Kelham Island’s Hidden Treasure? An Interview With Beachcomber.

Beachcomber is a small indie-band from Sheffield’s own Kelham Island music scene. Comprised of long-time friends Liam Sparkes, Ollie Brocklehurst, Jim Dyson ,and Nick Hibbert (left to right in the above picture). Exposed’s Elliot Lucas sits down with them to discuss creativity, the decline of the Sheffield music scene, and their wildest story from performing on the road.

How long have you guys been making music and how did you come together as a band?

Jim: Well Nick and I have been in a previous band, and we formed this one about…two years ago?

And how did Liam and Ollie end up joining?

Jim: We’re old school friends. We both came to Sheffield, at different unis, Hallam and Uni of.

Ollie: I bumped into Liam after I’d not seen him for a year. We got a coffee and played some music. He thought it sounded good, and he said ‘we’re after a bassist’.

What’s your approach to writing lyrics?

Jim: I think we usually start with a couple of instrumental ideas, introduce those and jam them out. Nick usually comes up with the theme of the song and writes the lyrics. Depending on the song, some songs are quite free and open as to where they go, others are more predetermined. But even then there’s still room for creativity.

Liam: Jim’s got so many recordings on his phone of little ideas.

Jim: Yeah sometimes I just come up with an idea at work or something.

Where does the inspiration come from as far as the theme that a song is going to have?

Jim: We’ve never really delved into that. [laughs] We should have a rehearsed answer really.

Nick: When I’m writing lyrics I don’t particularly want it to be one specific thing. Even if I’ve got an idea what it’s about I try to keep it as open as possible. If you have a completely different idea of what a song is about, that’s fine with me. I’m happy with that.

Jim: The best ideas come when you’re feeling a bit tense or down, that’s why there can be a slightly dark edge to some of the songs that we do. That’s where the best inspiration comes from. Because it’s just somewhere to retreat to.

Liam: We’ve had about a three-month break because of lockdown. So Jim’s been away writing up loads of songs, because he’s the brains behind the band. So came back last week and we were ready to start making songs straight away.

Ollie: He’s like a Justin Vernon-lite. He locked himself away in a country property and…

Jim: Aw shucks. But yeah, lockdown’s been an absolute goldmine for ideas because it’s just been a weird intense time. It’s probably the best 3-4 months of creativity I’ve had. In a weird way, it’s been a nice retreat and reassessment.

The music video to your song ‘Older’ is very unique, a stop-motion video using sweets to tell a story, how did that come about? 

Jim: Yeah the cheerier one. Was that your idea Nick?

Nick: yeah, I wanted to do a stop-motion type video but I don’t know how we settled on that.

Liam: We spent ages on it! we arrived at like 4 in the afternoon and me and Ollie were still there at about 1 in the morning. We did it all in one night, we proper went to for it didn’t we?

Jim: It was difficult, but I think it paid off in the end.

Liam: It was more effort than it looks as well. We took over a 1000 photos.

Jim: The sweets only cost about £20 but the music video was like ten times that much.

Ollie: We knew we didn’t want to be in it. We didn’t want to do a boyband-type video of us singing. So we had to figure out how to do something different on a small budget.

What do you feel makes you guys stand out as a band?

Liam: I think our sound is quite unique. I know everyone would say that but…

Jim: We’re close to the influences that we listen to. Diiv, Jaws (a Leeds based band), there’s even hints of Joy Division and The Smiths.

What is the Sheffield band scene like? Is there a lot of comradery?

Jim: I think over the years there’s been a decline in the scene. There’s been lot’s of bands that have formed here that have since split up or moved away. I think the best time in recent years was probably about 2011-2014. That was a really great time for Sheffield music. Recently, it’s been less of a scene and more…lots of little bands popping up with their own little tastes and sounds.

There is a strong, Arctic Monkeys based sound that pervades a lot of Sheffield-based bands. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good sound. But we’re of the opinion that it needs to move on.

Liam: Exactly, even the Arctic Monkeys aren’t doing the classic Arctic Monkeys sound anymore. They’ve moved on.

Do you guys tour?

Ollie: We want to don’t we. We want to do a round-country tour. We might have been doing it now, if the world hadn’t come to a stop. We’ve played a few different cities, but we’re keen to play more out of Sheffield.

Do you guys have any good stories from performing live?

Jim: [laughs] there’s the hotel story. Liam, you can spin a good yarn. Go for it.

Liam: Basically, we booked for three people at this hotel, we thought we would get away with it and we didn’t. That’s literally all it is haha. All five of us at like 1 in the morning trying to get into this hotel while the guy working there gets really angry. He told us at the door that he wasn’t having any more than three people. We ignored him and wandered in anyway. Me and Jim got in the shower to try and hide. It didn’t work.

Ollie: We’re not out and about smashing up hotels and such.

Jim: We’re pretty polite really, as bands go. All the mums love us.

Why do you guys make music?

Liam: Just for fun to be honest. It gets you away from normal life for a bit.

Jim: That’s one of the great mysteries isn’t it? Why is sound put together in a harmonious way enjoyable?

Ollie: I totally agree. I can remember playing my first band when I was in school, doing Christmas concerts at 16. Just being locked in like that in front of an audience like that, even if it’s audience of mums and dads, it’s like floating.

Jim: [laughs] I totally digged playing clarinet in my school.

Ollie: it just makes good memories.

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