by Ollie Hopewell

A review for Ay Up Duck Radio’s Sugarmill Show


When I think of a Smiths gig, I imagine standing alone in quiet reflection, perhaps contemplating how the band’s music relates to my own experiences. I certainly don’t imagine moshing, jumping around, or a violent melee of passion in the limelight of The Sugarmill’s dancefloor; but I wasn’t at a Smiths gig, I was at a Smyths gig.

I was born 12 years after The Smiths broke up and it always seemed unlikely that I would get the chance to see them, so imagine my pleasure when a friend of mine told me about a tribute band who shared my love for Morrissey and co. I had to see for myself.

Entering The Sugarmill, I was immediately taken, though not surprised, with the large and diverse crowd who had gathered for the gig; parents bringing their children to hear the music they loved growing up, people my age and younger who wanted to experience as close to the real thing as possible, and those lucky enough to have seen The Smiths play live and wanted a nostalgia trip were all intermingled and conversing, unified in their love of live music and the work of The Smiths.

Taking to the stage just before 8pm, the band were met with thunderous applause and rapturous cheer, with frontman Graham Sampson bowing and beckoning for more praise in a manor immediately resemblant of Morrissey. If the dramatic and exaggerated movements of Sampson were not enough to display his role as Morrissey his aesthetic certainly was, donning the iconic quiff and glasses combination in an outfit straight out of Morrissey’s wardrobe.

The Smyths took little time to allow the applause to subside before drummer Tom Harris began the tribalistic drumming to The Queen Is Dead, a drumbeat which was quickly met with reserved licks of bass guitar by Simon Smyth and the jangle-pop sounds of a Johnny Marr guitar riff played by Andy Munro. Immediately, I was hooked.

The tempo was slowed by The Boy With the Thorn In His Side, a song composed as a dig at the music industry’s lack of belief in the band. It was during this performance that I noticed how hard Sampson has worked on achieving not only the sound but the musical range of Steven Morrissey, quickly jumping from the iconic baritone drone of the singer to the high-pitched melodies found across the work of The Smiths.

The setlist of songs from The Queen Is Dead album continued with Vicar In a Tutu, Cemetery Gates, and Frankly, Mr. Shankly, Sampson consistently continuing his persona of Morrissey throughout the night by occasionally punctuating the gaps between songs with quips and gags much like the real Morrissey would; at one point The Smyths front man urged the crowd to come as close to the stage as possible, the reason being “I smell fantastic!”. Sadly, I couldn’t get close enough to tell.

After the upbeat and gentle riffs had petered out, things slowed down with I Know It’s Over, and Never Had No One Ever, getting everyone feeling reflective and introverted, a talent of The Smiths. If only frontman Graham Sampson had brought a bouquet of gladioli to solemnly twirl round on stage.

All the swagger of the real thing was quickly brought back with a bouncy performance of Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others, and it was during this section that I began to really hear the talents of the band; not only had The Smyths faithfully replicated the work of The Smiths, but they had given their very own spin to The Smiths in a rockier and more upbeat take on the Manchester Band.

The whole room sang along to There Is A Light That Never Goes Out which was followed instantly by Bigmouth Strikes Again, the crowd so active and involved that they were on the verge of moshing at this point, but more on that later.

The riotous atmosphere was briefly calmed by single Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now and Meat Is Murder track Barbarism Begins At Home, with all the unruly boys and girls in the audience being given a breather as the first act of the gig came to an end.

During this 15-minute interval I overheard conversations of praise aimed at the band and their excellent performance thus far, though my attention was focused on a man at the bar telling me about why Morrissey swore to never play in Stoke-on-Trent again having been hit by a projectile string of sausages back in the 80s. Who knew?

Act two began with another loud cheer, Sampson emerging in a bright red cardigan, something he’d previously teased. Getting through a two-hour set night after night must be difficult, but there were no signs of fatigue as the band rolled straight into singles Panic, Ask, Sheila Take A Bow, and Shoplifters of the World Unite with determination and swagger, the crowd rallying and cheering the band all evening long.

A duo of Strangeways, Here We Come tracks followed with Girlfriend In a Coma and Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before just as The Smyths slowed things right down with Reel Around The Fountain, the opening track on The Smith’s self-titled first album.

