York’s finest Shed Seven are set to make one of indie-rock’s most triumphant returns this winter, having recently signed to BMG they release their first new album in 16 years and then embark on a tour that’s seen them shift more tickets than ever before.
Shed Seven was one of the leading lights of Britpop with two gold albums and 15 Top 40 singles under their belt. The band’s new album ‘Instant Pleasures’, which is released on 10 November and produced by legendary producer Youth from Killing Joke, who’s previously worked with other esteemed musicians such as Kate Bush, U2, Depeche Mode and The Charlatans, is their first new music in 16 years and seen enough pre-orders to have made the album a Top 10 chart album if it had been released any week so far this year.
In November and December, the band will undertake the biggest tour of their career, aptly-titled #Shedcember. They’ve sold over 50,000 tickets across the country with more shows being added to an ever-extending tour schedule and that’s before any fans have heard a note of music. The band will headline London’s 02 Brixton Academy on 16 December, with a career-defining live show set to be announced later this year.
Mark Millar recently caught up with The Sheds frontman Rick Witter for a chat.
Shed Seven will soon Release 'Instant Pleasures' your first new album in 16 years. How Did it feel good going back into the studio after all this time?
Daft as it sounds but after so long being away it was very natural. We split up in 2003 and spent four or five years not really doing anything regarding Shed Seven but we all missed playing live so in 2007 we reformed to play live because we all missed that buzz of being on stage playing in front of a crowd. We have been playing together on and off for the last ten years, it's not like we have just met up after sixteen years. We were asked so much over the last ten years about playing new music and writing new songs. It didn’t feel right at the beginning so we were just happy to play our back catalogue but there's only so many years you can get away with doing that. Once we got the ball rolling we were really excited about what we were writing, it sounds all fresh and new it's really good.
Why Instant Pleasures?
It's basically a tongue and cheek nod at the songs that are on the album, you will be instantly pleasured once you start listening to it but then at the same time it is a little bit of nod to current times. Basically, if you want something all you have to do is press a button these days and you have instantly got it, you have got your gratification. You know if you order something you can get it the same day, it's a lot different to how it was when I was growing up. It's saying that everything is instant nowadays and all of the pleasures that you so desire, there they are, there is no waiting around.
Did you go into the recording with any preconceived ideas how it should sound and what you wanted to write about?
No, I don't think we did I think we have always written in a similar kind of vain in the respect that we don't sit down and discuss what we are about to do or what we should be writing about. It all seems to happen naturally. We will come up with a musical idea and I'm always going around jotting down lyrical ideas and melodies are always swimming around my head so it's usually a very natural process and to be honest lyrically its the age-old concern which I'm very used to writing about and that’s either love, loss, hope, future and sex,
just everyday emotions because I think that's what connects more.
Was it an enjoyable experience recording the new album?
Yeah, it was. We recorded it in Spain halfway up a mountain and it was a bit like a male only Big Brother really trapped for three weeks halfway up a mountain with no transport or anything. But it was very important that we did it like that I think if we had done it in London or in a big city where it would have been easy to have gone home I think we would have ended up going home for long breaks and that's not conducive to creating the art that was created. It got really intense but it was also quite a joyous experience because even though we had got the bones of some of the songs they were kind of changed and manipulated and extra bits where added whilst we were recording the songs so that made it quite exciting.
Instant Pleasures was produced by the legendary producer Youth from Killing Joke, who’s previously worked with other esteemed musicians such as Kate Bush, U2, Depeche Mode and The Charlatans. How did he get involved?
Yeah well he came via our management because he has worked with a lot of other acts from our management’s roster so his name was thrown into the ring and obviously he has done a lot of great work in the past so we were excited at the prospect of working with him and he didn't mince his words. If he had an opinion he would certainly be saying it and it was good for all that as well because in the 90s when we were releasing albums we were guilty of being a bit precious and if there were producers who were saying; "why don't you do this, try doing this here?" Way back then we would be saying; "why are you suggesting that, we have written it and we think its great?” whereas now being in our mid forties and being a bit long in the tooth and not being as precious about things as perhaps we used to be in our twenties it was really interesting to see what kind of ideas Youth had and to see things kind of evolve whilst we were recording the album. It was good and I think that's the way we should work every time from now on.
You seem to have had written a lot of songs for the album because there is a standard album and a deluxe album with a load more new songs on it.
Yeah, we wrote about nineteen songs in total but we always knew that we weren't going to use all of those. It's not as bad as it used to be way back when where you’d release a single on a CD and you would have to release it over two formats with four B-sides per single. We have extra tracks that will be on the box set. They are all worthy of being placed somewhere we haven’t thrown anything away, we didn’t write anything that wasn’t good enough to be heard at all.
