INTERVIEW: Rews

Rews @ The Flapper 15.02.17 / Paul Reynolds

Words by Ed King / Pics by Paul Reynolds

“We were talking about this the other day… our second sold out show in the city. It’s absolutely fantastic. We’re so excited that there are people returning show after show to come and see us; it’s such an amazing atmosphere, we honestly can’t wait to come back.”

I’m catching up with Shauna Tohill and Collette Williams, aka Rews, as they travel from a debut gig in Leeds to another hot ticket show at the Sugarmill in Stoke. Birmingham is a few notches down on the tour post, with the rock powerhouse returning for their second consecutive sold out show in the city on 22nd March – this time playing at the well-loved and well-programmed Hare & Hounds, with local support from You Dirty Blue and P.E.T.

“It’s been really good,” explains Collette Williams – as I ask about the rest of Rews‘ tour, “and it’s nice to be able to get to some places that we haven’t yet been to before – we haven’t actually played in Leeds before, which is crazy. I used to go to Uni in Leeds and this is the first time I’ve been back in about eight years.”

“Yeah, it’s been really brilliant,” adds Shauna Tohill. “We were just a bit sad about having to reschedule some of the gigs to being with, we now have new dates for them, but it’s been amazing so far.”

Rews keep a pretty rigorous live and tour schedule, with a focused work ethic both on and off the road. But beginning their UK tour as the tabloid titled ‘beast from the east’ closed off half the country proved to be somewhat of a challenge.Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.17 “The two dates we had to postpone were because people just physically get to the venues,” continues Tohill, “the roads were all closed. That’s was Newcastle and Glasgow… we’d never been to Glasgow before either.”

Back touring the UK and Ireland, still on the crest of “this Pyro wave”, Rews have had a significant year – not only with the release of their stellar debut album, but also racking up some serious time on the national airwaves. And not just the rock stations either, for a while it seemed Rews had polished off their shotguns and taken over Broadcasting House.

“It’s been incredible, but so strange,” tells Williams. “We keep getting messages from friends and family saying, ‘I’m in my car, driving back from work, and you’re on the radio at five o’clock’. The DJs were really supportive too and took the time to find out about us. Apart from Scott Mills, who didn’t, then went on to tell everyone I was an alcoholic and flower arranger – he was like, ‘let’s just coin her with something’ which was quite hilarious.” But however they got through the BBC’s front door, or whatever floral self-destruction may or may not have happened in the green room, Rews’ time on the air has certainly bolstered their growing army of fans. Then again, a week of having your single (‘Your Tears’) pushed across the biggest broadcaster in the county should pay some dividends.

But time and tide wait for no radio playlist, and ‘Shake Shake’ is the latest Rews single – released in February and already building momentum. “A lot of people have been making comments about it,” explains Tohill, “and some have been comparing it to the older version that we had.” ‘Shake Shake’ was one of Rews’ original four singles, with the track first recorded and released in 2016. “but our ‘likes’ have gone up and you can see that reflected in people watching and interacting with it online. You can see that it’s been received well by people.”

“I guess we’ve got two different camps,” continues Williams, “we’ve got new fans who didn’t know the old version of it, but who love the energy of the new version. Then we’ve got the people who have been there from the start who can recognise it’s a different recording and a different sound. But when we play it live everyone loves it – it’s really energetic and they all get dancing to it, which is cool.”

Live gigs are where Rews undeniably make their mark, with such high octane and engaging shows you sometimes have to check there really are only two of them on stage. In your face Polyphonic Spree… But Pyro, Rews’ debut album that came out in November 2017 (read our Birmingham Review of Pyro here), is a ferocious first foot forward – an addictive ten track ‘avalanche’ of an album, with all the hallmarks of a rock classic in the making. Seriously, in about five years just wait for the listicles.

But Pyro also cemented their signing to Marshall Records, as Rews were one of the first UK bands to appear on the iconic rock brand’s recently formed label.  “It’s been good,” explains Williams, “they’re quite hands off in their approach, which allows us some creative breathing space. But we’ve been with them a year and we’ve grown together, so I think they’ll be trying to kick it up a notch now –  more international stuff, us getting out and playing more places we haven’t been to. There’s some exciting stuff on the horizon.”