Things perked back up with another hit from The Smiths in Still Ill, in which the band seemed to really lose themselves in the music, passionately playing their instruments as Sampson lurched and jived round the stage. Single William, It Was Really Nothing followed as The Smyths kicked it up a notch by returning to The Smiths’ first album, playing hits What Difference Does It Make, This Charming Man, which got the biggest cheer of the evening, and Hand In Glove.

It was during this trio that a lively crowd became restless and a mosh pit broke out, so I pose a question to those of you privileged enough to have seen The Smiths in person; did a mosh pit ever break out during a gig? Answers on a postcard addressed to Ay Up Duck Radio as we’d really love to know.

I was astounded by the electric atmosphere and slight edge the band had created, especially as Graham Sampson hit every single note at the end of What Difference Does It Make, which I can assure you is no mean feat.

I was more than satisfied as the band said their thanks and headed off stage for the second time, thinking the gig was all but over, but The Smyths took to stage for a final time, each member with a menacing grin on their faces as they knew the spectacular finale they had planned was certain to send each and every audience member home in delight.

A now-shirtless Graham Sampson promised a full striptease on his return to The Sugarmill as the band let out the cacophonous raw that is the instrumental introduction of How Soon Is Now?, the audience could no longer be contained.

The crowd surged forwards as a packed-out dancefloor seemed to gain a surge of energy despite hours of dancing in a very hot auditorium. It felt like the whole world opened up as the final mosh pit of the night formed, the circumference of which was practically wall-to-wall. Guitarist Andy Munro lead the charge with a perfect rendition of Johnny Marr’s work, with bassist Simon Smyth holding the ship steady alongside drummer Tom Harris for the perfect explosive finale of the evening. Frontman Graham Sampson could only watch on in delight.

The Smyths will return next year as they tour the country playing through all of Strangeways, Here We Come, and I for one cannot wait to be back in and amongst it when they make a triumphant return to the Potteries.



by Ollie Hopewell & Shaun Battison

Saturday 14th August saw The Sugarmill welcome back regular fixture Average Joe, possibly one of the toughest bands to describe concisely; drawing influences from a multitude of genres, artists, and movements, there is almost a timeless old-school class to the sound the band have nurtured, creating a tight and complete sound which ranges from a kind of soft and easy-listening lounge music to total funk you can’t help but dance to. Often described as a softer and more soulful take on the post-punk movement, it would be a disservice of us to suggest Average Joe fall into a single genre label when the band channels a plethora of influences to create a sound both unique and familiar.

Of the two constant band members, James Mycock acts as producer while playing both keyboard and congas on stage, while band namesake Joe Brennan-Hulme fronts the act as singer. The pair have gone from sampling music using mobile phones on stage to performing as a nine-piece with a talented band brass section to boot, and regardless of the shifting size of Average Joe, the elements of storytelling and inclusiveness remain the same as the band merges a symphony of different cultures, sounds, and emotions to craft relatable tales of love and loss from a working-class perspective cultivated in Stoke-on-Trent.

Arriving early for the gig was paramount as Average Joe announced their plans to premier a short film entitled Song Catching: Episode One, a documentary which details the band’s exploits over lockdown and gives insight to the scope of their artistic talents, showcasing the talents of Dan South and Tony Woolliscroft. You can watch the full 30-minute documentary on the Average Joe YouTube channel.

Applause and cheers erupted as Average Joe took to stage, with the band immediately kicking off the gig with new release Work In Progress, the song created at the end of the previously mentioned short film. Immediately the uninitiated know that Average Joe aren’t your typical band, marching to the beat of their own drum rather than confining themselves to a single label. While this non-conformity does make it more difficult to describe the band in words, it makes Average Joe all the more appealing, leaving you obliged to listen to more of their work while urging you to see them live as often as you can.

But, if we have to place comparisons to musical contemporaries, the artists comparable to the work of Average Joe fall into a certain niche of excellence. Think Mike Skinner and The Streets if they were married to Earth, Wind & Fire, or maybe if Sleaford Mods and Jamie T formed a jazz fusion band. A personal favourite comparison, though sadly not an original one of ours, is if The Rhythm Method were from the North; all comparison hints at the immense work of Average Joe but fails to describe it in its entirety.

