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Here we are then. The seminal student music event of the year has come back around. Five remaining bands, the cream of Exeter’s rock and pop crop, will take to the Lemmy to play it out for a chance to join the BOTB Hall of Fame. So we’re giving you the rundown on this year’s finalists.

Past winners have included shoegaze-wonders Saudade in 2014. Their former frontman is now the vocalist for Berlin-based disco-dreamboats Private Agenda, who were met with uproarious approval when they headlined the Poltimore Festival Launch event in February. In 2015, Bloom (now Halcyon), took the cake, favourites of the Exeter scene that went on to record with James Bragg at Middle Farm studios. Last year National Acrobats returned for their second competition and triumphed, rumour has it they are set to represent the UK in Vault at the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

This year the final will take place at the Lemon Grove as the Cavern is, of course, still unavailable. This is no reason to despair though, maybe, nestled in the heart of the university, the bands will come closer to reaching the dizzying heights of some of Exeter’s musical alumni – Thom Yorke, Matt Bellamy, or Will Young. All in all it should be an exciting time, so let’s get into grilling each of the contestants in the hopes they lay there artistic workings bare.

1STRESS COWS

Firstly, could you introduce the band?

Ben Gladman plays guitar and is our singer, Marcus Rumpus is our other guitarist, and then we have Elliot Coenen on bass guitar and Jake George on drums.

How’s the competition been for you so far?

It’s been great fun, we’ve really enjoyed it this year and have been really proud of our sets. The other bands have been really impressive, so it’s been fun to watch as well as playing.

How long have you been together?

We’ve been together since the start of last year basically. Ben and Marcus knew each other from first year, and then they found a lost and confused Jake at a Campus Bands social. Elliot joined after that after we watched him in awe for a few hours, and we’ve been playing together ever since.

What’s the story behind your name?

We struggled with a name for a while, but Ben owned a stress ball shaped like a cow last year and Stress Cows sounded like a pretty good name, and it hopefully shows we don’t take ourselves too seriously.

How would you describe your sound?

We’re a bit of a melting pot really, we definitely are more Indie Rock than anything else but we try to mix it up when we can. We’ve covered Kanye a lot and have started trying out things like Elvis, so basically whatever you can think of. For our originals we try to make each song have a slightly different sound to keep things interesting.

Who are your main influences?

To be honest each member of the band has quite a different influence. Ben’s really into Sufjan Stevens at the moment, and Marcus always sees Spoon as an influence of his. Elliot’s a big Arctic Monkeys fan, and Jake tends to dabble in a lot of things, but likes Coldplay just a little too much. In terms of what we play we tend to pick up ideas from all over the place, like for one of our originals Jake really looked at the Smiths for his drums for it, but we try and vary it up for each song.

If you could replace one member of your band with a celebrity, who would it be?

We’d replace Jake with Kanye because firstly it’s Kanye and secondly anyone would be more on time to rehearsals than Jake.

How would you keep your fans if all the world went deaf?

Probably get Marcus to take his top off, he works out everyday. He also wears really bright trousers so that might keep people’s interest, they’re quite nice.

What would you say is the strongest band that didn’t make the final?

That’s really tough as we were really impressed with the other bands in our heats and they were all really impressive. Macondo’s sound was really nice though, so it would have been nice to see them make it through to the finals.

Who do you think will win Battle of the Bands 2017?

Again a really tough one as everybody has a really good chance of winning it in our books, the bands in the final are top quality. But after the semi-final we’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Psychopomp, so we’d maybe lean towards those guys.

2PALM BEACH

Firstly, could you introduce the band?

There’s 4 of us – ASAP Barney who sings and plays guitar, Snoop Joe also plays guitar, Yung Pete plays bass and Carlsberg Cairns is the drummer.

How’s the competition been for you so far?

Apart from a couple of unflattering photos taken at the gigs it’s been pretty dope this year.

How long have you been together?

