Still Hotsteppin’: Interview with The Hot Soles

Sheffield’s favourite rambunctious rock ‘n’ roll duo Hot Soles are back with the promise of tunes and the usual stellar live shows, as Will Fisher found out last month.

Three years on from the release of their catchy, ‘balls-to-the-wall’ debut single ‘Glorious Blunder’, it should please any fans of Sheffield-forged rock ‘n’ roll to know The Hot Soles are back on the road with a heap of new material including their latest release ‘Hangin’ Loose’.

After sitting down with the chaps – that’s Kieran Wardle (vocals/guitar) and Richard Birkin (drummer) – for a catch-up coffee at Kelham Island’s Grind Café, it becomes apparent that their eight-year experience as a band has taught them a thing or two about any post-release nerves.

“We used to stress about a lot of stuff, but now we just think you’ve gotta’ take it easy, you know? Always be sure to have a laugh! And that’s kinda the basis for the track,” says Richard about the scorching new single. “Hangin’ loose and full of juice, that’s what we live by.”

However, far from just hanging about, there’s been an abundance of hard graft in the studio over the last three years aiming to nail down the industrious live sound which has made them one of the highest-rated – and certainly one of the most enjoyable – bands on the Sheffield scene.

It’s a sound they derived from listening to blues, rock and soul. “Let’s go with Motown garage,” suggests Richard, “that can be our sound!”

They’ve spent a fair chunk of the last couple of years recording and perfecting this sound with David Glover in Tesla Studios, who they claim has managed to get the best out of them.

“We’ve got enough songs recorded for an album now, and we’re just gauging when it’s best to release tracks – it’s all killer no filler and we want our music to display exactly where we stand right now.”

In the midst of their ‘Great. Great. Everything is Great Tour’ of northern England is where the pair are currently stood. And over the years the lads have certainly earned their touring stripes.

The Hot Soles Duo: “It’s all about the sole”

They’ve played a number of gigs and festivals across Europe, bagged support slots for the likes of Franz Ferdinand and the 1975, plus putting on a show for hometown audiences at a number of memorable local gigs – and in Sheffield you don’t get much bigger than the Tramlines main stage, which they tore a new one with gusto a few years back.

“It might have been the third Tramlines Festival, and we were set to play Leadmill that night anyway but we got a call during the day saying, ‘Do you fancy playing the main stage?” recalls Richard.

“It’s the best way to pick up fans: people are out and want to see something, and they will happily take a gamble. That’s what you want as a band, that’s the beauty of it and how you make a lot of new fans. If Noel Gallagher pulls out we are ready to step into his shoes – we’ll wait by the phone!”

“I hate to watch bands playing around trying to make the sound perfect. We’ve played gigs when you can hardly hear owt, but bands make mistakes all the time, and you’ve just gotta’ deal with it.”

Apparently, there is no secret to putting on spectacular live shows, as Kieran explains it’s simply a matter of keeping it real: “I hate to watch bands playing around trying to make the sound perfect.

We’ve played gigs when you can hardly hear owt, but bands make mistakes all the time, and you’ve just gotta’ deal with it. There are times where we change up sections and just jam, which is good and keeps it exciting. We’ve been restricted in the studio for a while and it’s nice now to be able to judge the crowd and just play.”

“We’ve never been out the game,” says Kieran, “just working hard on the tracks.”

And excitingly, we’ll soon be hearing the fruits of their studio hibernation with another release imminent and a possible EP scheduled for autumn. And those itching for a bit more of the explosive, ramshackle energy displayed at a Hot Soles gig will not been disappointed.

As Richard says: “It’s not a matter of being perfect. It’s more about capturing a moment in time for us. We want the record to sound like our live shows, not the other way around. You could say it’s all about the soul – or the sole – and not the sound.”

The Hot Soles continue their tour through July and August, including their set at Picture House Social on the 22nd July as part of the Neighbourhood Tramlines Fringe.

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