Tax The Heat at Livewire: an interview

Tax The Heat + Madame Guillotine + Cousin Buzz, live at Livewire, Saltash

Words and Photos by Max Styles

What could be better? A warm evening in Saltash under the shadow of the Tamar Bridge, the Livewire Youth Project buzzing with activity— It’s the start of a hot, sweat, and energetic night of rock and roll. It’s my first time attending a gig at the Livewire Youth Project venue and I’m unsure what to expect, but as soon as I arrive I’m greeted by smiles, friendly staff and the smell of the hot food prepared at the venue for the bands; my night’s off to a good start. I get the chance to sit down for an interview with Alex Veale (guitar and vocals) and Jack Taylor (drums) from Tax The Heat- read the full interview at the end of the review.

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Despite opening the night to an almost empty room Liskeard 3 piece, Cousin Buzz really give it their all. Performing their high energy set of funky alternative rock accompanied by the Anthony Kiedis-esque vocals of the shirtless, bandana wearing frontman Arthur, they really kick the energy levels up to eleven.

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The second support for the evening are Plymouth based band Madame Guillotine, who pick up right where Cousin Buzz left off to keep the energy rolling. Straight away you can hear their heavy Aerosmith and Guns n Roses influences, with a bit of Queen thrown in the mix. One dead giveaway to the bands Guns n Roses influence is the appearance of the guitarist, who looks like a Plymothian ‘80s Axl Rose/Slash crossover- with his Les Paul, bandana and strong stage presence. Madame Guillotine played a fantastic set of originals, with one cover of Danger Zone (Kenny Loggins) that would please any fans of the tv show Archer.

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By the time Tax The Heat hit the stage the venue had filled out a lot. They had incredible stage presence right from the beginning of their set, which created a great atmosphere in the venue. The highlights from their setlist are ‘Your Fool’, ‘Fed To The Lions’ and ‘Highway Home’- all three of which are proper live tracks that really hit you and get you moving. All the members seemed genuinely happy to be out there on the stage and I feel as though that happiness was reflected by the audience- I’ve never seen so many smiling faces at a gig. Tax The Heat are definitely a live band, there’s no question about that. It was great to see people dancing, just letting loose, no one seemed to care what other people may think; that’s what rock and roll is all about. Get out there and get to a Tax The Heat show!

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Interview with Alex (guitar and vocals) and Jack (drums) of Tax The Heat

Shutter 16- I loved your video for Fed To The Lions, where was it filmed?

Jack- Cool, yeah, it’s in a few different locations, which are local to us

Alex- Well most of it was filmed in our town. The scenes in the flat, a friend of ours had a flat that was exactly what we wanted, we wanted somewhere that looked like a real dive, and they were in the process of doing it up and evicting a tenant, and it was just perfect. So we did the shots of us playing in a cool bar in Bristol.

Jack- Yeah it’s really cool, it’s great- we got really lucky that they let us in. It’s one of those bars that you wouldn’t know it’s there, it’s got a little doorbell that says the name of the bar above it, and you just ring it and the door opens and you go up there. It’s awesome once you get inside!

Shutter 16- I’m curious, what was the fate of the guy at the end of the video, or is that left to the viewer to decide? Was the story behind the video based on anything?

Alex- Yeah we left it open for the viewers to make up their minds. I mean, I have my mind made up…

Shutter 16- What would you say happened?

Alex- Oh he got him, He got him bad!

Shutter 16- So was it based on anything?

Jack- The cricket bat attack that we saw! No, no.

Alex- The guy who plays the big scary guy, he’s actually a really good friend of ours as well and he’s the nicest guy you could ever meet, he just looks brutal; and when he got involved the story just wrote itself.

Shutter 16- Your sound is quite different to a lot of Nuclear Blast’s roster, not that it’s a bad thing at all, but how did you come to sign with NB?

Jack- What, do you mean we don’t sound like Slayer?!

Alex- Well, we were at the point where we were ready to do an album, and there were a few record companies who had been interested in us for a while and we just hit that point where we were ready to make a record. They were really interested in doing it and obviously they’ve got offices all over the world and are renowned for being the heavier side of things, but they’re starting to branch out a bit and push some more rock bands like Blues Pills and Graveyard, and I think we were just the first UK band that fitted into that. So it was a bit different for them, it’s different for us too but it’s working out well and they’re a really cool team.

Jack- Our team got on really well with their team and it just seemed like the right way to go, and they’ve been great to work with ever since. And like Alex said, with some of the bands that are on there now they’re starting to branch out into some slightly less metall-y stuff. Everything that we do, we want to do it about being a rock band in the old school sense; so we want to keep it rock, we like the fact that they get rock and roll music.