I (Barney) met Joe and Jack way back in first year via the campus bands page I think. From then I could pretty much count on them being at Arena whenever I was so eventually we decided we should probably do stuff together sober. Pete’s the young’un of the group and we recently met the geezer via the campus bands group also and never looked back.

What’s the story behind your name?

As for the name, t’was the day before our heat last year and we were still nameless. Basically we just randomly swiped around Google Maps for a bit and ended up at Palm Beach and went with that (it’s somewhere in Florida I think).

How would you describe your sound?

Exactly the sound that comes out of using too many chorus pedals.

Who are your main influences?

Beethoven to Beyoncé, we love it all.

If you could replace one member of your band with a celebrity, who would it be?

We’ll swap Joe for Barry White.

How would you keep your fans if all the world went deaf?

We probably have more deaf fans than fans that can hear, and for good reason.

What would you say is the strongest band that didn’t make the final?

The Midnight Ramblers have some serious game.

Who do you think will win Battle of the Bands 2017?

Chiara and the Vu for sure.

3PSYCHOPOMP

Psychopomp

Firstly, could you introduce the band?

Officially, our band members are myself (Matt) on vocals, George and Frank on guitar, Ross on bass and keys and Gabriel on drums. Unofficially, we’re Mutt, Gammon, Fork, Begbie and Little Shit.

How’s the competition been for you so far?

So far, the competition has been amazing. It’s the first few opportunities we’ve had to perform as a band and we’re really enjoying it.

How long have you been together?

Pretty much just this term. We’re a fledgling band, and Gabriel is our only non-fresher member, so we’re pretty happy to have gotten to the final!

What’s the story behind your name?

The naming process was actually quite long, and Psychopomp was taken from a shortlist we ended up with as the favourite over a rival name Pablo’s Cruise. The name idea itself comes from a Japanese Breakfast album that I was getting into at the time.

How would you describe your sound?

Like Bastille, but nothing like Bastille. More like if Everything Everything and The Smiths had a baby, and that baby spent it’s entire youth smoking Tame Impala.

Who are your main influences?

Death Grips, Wormrot, Fourtet, Dream Koala, Alien Sex Fiend and Sleaford Mods.

If you could replace one member of your band with a celebrity, who would it be?

We would replace Frank with Louis Theroux.

How would you keep your fans if all the world went deaf?

We would wear progressively wavier shirts and use psychadelic projections. We would also maybe do something with vibrations.

What would you say is the strongest band that didn’t make the final?

Flaws Above. Shout out to Helen Payne and Ellie Duncan, you guys were great.

Who do you think will win Battle of the Bands 2017?

No comment.

4THE ALLERGENS

Firstly, could you introduce the band?

Of course. My name is Oliver Rose – I’m the frontman, as well as principle songwriter, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist. Billy Brooks, with whom I’ve collaborated on writing some of our best tunes (such as Going Nowhere, The Stars, Lemonade???), plays lead guitar; we have Ross Rondel on the bass; and Vinayak Kaul (we call him Vinny) is our indispensable pacemaker on drums.

How’s the competition been for you so far?

Very, very exciting. We made the semis last year as a five-piece and after some switcheroo, we’re finally feeling at our most “realised” I think. We’re louder this year, and bouncier too I think – to watch. The shows so far have allowed us to play a really broad spread of our material, which is great as the songbook’s been growing steadily these past eighteen months. We only played a couple of songs twice across the heat and semi-final – with that in mind, the final will be a “hits” set of sorts I guess; our absolute punchiest curated for your optimum listening pleasure.

How long have you been together?

I met Billy through Facebook before we both arrived here in Exeter, on some freshers’ page. We accrued Ross through a friend and Vinny by advertising. We played our first gig in a support capacity for Harker and Larkhill as part of a No Seatbelt D.I.Y. do on 28 November 2015. Already, at that point, we had six or seven originals – we’re quite fastidious! In our brief time together, we’ve recorded two EP’s, one album and released loads and loads of demos. We never stop. Not least because we just simply can’t!

What’s the story behind your name?

