Featured Image: @split.milk
An emerging band championing the DIY ethic in the modern age and self-described on their Instagram as ‘officially Not Tame’, FUDGE. are forging their own path from the local Leeds music scene and beyond. The band consists of vocalist Cam Hope, drummer Angus Bates, bassist Tom Shea, and guitarist Otto Calladine-Baldwin.
According to BBC, their sound is “Quirky Hard Rock… not in any way tame”. From listening to their first track ‘Walrus’ (2018), you’ll know that this certainly rings true. The grating riffs and beating drums never drawback, almost reminiscent of the heavier punk-rock anthems of yesteryear. They’ve released numerous skillfully-crafted releases since their inception and while polished synth-fuelled numbers are having a moment – Fudge is reminding us that the underground scene is anything but dormant.
Their latest two tracks ‘Money to Be Made’ (2020), and ‘Your Fall From Grace’ (2021), certainly deserve a special mention, both set to appear on their forthcoming second EP, The Town Hall Session. As the title suggests, it was recorded at the renowned venue, Leeds Town Hall, and it truly captures the electric atmosphere of their live shows -bar the sticky floor and sweaty venue. ‘Money to Be Made’ discusses the issues with greed at the top of society with an explosive vengeance. Hope’s furious vocals layered over the loud and riotous instrumentals, clearly convey their important message.
‘Your Fall From Grace’, which can be described affectionately as a “rebellious love song”, contains a glimmer of romance at its heart. Released as part of Independent Venue Week, it beautifully focuses on the pearls and pitfalls of a relationship and the complications of focusing on the future. Don’t be fooled though, just because it leans more towards the pop end of the genre spectrum, it doesn’t make it any less hard-hitting. Showcasing their growth not only as a band but in the direction where they wish to head, it’s a testament to their dedication.
On their latest track ‘Y.F.F.G’, the director of Independent Venue Week UK, Chloe Ward, said: “We’re so chuffed that FUDGE. chose IVW 2021 as the time to release their latest single, especially as the unique recording methods behind it align so well with the DIY, independent attitude that so many of our venues and promoters have.”
aAh! Magazine caught up with vocalist Cam Hope, drummer Angus Bates, and bassist Tom Shea over Zoom to find out more about taking inspiration from caramel shortbread, touring with Kid Kipichi, and their new band recommendations.
How did you settle on the name FUDGE.?
Cam Hope: “We started FUDGE. while we were in the first year of uni, which is like four years ago now, which is pretty crazy. The name is because we were walking to Morrison’s high as a kite and we thought we saw some fudge on the floor, which turned out to be some caramel shortbread. It’s not a very exciting name at all.”
Angus Bates: “When you tell this story, I just admit, I’m just picturing two blokes at the side of the road pointing at a chocolate bar, trying to figure out if it’s fudge or caramel shortcake, or whatever it is.”
Cam: “We were literally stood right above it.”
Angus: “How long were you standing there?”
Cam: “I can’t remember and I never expected there to be a question of where the name came from. I would’ve made up some absolute sick name if I knew this was going to happen and be a thing. We were just in the first year and didn’t have any responsibilities.”
So, Cam Hope and Otto Calladine-Baldwin started the band. How did the rest of you join the line-up?
Cam: “We kicked a few people out. We’ve had about five bass players until [Tom] Shea came and one before Angus.”
Angus: “Bass players are the worst. But to answer your question, in short, Cam and Otto started it. They had a drummer and a bassist and it was awful. I know for a fact because I went to see him before I joined and it was terrible.”
Cam: “It was terrible but we had humble beginnings!”
Angus: “Humble beginnings, of course, it has to start somewhere. But then I moved up to Leeds and started a uni course with Tom, and we hit it off.”
Tom: “We met over the summer before I went into the first year. I broke my gearbox and it’s like a joke where every band does it like, ‘Oh yeah. Nice. Nice gig man.’ People never mean it.”
