Q&A: Talking with Sheffield band The Crookes

So before The Crookes return home to Sheffield this Saturday, to play their biggest headline tour to date, find out how their UK tour is going, what’s influencing their third album and why Russell ended up in lycra hot pants…

I caught up with Tom Dakin and George Waite from the band in Leeds just before they played Cockpit a few weeks ago on 10th November.

The Crookes: Russell Bates, George Waite, Daniel Hopewell & Tom Dakin, looking very stylish as always (Photo by Matt Silcox)

Friday night in Derby is a sight to behold”

EB: Hello George and Tom! How’s the tour going so far?

George: It’s going grand thank you very much! We’re about five weeks into it so time has taken on a bit of blurry quality at the moment. But last night we were in Derby and that was really really good.Friday night in Derby is a sight to behold. Tonight in Leeds is the first time we’ve ever gone into a show knowing that it’s sold out. So everything seems to be moving in a good direction.

EB: How does it make you feel that it’s the first time it’s sold out?

George: It’s amazing and considering it’s not even a Sheffield show it’s really nice to have that validation. You can spend six months writing an album and be worried fuck all people are actually going to like it and then you come on tour and you sell a place out and it’s the biggest validation you could ask for. We’re really really looking forward to it tonight.

EB: So, how’s it been touring with fellow Sheffield band Hey Sholay?

Tom: It’s great. It keeps you on your toes. They’re a brilliant band. Really good. It’s nice to have some faces to challenge on the pool table after sound check.

“The Crookes are champion pool players”

EB: Who’s better at pool then?

George: Well, I think… I’m going to have to blow our own trumpet and say it’s us. It’s The Crookes. But we’ve only had one show down so far. That was last night. Tom and me won that! We did rub it in quite a lot. The Crookes are champion pool players.

EB: You loved being in Derby on a Friday night. What else are you excited for along the way on the tour?

George: Darlington. It’s another glamorous hotspot we’re going to be visiting on this tour. That’s the funny thing, when you see the list of shows, and we’ve done Europe previously to this tour, you pick out places like Rome, Paris and Copenhagen. You think ‘God I can’t believe we’re going to place in those cities. It’s going to be so exciting’. You kind of skip over some of the places that you’ve been to before, the less kind of glamorous places like Derby and Darlington but those are often the shows that surprise you the most. You go to places that don’t necessarily get a lot of touring bands coming through and it’s there you can get the best atmosphere because they’re just so happy that you’ve made the effort. That’s what we like to do. We’re a touring band and that’s how we survive and we get the biggest buzz from playing to crowds that really want to have a good time… like in Derby.

While I was there I recorded this live session with The Crookes. They performed their beautiful song ‘Where Did Our Love Go?’ from their album ‘Hold Fast’.

“Playing with Richard Hawley was an honour”

EB: What’s been the best moment of the tour?

George: That’s a toughie, a toughie.

Tom: We did have a treat to kick off the tour. We supported Richard Hawley in Amsterdam, which was the first date we did on this tour so that was a really nice way to kick it off.

George: It’s all down hill from there really. A sold out show with Richard Hawley in Amsterdam…

EB: …but tonight’s sold out! So that’s good!

George: Yeah actually! Playing with Hawley was such an honour.

“We kindly got given these lycra swimming trunks by a German fan”

EB: So tonight are we expecting more flesh to be exposed like normal? You guys seem to get pretty hot and sweaty. 

George: Flesh… I don’t know what you mean… Haha. Last time we played here we didn’t have the problem of it being hot and sweaty because there was about six people here. But I do remember it’s a tiny little place with a weird tin roof, so it’s going to be a bit of a greenhouse with a hundred odd people in. The last person to bare flesh on this tour was Russell. We kindly got given these lycra swimming trunks by a German fan in Munich and she dared us to wear them on stage and obviously we said ‘Oh yeah we’ll do it’ and we didn’t. But the show was going so well that we went off for the encore and we said ‘Go on Russ, put them on for the encore.’ So Russ being the showman that he is put them on, hung back for about thirty seconds so I could give him an introduction in front of these three hundred drunken Germans and then came on!  I think we’ve still got a pair kicking around in the van, so depending on how well the show goes tonight you could be seeing a lot of drummer leg on show.

EB: Haha! That’s exciting me… anyway away from that. How have people been reacting to the new album Hold Fast while you’ve been touring?

