Category Archives: Interviews

A chat with Dead Slow Hoot

Dead Slow Hoot Photo We caught up with Dead Slow Hoot before their EP launch in a falafel shop on Queens Road. 

Words. Ella Wildin

Can you describe your music for us?

Luke: Safe rock

Ok no risk taken?

Hugo: The kind of punk you can show your parents.

Luke: Our biggest fans are our parents.

Sam: You’re really selling us. The Tramlines description was bittersweet, anthemic, melancholy rock made in Sheffield.

We’ll go with that.

Luke: Polite Punk. Graceful Grunge.

Have you played mainly in Sheffield or…

Hugo: Exclusively in Sheffield.

Sam: We’ve not yet branched out. But we’ve played most of Division street and Leadmill for Tramlines was a highlight. The Star and Garter was where we started, that was our first gig.

Luke: And we haven’t been back since. They put the vocals through the karaoke system so the music was coming out of speakers at the other end of the building from where we were actually playing.

Hugo: And someone asked us to play along to the Artic Monkeys.

Sam: Hey, you guys sound like the Artic Monkeys, play along.

The band playing at SoFar Sounds

The band playing at SoFar Sounds

Is that an annoying comparison?

Hugo: It doesn’t happen that often, we do occasionally get it though.

Sam: We’re not even Northern.

Luke: I think it comes with the territory though, like when we played Bell Jar and there were these guys who just shouted ‘Artic Monkeeeeys’ the whole way through.

Sam: It’s all they want isn’t it.

Luke: I think it’s quite sad though. Because these guys would have been in Sheffield when the Artic Monkeys weren’t that big and they never bothered to go out and support a young local band. They’re just wanting another band to recreate that.

What’s the most awkward thing you’ve ever said to an audience?

Sam: On our last EP launch, Hugo forgot some of the words to one of the songs and our housemate came up and joked that ‘I’m so sorry Hugo’s up to his eyeballs in credit card debt’, and there was just deadpan silence.

Hugo: And I didn’t say anything to rebut that, everyone just looked at me like wow, what an irresponsible man.

Luke: We’ve resorted to looking up facts about the date that we’re playing on so that we have something to talk about onstage. Ooh look who was born on this day. It’s Earth Day today.

So you’ll be milking that one tonight then.

Hugo:Let’s hear it for the Earth, come on guys!

But you’re quite lyrical, even if you can’t speak between songs, what you say during the songs is good.

Hugo: I never wanted to be that guy who had to explain every song before playing it. This one, I was driving down the highway and my girlfriend had just left me and I think you should just keep that in your mind while I play. I didn’t wanna do that. I prefer the lyrics to speak for themselves.

Sam: The lyrics have got better more recently. The lyrics on the new EP have gone more political, they used to be about Hugo’s failed relationships.

Oh, you did have the whole ‘driving down the highway’ vibe at one point then?

Hugo: Yeah but I didn’t introduce them! People just had to read between the lines.

Luke: Yeah the lyrics of that one went: ‘Look at me, my girlfriend’s left me and I’m driving down the highway’.

Sam: This EP’s more about Austerity and Refugees.

Hugo: The difference was that when I wrote the last EP I wasn’t in a relationship. I’m thinking on the next EP I need to redirect my anger though. I’m currently on a tour of restaurants with bad service.

Is this one included?

Sam: No this one’s quite good comparatively.

Luke from the previous band 'Dead Babies'

Luke from the previous band ‘Dead Babies’

Now your music has become more political, what’s it like?

Hugo: I kind of wanted it to be like I was having an argument with somebody and I wanted to win the argument. So I write what I’d say. It comes out as a response to something that someone’s said. So we’ve got one, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea which is not about refugees specifically it’s just about being an immigrant. People think immigrants are coming over to take advantage and have it easy. But even if you came over and you got a super kushy job and were making £50k – you still don’t live with your family, it’s still hard.

Luke: The line of the chorus is ‘You don’t know what it costs going coast to coast’, which can be applied to anything…

Sam: The people in power, who speak about situations that they don’t have any personal experience of.

What about the Scunthorpe song? I listened to it and thought, is it even about Scunthorpe?

Luke: It’s not.

Hugo: At the beginning of the song there’s a loop, it’s kind of like a reverse guitar. And Luke said it sounded like being at the sea on a boat and it being really early in the morning and you can hear some seagulls flying around. And a creaking.

Luke: Is Scunthorpe even on the sea?

Sam: We just liked the alliteration.

Luke: But whenever we played it live and asked if there were any audience members from Scunthorpe we’d lie and tell a story about how we went on a daytrip to Scunthorpe.

It was just a click-baiting title then! Is any of your music inspired by Sheff? What about your name, is it Dead Slow Hoot as in ‘that’s dead good that is’?

