Alunah receive 7/10 from Metal Hammer UK. Also featured in the other Team Rock group magazines, Classic Rock Magazine and Prog Magazine.
It’s with the most excitement of the weekend we head for the Sophie tent cautiously early to wait for (relative) locals Alunah to take-over the stage. Their casual emergence belies the majesty of the sound they go on to radiate from the speakers: crashing waves of doom riffs, oscillating under Sophie Day’s hypnotic voice. The uncanny reverberations of Bricket Wood Coven, the hypnotic Heavy Bough, the climatic vocal force of Scourge and the Kiss and of course, the brain-melting, ground shaking, mesmeric White Hoarhound are paragons of music’s capacity to transfix and transcend. Sheer magick (9/10).
In our review of the Bloodstock Festival, we singled out Alunah as one of the really great performances, that made Bloodstock such a special experience this year. They are out on tour in October and November in the UK, visiting Birmingham, Nottingham, Southampton, Manchester, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Sheffield and London.
We interviewed Sophie Day, vocalist and guitarist with the band, before their Bloodstock Festival debut, and we were really struck by Sophie's empathic and passionate take on the emotional power of music and its ability to connect people together; and we were really moved by her sharing why she had been so touched by the story of Sophie Lancaster.
R13: Congratulations on being asked to play at Bloodstock. What does it mean to you and the band to be playing at the Festival this afternoon?
SD: It's pretty special for us, because even though we have played similar size venues and festivals before, we have not necessarily done anything this broad in England. We have supported Trouble, Paradise Lost, and Fu Manchu in England to big crowds. But this is such a broad spectrum, it's really nice to be asked to play. I only live 15 minutes away, so for me it's very very local, and it's just really nice. I am looking around now and there are so many people I know, it's really really nice. My sister is coming soon, and it's a real family thing. Lots of people are going to be in the crowd that we know. You two guys were I think the first people I told, remember in Edinburgh. It was before we got announced.
R13: We felt really privileged, and kept it under wraps!
R13: How are your family and friends reacting to you playing at Bloodstock?
SD: My sister’s not really into this sort of music. We got told at the last minute we had some guest passes, so I said do you want to come, and she said yeah okay, and she doesn't really know what to expect. My family are proud that we are getting somewhere. Our friends love it, it means they get to see us play a lot. I suppose you would have to ask them...I'm not too sure. They probably think I should grow up, have children or something (shared laughter).
R13: Bloodstock has the reputation of being the best metal festival in the UK. What has been your experience of the festival so far?
SD: It's incredible. A lot of my friends have said its a very family atmosphere. I'm not a very metal sort of ...and I thought it might be a little too metal for me, but it seems to be okay. Everyone's joking that I am bringing the Woodstock to Bloodstock (shared laughter). It's cool and a relaxed and a very chilled out festival. It's nice to see so many friendly people, and we have been made to feel very welcome. Our sound guy Mez is actually the stage manager for the Sophie stage, and they have let him off today to do the sound for us. So I am really happy about that. We have got someone who knows our stuff doing our sound, and that's really nice.
R13: You are playing the Sophie stage, what's your impression of it?
SD: We went in their yesterday, and saw Mordred. Just to get a gauge for the sound, and it's got a really great sound. I thought the stage was going to be bigger than it was, but I think the size of the tent makes it seem bigger that it is. I am really excited and glad we are playing that stage. It's pretty special to get asked to play any stage here, but the main stage and the Sophie stage are the two that people want to play on. I was talking to Ben from Orange Goblin yesterday and he said they played the first ever Bloodstock when it was Derby Assembly Rooms, and they got banned from ever playing Bloodstock again, as they trashed the dressing room. They then came back a few years ago to play the Sophie stage and the main stage today, so Bloodstock are very forgiving people (Sophie laughs).
R13: We are really interested to know which bands you have seen at the Festival, that really made an impression?
SD: Opeth! There were two bands I wanted to see. I wanted to see Napalm Death and they were very very good.I have seen them lots of times. Opeth I had never seen before ever. Opeth were the band for me and they were just...they blew my mind. So good! I would have hated to be Within Temptation going on after them. I wouldn't want to go on after Opeth, however good you are. No way. I would have just turned round and gone home. I wouldn't even have bothered getting my guitar out. ‘I'm off then, do you want to play for another half hour lads’...(shared laughter).
R13: We all turned to each other after their set, and said 'sensational!'
