Tag Archives: spy versus spy


I have been a massive fan of Beezewax ever since their debut album completely blew me away as a teenager in the 90s. They played locally several times in the late 90s/early 00s and every time was incredibly special. The band recently announced a mini UK tour which kicks off in less than 2 weeks so I caught up with singer/guitarist Kenneth Ishak to discuss the tour and his memories of UK tours past. Enjoy!

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IS THIS THING ON? – I first saw you when you played the tiny cardinals cap in Canterbury and instantly fell in love. It must have been 1998, what do you remember about that first uk tour?

Kenneth Ishak – Hey, glad you were there!
Well, I think that was our second UK tour, i can remember that show bit I can’t link it to any other shows, but the first and second tour in the UK was just a big change for all of us. We didn’t have that sort of scene at home, we were compared to many bands we had never heard about- we didn’t know what emo was. We were basically 4 kids who had hung together growing up- listened to dinosaur jr, hip hop, we were definitely not part of a scene except for our norwegian label LaNuGo which was a hardcore punk label.
Yeah, in Norway people didn’t care but we had just started anyways but got to go to the UK right away to tour with Spy Vs spy, they were the greatest band and people- we became pretty good friends and influenced by them. I almost puked before our fist show, we were on after them- they were so amazing and i had never heard anything like it- i was in shock! Then we had to play. But then people sang along to our songs, i sorta understood that whatever it was we were doing, people were into it.

ITTO? – I bought ‘A dozen summits’ at that first show on cd for £3, later someone told me that you’d made a mistake with the price and I’ve felt bad ever since. Is that true?

KI – Haha, we never felt bad- we just figured, lower the price and sell more. I remember in Manchester the whole crowd got in line after we played, yeah everything really fell into place for us on those first tours.

ITTO? – The other times I saw you were all in Margate at the legendary Lido. You had a big following here, what are your memories of Margate and did you get a similar response throughout the uk?

KI – We did, nice! We know there were at least some people there who liked us- someone told me they played a couple of our songs at practise even. I have many great memories playing at the Lido- especially one show that was packed and just really loud, probably one of my favourite shows ever. Last time we played there Stian our drummer was sick, and to be honest- we were not the same band, but yeah- there was a great crowd but we did not deliver so i am glad to come back. It will be our first show in 7 years so there might be a couple of fuck ups!

ITTO? – You’re playing Margate again as part of a UK tour in May with one of the most exciting uk bands at the moment, Playlounge, how did touring with them come about?

KI – It was just our label that did a little research- seems there are people discovering our older records, people who were 4 or something then- anyways Playlounge seemed to be into our stuff, and we sure like them so we asked if we could play some shows together, and they were into it. I am sure we will be blown away!

ITTO? – Have you got anything special planned for these shows? Will you be playing songs from all of your albums?

KI – Nothing special, to be honest- I don’t know what will happen but we have had fun during rehearsals.


ITTO? – Do you have any plans to come back again yet?

KI – Yes, this fall we hope to cover places we couldn’t get to on this little tour.

ITTO? – And finally, what is your favourite band that you’ve ever played with?

KI – Again, Spy vs Spy, we have played with plenty of bands in different countries but nothing made a bigger impact i think.

ITTO? – Thanks Kenneth!!

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Beezewax will be playing the following shows this May:

May 22nd – Margate, The Bracket

May 23rd – London, Birthday’s

May 24th – Brighton, The Hope

May 25th – Portsmouth, The Registry

Is this thing on? is putting on the Margate show, please come down if you’re in the area. Here is the link to the facebook events page for the show – https://www.facebook.com/events/1425538981029584/

Thanks for reading. Get in touch here, http://www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog, ittoblog@gmail.com or twitter @alex_itto


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Review (of sorts) – Crash Of Rhinos – Distal

Having just spent a good few months listening to and writing about nothing else but emo, it was my plan to listen to and write about something completely different. Nearing the completion of the Top 100 Emo Songs, I had bought the new Cancer Bats album in readiness to use as a sort of punk metal palate cleanser, something to refresh the senses. That was the plan until I received an e-mail from Big Scary Monsters containing a few recommendations of bands I may enjoy which triggered a memory of something I’d been meaning to check out for a while.

Whilst I’d been being extremely nostalgic and re-listening to music for the purpose of compiling the Emo 100, sitting patiently on my iPod were a few things I had downloaded and put on the back burner for the time being. One of these such bands were Crash Of Rhinos. I knew I was behind the times myself already as the ‘Distal’ album had been available since last April and that e-mail I received served as the kick up the arse I needed to start listening to new things again. It wasn’t my initial intention to review it just because it had been out for so long already but having been blown away by it on the first listen, I couldn’t not write something about it. Plus, Big scary Monsters have recently released it on cassette so I guess I can justify a, rather late, review.

