Hey Sholay

After conducting our interview with hot as hell Hey Sholay in the beautiful and hushed surroundings of Sheffield Cathedral I briefly thought their request for a photo shoot with a collection of dogs might have been a neat hidden message…

Dog=God backwards! Of course! But that’s Hey Sholay all over – their psychedelic, Sendak-esque anthems and the wildly fantastic world they create is a rallying, euphoric pull that carries you away from logic to more exotic climes free of the dull surroundings of sense.

And the land of Hey Sholay is an increasingly popular destination. Now signed to Fierce Panda alongside the likes of The Maccabees, The Computers and The Walkmen, and with debut album ((O)) due to drop in August they’re packing their bags for more leaps of the imagination.

We spoke with the full band – Rob Philpot (Drums), Stef Kania (Bass, Moral Support), Liam Ward (Keys and Guitar), Liam Creamer (Vocals and keys and ) and Laurie Allport (Guitar) in Sheffield Cathedral ahead of their session to talk orange groves, vinyl and the latest on those Hey Sholay duvet covers…

So it’s exciting times for Hey Sholay! Are you having a chance to smell the roses or is it one of those situations where you plan for stuff but then suddenly it all happens and it’s difficult to pay attention?

ROB – I think it’s since we signed to Fierce Panda. It’s all kicked off now with a team behind us; we’re starting to see a lot more press about us and that’s getting a lot of balls rolling and a little bit more interest.

Was that the key point at which things changed then?

LIAM C – I think so. When you start out you’re just doing your own thing and trying to be creative and do as much as you possibly can. But then when you’ve got a team behind you then it’s not just five individuals who do blogs every week and annoy people with emails. It’s a team of 20 or so people and that makes a big difference.

Is there a degree of control that you concede when you sign?

LAURIE – We’re still in control of everything. All the decisions are still made by us and Fierce Panda have to get consent off us before stuff goes out. There’s not been anything questionable done on behalf of us.

So there haven’t been any Hey Sholay duvet covers or anything that you haven’t approved then? Did you have character duvet covers as kids?

STEF – I think just the usual grey, red and white stripes one from the eighties.

LIAM W – I had some Transformers ones.

LIAM C – Merch-wise, I’m a big fan of Sheffield Cathedral’s kneeling cushions actually [Liam picks up a beautifully embroidered Sheffield Cathedral kneeling cushion].

STEF – I think Hey Sholay bed covers is a good idea, actually… We need to think about mousemats, pens, mugs, balloons…

LAURIE – We’ve done some weird stuff in the past haven’t we? We did the Foetus EP, which was a string of five EPs where you got a rubber foetus from stage zygote to pre-birth with a free umbilical cord necklace. All the tracks were on USB. Then there was the split EP with Mad Colours we did over Christmas, which we recorded in a kind of frantic twelve hour session where we–

LIAM C – Suffered from sleep deprivation.

That came across – it was frayed in a good way, I’d say.

LAURIE – We recorded the joint track at two ‘o’ clock in the morning.

Well the songs blurred and merged together in a slightly queasy way. Very different from Mad Colours normal stuff – and Hey Sholay’s I thought.

LAURIE – We wanna do more splits with bands you wouldn’t expect us to do stuff with. We’d love to do one with Rolo Tomassi for a start.

LIAM C – And Lulu James as well. Just did an email with her today actually.

ROB – She was at The Great Escape too, but at the same time as us so we didn’t get a chance to see her.

LAURIE – She’s got this amazing soul voice.

LIAM C – There’s a real warmth to it.

LAURIE – She wears a bin bag on stage cos someone once told her she’d could look great in a bin bag.

The album’s next up tho. How’s it coming along?

LAURIE – We’re working on the artwork at the moment. We’ve got an artist on board, Tom McQuillen, who’s very young and did the cover for Burning. It’s all conceptual so he’s gonna do the next single and then the album and there’s all gonna be a kind of aesthetic continuation to it all. We’re gonna do limited releases as well as the record. We love doing a hundred of this release or five of that release. I wouldn’t mind doing something on Betamax actually. We used to do cassettes and there’s been a resurgence in that – bit more of a hardcore thing than our normal territory. Or laserdiscs!

LIAM C – Minidiscs!

LAURIE – Tell you what would be amazing. There’s a guy in Sheffield who’s the only person in the world who still makes wax cylinders [‘That’s The Vulcan Cylinder Record Company of Sheffield, England…’ – Music Ed) And Dallas Green did a music box for a couple of his singles.

LIAM C – We should release foghorns!

Why are Hey Sholay particularly interested in these kind of releases?

ROB – I think because we’ve always enjoyed the benefits of getting this kind of one-off stuff from bands ourselves…

LAURIE – When you’re a kid it’s all about the magic and the illusion and the performance. Not necessarily capes and sparkly things, but you wanna be able to look at something on the stage and go, “What the hell is that?”