On the night, Average Joe performed as a talented ensemble of musicians, with guitarist Rich Pratt, bassist Coogan, and drummer “Nasty” Mike to the left of dynamic duo Jim Mycock and Joe Brennan-Hulme, while, to the right, Bertie Baxter also played guitar alongside a brass section comprised of Jamie Sufi-Davies on trumpet, saxophonist Clive Martin, and Wayne “Sid” Smith on trombone.

Up next was East Meets West, a track in which the funk elements were really kicked up, prompting frontman Joe Brennan-Hulme to shift about the stage in this Cuban heels, black button-up shirt, and sparkly silver scale trousers, a real step into the smoother lounge band aesthetic than usually adorned by Brennan-Hulme. The track took more of a Screamadelica tone, with the brass section reinforcing a 90s electronica feel similar to a Primal Scream or Andrew Weatherall number.

By the time the band got to Took A Shine To You, Average Joe himself was back to his usual routine of mixing shadowboxing and dancing in a routine the likes of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis or Talking Heads’ David Byrne would be proud of, jiving around the stage with a confidence and swagger infectious to the large Sugarmill crowd who now found themselves dancing along.

Warm Clouds seemed to get all the couples in the room swaying lovingly as the poetry of Joe Brennan-Hulme’s words fell upon the crowd, playing the role of a storyteller rather than that of a traditional frontman. From arms linked in love to friends sharing a hug, the vibe and emotion displayed in Warm Clouds was one of togetherness and unity while remaining soulful and relaxing. Stoke certainly has some excellent bands, but none deliver a message or an emotion quite like Average Joe.

Runs In The Blood and Taxi followed, with both songs detailing a narrative of taking things too far or losing someone, coping through reckless consumption, and facing the consequences. Despite the darker tone of much of Average Joe’s work, the lyrics and melody take an upbeat tone and outline the positives of the situation; your partner has broken up with you? You can go out drinking with your mates! Had a few too many? Well, look how confident you are now!

These themes are very much present in the group’s latest EP, Take It or Leave It, which also includes the upbeat A Weekend in Wales, a track similar in feel to Blanketman’s National Trust album in the way it captures the feeling of an escape to an area where your troubles can no longer reach you. A Weekend in Wales made me feel nostalgic about family holidays and the long drives across the country as a kid, an almost forgotten memory which gave me immense happiness when I recalled them as Average Joe beautifully crafted this story while strutting about the stage.

In the same vein as Elbow’s Guy Garvey using a full orchestra onstage while performing, the trio in the brass section added an incredible amount of sound and depth to the performance while never taking away focus from the meanings behind each song.

The final few songs of the evening took to a more sombre tone; Grass Roots, Days Came, and Cross My Heart, by far the most important and well-received Average Joe song, take a stance on the importance of recognising and supporting mental health, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to crying my eyes out on the final track of the evening, as Cross My Heart hit home a powerful message of love and loss.

The generosity of spirit and humble attitude of each member of Average Joe is truly astounding, and you would do well to find anyone who does it better than the band often aptly referred to as Stoke-on-Trent’s finest.


Follow The Sugarmill Show on Facebook and Instagram @thesugarmillshow


© Ollie Hopewell & Shaun Battison 2021
Contact: SugarmillShow@gmail.com


“My last few acoustic tours have been filled with emotion, heartbreak, heartache and a bit of funny…this tour is ALL about fun! We’ve all been locked away and separated in our own ways…time to come together and have a bowling for soup sing along! All the hits! The fan favorites! And the ones we all sing in the shower!
Don’t forget that Ted and Anthony from Don’t Panic joining us..in the showers too…maybe, but on the tour for sure!”

Tickets on sale from 10am Friday 17th Sept via The Sugarmill  Music Mania  or Gigantic.

PIP BLOM + The Bug Club – 12th Nov


Unfortunately Pip Blom won’t be able to make it to their show here on the 16th of Sept. Please read their statement below:
“Hi Everyone,
Unfortunately due to sickness (not CO-VID) we will no longer be able to play our upcoming shows in Sunderland, Glasgow, Barrow-In-Furness, Preston, and Stoke.
We are gutted to be missing our fans at TRNSMT this weekend but we are pleased to report we have been able to reschedule those headline shows to new dates – as below.
We really hope that you can join us, but if not refunds will be available at point of purchase.
12th – Sugarmill, Stoke
13th – Underground Music Society, Barrow-in-Furness
15th – The Independent, Sunderland
16th – Preston, The Ferret
We can’t wait to see you all!
Lots of love,
The Pips”


Pip Blom are embarking on a UK tour as part of the Music Venue Trust & The National Lottery’s ‘Revive Live’ campaign.