Hugo: No it’s inspired by…Oh I don’t know if we wanna give it away actually. We kind of like to make up things for it….

(Omitted)

Luke: It’s one word out of all of our former bands – Sam Was in an ambient post-rock band called Slow Down, Hugo played in a Pop Punk band called Hoot Hoot, and I was in a death metal band Dead Babies.

I wouldn’t put it past you in that camo jacket!

You can get yourself a copy of  Dead Slow Hoot’s new EP ‘I Suppose They were Better Off as Dead’ here.

All Ears interview with Alan Deadman

Photo credit Monika Klavins

Photo credit Monika Klavins

Words: Ella Wildin

The legendary Juju Club returned to Crookes Social Club on Friday 29th January, a couple of decades on from when they held their residency there. The old working men’s club, with it’s dodgy décor, has always made for a strange and beautiful clash with the sounds from Africa and Latin America that float out from Juju Club stages. We caught up with Alan Deadman, aka Papa Al in the velvet-clad bar of Crookes Social Club before the gig started.

(Alan is eating a chicken sub and it’s getting everywhere). I’m gunna need to hose myself down after this.

Just to give some background for people who don’t know anything about Juju Club? It started a lonnggg time ago, did you say ‘88? So if you could give us a brief synopsis of what Juju Club is and maybe how it’s evolved?

Alright you’ll probably have to stop me cus I do go on a bit. Six of us started it in 1988, three couples. Then there were five, cus one couple immediately split up, and then there were four, then there were three, two…and yeah it was just to hear and dance to all this exciting music coming out of Africa and other places. Warm music that makes you want to dance really. So we did a try out in the Polish Club on Ecclesall Road.

You said that’s still there but I’ve never noticed it and I cycle down that road every day.

Yeah it’s next to the Pointed Dog. We did about three there and then we got kicked out cus of club membership rules. And then we moved across to the Irish Club in Burngreave. And then we got kicked out of the Irish club.

An Irish club in Burngreave? I though you were gunna say a Caribbean centre but no an Irish club, of course.

Well the Irish always get there first don’t they, like Brixton.

Maybe that’s why the Jamaican and Irish accents sound similar.

They do, and the South West of England too, the West Coast, DJ Derek… Yeah so we were rooting around. And then I think it was 88, we had the World Student Games which was something that had been invented in Eastern Europe – kind of a left-wing student Olympics. And Sheffield held it, that’s when they built Ponds Forge and a lot of sports superstructure. They had a cultural side to it. So we ended up…we’d been going for about 3 months and we ended up doing a lot of stuff in the City Hall Ballroom for that. And it was great…

A bit of a change from the Polish Club on Ecclesall Road! So then how did you end up here. Because wasn’t this quite a regular venue you used later on in the life of Juju Club.

Well, back in the day the union Unison had quite an international flavour. They supported quite a lot of projects around the world. They put on a Cuban band here, so I came, just to check it out. And absolutely fell in love with the place.

I can’t believe I’ve never been here before it’s really quite…special.

It’s fantastic isn’t it. So after we’d been on our nomadic pilgrimage around Sheffield we ended up here for it. And we were here for 7 years, like a residency really.

Back when it was the working men’s club?

That was a whole story in itself really. Because it was the working men’s club, you had to be a member. So we had a membership scheme which put you on a mailing list – pre email. The Snail Mail days. So for a fiver or something you got a year’s worth of sendings and you became a member of the club. But women’s membership was very different from mens.

How?

Well it was a lot cheaper, but you couldn’t buy a drink. You couldn’t stand to be a member of the committee who ran the place. You couldn’t vote for the committee.

Did you have to stand at the back?

Well someone said: ‘You think it’s bad now, it used to be that on Sundays you could bring your dog in but you couldn’t bring your wife’. I mean we’re not going back that far but you know this is how it was. We got down to doing the gigs fortnightly in about ‘92 and we found out that was the first year the club actually made any money, they ended up 50 grand up at the end of the year – they’d been losing money ever since the collapse of bingo somewhere in the 70s.

From bingo to Juju…

It’s a natural transition I think. So we realised then that we had a bit of clout. And it came to a point where the club was closed because of noise problems – nothing to do with us. And we said we won’t come back unless you change all your rules.

In terms of sexism?

Yeah yeah, and there was Helen Jackson who was a left-wing Labour MP, and she got involved – it was quite a big story.

I can imagine – the crowd that Juju Club attracts definitely wouldn’t be one to uphold men only policies.

Not at all. So when it came to the vote at the committee AGM we got all the male Juju Club members to come down. And the club members – some of them were pretty fucking racist and sexist – realised that it was important for the club and they said you can come back. So that was quite an interesting time. Plus the fact that they used to kill themselves over some of the surnames of the people who came to our nights. You know Indian, Pakistani…

I bet that was bar time talk for weeks on end…

That’s right, they thought we were freaks. But we had a good time here.

