Up Close & Personal: Disconnected Genius

Our latest musical heart-to-heart saw us link up with some boys from Down Under; Melbourne to be precise. Disconnected Genius are a three piece playing classic melodic rock with their own distinct lean. While bassist Yuri and drummer Daniel were either surfing, wrestling crocodiles or engaging in some other stereotypical Aussie pastime, we caught up with lead singer, Jamie O’Keefe.

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Hey Jamie, we love the new release but we’ve not seen many titles like that since the days of Captain Beefheart. We’ve got to ask…how the hell did you come up with that one?

Our latest LP is called Nirvikalpa Meow; Nirvikalpa is the highest attainable state of enlightenment espoused by the ancient Vedic saints. Meow was my cat, who died. So it is the highest honour and tribute to her.

Wow, high praise to Meow. I never had the pleasure, but I’m sure she’d be made up by the album. We’re All Watching Everything has lodged itself in my head – are there any tracks on the album that stand out for you?

There’s quite a rigorous quarantine selection and vetting process before songs are even considered for one of our albums, so any song on a Disconnected Genius album is something we think is awesome. I suppose it’s a bit like being asked to choose your favourite child. They all have their thing, that’s why they’re there.

The Disconnected Genius journey has been relatively short so far, but what would you identify as the band’s greatest musical achievement to date?  

Just recording two studio LP’s is the greatest achievement in my opinion but in terms of awards and chart placings we’ve had dozens of songs do really well in different Indie Radio Charts. We’re also proud of the fact a song of ours called Sadness is a Primary Color from our first record, Dogs Chasing Fairy Tales, was nominated for a Golden Kayak Award, which is an Indie Music People thing run by Scott Stambaugh.

From what we’ve heard, Disconnected Genius tick the boxes for both music and lyrics. What’s more important to you guys when you’re writing your songs?

Good question. Music, because that’s what makes it music, but it does pay to have good lyrics.  I find it’s a bit like if you imagine the music to be a diamond, but you’ve got to sand the diamond down to get it into shape and in that sanding process suitable lyrics usually seem to appear.  A good Rorschach test is to ask yourself: if there were no words, would it be a good song? And vice versa: if there was no music would the words stack up as poetry?

So give us some insight into the musicians who may have inspired you. What was the first album you bought and do you have any musical guilty pleasures?

The first album I bought was (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?. Still happy with that, got off on the right foot there.  I was about nine or ten and listened to it all night and fell asleep with it still on, it was magical. In regard to musical guilty pleasures, I don’t think there’s such a thing. If it’s good and you like it, who and where it’s from matters not in the context of what’s seen to be “cool”.  Take Nickelback for example. They made it big because they wrote one of the best songs of the last 50 years in How you Remind Me.  Sure they’ve kept releasing the same song for the last 20 years but at least they’re famous for a reason.

But you know, music from Flashdance I love: What a Feeling and all that. Some of Kelly Clarksons stuff is pretty cool and I still pump Hanson’s MMM Bop, too.

So how do you see the future of your music? Any plans to mix things up in search of sonic evolution? 

In our opinion, the evolution of style is not really a consciously motivated thing, it just happens naturally, but we’re working on our 3rd album as we speak.  Already we’ve got some pumping tunes that we feel are raising the bar to a whole new level, so we’re unbelievably excited about it!

It’ll be time to celebrate once that’s all wrapped up! Out of interest, do Disconnected Genius have a bona fide party animal on board?!

That’s definitely Yuri!  He’s been running this annual Christmas party for fourteen years. He’s practically the Australian Van Wilder!

If you’ve not checked out Disconnected Genius yet, take a look at the links below. They’re top guys, so take the time to follow them on social media, download the album and keep in touch for news about their fast approaching third LP.

 

Listen to Disconnected Genius:

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/48IaPhobTv2FxcfxOODDZ2

Deezer: http://www.deezer.com/search/disconnected%20genius

Find Disconnected Genius:

Site: http://www.disconnectedgenius.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/disconnectedgenius

Instagram: http://instagram/disconneted_genius

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Zen_Rockstar

YouTube: smarturl.it/dg_youtube

ReverbNation: https://www.reverbnation.com/disconnectedgenius

 

Up Close & Personal: PUKK

Irish born singer songwriter Joe Chalmers and drummer Mark Beamson are PUKK. The name is unique and so is their sound. Formed in the West Midlands in 2016, this fruitful partnership has spawned four singles and their debut album is due in June. We spoke to Joe and got the low down on that name, pawning guitars to pay the bills and angry Finnish death metal bands.
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So Joe, who are PUKK and what are you all about?

