Console Warriors: The Best Band You’ve Never Heard Of

I don’t remember the exact day I discovered Console Warriors, except that it was the song ‘Vicious Fishus’ that I heard first. I was in school, living in a Chester suburb named Mickle Trafford, and at the time was obsessed with Brisbane-based indie band ‘The Jungle Giants’ and ‘Capisce?’ of SentUAMessage fame. This triad of indie pop forms the basis of a time capsule that contains an era of my life where ‘The Inbetweeners’ felt like it mocked me personally.

Out of these three bands, the one I still return to the most is without a doubt, Console Warriors. The band formed originally as a duo in Adelaide, in 2010, with Bill Meegan and Fionn Tschanz-Bartleet filling out the lineup. Their debut EP, the self-titled ‘Console Warriors’ came two years later. Following that, they added Danny Catalano as a full-time bassist and released ‘The Jitterblood Mini EP’ a year later.

Despite not having released any new material for eight long years, I can’t help but go back to this band and their heartbreakingly short discography – which contains a grand total of just seven songs. 

This lack of quality has no impact on the quality of these songs however, with ‘Starship 84’, ‘Jitterblood’ and the aforementioned ‘Vicious Fishus’ being my S-tier picks of their catalogue. These tunes capture that zeitgeist of quintessential early 2010’s millennial indie music too well for me to ever put them down.

The latter of those songs, ‘Vicious Fishus’, might be one of my favourite tunes of all time. It’s a cleanly edited, barrage of indie rock with maybe the most infectious baseline I’ve ever heard. Bill Meegan’s vocal performance on this song is powerful and full of raw emotion, especially when he rasps “this is love my dear, I can feel it / I feel it in my bones”. His voice carries a slight vibrato that dances over the intense drums laid down by Tschanz-Bartleet. Truly a gem of a song, and in the comment section you can see how dearly missed this band is, even to this day.

This is clearly just my comment, but my point still stands. There are others, promise.

‘Starship 84’ is a close-second when it comes to my personal opinion, it’s got a wicked math rock-esque guitar line, reminiscent of old-school Foals, that carries the verses of the track. The bridge of this song is something else too, with the aggressive drums talking centrefold alongside a slinky bassline that would go hard at any indie disco.

Both of these aforementioned tracks are from their debut ‘Console Warriors’ EP, but ‘Jitterbug’ from their sophomore effort is definitely worth your time too. The introduction of Catalano and his funky, dancing bassline carries this track by the hand, and does not let you go until the heavy guitars kick in. Again, this song has a fantastic instrumental bridge, which you’ll notice is the forte of the now defunct Aussie group.

All this isn’t saying ‘Sodapop Swing’, ‘Pyjama Party’, ‘Imaginary You’ and ‘Ode To Overstreet’ aren’t bangers in themselves, but they don’t invoke that same feeling of, dare I say, nostalgia as the others do.

So, if they’re so good, I hear you ask, where are they now? The truth is, they all seem to be working on other musical endeavours. Whether they moved on through lack of interest in the Console Warriors project, or if they fell out of love with the sound, I don’t know. I couldn’t find anything that remotely looked like a hiatus post on their socials, but it’s possible I just missed it when researching.

Either way, give them a listen, their stuff is only available on Bandcamp or YouTube so you can feel all edgy and hipster while you’re listening to it. Maybe someday they’ll come back, but until then, and if Bill, Fionn or Danny are reading this – please put your music on Spotify, I beg you.

Here, I’ll even link you to a video on how to do it:

You can thank me later x

The Genius of Declan McKenna

On the 11th of April 2015, a 16-year old Declan Benedict McKenna topped Glastonbury Festival’s Emerging Talent competition. The teenager beat out Shields and Kog and the Zongo Brigade to the top spot as they finished 2nd and 3rd respectively. His spoils? A £5000 cash prize and a main stage slot at the festival that year. Can’t be bad for a kid who still lived at his Mum’s house.

Before his win, NME had named him ‘one of the most sought-after acts’ in the UK. Why? You might have heard of a little song called ‘Brazil’ he had released that year at the age of 15. The Enfield native penned the political banger as a ‘triple collateral’, targeting the ill-prepared 2014 World Cup, the Brazilian government and many corrupt FIFA officials: especially the infamous Sepp Blatter.

He was even invited onto Sky News to talk about the correlation between football and poverty, he told them, “[i]t’s expanding into things further than I ever meant it to. It’s quite cool, thinking about the monster I’ve made with that song. People take a lot of different things from it”

The tune was staggeringly adult from a lad who was still sitting his GCSE’s, but it set him on the path to become one of British indie music’s future darlings. ‘Brazil’ would later appear on his 2017 debut album ‘What Do You Think About the Car?’, the name of which stems from a home video recorded when the Londoner was 4-years old. His parents had come home with a new Toyota Previa, and his sister asks the then toddler:

That’s So Raven. (Declan McKenna, Patterns, Brighton 2018) Credit: Drew de F Fawkes

“Dec, what do you think about the car? Do you like it?”, to which he replies…

“I think it’s really good, and now I’m gonna sing my new album now!”