Music Venue Trust & The National Lottery = The Revive Live Tours  


Buy a ticket to this show and bring a friend for free! We’ve all missed music and mates over the last year. Now is the time to #ComeTogether to #ReviveLive music.


The free ticket holder must demonstrate they’re a National Lottery player by showing either a physical ticket or one on the app at the door. This could be a weekly draw ticket or a scratch card and they must be over 18 to purchase and hold a National Lottery product. The original ticket holder must adhere to the age restrictions of the venue.



It’s returned! After two long years we’re welcoming Freshers Week back to The Sugarmill!
Whether it’ll be your first, or another of many, make sure you start off your academic year with a bang right here!


THE SNUTS return to the area to headline Keele University Student Union on 11th Nov.

Anyone who caught their previous two show at The Sugarmill knows what a tour de force these guys are live.

Their debut album W.L went to number 1 in the UK album charts when it was released back in April.

This show is set to be a night not to be missed – so don’t!

Tickets go on sale from 10am Fri 3rd Sept via  The Sugarmill  Music Mania  or Gigantic.

WILL & THE PEOPLE + Special Guests – 9th Dec

Following the release of their latest single ‘Animal’ Brighton 4-piece Will & The People have announced details of their new album and subsequent tour this November/ December.

 The new track ‘Animal’ was recorded in Los Angles with Thom Russo (Audioslave, Michael Jackson, Jay Z), mixed / produced by Dan Grech-Marguerat (Liam Gallagher, Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, The Vaccines) and mastered by long term collaborator Mandy Parnell (Aphex Twin, The XX, Bjork).

Will & The People are a little like Iggy and the Stooges… You can tell from the way they play, talk and live that they aren’t following a formula or trying to follow the pack. They play music because it makes them feel good, feel free and feel whole. That’s all.

Their music is nostalgic, colourful, both melodically and lyrically, and it packs a punch; heavy guitars, catchy synth lines and punchy drums frame these wonderful compositions. Live and in the flesh, they are a force to be reckoned with, and is where they truly shine.

Fresh out of a pandemic, free as birds, with a new music under their belt, they are stronger than ever before. Four people who create a wonderful synergy between themselves and any audience they play in front of, a feel-good atmosphere that would take anyone with a pulse to a higher place.

Tickets go on sale from 10am Fri 3rd Sept via  The Sugarmill  Music Mania  or Gigantic.

WOLF ALICE + Special Guests – 25th Sept **SOLD OUT**

WOLF ALICE are playing a very special intimate show at The Sugarmill as part of the Music Venue Trust & The National Lottery project #ReviveLive.


Buy a ticket to this show and bring a friend for free! We’ve all missed music and mates over the last year. Now is the time to #ComeTogether to #ReviveLive music.

The free ticket holder must demonstrate they’re a National Lottery player by showing either a physical ticket or one on the app at the door. This could be a weekly draw ticket or a scratch card and they must be over 18 to purchase and hold a National Lottery product. The original ticket holder must adhere to the age restrictions of the venue.

MAX TICKET PURCHASE FOR EACH TRANSACTION IS 2 (which would admit 4 people as per the terms above).

Tickets on sale from 9am Wednesday 25th Aug.

Wolf Alice’s new album ‘Blue Weekend’ is OUT NOW.

THE MAGIC NUMBERS + Ren Harvieu – 16th Oct

THE MAGIC NUMBERS headline The Sugarmill on 16th Oct as part of a special tour celebrating 15 years of their acclaimed double platinum debut album ‘The Magic Numbers’.

Tickets go on sale from 10am Mon 23rd Aug via  The Sugarmill  Music Mania  or Gigantic.


Interview for Ay Up Duck Radio

Words and Pics by Fiona Konca

Interview carried out by Fiona Konca (FK) with The Underclass frontman Jorge Wilson (JW) and bassist Aaron Smith (AS).


FK: I was gonna ask how you were feeling but that’s a bit of a naff question, so I won’t. But, off the record, how ARE you feeling?


