Who are The Media Whores?
The Media Whores are a Falkirk based “political power pop punk” band (description courtesy of Vive Le Rock) who have now have three albums to their name.
- Debut “Starfishing”
- 2013’s “Pornophonica” (9/10 in Vive Le Rock)
- and latest release “Dangerous Minds” (2016) (again 9/10 in Vive Le Rock) and was also long-listed for the Mercury Music Prize.
Although Dangerous Minds has been out for a while now, it seemed like a good time to catch up with the band following the Mercury long-listing.
Band members are:
Craig A – vocals & rhythm guitar
Doogie Mackie – bass guitar & backing vocs
Martyn Heath – lead guitar & backing vocs
Andy Russell – drums
The Media Whores have been prominent and noticeably busy since the album release. This included playing alongside an impressive list of bands on landmark gigs and tours. Read ’em and weep:
- The Damned’s 40th anniversary show at the ABC in November 2016.
- a run of dates with Big Country marking the 30th anniversary of their album ‘The Seer’.
- supports with Blue Aeroplanes and The Godfathers,
- playing for the 10th anniversary of Record Store Day at Europa Records, Stirling.
- Eddie and the Hot Rods, including at the legendary 100 Club, marking the 40th anniversary of ‘Do Anything You Wanna Do’.
- supported Stiff Little Fingers on their 40th anniversary date in Scotland during the Edinburgh festival.
- some gigs with the re-formed Valves.
- and a recent run of gigs with Ruts DC, including the 40th anniversary of their first gig!
Ally: All this and a line up change in March 2017. We changed guitarists with Jimbo MacKellar leaving and Martyn Heath coming in. Martyn’s first gig was the Record Store Day gig in Europa Music, Stirling.
It would be amiss not to thank Jimbo for his sterling efforts, drama and entertainment!
political post-punk with a conscience
In my questions to the band I described them as “political post-punk with a conscience”. This was a result of and reflection on the subject matter covered in their songs.
Take just a handful of songs from latest album Dangerous Minds. Subjects here include protest songs against fracking (“Frack Off“), to bemoaning the growth of online relationships on “Computer Love Affair” commenting that they
“deconstruct real relationships and drive(s) social ineptitude for many people”.
Police corruption in “Raking it In” and on “Black Widow” a “vitriolic swipe” directed at successive Tory governments and their
“privatisation of the NHS, the Post office and begs the question “how come these things are all decided by minority cowboys that I don’t vote for” “.
(Quotes above all from Craig)
The band have also covered mental health issues in their songs – these have been influenced by very personal situations.
Ally: “Like most people we have been affected directly and indirectly with mental health.
We lost 2 friends in quick succession to suicide and one is referenced in the song “Vinyl Head” on Dangerous Minds. It is essentially a song about the love of vinyl and record shops, but also a love of love and one line references a lost friend.
Craig A is the lyricist for all apart from ‘Skinny’ which I am immensely proud to have co-written. It is about eating disorders, depression, anxiety, size zero, photo-shopping, body-shaming. The full range of both female and males depression and anxiety, and specifically eating disorders.
If, like me, you like your music not only with great tunes but also thoughtful lyrics and topical subject matter then Dangerous Minds is the album for you.
I urge you to go and buy a copy, but not just yet…
I have been in touch with the band’s manager, Ally, recently. He arranged for Craig and Doogie to answer some questions for thegingerquiff.
Thanks to Craig and Doogie for taking the time out to answer these and to Ally for organising, providing photos and background and also answering some questions!
MERCURY MUSIC LONG-LIST
thegingerquiff: You have been around now for nearly 10 years and are 3 albums in. How does it feel to finally have some wider recognition and have “Dangerous Minds” long-listed for the Mercury Music prize?
Craig A: It feels fantastic, we are very proud of the Dangerous Minds album and of the Mercury nomination. (We are) very happy that this gives our work wider recognition throughout the music industry; and introduces the Media Whores to a wider audience.
Our previous albums have always been well received and have received excellent reviews from the music industry (Pornophonica and Dangerous Minds were both 9/10 in Vive Le Rock). This type of press really helps us communicate with an audience and ultimately helps sell our records and fills up our shows.