Shutter 16- I’ve read that you’re influenced by a lot of 60’s bands, what is it about the 60’s that influenced your sound and image so much?

Alex- Initially it was literally sound and image! That was a big thing. But the energy of this bands were the catalyst for us thinking like that. We’d been writing some songs and we hit a bit of a stride and it felt like it was turning into more than just the songs and a bit of a band type thing. Those 60’s bands were at the forefront of our thoughts; the energy, you know? You could just imagine seeing this bands back in the day, like you’ve seen so many of those videos of The Who playing in The Marquee and places like that, the energy was ridiculous, and we wanted to try and get that. That’s what we want.

Shutter 16- So you’d say you’re primarily a live band?

Alex- Definitely, yes. It’s all about being a good live band, and that’s how we did the album as well. We tried to keep that live essence.

Jack- That was a big thing for us being able to record the album, because all the tracks are written to be live played tracks, so we wanted to be able to all play them out at the same time. We used bits of pieces of modern technology, because we don’t want to just be a retro band as such, but we love that energy of that 60’s stuff and we want to be able to bring that through in the way that we play rock.

Shutter 16- Outside of music, what do you like to do?

 Alex- It’s pretty much music!

Jack- Yeah the thing with us is that we all fuckin’ love music. Going to gigs, playing gigs, you know.

Alex- Yeah we’re kind of boring like that I guess, there’s literally nothing else

Shutter 16- So what was your first gig that either of you went to?

Alex- I mean I went to a few as a kid, but the first one that kind of stuck with me was Kula Shaker at the Colton Hall in Bristol on their second album, that blew me away

Jack- We both went to see them a few weeks ago in Bath! It was awesome.

Alex- I was also massively into Aerosmith, I still am, and I went to see them on their Nine Lives tour, and I really had the bug at that point. I was a 12 or 13 year old kid, yeah I was hooked after that

Jack- I went to Reading festival for a day when I was 15, and after that I just didn’t stop going to gigs. I couldn’t get enough of it basically.

Shutter 16- Do you have jobs outside of music, or is this your full time thing? I know Alex is, or at least was, a guitar teacher?

Alex- Yeah I teach a bit of guitar as well, Antonio teaches some bass, JP’s a chef, and Jack… Well, Jack is Jack!

Jack- I do my thing! I do lots of things, mainly to do with music. I work for other bands as well sometimes, working on the crew for them and things like that, so yeah we all keep ourselves busy with jobs but we put as much time as we can into this

Alex- You have to be like that if you’re in a band to give yourself as much time to be a band. You just can’t rush it

Shutter 16- Do you still buy physical music, CDs and vinyl etc, or do you prefer the ease of digital downloads, Spotify, iTunes etc?

Jack- Oh yes! Keep it physical

 Alex- Always physical. I mean I have Spotify but I don’t use it in that context, if I’m going to buy music I’m actually going to go out and buy it. My first job when I left college was working in a CD shop and I’ve spent thousands of pounds on music over the years and it would kill me to see it go! So we’re still buying it physical.

Jack- I kind of use Spotify but only to check stuff out before I go out and buy it- you can make sure you’re going out and spending money on the one you really love. Me and Alex love vinyl as well, as a format, just nothing beats it. If it’s something that’s worth listening to on vinyl then we’ll always make the effort to go out and get that. What was the last vinyl that you bought, Alex?

Alex- Probably that White Denim record, but that was like a birthday present

Jack- I just got the Moon Shaped Pool, the new Radiohead album on the limited edition white vinyl!

Alex- That Soundgarden I found at the record fair, that was the last one I bought. Do you buy vinyl? What was the last physical music you bought?

Shutter 16- Yeah I was about to say, if I’m going to spend money on something I want to hold it, feel it, see the artwork. The last CD I bought was literally yesterday, I bought the first Catfish and The Bottlemen album. The last vinyl I bought was Iron Maiden, Killers! Found it in an Oxfam.

Jack- Oh nice, good find then!

Shutter 16- What are your opinions on the digitalisation of the music industry?

Alex- Well the industry’s just changed massively, but it is what it is. It’s there, it’s part of it now, it’s always going to be there from now and I think you will see things going that way now toward the streaming side. But hopefully the physical side will still remain.

Jack- You’ve just got to hope that people that are really into music can see past the digital side and see that the best way to listen to stuff is a physical copy; to be able to see the artwork and check all that stuff out, it just makes so much more of the album than just the download. That’s what I think, personally.

Shutter 16- Is there anything you want to say?

Alex- Come and see a show! If we’re playing near you come and see a show.

 

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