George: It’s been really good. It’s been heartening because we haven’t been going that long but the people who come to our shows seem to have particular favourites of ours. Songs like ‘Backstreet Lovers’ and ‘Yes, Yes We’re Magicians’ and it’s really nice to have songs people regard as old favourites. But it’s even nicer to know that the songs you’ve written months ago are having the same affect. Songs like ‘Afterglow’ and ‘American Girls’ I’ve noticed have been going down as well as anything we’ve been doing. It’s always nice to hear people singing along however out of tune it might be. Hold Fast has been getting a really good reception so it’s a really nice feeling.

The crowds in Europe absolutely loving The Crookes

EB: Brilliant. What’s next on the cards for The Crookes?

George: A few weeks off according to Tom I think.

Tom: I said a few days off and then we’ll write the third album.

George: Haha.That’s all we need, three days off, write the third album before Christmas, start touring again…

Tom: yeah…

George: Don’t tell our manager that because she’ll hold us to that.

“I remember one time being sat in a hotel room in Oslo with Tom at five in the morning with soft core porn on mute on the television”

EB: On a serious note have you written material ready for the third album?

George: We’ve got two songs that we’re excited about. We wrote those before we came on tour. No matter how hard you try to write things on tour it’s just impossible because you’re either hungover or knackered or actually playing a show. But I remember one time being sat in a hotel room in Oslo with Tom at five in the morning with soft core porn on mute on the television and Tom strumming me through this new idea of his and trying to put something together.

Tom: If that makes it to the album that’ll be a new writing method!

George: So yeah you’ve got to try and find the time when you can and hope you get lucky. But you heard it hear first soft core porn. That’s the way The Crookes are writing their third album.

George and Tom innocently writing songs on tour…

EB: One more thing I really want to know is what can you not live without while on tour?

George: I sweat a huge amount on stage. It’s quite disgusting. So if I didn’t take about thirty button down collar shirts then people wouldn’t be able to stand within ten feet of me on stage. So a fresh shirt every day is absolutely essential.

EB: And you Tom?

Tom: Just got to keep well stocked with drink really.

EB: Well thank you so much for talking to me guys and enjoy the rest of your tour!

George: Thanks a lot!

Tom: Cheers.

The Crookes are at The Leadmill this Saturday, 24th November, tickets are £8. Best Friends are there too!

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Q&A: Talking with Hey Sholay

“Hello – we are Hey Sholay. Nice to meet you.”

Hey Sholay are a very interesting bunch with a lot of quirky things to say. (I didn’t even mean that to rhyme).

It’s quite difficult to pin down exactly what they’re all about but I thought before they play main stage at Tramlines next Saturday it’d be good to ask them a few questions. Despite not talking much about themselves they do reveal who they want to catch at Sheffield’s festival, where their name came from and plans they’ve got for releasing their music on USB, vinyl and cassette.

So read on…

So you’re digital release of ‘Burning’ is out now and I personally can’t stop listening to it it’s brilliant. For those who haven’t heard it or your sound – how would you describe it?

A tumble dryer being pushed down a narrow staircase giving chase to geriatrics with a piano accompaniment.

Right the name Hey Sholay is brilliant – how did it come about?

Sholay is a direct translation for ‘little embers/flames of the sun’. We are all part of a collapsed star really. The aroms that make up all life were formed under great pressure at the beginnings of mass formation. Under this cooking pressure, these masses exploded, exhaling oxygen carbon, nitrogen into the cosmos. Fragments of mass would then form clouds which compressed into star formation under its own gravity, acreating an attractive pivot point for forming satellites, which could in time bear life.

‘Hey’ also rhymes.

So next big date must be Tramlines Festival? You’re playing the main stage on the Saturday! How you feeling about that? Any surprises planned for the festival? 

This year’s tramlines comes pretty close to our album launch – so the surprises are to be held off until then… The one appearance should be enough we think. But yes, we are honoured to be playing this year again. And it could prove exciting on a bigger stage of course… We need longer cables.


So playing live – do you enjoy it? What’s your favourite memory of playing live? 

Last week we played in the back of a water-logged juggernaut. That was weird. High amps do not mix with brown water too well.. We played in a paddle boat with toy instruments in Hyde Park recently too, for the 405. Oh and Sheffield Cathedral…Live is always fun – because we have so much stuff though half the challenge is getting to fit anywhere. But our generation grew upon Tetris..

What else you hoping to get out of tramlines? Who will you be off to see?

We will be off to see a few bands, given time. Temple of coke, Mad Colours, Roots Manuva, Mudcats blues trio, The Hot Soles, Wet Nuns, are a few to watch out for…. What do we want to get out of it? An all-over tan from the venues lightbulbs. And the closest thing to seeing Stevie Ray Vaughan live, pre doing a ‘Buddy Holly’ on this dimension (mudcats)…

Love the snap that Mark Tighe took of you lot recently (up at the top) – but I’ve got to know what are you eating?

