The Rifles frontman Joel Stoker has today confirmed the imminent release of his debut solo album ‘The Undertow’ this coming 1 September via Cooking Vinyl. In anticipation of the release, he has also released the first harbinger of the forthcoming album with the lead single ‘My Own War’ (available here).
According to the press release, ‘The Undertow’ will see Stoker entering completely new sonic territory; the ’70s funk-flecked grooves, festival bangers and fiddle-assisted stomps reflecting touchstones ranging from Bob Marley and Fleetwood Mac to Dexys through to Arcade Fire and Michael Kiwanuka. Thematically, the album will be as intimate as they come with Stoker sharing his experiences with overwhelming OCD that dates back to his childhood.
Commenting on todays news, Stoker said, “I’ve always just written songs, they’re usually written on an acoustic guitar, and they’re usually quite slow. We tend to kick them up the arse for the band. So it was nice to do it all myself. Sometimes a song doesn’t need a clever bass line. It was a really lovely experience, and I’m going to keep doing it. I realised that all the songs I was writing were about one thing: anxiety and mental depression. I knew they couldn’t be Rifles songs, but I thought I’d carry on and see where it led me.”
Stoker’s decision to record a solo album came during lockdown when he found himself anchored at home with his family in Woodford, East London. He set about composing songs in his studio at the bottom of his garden and felt inspired to write some of his most introspective lyrics yet. Being a musician from a generation where his male peers preferred to bury their anxieties behind a wall of geezer swagger, writing about his anxieties served as an outlet for him to address issues that are typically otherwise left unspoken. The songs were subsequently refined at his own Right Hook Recordings studio in Walthamstow. With drummer Brendan O’Neill and Rifles pianist Dean ‘Deano’ Mumford having laid down their parts, he added lead guitar, bass, harmonies and percussion himself, with the addition of brass and strings to enhance the expansive character of the songs.
‘The Undertow’ is now available to pre-order or pre-save here. Album formats include a limited-edition blue vinyl, a transparent vinyl, a very limited run of test pressings, and CD.
Joel Stoker’s first solo show will be a high profile set at Liam Gallagher’s imminent intimate KOKO date on August 9th. He will then play select headline shows following the release of his LP. But fear not! Joel’s solo project doesn’t spell the end for The Rifles as the band has a new studio album in the works, while upcoming live plans include the Shiine On Weekender in November.
You can catch Stoker at the following live shows:
9th – London, KOKO (special guest to Liam Gallagher)
2nd – London, Walthamstow Trades Hall
14th – Birmingham, Dead Wax
21st – Liverpool, Jimmy’s (upstairs)
22nd – Stockton-on-Tees, NE Volume Bar
28th – Preston, The Ferret