chris herron


Culann and The Gonzo Division have been on many epic, fantastical and incredible journeys; and I don’t just mean the live shows, the music and our first ever gig assignment… We have journeyed the South African Serengeti and the Himalayan peaks, we’ve been to ancient battlefields and post-apocalyptic futures. We’ve reviewed them several times over the years, starting with their debut album in 2012, and just about every gig they’ve played in Ayrshire or Glasgow since then. Each time we’ve come up with more and more abstract ideas for articles and unconventional approaches to music journalism. It has actually spawned some of our best pieces of writing over the years, where gonzo journalism meets creative writing meets music reviews.*

*If you want to follow that journey from its incarnation just go here and type Culann in the search bar

This time however, I don’t need to make up a fantastical story, as I’m in one, for real! You see while Culann are playing a gig to launch their new album, Will has to attend it without me, as I am in Egypt, in the sprawling, semi-derelict metropolis of Cairo, visiting the Great Pyramids of Giza! The only one of the seven wonders of the (ancient) world remaining. The Temple of Artemis and the statue of Zeus were destroyed by fire, the Mausoleum, The Colossus of Rhodes and the lighthouse at Alexandria succumbed to earthquakes; The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, if they ever even existed, were erased by war and erosion. The Egyptians however, were masters of cosmic and scientific arts and possibly the greatest architects that have ever lived! The pyramids have survived earthquakes, wars, fires, explosions and thousands and thousands of years of exposure to one of the harshest, most hostile, climates on Earth; the Sahara desert.

As I climb down, baking in the oppressive 38 degree heat, from the second step of the Pyramid of Khufu, I note once more before I leave, the breathtaking size of each block of limestone the structure consists of; 2.3 million blocks, some the size of small vans, weighing a couple of hundred tons, no two blocks the same, yet all fitted together, without cement, to within a hundredth of a degree of accuracy, you can’t even fit a Rizla between the gaps – it’s just showing off. These Egyptian engineers and architects could put an edge on a rolling pin!

The pyramid is said to date back to 2 or 3,000BC but recent evidence of the water erosion markings on the Sphinx, may date it back as far as 10,000BC maybe even earlier! (See Robert Schoch, John Anthony West, Robert Bauvall, Graham Hancock etc.). There is even evidence that the Egyptians just claimed the structures as their own, sticking an Egyptian head on the Sphinx and some hieroglyphs on the pyramids and taking the credit, and that the constructions may belong to an even earlier advanced civilisation. The proof and evidence is ubiquitous if you look for it. But it’s a deep rabbit hole and you’ll need a sturdy shovel and a packed lunch…


As I lay my hand on one of the smooth blocks, cold to the touch, despite the desert sun, you can almost feel the age resonating off them and a sort of powerful energy flowing through them. As the centuries boil in the air around us, I think how great the human minds were which built these monuments, with technologies unknown to us, laser-precision, building up with ease and accuracy what we still can’t do today with all our new-fangled machinery and so-called superior intelligence!

I’m basking in the radiant glow of the pyramids, skin scalding, the smell of sand, dust and ancient stone floating on hot zephyrs, when my phone grumbles, and I obey it to find an email from PJ Kelly with the new Culann album attached! ‘Good stuff!’ The busdriver is calling us back anyway, and it’s a seven hour journey from Cairo, the biggest thing I’ve ever seen in my life with a population of over 25 million, to our hotel at Hurghada, where I can listen to and review comfortably Culann’s new album.

The journey back from Cairo had been an arduous one, wrought with military checkpoints, African wasps and the Saharan heat. Now I’m poolside at the Aqua Hotel Hurghada, azure shimmering water, radiant sunshine; a midget in a white tuxedo just brought me a drink, the kind of drink that is suspiciously-coloured and unnecessarily covered with foliage but that goes down really easily. All the holidaying Arabs have had their lunch and slunk off to wherever it is they go after lunch, is there an Arabic word for siesta? There is, it’s ‘qylula’. So it’s quiet round the pool and I fire up my Bluetooth speaker, and let the hot Egyptian air have it with a cool, refreshing blast of new material from the boys from Erewyn, Culann!

