Tramlines – Friday Night: Dead Like Harry, The Crookes
I went down to the Grapes last night with some friends to watch The Crookes, and Dead Like Harry were also playing so it was a double whammy of jangly awesomeness!
In the dark sweaty box that was the upstairs room – I’ll spare you the rather unflattering photos of the Crookes close up, a host of bands played to a packed in and eager crowd. The best atmosphere I’ve ever experienced in The Grapes which can sometimes be a little flat, the buzz throughout was fantastic and there were queues up both sets of stairs. Screw the health and safety, this is what small venues should be like – hot and damp, with a nice shelf to put your beer on, and a serious risk of spilling it all over someone’s head.
Dead Like Harry, a local favourite, played a very well received set, with some new material, and fan favourites like Satellite. The upbeat, full folk rock sound reminds one of the poppier side of Fleetwood Mac, something singer Alice is only too pleased to be compared to as a fan of Stevie Nicks.
In the busy garden of The Grapes, I caught up with Alice and Adam from Sheffield’s Dead Like Harry soon after their set.
Dead Like Harry
So, it’s your 100th gig tonight, how do you feel you’ve changed as a band over the last three years?
Alice: Wow. It’s a funny thing, because DLH’s actually been around for ten years, so the last three years – without sounding rude(!) – it probably changed for the better because (before that) I think everyone was growing, and obviously all the members have changed. But in the past three years I think we’ve all sort of clicked as friends, which came out in the music as well.
Adam: It’s a lot different to how it was as well. I only joined three years ago and before that it was very…quite prog, prog rock, and then it changed to what it is now – a lot more melodic, a lot more harmonies, which I prefer.
What would you say your influences are now?
Alice: Every single one of us has completely different influences!
Adam: Which kind of works in a way, there’s so many different influences from everybody. As for the band’s music, probably more like Fleetwood Mac, Bruce Springsteen…
Funny you should say that, whenever I see you always think of Fleetwood Mac!
Alice: Well I think that’s also why it’s changed, because Adam came in and he’s into his rock stuff, and Sam and Matt like their folk stuff, and John likes his jazz, and it all changed when Adam and John joined. It’s like a big mixture…I don’t think we’ve got much rap though..!
What have been your highlights of 2010 as a band?
Alice: It’s been a bit of a quiet year so far, because last year we did Glastonbury and stuff.
Adam: We’ve been touring, which has been good. We’ve been all over the UK.
Alice: We’ve been writing some new songs, we think we’ve found some new sounds in music that everyone’s really into. We played one tonight and I think it went down quite well.
What’s the name of the new song?
Alice: The one we did tonight…’I Believe’?! Have we named it yet?
So are you recording new material?
Alice: Yeah, we’ve got some demos but we haven’t gone in the official studio yet, but we’ve got some stuff to go there with so it’s a work in progress.
Since your other recordings, do you feel like the new materials really different?
Alice: Yeah, I think we’ve definitely gelled as a band better so everyone puts their input in.
Adam: We’ve sort of mellowed, in the very new stuff. Because obviously we’ve got the album which we released earlier this year, and we’ve just done some new demos which are only acoustic at the moment, and they’re a lot more…calmer. Not in a bad way! They’re just sort of a lot less ‘in your face’.
Alice: The Joy of Good Living, our latest album, that’s quite poppy. This is a bit more…I suppose it’s matured hasn’t it really? More of a strong cheddar.
Last of all, what have you got planned at Tramlines this weekend and who are you looking forward to seeing?
Alice: We’re going to see The Hosts. Go and see the Hosts. And Pygmy Globetr
Adam: Are we going to see Craig David?
Alice: Yeah, we’re going to see Craig David, and I’ve heard Tinchy Stryder’s on!
Adam: Just a few local bands, some of my friends are playing, The Gentlemen. And one of my friend’s bands is called Tivoli. And also Mystery Jets on Sunday.
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Later, after a friend and I dashed up to Tesco’s to the cashpoint, carefully avoiding the squashed chips and doubled-over sicky people that make up the usual Friday night on West Street, we cheekily followed the band in through the crowd and so managed to get right to the front for The Crookes. The band were on top form, clearly enjoying being back in Sheffield from their touring, and playing great renditions of favourites like Backstreet Lovers, and Yes, Yes, We Are Magicians. The guys even got an encore from the crowd, which was made up of fans and newbies, but the response was resoundingly positive.
