Ho, Ho, Joe!

One of the biggest dates in the advent calendar of Sheffield music fans over the last couple of years has been the Joe Carnall & Friends Xmas Bash. The ex-Milburn frontman, now working on solo project Joe Carnall Jnr, has seen the shows grow from the back room at The Greystones to this year’s venue of the O2 Academy. Giddy as a nipper on Christmas Eve, we went to find out what surprises he has in his stocking this year.

So, Joe, what’s Christmas like in the Carnall household?
Growing up, my brother and I used to have a designated sofa each (the same ones that would spend the rest of the year being our indoor football nets) where Santa would put the presents. These days it’s more of a ‘wake up hungover and spend the rest of the day eating your own body weight’ sort of affair. Nowadays Christmas Eve is the best bit – the pub is always packed and everyone is nice to each other. It’s quite utopic really.

Film-wise, are you keeping it old-school with It’s a Wonderful Life or new-school with Elf?
I’m slightly ashamed to say that I’ve never seen It’s a Wonderful Life. I was bought it on DVD for that reason but never got round to it. This year is the year. Not really an Elf man. I find the Frat Pack stuff a bit tedious if I’m honest. Soz. No, Home Alone is unbeatable… ya filthy animal.

Favourite Christmas tune?
Got to be East 17 – Stay. I think this was my brother’s first ever single and what a belter it is!

And least favourite?
Cliff Richard – Saviour’s Day. I grew up singing hymns at school and there are some belters. That, on the other hand, is pathetic.

Let’s talk about the Joe Carnall and Friends shows, which have become something of an institution for Sheffield music fans. Did you expect them to take off in the way they have?
Not at all. I did the first ones in 2011 as a sort of last minute ‘it’ll be a laugh’ thing. Then they just grew, selling out each year. I’ve gone from playing in the back room of a pub to playing the biggest venue in Sheffield outside of the arena. That’s not bad going really!

If you could get one person or band to join you on the stage who would it be?

Great question. I’d like to do something with Rebecca from Slow Club. She’s got an incredible voice and it’d be nice to do something a little less ‘lad-centric’. So if you’re reading, Rebecca…

Any surprises up your sleeve for this year’s Christmas gig?
Now that would be telling. I’m hoping to cast my net a bit wider this year. The venue has got bigger, the show needs to follow suit.

There have been plenty of memorable moments at these gigs – the E17 cover was a particularly memorable moment (the jacket was bang on, too). What have been your highlights from past shows?
That jacket was a huge risk but it paid off! I got some funny looks backstage before that. My favourite moment was probably at the Leadmill when we did a version of Bowie’s ‘Starman’ with Rowley (ex-Milburn) on guitar and Charlotte (The Subways) on bass. It sounded good and the crowd seemed to like it.

And how are the new tracks coming along?

They’re sounding great in the practice room. I’ve got plenty of material to be getting on with, so I’m just waiting to get back in the studio and finish the album off for early next year.

What’s on the list for Joe Carnall this year?
A Sheffield Wednesday promotion push. Now that would be a dream.

Finally, your New Year’s resolutions – let’s hear ‘em!
I’ve never had any to be honest. I suppose next year it would be to do everything in my power to make sure that I make the best record possible and that people get to hear it… and to not get disheartened when things don’t go exactly to plan. That’s what happens in this business!

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