*!!!يصل لافتة

The mighty ship Ecumene sets sail and launches to an ascending psychedelic intro and into that valiant Culann sound that is now comfortingly familiar to me, like a favourite whiskey, or a warm coalfire. The sturdy vessel, illimitable in its glory, following a strong and wintry westerly wind, carves a path through choppy green waves with the sweep of many oars, sending us towards a pale pink dusk. High rocky bluffs, crowned with scraggly trees, dwindle into the distance, and we are adrift on the open sea, in search of Evonium, and The Stone of Scone, an ancient stone ‘pon which many ancient British kings have been crowned.

*Arabic for ‘up the banner’.

The album is a rip-roaring rock opera, I’ve often called Culann prog-celtic-rock, and they are very layered in the structure of their songs, with great skill they carry a tune through many progressions, bridges and changes etc. Evonium evolves like a writhing sea serpent cutting out of the waves. It really gets going with the thunderous, erratic cocaine-heartbeat at;

“Standing taller than I’ve ever been, the earth below me saw a mighty scene, kings and kinsmen screaming in my dreams…”


Telling tales and drinking from grails, traversing vales and setting sails, the good ship Ecumene never fails; the imagery conjured up by Culann’s music and lyrics flashes through your head in a kaleidoscope of visions, like you’ve just done peyote under the branches of some ancient Scottish yew tree, and its memories and experiences of the last three thousand years are infiltrating your brain and flashing through your mind’s eye in an unstoppable hurricane of psychedelic apparitions, visualisations and images! Kings, queens, warriors, druids and soothsayers… The vortex of the visual/audio tornado is the balls-out rocking guitar solo two and a half minutes in. The song is taking us on a long, incredible adventure, if you listen closely… And try not to have an aneurysm rocking-out from the intense, potent deliverance of it…

A Pink Floydesque outro as Ecumene sails through thick, clinging mists which crawl fingering across icy waters… And out of the chilly calm and into the turbulence of the stormy seas that is ‘Event Without Experience’. Incredible vocal and perfect harmonies as always, nice use of a flute or something and the outro turns into an all-out punk rock assault that is a thing of beauty!

We brew the ale next and let it simmer, with a jangled, erratic, folky offering that develops into the soaring wings of an eagle, and then swoops low across fields of green and hills of brown. Crescendoing into a good Scottish folk-punk tune. Century Box, and each chord and note played is a precious grain of sand falling through the hourglass, but with enough high-octane energy to incite a surging moshpit!

The title track has a brilliant, swelling, gushing melody to it, as the good ship Ecumene conquers a deluge of Atlantian proportions! We’re approaching the brink, the swirling, cascading waterfalls at the Edge of the World, and soon a rising, spine-tingling melody sets us up, bracing for impact. Impact comes with a glorious explosion of bass, guitar, drums, haunting vocal harmonies and keyboard, the tearing of sailcloth, the shattering of timber, all aswirl, the stars of the constellations in the skies becoming streaks and melting into a swirling vortex as we succumb to the maelstrom of the whirlpool we have stumbled into! The good ship Ecumene vanishes below the waves; Davey Jones’ Locker beckons…

Bubbling blackness, bible-black, all-encompassing darkness surrounds, nothing but the sound of gurgling and the sonic boom wood makes when smashing underwater. Water penetrates everything, an even pitcher black beckons… Down… Into the abyss.


We wake from all reverie to sun beating down on our salty face, we’re clinging to driftwood, alive and afloat on a calm sea, gulls circle overhead, land must be near, you can almost smell the earth on the seabreeze, taste the sand on the oceanic air. All Reverie is a dramatic, epic opus which I have enjoyed live already once or twice, captured now on record for repeated plays. That true and unique Culann sound. Clinging to a broken mast, in an ocean of majestic music.

Sharks circle menacingly beneath our feet as we tread water, but make no quarrel; the current is taking us to land, to the sweet, dry soil of Evonium, home. The bleak skeletons of many sunken ships lie entombed in coral and seaweed in watery graves in these parts, noble Ecumene among them now, but we are alive, alive and free. The music now tells of tragedy, with hope’s light shining through and illuminating the way, as the crimson sun dips below the horizon to the sound of dual guitars. The music is our shield, our aegis, and it is nothing short of a punk anthem, with brilliant shredding guitar and a chaotic overture to the Celtic, Norse and Roman gods of yore.

