Bull invite you to Discover Effortless Living with March release of their debut album

On the charge: York band Bull announce spring release for debut album

STILL sworn to secrecy in December, York band Bull have now confirmed the long-mooted name and release date for their major label debut album, no bull.

Discover Effortless Living – a title abbreviated for last year’s single Disco Living – will be out on March 26, launched on EMI Records in conjunction with York music hive Young Thugs.

To celebrate, here comes the York alt-rockers’ fifth single, Eugene, released today on the back of Disco Living, Green, Bonzo Please and the Love Goo EP that closed out a year when Bull became the first York band to sign to a major label since Nineties’ chart regulars Shed Seven.

“I wrote the song when I was feeling dissatisfied with what I was doing,” says singer Tom Beer of his mini-symphony of self-flagellation that trips through the various stages of feeling down on yourself.

Moods of lethargy, frustration and anger are captured in the tempo changes of a song that is melancholic yet spritely simultaneously: typical tropes of Bull’s idiosyncratic song-writing.   

“It’s kind of a self-hate song. You know when people talk about self-love? It’s not that. I’m slating myself,” reveals Tom. “It moves through the key changes and different moods and ends in a way that mocks the sadness, another form of self-deprecation!”

The accompanying video is again a collaboration with artist friends of Bull that reflects the song’s ever-changing moods. Guitarist Dan Lucas and bassist Kai West kick everything off with some DIY Claymation before handing over to artists Jack Iredale, Rory Welbrock, Roxy Linklater and Holly Beer, who each tackle a different animation style.

Discover Effortless Living promises a “cornucopia of alt. rock sounds, the band having refined their song-writing style into 13 indie bangers”.

“It features songs written and rocked on between the years 2012 and 2018, with Love Goo being the newest one on there, the freshest,” Tom says. “The album title is taken from the opening lyric to the final track Disco Living. We wanted to use a lyric from the album and felt like this was a good one.

“I first saw the words in London written on the side of a mansion being built on the Millionaire Mile and thought it was hilarious.  

“I was on my way to Hampstead, got off somewhere wrong, which usually happens to me in London, and that’s when I saw the billboard – and the tune came to me immediately!

“The billboard was advertising what was going to be built behind: homes for ‘effortless living’, and that led to lyrics that tie in with ideas around class, new beginnings, a golden era of prosperity, and hoping to have life ‘in the bag’.”

Bull hope that 2021 will see them returning to the stage to promote their debut album, although December’s talk of an April tour, taking in York and Leeds, is yet to be set in stone amid the ongoing Lockdown 3. On Twitter today, however, they tantalise: “World’s largest Bull party at The Crescent as soon as.”

In the meantime, the track listing is rubber-stamped as: Bedroom Floor; Love Goo; Green; Shiny Bowl; Eugene; Eddie’s Cap; Serious Baby; Perfect Teeth; Find Myself A Job; Bonzo Please; In A Jar; Smoke and Disco Living.

Looking ahead, “we’ve written lots of new songs, progressing towards the next album,” says Tom.

Bull end year with EP message of love and friendship and promise of spring album

Bullish for you: York band Bull end their year with an EP and look ahead to a spring album release and return to gigging in 2021. Picture: Amy D’Agorne Craghill

YORK alt-rockers Bull close out their breakthrough year with a new digital EP.

Out now on EMI Records in conjunction with York label Young Thugs, it combines the new title track with Bull’s three 2020 singles: the fuzz-rocking Disco Living, the noisy pop of Bonzo Please and the summer high of Green. 

Billed as a “brilliant slice of indie maximalism”, Love Goo hooks sweet pop melodies onto a ramshackle jangle rock template, with spritely xaphoon lines (a kind of pocket saxophone), tin whistle and piano to the fore.

“It’s a song about getting along with people,” explains wry-humoured Bull songwriter and singer Tom Beer. “It looks at my relationship with my family as well as my own feelings of ‘sticky love goo’, when thinking about people in my life and from my childhood.

“It’s about the difference between people, universal truth, gender fluidity, peace and love, understanding and all of that stuff.”

Tom penned Love Goo in 2018. “It’s one of my more recent songs on our upcoming album, in fact it’s the newest one on there. Out of the 13 songs, it’s the freshest,” he says. “It was written before all of what’s gone on this year but that now adds to it.

“It’s probably the happiest song I’ve ever written and I’m so happy to have written it. It’s both a reminder of why I wrote it, to make myself a better person and to be positive, and it’s nostalgic too, reflecting on people in my life and people I love.

“One of the reasons it sounds so good and comes across so well is that we recorded it maybe only a month after I wrote it.”

