Words by Sam Lambeth / Pics by Paul Reynolds
**On Saturday 29th September, The Taboo Club headline the next Birmingham Review live music showcase at The Victoria on John Bright Street – with support from Liquid Cheeks and Lilac Noise. Doors open upstairs at The Victoria from 7pm, with tickets price at £7 (adv) and £10 (otd) – as presented by Birmingham Review.
At the time of writing this event has a third sold out. To buy any of the remaining General Admission advance tickets click here, or to buy tickets direct from The Taboo Club click here. Join the Facebook Event Page by clicking here**
January 2018. If you happened to have frequented one of Birmingham’s more dimly-lit dive bars, you might have seen him there. A man with hair like a raven’s nest, dark and dishevelled, his waiflike physique squeezed into a squalid suit and his hands bulging violently out of his pockets. Josh Rochelle-Bates had a lot on his mind. He had spent several years as the bassist and main creative force behind mercurial Midland miserablists Semantics. Now an uncertain world lay ahead of him. Like OJ Simpson post-trial, he was alone, aloof, and alienated in a world that seemed foreign and unforgiving. The band had announced an indefinite hiatus, and Rochelle-Bates felt adrift as the adulation of the Second City gave way to silence.
Miles away from Birmingham, fellow Semantics stalwart Rob Lilley was feeling similarly sombre. Despite the occasional accusation that Semantics were nothing but ‘Interpoor’, they had a brooding beauty and glacial gracefulness that separated them from the Harborne herd. For Rochelle-Bates and Lilley, they knew they’d return to music, and one word stuck in their heads.
“Collaboration,” says Rochelle-Bates in the July afternoon sun, sipping a bold glass of claret in a Paris eatery. “I think for once I actually suspended expectation and let myself be open to a much wider spectrum of ideas, emotions and ways of articulating them. My hope was to find people who were passionate about creating and expressing themselves, and would be open to working in a collaborative environment.”
As Rochelle-Bates tilts his chair in self-satisfaction, expensive plonk in one hand and a forkful of French fancy in the other, you realise Paris is the perfect place to personify his new band’s sound. They are The Taboo Club, a phenomenal five-piece that are the musical manifestation of buzzing neon signs, decadent derails down depraved alleys, and a sharp eye for smart fashion. Their recent single, ‘Strangers’, exudes gratuitous sax and senseless violins (well, more of the former), brass bursting out of the hi-fi over muscular guitar gristle, Rochelle-Bates’ creamy bass licks and Lilley’s warped howl.
Yes, Lilley is the one who has enjoyed perhaps the biggest transformation. In Semantics, he was quiet, charismatic and concerned. Now he’s gradually turning into a real frontman, coquettishly waving his tambourine and tantalisingly twitching his hedonistic hips. For him, joining The Taboo Club was a revelation. “I immediately wanted to be a part of it,” he says. “The creative freedom and experimentation was one of the first things that stood out to me. I love the fact that it’s enabled me to pull from a wide array of influences, but everyone’s suggestions remain on the table – that’s an enticing draw for any artist.”
Enough about Semantics now. That chapter is closed. The Taboo Club is open for business and the five band members couldn’t be happier. With his tousled and slightly untamed mane, flamboyant shirts and overall quiet demeanour, guitarist Jack Ingaglia is the James May of the gang. “We have a shared goal of creative freedom, but I don’t think we’ve always been on the same page – that’s what makes writing exciting,” he says. “We all pull in slightly different directions.” For ‘Strangers’, Ingaglia’s role was more textural. “There are some jagged guitar chords tucked away in there, which come from my love of funk and soul,” he says. “I also did a lot of guitar doodling in the verses.”
‘Strangers’ has enjoyed considerable success, but The Taboo Club are fast becoming known for their overall aesthetic, which seems to be that of a gang of gangly male models enjoying a snifter of scotch after a long day of posing. “I certainly think it’s accurate based on what we have allowed people to see so far,” nods drummer Aiden Price, slayer of snare and sharp of cheekbone. “The music is, of course, our top priority but we want to give people the complete package – great songs, distinct image and personality. The lot.”
There are many exciting things around the corner. The next single, ‘Bible John’, will be released in the autumn, with the band once again using the services of a certain Ryan Pinson for production (“He has such a good ear and an innate attention to detail,” gushes the band’s multi-instrumentalist Ben Oerton). ‘Bible John’, according to Oerton, is the soundtrack to a “Quentin Tarantino film about a serial killer,” which feels like a very accurate description.
Also coming soon is the band’s big showcase gig at The Victoria in Birmingham, taking place on the 29th of September. As always, Rochelle-Bates-Kennedy-Onassis advises us to expect the unexpected. “We wanted to do something unique, different and immersive instead of just a headline show,” he reveals. “Expect for it to be really strange.”
Strange it will be, but no doubt like everything The Taboo Club has offered its loyal members so far, it’ll be unforgettable, debauched, and damn right delightful.
On Saturday 29th September, The Taboo Club headline the next live music showcase with Birmingham Review at The Victoria on John Bright Street – with Liquid Cheeks and Lilac Noise in support. For more information visit the Facebook Event Page by clicking here – or click on See Tickets the logo for a direct link to online sales.
For more on The Taboo Club, visit www.facebook.com/TheTabooClubUK
For more on The Victoria, including venue details and further event listings, visit www.thevictoriabirmingham.co.uk
NOT NORMAL – NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.
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