Cam: “Don’t mean it, you were drooling and saying, ‘Please let me join the band!’”
Tom: “A mate and I, went round and said, ‘It was a good gig’. Met Angus and worked out we were in the same uni.”
Angus: “A year before we even went. I went to school with Otto and knew him way before these two as well. Maybe I’m like the rock of the band. So, I joined and we had another bassist who left, and then my good mate Shea joined.”
Tom: “Yeah. They came to me on their knees, just asking for me also pretty good hourly rate going, like 75% split on royalties.”
You’ve recently had a new song come out, ‘Your Fall From Grace’, which was released as part of Independent Venue Week. How did this happen and why did you choose this song, in particular?
Angus: “The Independent Venue Week was partly due to our PR who does a bit for Independent Venue Week and we work with a guy called Richard Watson from 360 Club. And he’s got close ties to Independent Venue Week. So the original plan was that we did another live session during the week at Hyde Park Book Club, which is a great venue in Leeds if anyone’s never been. But obviously the latest lockdown completely f***ed that over, We ended up just releasing the song as a live song. We’ve got the live video to go with ‘Y.F.F.G’, which we recorded at Leeds Town Hall. So As for why we picked ‘Y.F.F.G’…”
Cam: “It’s always been a fan favourite. It’s different from the rest.”
Angus: “It’s probably as poppy as we go.”
Angus: “It’s not poppy at all. It’s actually the closest Cam has come to writing a love song.”
Why did you choose to film and record in the Town Hall?
Tom: “I think everyone in Leeds looks to the Town Hall, in terms of Leeds, it’s one of the biggest, staple venue locations.”
Angus: “It was exactly that. It wasn’t a case of us wanting to play it. Because I think if everyone got the opportunity, they would take it. We got the opportunity to go in there free. Not saying who helped us because everyone would be at them, but we just took the opportunity and it turned out cool.”
You have a new EP coming out soon, titled, The Town Hall Session, what can you tell us about it, and can we expect any new singles from it soon?
Angus: “We’ve got one more single to come out. We don’t know when because of COVID. It’s actually had a really big impact on these releases. We’re the sort of band that works really well when we can throw a release into a gig and put on a really big show, and continue gigging afterward. We’ve also got two more songs on the five-song EP. The two remaining songs on the EP are probably the best out of the five. You’ve got to stick around.”
Tom: “Follow us to the end. The best way that we conveyed the music as well was through a live gig. It’s impacted how we connect to what we’re making.”
Angus: “We’ve never been a studio band. It’s been pretty tough.”
How do you find capturing that DIY aspect into your singles?
Tom: “We made a lot of stuff in the ‘Fudge House’, where everyone lived except me last year. It’s like, ‘Oh, I need some artwork, or while we know, you can do this or he knows someone else.’ It’s kind of like riding a wave of favours. It’s give and take like we’ll give them tickets or whatever. It’s about hustling, different avenues to exploit.”
What is the biggest thing you’ve learned this year and what are your plans post-Covid?
Angus: “It’s made us realise how important gigging is to us and other people as well. The first gigs we have back are going to be crazy when there are no restrictions. There’s going to be like a phase where there’ll be restrictions and gigs and we’re just breaking back into normal life. But as soon as we can have a proper gig and we can have a sweaty mosh pit.”
Tom: “It’s going to be ridiculous.”
Angus: “It’s just going to be so much better. As nice as it is, during interviews with nice interviewers, it’s so nice to actually see people face to face and actually have that connection. It’s so important for the industry, but we’ll get there.”
Exactly! Your last gig was supporting Kid Kipichi. What do you miss most about touring and what was your favourite moment of that night?
Tom: “Just how well we played, it came at such a perfect time. In the last three months, all we were doing was just rehearsing, like, day after day. I couldn’t move my fingers, we were going from shows to rehearsing to recording and then we had a build-up of gigs. The Kid Kipichi gig was like the final boss level. We were so tight. We had such a good soundtrack and smashed it.”