Contributing to Loo Goo’s happy disposition is the xaphoon, the aforementioned pocket saxophone. “It was ‘advertised’ to me on Facebook thanks to the wonders of algorithms; I showed it to [lead guitarist] Dan Lucas’s dad, Ross, who very kindly bought it for me for Christmas,” recalls Tom.

“We’d never thought of using it on any other song – though there may be a toot on Bonzo Please – but it suited Love Goo.”

Love Goo: Bull’s artwork for their new EP

Bull have made not one, but two videos to accompany Love Goo. “We started off making one video after our bassist, Kai West, bought a VHS camera for £6. It came with all the tape, so we thought, ‘we’ve got everything we need, let’s film while we’re on tour’,” says Tom, as they headed off to Amsterdam for shows with Dutch group Canshaker Pi.

“Kai’s idea was to take lots of two-second clips, tiny little snippets of whatever we were doing, for a song with a ‘Jing Jing’ rhythm to it. It’s simple but effective in what it does, showing us knocking about on tour, starting with getting on a train at York station, taking a ferry from Newcastle, playing the Dutch shows and coming back for our UK tour, playing Bristol and Manchester in the days when we could tour.”

Love Goo video number two has just been recorded, filmed against a blue screen backdrop, in the manner of Curtis Mayfield’s Seventies’ shows “before they were going to add all the hippy stuff”.  “Keeping it on the blue screen, it looks like we’re floating in this crazy space,” says Tom.

The Love Goo EP closes a year when Bull became the first York band to sign to a major record label since Nineties’ chart regulars Shed Seven. “2020 has been a mixed bag, but I think I can say it’s been a good year for us, in as far as how well it could have gone under the circumstances,” says Tom.

“We’ve done a lot of good things; we’ve finished our album; we’ve just done our live-streamed Christmas gig, the Snow Global Tour show we filmed at Reel Recording Studio in Elvington.

“We’ve made lots of videos; we’ve designed the album sleeve – and we’ve written lots of songs, progressing towards the next album.

“In a normal year, we’d have had the usual stresses of touring, though the other side has been great, but of course I’ve missed touring, seeing people, as everyone has, but it could have been worse.”

Looking ahead, the album is scheduled for March release and a tour is booked in for April for Beer, Lucas, West and drummer Tom Gabbatiss. “We’ve decided to go ahead, even if the gigs have to be socially distanced. We’ll be headlining at The Crescent [in York] and we’re going to play Leeds Brudenell Social Club, which is a dream come for me. It’s my favourite venue,” says Tom.

His wish for next year will strike a chord with everyone as the pandemic refuses to back down. “I just kinda hope that the vaccine really gets going and everyone gets it and we can all start moving on again,” he says.

Copyright of The Press, York

Bull spread Love Goo’s message of getting on with people on eve of Snow Global show

Feeling Bullish: York band Bull see out 2020 with the Love Goo EP and a live-streamed show

YORK alt-rockers Bull close out their breakthrough year with a new EP and a live-streamed gig tomorrow night (16/12/2020).

The Love Goo EP, out now on EMI Records in conjunction with York label Young Thugs, combines the new title track with Bull’s three 2020 singles: the fuzz-rocking Disco Living, the noisy pop of Bonzo Please and the summer high of Green.

Billed as a “brilliant slice of indie maximalism”, Love Goo hooks sweet pop melodies onto a ramshackle jangle rock template, with spritely xaphoon lines (a kind of pocket saxophone), tin whistle and piano to the fore.

“It’s a song about getting along with people,” explains wry-humoured Bull songwriter and singer Tom Beer. “It looks at my relationship with my family as well as my own feelings of ‘sticky love goo’, when thinking about people in my life and from my childhood.

“It’s about the difference between people, universal truth, gender fluidity, peace and love, understanding and all of that stuff.”

Tomorrow, Bull will be performing a live-streamed gig, The Snow Global Tour, from a special winter wonderland location at 8pm. Each ticket not only guarantees access to the stream, but fans also will receive a special screen-printed T-shirt or commemorative poster designed by bassist Kai West. Tickets for this online event, hosted by Bull and Reel Recording Studio, are available at bull.veeps.com.

“We recorded it at Reel Recording Studio in Elvington on Monday (14/12/2020), in one of the industrial warehouses near the airfield, where we did up the whole studio like a Christmas grotto,” says Tom.

“We didn’t do a Christmas cover version, but I wrote a Christmas song two years ago though I didn’t know it was a Christmas song until it was! I wrote it when I was busking in York; I played these notes and thought, ‘Oh, this sounds Christmasy’, and it turned into a song about Christmas and my relationships at this time of year.

Bass player Kai West’s poster for Bull’s Snow Global Tour live-streamed gig on December 16

“I love it! I just think it’s a really nice song and for this live-streamed gig we had a brass band playing it with us: Bargestra, the Arts Barge’s community band, with Kai’s stepdad, Christian Topman, arranging it.”

