INTERVIEW: First Timers Fest

First Timers are a London-based DIY community of musicians and activists who believe that having access to creating & playing music should not be a privilege, it should be a joyful and social experience that empowers everyone. They encourage people from all walks of life – particularly those who identify as non-binary, LGBTQ+, disabled or female – to attend their workshops and gigs in order to experience and create music in a non-judgemental, low pressure environment. They aim to build people’s confidence, as well as forming a community of like-minded individuals who feel empowered to tackle the lack of diversity in larger music industry spheres.

Their next event, First Timers Fest, is happening this Sunday (8th May) at the Amersham Arms in New Cross. 14 newly formed bands will take to the stage for the first time to perform in front of a crowd, and we’ll be there cheering them on and witnessing this brand new talent!You can grab a ticket for the First Timers 2022 Showcase here: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/first-timers-fest-2022-tickets-309402048857

We spoke to Deena, Ishani, Sian and Ripley from the First Timers team about how the initiative began, what they’ve learned from being part of the team and what we can expect from this year’s showcase…

 

Hello folks! Please introduce yourselves and explain how you joined the First Timers team & what it is that you do…

At the moment the core First Timers organising team is Deena, Ishani, Sian and Ripley. None of us founded the fest – that was Bryony who now runs the Good Night Out campaign – and all of us got involved through playing it! Making the fest happen is a fairly big endeavor, and involves booking teachers and workshops, publicizing, finances, liaising with teachers and bands, and a million other little things that crop up.

It’s a lot of work, but it seems to be paying off. You’re a fantastic grass roots organisation and you do so much for the DIY music scene.

First Timers Fest itself was a big thing for us and got most of us into playing music! Also, its easier to be what you see, so seeing other London initiatives like Girls Rock London and Decolonize Fest flourishing is super inspiring.

They’re both great organisations too. What would you say are the highlights of being involved with organising First Timers Fest?

Jam on your hands is one of our favorite bits, even though its probably the most difficult thing to bring together and is always chaotic. It’s a workshop where people get to try out a bunch of instruments then learn a song then we play it all at the same time – so you have three drum kits and five basses and guitars and a tonne of people singing – it’s fantastic! Seeing people having fun at workshops and then telling us they never thought they’d be able to play an instrument and now love it is also amazing.

I attended your Bass Workshop with Jodi this year and I felt the same, it was such a fun day. Tell me about the other teachers and volunteers who are involved with the workshops. I know that Joni from Fraulein ran your guitar workshop and Chuck SJ taught songwriting this year. How do you connect with teachers and get them involved?

Our workshops this year have been really very good and luckily it’s been easy to find great people to run them. Sometimes we put call outs for teachers on our social media, sometimes we source them from the pool of people we’ve got to know over the years, or musicians we rate, or even people who have played the fest before! We love it when our teachers are First Timers at teaching too!

What are your anticipations for the First Timers 2022 showcase on Sunday 8th May? Tell us all about the bands on the bill…

It’s going to be fairly eclectic- it always is! Floralis is bringing us art pop influenced by goth rock and hip hop. Achers will be playing hardcore. A N T I A are putting harmonicas into grungy punk. Melhole are combining synths and ukelele, and there will be THREE kinds of hand percussion in ROAD. Many of the the main food groups really.

Because of Covid, for most of us this will be the first Fest we’ve organised from start to finish so we are just really excited to see them all up there!

I’m excited too! If someone was considering coming to a First Timers event, but felt a bit too nervous to get involved, what advice would you give to them?

We are all really very nice and we also all understand how scary it can be to take those first steps! Advice? Bring a friend, or reach out to us before you come.

And if a musician reading this is interested in volunteering for the next set of First Timers Fest workshops, what should they do?

Keep an eye out on social media as that’s where we tend to put out calls for artists, teachers, photographers, and other volunteers. Aside from Jam on your Hands, the workshops are paid for teachers, but the rest of us are volunteers. We are always needing more hands on deck with organising so do get in touch if you’re interested in getting involved – it’s good fun and very rewarding!

Finally, any bands or artists that you’ve been listening to recently that you’d like to recommend?

Here’s a link to every First Timers Fest band ever! 

Lots of them are still going. Breakup Haircut are playing their album release gig on the 22nd of July, Big Joanie are touring soon, Charmpit released an amazing album over lockdown, Bitch Hunt, Whitelands, Panic Pocket, Irn Brunette and Trouble Wanted have been playing live recently. If we’ve missed anyone out please do add your current stuff to the spreadsheet!

