Countdown to Camden Rocks: Sonic Boom Six

Sonic Boom Six are one of the UK's finest live bands. Ahead of their appearance at the TeamRock-sponsored Camden Rocks festival, Paul 'Barney Boom' Barnes clues us in on what to expect...

You’ve spent a lot of time on the road since the release of your self-titled album in 2012: what have you learned that you’ll be able to put into the next album?

“We’re in the planning stages of the new album actually. The way we started writing the album, instead of trying to think what the audience wants, we thought about what we wanted to play and what we would find fun, and what we found when we played the songs live, is that what we want to write is the same as what our audience wants to hear, because the reaction to the new stuff was better than the reaction to any new material we’ve ever done. I guess if you enjoy playing the songs yourself it’s a lot easier to convey that feeling to the crowd: there’s nothing worth than seeing a band really slogging through a live show. I think in the past we might have been a little guilty of trying to keep up with the times or whatever in terms of our songwriting, but this time the songs all came from our heart and I think that’s very definitely the right approach.”

What’s been your most memorable gig in Camden?

“Well, we’ve played The Underworld in Camden many times, and one particular show that springs to mind is one where the singer of Lightyear, who’re a ska/hardcore/punk band who really blazed a trail for our scene, came out onstage naked from the waist down and started dry-humping me from behind. He then took a Melodica that we’d been playing and put the nozzle - the bit you breath into to play it – and stuck it…well, I don’t need to spell this out do I? Let’s just say he stuck it up a hole of his own. He’s a bit of an extrovert…”

What’s your personal take on the climate for rock music in the UK right now?

“Well, obviously Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys got a bit of shit for his speech at the BRITS, but I really don’t look at music in terms of genre. Maybe the tastemakers at Radio 1 or wherever will get together and say that ‘This’ is the cool thing, or ‘That’, but I look at it like the cream will rise to the top regardless. I kinda shook my head when I heard the whole ‘Rock is back’ thing from Alex Turner, because I don’t really see it as Rock Vs Pop music. Maybe I’m being idealistic and being a hippy, but when I got into music I got into hip-hop and rock and dance music – The Prodigy, Snoop Dogg, Nirvana – so I never thought of music in terms of genres and I still don’t. I have no allegiance to any one form of music, it’s all equal to me: it’d just be nice if some independent artists who write their own songs could get out there and be popular without needing to go through a TV talent show.”

Are there any bands on the Camden Rocks bill you’re particularly keen to catch?

“Hacktivist. I love Hacktivist. Ginger Wildheart too, he’s always good to see. Our friends in The Blackout are playing too so it’ll be good to catch up with those guys again. And Blitz Kids: we’re always playing the same festivals but I never manage to catch them live, but I really like their music so I’d like to catch them. And Bleach Blood too, as I’ve been friends with Jamie, the singer, from his King Blues days.”

Using just five words, describe the current Sonic Boom Six mind-set.

“Muscular. Bouncy. Fun. Ska. Rock.”

Any final message for the 8,000 people who’ll be at Camden Rocks on May 31?

“Yeah, I hope they all show up remembering that music is the glue that binds us all together and creates meaning in our lives. So rock on!”

Purchase tickets for Camden Rocks and check out the full line-up at the festival’s official website.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.