Featured band /// The Rogue Network

(c) The Rogue Network

(c) The Rogue Network

Bands who refuse to be pigeonholed are the heroes of the contemporary underground. While aiming at being different, these musicians have to work extra hard to get themselves heard. However, the listeners who discover such gems are usually well rewarded with really good music and an utter listening pleasure.

The Rogue Network are yet a new band, but their course at standing out is well clear. The concept for the band started in late 2014. It was then when the band’s lead singer and guitarist Gerallt Williams decided to start a new band. The matter of importance was not only to find the right people who shared his view of the future band sound, but also those who could play a variety of genres with great skill. «I was going to put a new band together that was going to have a driven blues sound mixed with some electronica and samples, – recalls Gerallt.  The sound of the band was going to cover a lot of genres (from Motown to reggae) and absorb a wide range of influences, which would not only keep the music interesting but would also make it difficult for people categorise and pigeonhole the band». By January 2015 The Rogue Network had fully shaped with Jameson Bell and Danny Hughes taking up the bass and drums duties respectively and hit the rehearsal room in Manchester to start honing their sound. 

The Rogue Network’s approach to making music is not the only key to success, though. Alongside being a creative unit, they are also a hard-working bunch. Gigging is essential for these musicians and gigging as much as possible. «We know a lot of other unsigned bands that almost totally focus on the social media side of things and only gig maybe once every 3 months! That’s not us!»  Any challenges? «It is difficult to play often when you’re a new band, when nobody really knows you and promoters aren’t willing to give you a chance. You’ve just got to carry on and keep working hard and eventually you might get a break». There are always difficulties, but the level of determination these guys show is very much able to get them through any hard times. 

Such a firm backbone in the base of The Rogue Network’s life attitude is also what rules their sound. Their music has a strong identity with the kind of arresting confidence that sparkles in every line. The Rogue Network also aim at making it feel good. «If we don’t all get that positive feeling (be it fun to play or melodically strong) then we look to change what we’re doing or re-write sections of the song to improve it, – says Gerallt. – The same goes for audience reaction to a song – if one song doesn’t go down as well as the others then we’ll look to change and try and improve things.  And when things feel good to you, other people will follow». 

Eager to put out some music as soon as possible to get listeners acquainted with them, The Rogue Network wasted to time doing so.  A debut, four-track EP the band have under their belts is a collection of songs ruled by head-grow-dizzy, dirty guitars, thick bass, thunderous drums and impressive songwriting. Recorded in Gerallt’s home studio in South Manchester and mixed and mastered by Joe Gibb, who had worked with the likes of David Bowie, Catatonia and The Kinks, their debut is a twenty-something-minute blast. While it might seem that The Rogue Network took a relatively short time to write and record the EP, it’s by no means a rushed record. All the four songs sound as if the band had formed years ago: the do have this sort of chemistry – the mutual understanding that shows even through your headphones.

The choice of the songs for the EP was carefully made to represent The Rogue Network at their best. «The songs that made it onto this EP are predominantly the ones that had the strongest character in the early days of forming the band, and were the most representative of what was going to be the sound and style of the band. ‘Lowland City’ and ‘A Killer’s Song’ are quite defining in terms of the sound and pack a punch in terms of grabbing the listeners’ attention. ‘Milk & Honey’ is a bit more upbeat and groove based, but still carries the same identity. These were the songs (along with one other that didn’t make it onto the EP) that were initially recorded as demos.  ‘Again’ is actually a much older song, but was added as a fourth track for diversity and to give the EP some balance.»

The Rogue Network skillfully melt down all their influences and fuse them into an extraordinary record with a seal of ‘eclectic’ plastered all over it. «Musically the inspiration for the EP came from many different places, from the old artists of the 70s to bands like the Black Keys and Royal Blood nowadays.  Good music knows no genre and has no sell-by date!»  This desire to stand out with the mix of inspirations is also supported with the aim to present the whole affair differently. «With the recordings, I was keen to make them sound different to the other ‘unsigned band songs’ that are out there, – explains Gerallt. –  They all seem to sound snappy and crystal clean, with a huge amount compression and consequently, no depth. I wanted the songs to sound a bit old & vintage but modern and contemporary at the same time. God knows if I’ve achieved that, but that was the intention!   In some ways similar to hip-hop artists that use samples from old records as a bed for the track, and then overlay that with digital synths and other modern instruments.» And succeed they did! Once you start listening to this EP you immediately realise that there’s something about this record that captures you, makes you fall in love with it, though the nature of this feeling is not palpable at all.

‘Lowland City’ oozes the big city buzz and bright lights shine and tells how hard it can be to dwell in a metropolis; seductive ‘Milk & Honey’ urges listeners to have a good time and dark thriller ‘A Killer’s Song’ tells the story of a man’s downfall after chasing the wrong kind of women. While these three represent a groovy, heavier side of The Rogue Network, ‘Again’ is an absolutely different matter. It was written by Gerallt at the end of a long relationship and deals with the feelings that follow the break-up. To say that the song is beautiful and heartbreaking is to say nothing. «For me personally, the highlight of the EP was how ‘Again’ turned out, – says Gerallt. –  It was originally just a short, stripped-back blues song with one acoustic guitar and one vocal track. So to expand on the song both in terms of instrumentation and arrangement was a lot of fun. The finished song now starts as a blues tune, grows into soul track, back into blues for a guitar solo and ends on a funk groove!  I thought that was great!» And how would you describe the whole EP? «I would be totally bias and say it’s AWESOME!! But seriously, I’d probably introduce it as “a blast of contemporary blues, full of carefully crafted songs pumped up by big riffs and driving grooves”!  What’s there not to like about that?» 

The Rogue Network might yet be an emerging band, but they have this power and determination not all new bands possess. And they do write exceptionally good tunes. So if you’re on the lookout for some great fresh music, go for The Rogue Network and have yourself some real good time.

Find The Rogue Network on Facebook


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