This post is different from anything I’ve done on the blog so far. It all started about 10 days ago when I received a brief introductory email from Nix Dadry, who encouraged me to check out a YouTube clip of a song from a new UK rock band called Junk Antique. I did, liked what I heard and started engaging with Dadry in a back-and-forth via mail. And voila!
But before I continue, I’d like to emphasize that Dadry didn’t ask me for any favor, and I don’t expect anything in return for writing this post. I also don’t know whether this may lead to interviews with additional up-and-coming music artists. It’s certainly not what I had in mind when starting the blog. My writing is really all about my passion for real music – past and present (okay, mostly past!) – that involves artists who are true musicians playing real instruments! With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get to it!
Junk Antique, which hails from London, was formed in 2015. Dadry told me some of the artists they like include Guns N’ Roses, The Black Crowes, Lenny Kravitz, Prince, Jack White, Sheryl Crow, The Rolling Stones, The Doors and Led Zeppelin – in other words all members of what nowadays increasingly seems to be a dying breed called real musicians who are true craftsmen!
The YouTube clip that led to all of this is the album’s opener Black Cocaine. After listening to the tune’s opening guitar riff, which reminded me a bit of Metallica, my first thought was, ‘sounds grungy and a bit grim’ – after all, based on the title, you wouldn’t expect a sweet love song! But then a few things happened that got my full attention and made me realize Junk Antique is more than a one-trick pony.
While Black Cocaine has a grungy sound, it’s not as hard-edged as some of the other grunge I had heard before – so it’s definitely closer to Lenny Kravitz than Green Day, especially their older stuff. Then came the chorus. It immediately struck me as both dark and catchy at the same time. ‘Okay, that’s kind of cool,’ I said to myself. And just after I thought I had finally figured out the song, something else occurred that was unexpected – a bongo-like percussion part. Now I was definitely intrigued!
I started to google Junk Antique and quickly got to SoundCloud where they’ve uploaded the entire album. The 10-track set offers a nice variety of songs ranging from rockers like Black Cocaine and Push the Domino to quieter tunes like Rats N’ Frogs and A Girl. These guys sound like they’ve played together for many years, not exactly what you typically expect from a band on their debut album. And, best of all, the bongos on Black Cocaine are not the only surprise.
I’d like to touch on a few tunes that stand out to me for different reasons. There is the already mentioned Rats N’ Frogs, an acoustic mid-tempo song. It features an Arabic tambourine played by young percussionist Joelle Barker – not exactly an instrument you’d expect in rock! It sounds a bit like castanets, which together with the rhythm give the song some Spanish flair.
Be Somewhere Else is a nice mid-tempo pop rock tune featuring two excellent back-up vocalists, Natalie Brown and Adele Bailey. Brown sings the verses, while Bailey comes in on the chorus. They are a great match with Dadry’s lead vocals.
Another tune I’d like to call out is the album’s title song. It incorporates some sitar sounding accents (played on keys), which together with background percussion create a somewhat mystical touch. While surprising at first sight, it’s actually not so much on closer scrutiny – Dadry’s ethnic background is Indian, plus he loves George Harrison! I also like how the song’s dynamic is building.
The album was co-produced by Dadry and Dan Willett, a recording engineer at Univibe Audio studios in Birmingham, England, where the album was also recorded. Willett, who primarily specializes in rock and metal genres, is also a professional bass player. In addition to the above, other musicians on the album include the drummer and keyboard player Fez. Junk Antique hasn’t named the drummer, since they’re not sure whether he is going to join them permanently. The band is also looking to add a lead guitarist.
So what else would I like to say about Junk Antique? Following are some excerpts from my email interview with Dadry.
The band’s name is unusual. Does it have a particular meaning?
Well, the second song on the album has the same title. We decided on using it as a band name because it conjures up something retro, vintage, classy and trashy.
Are you looking for any sort of record deal?
With the way the industry has become, we’re not sure yet. It’s in free fall. I’d be great to get some backing and distribution from people who understand us. We truly believe our songs are very strong and would do well, but the world’s gone mad with judging everything on popularity with social media instead of merit. [So true!]
In addition to that, we’re not playing trendy music! But I’m proud we’re not fickle. I think we’d do a lot better in the US and Canada because of our influences.
In addition to SoundCloud and Bandcamp, are you looking to other channels where people can listen to and buy your music, such as iTunes or Spotify?
We’d like to get them on iTunes. Not sure about Spotify but we need to build some interest first. Otherwise the record will just sit there.
Are you touring in support of the album, locally or regionally?
We’re gonna focus on London and Birmingham as that’s where we have a crowd. Kinda starting afresh and still in the middle of rehearsals.
Do you have any more music in the works?
We have about nine new songs so far. These could make a new album or 2 EPs.
I’ve also written two songs for Jack White and Lenny Kravitz, respectively. The one for Jack is a deliberate skeleton because I know what he would do with it using his wizardry. The one for Lenny is an old solo song I recorded and we play it live at present. If he reworked it by adding horns and his vocals, it could be amazing.
Do you agree with some of the “old rockers,” who basically say the rock era is over?
I understand why the older legends…may feel this way. Especially as there hasn’t been another rock revolution since grunge. However, I’m not only optimistic but I’m defiant! Even though I love & respect musicians who can evolve with changing styles, such as David Bowie, U2 and Prince, I strongly believe that artists need to be sincere with what they do. Not jump on bandwagons.
I absolutely love Springsteen & The E Street Band, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, the 60s, 70s, 80s & 90s. But we’re not revivalists! We also believe this whole isn’t about genre. I haven’t heard enough good soul or hip-hop from modern acts either! What music is missing in the mainstream is: Balls, Grit, Good Lyrics, Groove – that bite and knockout punch that people like myself heard the first time I encountered Public Enemy, Gun N’ Roses and Jack White.
Amen to that!
Sources: Nix Dadry, YouTube, SoundCloud, Junk Antique web site and Facebook page, Dan Willet web site