Annus Novus

Years might just be another lap around the sun but they do serve as good measuring sticks. The last two have been less a learning curve and more of a learning right-angle, the X-axis being ‘what we knew’ and the Y-axis being ‘what we now know’. At the end of 2013 I felt we were an experienced band, hundreds of gigs under our belt, plenty of trials and tribulation faced and conquered, but as 2015 closed I barely recognise the band we were back then.

The many live performances since the start of 2014, some of which were spread over tours of Denmark, Netherlands and Germany, have only resulted in a much more proficient and confident band all-round. The twenty-four months in the rearview have only seen about the same number of rehearsals, maybe less, one of the sacrifices new-found responsibilities in our home-lives has required. Even with limited studio time we have managed to write and record our best album to date, which in turn has earned a contract which will see it distributed world-wide by the likes of Sony and Universal. The amount of achievements in the way of accolades, nominations, reviews, endorsements, record deals, cover-mount CD of Classic Rock and the growing fan-base have made the endeavour extremely satisfying. The same goal remains – get the music heard by as many people as possible. With Mass Vendetta, due for release by 7Hard on April 15th, we aim to do just that.

The dynamics of our travelling party are very much like that of a classic RPG, everyone taking up a valuable role which contributes to our overall successes and failure - high on warriors, low on healers. One example is the set-up in the car - Mason is Road Captain, driver and a super-safe one at that (discounting his road rage triggered tourettes). I ride shotgun, mainly because you can count the times I’ve fallen asleep on two fingers, DJ'ing whilst keeping Mason engaged, encouraging stops when he starts to nod at the wheel. The three boys in the back, as the diagram to the right illustrates, do nothing. It’s a team effort. With me and Damien becoming father’s, both with our second child on the way due one-month apart in 2016 (potentially destined to be life-long friends like their dads, bless them), the impact on us has been evident. Over the last couple of rotations here's my assessment: 

Gibbons – Just when I didn’t think he could get any better he does. Like a Jedi master of guitar. Ever-reliable and, although he moans about song-writing and recording, has that real lightning-in-a-bottle ability (as Ronnie noted) – producing some inspired solo-work and great riffs. When on form there are few people funnier, really needs to write a book of phrases or mum-jokes. I truly think some of his work will be recognised as a lead guitar master-class if the band gets into enough ears. Genuinely enjoy listening to him play, especially when the three of us leave him out front for his ‘Southern Rock’ solos – immense. 

Kage – Has always been a confidence player, right back to our time on the championship winning high school basketball team. If he hits his first shot he’s on fire, nothing but net, if it bricks he needs major encouragement. His form was up and down for a time, partially due to tiredness from being overworked and having a young son to wake him as often as possible, yet he rediscovered his mojo and has been nailing it since - "Is it the shoes?". Never fails to catch the eye with his striking performances and on the new album his input was excellent. He has a great mind for music due to his many influences. The other thing which needs to be made explicitly clear is that the majority of the touring, gigging and notable Senton occurrences of recent years are down to Damien’s enterprise. After several years of being carried on my back like a knackered C-3PO in Cloud City he has stepped up to the plate like an all-star. The unsung hero. 

Mason – I can’t tell you how many people have said to me how entertaining a drummer Scott is. The thing is, he’s always been a good drummer but in the last 18 months or so he has become a great drummer. Always used to struggle with nerves, especially with big crowds and bigger venues, but now he has mastered the art of channelling it into his performance. Hits the drums like they just stole his girlfriend. Has also mastered his stick-trickery which dazzles many admirers. In the recording studio Scott is the ultimate professional. Nails his parts, able to conjure the perfect beat almost immediately. When song-writing we have a perfect synergy, he interprets what I envision without discussion and then elaborates to take it beyond expectation. Although the band have received endorsements this year (Vintage Guitars, Bestronics etc.), Scott’s personal endorsement with Soul Tone and others in the pipeline are a testament to what a force he is becoming. 

