Lightyear are a seven-piece ska-punk band known for their chaotic live shows and feel good vibes; a punk rock party band. They released two albums on Household Name Records between 2001-2003 before splitting up shortly afterwards, having toured intensely during that time.
In just a few short years, they managed to get kicked off the Jackass tour, sneak on stage with Ice T dressed as a pantomime horse and play Reading and Leeds festival multiple times including a gig in the campsite with a PA & generator. It’s also worth noting that they were dressed as ninjas for that campsite gig and they played after Metallica finished, so technically, they headlined the festival.
We’ve always loved Lightyear – from having them sleep on the floor of our squalid student digs when they played in Belfast in 2003, seeing them strip naked at an album launch party in their hometown of Derby or having roast chicken thrown at us from the stage at a gig in Birmingham.
In 2013, over a decade after Lightyear split up, we invited lead-singer Chas over to Belfast for a solo show. We ended up drinking beers until 5am and watching Alan Patridge re-runs in a burning building. It wasn’t even surprising – where Lightyear go, chaos follows.
Here’s the thing, though… chaos is fun. So when we heard that Lightyear were touring again, it was music to our ears. Music that brings back memories of the ska-punk era of our youth. As it happens, Chas and co are currently putting together a documentary about that early noughties ska-punk scene.
We caught up with Chas recently to discuss touring again, the documentary and the new beer they’ve brewed in collaboration with Signature Brew and Manchester Punk Festival.
How did the collaboration with Signature Brew come about?
I’ve known Sam from Signature Brew for years. We love what they’re doing; we wouldn’t really consider collaborating with anyone unless we thought they were cool. Those guys have genuinely supported me and Lightyear for a long time now. I also told Sam once, “if Lightyear get back together, you have to get us a beer out.” He shook on it. I think he was drunk. I never forgot.
Did you try to make a beer that represents your music?
If we did, it would be a Bacardi Breezer with a poo in it. We went to Signature Brew and tasted all these amazing beers and learnt so much from Tom and Sam. The guys from Manchester Punk Festival were there too – it’s a collab with them.
The thing that stood out to me, very surprisingly, was how refreshing the lagers were. That definitely wasn’t what we set off to make, but we we thought that, at gigs you don’t always want to drink heavy craft ales. Being a fan of IPAs and beers like Sierra Nevada (that was my local beer in California growing up) we thought we would go for something like that. Totally didn’t. It’s exciting.
Say hello to Blindside, a super-juicy 5.9% DDH lager made in collaboration with legendary UK ska punk band @LightyearBand and @MCRPunkFest. It launches at #MPF18 next week and will be available at all good bars and online via https://t.co/zkfIwgV5F4 after! pic.twitter.com/aSYpcsMSEH
— Signature Brew (@SignatureBrew) April 13, 2018
Do you see parallels between craft beer and punk rock? What do you think about Fat Mike’s Punk in Drublic festival?
I think there are similarities. The small brewers are definitely more exciting. It’s the downfall of any large company, they just can’t move quickly enough to be interesting anymore. By the time the big guys cotton on to what everyone else is doing, the little guys are on to something else.
Fat Mike’s a business man, he’s seen the link and profited from that. Nothing wrong with it but I did see a few clips and it seemed a bit jock-orientated. Unfair to judge by just that I suppose.
I prefer breweries holding gigs, feels more legit. I think the people involved in music are the same people involved in the independent breweries or at least they think the same.
Are you a fan of beer? If so, what’ve you been drinking lately?
I am a fan, but I think that craft beer is in danger of getting too elite to be accessible. I love IPAs.
Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo, Badger’s Golden Champion, Signature Brew’s Roadie and the collaboration they did with The Skints – Nice Time was great too. I’m not an expert at all but I know what I like.
Can you tell us a little about your favourite bars? As a touring artist, you’ve seen your fair share!
Flipping ‘eck. First and foremost, the Old Victoria Inn in Derby (RIP). This is where Lightyear basically grew up. Every band came through and we were raised on 3 shows a week. Amazing times.
The Minds in Amsterdam. A punk rock dive bar. I was living in a squat in Amsterdam and we went there one night, we’d liberated a full broadsword from a suit of armour at a posh restaurant and I gave it to the bar. I believe it’s still there now hung up at the back.
Whiskey Dick’s Saloon in Lake Tahoe, California was my local haunt when I lived there. Tattoo art work, good beers, big shots, fire-breathing bar tenders and always a fight or two to watch.
Beer Riff in Swansea. Great new craft beer bar that’s just opened by a member of The Arteries.
The Safari Beat Club in Chur, Switzerland. We had the most insane night there ever.
Have you had any awesome pizzas while on tour?
When there were no vegan options for Lightyear, everyone would just eat pizza with no cheese. And it would be one of those pizzas that are horrid anyway. Day in, day out.
We had one in Dublin, Ireland – it was so nice. You should really speak to my bass player in my solo band, Tezza. He has pizza tattoos, he fucking loves them. He goes on holiday to specific pizza places.
Where’s your favourite pizza place?
Sam’s in San Francisco. No idea why. Cheap one slice pizza. Bit grotty, feels like you’re an extra in an episode of an old 80s cop show.
None in Derby, sadly – it’s lacking pizza finesse.
Favourite toppings? How do you feel about pineapple on pizza?
Hair spray, an eye brow and a pinch of grandad’s toe fluff. Pineapple is a fruit – bog off. BUT SWEET CORN CAN TOTALLY FUCK OFF – it always infiltrates.
You’ve recently raised the money for a documentary on PledgeMusic – can you tell us about it? When will we see it and what can we expect?
Yeah, we’re super happy about it. We’re filming now so I expect you’ll see it over the course of the next year or so. I always wanted to tell people about the punk scene around the 90s-2000’s, it was a great time that seemed as though it went under the radar of so many magazines, etc.
We have an amazing team that are involved, all from the punk scene, and want to make a really inspiring film. We really want people to watch it who’ve never been involved and think “fuck, I could totally do the same”.
You’re playing Manchester Punk Festival soon – what else have you got lined up this year?
Yeah, can’t wait. We have a load of shows coming up, the biggie being Boom Town. We’re also writing so that’s wicked. The problem is we have to fly Neil in from Thailand every time so it gets difficult. It’s good to be back though.
You’ve had a few reunions over the years – are Lightyear back for good this time?
Who knows, mate. Who cares… we’re just a bunch of old naked dudes!
Check out the upcoming This Music Doesn’t Belong to You documentary and follow Lightyear on Facebook and Twitter for tour dates and more info.
Blindside, Lightyear’s DDH Lager in Collaboration with Signature Brew and Manchester Punk Festival is released this Friday (19th April) at the festival. You’ll be able to pick it up in other good bars and retailers shortly afterwards.