The first thing  need to say is that ‘Distal’ is brilliant! Just in case you weren’t sure which way I was going with this. The second thing is that they’re British, which is also brilliant as it means there is a good chance I’ll get to see them play some time soon. Crash Of Rhinos come from Derby, they used to play in The Jesus Years and The Little Explorer and have 2 guitarists, 2 bassists, an amazing drummer and a fuck load of vocals. They play intricate, beautiful and epic emo which stirs up memories of a plethora of incredible bands like caP’n Jazz, Mineral and Cursive. Whilst all the while sounding completely like their own band.

Crash Of Rhinos aren’t afraid to let their songs breathe, most of the 7 songs featured on the album stretch longer than the 6 minute mark but at no time do they out stay their welcome. It shows a lot of confidence in their ability to write really captivating music that they can trust their songs to extend to these lengths without feeling the need to rehash parts or cut anything short. ‘Distal’ starts with the uplifting ‘Big Sea’ and from the very start you’re drawn in, by the time the vocals start you want to be joining in and singing along at full voice. It moves from a big rock beginnings to twinkly intricate breakdowns and back again seamlessly. The next track, ‘Stiltwalker’, starts with another great riff and is played at a frenetic pace and although it does go on to break things down quietly you never think they’re repeating themselves. The song builds moodily in to a brilliant climax, the riff at the end is where they remind me of Cursive, a sound so good it makes me wish I was still in a band.

From there track 3, ‘Wide Awake’, is lighter, the verse is gorgeous and paves the way for the Mineral-esque track 4, ‘Lifewood’. The album never dips at any point, ‘Gold on Red’ and ‘Closure’ both bring different things to the record whilst maintaining the quality. ‘Distal’ finishes with 7 and half minutes of absolute brilliance, ‘Asleep’ shows the band combining at their best, the tight rhythm section thunders the song along. There are shades of ‘End of the ring wars’ era Appleseed Cast here, its a perfect end to an amazing album.

If Spy Versus Spy were the best British emo band of the old wave then Crash Of Rhinos certainly hold that title for this emo revival. Makes me kick myself that their not included in the Top 100 emo songs list because if I had heard them this time last year I can’t see that I would have left them out. If I do make that list an annual thing, which is under consideration, then I’m sure Crash Of Rhinos would secure themselve a new entry. Especially as I’ve just read that their working on a new album that should be released before the year is out. I can’t seriously recommend this highly enough and fingers crossed they’ll be playing somewhere in the south east soon  so I can write more nice tthings about them.

Click HERE to go to the Crash Of Rhinos bandcamp site, or HERE for the Big Scary Monsters site.

Cheers for reading xxx

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Previously on the Top 100 emo songs of all time…….

100 – Reggie and the full effect – Thanx for stayin

99 – Roadside Monument – Sunken Anchor

98 – Boilermaker – Slow Down

97 – Hundred reasons – If I could

96 – Jets to Brazil – Chinatown

95 – Coping – F For now

94 – Inside – Ray Brower

93 – Basement – Grayscale

92 – The Jazz June – Viva La speed metal

91 – Everyone Everywhere – I feel fine by Everyone Everywhere

To read more about these songs (100-91) click HERE

90 – Hunter Gatherer – Low standards for high fives

89 – Football, etc. – Safety

88 – Race Car Riot – Raincheck

87 – Taking Back Sunday – Bike scene

86 – Leiah – Tiglio

85 – Brandtson – Still life

84 – Polar Bear Club – Bottled wind

83 – Starmarket – Losing track

82 – Sunny Day Real Estate – Guitar and video games

81 – Grade – Stolen bikes ride faster

To read more about these songs (90-81) click HERE

80 – Bob Tilton – September

79 – The Autumn Year – Little lost words

78 – Koufax – Going to happen

77 – Wavelets – Julio won’t get out of the car

76 – The Get Up Kids – Forgive and Forget

75 – Hot Rod Circuit – At nature’s mercy

74 – The Appleseed Cast – Steps and numbers

73 – Stapleton – International departures

72 – New End Original – Lukewarm

71 – Hundred Hands – A Replay

To read more about these songs (80-71) click HERE

70 – Knapsack – Cellophane

69 – Elliott – Dionysus Burning

68 – The Lapse – We Must Move Backwards To Progress

67 – Owls – Everyone Is My Friend

66 – Suis La Lune – Quiet, Pull The Strings!

