Uncle Brian

By paul

PAUL: “Hey Dan, can you tell us who Uncle Brian are and give me a brief band history please.”
DAN: “Hey Paul! How it going? Well, Uncle Brian are a kinda ‘ska-pop-punk’group from the south of England. I started writing songs at school in my first band who played a school concert, in which John (drums) was playing in another band… I gave him a call and we met up and started another band together, since then we’ve played loads of shows/tours around the UK and Europe under the name Uncle Brian and released one album with Moonska Europe. However after recording the album and doing two tours for Moon, Uncle Brian split in half. Our Bass player and guitarist went on to form another band. We recruited Ben (who I went to music college with) on guitar/vocals and Steve on bass. Since those guys joined the band, we’ve done so many more better things..i.e touring and playing shows with some of my favourite bands. Now I write a lot of songs by myself, our old guitarist and I used to write a lot together so it used to have his influences showing through at the best of times… which sometimes wasn’t my favourite thing in the world. So now I’m so much more happy and am a lot more focused.”

PAUL: “The early Uncle Brian stuff is obviously influenced by ska as well as pop-punk. What bands have collectively influenced UB?”
DAN: “To be honest I don’t think there’s one band that we can all say we like apart from our good friends Bowling For Soup. We have nightmares in the van deciding what to listen to. Collectively the only stuff we can listen to as a band is 80/90’s rock stuff like Guns ‘n’ Roses, Metallica, Bon Jovi…”

PAUL:Uncle Brian recently broke away from Moon Ska Europe, what can you tell us about the split and where does this leave you now? Is there other label interest or are you happy to play the waiting game?”
DAN: “At the end of our contract with Moon we didn’t actually discuss the direction of our next move, but in the back of our minds we knew we didn’t want to work with Moon again. At the time when they offered another album deal, turning it down seemed like the obvious thing to do. Don’t get me wrong, Moonska are a good label and they have done a lot for us, we wouldn’t have got on tour and released an album if it wasn’t for them. We don’t hate each other, it’s just not the label for us anymore. We’ve had loads of interest from other labels since it’s been known that we left Moon. We haven’t signed anything yet, there’s a lot of people coming out to see us on our tour… we’re not going to chase any labels, if they want us, they come and see us and tell us. We just going to get on with covering this country like a rash!”

PAUL: “I also hear that the new stuff you have been writing is more pop-punk than ska. Why have you decided to change direction?”
DAN: “It kind of is I suppose, there’s still bits of ska in songs we’ve written since ‘BBQ music’ that have been used on various punk comps but now I feel we’re changing. And don’t get me wrong we’re still Uncle Brian and people that like us will still like us. I personally haven’t really made a conscious effort to not write ska anymore, however, I don’t really listen to ska anymore and haven’t in the last year or so which would probably have a lot to do with it. I guess it’s something that happens, you can’t stay the same forever – it’s like cutting you hair. I bet Jon Bon Jovi get’s shit from the die-hard Jovi fans for cutting the poodle but at the time he cut it, he probably thought it was no big thing and didn’t think about it. It’s just a progression.”

PAUL: “But do you not think that in jettisoning the ska you are going to get a lot of criticism for selling out, bearing in mind that the poppier side of punk seems to be selling by the bucketload? I mean I personally don’t think it is but there is always the odd idiot who’ll slag off a band because their next CD isn’t a carbon copy of the first…”
DAN: “For us, people have to expect a little change from our first record because we have two different band members. And I haven’t just stopped wanting to play ska because it’s not as popular, it’s just ska isn’t as popular with me anymore. And if I felt myself re-writing another ‘BBQ music’ then I think I’d have to quit. Everyone complains about the musical change bands make from their first record, but their just doing what comes naturally. I’d have to make more of an effort to stay the same.”

PAUL: “Have any of the new songs been given names? Are there any plans to release anything this year?”
DAN: “We are going to release a little two track promo CD for our tour only. It’ll be about £1. We want to release another record ASAP but also want to make sure that the people that are releasing have us in their best interests before anything is done. The songs on the tour will be ‘Southern Hood’ and ‘Another Night’.”

PAUL: “Gig wise you have a pretty big UK tour coming up, what can we expect from the Uncle Brian live experience in 2002?”
DAN: “Nice things. (*laughs*) Um, us playing some new songs and rocking out in the best way we know.”

PAUL: “Any plans for any gigs up north as there aren’t too many dates that venture up here?”
DAN: “Yeah, the tour was meant to hit Manchester but the promoters up there don’t want to do it untill September. We will probably have a date in Leeds on tour which should be booked in the next few days!”