Kalum – Not a band member but our only crew member who manages to bounce between asset and ass like an elastic polymeric substance. The only merch guy in history who won't sit on a merch stall. However, a true music enthusiast and a gregarious soul, he has helped us in many ways and has managed to shift a lot of merchandise on our travels via his post-gig whip-arounds. He’s grown a lot as a person since we met him and is becoming more strong-minded and confident in himself all the time. A budding lyricist, I don’t think it will be long until Kalum has his own musical project on the go. I’d like to think his time with us will really help when it arrives. Certainly an individual gaining a lot of experience, with bags of potential and plenty of time to fulfil it. 

Those are my companions. Personally I haven’t changed a lot, ever the optimist, constantly creating, more impassioned than ever… and relentlessly seeking knowledge at the expense of sleep and rest. These guys have put up with my soliloquys, tirades (nicknamed the ’Class Rampage’), sports coach pep-talks, drunken ramblings and childish pranks - far beyond reasonable reason. I thank them for their patience, faith and for being intelligent enough to challenge and converse across a variety of subjects. I require that kind of stimulation to keep me sane and we have devoured many road-hours discussing anything to everything. It’s been a pleasure to participate. 

On behalf of the band I’d like to say thank you to all who continue to support, listen to our music, interact with us – the cult following that is developing behind the SB is one of people we consider friends, people who make this grand hobby into something more special… and forgive this eternal optimist but I feel 2016 is going to see things become even more special (Check out our upcoming gig-dates).

To wrap this little retrospective up I’d like to show the results of a little game we’ve been playing on our return journeys. For bands at our level the treatment from one gig to the next can differ greatly. If life is like a box of chocolates, so is gigging – except that box has been left on a radiator in the height of summer somewhere south of the equator. You never know what you’re going to get but it’s usually a distorted version of what you expected. Following a live performance a lot of people have their say - the crowd gives their reaction (or not), the critics post their reviews and the promoters/venues correspond as to whether it’s worth doing again. One thing you rarely hear is the band's perspective, besides an almost obligatory ‘thank you’ post on social media.  A few years back we adopted wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer’s rating system, applying stars (1 to 5, no halves) against each gig. Rating against criteria such as venue, promotion, crowd, sound and enjoyment, which we merrily debate on the way home. To give you an example of what a rollercoaster it has been – our ratings are listed below (Were you at any of the five-star shows? How did we survive all those one-stars?).


23/01 The Maze, Nottingham   ☆☆☆☆ 
07/03 Sitwell Tavern, Derby   ☆☆   
15/03 Lomax, Liverpool   ☆ 
22/03 Star & Garter, Manchester   ☆☆☆ 
23/03 Fighting Cocks, London   ☆☆☆☆ 
26/03 Eagle Inn, Salford   ☆ 
28/03 The Attic, Accrington   ☆☆☆ 
05/04 Cottage of Content, Chasetown   ☆ 
18/04 The Patriot, Crumlin – Wales ☆ 
19/04 Blue Room, Blackpool   ☆☆☆☆☆ 
20/04 Sanctuary Rock Bar, Burnley   ☆☆☆ 
25/04 Rockstjernen, Herning – Denmark   ☆☆☆☆☆ 
26/04 Radar, Aarhus – Denmark   ☆☆☆ 
03/05 Uncle Toms Cabin, Blackpool   ☆☆ 
04/05 NLC/RACPA Festival, Nottingham   ☆☆☆☆☆ 
09/05 Charles Napier, Blackburn   ☆☆☆   
25/05 Nice N Sleazy Festival, Morecambe   ☆☆   
05/06 Dublin Castle, London   ☆ 
07/06 Vintage Rock Bar, Doncaster   ☆ 
14/06 South Sea Live, Sheffield   ☆ 
28/06 The Parish, Huddersfield   ☆ 
18/07 Ye Olde Salutation, Nottingham   ☆☆☆ 
19/07 South Sea Live, Sheffield   ☆ 
24/07 Roadhouse, Birmingham   ☆☆ 
25/07 Dublin Castle, London   ☆ 
26/07 Hellfire Club, Redhill   ☆☆☆ 
27/07 12 Bar Club Soho   ☆☆☆ 
30/07 The Snooty Fox, Wakefield   ☆☆☆ 
31/07 Dove & Rainbow, Sheffield   ☆☆ 
02/08 Blue Room, Blackpool   ☆☆☆☆ 
06/08 The Tache, Blackpool   ☆☆☆ 
23/08 Tatcon Festival, Blackpool   ☆☆ 
29/08 Blitz, Preston   ☆☆ 
04/09 Backstage, Aarhus – Denmark   ☆☆☆☆ 
05/09 Rockstjernen, Herning – Denmark   ☆☆☆☆ 
06/09 High Voltage, Copenhagen – Denmark   ☆☆☆☆ 
20/09 Winter Gardens, Blackpool   ☆☆☆ 
26/09 Fighting Cocks, London   ☆☆☆☆ 
27/09 Blue Room, Blackpool   ☆☆☆☆ 
11/10 Mad Ferret, Preston   ☆☆ 
31/10 Turks Head, Darlington   ☆☆☆ 
20/12 Star & Garter, Manchester   ☆☆ 