Christian, York musician, teacher, workshop leader and Arts Barge co-founder, had taught Tom in his days of attending York Music Services’ Wednesday sessions, playing trombone in jazz and funk bands.  “I play it on the live-stream, not very well though,” says Tom.

“Christian had had this idea, saying, ‘Do you have any songs that we could do together this year?’, and we thought, ‘well, yeah, we’ve got this Christmas song’. Christian scored it out and they came and played it with us, socially distanced, wearing masks, though not when playing, obviously.”

What’s the title, Tom? “It’s called, well, we might call it Fairytale Of York! Though its short title is Gay Days, as the opening lines are: ‘The olden days, the olden golden gay days’. Whatever we call it, we’re thinking of chasing a number one hit next year!”

The live-streamed gig has been recorded with Ben Hammond, who has worked previously with My Chemical Romance, Florence +The Machine and Placebo. “We recorded a gig for Jorvik Radio there in July and thought, ‘wow, this place is at an impressive level we’ve not experienced before’,” recalls Tom. “So when they said, ‘do you want to do a streamed show with us?, we said ‘Yes!’.”

Russell Baldwin, the sound engineer for Bull’s gigs at the Fulford Arms, came on board too, and the result is a 50-minute show…

…”Getting on for nearer 60 minutes, with a few skits and some dancers,” says Tom. “I will say it was very strange to be playing a gig where you’re aware that people would be watching it, but they weren’t actually there.”

Explaining the Snow Global Tour title for a one-off gig, Tom says: “The idea was that we were going to make a T-shirt with only one date on the back, which we thought would be hilarious…but in the end we just printed T-shirts with lettering on the front.”

Next up from Bull at CharlesHutchPress will be an interview with Tom Beer about a band’s life in Covid-crocked 2020, the Love Goo EP, and plans for gigs and releases in 2021.

Bull on the loose with single Disco Living taking a dig at ‘London luxury lifestyles’

From Yorkshire clifftop to London rooftop: Bull’s new single Disco Living mocks the absurdity of “effortless” luxury-house lifestyles

YORK alt rockers Bull have an addictive new indie banger ready to sizzle this summer in the ebullient form of Disco Living.

Out now on EMI Records/Young Thugs, the follow-up to Green evokes the summertime spirit of vintage Britpop in its sly look at the “ridiculousness of the so-called high-end lifestyle and people’s obsession with luxury”.

As vocalist and songwriter Tom Beer explains: “I wrote this in London when we lived at our friend and amazing visual artist Jean Penne’s house and decided to become a world-famous group.

“I was walking down a street of mansions to meet my friend in Hampstead Heath. I walked past one mansion that was under construction and it had a facade of the completed house on the front with the extremely bold tag line, ‘Discover Effortless Living’. I thought this was really funny, so wrote the song with that as the opening line, kind of about that and how absurd it all was.”

Disco Living shouts from the luxury rooftops in the immediate aftermath of Green – Bull’s first single since signing to EMI Records in conjunction with York label Young Thugs – garnering support from Chris Hawkins’ BBC 6Music show, Dork and DIY.

Looking ahead, Yorkshiremen Beer, guitarist Dan Lucas, drummer Tom Gabbatiss and bassist Kai West will take to the road to play the Shacklewell Arms, London, on October 9 and Edge Of The Wedge, Portsmouth, on January 27 2021, pending updates on Government guidance on Covid social-distancing regulations.

Formed in 2011, Bull are the first York band since Shed Seven joined Polydor Records in October 1993 to pen a deal with a major label. To watch the Bull video for Disco Living, go to: youtube.com/watch?v=6juBc3Mgbjc

York’s grumpiest publicans Fred & Sharon clash online in puppeteer Freddie Hayes’ fast, furious and funny Facebook film

York puppeteer Freddie Hayes with grouchy Fred, her puppet pub landlord

YORK puppeteer, performer and producer Freddie Hayes is to release her short comedy film, Fred & Sharon, online on May 29 to cheer up the city in lockdown.

“The ten-minute film involves my beloved puppets from Fred’s Microbrewery that I performed with during last summer’s Great Yorkshire Fringe in York,” says Freddie, whose filmic collaborator was Nico Jones from Hidden Door TV. 

“Gone are the days of Spitting Image, so here comes the York equivalent, for all your lockdown viewing pleasures.”

Freddie’s film depicts two unhappily married puppets, Fred and Sharon, owners of a dated York boozer. “But with a shift in British drinking culture, the business is now in jeopardy and Fred must venture into the dangerous world of ‘The Hipster’ to save the pub,” says the puppeteer. “But will there be strings attached?”

