With a name referring to one of the city’s main tributaries and a sound blending Well Well Well-era Milburn with the darker undertones of Dead Sons, you’d be forgiven for thinking that indie quintet SHEAFS were all born and bred Steel City boys. But despite its members all meeting here at Hallam University, the band actually reflects something of a Northern England/Midlands melting pot with the lads hailing from Liverpool, Stoke, Nottingham and Derby respectively. Nonetheless, through a series of impressive live performances and an exciting debut EP, they’ve established a solid reputation on the local circuit; something only enhanced when a brief meeting and CD exchange with Steve Lamacq in The Leadmill resulted in repeated 6Music airplay towards the end of 2016.
Now looking to build upon these solid foundations, the band has promised new music and a renewed focus in 2017. Following an afternoon traipsing around the eternally smoking embers of Sheffield’s Ski Village, Lawrence (vocals), Chris (guitar/backing vocals), Charlie (drums), Charles (guitar) and Callum (bass) swung by the office for a cuppa and a chat about their upcoming Exposed session.
Last year was a biggie for SHEAFS. How are things shaping up for 2017?
Lawrence: Yeah, good. As you said, 2016 went really well for us and we’re now planning things to get the most out of this year.
And the 6Music airplay you’ve enjoyed has obviously been beneficial in getting your name out there. How important is that for an up-and-coming band?
Lawrence: It’s definitely a good thing to have. We spent a lot of time marketing the band ourselves at the start, so getting that sort of coverage on Steve Lamacq’s show is great. We sent in our debut single which was picked up by his team and later on Charles gave him some more music when he met him at The Leadmill.
Charles: Yeah, he was doing a DJ set and I just handed him a CD with a little note inside thanking him for playing our debut single. It gives it that personal edge, I think. But yeah, it’s great to be played on a well-respected station.
I like the fact that you formed at Sheffield Hallam University. Generally speaking, guitar music seems to have been replaced by DJs and dance nights at universities in the UK.
Chris: It was the other way around for us. After getting that independence of going to university we’d spend a lot of our time getting out to as many gigs as possible. Lawrence, Charles and I were a three-piece at first, and things had to be put to one side while we were doing work placements, but in our final year we decided to go for it with SHEAFS.
Lawrence: The clubbing scene seems to have taken over a bit. It actually took a while to find a drummer and a bassist; we printed out posters and took them around bars and venues during Tramlines Festival. Eventually we dropped lucky with Callum and Charlie.
Charles: There are a lot of big house nights around Sheffield that seem to attract a load of students. But for us, Leadmill Mondays will always be the favourite.
Was it a struggle juggling university life with pushing the band?
Lawrence: Well Charlie is still in his final year, bless him. If anything it probably helped in a way. During our placement year we all got a taste of what working life is like, kind of dipped our toes in it and thought: ‘Nah, you’re alright!’ So it’s made us even more determined to work on the band side of things.
Chris: There have been full-time opportunities for the three of us elsewhere, but we’re at the stage where we have the chance to give this a good go. We’re looking forward to cracking on.
Do you reckon you’ll be settled in Sheffield for a while now?
Lawrence: Yeah, I reckon so. I guess it all depends, but we’re all pretty happy here.
Chris: I guess if we were to go down well anywhere else, it’d probably be a city like Manchester, but we’ll see what happens.
Callum: Not LA?
Lawrence: *Laughs* Who needs LA when you’ve got Kelham Island?
Will we be seeing another EP soon?
Lawrence: I reckon we’ll be staying away from that and going more down the route of releasing singles.
Chris: The EP was great for getting some of our early stuff out there – but we’re already adding a bit of a twist with these new songs and moving away from the descriptions we’ve been getting a lot of. Maybe a bit less of the Arctic Monkeys vibe, eh boys?
Callum: We were still very much in the teething stage when we wrote the music for the EP last year.
Charlie: Yeah, we’ve got a brand new set-list now – maybe one or two tracks from last year’s stuff are still in there but the rest of it is completely new.
If you could invite one person to a SHEAFS gig, someone who needs a bit of SHEAFS in their lives, who would it be?
Chris: It’d be interesting to see what Liam Gallagher thinks to us. He’d probably say we were shit.
Name one song you wish you’d written.
Chris: Black Keys, ‘Tighten Up’
Charles: A Beatles song, I’d say. Probably ‘I Want You’.
Callum: Rolling Stones, ‘Satisfaction’.
Lawrence: I have literally no idea. Erm… Can you come back to me later?
Who in the band has the worst taste in music?
*Lawrence, Chris and Callum nod in agreement*
Charles: Ronan Keating.
Say no more.
Exposed In Session
An exclusive YouTube gig from some of the city’s finest musical exports, filmed live every month at The Greystones.
Filmed & directed by: Tristan Ayling – www.rentonproductions.co.uk
Recorded & Mixed by: Big Sky Records – www.bigskyrecords.co.uk
If you are a band/artist interested in playing a gig at The Greystones, contact firstname.lastname@example.org