Noel Draper meets a band preparing for a meteoric rise…but not before each track will ‘blow your socks off’.

Let’s start with a quick quiz. Can you name any band, past or present that are from Manchester? If your answer begins with the letter ‘O’ then give yourself a pat on the back. You have picked at what I would imagine is the answer given by at least 50% of the people reading this, if not more. That’s all well and good, especially as it meant that the monobrowed ones helped to put Manchester and it’s fantastic music back on the map, but delve a little deeper and you will find that this great Northern city has a music heritage going back generations and is nearly second to none.

All kinds of music has been catered for, from the international boy band that was, and still is, Take That, to The Buzzcocks, a tight knit punk band that sung songs about teenage angst, beautifully. If you like your music a little mellow then why not listen to Barclay James Harvest, the magnificent ginger that is Simply Red, or the dulcet tones of forgotten crooner David Gray? Indie rock is more than catered with the likes of the mighty Smiths, the fantastically morose Joy Division, the brilliant New Order, the Inspiral Carpets, Happy Mondays, James and the Stone Roses. Fancy something older? What about Herman’s Hermits. Or Davy Jones of the Monkees.

As you can see, it’s an indomitable list of bands and artists that in there own way have helped establish Manchester firmly on the music map. Inspired by this fantastic heritage there are now a lot of up and coming bands all writing and performing new material that you may not have heard of. I caught up with one of these bands, Puppet Rebellion, who have just finished a tour to promote their new single, ‘Watch Me Fall‘, and asked drummer Danny a few questions about his two loves: Music and Manchester City.

How did Puppet Rebellion form? 

I would love to recite a cool story about how we all met under a musical note shaped cloud and decided to start a band but unfortunately I would be bending the truth. Basically Craig and ex-frontman Simon met online and began to write together. This progressed into them putting the feelers out online for other members to form a band. In the early stages there were a few line-up changes here and there until the band finally set on five members. I joined shortly after following the departure of Chris then followed Ollie who is the most recent addition to the band.

What’s the story behind the name?

The name comes from a scenario that I think a lot of people not just in music but life in general can relate to. The name in this instance comes from a person being involved in a band and being told what to play, what to sing, what to say and even to the tiny detail of what to wear. Rather than being a member of a band, exploring your creative side and producing a product you believe in, you are just a puppet to the people in charge. If you hold any passion for music then you have to stand up, take the situation by the balls and rebel! And there you have Puppet Rebellion. A huge draw of being in a band for me is the chance to express myself and share interpretations of different sounds so this name draws significant importance to me as I’m sure it does to the rest of the band.

Who were you musical influences growing up? 

I would have to say Stuart Copeland of The Police would be right up there. Sometimes the guy sounds like he has three arms with some of the groves and accents he creates on the drums. He always seems to be busy around the kit but never over complicates or kills the songs. Jose Pasillas of Incubus is another drummer I love to steal from, again I admire the way he works his full kit into the songs. I tend to use him as a guide when we try different ideas in the studio as his range is second to none. In regards to bands the first band I ever really took note of were Oasis. I think that was the genius of Noel. Even though I was so young I still felt I could relate to some of the songs and every single song off the first two albums had hooks that you would wake up singing and fall asleep humming.

Can you explain your song writing process? 

The band have a file online we all share where we can stock ideas for future songs then when we meet up to practice and if anybody has a fondness for an idea they have heard we’ll have a crack at it. From there it’s quite a simple process. Craig has some sort of musical Mystic Meg brain where he can look into the future and know if the idea will turn into a song good enough to make our set. If not the idea will quickly disappear without a trace. If we see potential in an idea we might try a few different variations then start to structure it. Paul, our other guitarist, has insane musical ears, he can hear an idea a couple of times and within minutes his part is wrote and nine times out of ten this won’t change. Normally at this stage me and Jim (bassist) will spend a few hours writing our rhythm parts to fit the original ideas and change bits structurally to fit the rhythm. Once we are all happy with the backbone of the song Craig and Paul will bounce ideas off each other throughout the week and add the glitz and glamour to the song. The words and melodies will be an ongoing process from the start. Ollie will try different ideas until we find the keeper. Craig tends to have a good input here as well. As a band we try to never just settle and say “That sounds good, we’ll go with that” – it has to really stand out and have the wow factor or we keep going and going and going and going and g….(I think you get the point).

Has this changed since Simon left? 

