Brexit provokes Portsmouth musicians to team up and release the Channel Noir EP

Four bands have teamed up to release an EP that is a response to Brexit.

Tuesday, 30th April 2019, 10:37 am
Updated Tuesday, 30th April 2019, 10:43 am
Fake Empire are headlining the Channel Noir EP launch gig at The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea, on May 3.

The Channel Noir EP features a track each from Fake Empire, Torpedoes, Curl and The Music Liberation Front Sweden, and was released on March 29 to mark what was to be the day we left the EU.

While that obviously hasn’t happened as the row on how – or even if – we will leave Europe continues, the four acts are playing a run of show together.

The trio Fake Empire have been making considerable waves since forming in 2017.

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Comprised of Simon Brookes, Les Black and Becky Bellinger, they played their first gig at Icebreaker Festival in February 2018, and have gone from strength-to-strength since with their atmospheric indie-rock.

All three work at the University of Portsmouth and Simon, guitars and synths, and Les, guitars and vocals, had been tinkering around with some ideas when a colleague told them Becky played drums. She proved to be the missing link

‘We approached her,’ recalls Les, ‘ but she was quite shy about it. She came for a rehearsal with us though, and it all fell together really quickly.’

As they built their setlist, Simon and Les had strong ideas on the direction they wanted to take.

‘I think we both wanted to do something different from what we’d done before and we both liked those sorts of bands who throw their music at you – like Interpol or Editors, or New Order – it’s more than just listening to the music. We wanted to recreate that in what we do.’

Simon adds: ‘We’ve both been in bands for years and learned the ropes a bit, so it’s not like the first time we’ve been on stage and that helps.

‘And we’re really serious about the quality of the music. It’s really important.  I’m a bit obsessed with the production and recording process – I want that to be echoed live. I love bands that really get that right – much to the annoyance of my wife when we wander around at gigs trying to get the best spot.

‘I wouldn’t want to be in a band that didn’t put that effort into a really live sound and a really good live show and I hope that’s what we do.

They took part in last summer’s Unsigned Showcase competition at The Wedgewood Rooms, ultimately being pipped to the post in the final.

Says Simon: ‘We ummed and ahhed about doing that, but we decided it would be a good opportunity for us to get out and play live so we can get out and hone that live show. We genuinely never expected to  get to the final and it does mean something that people came to see us and supported us, so we didn’t win, and I know it’s a terrible cliche, but the taking part was the important thing.

‘We’ve made some good friends through it with other bands. And the other thing about the local scene is if you make friends with other bands you can get invited on to their shows and vice versa – so it’s quite healthy in that respect.’

They were invited to take part in the Channel Noir project by musician and promoter Tony Rollinson. They initially demurred, but played a gig supporting Torpedoes at their album launch. And they knew Jon Callender of Anglo-French electro-rock act Curl, so eventually relented.

Les says: ‘I think it’s an interesting thing to do. We’d agree in our little group at least that separation from Europe would be a bad idea.’

Their song on the EP is called The Sadness Will Last Forever.

‘I think it speaks to a different aspect of that separation – it’s quite sad. The media often talks about “the divorce settlement with Europe” and it’s another side of that in a way. It’s bands from different parts of Europe speaking to the sadness of the situation on a personal level, rather than the economic side of it.

‘It also offers a bit of hope in a way too – regardless of what’s happening, the creativity’s still there and there are bands from across the continent who will still enjoy playing together given the opportunity.

‘In a way it is quite a potent thing – it’s fairly understated in the messaging around the release – the music speaks for itself, and if you don’t want anything to do with the Brexit side of it, it’s four songs that are cool and interesting. You don’t have to connect the two things up if you don’t want to, but it is there if you want to dig a little deeper.’

Channel Noir EP launch shows

The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea

Friday, May 3

The Ashcroft Arts Centre, Fareham

Saturday, May 4