Bottlekids - Joe Grogan

  • 24th November 2021
  • online
  • Phinky
  • SBÄM Records

Bottlekids are simply three friends from Chepstow, South Wales who started a band as an excuse to get together and drink beer on Tuesday nights. There were no plans whatsoever, at first; just a few local gigs and some recordings to share online. They, eventually, saved up enough money to go into the studio and record a handful of songs. This, ultimately, led to them booking a load of gigs around South Wales raising enough money to press their first EP on 12-inch vinyl. Bottlekids couldn’t afford proper sleeves for them, so they just stuck a sticker on every copy and self-released it in July 2019. The record, eventually, found its way to Austria and into the hands of SBÄM Records‘ founder Stefan Beham, who instantly connected with it and re-released the EP a few months later with a real sleeve and everything! This took the band to February 2020, as gigs were scheduled with Off With Their Heads & Jaya The Cat across The UK and on the European festival circuit; momentum was really building and people were starting to get into Bottlekids. Then, everything came to a screeching hault… club gigs were put on hold, festivals cancelled, people started getting sick, and were stuck indoors trying to keep safe and make sense of what was happening. The band wrote down their thoughts and ideas for music during lockdown to help keep sane and even though they couldn’t meet up and turn them into songs for a while, when they, eventually, did, it felt like some sort of therapy. The music took shape quickly and there was a lot to get off their collective chest. With the help of Beham, Bottlekids returned to the studio in summer 2021 with record producer legend Romesh Dodangoda (Bring Me The Horizon, Motörhead, Funeral for A Friend). It made sense recording with Dodangoda again, as he was one of the first to believe in their songs and that first EP turned out exactly how the band had hoped, the first song they’re sharing from these sessions is Already Dead. It conjures up those feelings of immense dread we’ve all felt during the past year or so and sets the pace for a new chapter: a fresh start in a rotten old world. We were fortunate enough to chat with Bottlekids‘ guitarist and vocalist Joe Grogan, via email recently. Joe gave us the scoop on Bottlekids‘ latest single, forthcoming release, and tentative plans for 2022.

1.  How and when did Bottlekids initially form?

Joe Grogan: Our first gig was in 2017, but we were meeting up on Tuesday nights for a long time before that; just messing around, playing covers, and drinking a few cans [of beer] as an excuse to hang around together, really.

2. Who are the members of Bottlekids and what is each member’s role within the band?

Grogan: Jonny [Thomas] plays bass. He is one of the funniest characters you will ever meet. Wicked sense of humour. I wish he would buy a new fucking guitar lead, though. Then, Ben [Chappell] is on drums. He’s a bloody lovely bloke. too. He looks a little bit like a mole, though, especially, when he is angry.

3. What was it like getting to work with producer Romesh Dodangoda (Bring Me The Horizon, Motörhead, Funeral for A Friend) again on your forthcoming EP?

Grogan: Yeah, really good! He has an incredible ear for it and some amazing gear, too.

4. How would you say Bottlekids sound has changed and progressed in-between your self-titled 2019-20 EP and upcoming EP?

Grogan: We didn’t really know what sort of band we were when we did the first one. I suppose, that stuff was a little bit more “Poppy” and we didn’t really know which way we would go. A lot has changed in our lives since then, too; there’s been births and deaths and, of course, that Global Pandemic thing. The lyrics of these new songs are pretty dark, I suppose, but, then, the music is still upbeat. Before anything, this band is a good laugh for us and we don’t want to take anything too seriously.

5. Did you have to alter any of the writing, recording, producing, etc. processes behind your upcoming EP do to COVID-19 related limitations and restrictions?

Grogan: Not really. We had to delay going into the studio for a while, but that gave us a bit more time to get the songs together. There was that period of time where we couldn’t meet up and that slowed things down a lot, I suppose—but everyone was in the same boat and we did what we had to do.

6. What’s the intended meaning or significance behind the title of your latest single, Already Dead?

Grogan: It’s about losing hope, really. I know that’s a bit grim, but most of us have been there at some point. When you have no motivation and it feels like there is absolutely no point in anything. The first big Lockdown felt like that; people hoarding bog roll [toilet paper] and becoming experts on current affairs and, then, the news channels absolutely battering us day after day after day. The lyrics are about all that, really. The music fell together over a few Tuesdays of us being back in the practice room. We were gagging for it.

7. How did you guys initially join forces with SBÄM Records to re-release your 2019 self-titled EP, as well as your forthcoming follow-up release?

Grogan: We saved up the money to press the first EP [on vinyl] ourselves. We got 300 copies made with plain black sleeves and, then, stuck a sticker on each copy to keep printing costs down. Soon after that, we were planning a tour and a friend suggested we send it to SBÄM [Records] because they put on gigs in Austria and might give us a slot. We all thought it was a bit of a longshot, to be honest, and the label was out of our league—but the same day we emailed the MP3’s, we got a message back saying they [loved] it and [wanted] to release the record and put us on the festival. We couldn’t believe it! Stefan [Beham] from the label was keen to release more stuff after the tour, so they sent us back to Romesh [Dodangoda] when Lockdown restrictions eased [up] and here we are, another record on the way.

8. What would you cite as some or your greatest sources of personal inspiration and influence while creating your upcoming EP?

Grogan: Nothing specific, really. The music is trial and error stuff. We mess around with stuff and some gets binned and, then, some gets kept and turns into songs. We are all on a very similar page when it comes to what we like, so that helps a lot. Lyrically, the songs are definitely inspired by life since February 2020 and all the shit that has happened. With a risk of sounding a bit cheesy, it sort of helped to write things down and get it out as songs.

9. What can you tell us about the concept behind and creation of you latest music video released for Already Dead?

Grogan: For that song, we just wanted to get in a room and play. No story or concept, really. Just a grubby old room, some flashing lights, and us three pricks sweating our tits off. Our good mate, Hamish Kay, is an amazing director and had just got a new camera, so was happy to test it out on us on his day off.

10. For someone who has yet to hear a note of Bottlekids music, how would you best describe your sound, style, and overall musical vibe?

Grogan: It’s Punk, I suppose; there’s loads of different taglines you could attach. We’ve been called “90’s-style Punk” a few times, which, I suppose, makes sense because that’s the music that made an impact on us at school, but I dunno, really. I hate describing it, to be honest. We are just three mates having a laugh.

11. What can eager fans expect next from Bottlekids?

Grogan: More videos, more gigs, more [beer] cans, the record coming out on SBÄM [Records], more silly shit, maybe, an 8-bit Nintendo remix album, and more general band type stuff. We are having such a good laugh and happy to finally be able to do it all again.

Already Dead is available via streaming platforms and Bandcamp

Photography courtesy of Daniel Peter