Posts Tagged ‘Billy Easter’

Shopping are all about propulsive bass lines, primitive disco-not-disco drums and guitar lines sharp as broken glass. The band was formed in 2012 by members Rachel Aggs (guitar), Billy Easter (bass) and Andrew Milk (drums), who’ve all done time in a plethora of notable UK DIY bands including Trash Kit and Wet Dog.

Shopping were barely a few dates into a worldwide tour when it all got cancelled. They were supporting their new album ”All Or Nothing,” and things had been going quite well up to that point – press, radio, and fan reactions were great, as the album was a most accessible advancement of their earlier sound.

They had just begun on the west coast of the US and were on their way into the legendary Seattle radio station KEXP for a live session when things started getting dicey. Soon after, they got the news that all their dates had been cancelled across the US, UK, and EU. The money they’d spent on flights and visas would be lost. After hunkering down at a friend’s house, the band flew home a week later.

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While fans can’t attend one of their absolutely thrilling live shows for a while, these live recordings serve as a placeholder until touring can happen once again. And yet, even after suffering such financial disaster from the tour cancellations, the band have now chosen to donate their profits from this release to the Bail Project and National Memorial Family Fund.

Released June 5th, 2020

Shopping are propulsive bass lines, primitive disco-not-disco drums and guitar lines sharp as broken glass. The band was formed in 2012 by members Rachel Aggs (guitar), Billy Easter (bass) and Andrew Milk (drums), who’ve all done time in a plethora of notable UK DIY bands 

This is the fourth long player from Rachel, Andrew and Billy, with their adept lo-fi take on that mutant disco/no wave dance-punk sound. Shopping pull the neat trick of getting better with every album, leaving you restless to hear what they do next. Album centerpiece “For Your Pleasure” is a treatise on hedonism set to retrofuturist synthesizers and artificial handclaps; perhaps too frantic for the ’70s discotechques Shopping has conjured in the past, it would sound right at home in the cocaine ’80s. It resembles no other Shopping song before it, raising the ceiling for a promising band with plenty left to say.

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Post-punk trio Shopping have long been heralded as queer icons of the London DIY scene—but things change. For one, Shopping no longer consider London as their home base: Guitarist Rachel Aggs and drummer Andrew Milk have relocated to Glasgow, while bassist Billy Easter is currently living in L.A. The trio is also shaking off their pared-down sound, instead choosing to embrace the possibilities of synths, beats and a polished studio feel.

The band is, obviously, still emblematic of queer artistic expression, but just maybe not in the way you were so sure that they were. On All or Nothing, Shopping’s fourth album since their inception in 2012, they deliver some of their most articulate, exciting songs as a group, while also eschewing some of the formulaic components of their music that made them so interesting in the first place. They teased the electronic-leaning sound of the album with singles “Initiative” and “For Your Pleasure,” but while many bands lose their edge when they adopt a smoother, synthier aesthetic, Shopping still remain punk in a restless and frenetic way—even when the guitars are put down.

I’ve always thought that Shopping are all about bringing a dance ideal to the punk aesthetic. Or maybe they’re all about adding a punk ideal to a dance aesthetic? I’m not really sure which it is, but I’m still really impressed with the result, an effortless blend that speaks to a perfect understanding of both forms, along with being a great collection of songs that make you wanna dance.

Relatively few artists have produced as many albums in as much time of equally high quality and interest, and the latest really showcases them at their most punchy and impactful yet. They really peak when they are all singing together.

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As we continue to mourn the loss of Andy Gill, the celebration of his band’s influence on young groups within and outside of his native UK continues on with every dancy post-punk album that creeps into our most listened to Spotify playlists. Shopping have been in such playlists for five years or so now, and the release date for their fourth album may just be the balm we need for the Gang-of-Four-sized hole in our hearts.

The London-formed trio of guitarist Rachel Aggs (now based in Glasgow), drummer Andrew Milk (yep, also Glasgow), and bassist Billy Easter (a newly christened Angeleno) are the rare kind of supergroup that works; it seems like a shared passion for new wave has inspired a chaotic camaraderie often defined by their penchant for stepping on each other’s toes. At times their staccato instrumentation is met with agreeable vocal harmonies, though it seems more common that the trio find themselves singing over each other.

One such song from “All or Nothing”—out today—is “No Apologies,” which Easter describes as being about “intense indecision and feeling like you’re being pulled in several different directions emotionally.” Summarizing much of the group’s back catalog, she explains: “We all sing at the same time in parts of this song, and for me that also reflects the noise that can fill your head during times of high emotion.”

For more insight on each individual track from all three band members, read on for the descriptive track-by-track below. All or Nothing is out now via FatCat Records

1. “All or Nothing”

Rachel: We wrote this song when we had some days off tour in Seattle, staying with a friend of a friend who happened to have a really nice practice space in his basement. I remember coming up with the main guitar riff, and Andrew instantly came in with this drum part that started on the second beat of it—I find it so satisfying to play, that drum beat, and the way Billy’s bassline drops in with it has such a cool kick to it. We wrote the second part as a totally separate song and then smashed them together. Our songwriting method is pretty chaotic that way.

2. “Initiative”

Rachel: This one came out pretty fully formed. Sometimes that just happens! We played it on tour in Germany and I tried out various weird lyrics on stage, I figured a German-speaking audience wouldn’t judge us too harshly for talking a small amount of nonsense whilst I figured out what I wanted to sing about. When we were mixing in LA with Nick Sylvester, we added the rolling Moog baseline in the chorus, because he was like, “We need to make the chorus really explode,” and we loved it instantly. It,s a frustrated song about responsibility and blame, it’s pretty angry, but it has this groove that propels you forward.