I managed to collar George (vocals) and Dan (guitar) afterwards for a little interview.
So you’ve been touring for a while, what’s been your favourite thing and your most hated thing about touring?
George: We used to have a worst thing where we didn’t have our own van and we had to hire these transit vans. They didn’t have any windows in the back and there were two seats in the front and obviously five of us going around. We took the mattress off a bed and put it in the back of the van, so every time we went to a gig we were in the pitch black lying down, so we’d always turn up to a gig as if we’d been sleeping for about six hours, so it was always in a constant state of twilight, and then we’d turn up on stage and play a gig, so I’d say that was probably the worst thing about touring.
Dan: We had a fixtures board and we’d analyze each gig as if it was a football match, and score it on attendance, have a man of the match. We do have good moments, we were playing in Holland the other day, that was pretty good. We stayed in a hotel that was a boat, it was a ‘boatel’.
How’s it been touring around Europe, what’s the response been like from the different places?
George: Absolutely amazing, like Dan said, we played in this old ruin in Holland yesterday, it’s meant to be the oldest building in Holland, and there were 700 people there. Whenever we leave England, it always seems that people like us – inexplicably – a lot more, but when we’re in England I don’t understand it.
Dan: It’s like in America everyone thinks we’re charming.
I was gonna say, you were on MTV weren’t you?
Dan: MTV Canada, yeah!
It’s exciting though that you’re getting this response from all over, are you feeling quite pumped about what’s coming up? Are you recording?
George: Pumped is the word yeah! We’re meant to be recording an album but we never get round to it because we’re always touring too much, but we’ve got something really exciting coming up, we’re going to the Secret Garden Party tomorrow, which is why we’ve got to be killjoys and go to bed early tonight, we’ve got to be up at 7 in the morning, but you’re going out (Dan) aren’t you?
Dan: (To me) Yeah, where are you going?
Tonight? Wherever we can get in, one of us has a press pass, hopefully we can get all of us in. You guys haven’t even got artists passes?
Dan: I know, they haven’t even given it to me yet!
George: We’re not even in the programme!
Well my next question was what are you looking forward to at Tramlines but you’re not coming..!
George: Well at Tramlines we would’ve been looking forward to Chapel Club and The Heartbreaks, oh and the Mystery Jets. Those are the bands we would have seen.
Are you sad about it?
George: Missing Tramlines? Yeah we had the same thing last year. We played the main stage last year, and then we had to go to London and then come back again to play here. But it seems to be the one weekend of the year where people in Sheffield come to see live music.
Yeah everything’s so full! It’s crazy.
My friend Martha chips in: Yeah, well Craig David, Dane Bowers…
George: Well that’s why they’re coming out!
Well that was my next question – Craig David or Dane Bowers?
George: Craig David, I’m from Southhampton so it has to be!
So what’s your highlight of this year so far?
George: Well our guitarist, Alex, he said the last song of this set was his highlight of the year so far. Magicians, he said that was the highlight of his career thus far, he loved it.#
Dan: There’s actually quite a lot, going to America was cool I really liked that.
George: Meeting Richard Hawley, and getting to play with him on a few tracks, that was great. He’s a godfather, basically.
Dan: He’s taken us under his wing. We went to Fagans…we rushed back from Holland yesterday to get in last orders to have a drink with him.
Last of all, if you could pick your dream rider for any gig, what would you have?
Just food and drink…we’re so polite! If someone gave us wine gums I think we’d be absolutely delighted. Russell, our drummer, he used to run Cool As Folk at the uni, and that was his job, getting all the riders and stuff.
Dan: I had this idea, that if we played all these cities in Europe, that in each city we’d get football tickets to a match.
George: Or a football shirt.
Dan: I like the idea of saying ‘can we have a surprise present?’ just wrapped up like it’s a birthday.
George: Pass the parcel maybe?
Cheers guys thanks very much!
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Enjoy everyone, see you around Tramlines!