Spreading their lava’ed up tunes across Sheffield and beyond with influences ranging from videogames to brass bands, with a look best described as ‘Gymnasium Warlock’, the indomitable and utterly unforgettable Volcanoes were a naturally explosive choice for our first Exposed In Session.
Rolling up at Sheffield’s beautiful Yellow Arch Studios to record their three tracks for Exposed’s Youtube Channel under the watchful eye of Arch supremo Andy Cook they looked more unassuming than the superhero character portraits that grace their website. But when cool bassist Boa International, softly-spoken guitarist Kevin Shirley, drummer Chris Hall and dervish-like lead singer Samson Bedford pulled on their instruments they were soon leaping tall buildings with the likes of the shonky, sexy ‘Vexihomp’ from their new EP and the utterly gorgeous ‘She’s On Me’.
So this is the first in what’ll hopefully be the first of a series of Exposed In Session’s. Not with yourselves each time, obviously….
But I was thinking of asking each band we record with to cover a song by the previous one. Any thoughts on Sheffield artists you’d like us to get in next?
Samson: Let me think. Cats for Peru? Or Hey Sholay? Or Avida Dollars? The lead singer did some backing vocals on our last EP cos he’s got an American accent… (Think this is ‘Little Feat’ from Vexihomp (below) – Ed)
Is it difficult to listen to other artists without taking notes or can you switch off?
Boa: I can separate the two when I’m listening to a CD but when I’m watching a band live it’s completely different. You’re sometimes subconsciously assessing them and thinking, ‘Why’s he doing this when he should be doing that?’
Chris: It’s funny when you’ve got four members of the band watching another band on stage. You can guarantee I’ll be watching the drummer, Boa’ll be watching the bassist etc. The amount of times I’ll be going ‘That’s a good beat that – oh he’s messed it up now. I could do a much better beat than that.’ I’m sure every band does it. You watch your own counterpart and get ideas or dismiss ideas.
Boa: Plus it makes you wanna gig. Soon as you see it, you’re like ‘I wish I was gigging’!
Samson: It’s a bit of a name drop but our second gig was supporting the Arctic Monkeys just before they got signed and when you turn up to these gigs – particularly when you’re unsigned – you wanna be the best band on there. I remember they were on after us and I remember thinking [affects disheartened tone] ‘They really are good aren’t they?’ And I was really struggling to admit it to myself. It hurt!
Is it easier when everyone else is rubbish?
Samson: You play gigs in places like [Name of shipbuilding, River Ouse-lying North Yorkshire town redacted] where you’re the only indie band on. Everything else is like thrash metal and they’re always on before you and manage to clear the whole crowd before you’re on…
Chris: In Stockport we had a full venue. People were having a chat while the person before us was on –
Samson: The landlord came on stage and told everyone to stop talking or leave the venue. And we were on next. Everyone left! Brilliant! The same gig there was a big graphic equaliser stuck up that all the bands on stage could see. If it hit red the sound would cut out, so you had to deliberately play quietly!
Have there been many changes in the band line-up over the last six years?
Samson: Not really. We’ve been going six years and the current line-up is five years old. Boa joined very early on – our original bassist only stuck around for six months. The original drummer was around for about a year. We ordered our drummer Chris off the internet.
Boa: He was one of these Match.com, ‘From Russia With Love’deals…
Let’s talk about inspiration. Where the Volcano erupts from (Clear your desk – Ed) …
Samson: Both Kev and I write. It started with myself writing quite a lot. Since the band’s been going I’ve suffered from OCD and it’s quite a nasty thing. It’s a disease of the imagination – you can imagine things happening and get really frightened about them. But the flip side is when it comes to writing material it means I have lots of ideas so a lot of our early songs were based on a bit of a ‘peril’ situation I found myself in. As tough as a time as it was I was able to write some imaginative songs.
Sounds like you use it as fuel.
Samson: Totally. Writing about it was a great release. When you first have something like that you don’t know what’s going on so writing lyrics was a way to talk about it.
So what’s next for Volcanos?
Samson: Next big thing is the gig at Sheffield SOYO on Halloween. That’s the release gig for the Vexihomp EP which is up on the website now.
You’re known for your strong and pungent sense of style. Will there be costumes at SOYO?
Samson: Sesame Street. We were talking about the most inappropriate costumes for Halloween and Shell said he’d go as Big Bird. We’ve got the Fire Cloaks too – these monk outfits with flames at the side. It was a joke on the name Volcanoes.
What was this for?
Samson: We just did it! That’s how we roll. We all knew it was silly and funny. But we did a gig at The Harley and it fell flat. No-one got the joke, it just backfired.
Chris: If it’s any consolation we did get a good photoshoot out of it.
Kev: If you said to Scouse ‘I dare you to go naked under there’ he would.
Samson: It’s fun isn’t it?
Kevin: A mixture of fun and being a show off! Tell you a story. When we had a gig in Cockermouth my girlfriend had the local cider and it was putrid, horrible. Sam kindly swapped his drink and someone went, ‘Why don’t you down it?’ And he did it straight away. Next thing you know he’s in the corner of a field throwing up and his girlfriend says to him ‘Why did you do that?’ And he’s (quiet, remorseful voice) ‘I’m just a show off…’