But we are equally as in awe of every band that played the fest the one time then dissolved or morphed or started other projects. We’re proud of them all!

Thanks to the First Timers team for answering our questions!

Follow First Timers Fest on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Get In Her Ears Live at The Shacklewell Arms w/ Fightmilk, 24.03.2022

On Friday, we were back at The Shacklewell Arms in Dalston with a total dream of a line-up. Fightmilk, Bitch Hunt and Sassyhiya treated us to a joyous few hours of live music. Huge thanks to them all, and to all the lovely folk who came out to support them and fill the venue… We’re still feeling all the feels, and are extremely grateful to everyone who made it such a beautiful night.

First up, Sassyhiya offer up their uplifting, jangly post-punk. Consisting of two former members of Barry (Kathy and Helen) plus Neil and Pablo, the band’s first ever gig proves to be a great success as the crowd smile and sway along to their twinkling hooks and buoyant, quirky energy.

Having last played live at a gig for us back in October 2019, it’s such a joy to welcome Bitch Hunt back to the stage. And what a wonderful return to live music it is. Radiating a blissful, cathartic energy they fill the venue with their scuzzy punk-pop offerings covering poignant topics ranging from men taking up too much space, to reflections on being non-binary and stirring odes to loved ones no longer with us. A truly euphoric set from these First Timers Fest alumni.

Headlining the night are Bitch Hunt’s Reckless Yes label mates, and total faves, Fightmilk. The third time they’ve played for us, it’s an utter delight to finally see them perform some of the tracks from their latest album Contender live, as well as some old favourites (and a couple of surprise covers!). Blasting out their anthemic indie-pop with an endearing tongue-in-cheek wit, each offering fizzes with the band’s trademark vibrant energy and colourful charisma. From fuzzy love songs to tirades against Elon Musk and bridezillas, Fightmilk bring a refreshing honesty and gritty raw emotion to their jangling melodies and the smooth-yet-husky charm of front-person Lily’s vocals, showcasing their ability to continuously refine their sound and, in the process, consistently continue to win my heart. Plus, I don’t think I ever thought I’d be aged 35 and in a venue filled with people joyously dancing and singing along to Wheatus’ ‘Teenage Dirtbag’, but I was and it was pretty magnificent.

Huge love and thanks again to all three bands who played for us on Friday, and to everyone who came out to share the music and good vibes. We’re taking a little break next month, but will be back at the Shacklewell Arms on 6th May with the return of The Menstrual Cramps, supported by pink suits and Queen Cult – nab your tickets on DICE now.

Photos: Jon Mo / @jonmophoto
Words: Mari Lane / @marimindles

GIHE: Albums & EPs Of 2021

After sharing our Tracks of 2021 last week, the GIHE team want to shine a light on some of the brilliant Albums & EPs that have been released during the last 12 months. These records kept us dancing around our bedrooms/living rooms/home offices, miming underneath our face-masks and distracted us momentarily from the uncertain world we’re currently all living in.

So, in alphabetical order, here are our top Albums & EPs of 2021 (with some honorable mentions at the end…)

ALBUMS

Adult Mom – Driver
Consistently my most listened-to artist over the last couple of years, Adult Mom aka Stevie Knipe creates the most beautifully heartfelt music. Although I had thought it would be hard to follow the perfect relatable emotion of their debut Momentary Lapse Of Happily, and 2018’s Soft Spots, this year’s Driver does not disappoint. With the lilting musicality and raw emotive splendour of each track, the album has been in my ears on literally a daily basis since it came out in March; I have sought comfort in the luscious depth of Knipe’s vocals and found myself fully immersed in the album’s twinkling grace. I’m sending extra love to Stevie at the moment, as they were diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year and are currently having to undergo treatment. I can’t wait to hear more gorgeous music from them when they’re ready. (Mari Lane – Co-Founder)

Blonde Maze – Something Familiar
I’m honestly not sure how I would have got through the last two years without the sound of Blonde Maze in my ears daily. Even before her debut album Something Familiar came out in Autumn, I had been completely addicted to her utterly dreamy creations – ever since she’d been a guest on our radio show about five years ago. To have a full LP filled with her exquisite soundscapes has been just what I’ve needed recently. Bathing the ears in shimmering ripples of dreamy reflection, each luscious track is a perfect cathartic tonic. My album of the year – it’s been the beautifully calming and delicately uplifting soundtrack I’ve so needed. (ML)

