Andy Howells chats to Ryan from Menace Beach
Back in the good old of days of 1990, Color Dream Games released Menace Beach for the then popular NES games console from Nintendo. Imagine skateboarding through a side-scrolling 8-bit world filled with balloons, clowns and disgruntled dockworkers in search of your cute pixilated girlfriend Bunny. It’s from this slightly surreal, esoteric world that this Leeds indie rock revolving cast of local luminaries, headed by Ryan Needham and Liza Violet, draw their name. It’s reference acts as the perfect backdrop to their 90’s American underground and pre-Brit Pop indie; melody heavy, supercharged pop that’s always surprising.
After the success of their EP ‘Lowtalker’ in early 2014, British indie label favourites Memphis Industries snapped Menace Beach up with the band’s debut album in mind. It comes in the shape of ‘Ratworld’, a twelve song assault, a journey through a psyche tinged wonderland, documenting moving away and waving goodbye to the fractured rubble of an unhappy lifestyle. On the title, Ryan says “We’ve created our own grubby little Ratworld to inhabit. Everything is better when it’s a bit grubby and broken”. It’s that dreamy sensation of taking comfort in chaos, looking around at the perfect mess you’ve created and feeling deeply content as it’s yours and no one else’s.
Although Ryan and Liza are the creative core from which the wellspring of inspiration pours from, they’re now joined by Matt Spalding (bass), Nestor Matthews (drums) and Matthew 'MJ' Johnson (guitar). As everyone’s favourite Leeds based producer, MJ sits behind the desk and has been molding the sound in his Suburban Home studios since the start. It’s his keen ear and ability to thread and balance an artist’s sonic themes that is the foundation stone upon which these songs can explode and punch you in the gut. And they do. Over and over again.
Opener ‘Come On Give Up’ recalls moments of Pavement’s ‘Terror Twilight’ but then slams home a bittersweet Wavves-esque boy/girl melody in the soaring chorus. Bratty ‘Lowtalkin’ lurches forward, sweat drenched and punchdrunk against a squealing driving darkness whilst ‘Tastes Like Medicine’ is a giddy head swirling fuzz pop rush. ‘Blue Eye’ offers a different perspective and a glimpse at what the future may hold. It drifts along in a sea of feedback bliss, recalling both My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus and Mary Chain.
Andy Howells recently put questions to Ryan from the band.
Who are you and how did you come together?
Me and Liza have known each other for ages but the band kind of haphazardly came together after we both ran off from the town we were living in and moved up to Leeds. We bumped into some old friends who were up for hanging out, eating pizza and playing music.
Where are you from?
We all live in Leeds. Liza is from somewhere on the south coast and me and Matt S are from the midlands originally.
How would you describe your music style?
Pretty loud guitar-y stuff. I like melody and noise pretty equally and my favourite records are all a bit rough and energetic and chaotic and kind of honest sounding, so hopefully it’s like that.
What’s been your best live experience?
I’m a big fan of festivals and Beacons last year was a really good one. We played at Bristol Fleece last December with pulled Apart By Horses and that was pretty wild. I found a pair of lost mosh-pit-casualty shoes after Horses played and they’re a real good fit. There’s also great coffee to be had next door.
You have a new single and album coming soon can you tell us more about that?
Tastes Like Medicine is the single that’s out now, we’ve just finished a video for it which has got some ghoulish animation going on. Our album is called Ratworld and is out on jan 19th. It’s kind of a noisy document of feeling gross, running away from stuff, moving cities and starting again, that kind of thing. Its actually way more upbeat than that sounds!
What can people expect from your forthcoming Bristol gig?
I think Bristol is a few dates in and we should have learnt all the songs by then so we’ll be relaxed but maybe also fired up on caffeine from that awesome coffee shop that’s also a bike shop. I dunno, probably lots of feedback, the good kind, and some fabulous cardigans.
Where can people hear your music?
You should go to a record shop, you’re really spoilt for them in Bristol! I think there’s an album stream online or if you just search Menace Beach Ratworld im sure it’ll pop up.
Catch Menace Beach at The Louisiana, Bristol on January 28.