The centre of attention when hosting the Snooker Championships, the focus of a captivated and admiring audience during drama productions; for a little over 40 years, The Crucible has provided some of the most iconic imagery associated with Sheffield…
Today, on the set of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the theatre’s stage rocks not to the sound of “double, double, toil and trouble,” but rather to the sound of The Crookes soaring their way through three tracks of inspired Newpop.
Since the release of the band’s second album, ‘Hold Fast’, many more people have found it impossible not to (as the bold slogan on one of their amps implores) ‘prick up their ears’ and take notice of The Crookes. Their sound is influenced by decades of guitar bands and pop-music, and centuries of literature. Add to this cauldron of inspiration the dramatic intensity of their performance upon The Crucible stage, and The Crookes’ place bathed in those spotlights appears thoroughly deserved.
You’ve just recorded a session in the Crucible. Purely as a venue in which to make music, how did you rate it?
Daniel: Just incredible! That environment suits us as a band. I’ve seen quite a few plays there and just to be on that stage and to look around all the backstage areas and the wardrobe… it was amazing.
Was it an apt location, given the strong literary influences in many of your lyrics?
D: Yeah, it was the perfect platform to showcase those kinds of songs.
George: It was also quite nice just to make a racket in there as well! Whenever I’ve been to the Crucible the atmosphere was always very hushed and reverent, so it was nice just to turn the amps up and kick up a bit of a fuss.
Particularly during ‘Hold Fast’…
G: Yeah! The whole of the Crucible just belonged to us for those four minutes.
R: At one point the camera crew were huddled close around me and I knew that in a second I was going to hit the cymbal so hard. I felt sorry for their poor brains.
Did the setting have an influence on the songs (‘Sal Paradise’, ‘Honey’, ‘Hold Fast’) you chose to play?
D: I think we certainly picked ones that we felt were more pensive. ‘Sal Paradise’ particularly – it’s a melodic, perhaps slightly melancholy song, which I think really suited that environment. ‘Hold Fast’ and ‘Honey’ seemed really intense, sort of dramatic – theatrical even – which just made them perfectly suited to the set.
Moving from one iconic venue to another, on November 24 you’re closing your current tour with a gig at The Leadmill. Will you be doing anything special for the hometown show?
R: We’ve about a week’s gap between the last gig and the Leadmill show; it’s a big venue and there’ll be a lot of people there so I think we have a few ideas of things we’d like to try.
D: Even just the fact we’ll have been touring for two months before then means that we’re going to be firing on all cylinders – it’ll be the best show we’ve ever done in Sheffield, I think.
G: There’s an inherent pressure for any band when you come back to play where it all began, and that makes you take it up a gear. Plus, playing an iconic venue where we used to stand queuing outside in the cold, reading the names of bands on the posters thinking that would never be us, we can’t do anything less than play one of the best shows we’ve ever played.
Does that involve you ending up shirtless on-stage? It seems to happen a lot!
G: It wouldn’t be a Newpop show if there wasn’t any nudity!
R: Maybe I’ll just do it naked. If it sells out, I’ll do it naked…
That’s on record…?
D: Russell’s always looking for sound-bites, that’s his thing.
R: I’m just looking for excuses to get naked.
Tom: It was going to sell out until you said that! No one’s coming now.
R: Anyone who wants to see a tall, skinny man take his clothes off and sweat for 45 minutes, come to the Leadmill show.
R: we can’t end on that…
The album ‘Hold Fast’ is out now. The Crookes are currently on tour.