Lugworms. Those piles of bubbles you see in the sand on a beach? Lugworms. They are great for feeding fish, and carnivorous reptiles that are alien in origin and related to the queen. I’m suprised you did’nt ask about our impressive ‘human’ suits we wore. Ahem.

So plans for a physical release are on the cards. When will that be coming out? Pretty excited to get that myself. You including anything quirky with that?

I know you’ve done USB sticks before – will you do that again? Our album will be our first physical release since our debut vinyl single, accompanying ‘Foetus USB’ Ep, and Christmas split ep. I’m looking into some old Soviet 1960′s pirate vinyl techniques, a run of cassette tapes, and perhaps even a wax cylinder. USB is a definate possibility too.
So you’re making music in Sheffield – are you originally from the steel city?

We are all originally from the suburbs of the steel city – it’s predominantly bog and woodland, think about the part where the horse dies in ‘Never ending story’.

What is it you like about Sheffield and the music scene here?

The music, since the days of Warp Record’s germination, Derek Bailey first putting a record out over 60 years ago – has always thrived by itself well. Sheffield always will have a broad spectrum due to an emphasis on culture. Its not the grim post-industrial metropolis some would have you believe. As for scenes, we don’t believe in segregation of anything creative. It destroys it.

Any other plans over the next few months? Other festivals to play at? 
We like to keep busy. We write album 2 before we release ((O)) on 17/09/12. And festivals? Beacons, knee deep, summersundae, wish you were here. Head to the new website for dates perhaps…

How can people keep tabs of you? Facebook? Twitter and all that jazz…

Yeppo – we have the sns sites all working – check out fb and twitter for comps, show updates, interaction and general headaches…

A bit of a random question but – What’s the best thing a fan’s said to you before? I know a musician who met a fan with a tattoo of his lyrics! 

The best thing a fan has ever said?
It’s good when you talk through a fan when it’s on full power. Sounds like a Dalek.

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Q&A: Talking with Jackson Caged

With a few changes over the last year, with a new bass player and manager, what else have Jackson Caged been doing? 

We’ve just finished recording the new album, toured Austria supporting ‘Does It Offend You Yeah?’ and also recorded an awesome music video over there for the new single ‘Darwinian’, which will be out soon.

What does it mean to have Michael Young as your new manager as he’s worked with ‘Does It Offend You Yeah?’ and ‘Aphex Twin’ – must be pretty good to have been spotted by Michael? 

Mikey has really brought us into a different era. His contacts and knowhow have allowed us to make some great friends and also keep us professional and playing at the best of our ability. It means everything that he found us and took a chance as things at the moment are just moving so fast. We have come such along way in a few months under Mike and that has obviously been borne out with the gigs and opportunities that are coming our way at the minute.

Sad news that Woody had to leave the band because of pending fatherhood – but how’s the band coped without him? Because he was with you for 6 years wasn’t he?

Yeah Woody will always be missed and always be a part of the Jackson Caged family. He is very happy at the minute and enjoying being a dad. Karl the new bassist is a founding member anyway and although it’s always going to be very difficult to fill Woody’s shoes we know know that he is happy and enjoying life and that makes it easier to carry on without him.

So you had a returning gig on Saturday 30th June after a while putting new material together. How was that for you? Coming back to Sheffield and playing with a fresh line up? How was it?

Fantastic. It was great to actually put the new tracks out in Sheffield and the reaction of the crowd was a real treat. The supporting bands were fantastic and just everyone had such a good night. Thanks to everyone that came to see us at the expense of The Stone Roses!!


With a new album on it’s way out – what’s it going to sound like? Will it be similar to The Fall and Rise of Jackson Caged?  

In a way. We are the same unit. But saying that, the songs have developed extensively over the past few months. This album is very dark and deals with social issues and mental health issues, which was important to us to lay down. The album is all killer and very in your face. Jackson Caged fans will not be disappointed. But of course you progress and change as a band and certainly on this album we would hope that a certain maturity will be evident in musical terms and also in the lyrical content.

 I love the way you blend rock with rap and have a strong rock and metal bass and drum combination. Where’s that sound come from? What bands have influenced you? 

