Music Vice’s Ngawara Madison recently visited the North London rehearsal space of self-described “new ground rock” electro punk band, The Howling, to have a chat with the founding members of the group, James ‘Blacky’ Black (formerly of UK rock band Red Star Rebels), and ‘The Rev’ (Guitar virtuoso of hell-raising bands, Towers of London and The Prodigy).
Formed over a year ago by the twosome, but only just presenting itself on the live circuit recently; the band has managed to make an ‘overnight’ name for itself after packing out Camden’s Barfly venue just a few days ago. Rev and Blacky explained how they “ took a step back in order to take two steps forward”; holing the band up for over a year in a rehearsal room, honing their sound until it reached their own critical satisfaction. With a plethora of strong songs under their belt; an intimidatingly talented lineup (picked out individually over a lengthy period); a striking “glam grunge” look; and a compelling live show; this ‘newest band on the block’ is also one of the tightest packs on London’s live circuit!
Sounds like: Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll… reprogrammed.
– James ‘Blacky’ Black: Lead vocals
– Paul ‘The Rev’ Moule-Mayers: Lead Guitar/Rhythm Guitars/Vocals
– Lewis Chappell: Rhythm Guitar/Synths programming/Vocals
– Billy James Mitchell: Drums
– Dan Pinnock: Bass/Eyelashes
Music Vice’s ‘In One Word’™ Review: Hooooooooooooooooooooooooowl!!
Say hello to The Howling.
Ngawara: Hey guys, great to chat with you. The show was a pack out on Friday! That’s got to feel good. Are we waiting on anyone to get here or can we start?
Rev: Me and Blacky steer the ship for the band. We kind of speak for everyone in the band really.
I think its best to keep it down to two minds, instead of a minefield of five people. Two of them are mute anyway – Dan and Chappell [laughs]… but when it comes to the music they’re spot on. So yeah, each person in the band kind of knows their place.
Too many cooks spoil the broth?
Rev: Something like that!
Tell me about your individual musical backgrounds. What were you both doing prior to joining forces to create The Howling?
Blacky: I was Red Star Rebels, and that’s pretty much my background! I was a paper boy till I was about 25; then Red Star Rebels and now this. That’s pretty much my life!
You were a paper boy? My paper boy doesn’t look at all like you! He’s a little old man with a satchel and a bike with a basket! [laughs] Rev, you had a rather famed time before this…
Rev: I did the ‘Towers* stuff for five years and did that whole thing – it was ups and downs and all rounds.. And then I moved on and did two years with The Prodigy. It was around the time that the Prodigy stuff ended, that me and Blacky started to hang out and talk about getting a band together…
*Towers Of London:
Blacky: Yeah I was doing a load of sound-tracking at that point in time, and it seemed like a good idea because what one of us lacked, the other one had, and vice-versa. We knew we’d be on to a good thing.
So how long have you two known each other for?
Rev: Known each other properly – it’s got to be going on some three or four years now! I knew of Blacky earlier than that because Towers and Rebels were on the same scene, and we came across each other at shows. I don’t think we ever played a show together back then though… To be honest it was all a bit of a haze, those five years!! But we were doing a lot of the same venues and hanging around with a lot of the same people so we knew of each other.
When I stopped playing with the Prodigy, I was looking at getting a new band together. I was playing with Snell still at the time – he was the drummer in Towers, and we were looking around to see who we could get to front the band. Blacky was just the obvious choice. It was just about trying to make it work, really. We were still both in transition periods. I was still with Snell and Blacky at the time was with some other guys. The coming together took a while before it settled
So whats Snell up to now?
Rev: He’s gone down the married with children route! Yeah, he’s a dad now! I’m still in regular contact with him, but he’s out of the music game now and kinda just moved on..
Blacky: Sold his drum kit and all.
Rev: Yeah sold his kit and settled down…
Settled down! Whoever could have predicted that one!
Rev: Yeah unfortunately he’s sold his kit and just doing that thing now.
Taking life seriously?
Rev: Yeah, we all take life seriously, its just some people have a different outlook to others…
I guess at some point some of us grow up a little bit and want that…
Blacky: Yeah I reckon I will, one day. I definitely will.
So you two were the founders. How did you find the rest of the band members?
Rev: We placed ads all over the internet…
Blacky: Music Schools. If you’re looking for band members then go to music schools because that’s where you get your talented musicians coming through!
And they already really want to do it to the point they’re investing their time and money into the pursuit of a music career. I guess that ambition is an attractive quality?
Blacky: Yeah they’re very driven. We ended up with Chappell though – which is ironic because he wasn’t at music school, but he heard about the auditions through a friend who was!
Rev: We did a set of auditions at Guildford School of Music. We went down there and had a row of seats, and this women had arranged for all these students to come and play along to a backing track to a song we had sent through, and we had to sit there… it was a bit contrived really.
Blacky [in a Simon Cowell voice]: “Well its a ‘No!’ from me!!” [laughs]
Rev: We got an email from Chappell saying he wanted to audition and he had heard about it, but when he contacted the college, they said if he turned up to the audition he would be escorted off site!
Rev: But he emailed us to say he was interested, and from that email…
From that email you were like “That’s our guy!” [laughs]. I guess that’s the old Towers attitude coming out! Some things never change hey – how about the other two?
Rev: Where did we find Billy? Ah – We heard that The Gliterrati had split up through a friend so we approached him about our band; and Dan? We found him on a farm in Essex – he’s in here for his looks! [laughs]
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