LIAM C – And there’s stuff you can do with physical media too. Playing records backwards and stuff. We’ve managed to get something on the album – a backwards loop. But you have to play the vinyl backwards…

STEF – Judas Priest haven’t got anything on us!

LIAM C – In fact when we did that dance routine –

Hang on. Can I just stop you at ‘dance routine’?

LIAM C – We did a series of videos for every track on the album. It’s a little bit like Dirty Dancing. Me and Stef.

LIAM W – It’s kind of like Dirty Dancing crossed with Norwegian Black Metal, isn’t it?

It’s another example of you all being at the centre of what you do. Is it a challenge to stay there when there’s more people involved in Hey Sholay now?

LAURIE – I think it becomes easier. When you don’t have a nine to five, you’re not working and you don’t have to think about that. So you’ve got all those hours of the week to sit and think and come up with little mad ideas…

LIAM W – It’s dangerous that isn’t it?

LAURIE – Well you either go Syd Barrett or you’ll come up with something brilliant.

Who’s Hey Sholay’s Syd?

[Everyone murmurs about Laurie]

It’s when they don’t pick you up for the gig you need to worry, Laurie.

LAURIE – I’ve got a magic carpet made out of LSD, don’t worry about that! I’ll get there first!

Where did the idea for doing your In Session at the Cathedral come from?

LIAM C – Well we played a couple of songs here last year as part of a fashion show.

LAURIE – The acoustics are amazing as well. You get bands like Portishead and Sigur Ros who’ve done cathedral tours. A friend of ours who’s a technician in Paraguay did sound for Slayer in a cathedral. It’s the sound and the atmosphere.

STEF – It’s somewhere a bit more thoughtful too. We’re not throwing beer over one another like we’d normally do…

Does the location you’re playing in affect how you play?

LAURIE – Cathedrals and churches are adopted for certain frequencies. They’ve been here for hundreds of years. You need to just consider that when you’re in the space. You can’t just come in and batter out all your songs on full whack. The dynamic’s a lot harder to get.

There were other ideas for the session from Hey Sholay of course. You were trying to persuade us to shoot in a rescue dogs’ home weren’t you?

LAURIE – We wanted to get some strays then fill our pockets with pastrami and run.

LIAM C – That brings us back to one of the videos for the album. A song called ‘Old St Nick’. The filming was an action cam that we strapped to a dog and then took for a run.

LAURIE – Basically it’s an extreme sports camera that you strap to your helmet when you’re jumping out a plane.

Favourite deities?

LIAM W – Bill Murray.

LIAM C – Think we need to mention the big guy upstairs.

LIAM W – Zeus?

LAURIE – We’re respectful of all faiths and we all believe in love.

I love the Hey Sholay tumblr and I think the writing on the site – such as the story of how the band signed to Fierce Panda, which involves a meeting behind an orange grove with a man dressed as an elk – are part of the way the band create their own place…

LAURIE – We all come from completely different musical backgrounds, all studied different things. We’ve just got a joy for lots of things around and outside music as well as within it.

LIAM C – The Beatles are the greatest example of creating a place. You had George Harrison who was obsessed with sitars, John Lennon, who was obsessed with the blues – and it was only through something like Sgt. Peppers that all these different things came together.

ROB – That’s what makes bands special.

LIAM C – I think as individuals we’ve got really eclectic taste anyway. From your hip-hop to your classical to your bells [which are ringing in the background while we chat] to your Lady Gagas and Rihannas. And that comes into play.

STEF – When we were recording the album I kept a diary of the songs, what we did for particular guitar parts and so on.

LIAM C – We copied that off The Roots. In the liner notes for their Phrenology album under each song they had those kind of things and it was a great way of getting in the band’s headspace.

STEF – Ours is mostly me writing about Nandos actually.

That interest in annotations and notes is a part of Hey Sholay though – from the releases to the online…

LAURIE – Well we’re the last of the vinyl generation. We’re still just young enough to remember when CDs came in and cassettes filtered off and you couldn’t get singles in Woolworths anymore. We love vinyl – the whole ideology, the promise of unwrapping it –

LIAM C – The smell!

LAURIE – And carefully placing it on your record player – cos it’s something you’d spent so much money on. Reading the lyrics on the sleeve and looking at stills of the band – like on The White Album or with Pink Floyd having that gatefold open up. That stuff is really, really important to us.

So are there plans for the physical versions of ((O))?

LIAM C – We’re just sorting out the artwork now.

LAURIE – You need a package.

And they’re really important places in the land of Hey Sholay.

LAURIE – You need them to reinforce the whole ideology. That’s how we get excited about bands. When you’re a teenager you’re into these icons – like Pink Floyd or Led Zepplin – and it’s like reading a story. It’s imaginative. Like when you go in a record shop and buy an album cos you like the look of the cover. You shouldn’t have to Google the guy. It should all be there on the record and the artwork. That’s what it’s all about. You can get a better idea of the music through the visuals.

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The single ‘Burning’ is released 11th June. Hey Sholay’s debut album is released in September. The band play this year’s Tramlines Festival.

 




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