There’s a deeply-infused melancholic beauty, barely discernable, but pulsing away beneath all of the music of Culann, an alluring mysterious hint of hidden meanings and guarded emotions, shadows clinging to the feet of the lyrics…

Jazz-infused insane funk lets us know we’re still alive. The poke of a stick to the body on the beach. A brilliant wee psychedelic overture plays this track out seamlessly into a soaring guitar solo, musical mastership, shipmaster’s music, followed by a final grasp for shore. Man Overboard is now a Man Alive.

And we’ve made it, dry land, Glasgow Queen Street Station, the traffic roars and belches its acrid fumes, scruffy pigeons squabble and scramble and scatter, and the homeless line the pavements, shoulder to shoulder with the hurrying commuters. Back from Egypt, back from Ecumene, back from The Brink. The music is now a distant dream, like a distant shoreline, like another lifetime ago. Except for one more song, which strums up and plays out the latest chapter; a wistful, mournful, rootsy-Scottish ditty, wailing and weeping and wayment, it is wuthering the woes of the wayward.

Always a pleasure Culann, another fantastic album that was well worth the wait, and hopefully too, the work, you put in. One of the best Scottish albums this year, without a doubt. And the live show takes it to a whole ‘nother level! And with that in mind, I’ll seeya’ in the pit, walking the plank!

Culann are: PJ Kelly, Sean Kelly, Greg Irish, Ross McCluskie and Calum Davis.

You can buy their spectacular new album here:


And here:

C. T. Herron (NHC Gonzo Div.)

Photos by Vilhelm Gonztone


I find my weary mortal-remains once again in the architecturally-delightful metropolis of Edinburgh, which is a city that puts me in mind of a cleaner, slightly-modernised  version of Ankh-Morpork. A city which is the polar opposite of its unruly neighbour Glasgow. Scruffy charisma vs. opulent ostentatiousness. Medieval lanes vs shady back alleys. Cliques vs overly-friendly drunks. And NEDs vs… Well, NEDs with more intimidating accents. I prefer Glasgow, that’s why I live there, but Edinburgh is not without its charm. I’d probably feel more at home in Edinburgh out in the surrounding areas, the rough parts, where everyone but junkies fear to tread. That’s more my kind of scene… I prefer Glasgow to Edinburgh for the same reason I prefer jakey old man pubs to yuppie wine bars.

I’m up here to see The Howling Lords and to meet a band who have been on my radar a few times but who I haven’t experienced yet; Jack Rabbit Slams (a cool name is always a good start for any band!). They’re playing in Bannerman’s Bar as part of the The Howling Lords’ ‘Texas Medicine’ tour, for the album of the same name; a fantastic album, you can find my review of it here:

After circumnavigating the streets of Edinburgh which twist like entrails in the guts of the city; over vaults and tunnels, we arrive, quite high on potent marijuana and slightly tipsy on Stormy Cloudy Apple Strongbow, at the designated den of iniquity. Not being too familiar with this bit of Edinburgh, I don’t know what to expect at the venue Bannerman’s, and so when we arrive at a cosy little bar to find four dishevelled figures crammed into a corner poking each other with their instruments and trying (not unsuccessfully) to do a folksy version of a Ziggy Stardust song to a small disinterested crowd of onlookers we assume this is the gig and settle in…

After purchasing social-lubricants (meads, which they warmed by plunging a hot poker in) and settling in to watch the performance, with no sign of those damned Stornaway Vikings anywhere, our marijuana-laced minds became relaxed in the small confines of the wee bar, listening to the jangling of confused instruments, until Felix eventually materialised out of a side portal wearing a leather hood and carrying a large crossbow…

And now, armed with a guide to lead me through the archways and hidden rooms of the building, I realise I have mistaken this establishment for being a tiny little bar when in fact it’s a sprawling complex of interlocking buildings that houses a lounge, a gig room, and even an upstairs accommodation for the bands playing, and god-knows-what-else, probably a scullery and a stable! It’s not unlike a village inn you might find in Game of Thrones, just replace the swords with mobile phones and you’re there. What I mean is, Bannerman’s has a look and feel to it like it may once have been a medieval inn, filled with swordsman and serving wenches and peasants and cutthroats.

