If you’re on the lookout for the most exciting new band on the UK rock scene, then Bristol noise makers Phoxjaw are right up there. Guitarist Josh Gallop aptly describes the band’s sound as “Like being punched in the stomach and electrocuted but really enjoying it,” which pretty much tells you everything you need to know – it’s wild, it’s loud, it’s noisy, it’s riffy, it’s grungy, and it’s delicious.
The band initially began as a three-piece formed of Danny Garland (vocals and bass) and Josh and Kieran Gallop (drums and vocals) back in 2016. They added a second guitarist in Glenn Hawkins a few months later, then completed the line-up with Huw Allen on keys last year. As Josh tells us: “We all eat sleep and breathe music so it makes sense for us to all be doing this right now.”
They’ve since honed an exciting rocky sound that is largely led by a series of awesome riffs and leaves no surprises that the guys grew up on the likes of Nirvana, Metallica, Deftones and Queens of the Stone Age. Josh summarises their sound as “heavy, noisy and melancholic,” while adding: “These days the range (of musical inspiration) is a lot wider, even going into more electronic genres and pulling ideas from that to bring to our music.”
This has come to fruition with the release of debut EP Goodbye Dinosaur… at the end of last month, and it’s an amazing first effort.
The EP opens with an intro track beautifully named The Great Dying, then drops into the disgustingly good opening riff of Triceratops. A chilled opening verse continues, including the line “Your triceratops left three holes in my back, Try nursing a wound when you’ve only got two” with the riff returning as a bridge between verses. A great low-tuned guitar riff and high-pitched guitars cut in alongside heavier vocals, that give way to more of the opening riff. It closes with a big smash-up of guitars then numerous repeats of the opening riff. Check it out in the video below:
And the riffs keep coming in Lottery, which opens with a lively jumping guitar riff then launches into an energetic shouty opening verse. That flows straight into a more singalong chorus, which then gives way to the cool opening riff. A second chorus end is met by a big booming riff that continues under more intense vocals, then a big screamed section over bouncy riffs brings the track to a wild ending. Check it out in the video below:
And potentially the best track on the EP is the intense Weapons, which begins with an awesome riff, big high-pitched guitars and screams of “Weapons.” A laid-back verse follows, gradually building then ending in big screams that introduce the return of the screams of “Weapons” and the big wall of opening guitars.
The pace drops a little with a mellow opening to Dinosaur Bones, but that’s quickly forgotten as a big darting riff kicks in and drops into a chilled verse of “Oh look at the mess on the floor, The fragments in your hand, Pick out each piece, I’ve been bouncing around in my delicate mound, You’ve promised and promised to infinite lands, Let me give you the treasures to make our amends, I’ll make you a necklace from dinosaur bones.”
The riff kicks back in over a cry of “Dinosaur bones” then drops into a more creepy sounding verse, then returns again after it and continues into a big guitar-led rock out. The pace drops down again through a melancholy, light section that gradually builds up over repeats of “We can’t keep folding” then ends on the word “down” to bring in a smash of guitar chords and high-pitched guitars, then a low-tuned repeating guitar line explodes into the opening riff over a huge prolonged scream.
The EP closes out with its longest track Plastic Wedding, which opens up with a lone repeating riff that’s soon joined by bigger guitar chords and drums and eerie background noise. Then the opening lyrics “You’re creeping me out with your archaic smile” is followed by more intense vocals that lead into big screamed vocals over a mass of guitar noise. That repeats then drops into a huge smash-up led by jumpy guitars that descends into guitar noise alongside screamed vocals that bring the EP to a fittingly good ending.
This is an awesome debut EP, filled to the brim with big dirty riffs countered by moments of melancholy that more often than not explode into a mass of noisy rock sound. On the reception to the EP, Josh tells us: “It’s been really great, we love seeing peoples reactions to the various songs and sometimes we are surprised at the songs that people seem to vibe off of more which is always fun.”
And on what inspires them to write, Josh explains they like to retain a sense of intrigue to their music. He said: “We love the lyrics to be able to be interpreted in the way the listener chooses. When writing them they make sense to us but we like to think they can become bigger than that meaning as soon a people form their own relationships with them.”
The band recently finished a run of EP support shows and have just been added to the line-up for 2000 Trees, on which Josh tells us: “We’re super excited to be on the festival. When we started this band we said we’d love to play that festival as it was one we thought represented us as a band in the genre we play in. It’s gonna be heavy, energetic, and emotional.“
They’ll be working on some new tunes ahead of the festival season and will be playing a lot more shows over the summer, on which Josh says: “Come see us play a show, we’ll blow your fucking mind.”