INTERVIEW: Ilser | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Jakko Jackson and Rachael Whittle have known each other since college, but it is only since Whittle returned to the North East after studying music production at university in Southampton, that the old friends finally joined forces to make a band. Scott Jeffery was playing drums in a “stoner metal crossed with black metal” band with Jackson previously, called Mother Krussia. Sharing knowing looks across the Cluny table where we’re sat chatting about the release of the band’s new single, Breaks, Jeffery and Jackson agree – that band was a lot more chaotic: “Ilser was a saviour from that!”

Though a quartet originally, the now-trio persevere for their passion, often rehearsing late into the night at their Off Quay practice room, fighting for time amongst each of their supporting job’s shift-patterns. They are positive about this though, claiming to be “creatures of the night” and most awake in the thick of the evening. The music Ilser makes marries these darker hours perfectly, with its often brooding, sinister melodies and cathartic wrestle-away-the-day riffs.

The choice of the next single came from their fans, as Jackson explains: “We’ve had a lot of positive feedback when we’ve played live about that song.” Originally Whittle used to bring songs she had written at university for the band to work on, but their processes are changing, and Breaks is the first song they wrote together as band. “We’re trying to write more together.” Whittle admits.   Breaks builds from a driving bass line, rolling into an atypically Pixies-esque refrain before proceedings re-join their heavier roots. The track premieres Scott’s wild and distressed caged-dog vocals taking on a more prominent role, ruling the verses of the track, with Whittle’s distinct bending and sorrowful voice then taking over to drive the choruses. The song builds in intensity over the six-plus minutes and finally rides out with a wild electric guitar.

often brooding, sinister melodies and cathartic wrestle-away-the-day riffs

Compared with some of the more melancholy atmospheres of their previous tracks such as Led By Silence and Forgotten Youth, this recent offering is more euphoric and has often proved a good finale for Ilser’s live performances. At a lively and sweaty ‘secret’ practice room gig recently, as Breaks entered its final act, fans were set free, moshing and swinging into one another, with Whittle jumping into the crowd to join in.  The band are working on a fairly ad hoc basis right now, simply taking a track to Newcastle’s Blank Studios and recording it with Chris McManus as and when they can get the money together. They’re also utilising Whittle’s production skills and hope to work on longer plays in the future.

Ilser are deeply affectionate for DIY methodology and other local groups, and are keen to organise gigs with these bands they admire. Their single launch at Newcastle’s Head of Steam on Saturday 1st August features rap/rock fusion band Bi:Lingual, the brooding Retriever and angsty rockers Grayce, offering the ideal opportunity to witness some like-minded souls making a righteous racket.

Ilser launch Breaks at Head of Steam, Newcastle on Saturday 1st August.

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