Northern Uproar release a new album on October 9th 2015. ‘Hey Samurai!’, the Mancunian band’s fifth studio album, is set to impress fans and critics alike, challenging preconceptions through its unique blending of classic indie with Spanish influences, resulting in one of the most compelling and accomplished albums of this year.
Opening track 24 Hrs/24 Days combines laid back funk with the vocal harmonies that first set the band aside from their contemporaries. The Spanish guitar of ‘Chasing Demons’, ‘Jackals’, ‘Everlasting Rain’ and ‘Start It All Again’ is perfectly suited to Leon Meya’s warm, smooth vocals. ‘Keep Getting Away’ sees the band drawing influences from American Country music and ‘Last Call’ goes back to Northern Uproar’s Britpop roots to produce a tender, uptempo love song. ‘Yesterday’s Gone, Tomorrow’s Not Promised’ draws the album to a thoughtful and heartbreakingly beautiful close, juxtaposed with the fiesta-like secret track ‘Rodriguez The Bull’.
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Northern Uproar exploded onto the Britpop scene in 1995 when teenagers Leon Meya (vocals/bass) and Jeff Fletcher (guitar) began writing music together, recruiting their friends Paul Kelly (guitar) and Keith Chadwick (drums). The band became known for their energetic live shows, earning the attention of the UK music press and a deal from Heavenly Recordings. Barely out of school, they entered the studio with Manic Street Preachers’ frontman James Dean Bradfield and producer Dave Eringa to record their eponymous debut album.
Mainstream success came quickly. A handful of Top 40 singles including ‘From a Window’ and ‘Livin It Up’ together with their acclaimed album resulted in regular appearances on national media. The release of a second album ‘Yesterday, Tomorrow, Today’ prompted critics to hail the record as a huge leap forward for Leon and Jeff’s songwriting and lead single ‘Any Way You Look’ was another UK chart hit, but the album didn’t fare well commercially and Northern Uproar parted ways with their label.
The band split up in 1999. Leon returned to his Spanish roots, immersing himself in the country’s musical culture, however demand for a Northern Uproar reunion grew and fans finally got the news they’d been waiting for in 2004. Leon and Jeff reunited to play two Manchester gigs, delighting the crowd with classic tracks as well as debuting their new material.
By 2006 Leon and Jeff, along with Leon’s cousin Noel on drums and friend of the band Chris Gorman on guitar, were ready to start work on a third album. The result was ‘Stand And Fight’. Demonstrating a harder edge to their sound and highlighting the band’s punk influences, the songs carried a strong air of defiance, capturing the sound of four friends making music they loved, unrestrained by commercial concerns.
A UK tour followed, together with festival appearances in Spain and a few shows with Liverpool band The Coral, at the invitation of vocalist James Skelly. By this point drummer Alex Stubbs had joined the ranks and the band were ready to go back into the studio to record new material, most of which has remained unreleased.
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Leon explains: “We didn’t really have an interest in pushing the stuff we’d recorded. The music industry is enough to make anyone sick after a while. But we wrote and played regardless because we love it”.
Although Northern Uproar didn’t split up, Leon’s life in Spain meant the band wouldn’t perform live again until May 2011 when they were asked to headline ‘This Feeling’, a Britpop night at The Vibe Bar in London. The overwhelming reaction of the huge crowd present that night led Leon to announce plans to release new material, teasing fans with the possibility of more live shows during an interview with Xfm.
Northern Uproar’s fourth studio album ‘ All That Was Has Gone’ was the last album Leon and guitarist Chris would write with Jeff Fletcher who was tragically killed in a road accident in 2014. Following Jeff’s passing, Leon took control of songwriting duties assisted by Chris, resulting in latest album ‘Hey Samurai!’ This album marks a departure from the band’s original sound as they embrace Spanish influences and explore Latin rhythms to create an utterly unique, beautiful and highly accomplished collection of songs, marking a new chapter for these hugely talented and versatile musicians.