AS: I’m alright … but … anticipating it … I don’t know about you, I mean, it’s the first gig back after over a year so it’s one of them, isn’t it?


JW: To be honest, I don’t usually feel, like, kinda nervous…


FK: Did you ever think at any point during the last 18 months that live music, in the format we know and love, would never return?


JW: I knew it’d come back, but probably not this soon, no. But I always know it’d come back bigger and better.


FK: I haven’t seen you live before; how would you describe your shows? And if you were reading a review of your show, what words would you want to see in there?


JW: Erm … the best band in town. Easily.


AS: Confidence is key.


JW: I think that perfectly describes us.


FK: Would you say that you fit into a particular genre, or would you describe yourselves as genre-less?


JW: Err … we fit into like … indie/alternative kind of music, but … we don’t kind of stick to one genre. We kind of bring elements of every other genre into our sound.


AS: So, we’ve got our own sound haven’t we.


JS: Yeah, we’ve got our own sound. We’re very guitar based, but in the recordings there’ll be like background psychedelic kind of synths and stuff like that.


AS: We’re working on it more now aren’t we. Over the years, obviously when we started, it was kind of very scrappy coz it was very early on, I think. You know when you hear the earlier [songs] it’s like “that’s an early one” but now we’ve kind of developed the sound a lot so … it takes a while to hone your shit…


JS: Tonight, when you hear our set, you’ll definitely be able to tell the difference between the new ones and the old ones. The new ones are like, a load more … they’ve got just dead more interesting and a bit like more clever in their ways, or matured, as Matt (lead guitarist) says.


FK: I saw on Facebook that you’re into MOD culture, is that right?


JW: I grew up with MOD culture. Like, back in our school, I was walking around with Paul Weller haircuts. And then, like, I err decided to shave my hair off … well … the rhythm guitarist (Dillan Ashton) shaved my hair off during a practice. And then I grew it back, and then it got on my nerves, so I shaved it off again. I still follow a lot of the MOD culture but it’s like, back in school, that was like my main look. And there’s definitely a bit of mod in our sound. Definitely a bit of Jam, Style Council, The Who, all that in it.


FK: Any present-day influences?


JW: Oh yeah. Sam Fender’s a massive influence. Blossoms. Erm, Tame Impala … probably my favourite artist at the minute. So that’s where the psychedelic part of it comes in. And then, to be honest, our music taste is so varied.


AS: Yeah, I think each band member’s is very varied but that’s not a bad thing. I think we all bring something different into it.


JS: One of our songs – this is even an early one – is inspired by The Prodigy who are completely, you know, a different genre – they’re a lot more heavy than we are but, like, we take inspiration from so many things, like, a couple of the new ones that I’ve written are from the 80s kind of sound. I listen to a lot of the 80s at the minute.


FK (to Aaron): Who are your musical influences?


AS: Erm, for me, see, being a bass player, it’s all over the place isn’t it … err … I listen to a lot of things, but … Tom Doyle from Don Broco. Really, REALLY. Coz it’s a rock band but how he’s plays bass is just … there’s just something different about it. I don’t know, it’s just great. He’s amazing. But yeah, I come from a rock background, mainly, but I listen to a lot of indie. We like our, erm, our dance, house and drum n base.


FK: What’s your bass sound then, clean or dirty?


AS: It’s a bit of both innit, depending on what type of song it is coz like we’ve got the older ones which are more gritty/scrappy but like the new ones are a bit calmer. Like, the bass line that I’ve written for What Time of Day it was kind of nice and smooth – melodic.


FK: I know you formed in 2018 as a 3-piece – who were the original members and who/what inspired you to start a band?


JW: I put the band together, and at first it was me, Dill (rhythm guitarist) and Adam (drummer) to start with, then I met Aaron at college and erm then I knew Matt (lead guitarist) from school – he got in contact with me coz me and him were in a band before for about a week. We decided to start a band because I don’t wanna be in a dead-end job really, doing what I don’t like. I wanna do what I love.


AS: I think it did just feel right as well didn’t it, and when we all practice together, I think we all kind of like…


JW: I remember when I was about 16, I’d just come back from watching Liam Gallagher and Richard Ashcroft play at Lancashire Cricket Club, and, err, Ashcroft has always been like a kind of hero for his songwriting and all that … and watching him live blew my head off. So, I like I decided to come around with a song and it actually sounded pretty good, so I was like “right, I need a band behind this”


FK: How did you manage to sell out your debut gig (at The Underground)?