Billy: The bassline for this one also came to me while we were in the Seattle basement. It’s kinda frenetic, I was feeling very excited/anxious and I think it shows in the sound we produced. It was also a few days before we performed to the biggest ever crowd at San Francisco Pride, a very exciting time!

3. “Follow Me”

Rachel: This song began life reacting to the experience of literally being followed around a shop by a security guard, thinking about surveillance and profiling, what do you represent as a person of color or part or a counterculture or wearing a hoodie—what does it take for a person to look suspect or visible and how does it feel to be that person?

Billy: We couldn’t ignore that the words “Follow me” also hold another meaning with regards to social media, personal brands, and cults of personality, though. It’s also about feeling aware that the image you are projecting online is often distorted/amped up/unreal, but (especially as a band or a musician) you are still benefiting from that illusion. There is something sexy about this deceptive power play. The thrill of the chase, knowing that someone is thinking about or watching you. “CCTV is living for me.” We complain constantly about breaches of privacy and surveillance culture, but part of us also loves the attention. I remember writing this being really fun, we were dancing around a lot.

4. “No Apologies”

Andrew: Deciding to make significant changes in your life can be a complicated struggle with yourself, your self-doubt, and saboteur. Nothing is ever truly black and white. This song is about that internal struggle with your own choices. How do you weigh up what you have to gain against what you will inevitably lose? Fragile relationships are strained and broken, risks are calculated and taken, but it’s always a leap into the unknown.

5. “For Your Pleasure”

Rachel: This one’s about the feeling of constantly longing for something that is just out of reach, or that you can’t yet name. “What you see is what you get”—the feeling that doing something reckless or satisfying in the moment will bring you some kind of transcendent joy when really you will probably just end up with a hangover or a lingering sense of regret. Being in a loving relationship but still having nagging thoughts about the thrill of having a crush/dreaming of other realities and choices you could have made. I was really learning on the spot when it came to the synth on this song but I remember we really wanted that propulsive, arpeggiated sound and I was so pleased with myself when I figured out how to do it. Billy and our friend Lessa Millet made an awesome video for this song with loads of fabulous friends at the dance party of our dreams…

Billy: I would love this song to be a queer dance anthem! So Lessa and I went with that theme when making the video for the song. It was really fun!

Andrew: I started a Hi-NRG club night with a friend in Glasgow about a year ago and have been pretty obsessed with arpeggiated synth and octave jumping so was really pleased with the heavily ’80s disco vibe we created with this track. It has a really satisfying outro that reaches a kind of fever pitch.

6. “About You”

Rachel: I really love how this song starts out pretty sparse and odd, but then takes this unexpected melodic turn at the end—it felt pretty different to anything we’ve done in the past, a lot sweeter sounding.

Billy: I feel like this is kinda the sad love song of the album, again maybe about feeling happy but needing more. I really love it, I think it’s the most “beautiful” song we have ever written, and I feel a real surge of emotion when the song builds towards the end.

7. “Lies”

Andrew: This one was about being true to yourself and valuing that in others. About not being able to stand by while a friend or loved one is undervaluing themselves/not being true to themselves and/or putting themselves into situations that you know are toxic/harmful.

8. “Expert Advice”

Andrew: Truth is a difficult concept to hold onto in this day and age—“Can you rely on this narration?” How much of what we hear and read in the media is a story tailored to our own pre-existing biases? In the limited dealings we’ve had with media it’s hard to not subconsciously tailor our own responses to fit our own story as a band—when, in reality, your conception of who you are/what you do and for what reasons can change from moment to moment. We all sing on this one which always feels awesome, that the three of us felt inspired to relate to the track.

Billy: For me this can also apply to personal relationships, when we tailor ourselves or play a role that we think will make other people accept and love us.

9. “Body Clock”

Rachel: This guitar riff is so stupid we still refer to it as “Rock Song,” and we couldnt really take it seirously for a while. When we played it to Davey Warsop, who recorded the album, he liked it so much that he convinced us it could actually be a proper song, but it didn’t get a real name ’til right before we mastered the album.

10. “Trust in Us”

Andrew: I liked how the wording can put you in mind of a hypothetical person in position of power, and also a tongue in cheek way of talking about our band. As in, “We are on album four now and you can trust in us, dear listener.”

Band Members
Billy Easter, Andrew Milk, Rachel Aggs
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The UK-based band composed of Billy Easter on bass, Sarah Datblygu on drums and Rivka Gillieron on vocals and guitar excel in creating atmospheric, erratic sounds with a jaunty disregard for anything mundane. Wetdog count a variety of top notch influences on Frauhaus!, citing Micachu, Syd Barrett and Euros Childs, with legendary graphic novel illustrator Robert Crumb and 1979 cult British horror flick “The Wicker Man” also flagged, the latter’s flashing play between gentle pastoral and darker reveals most evident on the twittering bird song and thick, stop-start chords of “Trees Fall.” Though each of the album’s 14 songs has a disjointed style and rhythm of its own, they bob and weave into each other with a connecting sense of joyful weirdness, darkly irreverent rather than pretentious; menacing at times, but in a deliriously fun way.

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Fabulously uncompromising, it’s futile to attempt any generic labelling here; Wetdog delight in merging styles, setting keyboard and guitar melodies clashing gloriously against stubborn basslines, beginning songs in one manner only to change all the rules come the chorus. These helter-skelter tactics mean Frauhaus! has a kind of anarchic spontaneity to it, where the ground could shift at any moment. It’s an exciting atmosphere that evokes the tumultuous ethos of The Slits, made even more potent by the darker, Halloween-style motifs of The Need, that cover the corners of their songs with spiderwebs and vampire fangs.