It’s difficult to say where the sound has come from. If you look at our CD collections individually then they are very eclectic. However, I think it’s fair to say that the sound has developed from a love of music in general but also hip hop beats and the angst and aggression of metal and punk. We kind of just played what we felt and a sound developed. It was never intentional to work towards a specific sound it just kind of happened. There are far to many bands to list inspirations but journalists seem to like the fact that we have a Rage Against The Machine type vibe.

How would you describe your sound to people who haven’t had the pleasure of seeing you live or listening to your music? 

Like an unholy love child of everything they ever wanted to like but were too afraid!! Seriously though our music is fast, catchy, intelligent and in your face. It’s kind of like being slapped hard but really enjoying it!

 How did you become Jackson Caged? I think I’ve asked you this before – but explain how the name came about – why are you called Jackson Caged? 

We don’t know. We can’t agree on this. We think it was something to do with a prison in America. Then we changed the name slightly and it stuck.

Very excited that you’ll be playing Tramlines this year on Sunday 22nd July @ o2 academy – are you excited for that gig? What can people expect at the O2 that night? 

We are excited Tramlines is a great festival and a wonderful way for everyone to enjoy all kinds of music. People should come to see us and check out the new songs. Also we’re so pumped for this gig that everyone in the crowd will be involved in one way or another.

Tell me all about your future plans? Any gigs? Festivals?  Tours coming up? 

There’s plenty the album and single are out soon. Can’t say too much but it’s going to be a very busy time for us so check out Facebook and keep up to date.

What 3 Sheffield/South Yorkshire acts would you recommend people to go and check out? 

There’s too many to narrow it down. Sheffield and South Yorkshire are still a major hub of new music and the bands around certainly show that. Maybe the Double Yellers would be a choice purely for the filth of the riffs but saying that anyone who will be down for Tramlines will realise the amount of local talent around.

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Q&A: Talking with Sheffield band Brave New Storm

Listen to me chatting with Brave New Storm live on Mixtape, where they also perform live.

With a combination of guitars, stunning violin and cello, backed by a beautiful rhythm section, Brave New Storm are definitely a band you should listen to. They blend atmospheric post rock with acoustic folk and have lovely boy/girl harmonies from Siobhan Bligh and Patrick English to top it off.

They write about their own personal experiences producing music with an emotional backdrop, especially with the addition of strings to their sound.

It’s just been announced they’ll be at Wireless Festival and you can catch them at Tramlines Festival later this summer. They won Tuborg’s Sheffield Battle of the Bands at the University of Sheffield in May 2012.

Listen to the entire show here.

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Q&A: Talking with unsigned singer songwriter Alex Johnson


Q: So how did it all begin for you as a singer songwriter?

Alex Johnson: A friend of mine called Charlotte, she’s a singer songwriter as well… and I used to spend a lot of time at her house and I remember it just being a case of she’s writing songs, I want to write songs… a bit competitive.

Q: You have the old school influences of legendary musicians like The Beatles and Bob Dylan but what newer artists have you got inspiration from?

Alex Johnson: At the minute…the last two gigs I’ve been two – I went to was Bon Iver, which was amazing. That was in Manchester. I also went to see Ben Howard at Plug in Sheffield. That was fantastic. He’s really good at the minute. It’s good to have singer songwriters in the charts. It’s good to see them being successful. Gives me a bit of hope really!

Q: So you’ve got an EP out at the moment called ‘Warriors’? What was the writing process like for that? 

Alex Johnson: It all came at once really. When I write songs they tend to come in groups for some reason. I’ll write like 4 or 5 at a time then I won’t write for a couple of months. So it all came at once and it seemed logically to put them on the same CD.

Q: You’re here in the studio to play some live music. So what’s your first track going to be?

Alex Johnson: My latest song – ‘Birds and Bees’.

Q: And what’s ‘Birds and Bees’ all about?

Alex Johnson: It’s a song about a girl, which is a lot of what the songs have been about. It’s natural… I think relationship songs work…yeah it’s hard to explain what it’s really about. It’s sort about when you’d rather something happened and went wrong than it not happening at all. If that doesn’t sound super cliché. But yeah that’s what it’s about.

Q: So that’s a radio exclusive there isn’t it? You haven’t had that played on air before and you just performed it live. Incredible. So do you enjoy performing live then?

Alex Johnson: Yeah I do, I like to do it as much as possible. I don’t do it as much as I’d like just because obviously I run all my own stuff and it’s hard to find people who want to put your gigs on. But yeah I try to do it as much as I can. I prefer singing live to recording really it’s hard to capture it on a CD. It’s hard to get the feeling you can get from playing live onto a CD.

