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Interview: The Sherlocks

A chat with the lead singer and songwriter of indie band The Sherlocks, Kieran Crook, to talk about musical evolution, gigging, and… a massive loaf of bread.

On 4th October, Yorkshire indie band The Sherlocksreleased their second album, Under Your Sky, opening at a brilliant Number 13 on the Official Album Charts. Simone Fraser sat down with their lead singer and songwriter, Kiaran Crook, to talk about musical evolution, gigging, and… a massive loaf of bread.

Under Your Sky is the second full album the Sherlocks have released – how’s your music evolved since Live For the Moment(2017)?

“With this album we’ve sat down and looked at each song and for what it is, rather than just going straight into recording and getting everything down. We looked at the structure of the songs, the lyrics of the songs and then obviously the production…I think with first album we seemed to layer everything up too much, like we’d do a guitar track and we’d end up tracking like 20 guitars. And listening back it still sounds good, but it sounds a lot fuller, there’s no space. And I think that’s the main thing we wanted to achieve with this record is to have a bit more space… You can pick the instruments out rather than just being a wall of sound, so I’d say that’s the main thing”. 

Do you have a favourite song on the album?

“Yeah, mine’s probably Under Your Sky. A couple of other lads like Dreams – that’s good too. I think with Under Your Sky I just like how big it sounds – like it sounds massive… I think Brandon and Josh like Dreams because it sounds pretty fresh for us, and I don’t think it sounds like  anything we’ve done before. Like it sounds more acoustic-y, but it’s still rocky… and it’s a fast-paced tune, but with more acoustic sounds… it sounds a little bit like a DMAs kind of tune.” 

Have you been playing them a lot on tour so far, or have you gone straight into the studio?

“No, we’ve been holding them back. The only tunes we’ve been playing are the singles so each time we released a single then we’ll start to play it. But apart from that we’ve kept then all pretty much under wraps. I think we’ve played we’ve played NYC (Sing it Loud), Magic Man, Waiting, we’ll start playing Under Your Sky… It feels like we’ve been playing the first album for so long now. To have some fresh songs it just feels like a dream for us. And obviously the fans are ready for it as well, when we go on tour it’s just going to fuse right. Everyone’s ready for new music. I’m a fan of music anyway so I know how it feels for a band that I like to bring new music out. It’s just so exciting so can’t wait. We’re all just buzzing to go out”. 

Are there any venues or cities you feel particularly excited about playing?

“Sheffield. That’s a big one. I think we all feel that we’re ready for just playing a good gig in Sheffield. I don’t know why but it just feels like it’s been ages since we’ve played Sheffield. I’d say that that’s the main one to be fair, but  we’re obviously looking forward to them all. I think it’s just because it’s close to home. We live 15 minutes outside of Sheffield, but Sheffield’s the nearest place where we’d go for a night out and a drink and stuff. Me, especially I’m always out in Sheffield, and it’s got a bit of a vibe. I think Sheffield fans as well have got on board with us from the start. They always seem to have got our music. It didn’t take much persuading, it was just like these are tunes and they seemed to get it. And then that’s followed on with this next album as well”.

Doyou feel you’ve got more of a fanbase up North, or is it more spread around?

“I feel slightly yeah, but I feel like we can go anywhere in the UK and get pretty much the same reaction. A few years ago I think it would have been a lot different. When we were playing in London it wouldn’t have been as good as what it would have been in Sheffield. I think now we’re closing that gap where we can do a gig in London and it’s going to go off just as much as a Sheffield gig. But that’s all down to people learning about your band and how your fans react and stuff”.

Do you prefer playing bigger venues or do you prefer smaller, more intimate ones?

“I have enjoyed playing these smaller ones. We’ve been doing a lot of acoustic gigs and stuff. But I think I’d still say the bigger the better for me. I love playing big gigs. We’re a fan of festivals as well. I think the only thing with festivals is there’s a lot more room for things going wrong. You obviously don’t get as much time to play as what you would at your own show. But that’s sometimes nice as well because you play all you best songs and all the songs where you think crowd are gonna get it a lot easier. Your bigger tunes”.

Do you ever get tired of playing your most popular songs, such as ‘Chasing Shadows’?