SD: They were. I thought they probably played their heavier stuff, so the sound didn't get lost, but they had such a lovely mix. They played some really soft bits and none of it got lost at all. You could hear distant thumping from the other stages, but they sounded huge! It sounded like there were 20 people on stage. In fact just five people, it was so good.
R13: You can safely say they have made Ian Anderson and Robert Fripp quite happy with their massive progressive sound.
SD: Yes exactly.
R13: We have noticed bands at the Festival really speaking up against intolerance and prejudice. A wonderful example yesterday was the Indonesian Death Metal band JASAD dedicating a song to Sophie Lancaster; and of course Napalm Death pointedly playing Nazi Punks Fuck Off. Does that resonate for you, in terms of how metal can really bring people together, in a positive non judgemental way?
SD: It does definitely. We have spoken before, about how people say what is it like to be in a female fronted band, and it becomes irritating after a while. I have just been asked it and it just irritates you, because why is gender still an issue. Whether you are considered different because you have got tattoos, or whether you are considered different because your Muslim, or whether you are female, it's all the same. It's basically everyone needs to be treated equally, and at festivals like this it's really nice to see so many people from different countries, and women aren't being leered at here. It's a really nice atmosphere. It's also quite special for us to be playing on the Sophie Lancaster stage, as every single one of us in the past has been bullied for having red hair, or having long hair, that kind of thing. Me and my now husband, Dave in the band, were beaten up on a bus once, as Dave had long hair. So when I heard Sophie's story that really upset me when I first found out about it, because that could have happened.... Dave had his head kicked in on a bus because he had long hair. That's exactly what happened to Sophie, she was attacked in a park because she looked different. It's really special for us to see festivals like this doing such an amazing job.
R13: And Bloodstock have maintained their support for the Sophie Lancaster Foundation over the years.
SD: I think this has been the inspiration for a lot of other festivals to start taking note. It's really special.
R13: We wonder if this feels like a homecoming gig, and has that sort of feel? And you are playing Birmingham in October as well.
SD: This is more local for me than Birmingham is. Birmingham is 40 minutes away from where I live and this is fifteen minutes. So this is like really local. I used to work two fields away, that's how close. Every year I used to pass all the people walking to Bloodstock and I would have to go to work. I am not nervous now, but I have been nervous thinking about playing here. I think it’s okay, because there are so many people in the crowd who I know. And we have tried not to play local too much this year, because the fans get bored and it's nice to introduce new people to the band. So everyone has just come together today, we have got people from Scotland coming, people from Bradford here, people from London coming to see us, and all my family. Its really nice.
R13: We think you are going to make a lot of new fans here.
SD: Hopefully we get a crowd after all of this (Sophie laughs).
R13: You have got a good few Finnish people going as well.
SD: Oh really, wow!
R13: Yes, there is a group of Finnish people camping, who are coming to see you.
SD: Oh bless. We had 250 0f these stickers printed off saying Sophie Lancaster stage Sunday, we didn't know the time then, so we couldn't put the time on. Dave was handing out loads of them. Everyone kept going, oh my God these are everywhere, and I said, yes that’s the point! Because we are quite different to the others on the bill, and it could either go two ways, we either get a lot of people not into us, or a lot of people looking for something different. I hope its the latter.
R13: Its a fabulous moment when the music is being played, and you see people coming into the tent to hear more. We are sure that will happen for you.
SD: I’m hoping it rains, so everyone comes into the Sophie tent for shelter (shared laughter).
R13: Thank you so much for your time.
SD: Thank you. Its so lovely seeing you again.
Interview by Gareth Allen and Lewis Allen.
Read Room Thirteen's Alunah Bloodstock review >>
Local band Alunah came onstage to Leadbelly’s Where Did You Sleep Last Night, which perfectly set the scene for their bluesy, doomy, classic hard rock. The first track, “White Hoarhound”, was the perfect set opener, its immediacy and popularity engaged the crowd and drew quite a few people forward.
Singer, Soph Day, has never sounded better – her powerful, haunting vocals, particularly during the Scourge and the Kiss, seemed to reach beyond the back of the tent all the way across the field to the New Blood Stage, but she never sounded impersonal, and the combination of her vocals and lyrics with the melodies was electrifying.
Alunah have worked with several excellent bass players, but in Dan Burchmore, they seem to have found someone who really understands their sound and who elevates them to even higher musical planes. Like many of the excellent bands I saw at Bloodstock, the set seemed to be over way too quickly, I was left wanting more and I was not alone in this, judging by the size of the crowd they attracted and the overwhelming response.