The short answer is…I’m PUKK.  I write, sing, play guitar and take care of everything PUKK related, from artwork to admin. I recruited an old mate (Mark Beamson) on drums and booked some studio time without ever having played together. We knew each other from college and we’d bump into each other now and again. He’s a talented singer songwriter, multi instrumentalist and also plays drums with local band The Gold Room. I wanted real drums rather than a drum machine, so I got in touch and brought his skills to the recording studio. We’ve not looked back since!

PUKK…come on, put us out of our misery and tell us about the name.

I’d been making home demos for years on an old 4 track tape machine. They were rubbish but it was all a learning curve. I’d label the tapes when I was done and one tape in particular was labelled after it’s distinctive sound…’Pissed Up Karaoke’…PUK. The name stuck, except with the later addition of an extra ‘K’.  After the release of Sunshine Kisses I was contacted by a Finnish metal band, also called Puk. They weren’t happy that I was also using the name, so for individuality and to avoid any aggravation I added the second K. PUKK was born. It got a bit weird when I found out that Gavin Monaghan also had a cat called Puck. That bent my head a bit, what are the odds?
Pro tip, kids…check your proposed band name on a site like www.musicbrainz.org before you release your music. You might have the coolest name around, but if five other bands have the same name you won’t stand out and fans won’t find you easily.

You’ve got an eclectic that clearly draws on multiple genres. Who are your biggest musical influences?

My Mum used to play records all the time when I was growing up. She’d have on old Motown and Stax compilations, The Beatles, those K-Tel compilations of the latest hits. When I was ten I found the Street Sounds Electro series. That was it, I was hooked on hip hop for the next decade. When I was fifteen I used to trade tapes with friends. I came across Factory records, the Manchester scene, alternative American indie bands and I got on board with that too. Musically it was a great time to be alive with so much to discover and so much creativity around.

What about your own music? What tracks are you most proud of?

I’m really proud of Sunshine Kisses, All The Stops and Rank Amateur. All The Stops marked the point when I realised I could actually write – and pull off – a ‘grown up’ song. Sunshine Kisses was the point where I knew I was finally getting somewhere as a writer. BBC Introducing played it a lot and it was song of the week on The Premium Blend Radio Show. If it hadn’t received any radio or interest I would’ve packed it in and sold my gear. That was the turning point. I wrote it when I was 42 and on holiday in Lanzarote. I just had a pen and pad with me. The melody and lyrics were 99% finished by the time I got home and picked up a guitar.

We love the tracks you’ve already released but what else is in pipeline?

I’ve self released a handful of singles so far under the label Tidy Karma Recordings. These are all on the usual digital sites. Next up is the ever-evasive debut album. It’s pencilled in for a June release but that may come forward depending on how quickly I can get the remaining three tracks done. The album is called ‘Feckless’ and has a common slacker element that connects the songs. There are themes of escape, fresh starts and wasted time popping up throughout. It’s been a long time coming. It’s a bucket-list item that’s been twenty years in the making, but I’m almost there! The mad thing is, now I’ve got some momentum going I’ve got three other projects in my head that I want to do! I’m really happy with the quality of the songs and the production. Gavin Monaghan (The Sherlocks / Jaws / Editors) has produced the album and done an excellent job. The next step is getting the money together to get it pressed on vinyl.

Twenty years in the making?! Sounds like your relationship with music hasn’t all been smooth sailing then?

You could say that! I do myself no favours. I have a history of poor life choices. I over think to the point where I realise I’m over thinking, then I make rash decisions because I’ve taken so long to make a decision. I’m a bit of a nightmare to be fair! I wouldn’t work with me if I didn’t have to! The words ‘basket case’ come to mind. I’ve had fits and starts over the years where I’d get melodies and lyrics together but couldn’t play guitar to match the melody. I only really became reasonable at guitar when I was about 40. I’d bought guitars in the past, I’d play them badly, get frustrated and at that point they’d gather dust until I was skint. I’d dust them off and sell them. This happened a lot. I’ve never been great at explaining things either so trying to convey a musical idea to a friend when neither of us had the musical knowledge of how the nuts and bolts of it worked was fruitless. I got so frustrated around 1999 that I took a folder full of song lyrics and notes I’d written over the years and put them in the BBQ in our garden. Granted, I’d had a few drinks at the time. It seemed like I was banging my head off a wall trying to write songs and not getting anywhere. I set fire to the lot and didn’t think about writing again for years. In 2008 I took redundancy from an old employer and bought myself another guitar…