Punk band Last Hounds

Last Hounds: Stand Up and Take What’s Yours

With their unique brand of crossover punk, critical and fan appreciation of Last Hounds has blown up in recent months. Deservedly so. If every dog has its day, today belongs to Last Hounds. 

Serving up an in-your-face mingling of punk sensibilities, alt rock, hardcore, metal, and a dash of grunge for good measure, this Midlands 5-piece is made of Mikey Skelcher on vocals, Tom White and James Valentino on guitars, Ben Taylor on bass, and Chris Collins on drums.

Birmingham is often called the UK’s second city, but it’s surely first when it comes to British rock and metal. Brum’s Last Hounds may be standing on the shoulders of giants, but they’re nonetheless adding something fresh and exciting to the city’s musical legacy. 

Last Hounds punk rock band

Released in October 2021, debut album ‘Burden’ effectively showcased the band’s eclecticism, with influences from across the generic spectrum artfully melded into a satisfying, exhilarating whole. Rightly, the album garnered universally positive reviews.  

Last Hounds’ lyrics are introspective and angsty. The ‘modern life is rubbish’ theme may be familiar, but rarely has it been articulated so savagely. If you like your rock hard and heavy, with tight musicianship, satisfying hooks and big choruses, you need to hear ‘Burden’.

New single ‘Bubbles’ is a further evolution of the band’s sound. Picked out and praised by Kerrang!, BBC Radio 1 and many others, we immediately added it to our playlist.

To find out more about ‘Bubbles’ and the band, as well as what’s next for Last Hounds, we reached out for an interview. Knowing how much they’ve got going on, we were more than stoked when they said yes. 

Join us for a nice long chat with Last Hounds bassist Ben Taylor. For highlights, lowlights, secret sauce and Elvis, read on. It’s bostin, bab!

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Please introduce Last Hounds for anyone that hasn't heard you before. 

Ben Taylor - We’re a balls-out punk band, with a lot to say about the shit going on around us. We also take a lot of influences from different genres: hardcore, hip hop, grunge, nu-metal. We’re a real melting pot of alternative styles so that anybody, regardless of their background or musical taste, can find something they dig in our music.

A term coined for us by our fans is crossover punk. That’s probably the best way to describe us. We’re constantly trying to adapt and progress, incorporating new sounds and textures into our recordings, in a way that stays true to our punk rock roots but is also relevant in a music scene that’s more vibrant, more inclusive and more exciting than ever. 

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When did the band start? 

The band’s had a few members come and go over the years, but the line-up you see now has been together since 2016. Last Hounds started initially with Mikey, Chris and James, who were all friends at college and had been in bands together previously.

Tom joined shortly afterwards, through a mutual love of skateboarding and heavy music. I was last to join. That was through mutual friendships and scene connections.  

Who are the band’s biggest influences? 

Big influences for us are the likes of Turnstile, Stick to Your Guns, Fever 333, Gallows, and The Bronx. Every single one of these artists bring energy and emotion to their music and have never been afraid to be unapologetically themselves. 

What’s Last Hound’s secret sauce. 

In literal terms, we are fuelled by Frank's Hot Sauce. We bloody love that stuff! 

It is a damn fine condiment. And in less literal terms? 

Aside from our sound, I think for us it’s about our passion and energy when we play live.  

On that subject, which is your favourite track to play live? 

Honestly, I’m not just saying this because it’s our latest single, but ‘Bubbles’ is so sick to play live. It just hits different. There’s lots of dynamics, a huge chorus and a few breakdowns that go off live. 

Crossover punk band Last Hounds

What’s ‘Bubbles’ about? 

‘Bubbles’ is about reaching a point in your life when you realise you’ve lived only having time to prioritise meaningless work simply to survive. When you’re young, you have big dreams and ambitions that the modern way of life simply crushes with no real hope of achieving your goals. 

Mikey got the idea from watching bubbles floating in the air and popping into nothing. We all live our lives in our own little bubbles. Sometimes we’re trapped in bubbles that aren’t healthy for us: toxic relationships, soul-destroying jobs, social isolation. But, as humans, we can often be terrified of change and scared to break free of our bubbles.

‘Bubbles’ is an anthem and a call to action. Have the confidence to force changes in yourself to forge a better life. As the chorus says, ‘Stand up and take what’s yours now.’ 

Head Cave Tee 100% cotton graphic tshirtDamn straight. When and where did you record it? 

We recorded ‘Bubbles’ back in February [2023] with the award-winning Thomas ‘Mitch’ Mitchener at Broadfields Studio in Watford. We worked with Mitch not only because he’s an absolute legend and recording wizard, but also he’s worked with such varied artists: Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, The Futureheads, Gallows, and Tyler, The Creator. 

For me personally, being a huge Gallows and Rattlesnakes fan, this was literally a dream come true! Gallows were and are a huge inspiration for me and have shaped the musician I am now. 

Mitch’s knowledge of music and experience of working in different genres had a huge influence on the sounds we were able to craft. He helped us combine influences into a track that is still recognisably Last Hounds, but has so many more layers, textures and feelings. 

‘Bubbles’ came out last month. What’s the response been like? 

Honestly, mind blowing! Fans new and old have gone nuts for it. We’ve had support from Kerrang! and it featured in their K! Chart on release week, as well as getting a spin on Jack Saunders’ ‘Future Artists’ show on BBC Radio 1. We even had a shout out from Fat Mike’s Punk Rock Museum when we dropped the track! 

What’s been the biggest highlight or pinch me moment so far? 

We’ve had the privilege of playing alongside a few bands that we have all idolised growing up, but I think the biggest pinch me moment was supporting The Descendants at O2 Forum. That was insane! 