The title track ‘Humongous’ has the audio of this exchange as it’s introduction, meaning it’s the first thing you hear when you pop the record on. It’s a charming opening to an album that spawned some massive tracks for McKenna, including: ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home’, ‘Why Do you Feel So Down?’ and ‘Paracetamol’.

Rolling Stone claimed on its release that “McKenna has built an activist-centric body of work exploring religion, gender identity and other thorny political topics’. The youngster is astonishingly mature in his song writing, an example from this album is Track 6, ‘Isombard’. The song is a catchy electronic pop tune blended with a catchy hook as a melodic guitar that slips in and out of the mix as it meanders through its 3 minute and 43 second runtime.

Lyrically, ‘Isombard’ is a satire on right-wing news corporations that is loosely based on the famous sonnet ‘next to of course god america i’ by E.E Cummings. The poem is a satire itself on blind patriotism. It speaks through the lens of a nonsensical drunkard who is unaware of his country’s distortion as all he can see his is own nationalism. In a strange twist of irony, this track would later join the FIFA 17 soundtrack, obviously they hadn’t heard ‘Brazil’.

An activist on the pavement in Whitehall opposite 10 Downing Street in 2018. Source: Alisdare Hickson

McKenna followed up his debut with the politically charged ‘British Bombs’. To the backing of a bouncy Britpop beat the artist heavily criticises the UK’s international affairs approach, with particular focus on the country’s involvement of selling bombs to Saudi Arabia. This ammunition is used by them to bomb the innocent civilians of Yemen, who are stuck in a proxy war between the Saudis and Iran.

And if it’s not a f*cking war crime. It’s a total waste of your time. And getting so much worse. Get real, kid, your country’s been at war since birth now” (British Bombs, Declan Mckenna)

There is a comment on the music video for this song that encapsulates his efforts better than I ever could. Eva Sjö writes, “Declan makes music for politically frustrated indie kids and I’ve never felt more represented”.

We live in an age where kids can no longer be told what to think. British teenagers are ashamed of their imperial and colonial roots, Generation Z are stewards of this Earth and they want to leave it in a better way than they found it. McKenna is the poet to their post-modern beliefs.

McKenna is releasing his sophomore album ‘Zeros’ this August, and I for one am beyond excited. Three singles have already dropped, each more interesting than the last. The new sound is sonically thunderous and booms with new confidence  from the springboard of his greener first effort. Lead single ‘The Key to Life on Earth’ tackles how badly human beings interact with one another. The video includes Alex Lawther from the critically acclaimed Channel 4 show ‘The End of the F*cking World’ because McKenna’s fans think they’re doppelgängers. Not only is he politically woke, he’s also social media savvy with his hordes of fans.

Follow-up single ‘Beautiful Faces’ critiques the façade of influencer culture and even his own career as it is made to look better than it seems. His newest effort, ‘Daniel, You’re Still a Child’ dropped last week and tells the story of a boy who is alienated by his own world as he grows older. With a maturity beyond his years and a writing style reminiscent of the late David Bowie, McKenna is one to keep a keen eye on as he sprints headfirst into the future (probably in front of a green screen).

I’ll see you when he plays in Brixton next April.

music travel

A Love Letter to King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut

Back in 2011, stressed during my GCSE’s but taking the first grasps at young adult life, I was sat in one of the media studies classrooms at lunch. Me and my friend Ryan were looking at upcoming concerts in Manchester. I’d wanted to start attending gigs regularly now I’d turned 16, being situated in Chester placed me in the perfect position to travel to both Liverpool and Manchester to see my favourite bands.

That day I was searching for emo-gamechangers Madina Lake, their album ‘Attics to Eden’ had been released a couple of years prior and the lead single ‘Never Take Us Alive’ had made the rounds on my iPod Nano since its release. I remember downloading the song illegally using some sort of YouTube to MP3 website like every other teenager at the time, in a forgotten world without Spotify and Apple Music.

The band that started it all, Madina Lake (unugunu, Wikimedia Commons)

Searching for the band on Google, we were met with their upcoming performance in Glasgow, at an amazingly named venue by the name of ‘King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut’. At the time I gave it a raised eyebrow, intrigued by its name, before ending our search due to the impending school bell. Little did I know however, that this was the beginning of a lifetime obsession with a venue in a country I had never even visited.