To be honest not at all, Simon only really had a small input in the actual music, it would be as simple as “I like it” or “I don’t”. Simon’s great strengths lay with the words and melodies. I suppose the big difference is that Simon worked very much in the moment; he would come up with a melody instantly and then fit his words around that on the spot. Ollie tends to prefer to try a couple of ideas in the practice room then take them away to polish.

New line-up and looking natty.

Favourite song you have written? 

I daren’t claim any of our songs to be totally mine or Craig (guitarist) will be flashing up on my phone within five seconds of this interview going out. In regards to my favourite song we have written together I would have to go for our first single, ‘Watch Me Fall’. The chorus feels absolutely huge when it kicks in and the verses are quite moody and dramatic. To be honest if you asked me this question next week I would give you a different answer as the set is really strong at the minute.

Do you enjoy playing live?

The simple answer to this a huge resounding yes, I absolutely love it. For me there’s no better feeling than people enjoying and appreciating something you have produced from scratch and worked your fingers to the bone to get to a good standard. We put a lot of work in behind the scenes in this band so the 35-45 minutes we get on stage is like the reward for the graft we put in. Sometimes I find it hard to understand why some of these big bands have a hiatus from playing live for years, to make a living out of something you love doing sounds like a no brainer to me. My favourite song to drum to live is definitely ‘Chemical Friends’. We normally open with this song and the impact of the first note when it kicks in still gets my adrenalin going every time we play it. The song has totally changed since the original with it now having a dance/ disco type chorus/ melody and we’ve also put a great musical break in it. I can’t wait to record it and get it out there to our fans. I think this will be the one to blow people away and announce us to the masses.

What made you take up the drums?

My earliest musical memory was catching the end of a program where ‘The Who’ were playing. When Keith Moon had finished he smashed the living daylights out of his kit, threw it about and the crowd went wild. That kind of started my itch for the drums. Anyway a few weeks later I had my first kit and me and my friend off the street began to have a jam. Once we could play a few bars of music together we played to our parents in the back yard. Once we had finished I stood up and grabbed my bass drum to pretend to throw it around like Keith Moon did however the joke was on me. The drum slipped out of my hands and flew over the fence straight through next doors kitchen window. That was the end of my drumming career for a few months. I started to realise I had the knack for drumming when I would go and watch my dad’s band practice. Whenever they had a break I would sit behind the kit and tap along while my dad strummed the guitar. From then on I would spend hours every night at the bottom of the garden drumming along to whatever tapes I could steal from my dad’s car. Most drummers will agree with me that when you have the bug for drumming then that’s it. You are either drumming or tapping your feet. It just never leaves you.

Watch Me Fall…at her feet.

You have a new single “Watch Me Fall” out now, does this mean there is an album out soon? 

The first album is definitely part of our future goals but I wouldn’t like to put a date on when it will hit the shelves. You only ever get one debut album and that’s something we don’t want to waste as a band. We want to be absolutely certain that every song on the album is worthy of being a single itself, I don’t think we are quite there at the minute but not very far off at all. I think its crazy the amount of bands that have two or three really good songs so they think right, let’s get the album out! The album flops and the band never see the light of day again. That’s not a route we want to go down at all. Before we even contemplate the album we will have a bank of anthems ready that we can cherry pick from and be 100% sure each track will blow your socks off.

What are you future plans and does this include a tour?

Its funny you should ask about a tour as we are just on the home straight of our first one of the year. We have played up and down the UK for a few months now and loved every second of it. The plan going forward is like any band really – increase the numbers of people attending the gigs and stretch the Puppet Rebellion brand far and wide. I was about to say we’ve been lucky to have great support at the gigs but honestly I think the music is beginning to speak for itself. We work hard to get our music out to people all over the world, and I think this coincides with the numbers we have been getting to our out of town shows. We will always have a good following in Manchester but the plan is to replicate this in other cities and keep growing from there. I love to see my friends and family at gigs but in the long run it’s the new faces the band are pulling that will help us grow our fan base. We are planning two more tours for this year, the next starting in June followed by one later in the year. We will have a couple of festivals to plug the gaps in the summer. Keep an eye on our website plus Twitter for details. Once this tour comes to an end we are straight back in the studio with our producer Gavin Monaghan to record the singles for later on in the year.

Has being from Manchester helped or hindered you? 

