Unsigned Artists Of The Month: May 2011. Part I

In Part I of this month's instalments, we look at the bands Chimp Change and Voodoo Johnson.

Ultimate Guitar

Welcome to the latest carnation of Ultimate-Guitar.com's Unsigned Artists of the Month. Artists with no record label affiliation will now be featured by Ultimate-Guitar.com on a bi-monthly basis. In Part I of this month's instalments, we look at the bands Chimp Change and Voodoo Johnson.

The roots of punk rock go back further than the Ramones, but the modern day pop punk band owes more than one footnote to the Ramones in terms of their approach. From Green Day to Jimmy Eat World, there is no denying the Ramones' influence on today's state of affairs. But while the Ramones are celebrated as innovators, bands that pay homage to the Ramones' style are derided for their pop sensibilities. The Ramones, inspired by the Beatles, sought to write great pop songs, whereas Green Day, inspired by the Ramones, seek to write songs, which, according to some, are beyond contempt.

Chimp Change, conceived in Saskatchewan and now based in Alberta, are very much in the Ramones mould, sharing similarities with bands like Teenage Bottlerocket and Lagwagon.

Comprised of Jawsh (vocals and guitars), Blitzcraig (bass and vocals), Bootz (Guitar and Vocals), and Ozone (drums), Chimp Change's sound is well rounded, if a little raw in places. The band's pop tempered punk is a welcome listening experience, often played at such breakneck pace that Saskatchewan's status as a prairie province is likely under review.

Latest albumBruisesis making Chimp Change's presence felt online, being regularly featured on bandcamp.com. Utilizing new resources such as bandcamp is clearly vital in the appeal to the modern music consumer affected by ever-increasing globalisation. Chimp Change embraces the change that numerous artists choose to ignore.

Pop Punk bands often leave themselves open to criticism for their choice of lyrical themes and rudimentary knowledge of their instruments. Chimp Change doesn't stray far from basic musical composition, but the band's recordings are more than adequate, sounding as professional as an unsigned band can aspire to sound. Songs like Harm showcase the band's corset-tight musicianship, while discussing the realisation that a relationship is not all that it is cracked up to be. The songs concerned with relationships and girls are counterbalanced by songs dealing with drug problems (Bruises) and suicide (Unprepared), showing Chimp Change to be a serious band.

Ozone's take on the resulting songscollectively known as Bruisesis one of honesty, his punk sensibilities taking over any inclination to prevaricate. Speaking to Ultimate-Guitar.com, he said, In the midst of recording Jawsh was sent off to Manitoba for work [...], so I had to record the drums purely from memory.

The final result was pretty rough and sloppy, but it was punk so we didnt want it to be too polished.

With numerous unrecorded songs yet to be played live, Chimp Change are yet to unveil songs with working titles such as Cairo' the band's take on how the values of peaceful protest are undermined by bloodshed.

Chimp Change represents a serious brand of Pop Punk that may well be your favourite new bruise this band hits hard enough.

Voodoo Johnson, the Classic Rock outfit have made important strides since first being featured by ultimate-guitar.com three years ago (http://tiny.cc/tuh1p). Formed in Birmingham in 2007, Voodoo Johnson is comprised of Nik Taylor-Stoakes (vocals), Carl Gethin (guitar), Paul Gethin (guitar), David Barker (drums) and Rich Bellamy (bass). In 2010 the band's debut album was released to critical acclaim, receiving rave reviews from the likes of Kerrang, Metal Hammer, Rock Sound and Classic Rock Magazine.

Supported by their terrific back catalogue and unrivalled desire to succeed, Voodoo Johnson recently supported Europe (The Final Countdown, Carrie) on the Hard Rock legends' latest tour. For those who were in Glasgow that night, it would prove to be a special night. Making their debut performance with newly recruited singer, Nik Taylor-Stoakes, Voodoo Johnson delivered a powerful supporting set, in spite of some initial uncertainty over the band's on-stage chemistry.

Having supported Europe, Voodoo Johnson guitarist, Paul Gethin, could hardly contain himself when the band was confirmed for Download 2011 this June. It is at Download where Voodoo Johnson shall share the stage with headliners Def Leppard, Linkin Park and System of a Down.

On top of the band's increasing live success is Black Skies Mist, the culmination of a collaborative effort with Brian Tatler, the guitarist of Diamond Head fame. Tatler, one of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal's most widely recognised names, helped to co-write the song after Voodoo Johnson's continued success brought the band to his attention. Voodoo Johnson has received regular airplay on Kerrang Radio and BBC Radio 6. Voodoo Johnson's longevity is set to be tested by whether the band can attract a record deal at this year's Download Festival.

Black Skies Mist can be downloaded free of charge for a limited time period at soundcloud.com

Samuel Agini (sam.agini@ultimate-guitar.com) (http://twitter.com/#!/SamAgini) can be contacted with submissions for his bi-monthly column.

17 comments sorted by best / new / date

    It would be nice to see more of these kinds of articles on the main page.
    Should check out a sick norcal band called Self-centered, unsigned yet touring with bands like hawthorne heights, shortie and others..... www.selfcenteredmusic.com
    Ok, chimp changes album has a song about a relationship? referencing mortal kombat characters? ...Finally!!!
    Haha I'm checking out Chimp Change. Not a super huge fan of his voice, put they're pretty cool, nice to see a punk band on here!
    Cool, love Voodoo Johnson and can't wait to see them at Download Festival this year!