This year has been a little bit special for The Sick Livers. As 2015 comes to a close, our frontman Ginge Knievil takes the reigns to give you a month-by-month account of our DIY adventures over the last 12 months. We hope you enjoy and we shall see thee in 2016.
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Shaking off the rock ‘n’ roll shackles of another awesome sold-out Christmas show at Newport’s Le Pub, our first live port of call for 2016 was Ol’ London Town. We took in our favourite Big Smoke haunt in the shape of The Pipeline in support of Norwegian punk upstarts, Honningbarna. The place was packed to the rafters and it was an honour to be on this bill. Thomas at the venue always looks after us lot, and in a city often plagued by cutthroat “pay to play” situations, we can never thank him enough.
No sooner had we returned home to Wales, it was straight to the rehearsal rooms to tighten up the 10 tracks that would make up the so called “difficult second album.” After recording the last album in a DIY fashion at rehearsal rooms and sheds, we somewhat upped our surroundings and secured Newport’s Le Pub to lay the foundations. There was something quite special about committing those songs to tape in the raw at the venue we know and love. Matty’s drums, Dai’s bass and DJ’s rhythm guitars were all laid down as VJ twiddled the knobs and I conducted proceedings microphone free in some bizarre Guy Stevens like ritual. 7-ish hours later and it was a take. Massive thanks to Sam at Le Pub for allowing us to record there. To our knowledge, The Sick Livers are the first band to record an album at the infamous venue… and possibly the last!
January was also the month that our four stringed maestro featured in Bass Guitar Magazine. Dai’s been a stalwart of South Wales punk for God knows how many years, so this piece was totally justified in my eyes. The man is a technical low-end beast!
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As VJ and I spent hours meticulously honing what would eventually become ‘Mid Liver Crisis,’ a text came in. Andy Cairns of Therapy? had agreed to supply the vocal intro for the album’s opening track, “This Is My Denim.” No sooner had we had time to digest the jaw-dropping news, an email popped up and there it was. Andy’s menacing tones direct in our inbox with a message saying how much he was digging our sleazy punk ‘n’ roll sound. An accolade of the highest for us lot as Andy was a hero of our childhood and most of the band had witnessed Therapy? at those £3 Cheap Sweaty Fun shows at Newport’s Legendary TJs.
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VJ and I almost killed one another mixing and mastering the ‘Mid Liver Crisis’ LP.
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So, back to the gigs it was as we headlined the opening night of Bristol’s Stagfest and provided main support to GBH at a Bridgend show. Another show was scheduled for Le Pub as a teaser for ‘Mid Liver Crisis.’ The new songs sounded awesome in the live environment. Even though we were confident that this was the best set of songs we’d ever written, there’s always trepidation on how others would perceive them. Paul Hawkins of Diverse Music provided some keys on the new album, and he joined us for a couple of songs on stage. Not unlike our waistlines, things sounded absolutely huge!
With the record masters now sent out to the pressing plant, we joined the vinyl queue to get the finished product in our hands. As per the ‘Motors’ LP, Glunk Records kindly offered to release the second album in the UK. Baldy Longhair took care of things in the USA, which would include our first release on cassette. Yes, The Sick Livers on a tape!!!
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As May kicked off, we packed our bags and jetted over to Dublin for a one night stand with our Welsh counterparts, Trigger McPoopshute. The most bizarre set of circumstances ensued, from flight delays galore to bunking up with group of teenage American girls in a hostel. We made the Irish gig (just), and a big shout-out to Moz Morris for making it all happen.
Next out the bag was a support slot at The Fleece in Bristol for New York City punk legends, The Dictators. I never thought I’d get to see this band live, let alone share a stage with them. Thoroughly nice people too, as Ross The Boss chatted over a beer about how humbled he was to get to play The Dictators’ classics some 40 years later. Bassman Dean Rispler has since been a social media champion of The Sick Livers. What a top bloke he is.
As the LP test pressings arrived in our hands and hit the turntable, we unveiled lead track “Dark, Dangerous & Delicious” to the world via SoundCloud. UK Subs’ Charlie Harper had already endorsed the track via a live show supporting them last year, but now it was in the public domain for all. Stream or download the track for free HERE.
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“Dark, Dangerous & Delicious” was now firmly in the public domain. Wales Online’s David Owens picked up on the track and featured it on his weekend soundtrack playlist, as well as our filthy ode getting airplay from BBC Radio Wales’ Adam Walton. No mean feat for a band of our ilk!
June was also the month that saw Glunk Records’ “Mid Liver Crisis” pre-sale bundles go live. With the album set to drop on 1st August and with packages galore, the response absolutely blew us away. Top £45 packages sold-out within a matter of days. Whoa!
This month, we also got the chance to support The Godfathers in Cardiff. A cracking gig in the sweat soaked surroundings of The Globe, where founding Godfathers’ brothers Peter and Chris Coyne commented on how much we sounded like The Dictators. A perfect compliment, if you ask me!
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It was that time of the year again… SLUGFEST! The maddest and baddest free festival of them all, and all for worthy charities. Just when you think the previous year couldn’t be bettered… BANG! We turned in our usual, ahem, understated performance and it was a absolute joy to finally hook up with Sweden’s finest, The Chuck Norris Experiment. As the Saturday night’s festivities came to end, we said a personal fond farewell to Exit International. Scott Lee Andrews and the boys have been very kind with their words and we wish those guys all the best for the future.