Shed Seven was one of the leading bands of the Britpop era. Did you feel comfortable being part of that crowd?
It was all a bit weird, to be honest; there was a lot of favouritism. I don’t think we were one of the leading lights of that era we were always looked upon as a band who was crashing the party really, to be honest with you, certainly press wise way back in the day. If Britpop was ever written about in a cool celebratory way it was always Pulp, Blur, and Oasis and if it was written about in a more derogatory way it was us. I've never really let it bother me as far as I'm concerned we are British and we play an element of pop music so in that respect yeah we are Britpop but that’s as far as it goes for me. The album that we have just finished is sixteen years after the last one and still sounds very Shed Seven, its still my foghorn voice it's still a guitar-heavy album but it sounds like it should be released now, it sounds very fresh and very 2017. I can't really see that people will think Britpop is back cos it's not. We have just come back with something that we naturally do anyway. The timing seemed right.
In November and December, the band will undertake the biggest tour of their career what can fans expect?
This year is our tenth anniversary of reforming and doing a tour. We did put tickets on sale before we announced that we were going to be releasing new material so a lot of people probably bought tickets because they love coming and hearing us playing our back catalogue so fans shouldn't have any worries there because they are definitely going to hear that. We are only going to play three or maybe four new songs off the album while people get used to the songs. It's Christmas time so everyone is winding down from work and getting into the festival spirit and people know what they are going to get. We are going to play our old songs well and people are going to absolutely love it and sing along and it usually ends up in a party atmosphere.
What’s on your rider?
All the stories about riders are all myths we will just get a few nice ales, a few bottles of spirits and a few sandwiches and we will be happy.
What was the first record that turned you on to music?
Well, my formative days in my very early teens the first band that really made me fall in love with music was The Smiths, I kind of cottoned on to them very late on in their career. That was quite nice in the way where I discovered them on album number four and then realised they had three more albums previous to that. In a way, I'm hoping the same thing will happen with Shed Seven because it's been so long since we have released an album there might be people who have never heard of us who like what we are doing now and discover that there are four studio albums to go and rake through from our history. That would be quite good.
Do you have a record that you always return to?
Well, you can't go far wrong with the debut Stone Roses album. I say that because it’s probably the record I've bought the most either on CD or vinyl because I've overplayed it and worn it out so that probably tells a story. It is one of those albums where every song is a winner from start to finish. In a way and I'm not comparing anything in any way whatsoever but with our new album Instant Pleasures, it was important for us to make it feel a little bit like an album of old where every song is worthy of being on it. There's not a dud song on there even to the point of working out the album order we have really given it a lot of thought and made it into as much of a proper classic album as we possibly can and hopefully people will pick up on that.
What have you been listening to recently that you could recommend?
There is a band called Foxygen who I like a lot and a lot of Australian psyche bands coming through that are really cool. Circa Waves a band from Liverpool are really cool. There are a lot of really good indie guitar bands about.
NEW ALBUM ‘INSTANT PLEASURES’ RELEASED NOVEMBER 10th ON BMG
Shed Seven tour dates:
Mon 20th Nov Inverness, Ironworks
Tues 21st Nov Aberdeen, The Garage SOLD OUT
Wed 22nd Nov Edinburgh, The Liquid Room SOLD OUT
Thur 24th Nov Dublin, Olympia
Sat 26th Nov Leicester, 02 Academy
Mon 28th Sheffield, O2 Academy
Thu 30 Nov Glasgow 02 Academy
Fri 01 Dec Glasgow O2 Academy SOLD OUT
Sat 02 Dec Newcastle O2 Academy SOLD OUT
Mon 04 Dec Blackburn King Georges Hall
Tue 05 Dec Stoke Victoria Hall
Thu 07 Dec Cardiff Uni Y’Plas SOLD OUT
Fri 08 Dec Nottingham Rock City SOLD OUT
Sat 09 Dec Sheffield O2 Academy SOLD OUT
Mon 11 Dec Norwich The Nick Rayns LCR, UEA SOLD OUT
Tue 12 Dec Bournemouth O2 Academy
Thu 14 Dec Bristol O2 Academy 1 SOLD OUT
Fri 15 Dec Birmingham O2 Academy 1 SOLD OUT
Sat 16 Dec London O2 Brixton Academy SOLD OUT
Mon 18 Dec Leeds O2 Academy SOLD OUT
Tues 19 Dec Leeds 02 Academy SOLD OUT
Thu 21 Dec Hull City Hall SOLD OUT
Fri 22 Dec Manchester Academy 1 SOLD OUT
Sat 23 Dec Manchester Academy 1 SOLD OUT