07/02 Snooty Fox, Wakefield   ☆☆☆☆ 
27/03 Lounge 41, Workington   ☆☆☆ 
04/04 Blue Room, Blackpool   ☆☆☆☆☆ 
10/04 Fuel Rock Bar, Cardiff – Wales   ☆ 
11/04 Satans Hollow, Manchester   ☆☆ 
01/05 Fighting Cocks, Kingston   ☆☆☆☆ 
02/05 Roadtrip Bar, London   ☆☆☆☆ 
23/05 Breaking Bands Festival, Bromsgrove   ☆☆☆ 
24/05 Lechlade Festival, Lechlade   ☆☆☆ 
25/05 The Victory, Sunderland   ☆☆ 
30/05 Corner Flag, Sunderland   ☆☆ 
12/06 Alley Cat, Soho   ☆☆ 
13/06 T-Chances, Tottenham   ☆ 
27/06 Rock & Blues Bar, Barnsley   ☆☆☆ 
17/07 Hope & Anchor, Islington   ☆☆☆☆☆
01/08 T-Chances, Tottenham   ☆☆ 
05/08 The Tache, Blackpool   ☆☆☆ 
28/08 Vine Bar, Workington   ☆☆ 
30/08 Blue Room, Blackpool   ☆☆☆☆☆ 
02/10 Bootleg Social, Blackpool   ☆☆☆☆ 
03/10 Corner Flag, Sunderland   ☆☆ 
04/10 Fighting Cocks, Kingston   ☆☆☆☆☆ 
15/10 Cafe Bel Air, Breda – Netherlands   ☆☆☆ 
16/10 Cafe De Sluys, Munnekezjil – Netherlands   ☆☆☆ 
17/10 Cafe Jack, Eindhoven – Netherlands   ☆☆ 
18/10 Home, Eibergen – Netherlands   ☆☆☆☆ 
23/10 Zanzibar, Liverpool   ☆☆ 
24/10 Rugby Tavern, Bispham   ☆☆☆ 
30/10 Bootleg Social, Blackpool   ☆☆☆☆☆ 
04/11 Cowboy Und Indianer, Hamburg – Germany   ☆☆☆
05/11 Cowboy Und Indianer, Hamburg – Germany   ☆☆☆ 
06/11 Rock Cafe De Engel, Den Helder – Netherlands   ☆☆☆ 
07/11 OJC De Roos, Deurne – Netherlands   ☆☆ 
08/11 Cafe Calluna, Ommen – Netherlands   ☆ 
20/11 Rebellion, Manchester   ☆☆☆ 
27/11 Railway Club, Southport   ☆☆☆ 
05/12 Iron Road, Evesham   ☆☆☆