of interesting indie band Grandfather Birds) had only been playing with the band for a couple of weeks due to the normal guitarist’s incapacitated wrist!

There are two wagons in particular that I reckon you need to jump onto as soon as possible.

The first is that of solo artist Nadine Shah. Unafraid to plough through her songs with the emotional intensity of the ‘first play’, she transfixed the audience with her ability to command the room with just her stunning, full bodied voice and a keyboard. Her track ‘The Duke’ is currently on rotation in my head. She’s been working with top producers in London, so I’m looking forward to hearing the results. Shah is going on an O2 Academy tour with Shakespeare’s Sister very soon so I’d recommend going just to see her! She is going to be big news very, very soon.

The second band that entirely enthralled me was Chased by Wolves. Their set was packed full of sexy, edgy, bluesy numbers with singer Emma Siobhan Williams’ voice adding real colour to the set. Fellow vocalist Richard Smith’s voice provided a perfect contrast as well as extra power. James Brown on bass was a particular delight and completely addictive to watch – his five string bass was grooved and thrown around the stage, as if the instrument was playing the player.

Congratulations to all the acts, a huge thanks to Generator for throwing the ambitious events, and to Tom Robinson for being ‘glad to be gay’ (joyous.)

Tomorrow (Monday 6th September) I’ll be off to see Holy Mammoth support Fang Island at The Cluny 2, and on Wednesday I’ll return to the same venue to check out The Winter Hill Transmission play alongside Elliot Brood.