Since then, I have always noticed the venue on the touring schedules of the bands I loved, every time the name sparked my interest. Why did this North African Pharaoh have a venue in Scotland? What the hell was a ‘Wah Wah’? But most importantly – when could I go?

For those of you unaware, King Tut’s is a small cult venue situated on St. Vincent’s street, a short walk from the centre of Glasgow. Founded in 1990, the 300-capacity venue takes its name from a Lower East Side New York club and experimental theatre space from the 80’s. That iconic club hosted the likes of the Blue Man Group, whereas the one this side of the Atlantic boasts The Strokes, Biffy Clyro and Beck.

The original King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in the Lower East Side of NYC (Lupo Rodriguez, Pinterest)

The venue has been voted as BBC Radio 1’s ‘Best Small UK Venue’ and NME named it “quite possibly the best small venue in the world”. It was even the location for Liam Gallagher’s ‘Come Back to Me’. My love for the idea of going to King Tut’s faded after a decade of life, until one weekend last December when I briefly mentioned my former infatuation to my girlfriend in jest. I didn’t think anything of it, but she did – the next thing I knew she’d booked me tickets to go on my birthday.

It was to see a band called IDER, a ‘post-genre’ indie band consisting of Lily Somerville and Megan Markwick. I’d never heard of them, but I didn’t care – that’s how you discover new music anyway. I was beyond excited. It’s still up there with one of the most genuine and thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received.

I was finally going to King Tut’s!

The walls of the blokes toilets in King Tut’s. The first and last time I’ve taken a photo in a bathroom. (February, 2020)

Before I waffle on, Glasgow as a city itself is phenomenal. The people are ace, I got rinsed in a comedy club after being selected as the ‘most Scottish looking person in the room’, only to hit the host with my brand of Cestrian English. He said to me, “Ginger and English? I don’t think you’re liked much up here or down there”. Bruised ego aside, the city is great – don’t let its reputation stop you from going. The ‘Dear Green Place’ is more than it’s cracked up to be if you give it a chance.

The venue itself is everything I wanted it to be and more. From the enormous logo outside, to the toilets plastered with signed setlists from gigs long ago. They have their own ‘King Tut’s Lager’ on tap, which was decently potent (especially after 4 of them). I was Captain Ahab, the venue Moby Dick – I’d fall into the water and let it take me wherever it wanted me to go. Luckily, it didn’t take 3 days to chase the venue down.

King Tut’s revels in its history. It bursts with an array of artwork, posters and instruments that preceded its famous steps; each one archiving the artists who performed there that year into its very foundations. A million memories condensed into a single footstep, only to capture a million more in the next.

The famous steps at King Tut’s (February, 2020)

The atmosphere buzzed for IDER. After getting acquainted with the aforementioned lager and being ‘that guy’ who took a photo of the stairs (I hate myself too) we spilled into the venue. Split between the bar, stage, and a raised mezzanine we we’re engulfed in the shadows of your typical venue – the features of Charlotte’s face only visible by the oozing red stage lighting as we waited patiently for the band in its eager glow.

IDER were ace.

If you’ve ever attended venues like Parr Street Studio 2 in Liverpool, or The Ritz in Manchester – you’ll know there are certain venues that were built for music. This is one of them. The London duo’s voices bounced from the walls as they performed. They were that good that their current Wikipedia image is from the gig that we were at (see photo).

The name IDER comes from the character that “manifests itself when [they] harmonise“, although intended as a joke they named themselves after – this genuinely rang true. They intertwined melodies and swapped instruments with ease, it felt like a fever dream.  It was one of the best performances I had seen for a long time, in arguably one of the best gig venues I’d ever attended. As a bonus, the night concluded with the best drunk Five Guys burger on our way back to the hotel.

Give them a listen if you’ve got a spare 3 minutes and 45 seconds.

So, whether you’ve got plans to visit Glasgow already or if you’re travelling for King Tut’s itself, it is 100% worth the visit. This might be the decade of bias talking, but I think it might be my favourite venue in the country. Although I’ve got NME and Radio 1 on my side so I can’t be too far from the truth.


And I definitely didn’t buy a commemorative mug.

In the words of Liam Gallagher – “Why don’t you come back to me?”

I’m sure someday I will.


Why We Need System of a Down More Than Ever

“Following the rights movements, you clamped down with your iron fists. Drugs became conveniently available for all the kids” Prison Song, System of a Down, Toxicity, 2001.

These lyrics from the latter end of 2001 sound like they could have been written in the past week. How about another.

“Circumventing circuses lamenting in protest. To visible police, presence-sponsored fear. Battalions of riot police with rubber bullet kisses. Baton courtesy, service with a smile.” Deer Dance, System of a Down, Toxicity, 2001.