“We do have some news…” adds Tohill, “but nothing we can tell you about now.” I’m guessing, and hoping, it has something to do with America. Rews would kill it in America.

But world domination aside, there are other good fights to fight – with Rews recently being pretty proactive on International Women’s Day, appearing in various panel discussions and interviews, as well an all-female gig in Brighton (if you get a chance, read the Women Who Rock feature on Mels Jukebox).

Rews @ The Flapper 15.02.17 / Paul Reynolds“There’s a whole combination of things, it can be quite complicated,” explains Tohill, as I ask the uncomfortably obvious question about ‘issues facing women in the music industry today’. “But I think a lot of it is just getting the right kind of support and respect really. Collette and I both find we’re well supported and respected, but there’s just, you know… sometimes, things like when you get groped whilst your having your photos taken. It’s not really on. It’s fine to give someone a hug, and some caring touch, but not anything more than that.”

“I think it’s about opportunities as well,” continues Williams. “There’s been a lot that’s come out about the lack of female musicians appearing on festival line ups, and I think it’s about turning some of the attention onto opportunities and filtering that in from the ground level up. It’s about inspiring young women to get into music, to take up an instrument, because it’s important to get the balance right. Whilst there might not be enough females (in areas of the music industry) you don’t want to go too heavily to the other side and have this sense of entitlement – that you’ve been put on the bill just because someone’s trying to fill some kind of gender gap.”

“It feels like it might take a few years yet,” adds Tohill “but the more awareness we have and the more women that get involved in the music industry, the more you won’t even need gender as a factor and we won’t see that divide anymore.”

How do you feel when gender is used to describe Rews? Being called ‘the female Royal Blood’ isn’t a bad thing, but it’s still steeped in sexuality.

Rews @ The Flapper 15.02.17 / Paul Reynolds“We’ve talked about this a few times,” continues Tohill. “We don’t really mind, too much, but it depends in what way it’s being used. Again, it is going to take a few years, generations possibly, to take away the kind of ‘unique thing’ about being a female band. But we are a female band, so we don’t mind people referencing that if they’re not doing it in a derogatory way.”

“It works both ways too,” adds Williams, “we can use it in our favour – some people are still intrigued by it, in a positive sense. But it shouldn’t be used just for the sake of it because it’s not a describing factor about our music. Ultimately it would be great to drop the gender and for it not to be a factor at all.”

The first time I met Rews we spent, or rather I spent, perhaps too long fixating on a word in their press release. But I’m also aware that during this conversation I have, repeatedly, referred to these two women as ‘you guys’. So, we all have out part to play. But as far as journalism goes there are many words to describe Rews that have nothing to do with their gender and everything to do with their music. Feel free to fish out some superlatives from this feature, or Google ‘awesome’ and take your pick from the world wide web of synonyms.

But for now, I’ll settle for the following: ‘Rews’, ‘Hare and Hounds’, ‘Thursday 22nd March’, ‘sold out’. And if there’s any word count left, ‘excited’ and ‘respect to Birmingham’s live music scene’.

‘Shake Shake’ – Rews

Rews perform at the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath) on Thursday 22nd March, with support from You Dirty Blue and P.E.T – as presented by Metropolis Music and Birmingham Review. For direct event information, including venue details and online ticket sales, visit http://bit.ly/2IFpUon 

For more on Rews, visit www.rewsmusic.com

For more on You Dirty Blue, visit www.youdirtyblue.com

For more on P.E.T, visit www.facebook.com/petbanduk

For more from Metropolis Music, visit www.metropolismusic.com

For more on the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath), including venue details and further event listings, visit www.hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk

BPREVIEW: Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18

Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18

Words by Ed King

On Thursday 22nd March, the rock powerhouse of Rews returns to Birmingham – closing off their England tour dates with a special headline gig at the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath).

Support on the night comes from Tamworth’s garage rock two piece, You Dirty Blue, and Birmingham’s rising punk balloon, P.E.T

Doors open at 7:30pm, with tickets priced at £8 (plus booking fees) – as presented by Metropolis Music and Birmingham Review. For direct gig info, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.

Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18At the time of writing this gig has all but sold out, with literally only a handful of tickets left on sale. There are also waiting lists available, for returns and cancellations, through the registered ticket agents – but it’s changing by the hour, so click on the following links for TicketmasterSkiddle or See Tickets to get updates and info. And hopefully tickets.

You can also check in with one of the support bands, You Dirty Blue or PE.T, as well as us at Birmingham Review HQ who will be mopping up any local returns. We suggest you do it quickly though and with a few fingers crossed – swing over to the Birmingham Review Facebook event page for this gig, or email info@birminghamreview.net and we’ll can check down the backs of a few cyber sofas for you.

Rews @ The Flapper 15.02.17 / Paul Reynolds - Birmingham ReviewThe term ‘rising balloon’ gets bandied about these days, and quite often by me. It’s exciting to see an artist in nascent and the tried/tested metaphor is often an appropriate badge of both recognition and applause. But I can’t use this term for Rews anymore, as their rising balloon got caught on the tail end of a NASA space shuttle and is now in confident orbit around the planet. Quite simply, and without allegory or hyperbole, Rews are set for huge things. HUGE. SO NOW I’M USING CAPITALS INSTEAD.

And every inch of it is deserved. Not only have Rews mastered the addictive rock formula on record but they are phenomenal live. PHENOMENAL. So phenomenal, in fact, that after seeing Rews at The Flapper in February 2017 we booked them to headline the Birmingham Review Winter Showcase at the Actress & Bishop the following November – a venue now probably fundraising for a new roof, after Rews tore the old one clean off and scattered it across the city. We’re biased, but it was a stonker of a gigRews @ The Flapper 15.02.17 / Paul Reynolds - Birmingham Review. Which seems to be de rigueur for Rews as their relentless touring and festival sets have won them a huge fanbase in a relatively short space of time. And again, every inch of it is deserved.

Rews’ debut album, Pyro, is a stellar debut too – being one of the first artists signed to Marshall Records and doing the iconic rock brand nothing but proud. And if you haven’t already got yourself a copy of then 1) shame on you, 2) shame on you again, 3) get thee to an online retailer before we fetch the wooden spoon and naughty step. You can read our Birmingham Review of Pyro here.

The reciprocal feather in the cap of this gig is that Rews added Birmingham onto their spring tour dates because of the all-round awesomeness of their last gig in the city. So, this is down to you.You Dirty Blue @ Centrala 22.07.17 / Rob Hadley - Birmingham Review Yes, you. The live music endorsing public and punters of Birmingham, you did this. It’s not too often that Birmingham sits as one of the cherries on a national tour circuit, but for Rews we are. Or were. And shall be again. So, with a single (tough and manly) tear in one eye and civic pride in my belly, I salute you all. VIVE LE BIRMINGHAM LIVE MUSIC SCENE.

But it’s not all Rews, Rews, Rews… as much as that would suffice, you’re getting two more bands for your musical buck on 22nd March. Lucky sods, the lot of you.

First up is the Tamworth based garage rock two piece, You Dirty Blue. Well established on the local live circuit, Birmingham Review happened across You Dirty Blue at Centrala back in July 2017 – as they joined a pretty stellar line up at The Hungry Ghost’s ‘Amerika/Lazaro’ single launch.P.E.T / Eleanor Sutcliffe - Birmingham Review

Although sandwiched by the great and good, You Dirty Blue were one of the stand out acts from the evening – with the gloriously raw yet proficient edges that any true DIY artist needs to make their mark. We became hooked. And a few months later we got to sink our teeth in a little deeper, as You Dirty Blue released their ‘monstrous debut’ EP, Tough Crowd, just before Christmas. In short, we gave it a resounding thumbs up… with a cheeky middle finger thrown in for good measure. But again you can always read our Birmingham Review of Tough Crowd for yourself, just click here. Pah… independent thought is for suckers.

Second support for the night comes from P.E.T – ‘Birmingham’s rising punk balloon’… for want of a better expression.P.E.T / Eleanor Sutcliffe - Birmingham Review But that they are; P.E.T are the new kids on the Brummie block and have already racked up a few decent support gigs and industry endorsements since forming in late 2017.

