Rising London-based outfit Island of Love — Karim Newble (guitar/vocals), Linus Munch (guitars/vocals) and Daniel Giraldo (bass) — can trace their origins to meeting through London’s hardcore punk scene, while playing in other bands, including Newbie’s Powerplant. They’ve all shared bills with bands like Chubby and the Gang and High Vis. Informed by their work in their previous project, the trio have continued to proudly adhere to a long-held DIY ethos: they book their own shows, print their own merch, design their own very distinct artwork and self-released their material, which was recorded at Fuzzbrain, an East London studio dedicated to fostering the underground music community by making high-quality studio and rehearsal space accessible to artists under 25 years-old at all price points.
They released their debut collection of demos, Promo Tape back in 2020. By the time they had written and recorded last year’s Songs of Love EP, the trio had gotten much tighter. “Promo Tape was us trying to learn to write songs individually but Songs of Love was us trying to learn to write songs as a band,” Island of Love’s Karim Newbie says.
Back in September 2021, Island of Love were invited to perform at the opening of Third Man Records’ The Blue Basement. It’s a good thing that the band showed up to the gig at all, given that they didn’t even think the email invitation they received to play was real. The very real and definitely not spam offer led to their on-the-spot signing to the label, opening slots for Jack White — and their self-titled full-length debut.
Slated for a May 12, 2023 release, the London trio’s Ben Spence-produced, self-titled full-length debut reportedly sees the band crafting material that pinballs back and forth between tones and styles while rooted in crunchy guitars and the intrinsically melodic sensibility that brings Hüsker Dü and Dinosaur Jr. to mind while featuring the shared vocal and songwriting duties of Newbie and Munch. At the core of the material is a great deal of restraint and consideration, the sort that belies their relative youth as musicians — and as a band. While the material is loud and noisy, it’s built around push-pull dynamics that results in moments of tenderness and quiet that then elevates the crunch and power of the rousingly anthemic, noisier parts. The album shows the balance of it being written in bedrooms but being honed in live shows,” says Munch. “It captures a contrast.”
Fittingly, the album explores duality, balance and contrast — sonically and thematically. Sure, there are crunchy power chords exploding out of the gate and into your eardrums one moment but there are also melodic, sugary pop hooks paired with introspective, considered songwriting. “This album exceeded our expectations,” says Newble. “I’m really proud of it.” What we’ve done on this album is much more of an accurate representation of us and where we’re at,” Island of Love’s Daniel Giraldo adds. “The EP sounds good but the difference on the album is huge.”
When the band set about making the album, they wanted to carry over as much of that DIY spirit as possible. They continued their relationship with Ben Spence and Fuzzbrain, who helped the band record their early demos. For the band, Spence, Fuzzbrain and the community both have fostered have proven invaluable to the band. “Growing up I couldn’t afford equipment,” Newble says. “But Fuzzbrain was this space where you could go to practice and use insane equipment. We never had to bring guitars, pedals or leads. You could just show up and plug in. We would have struggled to be a band without that place.” According to Giraldo , “It’s very much [Spence’s] record as much as it is ours.”
Last month, the trio shared the first taste of their full-length debut with the double A-side single “Grow”/”Blues 2000.” “Grow” is a decidedly 120 Minutes-era MTV-like bit of alt rock centered around crunchy power chords, thunderous drumming and the sort of enormous, melodic-driven hooks that immediately brings Dinosaur Jr. and others to mind. “Grow”is the first song the trio ever wrote together, and has been pulled and reimagined from their demo release, Promo Tape. “Blues 2000” continues the 90s alt rock vibes but is rooted in dueling guitar riffage and thunderous drumming.
The album’s third and latest single “Fed Rock” features the band’s co-frontman Linus Munch taking on vocal duties, which also highlights the way the band’s co-frontmen seamlessly share songwriting, guitar and vocal duties. “Fed Rock” features the dueling guitar-driven power chord riffage, paired with enormous, saccharine pop hooks. And much like the previously released singles, the song is rooted in riotous, mosh pit friendly energy — all while still bringing back fond memories of Thin Lizzy, Dinosaur Jr., Weezer, and 120 Minutes-era MTV alt rock.
Shot and directed by Cole Flynn-Quirke, the accompanying video for “Fed Rock” playfully riffs off Beastie Boys “Sabotage” and Planet of the Apes in a delirious DIY fashion.
“We wrote this song about a lot of the bands we were seeing around us when we first started gigging in London. It was one of the first songs written for the album and has always been a highlight of our set, and I think the faster pace of the song reflects the time it was written – the summer when we played our very first shows,” Linus Munch explains. “We were moving from Ben’s studio (Fuzzbrain in London) to small venues for the first time and our set was still heavily weighted on the side of stoned jams like ‘Tall Boots’ (from 2020 EP Promo Tape) and ‘Head Case’ (from 2022 EP Songs of Love). We all felt this new creeping influence of bands like Thin Lizzy and Ramones which gave ‘Fed Rock’ a different energy, while having a song in the set that said what we felt about certain bands we played alongside always made playing with them that little bit more bearable. The video was shot around Fuzzbrain with a small group of friends and family on a sunny day in February. The camera is shaky and the narrative is loose, but the spectacle of Dan’s Rambo-style blaze of glory at the mercy of two banana-wielding monkey detectives is alone worth the price of admission.”