I think these words are actually more relevant.

Both of these excerpts are taken from Toxicity, the incredible sophomore album released by the Armenian alternative metal band – System of a Down. The record itself is now a staggering 19 years old. Yet, this album could have been released yesterday and wouldn’t feel outdated. The album, released a week before the 9/11 terror attacks took place, summarised the screams of a rising left-wing movement in the United States. One that protested the war on drugs, police brutality and prison overcrowding – as well as other artifacts of Americana.

The aforementioned 9/11 incident, as tragic and harrowing as it was, arguably further opened the doorway for an increased expansion of right-wing nationalism, mass deportation of citizens and large-scale surveillance of its people. The true extent of the latter only becoming apparent after Edward Snowdon’s NSA leaks back in 2013.

With Donald Trump at the helm, the United States looks more fractured than ever. The current Black Lives Matter protests are the latest in a long line of incidents that seem to be tearing the country apart at the seams. With the 2020 preliminaries on the horizon, the political spectrum for the candidates makes for grim reading for anybody leaning to the left in politics.

System of a Down, along with other contemporaries of the protest-rock genre such as Rage Against the Machine and Rise Against, managed chart success despite their incendiary sound. System went a step further with their unorthodox blend of Armenian folk, metal, jazz, and Greek influences. Songs such as the international smash-hit ‘Chop Suey!’ (aptly named after their record label had told them to ‘chop’ the original name of the track ‘Suicide’), ‘BYOB’ and ‘Aerials’ are common tracks on any Gen X or Millennial iPod. In a world that boasts a wide variety of rap and dance tracks, there is prime real estate for heavier music in the charts. It needs to be loud, and it needs to encapsulate the feelings of the disassociated youth – just as it did all those years ago.

It has been 15 years since the release of the ‘Mezmerize’ and ‘Hypnotize’ double release, two albums that, according to guitarist Daron Malakian, nearly ended up dead in the water before they had even begun. He told Kerrang Magazine:

“To be honest with you, Serj didn’t even want to make [them]. We really begged him to make those records. At that time, he felt like he was out.”

I had the pleasure of seeing System of a Down headlining at Download Festival Paris back in 2017. Although I enjoyed the set, I failed to shake the feeling that it was a fleeting cash-grab from one of the most revolutionary bands of the modern era. The passion in their performance seemingly gone, it was an extravagant act of going through the same material they had then been performing for over a decade.

System of a Down Performing at Download Paris (Brétigny-sur-Orge, 2017)

Nowadays the band are unable to agree on anything – never mind politics. Just last week Serj Tankian posted on Instagram, “Run Donny, run back to your bunker”, after the POTUS had entered the White House safehouse and turned off all the lights, as protests raged on outside. In stark contrast to his opinions, drummer Jon Dolmayan labelled the same man as “the greatest friend to minorities”.

The drummer said in a recent Instagram video:

“We have differing opinions in System of a Down. That shouldn’t be a shock to anybody, because you have four individuals: we’re not always like-minded and don’t always agree on everything. But you’d be surprised at how civil our conversations are, especially between me and Serj, who seem to have the most diverging opinions on things.”

We’re rolling suicide (Chop Suey!, 2001)

I for one would absolutely love to hear an album forged from the melting pot of opposing forces in politics, as I am sure many others would too. According to bassist Shavo Odidjian, he would have had 10 System of a Down albums released by now if it was up to him. He even told Consequence of Sound that the material that they had pre-written was some of the best they had ever recorded.

Stephen Hill at Loudersound sums it up perfectly when he writes: “This long without an album for a band that are meant to actually stand for something is embarrassing.”

All four of the band members are highly active on social media, but they did not rise to prominence as Instagram influencers. They fought against what they perceived as an unjust system with their own brand of metal. The world needs a new System of a Down album more than ever, but if they fail to answer the call now, when the United States is literally on its knees – will they ever? Perhaps we are just cursed for a lifetime of festival headline sets, where they slowly but surely squeeze every drop of monetary gain from the songs that roared them into limelight in the first place.

I’ll end this article with some words of wisdom from Serj Tankian himself.

You know you want to (Chop Suey!, 2001)

“Banana, banana, banana, terracotta. Banana terracotta, terracotta pie. Banana, banana, banana, terracotta. Banana terracotta, terracotta pie” Vicinity of Obscenity, System of a Down, Hypnotize, 2005.

Looking into those lyrics actually makes them all the more intriguing, but I think that’s the point as the song is Serj’s take on Dadaism. In all seriousness I adore System of a Down and their classics, I just want to hear what Serj, Daron, Shavo and Jon have got to say about the last 15 years outside of 280 characters.