In your face, feisty, not shy of screaming into the microphone, P.E.T are the essence of post-punk punk. But they’ve got the smarts to go with it – citing an impressive list of influences that many older (self-declared) aficionados wouldn’t have in their cultural cache. Go ahead, test it, ask P.E.T “…do you know a band called The Slits?” and see what happens.

Plus, they’ve got all the raw bolshiness that you can get from a band who just love playing and performing – you ‘aint going to see P.E.T on a stage and forget about them in a hurry, especially if your standing at the front. But we think they’re mostly harmless. At least, no one’s been injured yet. Not visibly. Keep an eye out for P.E.T though, we sense curious times ahead.

And as a picture paints a thousand words, and there’s nearly that above us already, we though we’d end with a few moving image reminders of Rews. Too tough to pick one song, so we’ve gone for two – one recorded, one live. Viddy below my droogs and we’ll see you at the Hare & Hounds on 22nd March:

‘Your Tears’ – Rews

‘Can You Feel It?’ – Rews (live at Hawley Arms for Camden Rocks)

Rews perform at the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath) on Thursday 22nd March, with support from You Dirty Blue and P.E.T – as presented by Metropolis Music and Birmingham Review. For direct event information and online ticket sales, visit http://bit.ly/2FL53hm

For more on Rews, visit www.rewsmusic.com

For more on You Dirty Blue, visit www.youdirtyblue.com

For more on P.E.T, visit www.facebook.com/petbanduk

For more from Metropolis Music, visit www.metropolismusic.com

For more on the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath), including venue details and further event listings, visit www.hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk

ALBUM: Pyro – Rews 03.11.17

Rews @ The Flapper and Firkin 15.02.17 / Paul Reynolds - Birmingham Review

Words by Ed King / Pics by Paul Reynolds

Big day today. A red-letter day, as Rews release their debut album, Pyro, to a legitimately eagerly awaiting world.

Well, this little corner is perched on its seat at least. And I suspect I’m not alone. Half of Glastonbury, for one. Marc Radcliffe for another. No doubt some friends and family. The Hawley Arms.  The Railway Inn. The list continues…

Birmingham Review first saw Rews back in February this year, when the ferocious twosome came to The Flapper & Firkin – headlining a somewhat smug support band and nailing every second of it. Fun and furious in all the right ways, Rews were a clear win. So much so, in fact, that along with a couple of other acts that we love more than is probably good for us we’ve invited them to play our Christmas bash at the Actress & Bishop (…Sat Nov 25th, 8 quid, for more of this shameless plug click here).

Rews @ The Flapper and Firkin 15.02.17 / Paul Reynolds - Birmingham Review Signing to Marshall Records pretty much around the time we saw them at The Flapper, Rews have been busy building momentum and recording an album over the past year. A busy festival season, some hand-picked showcase gigs and a pretty healthy portfolio of radio plays took care of the first bit, whilst Shauna (Tohill) and Collette (Williams), aka Rews, locked themselves into a studio to deliver the second bit. And the result is Pyro – released on Friday 3rd November, through the amp wielding rock monster that is Marshall Records.

Live, Rews are unassailable. So, then… is Pyro any good?

As I’m listening to Pyro, courtesy of sneaky stream from their management, I’ve got the other ear on Radio One – not a station I usually listen to, but Rews are dropping a triptych of teasers from their debut album during the Huw Stephens Show. I’m steadily working up to my own opinion, but I also want to hear what it sounds like in the middle of Playlist A.

Kicking off (a deliberate metaphor) with ‘Let It Roll’, it’s pretty clear from the start that Rews have come to play – Pyro is not pulling punches, as the album’s opener unleashes an unashamed barrage of grab you by the balls rock. ‘Rip Up My Heart’ continues in the same vein, and I can’t help but think of the heavier end of Seattle in the late 90’s and the first time Mike Patton turned up for rehearsal – but that might just be me.

