Soon to be your new favourite band, British blues rock outfit Broken Witt Rebels are one of the standout bands to hit our radar so far this year.

The band will release their critically acclaimed new EP next month titled Georgia Pine. Broken Witt Rebels are about to hit the road with U.S country rock artist Brantley Gilbert. National Rock Review recently caught up with the band’s frontman Danny Core to talk about their new EP, their hometown of Birmingham and their plans for the future.

NRR: Thanks for taking the time to speak to us here at National Rock Review, we really appreciate it. 

Could you tell us a little bit about the band, how long you’ve been going and how you all met?

Danny: Yeah, we’re Broken Witt Rebels, we are a four piece from Birmingham. We met about three years ago. Me and Luke Davis the bass player have grown up together since sort of nursery/primary school etc. We bumped into James Tranter just through musical friends down the grape vine in different bands. He got on board about three years ago now and we instantly connected, the three of us. Only recently in the last four or five months, we have recruited James Dudley, who was in another band that we used to play around with. We got him on board and the four of us have been kicking on ever since really.

NRR: You guys have got quite an authentic, rootsy almost American sound. Are people often surprised to find out that you are from the Midlands rather than the U.S?

Danny: Yeah, a lot of people funnily enough keep saying that we are from Birmingham, Alabama and that they are surprised that we are from Birmingham, England. I mean it’s just what we’ve grown up with really. I grew up listening to a lot of soul artists ….Aretha Franklin, you know Muddy Waters, that kind of vibe and Otis Redding even. You know James Tranter our guitarist he uses sort of southern guitar sounds. Yeah, it’s just the way we’ve always liked the old chain gang sound you know, authentic.

NRR: Obviously you are about to release your new EP Georgia Pine in April, which was produced by Tom Gittins who has worked with the likes of Robert Plant. What was it like working with Tom?

Danny: Yeah, he’s unbelievable. To be honest, it’s great to be able to call him a personal friend of ours. He’s like the fifth member of the band really. Once we got into that studio, we are all just focussed. We obviously know what we want and we bring it to Tom. Tom just goes, have you maybe looked at this and sometimes we go yes or sometimes we go maybe not, but always his opinion is massively valid. We massively appreciate him.

Georgia Pine, for instance, we knew exactly what we wanted to get and Tom always just brings the best out of us. Some of his working techniques are brilliant, they are really old school. We replicated loads of different sounds and Tom just gets really excited by it, which just rubs off on us.

NRR: So how did you come to connect with Tom in the first place?

Danny: Yeah, we connected with Tom, basically to cut a long story short we got introduced to him by some people we knew. We recorded “Shake Me Down” at his studio, which was off our Howlin EP, which really blew up. We went there and it’s out in the sticks really, away from the city. You couldn’t get any phone reception and you really felt like there were no shops. You just felt like it was cut off really, and it was great for us, it felt like a little holiday almost. So we just fell in love with, not only Tom but the area, just it was perfect for creating and making music.

NRR: One of our favourite tracks on the EP is the final track “Guns”. I was just wondering if you could tell us a little bit about that track and the idea behind it?

Danny: Yeah, a lot of people have had mixed reviews with Guns. I’m really, really, happy that you like that. Guns, it’s basically about Birmingham, “sparks burn bright where the guns were made,” Birmingham has a gun making quarter. It’s sort of tipping our hat to where we are from Birmingham, England not fucking Alabama (laughing).

It’s just sort of tipping our hats to where we are from and also just sort of drawing comparisons from like “born and raised where the guns were, we burn bright like a cigarette” just to say that we are catching fire and so it’s a sort of double-edged.

It’s a massive appreciation to Birmingham. It’s pretty much all about Birmingham and where I was brought up Castle Vale. “I look down on the Hollywood Vale,” it’s kind of a tongue in cheek reference to where I’m from. Far from Hollywood, but it’s all I know. So it’s all about where I was born, where we were brought up and also just of nodding to the fact that we’re here to kick off really, to burn bright.

NRR: I’m glad that you explained that because I think that was the first thing that threw me. When I heard you talking about Hollywood I was thinking of Hollywood, California and obviously, you are referring to Birmingham so that’s quite interesting.

Danny: It is yeah, it’s Castle Vale where I’m from, so it’s just I look down on the Hollywood Vale, you know it’s nothing glamorous it’s a normal estate you know (laughing).

NRR: Obviously the first single from the EP “Low” has been playlisted by Planet Rock and you’ve been getting some great coverage from the likes of Classic Rock Magazine. Has the response to the EP so far exceeded your expectations?

Danny: Massively, I mean off the back of the Howlin EP we were just sort of rabbits in the headlights, we were just completely overwhelmed. We’ve constantly evolved and once we made Georgia Pine and we knew, we were very very proud of it. Just the reaction to “Low” and “Georgia Pine,” in general, has just been amazing. Every review has been just … it blows us away time and time again. You know even you phoning me and taking time out is just overwhelming to me really. Yeah, it’s great really, we are constantly learning, and it’s opened even more doors. Yeah, it’s great to have people on board.

NRR: What’s your favourite track off the EP and why?

Danny: My favourite track is probably “Georgia Pine” to be honest with you. I guess the reason why, it’s just like a kind of standard up and down love song, but not only is it the EP title, it came together really naturally.

