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White Belt Yellow Tag

White Belt Yellow Tag

Sometimes things take a little time to come together. Then when they finally do, they suddenly propel themselves forwards at light-speed, such is their perfectly locked chemistry. So it is with Justin Lockey and Craig Pilbin.The pair you see, waited until between them they'd already garnered critic-slaying-acclaim and a mastery of studio wizardry in past incarnations before they finally fell together and decided to make music as a pair - as White Belt Yellow Tag. And once they did, they recorded ‘Methods', their debut album in three weeks - no producer, initially no record label, no pluggers or pushers. "We just didn't need more than two sets of hands," laughs Justin. "We just went in and did it ourselves. Most bands want to do the least amount of work as possible. We're kind of the opposite. We're massive workaholics and knew exactly what we wanted so the whole process came together really easily."Justin, you may be familiar with. From 2002-2007 he plied his trade in yourcodenameis:milo - who lapped up critical acclaim and fervent fandom with their raucous rock racket. When they wound down, he found himself holed up in Newcastle's Polestar Studio, where he gained a name as the ‘demo producer du jour' working on artists such as White Lies, Late Of The Pier and Beth Jeans Houghton. And it was in the studio he came across fellow Yorkshireman Pilbin, at the time just finding his feet as a budding writer and producer.Craig had some songs. Justin had ideas but most importantly there was an enormous musical click and the pair quickly found they had something pretty special. The song-writing started almost immediately."We went down to this studio in Doncaster, a tiny little place," Justin explains. Nobody knows it's there. Great room, great sound, great old gear. We instinctively felt there was something musically great going on between us so we went in without much of a plan but with total confidence and conviction."Things began to move quickly especially when a certain Zane Lowe, without a radio plugger to bug for official tunes, ripped the demos himself from MySpace to play to the nation on Radio One with no knowledge of either Justin or Craig's backgrounds."That was massively surprising," Justin admits. "Real validation that what we were doing was right as nobody knew who was attached to the record, where we were doing it, it was all totally anonymous so it was kind of judged without prejudice."It was their self-belief and confidence in what they were doing which drove them throughout the hectic 3-week recording sessions. But despite being finished in well under a month they insist there's absolutely nothing DIY-shoddy about their music. This is unashamedly big, anthemic, booming pop. Moments such as ‘Tell Your Friends (It All Worked Out)' and ‘News' are the kind of songs that rescue the phrase ‘arena-sized' and give it a good shaking."Big choruses!" he exclaims. "And I quite like it when people say it's poppy. I never got away with doing massive poppy records before. A load of bands will tell you they like this band and that band, I could try and name 100 bands you've never heard of as reference points. But it's just big sounding songs - a lot of people shy away from it these days."Big indeed - and in no small part due to Craig's soaring vocals which have already earned comparisons to Mark Hollis from Talk Talk and Ian McCulloch. The recent addition of Tom Bellamy (a multi-instrumentalist formerly of The Cooper Temple Clause) as a full-time member on drums has furthered the bands expansive sound.Yet the album (mixed by Chris Potter) is rich in depth - part Doves, part Jesus & Mary Chain, part Seamonsters period Wedding Present - with songs such as ‘Remains' proving the band are equally adept at creating something with a rough, klanging edge.However it's the variation - from widescreen moments like the soaring ‘You're Not Invincible', the Heaven Up Here period Bunnymen feel of ‘Same Clothes Same Life' and the introspective ‘Where Echoes Land' -which really defines…


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