Angus: “It was just great to support Kid Kipichi too as we were huge fans. The best thing was that it felt like a really good step in the right direction for us. It set the tone for what we wanted to do after that. We had plans for a few festivals during summer as well. Which obviously never materialised but we felt that we were finally doing something important.”
On your Instagram biography you’ve said that you’re ‘officially not tame’. What’s your wildest gig memory?
Cam: “At the last Lending Room gig, there was just blood on the floor. As the crowd dispersed we usually like going off-stage and mingling with the crowd. As everyone was leaving, there was this guy, who we didn’t know. This guy’s arm was just covered in blood, it was rough. It’s not that everyone goes mental trying to hurt each other. You get mosh pits in the middle and everyone on the outside is still having a great time.”
Angus: “I was going to say at that same gig. There was a couple there, I’m pretty sure they were older than 80 years old and were having a sick time. I’m pretty sure they stuck around after as the plan was for Shea to do a DJ set, which happened but not many people stuck around.”
Tom: “We went from heavy rock to techno-house.”
Angus: “This 80-year-old couple were really loving it afterward, still wading through all the sweat and blood.”
Tom: “For me, the maddest gig has to be one we played in Manchester, a few weeks before that Lending Room gig.”
Angus: “What was the venue called?”
Cam: “The one with the pole in the middle of the stage!”
Oh, was it Hive?
Cam: “Yeah, that’s the one! I just started climbing on everything.”
Angus: “That was your first gig, wasn’t it Shea?”
Tom: “It was my second gig and I woke up in the morning feeling so bad, so hungover. It’s one of those gigs that you’ve got to do but it’s also 30/40 people, sticky floors, and tiny room.”
Cam: “Shea and I, got drunk before it.”
Angus: “I’m always the designated driver when these are getting drunk when we go anywhere on the road.”
What’s your favourite song to perform live?
Cam: “Oh my god, there are so many different songs I love for so many different reasons. There’s the song that the crowd goes absolutely wild for. Then you’ve got the song that crowd goes almost like emotional to. Then, you’ve got the one everyone knows. It’s just nuts. I couldn’t choose. Actually, ‘Couldn’t Care Less’, when it’s at sold-out venues.”
Tom: “‘Couldn’t Care Less’ and ‘Walrus’ for me.”
Have you discovered any new bands that you’d recommend?
Angus: “I guess we should give Serratone a shout-out. They’ve just released a single. They’re a sick live band. They’re great to go and see.”
Cam: “This is unlike any music that I listen to, but I’ve been listening to this band called Phoenix. They’re proper punky and upbeat.”
Tom: “Shout out to The Lost Hours, they’re my pick.”
Angus: “I’m going to shout out Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, they’ve just released a new album and they are one of the best bands in the world ever. I don’t care what you say, Shea.”
Tom: “Blanketman from Manchester is good too! They’re BIMMs freshest product.”
I’ll have to try them! What are your plans for going forward?
Angus: “We’ve got plenty of other songs. We had a bunch of songs in the works as well. But as I said, it’s really difficult to write songs when we’re apart. We’ve tried to do a little bit. We’ve sent each other excerpts and recordings of drums, guitar, vocals, and bass and put them together. It just doesn’t come out the same. When we write songs, it comes quite naturally to us. As soon as we can get back together, we’ll be writing songs again, and doing more live recordings because shout out to Kane Whitlam as well. He’s great. Hit him up for work, if you want a great live sound. He’s perfect.”
Tom: “Mixing too.”
Angus: “He did the live Town Hall sessions for us. He’ll sort people out.”
He sounds great! Did you have any plans to tour abroad before Covid and how do you feel about that possibility, now with Brexit?
Angus: “We didn’t have any solid plans but we were looking at going to Europe for a few festivals. Working with CD Baby, another shout out to them for doing lots of work for us.”