We were jamming this and it’s pretty simple melodic chords and it just stood out for us. The name “Georgia Pine” came out of the blue, and I thought wow where did that come from? I wrote it down and it just sort of came out. It was actually the first track off the Georgia Pine EP that we put down, so this was done months ago.

So that track alone, sort of really felt like let’s crack on with an EP. Once we started getting you know “Suzie”, “Low”, “Getaway Man”, “Guns” we said “Georgia Pine” since it’s such a word that came really, really out of the blue we thought we’ve got to use it for the EP name. So it’s a favourite in that way.

NRR: After the five track Georgia Pine EP, do you have any plans to put out a full-length album anytime soon?

Danny: Yeah, we are constantly making new music. You know last night even with two more brand new tracks. I’d say we’ve probably got two albums worth of material ready to go since “Georgia Pine.” We are just waiting for the sort of go ahead really, it’s in the hands of management, and he’s having discussions, but it’s definitely what we want to do. We sort of just leave it to our management, and let the big wigs talk or whatever. We just constantly crack on with writing material, because that’s the only thing we know and we can be judged on. So we would love to do that.

NRR: Have you been road testing any of that new material, or are you holding it back at the moment?

Danny: Yeah, every set you will probably see there will be a new song in there, it’s the excitement for us. Going out on this tour now, so we’ve got sort of “Howlin,” some tracks off that and we’ve got some “Georgia Pine” tracks since we are promoting that, but we have got some brand new tracks as well that are real crackers that have just got into the set.

I’m sure by the time April, which is only a month away, there might even be some more. So some of the brand new stuff has been greatly received by our close family and friends that have listened to it. So yeah it’s really good, we will be playing some new stuff.

NRR: Where do you find the inspiration for your songwriting?

Danny: I find it in just sort of day-to-day really, just sort of normal events. I’m not one of those that goes into a fucking coffee shop and orders a macchiato or whatever you know and looks for inspiration. It’s just I get more inspiration from the lads really, from the guys in the band. They will sort of come in with a guitar hook or a drum pattern or a bass rhythm and we sort of just jam it out.

I just get inspiration from the little things, it’s maybe something that Luke might have told me in that day and I will put myself in his mindset. I get inspiration from mainly the other guys in the band, they give me confidence and inspiration, we all bounce off each other.

NRR: I read somewhere, I think it was on your website, it said: “we are not looking to make up the numbers, we’ve come to destroy.” Would you say that’s the mission for the band?

Danny: It is yeah. I guess you know, what we are getting at by that, a lot of people think that we are very new to the game and you know we haven’t earned our stripes and it’s far from it. The amount of sacrifices we’ve made, you know the relationships, jobs … constantly it takes four strong individuals to do this.

Birmingham, we are very, very proud of our home, some great and unbelievable bands have come from here, but recently we feel like it’s been sort of misled in a way, it’s been all this shoegaze, fucking B-Town which we are not a fan of at all. Fair play to them, but Birmingham has that kind of scene and we’ve never fitted into that and we’ve never wanted to fit into that. So we’ve always stayed true to ourselves.

So when we are saying that, it’s basically saying we’re not here to just have our five minutes and look cool with our floppy fucking hair or whatever and their men’s blouses, whatever they wear, we are here for longevity. We’ve got constant music, you know we are blues, rock, soul, retro kind of vibe. So saying that we are not here to make up the numbers we came to destroy, basically, it’s about time we’ve been fucking starved for too long now and it’s about time we start eating you know if you get what I mean.

NRR: If you could choose any artist to cover one of your songs, which artist and song would you choose?

Danny: Oh wow, it’s incredible really. I mean you’ve got for me obviously Robert Plant is incredible, I would love Robert Plant to do one of our tracks called “Howlin,” which would be great because I got massive inspiration from “Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin. So that for me personally, I would love Robert Plant to do a cover or Led Zeppelin to do a cover of “Howlin” that would be a dream. Yeah, that would be it, that would be the stand out one. That’s a cool question, I’ve never had that one.

NRR: Do you listen to a lot of music yourself, and if so which bands are you listening to at the moment?

Danny: To be honest I’m not listening to much modern stuff really. I’m a fan of Rival Sons, I guess they are quite modern, the later stuff. I think the last album I bought was probably Alabama Shakes “Sound and Color.” So I’m a fan of those two, they are the most contemporary, newer artists.

But really at the moment, I always go back to … I’m a big fan of you know Fleetwood Mac, Peter Green, Lindsay Buckingham-esque, that kind of you know both sides. So at the moment, I’ve been listening to a lot of Peter Green, Fleetwood Mac.

NRR: What else do you have in store for the rest of this year?

Danny: Again we would love to constantly get in the studio, we look at the studio like a holiday for us really. We love playing live. This year ideally we would be out on the road on tour and we are trying to gain as much momentum from that and build from that and then come into the festival season, we are jumping on a few there. Then we will go into hopefully off the back of that which will be a busy year, we will go into the studio again, that would be the ideal perfect scenario and then we will see after all that’s been done where we stand.

NRR: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak us, we really appreciate it. Hopefully, we will get to catch up with you on the road, sometime soon.

Danny: Thank you very much, cheers.

Broken Witt Rebels
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Photo: © Simon Davis

About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in northeast England. He has been shooting concerts for several years, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK and Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print such as, Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club.