Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Broken Witt Rebels: Rebels With A Cause

Broken Witt Rebels. Photo Copyright: Simon Redley
Broken Witt Rebels. Photo Copyright: Simon Redley Luke Davis. Broken Witt Rebels. Photo copyright: Simon Redley James Dudley. Broken Witt Rebels. Photo copyright: Simon Redley Danny Core. Broken Witt Rebels. Photo Copyright: Simon Redley James Tranter. Broken Witt Rebels. Photo Copyright: Simon Redley Badges. Broken Witt Rebels. Photo Copyright: Simon Redley Luke Davis. Broken Witt Rebels. Photo Copyright: Simon Redley James Tranter. Broken Witt Rebels. Photo Copyright: Simon Redley Danny Core. Broken Witt Rebels. Photo Copyright: Simon Redley Danny Core. Broken Witt Rebels. Photo Copyright: Simon Redley Broken Witt Rebels. Photo Copyright: Simon Redley

There’s a great big buzz about this Birmingham band, Broken Witt Rebels. All sorts of OTT predictions flying about, that these four young Brummie geezers are gonna hit the big-time very soon. Hype? Lazy journalism? Wishful thinking? Well……………If music is a universal language, soulful blues rockers Broken Witt Rebels offer some of the best conversation you are likely to have in a very long time.

I found out about them a couple of years ago when I spotted their unusual name on a gig poster while walking through their home City on my way to see another band. Checked them out on the net when I got home and was impressed, but thought I’d hang on a tad and see how they developed. Fast forward to Spring 2016 and I am in a rehearsal studio in Birmingham on a Saturday morning, where the lads have gathered to play through their set list, exclusively for this audience of one. I was already smitten with their audacious EP “Georgia Pines,” released a few days ago (15th April), and their traffic stopping single, “Low.” But to hear them live and the passion plus life or death effort they put in to each note and each song; it really is heady stuff. Quite something for a band only in existence for three years, this line up for around six months. They have chemistry between them that you could almost cut with a knife.

I shoot some pix of the guys in action, we take a break for a chat and I switch on the tape machine. An hour or so later we wrap that up and wander to a local hostelry for a cheeky pint and a bite to eat, then I shoot some group shots on the steps of the boozer. One thing is for sure; these are nice lads. No ego. No bullshit. No diva tantrums or delusions of grandeur. No weak link. Just four down to earth young guys who love what they do and how they do it, love each other as brothers, are as serious as a heart attack about their music, work damned hard to get it just right, but at the same time, they have the crack (that's a laugh not an ilegal substance by the way!!) and do not take themselves too seriously.

When I first heard their third EP, "Georgia Pines," especially the single “Low,” and then when I heard them in the flesh, I had a flash back. To September 1980 in the back room of a pub in Coventry.
Yeah, 36 years ago - but I had exactly the same shiver up my backbone and the same thoughts running through my head on both occasions, in 1980 and in 2016. That here was something ultra special and a band destined for global success. The big time. Arenas, shed loads of albums sales. The works.

Back when I had a 28 inch waist, a lot more hair and one less chin, I was with a virutally unknown bunch of young lads in Coventry on their first tour outside of Ireland. I had heard a promo' EP in the offices of the national music paper I worked for then, and suggested the landlord of this Cov' drinker book them. I was the only photographer and journalist at that gig, and the very first to review them/take live photos of them for a British music ‘paper. Predicting they would one day fill huge venues. That band: U2.

Fast forward almost four decades; add circa six inches to my waist line, hot new things Broken Witt Rebels are also destined for BIG mainstream success. trust me. They tell me themselves they are “fantastic,” and aiming to be “the biggest band in the world.” I have no reason to argue.

After this blistering run through of their entire set list, Danny wants to make a point: “I don’t want us to come across as cocky. I want to come across as humble. But I’d have to say that we are fantastic. I believe that. We all do. I just want to get our music across. That’s my mission. I’m not doing it to look cool or for money or fame. None of that. I just want to do it to make music with these lads, my brothers, and to become the biggest band in the world.” No wind up and not ego talking. He means it. Before you dismiss those sky high hopes, take a listen to "Georgia Pines," or go see them live. You may be as shocked as I was. "Georgia Pines," follows 2013’s "This Town Belongs To Me," and 2014’s "Howlin.’ " But this is the first record with this line-up. (They changed drummers.) The brilliant single "Low," has really turned heads and won them many new fans and lots of national radio spins.

Lead singer, 26-year-old Brummie painter and decorator Danny Core has an absolutely monster voice. Throaty vibrato, incredible power and lashings of soul. He puts me in mind of Jonny Lang. Danny is the main lyricist, the music an ensemble effort.

The band fire out ballsy blues rock with a gritty edge, and a deep soulful core. A really commercial, big sound. Self released right now, these four young guys all work in the daytime in a variety of jobs – decorators x 2, audio visual technician, shipping and freight management –managed by a full time teacher.

They’ve chucked their gear into the back of a van about 100 times since they formed in 2013, for gigs around the country. They have written around 50 or 60 songs so far and are gagging to cut their debut album. “Yeah we have done a few gigs, but we want more. Our best is still to come.”