Q: It’s totally different isn’t it…going to see live music is an entirely different atmosphere to listening to the CD at home…

Alex Johnson: Yeah, it’s horrible when you go and see a band and they don’t live up to the CD. It’s so much better when you go and see them live and think that’s so much better than I expected.

Alex performing in ‘barfly’ – his favourite memory of performing live

Q: So what’s been your favourite memory of performing live so far?

Alex Johnson: Oh that’s a tough one. Years ago I did a tour with a guy called Joe Brooks, which meant I got to go to some pretty cool places. He was massive on MySpace and I got to go down to London and play at Camden barfly and Southampton and Birmingham and loads of places. So that was really fun.

Q: You did mention to Mixtape an interesting story about a girl’s foot? Would you like to expand a little on that?

Alex Johnson: Yes, well I was at a Pete Doherty gig and I was stood by the merch stand and this woman came up to me and said “oh let me show you my foot”, which I thought was a bit strange…so soon! She was like “I’ve got your lyrics tattooed to my foot.”  Strange is the word I think to describe it. It was very weird. But glad she liked the song!

Q: And what were the lyrics?

Alex Johnson: They were from one of my songs called ‘Final Chapter’ – “This life is a story book.” She had that in very nice writing on her foot.

Q: So have you got anything coming up in the next few weeks? Any songs in the pipeline?

Alex Johnson: I’m going to try and get some more songs recording. ‘Birds and Bees’ and ‘Fall Away’ aren’t yet recorded. They’re only in videos on my Youtube at the moment. It’d be nice to try and get something professional done. That’s my next plan.

Q: We know you really like performing covers and you’re going to do one for Mixtape – what song are you going to play? 

Alex Johnson: It’s a song that means quite a bit to me. It’s got a good message behind it. It’s not one you’d normally think an acoustic singer songwriter would be doing. But I really like it and it means a lot.

Q: Okay. So what’s the song?

Alex Johnson: It’s ‘Let the Sun Shine’ by Labrinth…

Listen here.

Q: So that does seem very unusual for a singer songwriter to be listening to an artist like Labrinth.

Alex Johnson: I mean I listen to a lot of that sort of stuff. I know it’s not typical. I really like rap music and I’m a big fan of all that kind of stuff. I know it’s maybe not what you’d expect a singer songwriter to listen to but I get inspiration from it. I think it’s best to get inspiration from a whole load of places rather than stick to one particular genre.

Q: So what’s on the horizon for you now?

 Alex Johnson: Well as I said in the short term. I’d like to finish that CD. ‘Birds and Bees’ and ‘Fall Away’ and all those songs are a step up from ‘Warriors’ – [the first EP]. The promising thing is every time I’m writing new songs they’re getting better so if I keep going in that direction hopefully by the time I’m forty odd we’ll be onto a winner.

 Q: Good plan. So what’s the final song you’re going to play for us?

Alex Johnson: This is ‘Fall Away’ and it was written at the same time as ‘Birds and Bees’. As I said they come in groups so yeah this is ‘Fall Away’

Listen here.

Follow Alex on Twitter : @alexscjohnson
and watch his Youtube videos on

Download his EP ‘Warriors’ free here:

Watch the live session on Mixtape’s Youtube channel.


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See Emily Play grabs awards for best singer and EP in Sheffield

Emily Ireland – known as See Emily Play – is now the best female singer in Sheffield. And has the best EP after the Sheffield Scenester awards. Now in their second year the awards celebrate the talent of local musicians.

After starting off in a band and becoming a solo artist, she’s now back sharing the stage again. So now she’s the best girl in the steel city – I wanted to know how she feels and what’s coming up next for her…
EB: Emily Brinnand
SEP: See Emily Play 
EB: How do you feel about being voted the best female singer/ best EP in Sheffield?
SEP: Pretty awesome. I was nominated for one thing last year so to win two this year feels brilliant, it feels like I’m slowly but surely making progress! It’s lovely to have something you really work hard at and care about acknowledged in such a way. That EP was a real acomplishment for Tom (my brother) and I, we were really pleased with how it turned out, it’s nice to know that other people think it’s good too!
EB: How did it feel going up to get the award?
Denzil (who was presenting the awards) let slip that I’d won something before the event started, so I had a bit of time to fret about making a speech before having to go up and collect my first award. It was kinda funny, accepting an accolade in front of my friends and Mum and Dad, the atmosphere was very relaxed. I was pleased to get the second one, it means Tom and I can have one each, he wasn’t very happy about going up to collect it though!
EB: How did being a singer songwriter all begin for you?
SEP: I’ve played in bands since I was about 13, becoming a solo artist was the natural progression, when all the band members got sick of playing the songs I’d written I figured it might be easier to go it alone for a while. Things have come full circle now, as I’m playing with a backing band again. I prefer it, sharing a stage with other musicians boosts my confidence, and you can’t really have camaradary with yourself.