PAUL: “Going back to the ‘old-skool’ Uncle Brian, what is the story behind the song ‘Better Off Gay’? Are you telling us that girls are fucking evil…”
DAN: “I can’t really remember, just bad past experiences with the brighter sex really. I always write about past experiences cos everything in my love-life is cool, I have a wicked relationship with my girlfriend Jess. It’s been 4 years and 1 month now!”

PAUL: “You have already recorded a cover on your first record, how did that come about? Are we likely to see any other covers, either live or recorded, in the near future?”
DAN: “We’d love to record another cover, but we really can’t think of one to do! If anyone reading this can think of one that would be cool, then email me! We recorded the Vengaboys song on our album because it went down so well at gigs. At first it was just a joke, but when we opened for Millencolin about 2 years ago at the London Astoria people loved it, we were shocked and everone wrote to me saying “is that song on your new album?” So we had to…”

PAUL: “In the late summer you have a US tour booked with Bowling For Soup…how have you come to be mates with the guys? Any funny tales about them that have happened on the road with you?”
DAN: “Well, one day I just decided to email Bowling For Soup and see if they had any plans to tour Europe as I’d love for my band to support them. I got an email back from Eric first saying “yeah we do have plans but nothing is confirmed,” however they had plans to play Reading that year. So I asked for their manager’s email and offered to book the band a tour around their Reading and Leeds performances. However, Reading and Leeds ended up not happening for them that year so they just ended up staying at my house and doing a two week low-key UK tour with us. There are some real funny stories from that tour, but I was too drunk to remember them haha! I remember some things like Chris (Bfs) nearly falling through the roof of a venue, me and Gary (BFS ) having a beer fight in the middle of a hotel bar throwing the empty glasses out the window. Loads of things, it was our best tour as a band. So much fun! Basically the America tour with them (which has now been moved to September/October) came about by them returning a favour. They made the offer of us going to Texas staying at their places and supporting them for two weeks. Basically the exact same thing we did for them, but theirs is on a bigger scale. Also when we go we’ll hopefully be doing some recording with Jaret (bfs singer) in the producer chair. He’s done loads of producing work in the past and he’s very very good at it!”

PAUL: “www.uncle-brian.com is currently going through a bit of a refit. How important do you think the internet is for a band such as yourself?”
DAN: “Very! It’s done us a lot of favours. People can listen to our stuff, check what’s going on and even get in contact with us without waiting a week for the crap postal service.”

PAUL: “Fat Wreck have recently created a bit of a furore about downloading cds…what is your stance on MP3’s and the burning of home made cds fresh from the internet?”
DAN: “Well, I think Mp3’s are an amazing idea, but ripping off bands isn’t. If I download a song from the net and like what I hear, I go out and buy the record. But sometimes for a band the size of Uncle Brian this doesn’t work as records are harder to find in the shops, then I can kind of understand people burning their own CD from downloaded Mp3’s..cos it’s better to have people listening to your music that not ..right?!”

PAUL: “If you were marooned on a desert island which five cds would you take and why?”
DAN: “Elvis Costello – Greatest Hits because in my opinion Elvis Costello is one of the best song writers ever. Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet because it would convince me to ‘hold on, ready or not, it wouldn’t make a difference if I made it or not.’ WeezerWeezer because eventually I’m going to grow a beard on a desert island and I would need to be convinced that beards can be cool. Jimmy Eat World – Bleed American because it’s my favourite album of this year. Green Day – Dookie because it’s probably the best pop-punk album in the world ever.”

PAUL: “I’ve heard a rumour that you are a bit of an Ataris fan…what did you think of End Is Forever? I’m a fan myself and quite like it, but it was never going to beat Blue Skies… is it?”
DAN: “I am a massive Ataris fan! You see, I think End is forever is a better album on the whole than Blue Skies but the better songs on Blue Skies are better than the better songs on End is forever. I find End Is forever more consistent though-out.”

PAUL: “Final question. Where do you see Uncle Brian this time next year and again in five years time?”
DAN: “Probably getting stuck on a Punktastic interview question like ‘Did you ever see yourself where you are now a year ago or five years a go?’

PAUL: “Cheers Dan, thanks for your time mate.”
DAN: “Thanks. Check out www.uncle-brian.com but the chances are if you’re reading this interview you probably (hopefully) like Uncle Brian and already check our website….Well go do it again! And keep looking at Punktastic!”

Link: www.uncle-brian.com

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Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]