Headline Act: Molly Karloff

Next week, Molly Karloff release a charity single in aid of mental health charity Oxfordshire Mind, a very worthy cause. We’ve got the full skinny in a previous article, and we now have a load more about the band right here for you! Simon Gee (lead singer, guitar) and Jowie Adkins (drums) did our Q&A leaving bassist Dan Podbery to enjoy a little break.

Simple things first – where are you guys from?

Simon: We’re all dotted around Oxfordshire; probably about 45 mins drive between us all. We’re all from the shire!

Jowie: I’ve always lived here except for a few years in London for uni. It was quite a cool little town growing up with plenty of gig venues to play and we had the Zodiac that would pull in bigger touring bands so there was a lot of great music on my doorstep, and it’s only a hop skip and a jump into London to catch stadium bands.

It’s had a good reputation for music thanks to Radiohead, I’d get that all the time in London “You’re from Oxford?? DO YOU KNOW RADIOHEAD?!”

How did you meet?

Simon: Well, Dan Podbery (bass) and I got introduced through a mutual acquaintance. Sam used to be the manager of Dan’s old band, and she introduced us when I was asking around about kick-arse bassists! We eventually met up in Camden Underworld at a Love Hate gig and got very drunk because the guitarist from Pretty Boy Floyd was buying shots, and obviously forcing them down our necks – he’s a big bloke so ya can’t refuse his liquor ya know! –  to the point where Dan had joined the band during a drunken rock pact! Dan came in for an ‘audition’ to make it look like everyone had a chance, and of course he did indeed kick arse in spectacular fashion, so the rest was just a formality. He gigged with us the next day after the audition the night before and nailed it, so there you go!

Jowie: I met Simon at a show in Oxford a few years ago. My band ‘Starbelly’ was playing support for this cool band called Molly Karloff, these three dirty great manly men with beards tearing the roof off the place with some swish and powerful rock n roll! It was a sell-out gig and they absolutely owned it. Course I was eyeing up the drummer and thinking “nah I could play better than that”. Wish I’d told him! Could have saved a lot of time! About a year later Simon got in touch looking for a new drummer and asks if I knew anyone (he knew me as a guitarist at that point), so I went along for a couple of auditions and got the job.

I met Dan in the same place, different night, after another Starbelly show, we had a mutual friend who I think might just have had a drink or twenty and was intent on buying all our merch! Dan wasn’t even at the gig, but he left the place plastered in T-shirts and pockets full of CDs (cheers Aaron!).

How long have you been playing as a band?

Simon: As the current, and best line-up, since 2019. The band runs like clockwork and is well oiled now! Not in a greased-up wrestler kind of way, unless you want us to be and pay us enough, but in a more smooth-running machine kind of way!

Jowie: I joined in October 2019 after a couple of auditions. The band had a Halloween party gig coming up and thanks to some weird twist of fate I ended up playing bass in my first show with the band. We finished off the year with a few gigs up and down the country, with me firmly behind the drums, I guess warm-up shows for the tour about to kick off at the start of 2020. We managed 3 or 4 dates before the world turned upside down! Since then, it’s been a couple of live streams.

Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?

Simon: It’s a little-known fact that Boris Karloff, real name William Pratt, or just ‘Willy’ to us and his closest friends, has a granddaughter or great-granddaughter – time goes by so fast it’s hard to remember – named Molly whose mother was conceived on the set of ‘Bride of Frankenstein’. It’s all very complicated and quite scandalous really, but Molly really digs our tunes, and because she’s a bit punk, she said we should name our band after her, so we did! Cheers to Molly! Jowie’s even drawn her for one of our t-shirts, so she’s quite a big influence on us. It makes sense that we share her name. That’s all completely true with no made-up crap in there at all, well, not much crap, just a bit, or maybe a bit more. I dunno. It’s what we believe to be true…

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What are your influences?

Simon: There are too many to list to be honest; almost everything I’ve ever listened to is technically an influence. I started playing guitar after a mate played me Van Halen’s first album when I was a kid. Hearing ‘Eruption’ for the first time and being told that it was played on a guitar and not some synthesiser blew me away. I had to learn how to play that stuff and basically became obsessed from that point on. I went through the usual suspects, getting obsessed with everything Van Halen, and then bands like Motley Crue, Guns n Roses, but I think the band that I got into the most was Soundgarden. In fact, the whole grunge movement was a big influence, and Alice In Chains, Stone Temple Pilots were big influences too. To be fair, I’m into anything with good riffs and hooks, and that probably comes out in my writing.

Jowie: From the drum side of things, I’m all glam rock, drummers like Tommy Lee, Robin Guy, Ginger Fish are the guys that made me start drumming, all the stick-spinning and my impeccable fashion sense comes from those guys. I’m a bit more tribal groove than metal, but it slides in just right with what Simon and Dan are doing.

Describe your music. What makes you unique?

Jowie: I always say that every band has their own long-winded explanation of what genre they are, post this and that. 9 times out 10, shut up it’s just rock n roll!