Divide & Dissolve – Gas Lit
Released via Invada Records in January, instrumental activists Divide and Dissolve’s second album Gas Lit continues their sonic mission to erode the foundations of colonialism and white supremacy. Produced by Ruban Nielson of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, the record is an aural purging of injustice, fuelled by the diversity of Takiaya Reed’s doom-ridden saxophone sounds and Sylvie Nehill’s phenomenal percussion. It flows with a unique gargantuan grace that unsettles and soothes my cells every time I hear it. I had the pleasure of interviewing Takiaya about the album earlier this year too, which you can read here.
(Kate Crudgington – Co-Founder)

Du Blonde – Homecoming
With Homecoming, Du Blonde gave us the DIY stadium rock record we didn’t know we needed. After becoming disillusioned with the music industry, they wrote, recorded and produced this album of swaggering, empowering anthems for outcasts. A bag of contradictions, it’s both silly and serious, wonderfully weird yet radio friendly. A powerful record, I love the way Homecoming embraces self-destruction and self-love. It has a proper punk energy and inspires you to get shit done on your own terms – after you’ve had a dance, of course.
(Victoria Conway – Contributor)

Fears – Oíche
An intuitive artist who has transformed her darkest moments into graceful electronic soundscapes, Fears aka Constance Keane shared her poignant debut album Oíche (meaning “night” in Irish) in May. Released via her own label TULLE, the Irish-born, London-based musician balances her intense ruminations on trauma alongside delicate synth loops and tentative beats to shine a light on a personal metamorphosis. Much like the coarse fabric she used to create her altruistic dress on the album’s artwork, Fears allows her lived experiences to take up space and permeate this record, which swells with unflinching honesty and elegance. Oíche is a collection of shadowy lullabies that span five years of emotional territory, and the result is a truly immersive and enlightening body of work. (KC)

Fightmilk – Contender
Following 2018’s Not With That Attitude, this year total faves Fightmilk released their second album Contender via Reckless Yes, and it was everything I could have hoped for. With new bassist Healey and a perhaps more ambitious musicality than previous releases, this year’s album marks a maturing in sound for the band, whilst maintaining their trademark anthemic power-pop energy. Filled with the perfect balance of jangling melodies, an endearing, refreshingly honest lyricism and shades of a raw tongue-in-cheek wit, the album covers themes from space travel and capitalism, to love, heartbreak and self-loathing, all the while oozing a raw emotion and the band’s distinctive, quirky charisma. With all the scuzzy musicality and shimmering energy we’ve come to know and love, Contender showcases a band that are continuously refining their sound and, in the process, consistently continuing to win my heart.
(ML)

Gazelle Twin & NYX – Deep England
Inspired by the tracks that formed Gazelle Twin aka Elizabeth Bernholz’s 2018 album Pastoral, Deep England is a dark fable that serves as a warning to listeners not to get swept up in national apathy. Whilst Bernholz’s unique vision of Britain’s past was brought vividly to life on her original record, with the support of the NYX drone choir her vitriol is able to take its fullest, most nerve-shredding form. Together, they present their altruistic vision of Britain in its “post-truth” sphere, embroidering a new tapestry of sound for these jarring and uncertain times. Deep England is a phenomenal artistic accomplishment; a shadowy, graceful collection of sounds that radiate with unease – truly unlike anything you’ve heard before. (KC)

LINGUA IGNOTA – SINNER GET READY
“And all that I’ve learned / is everything burns” laments Lingua Ignota aka Kristin Hayter on ‘Pennsylvania Furnace’, the fourth track on SINNER GET READY – an apt sentiment for a record that blazes with a unique orchestral agony. Released via Sargent House, Hayter’s fourth full length offering is an emotional exorcism inspired by the severe brand of Christianity in rural Pennsylvania where she currently lives. Its strictness permeates her vision to the core, with her sensational vocals remaining the lifeblood of SINNER GET READY. She uses her voice to devastating effect, harrowing up the soul with her effortless ability to switch from a soft, divine cry to a cord-ripping, desperate plea. A stunning record that I’ve returned to many times this year. (KC)

Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is an outstanding album, ambitious and sprawling while maintaining the punchy immediacy of expression synonymous with Little Simz’ earlier work. She confidently glides between styles, from epic Scott Walker-style arrangements to afrobeat grooves, which form mere backdrops to the artist’s lyrical acrobatics. Simz enumerates the anxieties, troubles and triumphs of her life and career throughout the album’s 19 tracks – this album already has an undeniably classic quality. It is a singular expansion of the possibilities of hip-hop, of pop music more generally, and an unrepentantly fantastic album of Baroque ambition and fabulous execution. (Lloyd Bolton – Contributor)

Lunar Vacation – Inside Every Fig Is A Dead Wasp
The latest album from Atlanta-based Lunar Vacation, Inside Every Fig Is A Dead Wasp oozes a shimmering allure throughout. As each track treats the ears to whirring hooks and a sparkling musicality, I just fall more in love with Grace Repasky’s honey-sweet crystalline vocals on each listen. Floating seamlessly with an ethereal splendour, a stirring melancholy ripples on a seemingly serene surface, creating a perfectly dreamy collection. With shades of Alvvays or Best Coast, Lunar Vacation have fast become one of my most favourite bands of 2021. (ML)

New Pagans – The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots and All
An intuitive rumination on the personal and the political, New Pagans’ debut album The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots and All is a gritty, deeply poetic consideration of inequality and social injustice. Released via Big Scary Monsters, the Belfast band’s first full length record dives into the paraphernalia surrounding religion, romance and women’s pain, and resurfaces having transformed these tired archetypes into aural talismans of strength and defiance. I’m such a big fan of everything they’ve released so far and I’m hoping to hear these songs live at some point in 2022. (KC)

Noga Erez – KIDS
The GIHE team collectively adore Tel-Aviv producer & pop renegade Noga Erez’s second album, KIDS. It’s a stylish, swaggering collection of songs that explore personal growth, morality and what it means to disconnect and reconnect with the world around you. Erez has worked closely alongside her collaborative & life partner Ori Rousso to create a razor sharp, intensely catchy record that proves she’s got the musical mileage she sings of. Through her witty lyrics, slick production and commanding beats, she blazes a unique musical trail that pulses with authentic energy, spotlighting her talent as a producer, vocalist, MC and performer. What a star. (KC)

Nova Twins Presents: Voices For The Unheard
Driven by their desire to spotlight the work of underrepresented artists of colour in the heavy music scene, Nova Twins aka Amy Love and Georgia South put together this blistering collection of alternative anthems with the help of Dr Martens to showcase this eclectic range of talent. Featuring tracks by Big Joanie, Khx05, Loathe, Oxymorrons & LutSickPuppy, the record is a fun, furious blur of noise from a group of artists who have been galvanized by their individual experiences of discrimination, but who are now united in their attempts to create the music they wish they had heard growing up. A proper gem of a record that’s introduced me to some brilliant artists this year. (KC)

pink suits – political child
Having completely blown us away with their riotous, seething energy at our first gig at The Shacklewell Arms earlier this month, queer Margate duo pink suits released their debut album political child, in the Spring. With just drums, a guitar and the riotous force of their voices, Lennie and Ray offer an inclusive feminist rebellion to bring about radical change – with each powerful track on the collection, they deliver a seething, all-too-poignant social commentary on the increasingly terrifying state of the UK right now. Throughout political child, pink suits offer a perfect riotous catharsis; an immense formidable force, coated in a rousing cacophony. The duo have provided an utterly necessary soundtrack for these times; a rallying cry to make our voices heard and fight for an upheaval of a neoliberal society. (ML)

Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend
Each time I’ve tried to write about Wolf Alice’s third album, Blue Weekend, I’ve fallen short of the words to describe how profoundly comforting I find it. Emotional, but with a few grunge ragers thrown in there too – plus a lyric that everyone should adopt as a mantra “I am what I am and I’m good at it / and you don’t like me? Well that isn’t fucking relevant” – Ellie Rowsell’s magnificent, elastic vocals and poignant lyrics effortlessly stretch across the record. I listened to Blue Weekend twice a day for over a month, discovering something new every time I let its cinematic sounds wash over me. Pure musical escapism that’s rooted in real fucking feelings. Properly sublime stuff. (KC)