Doogie: That’s 9 years we have been together and suppose it is a form of recognition for a stand out album in this current time although the long list is better than the short list.
tgq: It doesn’t make sense to me that the likes of Ed Sheeran made the short-list. I don’t think that is in the spirit of the award. (In terms of artists getting exposure and a monetary prize to give them a step up to the next level). What are your thoughts on the short-list?
Craig – It is a real honour (and objective recognition of our music, our lyrical content and our attitude) to be nominated. Music is such a subjective medium and is a very competitive industry. The short list is what it is – the opinion of a panel of judges as to what they consider to be worthy of the short list.
You have to be in it to win it and we were in it (up to a point). Good luck to those who made the shortlist and good luck to the winner. It will help their career and raise their profiles in a crowded marketplace.
Doogie: It’s what we expected. It’s all too safe and comfortable. The industry doesn’t like a change but it needs one again and has for a long time. There are so many people that are fed the music and just go with the flow.
Ally: We felt the album, with the lyrics, tunes, sound, artwork, everything about it, may have been left field enough to pique the judges attention.
One of the start points of our thought process, during the recording when thinking about titles and art, was the now rightly maligned NME running a piece saying there was no protest music or politics in music any more. Well there clearly is, in the underground, outwith their metropolitan bubble and cliques of what is hip this year!
However, the shortlist felt entirely predictable, safe and mainstream but also not genre or regional representative. I mean 5 finalists from not only London, but South London!!
Ed Sheeran does not need the exposure or even the cheque that the award generates, but I hear he does support many issues, including mental health issues, which we all should support.
However, no-one can ever lose sight of the fact that the world needs guitars, bass and drums and machines that kill fascists!
tgq: I couldn’t agree more. You make a valid point about Ed Sheeran and what he does outwith the public eye. He certainly seems like a genuine bloke. It would be a boring world if everyone had the same tastes.
However, it does definitely seem that due to the subjectivity of whoever was on the judging panel, there was an uneven distribution in the short list.
In my opinion, Dangerous Minds shoulda been a contender!
MEDIA WHORES background
tgq: I know we are focussing on the present and the Dangerous Minds album, but lets go back a wee bit. What was your inspiration for starting the band? Give me a bit of insight into your progression over the years?
Craig: As a music fan, the inspiration for starting a band was always lodged within the creative process and the opportunity to perform your original music to people. Being in a band is great fun; it allows you to travel, to see new places, to gather life experiences and to meet new and like-minded people. Music is for life and not just for Xmas.
The progression has been incremental and since the release of Dangerous Minds in 2016 we have had honour of sharing the stage with some of our heroes – Damned, SLF, Eddie and the Hot Rods, Theatre of Hate, Spear of Destiny & Ruts DC, as well as having the opportunity to play the album in its entirety from start to finish as it was conceived at packed out album launches in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Doogie: We have all been in numerous bands over the years, some of us together at different times and some attaining more success than others. With this camaraderie we knew this would be worthwhile in making music.
MEDIA WHORES INSPIRATION
tgq: Dangerous Minds (along with your previous releases) is a thought-provoking album with many potentially controversial topics being covered. These topics include, as mentioned earlier, mental health which is a subject close to my heart.
The album could be described as intelligent post-punk with a conscience. Obviously you take a lot of inspiration from issues of the day. Tell me more about writing the album/songs?
Craig: Can’t Say Whore (on the radio) …. fuelled by frustration and the band have had some resistance from the “DJ” gatekeepers on mainstream radio – Galloway, Gelalty et al, ….. playing the same 20 manufactured insipid pop songs, beamed out from hypocrisy central, on sickening repeat.
The DJ community are quite happy to popularise misogyny and sexual exploitation of women but won’t play a song by “The Media Whores”, which ironically has no sexual connotation whatsoever.
Zombies in Mayfair….dedicated to the corporation sluts with their eyes glued shut…… Big business “wants to own the machine and it wants to own the vaccine” – generating wealth from the sickness, exclusion and misery of the vast majority of this “great” Britain.
