The Awkwards are a recently formed 3 piece punk band operating out of Blackpool. Though they’re relatively new as an outfit they’ve all played in various bands and been on the scene for a while. They’ve played at Rebellion and on top of the Blackpool tower as well as countless other gigs around the UK. With this experience in mind you would imagine that they know their way around a tasty song structure.
The Bad Apple Demo is a six track affair that showcases a strength for sharp basslines and riffs and simple, catchy lyrics that you can pretty much sing along to after one listen. They explore a number of themes which would initially appear fairly quotidian, bordering almost on the mundane. Not, I should add hastily in terms of sound or delivery just subject matter. This is especially true on songs Awkward and Down in the Garden. The former, a what could be fairly innocuous observation on changing plans, being late and general obstinacy turned into a real footstomper of a track. Down in the Garden explores the scenario of encountering an intruder in your garden. It is a simple premise and the response is unsurprisingly one of general annoyance. Again it finds humour in the situation, ‘what you doing in my garden what you doing in my shed, I got really sharp tools you’re gonna wind up dead.’
The band recently released a video for the song Awkward which shows the guys in the studio, starting off with them dicking around and setting up, with sped up voices sounding like they’ve just had a lungful of helium. Then the song drops and the energy is palpable, helped along by seeing them jumping around the studio. There is an earworm quality to this track, I found that I was humming the tune repeatedly the next day. The overall instrumentation is tight and even though the backing vocal comes in sounding almost a tiny bit late it feels deliberate. However, for me the stand out element is the bassline, which really lifts the song up and propels it forward. If a study that circulated around this time last year by PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America) is to be believed then the bassist is the focal point of the band. It certainly seems so in this song, can’t argue with science right?
Daycare revisits the dynamic of a central repeated riff that embeds itself firmly under the verse, which subsequently builds into another instant sing along chorus ‘I’m in Daycare Yeah Yeah.’ There is also a tad more in the way of dextrous fretwork on this track as the guitarist has a little bit of a noodle, though not so much as to distract from the rest of the song.
The start of the fifth track Waste of Space has a slight resemblance to those well known punk luminaries Boney M’s number Ra Ra Rasputin. In fairness this is only really because of the repeated use of the word ‘hey’, rather than a sudden change of tack into full on disco breakdown. Possibly one to leave for the difficult second album? Anyway that’s where the resemblance ends as the song proceeds with a real garage punk feel. The drums are frenetic, full of rolls and the guitar parts are heavy with a good groove to them.
The final song on the Demo is Zombies which comes in with a strong feel of Pyschobilly to the guitar. The vocals also take a cue from that style, with a proclamatory tone channeling Jello Biafra if he came from Blackpool rather than Colorado. The sound of slightly maniacal laughter brings the song to it’s conclusion.
Across the demo The Awkwards’ approach of rapid, tight songs that don’t overcomplicate things but convey what needs to be said, brings to mind their fellow Blackpoolians Litterbug. There is a real vigour in the delivery and even if at times the tracks didn’t sound the most polished that doesn’t detract from the overall feel of fun, exuberant punk. If this is how the demos are sounding then when the album does drop you’d be well advised to get hold of a copy.
I also had a chance to have a quick chat with the band about forming and their influences, which you can read below:
When did you first get into Punk?
For all of us, we got into music at an early age. For both Mike and Adi, our older brothers were a big influence for us. They would bring home the latest release on vinyl or tape, we would sit there for hours just amazed by the sounds which were being created. Adi was in there back in 76’ listening to it the first-time round!
How did you guys end up playing together?
We got together through awkward circumstances (excuse the pun). We’d been jamming together for a time, but nothing serious ever came out of it until we realised we gelled better as a three piece. The dynamics just seem to work better.
How would you describe your sound to someone who had never heard you before?
Nerdy quirky weird punk that straight to the point, bringing back the good punk days with attitude and energy. That’s the point of punk, not sticking to norm, not being pigeon holed, thinking outside of the box, do something new, if it ends up in an awkward situation, good!!
Who are your main musical influences?
With a broad spectrum of music available, it’s hard to narrow down where direct influences come from. Being a band with varied ages, we grew up with a wide spectrum of music from the original 70’s punk, through to the 90’s skater punk. We live in a golden age where any song can be accessed with a few mouse clicks.
What’s your approach to songwriting, does someone come in with lyrics and someone else a riff etc… or is it more collaborative?
Inspiration can come from anywhere with us, so far Adi will come to rehearsal with the bass line worked out already and we’ll all have our input and put our sections over the top to layer it up. From there we will all work on structure and have our input. As for Lyrics, these are generally made up on the spot by Adi.
What are your aims for 2018 and beyond?
Onward and upwards my friend! We’re appreciative of the local scene here in Blackpool, and there is some great talent around here. We’ve only committed 6 songs from our usual set to a demo CD however we have 90+ ideas recorded on tapes (yes literally tape) so it won’t be long before more songs are released! We recorded a demo video at the start of 2018, and the response from this has been great, plus making it was such a laugh, trust me, there will be more videos to come this year!