I think what works for us is a wide range of influences coming together, Dan’s 80s metal to the core, in his thunderous playing and his stage presence, Simons the masterful songsmith getting influences from across the board, I’m half daft glam rock, half circus clown. We put it all together into a tight and spectacular show. But a spade’s a spade, and we’re a rock ‘n’ fuckin’ roll band.

Simon: I always think that’s a question better answered by people not in our band, and so I’m going to have a long-winded explanation! Haha!

It’s hard to say what makes you unique or otherwise when you’re on the inside. If you take any one song, I’m sure you can say it sounds like this or that, and lots of people have wildly differing opinions, but you can that with virtually any band you care to name. I can listen to Queens of The Stone Age and hear Black Sabbath and a multitude of other bands.

I think from what other people say about us, our sound is difficult to pigeon-hole, which I suppose is a good thing. We’re not trying to go after anyone ‘sound’, although we do now ask ourselves whether new songs have the ‘Molly’ sound which I guess contains an edgy riff and a hook, but that’s wide-ranging. Maybe the unique thing, after waffling a fair bit, is our sound and that we’re a three- piece band that sounds a lot bigger?

Do you have any particular lyrical themes?

Simon: Not really, although it’s unlikely that we’re going to have a soppy love song or anything even remotely close. I’m not particularly explicit with lyrics, preferring to leave the listener to interpret meaning etc. There’s a loose theme around things like social injustice or hypocrisy, but we’re not Rage Against The Machine. We’re not making big political statements or anything.

What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?

Jowie: Our shows are a spectacle! We’ve got 3 distinct personalities and we fill up every inch of the stage (not just with all Simon’s gear!)  there’s no rhythm guitarist looking at his shoes in the background. It’s almost like 3 frontmen. Simons the star of the show obviously, but me and Dan are a blur of flailing limbs and hair. Every bit of it’s got to be a performance for the eyes as well as the ears.

Simon: Haha! It’s a performance alright! I’ve lost count of how many shows we’ve played, although the last live gig seems like a lifetime ago. We were playing 4-6 times per month most months and mopping up all the last-minute bookings where other bands had to pull out. As Jowie says, our live show is energetic even though there’s only three of us. I think it must be. Dan takes up the rest of the stage that I don’t use when tethered to the mic stand, and Jowie is always up to some shenanigans behind me which is annoying because I always miss the good stuff! Haha!

What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?

Jowie: I got thrown out the o2 for bangin’ in the toilets, wasn’t my gig though!

It wasn’t a Molly gig but,

One of my favourites was when I was playing a show and BOTH the support bands had lost their drummers to the flu or something, they were gunna play to drum machines and backing tracks, so last minute I jumped up and played full sets with both bands then played our own headline show, that was a cool night.

Simon: Well, I guess Jowie takes the ‘wildman’ title then! Haha!

I guess it usually comes down to hilarious heckles from the fans! Haha! What counts as ‘wild’?! Aren’t all gigs that way? I think the fans have more fun than we do, and who knows what they’re getting up to out there in the dark, eh? I know what I’d be doing, and I’d probably have to kill you if I told you! Haha! That might be just a way of deflecting from the boredom or hiding scandalous behaviour. You’ll have to make up your own mind! Ha!

What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?

Jowie: It’s a Tama kit that’s grown and shrunk and taken all sorts of forms over the years, lots of homemade gadgets on there too. Sabian cymbals, Remo skins and customised Vic Firth sticks.

Simon: I play anything that gets me the sound that I’m after. Sometimes that means playing guitars or equipment that I don’t particularly like. The sound is the thing for me. Now, I’m playing a Les Paul Studio, a ’97 USA Strat with Hot Rails in the bridge, and a few other guitars like the Baritone I use on Supernaturalation to get that heavy octave sound. I usually have a sound in my head that I’m chasing, and the equipment fits in around that.

What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?

Simon: Right now, we’re raising money for Mind. Lockdown is shit for people’s mental health, and we think charities that help people with mental health problems Ned as much help as they can get. We’ve had ‘She Said’ mixed by Romesh Dodangoda, who also mixed our last single, and shot another video to support it. We’re donating all proceeds from royalties and sales to the mental health charity, Mind, and trying to drum up as many donations as possible.

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What are your plans for the next 6 months or so?

Simon: Well, the first thing is to get into the studio and get to work on our debut album. We’re talking to a couple of studios and deciding which tracks are going to make it in, and which ones are going to get bumped, maybe for the album after that, or just dropped. We’re kind of brutal with quality control in this band! Haha!

If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!

Jowie: Well Starbelly for headline obviously!  For support I’d go for Black Tree Vultures, we’ve played a few shows with those guys and they’re so great for getting the energy up, getting the crowd involved. Once they’ve hit the stage it’s not about the band and the audience anymore, it’s a room full of rockers sharing the moment. Hope we can play some more gigs with them soon.

Simon: Hmm, I reckon it’d be cool to support a big-name band like Alice In Chains. We’ve had a few good bands support us, and Jowie’s already mentioned Black Tree Vultures, who kick arse, so I’m going to plug my mate’s band ‘Rufus Goodlove’ who have some fucking good songs. They’re on Spotify etc. so go and check them out!

Check out this month’s Headline Act Playlist on Spotify and YouTube

Header image by Matty Keefe

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