In the nine months I’ve been running this blog I’ve sadly neglected the wonders of ska, but all that is set to end by introducing you to the wonderfully named Lead Shot Hazard.
The London six-piece – made up of Dave Collis (vocals / bass), Tom Crabb (vocals / guitar), Zandro Morreale (drums / vocals), Eve Crabb (saxophone), Henry Rich (trumpet), Abi Harrison (trombone / trumpet) – embody everything I love about ska, big horn-driven ska-meets-punk that gets audiences bouncing – which they describe as ‘Capdown having a baby with Streetlight Manifesto.’
We had a chat with Eve and Dave to find out more and first up asked them for their views on the current state of the ska scene. Eve said: “The ska scene’s in a really exciting time at the moment – it’s growing in stature again to the point where a revival might be on the cards! There are so many sub-genres in existence as well, which means that as a scene, there is something for everyone. The energy on the scene is really buzzing and active – new, incredible acts are popping up left, right and centre!”
Having said that, it’s clear from talking to them that issues do exist within the modern scene. Dave explained: “I think the British punk & ska scene suffer from an oddly segregated audience. I think there are some fundamental problems and on the whole it feels like a lot of the older punters struggle to find the merit in any effort looking at newer bands and by the same token, newer bands don’t really write music with much attention to heritage to attract the older scenes.
“I feel this also affects publications and zines, and , in a way, I think some zines I have read have come to an end, rather than move with the genres. Not really knowing how to present new bands to their own niche audience or just losing interest as writers grow up. It often saddens me as I have always used these to great purpose furthering my understanding of current music and local scenes.
“These publications, festival promoters and the smaller one-off shows that have a captive audience are so important to the scene, and the constant effort to breach the generational gap is so much appreciated by bands like us, trying to reach the people that want to hear our offerings. I hope the scene continues to stave forwards and keep merging the last 50 years of punk, ska and hardcore, and I hope we can continue to be a part of it.”
More than anything Lead Shot Hazard is a band that proves you don’t have to start playing music young to give it a go. As Eve tells us: “I started learning to play the sax at 26, after watching various ska-punk bands and wanting to be involved as it looked like fun! I wanted to start a ska-punk band, as did Tom, so we started one together, in 2011. We met Dave at a t-shirt printing shop and Tom asked him if he happened to be a musician, as he looked alternative. Dave then brought in Zandro and Henry, and we brought in Abi, who we met at the circus skills club we managed at the time.”
The band has honed a captivating sound that Dave summarises as “chunky chords, heavy riffs, fiddly widdles, driving drums and an awe inspiring triple horn call to arms.” Put simply, it’s fun, riff-heavy, horn-heavy melodic ska-punk that’ll have you skanking and jumping around to your heart’s content, with touches of feel-good dub reggae and the edginess of punk rock.
I took a listen to their latest EP War & Pieces, available on Bandcamp, and found myself bouncing along and loving the funky ska riffs and bursts of horn throughout. It opens up with the energetic Current State of Play, which opens up with a little guitar riff and a saxophone before classic ska-punk verse lamenting society then a heavily vocal-driven chorus. A fun guitar riff follows as the song builds into a bridge with the lyrics “it’s getting crowded round here, you cannot breathe now I’m suffocating, they’re saying the country’s full, it’s full of cunts.” That’s followed by a cool call-and-answer phase between vocals and instruments, before launching into a punky outro.
Next up is Safe From Harm, which opens up more than a little Less Than Jake before a funky saxophone solo before a verse with a cool step bass support. Hits of horn follow with big shouts then a very ska-reggae passage that builds into several more sax solos then a big rock-out with wild bursts of trumpet.
The EP closes out with Grids & Markers, with opens with a cool bassline soon supported by ska guitar bursts and a cool horn section. The verse opens with “Hey what are you doing with your life, why can’t you work a 9 to 5,” and builds into a really fun singalong chorus that’s followed by the return of the horns in harmony. If you can’t bounce or skank along to this song then you need to get your priorities straight. Check it out in the video below:
On what inspires their music, Dave explains: “Each day can add its own perspective. Because of this I suppose that it’s inevitable that topical discussions about our current political climate enter into our songs on occasion. Quite often there’s a resolve to paint some form of image of modern working class culture & ideals because it’s what I am involved in for the best part of my days.
“My content can reflect my concerns of raising my young family, what the working class try to convey on a day to day basis, general moral fibre and ideals, and of course, how difficult a less popular genre DIY ska band can find it to keep together and achieve some of the things we appear to be achieving.”
If all this didn’t make you like this band enough, then they also do it all themselves. Dave tells us: “We are a classic DIY labour of love. We play for fuel and make our own stuff, start to finish. We thoroughly enjoy what we do.”
And Eve adds: “We’re 100% DIY. Everything produced is produced by us – the CDs are printed and stuffed by us. We have our own badge maker, our T shirts are designed and printed by us, our website was designed and built by us.”
So do your bit and support these awesome ska-punk rockers. They’ll be playing at Asylum in Chelmsford on Saturday (24 June) and some awesome festivals through the rest of the year including Boomtown, Herofest, Skankfest, Yarp and the new festival in London’s New Cross, Level Up. Check out all their upcoming gigs here.
They’re also busy writing so have a few new songs imminent, plan to record a new single later this year and an album in the works soon.