With the sun beating down on hard on this years Bloodstock, it takes a moment to adjust to the bottom of the ocean, melodic doom, that emanates from the Sophie Lancaster stage, as Alunah (4/5) begin their set. The Birmingham outfit quickly fill the tent with their hypnotic, layered groove and attract dazed punters like moths to a burning light. Vocalist Soph Day’s vocals ring out across the Sunday afternoon crowd and it makes for a perfect soundtrack to what has already been an epic day of music.
Great interview with Dan and Mike James Rock Show. Please excuse the incorrect spelling and wrong name on the intro, the MJRS folks have been informed.
Alunah (13/13) with their intoxicating and creative mixture of doom and blues are making their debut at Bloodstock on the Sophie stage, and immediately demonstrate how well suited their powerful musicality and sound is to a bigger stage. It sounds fantastic from out in the audience, and guitarist Dave Day's first solo is full of the most incredible melody and atmospheric sustain. Bricket Wood Coven is another highlight with its great jazz like drum fills and the beautifully executed bass coda to the song, that is greeted with spontaneous cheers from the audience, and closes with another jaw dropping melodic guitar solo from Dave. Highlight of this great set is undoubtedly Sophie Day's mesmerising vocals on Scourge and the Kiss,, where during a gentle section in the song, with her head tilted slightly towards the microphone, she is communicating every word with pure and very moving emotion. When we interviewed Sophie prior to their set, she disarmingly said ‘I hope we get a crowd after all of this… I’m hoping it rains so everyone comes to shelter …’. It is no surprise to Room Thirteen that Bloodstock took Alunah to their hearts, and the audience loved their stunning set. A triumphant debut!
Taking shelter from the scorchio sunshine at Bloodstock Open Air 2015, we find ourselves in the Sophie tent for some doom on a grand scale from Alunah. To be honest we were expecting them to be good but not quite this good. The doomey bass lines and sheer weight were there but the icing on the leaden cake was undoubtedly Soph Day’s vocals which give Alunah an extra dimension over most of their contemporaries in the crowded UK Doom scene.
We really liked the last Alunah album, and if you’re looking for a Sophie Stage highlight for the entire weekend, then the sublime live version of Bricket Wood Coven will take some beating.
Whilst the gods of stoner rock might have just rocked the foundations of the main stage, the tree folk of Alunah were just beginning their own take on the genre on the Sophie Lancaster Stage. Having released their latest album Awaken The Forest the band performed various different cuts from the album along with the more classic material, each receiving just as uproarious approval than the last. With front woman, Soph Day having an enormous personality to match that of the crushing riffs bestowed upon the unsuspecting Bloodstock crowd today. An excellent foreshadowing of things to come from the band, particularly with their tour later this year.
Before their set at the festival, I was able to catch up with a friend of mine whom I’ve now interviewed three times in the past 8 months! We chatted about the upcoming album, Dave’s (guitarist) gear issues and any bands he was looking forward to watching.
Thanks to Andy at Napalm for organising and as ever, Dan for his time. Was a pleasure to interview you again.
MT: You’re playing the Sophie Lancaster stage later on today, are you excited for it?
Dan: Very excited and a little nervous. I think we were just discussing before that this interview is taking my mind of it a little bit. But no, we’re very excited to be playing.
MT: Last time we spoke, you mentioned that you were working on the new album. How’s it going?
Dan: It’s going really well. We’ve got about 2 songs that are structured but aren’t finished, as they’ll probably change. We’re really relaxed when we’re doing it and coming with some good ideas.
MT: Is the production going to be any different to the previous album?
Dan: Possibly. We’ve got some different ideas of how we want to record it and we’re coming up with loads of ideas and concepts as to how we want to do it. That’s a bit different to the last and we’re thinking of ways we can tie the songs together.
MT: I think we spoke about this yesterday but Dave’s been breaking amps again from what I’ve heard.
Dan: Oh yeah, we’ve had a bit of a nightmare on amps and poor Dave’s been cursed. He’s gone through a couple of amps and he’s now back with his original one, which is sounding really good. We’re hoping he’s got rid of the curse now.
MT: Has your gear changed since we last spoke?
Dan: Nope still using the same gear. I am looking to upgrade a bit however. As we’re writing, we start thinking about what sort of sound we want and that has an effect on our set list as well. Our equipment’s changed a lot since I’ve been in the band. I’ve been in for 2 years and we’re always looking at different amps and gear.