As if Slugfest couldn’t any more outlandish, a mural was painted of myself and Trigger’s Darrel Sutton by Abertillery’s Lucy Edwards. The artwork graced a wall at the Kickplate Gallery as they celebrated 8 marvellous years of Slugfest. Well played to all involved.
With “Mid Liver Crisis” pre-sales in full swing, teaser trailer videos were made by James Herbet, and what a well tidy job he did. We thank you.
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Along with the rest of the small fish in a big vinyl resurgence pond, a slight pressing plant delay occurred, but that wasn’t going to stop us hitting the road with New Jersey’s finest, The Disconnects. A 5 date UK stint organised at a grassroots level saw us take in Cardiff, Bristol, London, Gateshead and Nottingham. And what a tour it was! At time of writing we’re in negotiations for a return trip for an East Coast tour of the USA. As we’re not rich and operate strictly under a DIY band ethos, we’re almost there to making this dream a reality. Watch this space in 2016! In the meantime, the full warts and all account of the British part of this tour can be found on a piece I wrote for Mass Movement Magazine HERE.
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No sooner had we got back off the road, we were offered a support slot to Slaves at Blackwood Miners’ Institute as part of the Velvet Coalmine festival. Unfortunately, the Sex Pistols’ Glen Matlock had to pull out after the sad passing of his father. Ironically, Glen was one of the first people to champion The Sick Livers and provided us with our first positive vox pop many years ago after a gig in The Barfly. This was our biggest show to date, only second to the thousands at “TJs in the Square” to honour the late, great John Sicolo. Whilst the big stage is not something we’re akin to (down on the floor is where we belong), we think we pulled it off and even the legendary Don Letts made an appearance side of stage. Watch the show HERE.
Now with “Mid Liver Crisis” firmly in the hands of glunk fans and reviewers alike, the plaudits started to pour in. Not something we ever expected or something we take for granted. To our amazement, there has not been one bad review from the critics. Oh, and we didn’t pay a penny, unlike some of the fees demanded by higher end music magazines. It’s probably worth mentioning that we’re extremely proud of what we’ve achieved. In this day and age, it is possible to run a totally self-sufficient band without the need for big record company interference. A massive thanks to the likeminded Glunk Records for helping us achieve that goal. For all ‘Mid Liver Crisis’ reviews and purchase details, visit our press page HERE.
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The very talented Hoodoo Animations only went and made a kick-arse video for “I Need Nurse.” At time of writing we’re close to hitting 1000 individual YouTube hits of this fucked-up opus. You can view the vid, but mind your eyes now, by clicking HERE!
“I Need Nurse” may appear tongue-in-cheek but there are more serious consequences of the song as I did need a nurse and a few gigs had to be postponed. Thankfully, so far my bipolar medication change has been positive, and apologies again to anyone who was effected by the postponements. We are looking to reschedule for early 2016 and I thank you all for the messages of support.
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As I recovered and we geared up for our end of year Christmas shows, I had this crazy idea to auction my gig jacket for charity. The jacket was been with the band throughout all our gigs and has seen more sweat, blood, beer and tears than I care to think about. The winning bid stood at £231.66 – WHOA! The cash was split 50/50 between Mind (Merthyr & The Valleys) and St. David’s Hospice (Newport). A mental health charity close to my heart and a charity which looked after Matty’s late father Steve, respectively. We hope they were able to benefit from the donations to continue their excellent work.
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And so we hit the festive season with our annual Christmas party at Newport’s Le Pub. Now in it’s third year, we were left astounded once more as tickets for the intimate 100 capacity venue sold-out in under 24 hours. More to our surprise was that half of this audience was not a cast of regulars familiar to our local-ish surroundings. With people travelling from Surrey, Somerset, Berkshire, and even Leinster in Ireland, we cannot thank you enough. Getting back on the gig horse at this one was tricky for myself after recent medication changes but judging by social media praise the following day, we did alright amongst a barrage of shredded paper, party poppers and 30 cans of silly string!
At this point I’d like to offer personal extended thanks to ex Wildheart and Yo-Yo, Danny McCormack. As my health has not been the best this year and having dealt with similar issues himself, the man has something of a telepathic nature in texting messages of support when it’s most needed. I wish him all the best and hope The Sick Livers can share a bill or two with his new outfit next year. I urge everyone to check out The Main Grains.
Following the carnage of Black Friday in Le Pub, the following night saw ourselves open for The Rezillos at Cardiff’s Clwb Ifor Bach, on what would be our final gig of 2015. Never had we witnessed so many Livers’ t-shirts in one room! I caught Jesse Malin at this venue a few months back and he got the crowd on their knees during a song breakdown. I tried it myself during “Rumney Rock City” and it only bloody worked. A truly awesome crowd. After many post gig plaudits, I lost count at how many times I said “thank you, it’s much appreciated.” A perfect end to what has been a pretty incredible year for us ageing glam punk rockers.
That just leaves us to thank you sincerely for supporting The Sick Livers, and to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We’ll see you in 2016. As we say… TIDY!
STOP PRESS: Our ‘Mid Liver Crisis’ LP has hit the #30 spot on Pure Rawk’s Best Albums of 2015. For the full list, click HERE.