Interview: Guerrilla Monsoon [September 2014]

By Clara Cullen

A few weeks ago Birmingham-based punk band Guerrilla Monsoon laid waste to The Montague Arms in Peckham. The night had everything a great punk show should: an air of uncertainty, a handful of good friends and singalongs that made your throat raw the next day. Guerrilla Monsoon were on a lineup already heavily littered with great bands, sandwiched between Muncie Girls and The Traders, so suffice to say the pressure was on. With their emotionally charged songs, cerebral edge and knack for a catchy tune, Guerrilla Monsoon took on the London punk scene with a confidence beyond their years and came out fists pounding and hearts thumping.

With the recent news that Guerrilla Monsoon have signed to Beach Community in the UK and Paper + Plastick in the US, I caught up with Mark and Lewis over email to talk about the origins of the band, their new labels and their split with Gameday Regulars.

How did the band form?

Mark: I’ve played in punk/emo bands for the best part of 10 years and the same can be said about the others. When I moved to Birmingham in 2012 I bumped into Lewis at a show, who I knew from back when he was in Shermer and I was in Hopewood. We formed a short lived band with Alex from All In Vinyl records. After the band broke up Lewis and I sought out Rob (bass) and John (drums) and we started jamming in December 2013. We played our first show in February 2014 and it’s been a whirlwind ever since!

You guys are from Birmingham and have been in previous bands before Guerrilla Monsoon. What is the punk scene in the Midlands like?

Mark: We are really lucky to be part of a city that has so much going on. There is a great art space in the Digbeth area and three or four good record shops. Plus there are a few really good local bands like Layers, The Real Quaid and Laughing In The Face Of. I would describe the scene as developing but it has the potential to rival places like Manchester and Leeds.
Lewis: There are a few great people putting on DIY shows that are helping put Birmingham back on the map.

What advice would you give to other bands starting out?

Lewis: Practise, write songs, jam, go to gigs, make friends, put on gigs and play wherever you can. Someone somewhere will notice.
Mark: We are still at an early stage ourselves so perhaps not the best to be casting words of wisdom! I am however a firm believer in hard work and making opportunities for yourself. Don’t wait to be given a golden ticket; it will never arrive.

You have just released a split with Gameday Regulars. What was the songwriting process like?

Mark: We employ a range of different songwriting techniques. For the split I wrote the two tracks (‘December’ and ‘Rome’) on an acoustic guitar and then took them to the rehearsal space where they were knocked into shape.
Lewis: On other songs, such as ‘Big City Plans’, which is the lead track from our upcoming 10”, we jammed that out in the rehearsal space completely. We do not wish to restrict our songwriting methods.

Are you vinyl nerds?

Lewis: Yes, Mark and I live together and are in the process of trading our shiny CDs for beaten up vinyl.
Mark: We’re really lucky to literally live round the corner from All In Vinyl who are probably one of the UK’s best punk distros. I guess I buy on average one per week/fortnight and Lewis does the same. When we go to Fest we always stock up like crazy however!

Where do you draw your musical influences from?

Lewis: Growing up I spent a lot of time listening to bands with loud guitars regardless of genre. From growing up with bands such as NOFX/Offspring etc, I guess my taste kind of matured around the time I first heard The Refused and it has grown from there. Today I mainly listen to bands such as Lawerence Arms, Osker, Hot Water Music and Banquets.
Mark: Historically I played and sang in emo bands that essentially wanted to rip off Mineral, American Football and the Appleseed Cast. Lewis, John and Rob come from a punk rock background and I guess that’s why Guerrilla Monsoon sounds like a hybrid of the two genres (to me at least).

What can people expect from your shows?

Lewis: We like to party and would ideally like people to enjoy the show! Essentially we just go for it.
Mark: Yeah, we’ve played so many shows this year, some in front of about five people. I am genuinely proud to be in a band that will give it everything even after travelling eight hours (round trip) to play to an empty room. We love what we do and I am so happy to be part of that.

How did you get involved with Beach Community in the UK and Paper + Plastick in the USA?

Mark: Speculative demo! We recorded an EP in February and sent it off to every label we could think of. Paper + Plastick got back to us before anyone else and offered to work with us. We know Paper + Plastick not only because it is run by Vinnie from Less Than Jake/former owner of Fueled by Ramen, but also because of their amazing roaster of bands such as Red City Radio, The Flatliners, Shook Ones etc. It was an offer we couldn’t turn down. Likewise we knew Kev Douch through all his work with Big Scary Monsters and it was a no brainer when he offered to work with us. We’ve since met Kev’s partner in crime at Beach Community, Leigh Shorter, who is local to the West Midlands. Feels like such a perfect fit and we are so proud to be part of the family.

Can we expect a full length soon?

Lewis: We are about to release a 10”, which contains eight songs. It will be released on vinyl and digitally on October 27th. After that, who knows? We are however writing and demoing tracks for a full length as we speak.

Guerrilla Monsoon will release their new 10″ record ‘Big City Plans’ on 27th October, which contains eight shiny new tracks. Guerrilla Monsoon also head out on tour with Signals Midwest next week.


Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]