Do You Think I Am Lying?….The centre for social justice and the assessment criteria of the Welfare reform act, fit for work decision-making, entitlement to disability benefits and the institutional bias that everyone is “at it” come under fire in this acerbic piece of tribal warfare.
Doogie: As you say there is an inspiration from issues of the day, these can be from either what’s going on in our country or all around the world. We see and hear about all issues everywhere worldwide.
We know you can write songs about anything and everything but we have seen bands and played with bands who aren’t saying anything at all. They would be as well singing the wheels on the bus go round and round!
Yes, I think I’ve seen some of those bands….
media Whores live
tgq: I’ve seen you live on a few occasions. You were part of the line-up that was my gig of the year for last year. (with Duncan Reid and the Big Heads and Heavy Drapes in Audio).
You’ve also just completed a string of dates with Ruts DC. The feedback I’ve heard is that both bands were on fire.
How did you enjoy playing with them and how did the opportunity come about?
Craig: It was fantastic, an awe-inspiring experience. Ruts DC are lovely people and we were treated really well and received excellent audience reactions. NB Thanks for the wine Segs – pity I dropped it.
Doogie: We have supported Ruts DC on two occasions previously which were a great experience and again this was a fantastic run of shows with them. The band and crew are absolute gentlemen and a professionally run outfit. They like our sound and what we are doing so have been talking about doing more shows with them in the future.
Click here for a review of the bands recent gig with Ruts DC – from La Belle Angele, Edinburgh on 16/09/17.
Your next gig is at the end of the month in Bridge of Allan. What is next for The Media Whores (gigs/releases)?
Craig: Finish mixing new EP, launch shows and promotional tour of UK towards the end of 2017/early 2018. Thereafter, early in 2018 we will record and release our new album and we are, very, very excited about that.
Doogie: Gigs can come along and be confirmed at anytime at short notice. We have a few festival slots coming up at the end of the year. We have recorded 4 new songs for a new ep to be released as soon as all music and artwork is complete.
I’m also excited about the E.P. and the follow-up to Dangerous Minds. I’ll be keeping a keen eye out for release dates and gigs.
The current list of gigs looks like this – with more being added all the time:
30th September – Bridge of Allan
21st October – EH6 Festival – the Granary, Leith
26th November – Bannermans, Edinburgh with Roddy Radiation and the Skabilly Rebels
16th December – Lancaster alldayer Punk festival at the Bobbin
22nd December – Smash, Edinburgh with Angelic Upstarts
24th March – Mad Hatties, Inverness
Media Whores Manifesto
tgq: For anyone who is new to the music & convictions of The Media Whores, how would you describe the bands manifesto!
Craig: Talk truth to power and say it like you see it. This is a class war and we are all soldiers.
Media Whores are essentially a protest band. Unless you never look up you will realise there is plenty to protest about in the current political and economic environment. VLR quoted that MW are “political power pop punk perfection.”
Doogie: This manifesto is still being put to the testo. We aim to continue playing and writing in the way we do, there is no plan other than that is the plan.
Ally: Keep on keeping on, doing our own thing, not in a clique or cliché and discombobulating the masses!
Vote Media Whores!!! (And thanks Doogie, Sultans of Ping – Wheres Me Jumper? is now going to be in my head for the rest of the day)
Get the Album!
tgq: Opportunity for blatant promotion time – Where can we get hold of Media Whores releases and merchandise?
Doogie: We have our own slot/space in HMV music shop, yes our own slot/space!
Ally: The label we are on Twenty Stone Blatt has worldwide distro, which is why we generate sales and reviews from as far afield as Australia, America, Germany and Sweden! The physical product is out there in shops and also for the more modern among us, download on iTunes, Spotify, deezur and Amazon!
Thank again to Craig, Doogie & Ally for their time and contributions and congratulations on the Mercury long-listing. l look forward to hearing the new songs and catching the band live again in the not too distant future.
Media Whores Manager – Ally Gemmell for press and booking enquiries/T: 07747750420/E: firstname.lastname@example.org