Okay just a couple more cus it’s getting closer to showtime who are you really excited about on the Sheffield scene at the moment.

It’s gotta be K.O.G hasn’t it. And then I really like Hot Diamond Aces, Ricardo Angelina Abel’s fella heads up that band. I don’t know if you know but I got them both booked into Shambala?

Wow, cus I saw K.O.G there, they were on the headline stage?

Yeah and Barrio Afrika. Basically one of the three people who started Shambala, Chris is from Sheffield.

That must be why there’s such a massive Sheffield contingent there every year.

He and his Dad used to come to Juju Club and because of that he got into African music. So when they started Shambala, you know, there’s always a bit of African stuff in there. After their very first festival, which was quite quiet… (Kweku from K.O.G and the Zongo Brigade is doing his soundcheck) Can you hear Kweku singing? He’s got a lovely voice… We were doing Headcharge, me and Jamie. So I met Chris after they’d lost a bit of money on their first festival. And he said, can we get Sheffield involved. So we really rammed it through Headcharge networks. And the second year of Shambala we had three coaches going from Sheffield, the next year we had five. So it was really through Headcharge that we brought Sheffield into the story, and boy do they come in big time now. Cus we kind of cut the slight excessive hippie tendencies of the West Coast (Bristol) with our Northern grit!

Interview with Mango Rescue-Team

Mango Rescue Team at Haggler’s Corner. Photography: Monika Klavins

Words: Ella Wildin

All Ears headed to the launch party for Sheffield  Mango Rescue Team’s first album Ritmos Calentitos on Friday night. We cornered their frontman ‘Alex Del Mango’ in the dingy storeroom of Hagglers Corner for this interview, amidst the debris of past events and with Isembard’s Wheel stomping over our heads. Here’s what went down…

 

(Alex is counting some money collected from the night from a large bucket). You play a lot for free. You’ve played countless fundraisers over the past couple of years, is this sustainable for you?

 

Right from the beginning with our first gig, Ashanti Beats, the objective was to play as many nice charity nights as we could, that way we could really make an impact on the communities of Sheffield with music. We’re lucky that we all have day jobs and can do this in our spare time. So for us that’s the base line, we’re a group of friends from Sharrow (Sheffield) who like to play gigs locally. We have fun together. If we can throw parties where we showcase our album and everyone is happy doing that, you know, it’s fine. Saying that, I don’t like to get screwed by festivals and promoters, if it’s a for-profit event we ask for the money we deserve. Of course it doesn’t allow to cover a 10 piece band’s salary but it generally covers the costs. For this album we’ve over spent £2000. On top of a lot of favours. So, at the moment, we’re trying to have fun while not losing money.

 

That’s commendable.  Often the pressure to make money can mean that musicians end up not being really involved in the communities local to them because they have to focus on commercial/corporate gigs.

 

We’re able to do what we want because we have a big fan base in Sheffield and don’t rely on getting paid for playing. Unless you have a huge album out that everyone is going crazy about you’re not going to be able to survive from playing music alone.

 

Well you do have your album out now, how’s that been?

 

I am proud of the work we’ve done, the album sounds really fresh. We’ve explored new tropical and psychedelic sounds augmenting the classic standard rock set with a lot of brass and afro-latin rhythms… not an easy thing to do to be fair. The most important thing is that by funding the album partly through crowdfunding, partly through our gigs we’ve kept our artistic independence. In other words we’ve done what we wanted to do without commercial or time pressure.  We know bands don’t normally have many chances of doing something special like an album so we wanted to get it right.

Also David O’Hagan and Brett Womersley, the producers, have done an amazing job as it is not always easy to deal with a 10 piece band. Everyone has an opinion and unfortunately we need to find a common ground that we can all be comfortable with… I say “unfortunately” but to me this is probably the most interesting part of the whole thing.

 

Any highlights?

 

I think the track that people are gunna like most is… Very diplomatic Alex… are the kind of brassy ‘yeah!!!!’ tracks. These are the tracks that I’d put on in the morning when I wake up and I’m going to work. When I wanna listen to something that’s gunna shake me up if I’m having a bad time or I wanna get some happiness in my life. I think Loco, for example – the second track on the album – is quite an interesting one because it’s got a latin drums rhythm but you don’t notice it… you feel like you are listening to a normal rock track when your body is asking you to dance… it’s new and weird but again fresh. At the same time it’s got some really interesting psychedelic guitars, brass, keyboards, so I think we really pushed our sound here…This is something you have not listened to before… I think our fans will not like this track as much as they like the party happy tunes but to us it’s not really about pleasing people but taking them on an interesting journey with us. To give us all a bit of freedom… to challenge ourselves a bit. Challenge what is perceived as rock what is perceived as tropical music blah blah blah

 

From my perspective, Mango Rescue Team are such an integral part of the Sheffield music scene, how do you think the city has informed your music?