65 – Sunday’s Best – Winter Owned

64 – CSTVT – Hiccups

63 – Vitreous Humor – Sharin’ Stone

62 – Beezewax – Dead End Kids

61 – Death Cab For Cutie – A Movie Script Ending

To read more about these songs (70-61) click HERE

60 – Grown Ups – Three Day Weekend

59 – Funeral Diner – We Become Buried

58 – Snowing – I Think We’re In Minsk

57 – Imbroco – You’re My Lionkiller

56 – Maritime – Tearing Up The Oxygen

55 – Engine Down – The Offer Of Something

54 – Boy’s Life – Sight Unseen

53 – Benton Falls – All These Things

52 – Further Seems Forever – Madison Prep

51 – The Casket Lottery – Ever Since Sulfur

To read more about these songs (60-51) click HERE

50 – Ghosts And Vodka – Sex Is Popular

49 – Transit – Footwork

48 – Jejune – Solar

47 – Hey Mercedes – Quality Revenge At Last

46 – Jeremy Enigk – Lewis Hollow

45 – Cursive – The Radiator Hums

44 – Joan Of Arc – Post Coitus Rock

43 – Pianos Become The Teeth – Cripples Can’t Shiver

42 – The Get Up Kids – Coming Clean

41 – At The Drive-In – Heliotrope

To read more about these songs (50-41) click HERE

40 – Owen – O, Evelyn..

39 – This Beautiful Mess – Don’t Go There

38 – Rites Of Spring – Remainder

37 – Rainer Maria – Artificial Light

36 – Sunny Day Real Estate – Theo B

35 – The Gloria Record – Grace The Snow Is Here

34 – Saves The Day – Holly Hox, Forget Me Nots

33 – Penfold – M

32 – The Promise Ring – A Picture Postcard

31 – Mineral – If I Could

To read more about these songs (40-31) click HERE

30 – Sense Field – Building

29 – Death Cab For Cutie – The Ice Is Getting Thinner

28 – Dashboard Confessional – Turpentine Chaser

27 – Beezewax – The Snooze Is On

26 – The Anniversary – All Things Ordinary

25 – Dismemberment Plan – What Did You Want Me To Say?

24 – The Appleseed Cast – Forever Longing The Golden Sun

23 – Far – Really Here

22 – Pop Unknown – Half Of Ninety

21 – Hot Water Music – Remedy

To read more about these songs (30-21) click HERE

20 – Thursday – Cross Out The Eyes

19 – Jimmy Eat World – Goodbye Sky Harbor

18 – Algernon Cadwallader – Some Kind Of Cadwallader

17 – Christie Front Drive – Radio

16 – The Promise Ring – Red & Blue Jeans

15 – Reiziger – Waiting day

14 – Cross My Heart – It Doesn’t Take That Many Pills To Sleep Forever

13 – The Van Pelt – Speeding Train

12 – Texas Is The Reason – The Magic Bullet Theory

11 – Planes Mistaken For Stars – Copper And Stars

To read more about these songs (20-11) click HERE

10 – Braid – The New Nathan Detroits

Every time I used to make a mixtape for myself or a friend this would always be the first track I’d put on. It’s the ultimate opener, a big catchy brilliant emo blast. It opens their classic album, ‘Frame and Canvas’, and sets the tone for the rest of the record. Braid are a legendary band, they maybe didn’t get the plaudits they thoroughly deserved when emo first broke big but I like to think that has changed since. Especially as they have returned with new music in recent times.

9 – Jimmy Eat World – No Sensitivity

Despite making some of my favourite albums packed with great songs, my favourite Jimmy Eat World song is taken from the split they did with Jebediah. ‘No Sensitivity’ is a great showcase of Jimmy Eat World doing what they do best, making incredibly likeable emo rock songs with killer choruses. This is always a favourite when they play live and somehow I’ve managed to see Jimmy Eat World play 7 times, every time a pleasure.

8 – Spy Versus Spy – Helpless, Sign In Please

Out of all the bands in the UK emo scene in the late 90’s, Spy Versus Spy was the band we held in the highest regard, to me they were like our Cap’n Jazz. There was just something about them that set them apart from the rest of us, while there were plenty of good bands about in those days Spy Versus Spy were always the band I thought I would love forever. And more than 10 years later I still do so maybe that will be true. Their first mini album is still my favourite although they did go on to make the fantastically brilliant album ‘Little Lights’ which you should stop at nothing to get hold of.

7 – The Get Up Kids – I’m A Loner Dottie, A Rebel

Getting to see the Get Up Kids while they were touring in support of ‘Something to write home about’ is still one of the best live experiences I’ve ever had. I got to see them play a few times again but nothing will beat that first time, there was just so much energy and fun surrounding their performance that night. Without the slower songs that filled ‘On a wire’ the show zipped along with the band seeming to have the time of their lives, which in turn meant that we were having the time of our lives. ‘I’m a loner dottie …’ is a classic amongst an album full of classics.