EB: So with a great name like ‘See Emily Play’ – you must tell me why you decide to name yourself after the Pink Floyd song? Is that the reason?

SEP: One of my earliest musical memories is of my Dad playing Pink Floyd’s ‘See Emily Play’ on our record player, when it came to coming up with a stage name it seemed the perfect choice, it’s informative as well as having that musical heritage. I’m a big Floyd fan, but more the later stuff Roger Waters did, not that Syd Barrett wasn’t a legend!

EB: What influences your music? 

SEP: Life. I know that’s corny but it’s true. I find it much easier to write about things that have actually happened than to make things up. Musically I’m heavily influenced by Ben Folds, I wish I could play piano like him! I’m also inspired by Kate Bush, Alanis Morrisette, Eels, Fleetwood Mac and The Barenaked Ladies.
EB: What’s the writing process like for you? 
SEP: Firstly it actually doesn’t involve any writing! Normally I’ll just be messing around on the piano or guitar and I’ll stumble across a chord sequence I like, then I’ll just sing random words until I come up with a few phrases I like and give me the subject matter. Then I’ll carry on until I have a full set of lyrics, tidy the phrases I like and give me the subject matter. Then I’ll carry on until I have a full set of lyrics, tidy the whole thing up a bit and I’m done. I’ve written some of my best songs in less than half an hour, because I’m a lazy songwriter really. But I reckon having everything stored in your head can be quite a good thing, because you only remember the songs that are worth remembering!
EB: What’s your favourite song? And why? 
SEP: My own song or somebody else’s song? Either way I don’t really have an answer. I get obsessed with different song songs at different times, some are quite embarrassing (‘Chelsea Dagger’ by The Fratellis, ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ by Journey). Last year I only listened to ‘You Outta Know’ by Alanis Morrisette and ‘Your Dogs’ by Ben Folds for about a month, currently I’m captivated by Regina Spektor’s ‘Sampson’ and a song I keep hearing on the radio called ‘Love Me’, I think a girl group called Stooshe sing it. It’s the same with playing my own songs, every time I write a new song that I love I’ll play it over and over again until I get bored of it and write a new one.
EB: What’s your favourite musical memory? 
SEP: That’s a difficult question. I’m very lucky to have played in lots of brilliant venues to lots of brilliant crowds.
My first ever gig was a battle of the bands (Jon Windle, who I now do backing vocals for and who also owns Tiny Teeth, the label Four Feet From The Door was released on, was a judge), the band I was in at the time won, that’s a pretty special memory as it was my first real musical achievement. Three years later Windle’s first Sheffield show, at a very full Plug in the main room was also a pretty important moment for me. Windle’s shows are completely different to playing my own stuff, I get to just have a boogie, sing and enjoy myself. My EP launch at the library theatre was brilliant too, mainly due to how successful it was after so much pressure and worrying about things going wrong!
EB: Where do you hope to be in the future?
SEP: I’m starting a law course at Manchester Uni in September, though I’m not sure if I want to be a lawyer. I think I’ll always play music, taking a gap year has been great as I’ve been able to really focus on being musical, I’d love to make a career out of it, but it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of luck. The music industry is all about who you know as opposed to how good you are, which is frustrating.


EB: What’s the next thing coming up for you?
SEP: I have a gig at Plug on the 25th of April, which I’m really looking forward to. I haven’t played a gig with my full backing band since December, it’s going to be a good night, might get a bit messy. Also fingers crossed I’ll have an album out before the end of the year.
If you want to check out See Emily Play for yourself – visit her website –  or Facebook
She’ll also be playing at the Plug on the 25th of April with the brilliant Sheffield band Arkham Karvers.
If you like what you’ve read you can download Emily’s song ‘Fair Game’ for free now on her bandcamp.
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Arkham Karvers

Q&A: Talking with Sheffield band Arkham Karvers

Arkham Karvers

The band: Greg Smith, Josh Reddy, Dave Gash, Thom Davison

Arkham Karvers  released their latest EP ‘The Prices They Pay’ on Tiny Teeth Records, co-owned by the ex Little Man Tate frontman Jon Windle. They’ve been back in the studio to record what could be a new single for next year and they’ve supported ‘Sonic Boom Six’.