 

The city of Sheffield is everything the band is. When I first came to Sheffield, 6 years ago, I was amazed at the quality of bands that were playing around here. Mother Folkers, Hunter Gracchus, Flamingo Love Parade, Kill the Captain – all of the bands from different scenes who would play the Sharrow Lantern Carnival, Singing Knives and Audacious nights, Sharrow festival, all of that really intense mixed and diverse Sheffield Sharrow scene. When I got here and I landed into that; the independent parties, the Night Kitchen, Yellow Arches, I was fascinated by the fact that unlike big cities I’ve lived in before like London, Rio de Janeiro or Barcelona, here in Sheffield everyone knew each other. You’d be raving in a techno night with some guys you will find in a folk night the next day… and the same guys would be rocking a charity punk gig the next night… here everyone learns from everyone and that’s what creativity is about.. an intense meltdown of people from different backgrounds and scenes getting together and building shit together… for example I met Dave (our keyboard player) and Rob (our percussionist) from an African drumming collective we started. Mykey (our drummer) came from a jazz band. I met Hannah (who used to play from legendary hip hop brassy Sheffield band “Tentacles”) through other friends… who is behind us getting changed. (Hannah) Hiiiiii…  But I actually came to Sheffield to play some Punk music, I played in an Audacious Experiment type band, Maxillofacial Death Pyramid we called ourselves, I played bass for them. We are deffo all coming from different scenes and that is reflected in our sound.

 

So you’ve diverged a bit from then…

 

Yeah I was like a proper indie punk…I think we were quite good and the guys are still rocking they call themselves now Amorous Dialogues… you should check them out.

 

 

You describe yourself as ‘tropical’…

 

Yeah tropical, psychedelic, rock… I don’t like labels very much that’s why I try to confuse people by changing them all the time or using labels that don’t mean too much like “psychedelia” or “experimental” , “tropical” whatever whatever whatever. What I do genuinely like and am deeply fascinated about is music that is written with a certain “outsider’s perspective”. A bit of a sound-clash journey to somewhere you don’t really know – exploring sounds and rhythm that are not natural to you but fascinate you. For example, I love all the Tropicalista movement albums from Brazil… Caetano, Gal Costa, Os Mutantes etc all of that music was written pushing the boundaries of Brazilian music by exploring influences from the outside. The same with Bowie’s Berlin trilogy, Manu Chao’s Clandestino or the best psychedelic Beatles.  In our album Ritmos Calentitos we’ve tried to explore this “outsiders soundclash” concept by bringing a lot of sounds from Africa, Asia and Latin-America into our psychedelic rock party music. We bring all those sounds but we make it here in Sheffield, so we can’t really say we’re a tropical band.

 

The fact that you play with blow up palm trees and flamingos, would that have gone down differently in a hot, tropical country as opposed to a city like Sheffield where it’s practically Baltic? I remember a brilliant picture you posted about a year ago that was named ‘Tropical Sheffield’ and it had a picture of the old cooling towers and a palm tree. Is that contrast part of the appeal?

 

Hannah what do you think about this? The music does work in somewhere like Spain or Latin America.  Loads of Latin people love our music. But I don’t think we would have built this band in the same way if we were in a tropical country… Hanna what do you think?

 

Hannah (getting changed in the background): In Sheffield we’ve got bands like Renegade with big horn instruments and that sort of thing. As Alex said earlier people are making music from all different angles, K.O.G. and the Zongo Brigade, Banana Hill and Hot Diamond Aces to name a few. And then we’ve got all the Spanish and tropical influences, which reflect the people living in Sheffield.

 

Alex: I think Hannah’s right. I think our sound is unique to Sheffield, as I think it should be. Otherwise we would just be copying people from the outside and that’s just not too interesting to us.

 

What about the difference between playing in Sheffield, where you have such a strong support network and playing outside of your hometown, is is difficult to adapt?

 

Not at all, obviously Sheffield is very welcoming and we have a huge following. But we played our first gig in London at Hootanannys and it was sold out. I mean for the first five minutes people were like ‘hmmm okay, what is this’, they didn’t really know what it was all about – but after that they got into it and they partied. Leeds…very successful gigs we’ve done there. Everywhere we’ve played it’s been excellent.

 

Ritmos Calentitos is available in MP3 and CD from their Bandcamp. Order it here.

Note: Alex’s sexy Spanish-Sheffield twang has been ironed out, for ease of comprehension.