Carrying our brimming flagons of mead, and sidestepping a few dwarves playing some sort of game that involves throwing daggers into the wall, Felix shows us to upstairs; a winding staircase that leads up to what looks like a squatter’s flat, and is really, seeing as it’s given over to musicians; you know what musicians are like! There was women and whiskey and drugs strewn everywhere, actually not so much the drugs, well not strewn anyway, so I provided my own by rolling a blunt and sitting on the windowsill to smoke it, looking out at the jagged, smoky, hodgepodge rooftops of Auld Reekie.

After my joint I was introduced to a handsome bunch of rockers, and this was Jack Rabbit Slams; cutting a fine figure they sat down on a battered couch, Sean, Archie and Rob, and I sat on the well-worn coffee table and fired up the old Dictaphone; this is what happened next:  


GONZO DIV: So how long have you been a band?

ROB (guitar/vocs): Just under three years, I started jamming with Sean first, and then it took us like an age to find a bassplayer, er for whatever reason it just took absolute ages and ages and ages, nobody seemed to play bass in the whole central belt of Scotland…

NHC: It’s really strange that, it seems to be a prevalent problem among bands!?

ROB: Aye, I dunno’, it just seemed to take like ages and ages to even get a reply, ended up Chris came and joined, but he’s actually just left us the now, nu’hin bad happened, just one o’ they things, we decided to part ways. So Archie’s jumped-in and replaced him, three weeks’ notice man, learned a full album’s worth o’ songs, fuck!

NHC: So why is it so hard to find a bassplayer Archie?

ARCHIE (bass): Easy way to put it; my dad’s been playing bass for years and every time he goes to the toilet someone’ll come up to him and tell him his band’s really class, or you were really good up there, and he’d be like ‘I’m not on stage for another fifteen minutes!’ So that’s why, cos’ no-one gives a shit about the bassplayer.

NHC: Maybe it takes a special, rare breed of demented human to play bass…

ARCHIE: You don’t wanna’ be seen in the spotlight…

SEAN (drums): Everyone’s wantin’ to be a guitar-player innit’, cos’ it’s cool.

NHC: Aye, showing off! So Jack Rabbit Slams, is that a reference to Pulp Fiction?

ROB: Ha! Aye, and naw… Er, we kept tryin’ to think o’ names and er, every time you try n’ name a band every name just sounds shite. If ye’ think o’ big bands now, like The Beatles, the first one that said ‘let’s be called The Beatles’…

NHC: The Beatles is a shite name, it’s not even a good play-on-words…

ROB: I know aye, it’s a mince name, but we were hitting about with loadsa’ ideas n’that and I actually thought the restaurant in Pulp Fiction was called Jack Rabbit Slams, but it’s actually Jack Rabbit Slims…

NHC: Haha, so that play-on-words was a mistake!

ROB: Aye and I put out all the posters and realised we’d misspelled it, but it actually worked out better cos’ on Youtube there’s lotsa’ videos for Jack Rabbit Slims, but we’re the only ones that come up for Jack Rabbit Slams…

NHC: And I thought it was like a play-on-words like a heavy-rocking band with a nod to Pulp Fiction’s dance scene! So speaking of heavy-rocking, what do you describe yourselves as, cos’ I’ve not had the pleasure of seeing you yet, judging by the sound-check I heard, are you stoner rock, psychedelic metal…?

ROB: Er naw man, just like… [long pause]…

NHC: Rock & roll?


SEAN: Hard rock

ROB: Aye, high-energy rock, we’ve no really got any slow songs, sleazy rock & roll, sleazy, anytime we’ve been reviewed the word sleazy comes up. Dirty and sleazy, that’s the two words that always come up in reviews.

NHC: Grimy, grungy, unctuous. Any upcoming gigs or albums you wanna’ promote?