In between the band gigging, recording and working hard, I caught up with Arkham Karvers’ lead singer and guitarist, Dave Gash. He told me all about their latest EP, what it’s like working with Jon Windle, the band’s influences and hopes for the future.

Interviewer: EB       Interviewee: Dave Gash – DG 

EB: What does the EP mean for the band?

DG: It’s a very very good opportunity for us and it just means that more and more people will be able to get our music as its available to almost everyone, which is what we want. And we’re just really happy and thankful for those guys putting their faith in us and our music.

EB: What are your hopes for the EP release?

DG: Grammy? A local reviewer’s ‘recognition’ at an awards ceremony? Maybe not…We just want people to hear it and share it.

EB: So how can people get hold of it?

DG: There’s loads of places these days! iTunes is definitely one and if you buy it off there you get an extra track ‘Traveller’s Rest’ which is a blinder! You can also get it on Amazon, selected record shops and HMV’s around the country and on our website

EB: Where do you see the band in a year’s time?

DG: Hopefully we’ll still be out there. Towards Easter we hope to be out on tour so hopefully doing more tours and eventually having the album done!

EB: How is this EP different to the first?

The songs on this EP are ‘more mature’

DG: It’s different in loads of ways. The overall quality of the recording is so noticeable and that’s thanks to the amazing work of Alan Smyth and Dave Sanderson at 2fly studios in Sheffield. The songs are generally better written than the first EP and more mature, well I think they are anyway, we just seem to have stepped up in so many ways whether that’s our skills, or having the addition of Josh our amazing drummer who wasn’t with us when we did ‘The Big Slick’. You tell me!

The Prices They Pay EP

Latest EP includes family photographs

EB: What influences the band?

DG: We’re not shy of our influences and we have never denied who we look up to. For me personally I was raised listening to a lot of soul and Motown, but then at a very early age started listening to more alternative music. My first album was…believe it or not ‘Nevermind’ by Nirvana. But the main influence for me has to be your more rootsy influenced music like Bedouin Soundclash and Fat Freddy’s Drop, then obviously the 80’s reggae stuff like The Police and The Clash, that’s also what Thom our bassist has said is a big influence to him. Greg brings the brit pop side to our stuff and Josh well he has always said that Travis Barker from Blink is his main influence and I guess you can probably take some of that from our tunes…Who hasn’t been listening to blink since they were 11? Greg hasn’t actually!

EB: What’s your fondest musical memory?

DG: There’s a few. Playing the main stage of the Academy Sheffield is always a great memory. Some of our favourite bands have played that stage, that was a great one. Also hearing our finished EP was just a great moment.

EB: What’s been the best gig you’ve done?

DG: I can probably speak for all of the band here so the best gig we’ve ever done was at my old high school. We went in one lunchtime and played a gig for whoever wanted to listen. There had to be 300+ kids there, and they went absolutely mental for us so that was definitely a stand out moment.

Arkham Karvers at O2

Dave's best memory - playing at O2 Academy

EB: How would you describe the sound of your music?

DG: It really takes all of our influences. There is an obvious off-beat style that flows throughout all of our songs, and then there’s indie vibes coming from the guitars, but also some folk and some pop stuff that comes through on certain tracks. We always like to say that you can take what you want from our band…interpret it as you will.

Someone so influential backing us helps

EB: How do you get your music out there in such a competitive market?

EB: Does working with people like Jon Windle help out?

DG: Jon has helped us out without a doubt. And obviously having someone so influential backing our band can always help us. But we try and promote our band as best we can.

We do this mainly through Facebook and YouTube where we do our own online mini series that’s actually not so mini anymore…The Karver Chronicles which is just collections of videos we make between gigs and recording etc that I edit together and put online for our followers to see.

EB: What’s the first song you learnt?

DG: There was two riffs that I learnt on guitar the Christmas day I got it when I was about 8 and they where ‘Smoke on the Water’ by Deep Purple like most people and ‘Song 2’ by Blur.

Arkham Karvers with Jon Windle

Arkham Karvers with Jon Windle (centre) backstage

EB: Who is your musical inspiration?

DG: Bob Marley, The Beatles, Bedouin Soundclash, Little Man Tate, Milburn, Blur, Oasis, Damien Rice, The Police…there are so many.

EB: How does the writing process work?

DG: I usually come up with a basic idea and then bring it into the practice room and then we sort of jam it and see what happens from there. But some songs just come from a single idea while we are all together.

EB: Are you writing any new material at the moment?

DG: We always try to have new stuff in the pipeline. We’ll usually play a new tune at a gig and see how it goes down and then take it from there.