“I’m not super up to date with the musicians touring passport at the minute but I know that there was a lot of dispute about it. If artists are limited to multiple foreign passports not just from the UK to Europe, but between each country in Europe as well – it’s just going to be a nightmare. It’s going to be super expensive and especially for bands our size, maybe up to Kid Kipichi size.”
“I remember talking to them about this. They were saying that they could probably afford it with the level they’re at. Anyone below them will really struggle to get abroad. For bands who maybe don’t have a scene in the UK, but might have a scene in Poland or Germany, it could completely destroy their careers. There are potentially real problems with Brexit, so we’ll see how it goes.”
It’s a very serious problem. On to a slightly less serious question, inspired by my interview with Johnny Took, do you have a favourite instrument, that you’ve named?
Tom: “The bass I was using was borrowed and the person I borrowed it off has taken it off me. At the moment, I don’t have one even though I’m the bassist. I might buy one and if I do, I’ll definitely name it.”
Angus: “That’s a little Easter egg, on the back of the bass in black electrical tape it has Pingu on. I’m pretty sure there’s a split second in’Y.F.G.G’ where Shea lifts his bass trying to be cool, and you just get a flash of the Pingu on the back of the bass. You should look out for that.”
Tom: “Even I haven’t seen that!”
What are your future goals and what do want to achieve as a band?
Cam: “Everything, as much as possible.”
Angus: “Who doesn’t dream about playing the main stage at Glastonbury. You have to have those aspirations, else there’s almost no point in striving as much. Genuinely on a more conservative note, I’d be super happy just touring and going to places that I wouldn’t otherwise go to. Touring with my mates in a cool band.”
Tom: “Not having a job for me is the motivation. If music can be my income and I can just enjoy doing random stuff, then that’s all I want to do!”
I agree! Pre-pandemic you used to hand out fudge at gigs. If the band was a type of fudge, what would it be?
Angus: “I’m thinking back to this interview we had with Total Entertainment where they gave us different fudge and we had to guess the flavour.”
Cam: “They had a sick dog too, come on Camilla, where’s your dog man?”
Tom: “What kind of dog food does it eat? I’ll be able to hook you up.”
Cam: “Oh, Shea! Make sure when you’re reporting it, that you include Shea works in a dog food factory.”
Tom: “Since June, all I’ve been doing is packing dog food, 12 hour nights, and sometimes 84 hour weeks.”
Cam: “Rock and roll, baby!”
Angus: “We need to answer the question.”
Cam: “Rainbow unicorn.”
Tom: “Kind of vanilla, caramel with some kind of nut in it.”
Cam: “Daim bar, mate.”
Finally, if that’s something that you’ve never been asked, but you wished that you had?
Cam: “Oh my god, this is such a good question as I’ll sit there all the time, like ‘It’s always the same questions.’ To be fair, this one’s been pretty sick. That’s a very good question, and now you’ve asked it…this is karma coming back to get me.”
Angus: “This is this is the exact question we wanted to be asked and now we don’t know the answer to it.”
Cam: “I’m going to ask someone.”
Tom: “I’d like some Nardwuar style ones.”
Angus: “Yeah, like why did I paint the dog blue when I was six years old?”
Why did you?
Angus: “I don’t know. I was a bit of a demon child. I think I put my mum’s phone in the microwave as well.”
Tom: “Are you sure you weren’t just a 5G conspiracist at an early age?”
Angus: “At 6 years old? I don’t know why I painted the dog but she looked good, she needed spicing up. She was just a brown dog. Just more Nardwuar interviews, they’re some of the best.”
If we’ve learned anything from FUDGE., it’s that they’re a band best witnessed live. Hopefully, it won’t be long before their infamously chaotic gigs can return. Until then, you can stream their latest single, ‘Your Fall From Grace’ here, and keep a lookout for their forthcoming EP, The Town Hall Sessions.
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