ROB: Aye, everything man, we’ve got an album called ‘Crackerjack’ which comes out in June, the first single will be coming out in the middle of May, we’ve got a video coming out for it, we’ve got merch; t-shirts, badges, everything, we’ve been really hard at work…

NHC: Have you got a website or is it just the social media? Stupid question really, who has a website these days!? When do you ever go on a band’s actual website!?

ROB: Aye, well we just finished the album and we were thinkin’ o’ different ways to promote it and obviously you’ve gotta’ have social media, although it should be about the tunes, not the likes and shares and that, but you can’t fight against social media, it’s impossible…

NHC: It depends how you use it, if you use it negatively, you can go on stuff you don’t like and moan about it, or you can go on stuff you actually like and promote it and spread positivity…

ROB: That’s it man, but you feel ever-so-slightly cheap having to go on Facebook and that and having to beg to promote your posts…

NHC: Ok, if I switched all your instruments to the left, would you still be able to function as a band?

ROB: Errrrm, naw! Haha!

SEAN: I can’t play bass or guitar or sing, so I’d be fucked…

ROB: Aw man the singing, holy shit…

NHC: So the band would collapse…

ROB: On the first EP we wanted Sean to do backing vocals for one chorus and er, it was…

SEAN: Autotune couldn’t even fix it

ROB: Aye, I’m no having a go at ye’ this is just genuine fact, it was fucking horrendous, cos’ he didn’t have anything to dae’ with his hands, he was just standing all nervous and we’re like “what ye’ daein’” n’ he’s like “what do I dae” and we’re like “just fucking stand and sing!” Like four notes or something like that, it just wisnae’ happenin’. I had to go and get my wee brother and get him to come through from fucking Glasgow just to record one line!

NHC: Okay, final question; the apocalypse is definitely coming, how do you think it’s gonna’ happen?

ROB: Ooft, well, it could be a zombie apocalypse…

NHC: You really think there’s gonna’ be a zombie apocalypse!?

ROB: It was actually just a ruthless plug for our video, which is zombie-themed, which’ll be coming out with the single in May.

NHC: That question was a good segue then! Sean, how do you think the world’s gonna’ end?

SEAN: Probably robots isn’t it, artificial intelligence, it’s slowly happening now, slowly but surely…

ROB: Skynet!

NHC: People say we’re starting to be infiltrated by AI but they don’t realise Google is technically AI and we’ve been using that for decades!

ROB: I’m prepared man cos’ I have watched The Terminator series maire’ times than any human on Earth…

NHC: And what valuable wisdom did you glean from that? The only way to kill it is to dip it in molten steel?

ROB: I’m the real John Connor, yiz’ are all laughin’ noo but I’m the real John Connor!

NHC: You look like the real life John Connor, you’ve got a post-apocalyptic vibe! How do you think the world’s gonna’ end Archie?

ARCHIE: North Korea man.

NHC: Good answer.

ROB: Fuck, you been reading the Daily Mail again!?

NHC: Ebola spiders coming from North Korea disguised as Muslims, that’s the kinda’ headlines you get in the Daily Mail.

ROB: Aye, I want to change my answer to that actually.

NHC: Yours was the most far-fetched I think, Archie and Sean were on-the-button. It could just be the flu; “A message sent to other worlds will say it’s ‘just the flu’”

ROB: Something needs to be done, the maire’ times I watch ‘Infinity War’ the maire’ I’m on Thanos’ side, know what I mean…

The conversation took a dark, sinister, controversial turn after that, and I’m knackered from scribing, so we’ll leave it there…

Except to say, that afterwards Jack Rabbit Slams absolutely fucking blew me away from the spot I was standing on! Call it stoner rock, psychedelic metal, hardcore rock & roll, high-octane rock, bluesy-grunge, cosmic chaos, call it all those things; call it what you like, but it’s fucking impressive! Bands with leporids in their name are always good, like the seldom-seen Bastard Killed My Rabbit, The Frightened Rabbits, Echo & The Bunnymen etc. and now Jack Rabbit Slams.