Before uni I operated under the pseudonym, Eustace Walks, which I still use for solo releases. I wanted to use it, but Billy was hell-bent on The Allergens, and who can blame it – it does have a ring to it. There were a few potential compromises we ended up throwing – the Allergen Café was one; the Acknowledgements too. Billy’s notes app actually has about thirty potential band names in it. If you want one, he charges quite reasonably.

How would you describe your sound?

Haha, that’s actually not up to me… why don’t you listen and describe it yourself? Copy and pasting from our bio, I’d continue to call it grunge-fringed new-wave indie-rock…

Who are your main influences?

Everyone in the band has a different vice, really. For Billy, I’d say his absolute favourites are quite technical – post-hardcore math-rock band Slint; seminal avant-garde rock experimentalist Frank Zappa; Beethoven. We cross over on Weezer, Dylan, Springsteen and My Chemical Romance, though I’m very much pop melody-oriented myself – ABBA and Electric Light Orchestra are two of my favourites, though perversions on that pop sensibility appeal just as much. New wave bands like New Order, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and Depeche Mode are awesome, and I love sarky lyricists too – Billy Bragg, Morrissey and Stephin Merritt are my real idols. I know Ross is a MASSIVE Manic Street Preachers fan, and he’s also partial to a bit of early Queen (I’m told Queen II is particularly solid) and he likes a bit of Smiths and indie etc. too. Vinny’s into loads of stuff – anything that makes him feel good and which he enjoys. I’d say out of all of us, he’s the one who brings the biggest emphasis on this all being about fun, and you can see it in his tastes – Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Rolling Stones; classic rock bangers.

If you could replace one member of your band with a celebrity, who would it be?

I would replace myself with Ed Sheeran. The rest of my band would then promptly do a runner, hopefully relocate me, regroup and bam – we’d’ve circumnavigated your question.

How would you keep your fans if all the world went deaf?

We actually play so loudly that that’s not an issue, but I’m actually very proud of our physical product. The releases look great and I think we have our own style lyrically and whilst I couldn’t say it’s the best out there or it’s better than x or y, it’s something I am proud to have helped make – so yeah, the visuals. We also have the capacity to throw some savage, savage shapes – everyone’s a dirty dancer; most, on the quiet.

What would you say is the strongest band that didn’t make the final?

Everyone this year was pushing like a champion. Locate the Bass were a particular favourite though, I think. Macondo too – they had a classic rock swagger and were just great fun.

Who do you think will win Battle of the Bands 2017?

It’s just too damn tough to call. Everyone at the final has earned it, I’d say – so with that in mind, it’s far to say the best band are the band that are going to take it… and THAT, is down to the judges.

5CHIARA AND THE VU

Chiara and the Vu

Firstly, could you introduce the band?

Chiara is on vocals, Thomas on the bass, Jack grooves on the drums and sings backing vocals, James and Trevor riff on the guitars.

How’s the competition been for you so far?

We’ve had so much fun, we know the competition is tough and challenging, but we believe we played some of our best performances.

How long have you been together?

We’ve been together for a year and a half, which has been filled with good vibes and good music!

What’s the story behind your name?

We reworked the phrase ‘look on the bright the side’ using Chiara’s name which means Bright in Italian, and The Vu loosely translates into ‘looked at’ in french, and it sounds good!

How would you describe your sound?

We play songs from rock, pop and funk genres and we try to play them in a unique way, but it’s difficult to describe so come see for yourself at the final!

Who are your main influences?

Matt Corby, Jungle, Foals, Pink Floyd and a little bit of BB King of course !

If you could replace one member of your band with a celebrity, who would it be?

No, we wouldn’t replace anyone with a celebrity because otherwise it wouldn’t be our band! But if we could add a celebrity we would like Snoop to join us for some rapping

How would you keep your fans if all the world went deaf?

We’d start playing naked.

What would you say is the strongest band that didn’t make the final?

We really liked Juicebox and they really got the audience going!

Who do you think will win Battle of the Bands 2017?

You’ll have to come down to Lemmy on Tuesday and find out for yourself!

 

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