Definitely a highlight. Can you recall any lowlights? 

Very early on we played a show in Bradford. We had no idea about the venue, the lineup, nothing. We turned up to the show to find we’d been booked to play alongside an Elvis tribute act! Suffice to say, the room was empty. But the bar staff and Elvis thoroughly enjoyed us! 

What's the best thing about being in a band? 

The comradery between bandmates is something you don’t get in other walks of life. The shared love of the music, the passion and drive to succeed, make you form a bond you don’t have with anyone else. 

On the flipside, what’s the worst thing? 

For me personally, it’s the rejection you face. I wear my heart on my sleeve; I take every negative comment personally. It’s something I’ve really had to learn to deal with as an artist. 

Haters gonna hate. Tell us about the personalities in the band. Who’s the neat freak? Who’s the worrywart?  Give us the gossip!

Tom is Mr Logistics; he loves a good spreadsheet and a well thought out itinerary. Mikey is a free soul. A classic frontman: hard to pin down and very elusive in a group chat.  

James bloody loves his sleep, loves a long shower, and is fuelled by good coffee. Chris is a master faffer, always running 30 minutes late and in the wrong lane. Believe me, if you’re a neat freak you do not want to share a room with him.  

As for me, I’m a delightful ray of sunshine. If you were to ask the band, I’m the perfectionist that doesn’t shut up and can’t take any situation seriously.  

Jaws Tee 100% cotton graphic tshirtDescribe your songwriting process for us. Does someone usually take the lead? 

When we start writing new material, we basically do it in isolation from one another, to try to come up with as many different ideas and sounds as possible. What we end up with is a Dropbox folder full of riffs, big chorus ideas, beats, different song structures, etc.  

We then spend time pulling these ideas together to create a few final, polished ideas. Because the live element is so central to what we do, before we consider taking a track to the studio, we spend time in the rehearsal space playing these ideas as a full band.

There are times when demos that we all dig and sound great on Dropbox don’t translate well to a full band setup. Sometimes we just don’t feel the energy playing it together. That’s huge for us. Every song we put out has to pass the live test to make sure it punches hard. 

What effect did Covid have on the band? 

We lost two years. Everything came to a standstill. It was very hard to find the motivation to keep pushing. It hit us hard, but we were able to channel our energies into writing.  

We spent the time crafting our debut album, ‘Burden’. That was actually a real turning point for us. We signed to Venn Records and started working with Wipe Out Music Publishing shortly after finishing the record. Things really went upwards from there. 

Birmingham has been home to more than its share of great rock and metal bands. Is that heritage something you feel? Has it influenced you? 

We’re super proud of where we come from. Birmingham is home to rock and metal. But it for sure adds a lot of pressure. People expect us to deliver and pay homage to the greats. I think we do them proud. 

Punk band Last Hounds

You do. How did you get started in music? 

Music has been a constant in my life. My mom and dad loved listening to music. They shared that love with me. I was raised on rock, metal, punk, ‘80s house, disco, ska, two-tone. 

My dad took me to see my first shows, which were Madness, The Who, Blink 182, and Green Day. He used to also dabble on guitar. I was lucky enough to be bought my own electric guitar one Christmas, around age 10 or 11. From that moment on, I just wanted to play music and be in bands. 

If you could be in any band, not including Last Hounds, now or at any time, which would it be? 

Ooh, good one! I think it would have been pretty rad being in The Who at the height of their career in the ‘60s and ’70s. I probably wouldn’t be alive to tell the story now though!

 

Give us 3 albums everyone should own. 

I’ll base this on albums I can sing every word to. 

Four Year Strong – ‘In Some Way, Shape, or Form’  

Gallows – ‘Orchestra of Wolves’ 

Limp Bizkit – ‘Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water’  

All great choices. Knowing what you know now, do you have any advice for someone starting out in music? 

That’s a tough one. I would say always write music for you. I know that’s really clichéd but if you find yourself writing music for the sake of fitting in with certain scenes or genres, you’ve lost your way. Put out music you wouldn’t skip on your Spotify daily mix. 

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Excellent advice. What other interests do you have? How do you relax? 

I’m well into my gaming. I’m not mega technical or nerdy about it, but I sink a lot of my downtime into my PS5 and Xbox. Also, prepare yourself, I bloody love gardening! I think it’s a welcome contrast to the band lifestyle that’s much needed at times. 

Whatever chills your mind is good in our book. Cheers, Ben. Really appreciate you making time to answer our questions today. 

No problem. Really dig what you guys are doing as a brand. Providing a platform to share artist work and centring it around the alternative music scene is such a sick idea.

Collaborations between different scenes are important and what people are looking for, now more than ever. This Blank Stare Tee is so sick.

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Thanks, dude. What’s next for Last Hounds? 

We’ve got a very busy 2024 in the works. We’ve got releases planned throughout the year, which we’re really excited about. Watch out for those. We’re also about to announce some of our biggest shows to date. We’re literally buzzing with excitement.  

Can’t wait to hear your new stuff. What are you hopes for 2024? 

To carry on doing what we’re doing. We’re very privileged to be in this position and to work with our team. Being able to play our music around the world is what dreams are made of. As long as we can carry on doing that, we’re all good. 

We’re sure this is only the beginning. Any final words? 

We wouldn’t be where we are right now if it weren’t for our fans. All we can say is thank you. But, hopefully, with what we have up our sleeves, we’ll be able to give back to the fans with sick new music and insane shows. 

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► 'Bubbles' by Last Hounds is streaming now on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, Bandcamp and elsewhere. 

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