Genre: Alt-Rock, Heavy Blues
Members: Ben Jasper (Bass), Bas Combes (Drums), Vinny Piana (Guitar & Vocals)
SHADOWPLAY (JOY DIVISION COVER)
I know it’s a cliche to say Joy Division are one of the most influential bands ever. Their 2 masterpieces albums, charismatic frontman, the tragedy of his death, their story and their work resonates into eternity.
So, normally, I would stay well clear of covering such a band.
But Shadowplay has this pull on me. It was the second song I learned on guitar. In fact I was just playing the bass line, which is the same 3 notes all the way through pretty much. It’s a song that has drilled little holes in my head over time and is always stuck there somehow.
And then there is that line “To the center of the city where all roads lead, waiting for you”. It feels so universal and so personal to Ian Curtis at the same time, it’s such a killer line. It feels like it’s been everyone’s story at some point, it’s so compelling and easy to relate.
Another thing is, I hate that rubbish version The Killers did of that song. Really think it’s shit and destroying a great song just for the sake of some pretended originality, or artistry. They fucking killed it alright. Not in a good way though.
So, at some point I started jamming it in the studio with the band, and it became a tune we just love playing. We changed it a bit to make it ours, but not to the point where we destroyed it.
I know it’s not for me to say but Joy Division fans who will hear it rather, but I think we did it justice, and we get a huge buzz playing it.
So fuck it. It’s done now. It’s out there. If we committed sacrilege, I’m ready for the chop.
Boyfromthecrowd is a rock’n’roll band based in London. Two parts French, one part English.
Vinny Piana, the band’s guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, describes their music as “heavy garage punk blues”. As he says simply: “It’s all about intensity and raw emotion.”
Among his key influences are The Cure, Nick Cave and The Cramps. “Dark music is what I relate to,” he says. “I love Bowie, The Doors, Leonard Cohen, post-punk stuff like Bauhaus. And I guess all of this does filter into what I do. That’s why there’s maybe this little retro thing to my songs.”
The Cure was his first epiphany. “As a kid, growing up in Toulon in the south of France, all I was hearing on the radio was cheesy French pop or a few really cool French artists such as Serge Gainsbourg. When I heard The Cure for the first time, I didn’t know music like that existed. That darkness to it, that edge – it was so different. The Cure is my lifetime love.”
A second epiphany came when Vinny travelled to the UK and saw Nick Cave perform live at the Reading Festival. “Seeing Nick Cave blew my mind,” he recalls. “It was an absolute revelation in terms of live performance. That changed everything for me.”
Vinny never planned on being a singer. “I started out playing guitar in bands in France, but I was always attracted to British and American sounds, so I came to London. I was never a front person. Just playing guitar in bands. When I started writing songs, I didn’t want to sing. But I realized very quickly that it doesn’t work unless the singer understands the songs.”
Boyfromthecrowd began as a solo project. “I was completely on my own,” Vinny explains. “I wanted a band, but first I had to have the right material.”
It was with this D.I.Y. ethic that Vinny created the first E.P., Where The Bees Come To Die, and the debut album, Surrender To The Exercise. “I recorded all instruments except the drums, but I wanted to keep things raw so it sounded like a band,” he says. “The whole album was recorded in my own little studio in my flat. Actually, my flat is a recording studio with a wall bed. It’s pretty basic, but the place has nice acoustics.”
The album is as lo-fi as they come. “I love that rawness in it,” Vinny says. “There’s a blues influence in this record, but it’s not 12-bar stuff. It’s that rawness of emotion that you get in the blues. I like the music to sound real. I have a record by The Cramps where one side of the stereo drops out completely in the mix and it comes back. And they fucking released it! That’s so cool, and that’s the kind of vibe I wanted.”
The title, Surrender To The Exercise, speaks volumes about Vinny Piana. “I write songs about my life and how I often make the most disastrous choices. I started this song with the premise that I’ve reached the bottom, that things can’t get much worse. You have to surrender to the situation you are in and build something new from that. A lot of my lyrics are personal, but in a disguised way. I think the only song where I’m really narrating part of my life is All I Need. It’s a song about girls and travels.”
When Vinny first performed these songs live, it was as a duo, with his friend Kevin Flee on drums. “Kevin wasn’t even a drummer,” Vinny says. “He’s a guitarist. Being a two-piece was not a calculated move. We just couldn’t find the right bass player. But I soon became aware that we were falling into that category of The White Stripes and Royal Blood, and I was also amazed to see how many two-pieces there were on the circuit. It wasn’t remotely original. After Kevin left, I was always clear in my mind that I had to find a real drummer and a bass player”
Boyfromthecrowd now features Bas Combes, a fellow Frenchman, on drums, and Ben Jasper, an Englishman, on bass. “We did a little tour late last year,” Vinny says. “Our first real band thing. I call our live show a work in progress. We’re tight, but as a front person I’m still learning. I jump around a little too much on stage. I love to make a crazy noise, but we need to get that balance between the intensity in the performance and it turning into utter chaos.”
This is rock’n’roll music straight from the heart. “It’s personal,” Vinny says. “I’m wrapped up in it. It’s about connecting with people. You have to feel it.”
“Debauched rock ‘n’ roll with a destructive streak. Feels like The Cramps necking
Jack Daniel’s with the B-52s in some fleabit bar- ‘Hitch That Ride’ is a beast.” CLASH MAGAZINE
“Boy From The Crowd has released a creative masterpiece.” LOUDER THAN WAR
“It’s loud, visceral and hits like a hammer. “Where the Bees Come to Die”, which has received
“Bluesy riffs amidst a post punk sonic onslaught. Boyfromthecrowd are witty, gothic and definitely rock ‘n’ roll.” VIVE LE ROCK
rave reviews and, more importantly, attracted fans.” THE HUFFINGTON POST
“Sounds like an even more pissed off Joe Strummer.” DIY
“And the message here? Rock ‘n’ roll, when done right, is still as life-affirming as it ever was.” ABSOLUTE PUNK
Surrender to the Exercise (Album: August 2018)
Kind of crazy (Single: August 2018)
Hitch that ride (Single: Digital: November 2017)
Johnny B. Goode (cover) (7” Lathe cut: 2017, ILM day special)
Where the bees come to die (EP: Vinyl, CD, Digital, 2017)
All I need (Single: Digital, 2017)
Rudy Reed: firstname.lastname@example.org / 07729 301606