EB: What will the next EP sound like?

Our songs come from our experiences

DG: It really depends on how we’re feeling around that time…our songs come mainly from experiences from either us or our friends, films we watch or places we go. So it really just depends…wait and see.

EB: How do you feel when you perform?

DG: Warm

EB: What would you say to aspiring musicians?

DG: All I can say is that any band especially us needs to keep gigging and getting their names out there.

If you want to get in touch with the band go to:

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Mark Nichols

Q&A: Talking with Sheffield acoustic artist Mark Nichols

Mark Nichols, 21, Sheffield folk solo artist, finds his influences from the sunrise, the ocean and surfing. He modestly tells me he can play the acoustic guitar, bass guitar, the piano and even that little four-stringed instrument from Hawaii – known as the ukulele. He’s about to set out on another UK tour and hopes to release his next single in the new year.

Speaking with Mark yesterday he told me how his love for music began and what it’s like to be a solo artist.

Talking with Mark Nichols…

EB: Emily Brinnand 

MN: Mark Nichols

EB: When did you first become interested in music?

MN: I reckon I was first interested in music when I started to learn my first instrument, so it was about the age of 15 years old. I started to make music because a close friend of mine at the time, who was slightly older than I, was in a band. That was really cool to me and a big influence on my life as a teenager.

EB: How would you describe your style of music?

MN: I advertise my music as being “atmospheric percussive folk” and I’m yet to be challenged on that so I think I’ll go with that.

EB: What’s it like being a solo artist?

MN: I guess you could say for me having spent time in a band before becoming a solo artist that it’s must less stressful playing solo. You only have yourself to answer to. It can get quite lonely at times when you’re touring alone but for me I love being a solo artist.

EB: So, what influences your music?

MN: I don’t want to come across too cliche wit this one but I guess you could say anything is an influence. It’s doesn’t have to be musical.

I’m heavily influenced by politics and sunrises.

I’ve spent a little bit of time travelling as well, which was a big influence to me. I’m a surfer too, so I’m quite influenced by the ocean.

Mark playing piano

Multi talented Mark plays the piano too

EB: What was the first song you ever learned?

MN: I reckon ‘Seven Nation Army’ by White Stripes, on the bass guitar.

EB: What are your fondest musical memories?

MN: That’s a hard one to choose between them to be honest with you. I’ve loved every second of being a musician up to this point but you could say the first time I played at O2 Academy was really exxciting and just back in the summer I got my first tour under my belt so you could say those two. But I’ve loved every minute of my career so far.

EB: Mark how often do you perform?

MN: As often as I can really. It’s so vital. It doesn’t matter if you’re performing to 2 people or two hundred people, you’ve just gotta get out there and sing your songs.

EB: Do you ever get nervous before a performance or a competition or just performing in front of people?

MN: Yeah, I get nervous.

I think it’s good to be nervous so you can convert it into adrenaline and it makes you perform much better in my opinion. I think it’s good to be nervous before a gig.

EB: How do you get your music out there and noticed in such a competitive market?

MN: There’s so many different ways these days where you can get your music out to people. You’ve got your social networking sites, radio, magazines all different sorts of things like that.But for me the only real way to build a buzz about your music is to get out there and perform in front of people because it’s the people that like your music. They’ll tell people who will tell other people and you start to generate a bit of a fan base that way.

EB: What are you up to now and in the next couple of months?

MN: I’ve got quite a busy end to the year actually on the music front. I’ve just announced an endorsement deal with Tanglewood Guitars so I’m really looking forward to building on the relationship there with those guys. I’m also going to be recording in the next week or two to hopefully release a single in January time and then to round off the year I’ve got my twelve date UK tour so lots to be going on with there. I’m really excited about ending the year quite strong.

EB: So, I had a little nosy on your Facebook Fan Page and I noticed that you write notes on there for your fans to read so they can get an insight into you as a person. What are the reasons why you put these notes up?

MN: You summed in up pretty well there. I put the notes up to give fans a chance to get to know me as a person, you know, I mean I try not to be too far detached from my fans. I like to interact with them, just as they like to interact with me so I put up these notes. It could be anything from what I’ve been up to in a day to what my plans are for the future, anything that’s on my mind that gives fans an insight into me as a person rather than just a musician.

EB: Sounds like a busy year ahead! Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

MN: Who knows what the future has install for me, hey. But 5 years time I hope to still be writing and performing my music so I guess we’ll see.

My interview with Mark Nichols featured on my radio show Mixtape yesterday click here to listen.

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