Tohill has those gifted vocals that can range from an almost conversational calm to a high pitched TEAR YOU FACE OFF ROAR, then duck back under the covers as if nothing ever happened. ‘Violins’, track three as we march through this debut, is a near perfect example of this, backed to the hilt by the animalesque thunderclap machine that is Collette Williams. And trust me, this combo is something quite phenomenal live. Then ‘Shine’, the first taste of this here album, comes out with its slightly darker claws; there’s something unflinching about this track and I want it to push, push, push… but how the hell am I going to throw myself down the abyss in under three and a half minutes?

Then back to the back catalogue, before signatures and deadlines, with two of the pop-rock-fingers-up-slapped-face anthems that dragged us into this chaos in the first place, as ‘Death Yawn’ and ‘Miss You in the Dark’ run over you in quick succession. Rews have an unnerving knack of penning easy to catch earworms, a phrase I’m borrowing for this review, and are absurdly fun with it in the process. ‘Death Yawn’ is perhaps my favourite example of this here (especially when you paint the picture what, and whom, it was inspired by) although both these tracks have been stuck in my head since I first heard them over eight months ago.

Speaking of which, I am a tad dismayed not to see ‘Can You Feel It?’ on the track listing for Pyro. Despite appropriating one of the world’s most tired clichés (and using another for the title) it’s a crazy fun track – one that is not only backed by a great melody, but that explodes with the raw versatility of what two talented people can do if you just let them run. Anyway, not my album. And if I’m being supercilious with my lexicon, plonk me in front of an upright piano and get your own back. Drunk spiders…

Rews @ The Flapper and Firkin 15.02.17 / Paul Reynolds - Birmingham Review Then perhaps the cream of this particular crop, or at least the bright forward face of Rews to come, as the album’s second single, ‘Your Tears’, jumps out like Fonzi over shark infested water (Google it). A simple message of self empowerment, a rough edged beginning, that pause… then a chorus that will napalm itself to your brain. Awesome. The danger for Rews, as with every rising balloon, is how firm is their grip. But if giving them a ticking clock, an advance that one day needs to balance out, and enough public pressure to make any normal human want to curl into the foetal position, brings out tracks like ‘Your Tears’ then the plan seems to be working.

Not, however, for ‘We Explode’. I am always asking Birmingham Review contributors to balance their reviews, what I call ‘the velvet glove punch’, and this is where I rein in my adulation. Not a fan of this track; from the staccato start, across the store bought chorus, and through the Pumpkins appropriated spiral into discord, this is Pyro’s weak link. To me. But go out and buy the album then you can argue me down, I just know Rews can deliver better and I have nine other tracks at hand to prove it.

‘Shake Shake’ quickly remedies this dip, with a restrained verse leading up into the kind of chorus that makes you… well, the title maps the landscape out quite clearly. A cracking song, again awesome live, and one I suspect may have been lined up with ‘Can You Feel it?’ in the track listing lotto. Rews @ The Flapper and Firkin 15.02.17 / Paul Reynolds - Birmingham Review

And to kiss the whole thing goodbye, another wonderfully promising glimpse of Rews to come – as ‘Running Against the Wall’ builds a glorious intro of percussion and keys, into a joint vocal message of fuck you adversity. Then it just rocks. Something Rews do with an unashamed and infectious success rate.

There you have it – one man’s opinion. We laughed, we cried, we drove recklessly and punched a hole in the wall… but I’m backing this band. Rews have proven themselves time and time again in a live setting and now they’ve nailed an album. I sense greenfields, bloodshed and glory. Plus, Pyro kicked the front teeth out of everything that got played around it on the Huw Stephen’s Show, so job done on that front too.

Mark it on a calendar, carve it on a wall; Friday 3rd November, in the year of our Lord 2017. Pyro came to pass. And if anything deserves ornate calligraphy in bull’s blood…

‘Your Tears’ – Rews

Pyro, the debut album from Rews, is released via Marshall Records on Friday 3rd November, For more onRews, including online sales of Pyro and live gig listings, visit www.rewsmusic.com

Rews play at the Birmingham Review Christmas Party (Winter Showcase) on Saturday 25th November at the Actress & Bishop, 36 Ludgate Hill, Birmingham B3 1EH. For more event info, including links to online tickets sales, click here.