MT: After you’ve played, are there any bands you’re looking forward to watching?
Dan: We want to see Black Label society and we want to watch Rob Zombie as well. That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. *Looks at band list* Oh and maybe Cannibal corpse as well. Unfortunately we can’t go and see Orange Goblin as they are on just before us.
MT: Thank you for your time!
Formed in 2006 and based in the West Midlands, Alunah merge elements of doom, psych and classic heavy rock with earthy hypnotic vocal melodies to create their sound. Currently signed to Napalm Records, the band have released 3 full length albums. They found out they would be performing on the Sophie Lancaster stage at Bloodstock a few months back, chose a set list and practiced it loads. They were unfortunately plagued with lots of trouble with amps and pedals, so "lots of trips to amp techs and music shops to get things sorted" was involved in getting the band ready for their performance.
"We had a great time, and we had such an amazing response from the crowd. Unfortunately a couple of those equipment problems I mentioned earlier reared their ugly heads, but things like that are part of being in a band and you just have to get on with it. It was the first time for me and I'll definitely be returning. Everyone said there was a good family atmosphere and they were right, lots of our family and friends were there too so that added to it. The organisers and crew do such an incredible job."
"Not as many bands as I wanted to, but first and foremost we were there to play so that's to be expected. Orange Goblin were on right before us, so we missed them. I wanted to catch my friends band By Any Means, but only caught a bit of them. I also wanted to see Blind Haze and totally forgot the time. However, I did get to see one of my favourite bands Opeth and they were just incredible. Napalm Death and Rob Zombie were great too."
Currently the band are writing for the 4th album and they have lots of gigs coming up in October and November in England. They also have two more festivals coming up; Crimson Lakeland in the Lake District in September, and the Malta Doom Metal Festival in October.
Bloodstock is just three weeks away. We can almost taste it. We’re looking forward to it like you wouldn’t believe… and so is Soph from Alunah. Well let’s cut to the chase, you’re playing Bloodstock next month! Excited?
Yeah we’re all really up for it, it’s the biggest festival we’ve played in the UK so far and lots of our favourite bands and friends will be there. I don’t live far from the site either, so it’s great to be asked to play.
What can we expect from your show?
Other than me getting a new frock for it haha we won’t be doing anything different than we do at a normal gig. We’re not Kiss, there will be no bells, whistles or explosions, just heavy riffs served slowly.
Any other bands you’ll be wanting to catch on the bill?
For me it’s all about Opeth. Between us all we want to see Napalm Death, Rob Zombie, Cannibal Corpse, Orange Goblin, Godflesh and obviously Opeth.
There are a few Doom names on the bill this year. Although it never goes away, Doom seems to be on the up at the moment. Would you agree?
I’ve definitely noticed lots of bands springing up with elements of doom, but if we’re talking in the classic sense I’m not sure really. I think there are so many bands to be inspired by across the doom, stoner, psychedelic, classic rock and metal genres that it’s hard to pin point a bands’ genre nowadays.
You are playing the Sunday; will you be making a weekend of it and doing the whole festival or coming in fresh on the day?
We’re going up on Saturday morning and as I live locally we’re cheating and spending the night at mine, then coming in fresh on Sunday.
We noticed you have your 10 year anniversary approaching. Will you be doing anything to celebrate that
There aren’t any plans at the moment to do anything special no. We’re in the writing process for our fourth album so we’ll see where we are with that in 2016, and we’ll also be planning some tours, as we do every year.
And you have a tour coming up too?
We’re visiting Malta to play The Malta Doom Metal Fest and playing lots of UK dates in October and November, but the European tour has been postponed until next year now. We were looking at joining up with a US band also, but they’re unavailable until next year so hopefully our diaries will be compatible then.
Last one… What is your favourite festival story/experience either as a band or a fan?
A lot of people go to festivals purely for the experience, but I have to be into the bands playing or else I’d rather stay at home. I have so many great experiences from festivals, and most of them are to do with actually watching the bands, the Black Sabbath and The Prodigy sets were possibly my favourite festival experiences. We played DesertFest Berlin 2013 on our first European tour, and it was the biggest crowd we’d played to. Most of them were singing along to our songs, and the energy we got off them was unreal. I’d say that was my favourite festival experience, although last year’s Up In Smoke Fest in Switzerland is a close second. Sharing a backstage bar and hotel with your favourite bands is a little surreal.
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