Federal Charm

federal charm 1 pic
“I sometimes get goosebumps when I hear how it’s all going. We hope people realize that we are trying to do something with originality and passion. We’re aiming for a different flavour and slant on blues rock, so people might say; ‘wow they do this and then take it there’, that’s the aim.” Paul Bowe

No so much what the Americans call a ‘throwback band’ as a hi-energy outfit with their own take on blues-rock, Manchester’s Federal Charm is a big sounding rock band with blue influences and real presence. Their rip roaring style draws on the blues but is never constrained by it, as they fill every crevice of the studio with displaced air molecules.

Formed in 2009, the band’s fiercely independent streak was immediately embodied in the name, as co-founder member Paul Bowe explains; “The name came from a Eureka moment in a Manchester bar, I really liked the idea of being called ‘Federation’ or ‘The Federation’. I liked the hard togetherness of it and Nick wanted to quirk it up. He liked the word ‘Charm’ and we put it together and the rest is history. We also thought no one on earth would have the name. It’s got a nice ring to it and looks great on merch (laughs).”

Federal Charm’s music draws from a deep well, spanning a Classic Rock curve that conjoins a big Zeppelin sound with Rage Against The Machine bombast (without the hardcore vocals), the contemporary bluster of The Rival Sons and the indie blues-rock of The Black keys, with distant echoes of the Black Crows. It’s tension busting rock with blues roots, imbued with restless, original ideas, coruscating solos and sculpted walls of sound that push the songs into previously undiscovered avenues.

“Federal Charm invest swaggering riffs, sleazy slide flourishes and cinder-raw vocals with a confidence that is utterly winning.” Classic Rock

Their self titled debut album is set for a May 2013 release by Mystic Records and is full of melodic twists and turns, twin guitar riffs and stop-start rhythms. Nick Bowden’s vocal phrasing soars above some of the most intense material to be found on the current post-modern blues landscape.

“Federal Charm is a band with a clear vision of what they want to achieve and they have the song writing ability and musical chops to fulfill their goals.” www.getreadytorock.com

The band was started by the multi instrumental song writing duo of Paul Bowe (guitar) and Nick Bowden (vocals and guitar), but it quickly became apparent that they needed the pounding rhythm section of L.D. Morawski on bass and Danny Rigg on drums.

As Paul explains: “We knew the blues-rock wave was there, and the two of us already had a blues-rock pedigree between us. So the aim was to go into the studio for 2 weeks and see what we could come up with. We cut 12 songs. I played drums and bass and Nick played guitar and vocals and the music had a unique twist to it and we quickly realized we needed to get a band together.

“We always knew what we wanted and meticulously auditioned the right guys. We looked for a John Bonham style drummer with a big sound and then looked for an artistic, fluid bass player. And we got a quiet, 17 year old Polish kid (L.D.), who blew us a way. And that was it really. Straight away we had a real band!”

Federal Charm started out with an idea of playing some blues, but the band’s music grew exponentially and as Paul explains, by August 2011 they had nailed their owns style.

“We could have played 12 bar blues but that had already done by other people who probably played it better than we could. We thought that the blues could be used in different formats and if the die-hards didn’t like it, then we hoped maybe some other people would.”

Released in 2009, Federal Charm’s 6 track debut EP immediately marked them out as different from their contemporaries, if only for the fact they had a plan.

Paul: “We thought that no matter what people thought of us, we wanted to create a buzz. We really hyped up our opening show, and we launched the EP on 9 December 2009 at the Roadhouse in Manchester and we sold it out 2 nights in a row. There might be 15 people one night but then 250 the next. It feels like the old school mythology and its working well for us.”

You’d be hard pushed to find a more focused, intense and ambitious band than Federal Charm, but refreshingly there are led by their music. They’ve paid their dues, survived their teens, discovered a blues-rock legacy while in their early twenties, and have refined their own hard hitting style under the watchful eye of producer John Green.

Listen for example, to the aptly titled ‘Reaction’, which is full of bone crunching riffs, a twin guitar attack , double tracked vocals and imposing bv’s that accord closely to the Rival Sons brand of contemporaneity . Then there’s the pulsating groove of ‘Gotta Give It Up’, the tension breaking solo of ‘No Money Down’, the restless energy of ‘There’s A Light’ and Paul’s evocative phrasing on their outrageous take of Lowell Fulson’s ‘Reconsider Baby’. The album’s push and pull tensions are beautifully resolved on the closing ‘Too Blind To See’, on which a southern rock intro collides with latter day Rush and Zep influences. You can feel the song’s parameters being stretched to the limits by the band’s unfettered drive and energy.

‘Federal Charm’ is an album full of familiar riffs, melodic flashbacks and a shifting wall of sound, all given a coherent sheen by the band’s unique twist on the blues.

As Paul concludes: “The songs aim for bit more of a commercial vibe, as a lot of kids are buying blues rock again. We can’t wait for the CD sales to start happening, but we love playing live. At the moment we’re happy as long as we can eat and put gas in the tank. There are a lot of bands out there, but we have a collective belief and confidence that good product and a good band will always rise to the top”.

Federal Charm – “Federal Charm” is released by Mystic Records May 2013.

Pete Feenstra