JW: We’d sold all our tickets straightaway – like all the hundred were gone straightaway


AS: But we didn’t know it was gonna be that packed though, did we? We knew it was gonna be full but not as it was.


JW: We’d sold all the hundred tickets and then obviously we had none left so, there will still plenty of tickets on the door – another 200/300? But what I remember is, I had loads of people asking me for tickets and obviously I hadn’t got them, I was just saying turn up on the door … and I remember walking out after soundcheck, looking outside and looking at the queue … and the queue was going all the way back and around the other street. It was mental. Absolutely mental.


AS: Yeah, that venue will always have a special place for us, won’t it? Ace venue.


FK: You’ve played in Manchester, Birmingham, and Liverpool, as well as Stoke – where would you say draws in the best crowd?


JW: 100% Stoke.


AS: You can’t beat the Stoke crowd.


JW: There’s literally no fans like Stoke, like, they’re a bit mad, aren’t they? Like, Manchester get pretty good crowds … Birmingham was an ace crowd that time…


AS: Ohhh yeah … hounds of hell, was it? No … it was err…


JW: I think we had a good one there as well … yeah, we did


AS: Sunflower!


JW: And then Sunflower – we played there and that was a mental crowd but honestly, like, it doesn’t live up to this – they’re just a different breed, aren’t they?


AS: They’re just off their ‘ead!


FK: So, have you always lived in Stoke, and do you think you’ll stay here when you become rich and famous?


JW: I’ve always wanted to move away to like Manchester or maybe London, I’ve always wanted to be more in the centre of where everything’s happening. But I’ll always be like coming back down here to our roots. Like we’ll always stay in our roots I think


AS: 100% yeah


FK: Do you feel optimistic or pessimistic about the future?


AS: I’m confident we’ll get those gig offers through. I think right now it is just a bit quiet – I think everyone’s seeing how things go – testing the waters, but we have got things planned haven’t we? Even on for next year, from like a follow-on gig. We’ve got some big ones coming haven’t we like Tom Clarke, so, it’s looking good. Yeah.


FK: Do you think it’s still possible for independent musicians to earn a living doing what they’re doing?


AS: 100%. You’ve just gotta look at the charts now – I mean, most of them are really, aren’t they? I mean, it’s really come from a lot of TikTok as well … I don’t wanna say it, but…


JW: I think you know, like, if you listen to some of the bands we listen to … there’s plenty of them. They’ve literally just come from where we are, not a lot of money on them, played with what they can, done plenty of gigs, erm, and all that … just from the scraps … and they’ve like… Probably a good example would be someone like Arctic Monkeys maybe, coz, you know, they’re from Sheffield… Or even like Lathums … people like that – from the backstreets of like Wigan. They’ve come from pretty much nothing and, you know, they just put all their money into getting their songs out there and then off they went. If bands like them can do it and come from nothing, anyone can really. As long as you’ve got the good songs.


AS: And dedication


JW: Yeah. Dedication, good songs and … I think … which we definitely have. You can do it.


FK: You’ve said that The One is about fulfilling the dream. What is the dream?


JW: Well, my dream is to play a headline at Stoke’s stadium


FK: You’ve already had your music played in a Stoke City video, haven’t you?


AS: Yeah, well, we’ve got more coming with Stoke. I think we’ve got a good relationship with them


FK: So, are you football fans then?


JW: Yeah, I’m a Stoke fan, you’re a Stoke fan, we’re all Stoke fans – the whole band is. If they’re not, they kicked out.


AS: It would be disgraceful if we weren’t.


FK: Changing the subject to something a little more serious, you post quite a bit on social media in support of mental health awareness – have any of you been affected by mental illness?


JW: Yeah. Well, the songs I’ve written are from my emotions – all of them. And I kind of use that – the songs – as an escape from… Like, a lot of people say that about songwriters but it’s true. You can use it to escape from reality. Sometimes you can’t have a conversation about how you’re feeling – well I can’t – I have to emphasise that through the songs. That’s how I get it out.


FK: And do you see your music connecting with and helping people who are affected by mental illness?