For the film, Freddie’s puppets popped out at diverse locations around the city, from Spark: York to Young Thugs Studios, True Story café to Coney Street. “Now, if you’re missing the pub during quarantine, tune into my puppet comedy on May 29 at 8pm,” says Freddie. “Join the live watch party via Facebook@FreddieDoesPuppets.”

Looking ahead, Freddie has submitted Fred & Sharon for the tenth anniversary Aesthetica Short Film Festival, to be held in York from November 4 to 8. “So, fingers crossed for that,” she says.

Fred takes to the streets of York

Charles Hutchinson puts the questions to puppeteer Freddie Hayes, no strings attached.

When and where did you make the film?

“Fred & Sharon has taken about a year to put together with Nico Jones, filmmaker from hiddendoor.tv.

“The film is divided into two different worlds: Fred and Sharon’s old-school social club and the hipsters of York.

“I attended a gig at Young Thugs Studios in South Bank and I thought that the South Bank Social Club bar downstairs would be the perfect oldie-worldie backdrop for Fred and Sharon’s pub. 

“For the hipsters of York, I decided to film at True Story café as well as Spark: York. Hotspots for the trendy youths of York.”

Forgive me for not knowing, or not being a hipster for that matter, but where and what is the True Story café? 

“True Story is a vegan café on Lord Major’s Walk. The café has been really supportive with my work and has allowed me to put on performances and events there.

“It’s a real hidden gem in York and is worth a visit for the delicious food and amazing views of the Minster.” 

Fears of a frown: Pub landlord Fred at his grumpiest

Who is Nico Jones and how did you meet?

“Nico is a York filmmaker who’s directed films such as the Fall In Love With Independents viral video, for Indie York, and Chicken On A Raft for York music heroes Blackbeard’s Tea Party.

“We started working together through the close-knit York art community and I’d seen his work through online videos. 

“Nico was the brains behind the making of the film. As the director and script writer, he managed to capture the essence of the garish characters, Fred and Sharon, and compressed all of that northern spirit into a ten-minute short film.” 

How does making a puppet film differ from a live performance?

“Puppeteering for film differs considerably from a live show. Mistakes can be covered up and re-made in film production, whereas in live performance you rely on improvised banter and having a connection with the audience.

“It’s a bit of gamble performing live and I get very nervous. When it’s a good gig, it feels amazing and the adrenaline is a bonus. But a bad gig can make you feel idiotic and in a pit of hell. Especially when you’re waving around a drunk-old-man puppet to 50 audience members! 

“But with film you get up close and personal with the puppets, seeing every expression and emotion behind the movement. It was a fantastic feeling being able to refine each moment to make sure it was perfect for the film. 

A moment of sobering reflection for Fred

“Seeing Fred & Sharon on the big screen really brings them to life, so much so that you forget half-way through that they’re puppets.

“I think that’s what’s so fantastic about puppets, especially adult puppetry, as it allows grown-ups to slip into a more child-like mindset but still enjoy a bit of rudeness.” 

How did you settle on the ten-minute format?

“We settled on ten minutes of material as it was long enough for viewers to see the emotional trajectory – and short enough to spark interest. “Nowadays, if an online video isn’t funny within the first ten seconds, you will turn it off. So, having something short and sweet was the perfect compromise.” 

How are you dealing with life in lockdown limbo? It must be so frustrating as a performer…

“I’m coping well and have been entertaining myself with a lot of bad TV and karaoke. (I was given a karaoke microphone for my birthday, so I’m feeling very sorry for the neighbours right now!)

“I’ve been making puppets for a theatre commission during lockdown, which has kept me busy too.”

“Wrong”, said Fred, as he makes a point

Are you writing new material in response to these discombobulating times?

“My big plan at the moment is creating a solo show for Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2021. This may include a new act I’ve been working on called Ms Potato Head about a potato called Charlotte from New York that dreams of a showbiz cabaret career.

“So, I suppose it will have nothing to do with Corona at all and I might avoid the subject at all costs.” 

What do you do with your puppets when not in use? Lock them away in their own lockdown or keep them around you to inspire new material?

“Fred and Sharon are currently living inside a laundry bag in my attic. I’m sure Fred has a few words to say about current affairs but for now I’ve zipped him up.” 

And finally, any idea what the new Government mantra Stay Alert means?

“Can’t help you with that one. I guess ‘Stay Alert’ to me means ‘make puppets, not friends’?” 

Puppet and puppeteer

PEN PORTRAIT: Who is Freddie Hayes?

FREDDIE is a York puppet maker and performer who has toured around the UK with her handmade puppets and original performances at festivals, pubs and schools. These include Strut Club Cabaret and the Great Yorkshire Fringe in York; the Edinburgh Fringe; Shambala Festival and Moving Parts Festival.  Freddie works closely in the York community to promote creative events such as cabaret, workshops and comedy events.