On the radar: Axis Of

The advantage of being one of only two punk bands in a Northern Irish coastal town is that, by forming a group together, you essentially remove all local competition. At least, that's what happened with riffy punk whizzes Axis Of.

"It's like we're a pop-rock band, but with one insanely heavy note!"

"Me and the bassist [and vocalist, Ewen Friers] had a bit of a friendly rivalry," explains guitarist Niall Lawlor.

"We were the driving forces of those two bands. They petered out and we thought, 'Why don't we start a band?' It was that, and a love of political punk like NOFX and Propagandhi, that was beyond our knowledge and years!"

Heavy pop

Propagandhi's skilled frontman/guitarist Chris Hannah was a big influence on Niall's guitar development before the discovery of Torche led the group to zero in on their addictive 'heavy pop' sound. This year's The Mid Brae Inn album is a prime example of their craft, mixing massive major-scale riffs and Weezer-style lead.

Lone guitarist Niall says the secret to blending the two opposing sounds is down to two things: first, his amp setup (a Marshall JCM900 with an EQ pedal to tame it in verses and a clean Fender Blues Jr); and, second, drop-A tuning his Tele.

"You get the best of both worlds," enthuses Niall. "You can play a really heavy riff, but also melodic open chords or intricate stuff. It's like we're a pop-rock band, but with one insanely heavy note!" 

  • For fans of: Torche, Biffy Clyro
  • Hear: Wetsuit
Matt Parker

Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.