AS: Definitely. I hope so. I think it’s been a lot more real recently with COVID. If I’m being honest like beforehand I was kinda like “I’ve never experienced it myself – it’s whatever, isn’t it?” but then, when COVID hit, I was at uni, on my own in my flat. It kind of did dawn on me a little bit. If affected me and a lot of other people I knew, and it really did come out of nowhere. And it is one of those things where, it is important to know about it and to appreciate other people’s feelings.


FK: Do you connect directly with your fans a lot on social media, and how important do you think social media is now, in music?


JW: Err, I think you need to be on social media. I think if you get anywhere without social media, you need to be really amazing, or you know, just straight up lucky. Because I think you know, the way to get your music out there now, is through that. Like when we’ve released a new song, we advertise it all through social media, put it up everywhere so people see it – all over Instagram, Facebook, all of it. And it grabs in so many more streams.


AS: I mean, you’ve just gotta think about like… Obviously, the question itself about being in touch with the fans, I mean the fans are what make the shows and our music. Without them, we’d be nothing. And obviously with social media that’s how we’re gonna contact them. If we didn’t have that, we wouldn’t be able to have that interaction.


JW: Without social media, this gig would probably be half full.


FK: Was that THE Robert Carlyle who chose The One as one of his bangers on the In Your Ears show??


JW: Yeah, it was ace, like, I remember he put a tweet out or something, saying about new songs … wanting to hear new songs and either someone tagged us or … I can’t remember what they did but I remember Dill literally saying, “imagine if Begbie shouts out one of our tunes – that would be amazing” and later, he shouts it out!


AS: I thought it would stop there but recently he went on some sort of podcast or independent radio, and he flagged it up again – he was like “yeah it’s in my top tunes”.


JW: He makes a monthly playlist of all the bands he’s been listening to, and we were at the very top.


FK: And you got onto the Sunday Politics show on BBC 1? What was that like?


JW: Yeah, I was messaged by – I can’t remember her name – Sophie Calvert? I might be wrong. But she does the politics on BBC Radio Stoke and I put something on Twitter saying, “fuck the government”. When the lifting of restrictions had been put back again and they’d done nothing for the music industry, I kind of went on a rant on Twitter and I had a message off her and I rang them, and they were like yeah “do you want to come on BBC Radio Stoke?” And after that she got back to me saying she thought the interview was brilliant, and she has something to do with the Sunday Politics show and she was like “do you want to be on BBC 1?” And I was like of course I do!


AS: It was a rush though, I think it was a couple of days, wasn’t it? They were like yeah “record it on your phone” and we were like “we don’t wanna do that!”


JW: We did it in our practice room. We got a camera crew down and then we sent it over to them. But yeah, it was a laugh.


FK: What’s this new project we’re gonna hear more about later in the year (with Andy Gannon – record producer)?


JW: Andy Gannon’s the guy man. He is probably … he’s an insane producer man. He makes your songs, like … so we paid about £600, I think? For Get away? Which is our next single by the way. But like, the sound he makes with it, you’d think it’s worth about £3,000 of production. He’s from round here but he’s working in Manchester with the big independent labels like Scruff of the Neck and I think he worked on Robbie Williams’ album years ago.


AS: One thing I loved about Andy as well … total freedom, wasn’t it? Some producers we’ve been with before, it’s been kind of like leading you towards/down a track that you don’t wanna be going down, but Andy was like – “I mean, if you wanna try it out, do it, see what it sounds like.” He was never like “no, you’re not doing that”


JW: He sat us in there and he got all our inspirations and played them through the sound monitor … he just blasted out all this music and kind of brought it all together. The start of the new song’s got a bit of a mad psychedelic kind of Tame Impala feel to it.


AS: It’s more dreamy, isn’t it?


JW: Yeah, very dreamy. And then like the chorus is like pure like indie rock grit – all that – and then the ending is huge. Like, the ending is like so melodic but powerful.


AS: We’re doing that tonight. Get away, Home Town and Time and Faith.


FK: It’s a good name, Underclass


JW: My dad chose it when he was drunk one night. But, with the new project, we can’t say too much about it, but it’s looking to be in full shape and finished around later this year? Maybe early next year. But we just know it’s gonna be huge. It’s completely different to anything we’ve done before. It’s a completely new path which I think will take us quite a long way if I’m honest.


© Fiona Konca 2021
Contact fiona.konca@sky.com







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