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Photo by Patrick Burke. Satanic Malfunctions in rehearsal

In short: Powerful, loud and intriguing.

In depth: I arrived at Satanic malfunctions rehearsal room a bit late - by some measures about 20 mins, by others roughly 7 days! I was greeted with the sound of a band in full voice, possibly the loudest noise I have heard from outside in quite some time. A full 15 minutes later of banging on the door, hollering at the windows and generally trying to make myself heard, a brief gap in the auditory onslaught permitted my entrance. Climbing the stairs to their 'hideaway' I was introduced to the architects of the chaos bleeding from the building only moments before. I knew Ryan and Kai already and after being introduced to Yaga and Ade, we sat down to chat through the band's history, influences, outlook and future plans.

Despite having known each other for a long time, the band has only existed in its current format for a couple of years. But Satanic Malfunctions started life way back in the late 80's/ 90's. Ade's memories of that time run thusly: “The first lot was me and a lad called Stu plus whoever else happened to be around. (But then) Stu came to me and said he wanted to do rave music, he'd had enough of the music we do. This music – Punk and Hardcore – isn't to everyone's taste but then I'd already met Yaga and we decided we'd put something together that we really wanted to do”.

Yaga adds, “Yeah, we'd played in different bands before and it was always alright but we wanted something locally...” They unpacked this cryptic comment a little for me and started to open up a world of like minded people spread thinly across counties, countries and even continents! This is a time before the internet and instant communications, when a letter and a tape might take weeks or months to be replied to. Their tales of bands, the members of which would meet in the carpark before gigs in order to rehearse the set being performed that night, spoke of a dedication and mindset that I was previously unitiated to. I sensed a certain fondness for those days from both of them, a generalised feeling that as much has been lost as has been gained from having the world's creative output available at the click of a mouse.

Moving in to the here and now, the friendships that had grown up amongst the foursome from attending gigs and events finally matured in to a band when bass player Ryan went to seek Yaga out. Kai and Ryan brought a new energy to the band and especially to the song writing process, something Yaga was keen to hand over. “Ryan has such a deep memory for what we've already written and both of them arrive with so many songs that it is just a great pleasure to add my bit and focus on that” she smilingly informed me. Ade's lyrics still come into play but there while the name lives on, the band has evolved to absorb the outputs of Kai and Ryan.

I admitted to the band that this is a genre that I'm not that particular to and that one of the reasons for this was the screaming, growling vocal style that dominates the scene. I tried to get an answer from Kai as to what it's like to be the singer of words no one can understand. “It's about the energy, the passion” he rather patiently explained to me. “Anyone who gets into a band would read the liner notes to get the lyrics. Live, it's about expressing yourself, letting it out”. The nods and murmurs of assent from round the room made me realise that, yet again, I'd missed the point. Kai tried again. “The lyrics are about politics, pain, animal rights, whatever you're feeling. People who listen to recordings without having seen the live shows (in the genre) don't tend to like it but those who do it the other way round get it”. Once again, I felt like Oz had lifted the curtain and it all started to make a little more sense...

I asked about their most recent tour and was again struck by the sheer dedication that this scene requires from its participants. From an invite to play the Extreme Festival in the Czech Republic, Ade and Yaga got busy getting the networks they have built up over the years into action for gigs in between and beyond. Tales of hotels, fan floors, gig swaps and merch stands started to flow alongside wisdom gleaned from the road. “Don't drive more than 3 or 4 hours a day” - Ade's dry comment spoke volumes - “it's real easy to end up with gigs ****ng miles away from each other, criss crossing the country and wasting money.”

The future is all about keeping on keeping on – gigs, new recordings and hopefully building more of a scene locally – Kai pointed out that more people know about the Malfunctions in Berlin than do in Leeds! So people, please note they are playing as part of BlastFest this weekend at Scarborough’s Cask Inn & Club, and then there will be be a Scene Not Herd DIY event, venue to be confirmed, on 22nd October.

I've had my eyes opened to a scene I have previously ignored. The passion and drive that goes into what these people are creating and doing is truly inspiring. The knowledge that an industry will never come knocking at their door means that the self reliance is in-built, an expected part of being in a band like this. Once you get beyond the almost perverse barriers that are sometimes raised by the bands' themselves – the names, sounds and stand offishness of the style – there seem to be ideas here that more people might want to expose themselves to. Be brave, buy some earplugs and go exploring, you never know what you might find.

Blastfest - Cask Inn and Club, Sat 10th October, 3pm onwards, £5

Scene Not Herd, Thursday 22nd October, Venue TBC

Links:

Blastfest Event  - Scene Not Herd Event - Satanic Malfunctions on Bandcamp - Satanic Malfunctions on Facebook 

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