It’s definitely not hindered us at all, I don’t think the type of music we produce falls into the bracket of typical Manchester indie. I know a lot of stereotyping goes on towards bands from Manchester: There was a time when if you said you were in an indie band from Manchester then automatically people thought you turned up on stage in a parka and called everyone ‘r’kid’. It’s not really like that any more mainly due to a handful of really good bands who have changed the perception of people outside of Manchester. I would like to think we were one of those bands. Being from Manchester does have it advantages in terms of great venues to play and also when promoters and fans from other cities hear Manchester their ears automatically prick up due to its amazing musical heritage.

What was the circumstances of Simon leaving? 

The thing with Simon is that he wants to put 100% in to everything he does in life, it’s a great characteristic to have but the amount of work we do in the practice room and behind the scenes means other things in life have to take a back seat. I think it got to the point where Simon realised this and wasn’t comfortable with it. He wanted to focus more of his time on his personal and working life and decided it was best that he left as he no longer had the commitment this band requires. One thing you could never fault Simon for was his honesty, we parted on great terms and he still comes down to our gigs and shows his support.

First City game you went to? 

I can’t remember the year but it was at Maine Road against Swindon Town. I think we drew 1-1 with Kevin Horlock getting our goal. It was an unreal experience, the walk to the stadium, the pre match hot dog then the game itself. As a kid walking up the steps and seeing 35,000 having the time of their lives for the first time was something I’ll never forget. I’ve had a season ticket for about 11 years now and can’t ever see myself stopping.


Favourite all time player?

If I had to choose one purely on ability and being a pleasure to watch I would have to go with David Silva. He is nicknamed Merlin (the wizard) because he does produce magic with the football. If he stays for the foreseeable future I can see him being mentioned in the same breath as Bell and Young etc as one of the all time greats. There are so many players who I would love to name due to their passion and moments they have produced that have defined our history.

Best City Moment?

The ‘Aguerooooooo moment’ will never ever be beaten at City. As a club that day we experienced every emotion in one game that most clubs won’t experience in a life time. We all turned up expecting to lift the title that day, even when Rooney put United 1-0 up we just laughed as it gave them false hope. When Zabaleta scored for us the party really started then, and it couldn’t have been scored by a player more loved by the fans. An hour later however the place was silent apart from the arguing amongt fans. We were 2-1 down, blowing the best chance of winning the league for decades and to top it off we had handed it to United. Even with 2 minutes to go when Edin Dzeko scored to leave us only needing another goal I didn’t really cheer. I can’t really remember the winning goal as it built up I just remember Sergio shooting then the loudest eruption of noise I have ever heard. Even Mark Hughes said he’s never heard anything like that before and that’s coming from a man who has played for years at Old Trafford and the Nou Camp. I was dragged up and down rows celebrating and hugging people I had never said a word to in my life. From that second the party was back on and believe me it carried on for a good couple of days.

How do you think the rest of the season will pan out? 

My heart says we will do what we have been so good at in the past and chase the team at the top down and win the league on the last day. However, my head says its title over. I really can’t see Chelsea slipping up from here, maybe drop the odd point here and there but not enough to allow us a sniff. It will pain me to see Mourinho lift the trophy as he’s acted disgustingly this year. You can’t fault his team though as they have been unbelievable at times but he has been an absolute embarrassment to the game.

Thoughts on Pellegrini?

First of all you have to take your hat off to the guy. He’s come over from Spain having never managed here before, galvanised a team that were on the back of a troubled season, and won the double. If Moyes or Van Gaal had done that they would have been knighted and a statue erected outside Old Trafford. I’m a firm believer of giving a manager time to put right what has gone wrong and take the club forward. I have been a bit disappointed at the signings we have made during Pellegrini’s time here but from all accounts those decisions came from above him. If he is to have a future with City then he needs to learn from the mistakes we make and put them right because too many times we are falling at the same hurdle.

Who would you buy in the summer transfer window and reasons? 

Its really evident that we are in need of some pace throughout the team so when our short sharp passes aren’t working we can break on teams and hit them that way. There’s whispers that Bale could be leaving Madrid: He would be a player I would love at City or possibly Reus who can’t really be happy not challenging for trophies at Dortmund. We possibly have one good year left of Yaya assuming he doesn’t go in the summer. I would like to see a replacement for him, either to come in and play alongside him to or to directly replace him. I would break the bank for Pogba and also Koke from Athletico. Both are still really young and with unbelievable potential.

Find out about the band’s up and coming gigs here