Labels are sniffing around them right now, after blistering gigs on their first headline tour, and will continue to do so as they head out in May for some bigger gigs as support to Us country rock star Brantley Gilbert. The stage at the Shepherds Bush Empire in London is not going to know what hit it, when BWR open proceedings. These lads must be signed by a record label with clout and the resources to enable them to go full time pro’ soon, a label not focused purely on one genre of music either, but who know what to do with this amazing new band. They are so vulnerable right now and could easily take the wrong turn in their early career. They are gonna get lots of offers, but they need to take up the right one. Of course. With the right team around them and the right label, they are un-fucking-stoppable.

Constantly compared to the likes of Kings Of Leon by fans and critics, but for me; think Rising Sons, Alabama Shakes and Red Hot Chilli Peppers joining forces with early Rolling Stones and big nods to Led Zepp. Jonny Lang joining the party on vocals too.
Danny Core really does have one of the best male voices to come out of the UK since fellow West Midlander Robert Plant. Honestly. The band’s latest EP was produced by Tom Gittins, who recently worked with Mr Plant.

But this band is about far more than just their singer. 22-year-old James Tranter from Coventry was prompted to play guitar and later study music at University for a first class honours degree, when he heard Oasis, Stone Roses, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. But JT’s licks are his own and give this band a “dangerous” and contemporary edge.

Dapper looking Luke Davis, 26, went to nursery and primary school with Danny, growing up together in Birmingham and now working together as decorators. They started this band in 2013.
Luke looks like a star of the TV drama Peaky Blinders with his fabulous Catweazle beard and twirly moustache, and his vintage clobber. Great bass player too. Creative drummer James Dudley (26) from Bedworth is the newbie, joining the band about eight months ago. Another music graduate.

Amazingly for such a unique voice, Danny had never sung in public before he started this band. Originally seeing himself as a guitarist, he gradually built up his confidence within the band and his staggering vocal evolved. The band’s name prompts many questions. Chosen by cutting up words from the Metro newspaper and picking them out at random until they hit upon Broken, Witt and Rebels and knew it would be totally unique.

They do not hog one musical style……. “Don’t pigeonhole us. It’s impossible,” says Danny. The individual influences are varied. Early Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac and the British Blues Explosion. Modern day Fleetwood Mac with Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nix. Californian blues rockers Rival Sons (closest to BWR’s sound, for me.) Alabama Shakes. Led Zepp…..

In 2015 BWR played the Camden Rocks Festival in London and The Time Out Best of Rising Stars 2015 showcase at the Jazz Café where they stole the show. Progress is the definitive word here. Listen to all three EPs and the first one is of mediocre production quality with patchy, indie, guitar band style material. Danny’s vocal not yet fully formed, but the potential is palpable.

The follow-up "Howlin’ ", was a dramatic improvement, and that title track is a killer cut. But this new EP’s five tracks are a zillion miles away in quality of production, performance, chemistry, strength of the material and sheer wow factor. In fact, wow doesn’t cover it. They have truly found their own sound with Georgia Pine. Not one weak cut on the five tracker. It kicks off like a bull with curry powder up its ring piece as the rodeo gates are opened. Whoa there! “Low,” offers such an infectious melody and hook, and an outrageous lead vocal. Forget that the first three notes sound like the intro to Golden Earring’s Radar Love. A complete coincidence. The rest of it is 100% BWR. Record of the week on a national rock radio station. Then comes “Suzie,” the title track, “Getaway Man,” and the brilliant “Guns,” a tribute to Birmingham and times gone by.

So how good do they think they are: “We think we are fantastic. But we can prove it and have something to back up that claim 100%. We go out there to dominate. It’s a war zone for us, and we are going out there to take over,” Danny pulls no punches.

Kings of Leon, coincidentally were Danny’s first gig he went to as a 15-year-old at Birmingham’s 02 Academy. He doesn’t mince words: “It is nice to be compared to a band known around the world. It is a compliment. But we want to be the Kings of Rock and roll. I want to be in the greatest band in the world ever. That’s my plan.” Danny ignored his Irish parents’ Pogues and Dubliners musical tastes to focus on the likes of Otis Redding and Muddy Waters. “I just loved the soul and tones of their voices. So beautiful. Incredible. They captivated me.”

“It’s never been about fame and fortune. We’d like to make a living with music, but it is more about a legacy,” says James Tranter. Danny chips in: “I have always said I want to be immortal. I want to leave something when we are gone.” “Shake Me Down,” from their 2014 EP, originally started the buzz about them and has attracted well over 100,000 on-line plays.

Danny speaks for the entire unit when he looks me in the eye over a pub lunch and tells me: “We want this more than anything and we will fight for it.” I believe him too. Up the rebels!

Grab a copy of Blues & Soul magazine out on May 13th, and see "Simon Redley's Bluesville," column for the latest EXCLUSIVE news about this sizzling band and more exclusive pix.

All photos copyright: Simon Redley

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