One of my best live experiences of 2019 so far (and I’m writing this in June). Their sound was very much in the vein of Kyuss, Clutch or QOTSA. If you like your rock music with a bit of testicular fortitude I suggest you get out and see them. I was absolutely astonished by the drumming, which put me in mind of Travis Barker a lot. I haven’t used the word sleazy to describe the band once, and if you were to consult the thesaurus for alternatives to the word sleazy you would find that none of them are very complimentary anyway.


The Howling Lords were, of course, married finely to JRS with their own style of hard-hitting-blues-viking-rock! The two bands complimented each other well, and left my ears suitably-ringing.  Although the release of this article was delayed the timing has actually worked out well as JRS are about to drop their new video for the single from the forthcoming album, ‘Crackerjack’. And I have a feeling it’s going to be a very, very good album, maybe even a contender for local album of 2019! A real flagship album for Scotland’s heavy-rock scene no doubt. Check out the teaser for it here and its due release is 14/06. A definite band to watch!

                                                                     Seeya’ in the world-famous Jack Rabbit Slams’ Twist Contest! 

C.T Herron (Gonzo Div.)



I have in my hands a compilation of songs from a band that are reflected perfectly in the cover design. A collage of politics and punk, brightly-coloured and eye-catching, quotes from legendary musicians like Strummer and Guthrie, but most strikingly, emblazoned across the front in large letters, is the idiom “Stop making stupid people famous”. Something I can absolutely agree with 100%, in a world of Jedwards and Biebers multiplying like bacteria on a yoghurt that’s been left out in the baking sun, we need a band like the Media Whores! I’m not saying kill all the stupid people, but let’s remove the warning labels and let the problem take care of itself.



With a smattering of exceptions most of my favourite music coming out of Glasgow these days is hip-hop, so it’s nice to have a proper band (with instruments and everything!) come along and represent the rock scene, and represent it they do, and very well! Psychedelic rocking pop, or psychedelic popping rock, as The Big Nowhere start us off with ‘When You Call My Name’ and then we dip down into the muddy waters of the blues for ‘At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul’. I can already imagine this band sounding fucking great live and on stage! Lots of instruments making cameo appearances, keyboards, and I’m pretty sure I heard trumpets earlier as well!

100th ARTICLE FOR NHC/ALBUM OF THE YEAR 2018 - PART 2 - C. T. Herron

100th ARTICLE FOR NHC/ALBUM OF THE YEAR 2018 - PART 2 - C. T. Herron

The last track is arguably my fave on the record, I can’t get it out of my head, a mix of amazing soul samples keeping it old school hip hop with an updated oompth. Sage’s lines in this are flawless, and B bounces off him to reciprocate the high-level rapping skill with dexterity. Auris vermis level: 10

MUSICIANS AGAINST HOMELESSNESS @ THE BARRAS By C.T Herron (with some help from Terence McKenna) 

MUSICIANS AGAINST HOMELESSNESS @ THE BARRAS By C.T Herron (with some help from Terence McKenna) 

Large crowds coming together for times like this are the remedy to toxic society. Research shows 20mins at a gig can increase your well-being by 21%! More research suggests that going to a concert directly links high levels of well-being with a lifespan increase of nine years. Whether or not that’s true, music in general increases happiness, we all know that! Gatherings of like-minded people resonate with positive frequency and a harmonious collective consciousness; it’s good for the soul, you can feel it right?   

JACKAL TRADES - ‘TRIP HAZARD ADVISOR’ - A Review In Four Books - C.T. Herron

JACKAL TRADES - ‘TRIP HAZARD ADVISOR’ - A Review In Four Books - C.T. Herron

Andy Martin produced arguably my fave track from Need The Characters, ‘I Am The Fear’, and he provides here a wheezy, strange, unique beat for a humorous conversation between ‘Jack’ and some hallucination named the Trip Hazard Advisor he encountered tripping out to a Pink Floyd film, ‘Schemedelica’. Quality quaalude interlude!  

The Twistettes’ Album Launch 14/09/2018 - A Two-For Review

The Twistettes’ Album Launch 14/09/2018 - A Two-For Review

Incredible, that I can see a band as many times as I’ve seen the Twistettes and they can still blow my mind as much as they did last Saturday. I guess I should have expected it, as I’ve reviewed the new album and know it is a belter