Mancunian Britpop band Northern Uproar are back and set to release their 5th studio album, ‘Hey Samurai!’, on 9th October. With an amazing new sound which incorporates both classic indie and Spanish influences, the album is bound to please both fans and critics alike.
Northern Uproar were fresh out of school when they first burst onto the Britpop scene in 1995. Orignally comprising Leon Meya on vocals/bass and Jeff Fletcher on guitar, the band soon expanded to include friends, guitarist Paul Kelly and drummer Keith Chadwick.
Quickly gaining attention from the music press, they were soon signed to Heavenly Recordings, where they went straight into the studio to record their debut album ‘Northern Uproar’, working with Manic Street Preachers’ frontman James Dean Bradfield and producer Dave Eringa.
Mainstream success wasn’t far behind, with several of Top 40 singles including ‘From a Window’ and ‘Livin It Up’. ‘Northern Uproar’ was also a chart success, reaching number 22 in the UK albums chart, 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. However the album wasn’t a commercial success, and Northern Uproar parted ways with their label.
The band split in 1999, when Leon returned to his Spanish roots, immersing himself in the country’s musical culture. However fans, who had been demanding a Northern Uproar reunion, were finally rewarded in 2006, when Leon and Jeff reunited to play two Manchester gigs, performing some of the bands classic tracks as well as their new, previously unheard 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 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.
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”.
Due to Leon returning to his life in Spain, the band didnt 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 released a fourth studio album, ‘ All That Was Has Gone’. sadly, it 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, along with Chris, the result of which is their 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.
‘Hey Samurai!’ has an unusual, mature sound, taking influence from many musical sources and combining them to create a cohesive uptempo vibe. Beautiful harmonies and warm vocals, with a touch of Spanish guitar, make ‘Hey Samurai’ a most delightfully surprising and enjoyable album.