6 – Sunny Day Real Estate – In Circles
 I have always loved this song since the first time I heard it all those years ago, but since their reunion show 2 years ago it has seemed even more special. I had tickets to see them play London in 2001, the show got cancelled because of something to do with their booking agents and then the band split up for the 2nd time. I was gutted and thought I’d never get to see this very special band play live. But, years later it was announced they were going to play a one off reunion show in London, excitedly I snapped up tickets only for that show to get cancelled because of the volcanic ash cloud. They did reschedule however and managed to play and the reaction was incredible. When they launched into ‘In Circles’ the excitement in the crowd was palpable and the noise deafening. Guitarist Dan Hoerner looked blown away by this and seeing his reaction made this amazing song even more so.

5 – The Promise Ring – E. Texas Ave
This song is Taken from probably the greatest split 7 inch ever released. The Texas is the reason song on the other side is fantastic, the artwork equally so but it’s the Promise Ring song that makes it truly great. Weirdly my favourite Promise Ring song is the Promise Ring song that sounds least like a Promise Ring song. It’s a lot heavier than they usually are and a lot darker. But it still sounds uniquely like the Promise Ring with Davey Von Bohlen unmistakeable voice sounding better than ever.

4 – Cap’n Jazz – Little League

 Iconic, influential and downright briliant, Cap’n Jazz created a sound that would go on to be copied many times over. ‘Little League’ is a song I can never grow tired of listening too, It’s energy is completely infectious. The way the song sounds out of control and all over the place is its charm. It breaks down, it builds up, it screams at you and makes you want to get up and throw yourself about like a crazy person. Absolute genius.

3 – The Appleseed Cast – Marigold And Patchwork

 One of the best shows I ever got to attend was when my old band supported The Appleseed Cast the first time they played in Margate. At the time they had only released their debut album, ‘End of the ring wars’, but to us they were massive and we were totally excited to have them play in our small town. They seemed really touched by the reaction they got that night and told us that when we sang along to ‘Marigold and patchwork’ it was one of the first times that that had happened to them. They must’ve liked it here because they came back to play twice more. ‘Marigold and patchwork’ will always remind me of a special time when music was the most exciting thing in my world and will forever be one of my favourite songs. You can download this song for free, see below for details.

2 – American Football – Never Meant

 It’s amazing how some of the most influential and incredible music that came from the emo genre was from bands with short existences and limited output. I know Mike Kinsella has been very prolific in his output in various guises, but American Football had one album and one EP yet remain one of the best emo bands of all time. ‘Never meant’ is beautiful, it’s simple yet complicated at the same time and makes me fall in love each and every time I hear it. It’s the perfect song to do that old emo dance to, you know the one where you put your hands in your pockets and gently sway back and forth with your eyes closed? No? Just me then.

1! – Mineral – &Serenading

 I have said for many years that this is the best emo song of all time. If I have said that to you then I’m sorry for the advance spoiler and apologise for the anti-climax to this list. It’s not just my favourite emo song of all time, it is in fact my favourite song of all time. If anyone mentions emo then Mineral is always the first band that jumps to mind, to me they are THE emo band. ‘EndSerenading’ is a beautiful album, Mineral made music so open and emotional that it shouldn’t work but it does work incredibly so. ‘&serenading’ is the penultimate song from that album, it is heart breakingly gorgeous in every way, lyrically and musically. The ending is just perfect, it builds up with repetitive vocals that harmonize at the right moment to elevate the song into the most beautiful of end riffs. Pure brilliant genius!!!!!

That’s it, the list is done.

FREE MUSIC!!! To celebrate ‘Is this thing on?’ has teamed up with the influential and legendary emo label, Deep Elm, to bring you a free 12 track download sampler featuring every Deep Elm song on the list. That includes music by The Appleseed Cast, Planes Mistaken For Stars, Cross My Heart, Pop Unknown, Benton Falls and many more. Click the link below to go there and download it.


Also, while you’re there you can check out the infamous 12 volume Emo Diaries compilation series featuring 147 unreleased tracks by Jimmy Eat World, The Appleseed Cast, This Drama, Further Seems Forever (featuring Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional), Planes Mistaken For Stars, The Movielife, Samiam and many more. Download the lot for $29!!

Here is the link:  http://deepelm.com/emodiaries/

Thank you so much for reading. It has been an unforgettable few weeks sharing this list with you and I want to thank everyone that has read/shared/retweeted/commented etc.. It’s great to know that this music still means a hell of a lot to a lot of people. Feel free to share this and let me know what you think, whether you agree or totally disagree either on here or on twitter (@alex_itto)

Now have a facebook page for the blog too, come and say hi www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog

I have updated the spotify playlist, click the link below for that.

Emo 100 (100-1)

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