The United Kingdom is full of myths: bad weather, bad food, and the rock coming out of Her Majesty’s realm these days is less than heavy. Recently I had the opportunity to travel to London to dispel two of these myths (the weather remains pretty droll). During my visit, I had the opportunity to eat very good food, drink very good beer (London Pride remains one of the world’s finest ales in my opinion), and hang out with the singer of a very good up-and-coming band named Good Man Ray. They’re the newest proof that the UK is still a formidable place to find some great hard rock.
Singer Matt Clayson and I sat down and discussed his band and the state of rock & roll over a few pints and delicious meat pies. Recently, England has been churning out a lot of pop, alternative, and mellow-rock that has grown popular both in the UK and in the United States. The approach of Good Man Ray, aka GMR, is one of evolution and diversity in today’s hard rock scene. Their sound is not a complete antithesis to the popular music found in their country but rather an evolutionary step that takes good elements from pop/alternative and mixes it with the edge we all love from rock & roll.
“Our music is about enjoying yourself and having a good time. I’m not a dark person so why can’t the music be about the great things in life?” says Matt. Don’t worry, you’ll find no campy here’s-my-number-call-me-maybe type of lyrics. Their latest tracks “I am I” and “12:13” slam you with a heavy groove, intricate guitar work, and catchy melodies that make you enjoy yourself without feeling like you’re playing with a Fisher Price playset. Sounding like Alterbridge, Foo Fighters, slight Muse & U2 influences, and Audioslave, these guys pack a punch.
“I am I” opens up with a great delayed guitar riff reminiscent of something U2’s The Edge would play. It then transforms into an all-out headbanging groove, similar to Rage Against The Machine. Matt’s vocals kick in with a catchy & dancy feel, yet he maintains staying aggressive and rockin’ both the upbeat AND the downbeat. The guitar work in this track is particularly amazing, very melodic and tasteful. The rhythm section keeps a very strong and tight groove through the whole song.
“12:13” is a little darker, making use of some great delay and effects to provide a moody intro. The melodies are quite catchy and the chord changes lend themselves to break monotony and provide interest for the song. The production is quite good as well, sounding a bit like classic British garage rock with modern effects and tight performances. I think even the Queen would throw GMR a Jubilee for the great work they did.
“For me it’s less about having a band as a means to express my lyrics & message, it’s more about us as a band having our individual moments and the music itself relaying the spirit of rock & roll by enjoying yourself, having a good time as a group with other people.” says Matt. GMR’s philosophy of making music is not one of a “party band” per se. The use of different musical elements and vibes in their songs reflect their message of enjoyment without resorting to being a flashy bubblegum pop band.
With some upcoming UK tourdates and a possible trip to the US, Good Man Ray is definitely a band to keep an ear out for. They are the pip-pip in your cheerios, the jolly in your good show, the gin in your tonic, the… ok, enough lame English phrases. Go look up Good Man Ray and listen for yourself you bloody wanker!