“I mean I always enjoy playing Chasing Shadows. There’s maybe some songs I don’t like as much, maybe Heart of Gold on the first album. I’m maybe not as fussed about playing it but as soon as it kicks in and you see people reacting then straight away you just snap out of it. I don’t think we’d ever be one of those bands that refuses to play a well-known tune just because we’re bored of it. To me that’s just a little bit selfish. Even if I’m bored of playing a tune that’s still what people come to see, I feel like we owe it to them”.

You’ve toured with quite a few big names, like the Libertines. Do you find it affects the music you’re writing like when you’re touring with them?

“I think it does. If you get the chance to watch it as well. We played with King of Leon in Sheffield Arena and we stayed to watch them, and you learn what sounds good in a certain space. Watching King of Leon was class, they sounded huge. And then you start listening to the songs and how they are, and you realize they write those kind of songs because they sound big. As a band as time goes on your own you start to learn what sounds good in a venue as opposed to what sounds good in your practice room, so you tailor your music and you song writing around that a little bit. I know I do. Now write songs where I think – this’ll will go off in a venue. I don’t think you can base it all on that because sometimes you’ve just got to let the song turn out however it needs to turn out. Certainly when you get to the studio you could probably make thing sound bigger. There are just certain parts that sound good in big venues and stuff – which is where we want to be playing: big venues, and be as big as we can be”.

What’s your songwriting process?

“It usually starts with me on an acoustic guitar – I write the bulk of the song. Recently, on the second record I’ve been making little demos and playing it to the band, just so they can get their head round the song, so they can hear the song a little bit easier and it takes less time and they think ‘right, so that’s how it needs to sound’. Then I just teach them the parts, and get it to a point where we’ll all happy with it. We’re pretty easy going when we get in the studio with somebody, we’re not really like, ‘it’s got to be this way or no way’. We just hand the reigns over to the producer and see what he’s got to offer. And obviously if we didn’t like it we could say, but more times than not the producer adds something that we couldn’t do. I think you’ve got to be open to ideas when you’re in the studio. There’s always somebody else with a better idea to what you might have”.

The band is two sets of brothers. Do you find that adds to the band, or can it get quite difficult being so close all the time? 

“It just depends on how you work as brothers… I think so long as you’re not suffocating each other and doing each other’s head in, it’s all good. We’ve got the balance right now. We’ve been in a band ten years, so we know what annoys each other – and that doesn’t stop us, we still like to annoy each other! But it’s more when’s the right time to do it”. 

You’ve got bigger progressively over the past couple of years. Have you noticed any negatives of that, or is it ‘the bigger the better’ at the moment?

“I mean there’s always negatives but as long as you don’t take it too seriously… I just crack on. My job is to write songs and write the best songs I can. And I can only base that on what I hear. I can’t write a song thinking about what other people think is a good song. I’ve just got to write a song and if it sounds good to me then that’s it. And then show it to the boys and see if they like it and that’s the main thing, and then take it from there really and put it out. And if people like it then it’s done its job and if not then we just try and write a better song I suppose. I mean we could write the best song in the world and the rest of the lads could think it’s class, and we could release it, and the fans could think it’s unbelievable and then a review could say they don’t like it. So it doesn’t really matter to be fair. As long as the lads like it, as long as the fans like it and the record label like it, that’s all that matters to us”.

Are there any moments when you realised you’d become a band that people were starting to know?

“I don’t think I’ll ever see it like that. I feel like we’re still an up and coming band trying to scratch at the surface. We’re just trying our best to get as big as we can, but it’s hard to see how big you’re getting… We’re just focussed on the next thing all the time. We just want to get the single and then release the album and continue writing and touring. And then before you know it it’ll be over the tree, but I’m sure one day we’ll turn round and, depending on where we are, realise how far we’ve come”.

Do you have any standout/strange/funny gig moments? 

“We played Manchester once, a couple of tours ago – I think it was the biggest headline gig we’d done – at Victoria Warehouse… When we walked on there was this massive piece of bread. I think it’s called a cob – pretty much the same size as a loaf of bread but a round shape. It was absolutely massive, and it was just in front of my mike stand and obviously someone from the crowd had thrown it, but it couldn’t have landed in a funnier place. So I got to my mike stand and I just looked at Andy like ‘what’s that doing?”. And when I wasn’t singing I turned to Josh and I absolutely booted it as hard as a could, put my foot through it and it nearly took Josh’s head off, nearly hit Josh straight in the face. Who’s bringing that to a gig?”

Under Your Sky is available to stream and buy online in and in store.

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