EPs

Ailsa Tully – Holy Isle
Long term favourite of GIHE, Welsh artist Ailsa Tully released her EP in Autumn this year. Offering four exquisite slices of stirring folk-strewn indie, Holy Isle showcases Tully’s ability to reflect on feelings of vulnerability and loss with a gently uplifting, sparkling grace. As the collection flows with a shimmering, stripped-back musicality, the juxtaposition of Tully’s crystalline, honey-sweet vocals and the gentle lilting melodies creates a delicate, captivating majesty. As the beautifully rippling instrumentation glistens with a heartfelt splendour, I can’t help but become utterly immersed in the raw emotion and poignant, resplendent charm of Holy Isle in its entirety. (ML)

Aisha Badru – The Way Back Home
Having previously charmed our ears with the soothing sounds of last year’s ‘Soil’s Daughter’ and 2018’s poignant debut album Pendulum, singer-songwriter Aisha Badru released her EP The Way Back Home earlier this month. Flowing with twinkling, folk-inspired hooks alongside Badru’s rich, soulful vocals, each track oozes an immersive, heartfelt emotion. With a gentle, lilting energy and shimmering grace, a sweeping majestic splendour soars throughout this beautifully stirring collection as it soothes the mind with its gently uplifting allure. (ML)

Bitch Hunt – Shapeshifter
Having formed at First Timers Fest in 2017, London based non-binary band Bitch Hunt have since played live for us and been lovely guests on our show on Soho Radio. This year they released their debut EP Shapeshifter, via Reckless Yes. A shimmering collection of five lo-fi, yet heartfelt, offerings, it reflects on themes ranging from nostalgia and relationships, to gender and identity, delivered with a wonderfully scuzzy musicality and twinkling energy. Treating us to their effervescent, stirring brand of unique punk-pop, Bitch Hunt have crafted a collection that is beautifully poignant, whilst offering a welcome glimmer of optimism and solidarity. (ML)

BLAB – Word of Mouth
Formed of three previously released singles and a brand new track, Southend-based BLAB‘s debut EP is the sound of a songwriter fully embracing their own choices and leaning into the raw power of each moment. Released via Cool Thing Records, BLAB aka Frances Murray combines direct lyrics with infectious guitar riffs to push past personal and political frustrations, providing her listeners with sharply observed judgements on both. (KC)

Deep Tan – Creeping Speedwells
With acclaim from the likes of NME, So Young and BBC 6Music, Hackney-based trio deep tan have been favourites here at GIHE for some time now, and we’ve been very much enjoying their debut EP Creeping Speedwells, which was released this summer. Propelled by glitchy beats and whirring, twinkling hooks, each track captivates the ears with the trio’s compelling seductive allure. Flowing with fuzzed-out shades of ’90s trip-hop, whilst maintaining a unique sparkling edge and gently haunting majesty, the whole collection offers a spellbinding, rousing splendour that’ll immerse you in its dark, psychedelic haze. (ML)

Hilary Woods – Feral Hymns
I saw the title of this EP, listened to 30 seconds of it and downloaded it IMMEDIATELY. Released via Sacred Bones, Feral Hymns by Irish multi-instrumentalist Hilary Woods captures a relatable sense of gloom across five instrumentals that she worked on with collaborator Lasse Marhaug. Woods describes her ambiguous sounds as “A collection of hymns set at dusk…Unspoken bonds, primal pain, cyclical patterns, unsent love letters.” I find her melancholy, fleshy sounds intensely moving and I can’t wait to hear the new full length record she’s currently working on. (KC)

Jenny Moore’s Mystic Business – He Earns Enough
Featuring members of Trash Kit, F*Choir and Bamboo, Jenny Moore’s Mystic Business are a six-piece choral punk ensemble who released their debut EP in October. A poignant collection covering themes such as the struggles of living in a patriarchal, capitalist society and the fears women and gender minority people face when walking home alone, He Earns Enough showcases the soaring, harmonious power of voices coming together in unity. With each track propelled by an anthemic, mystical energy, the collection offers a simple, yet stirring, message, oozing a sweeping, celestial splendour that’ll bewitch the listener instantly with its eerily enchanting allure. (ML)

M(h)aol – Gender Studies
I was blown away by the power of Irish post punks M(h)aol when I saw them perform their debut EP live at The Shacklewell Arms in November. The brooding, shadowy sounds on Gender Studies vehemently reject outdated attitudes and social constraints concerning gender, identity and equality. It’s a vital, much needed antidote to toxic patriarchal standards, providing listeners with a cathartic exhale of fury and freedom. (KC)

TOKKY HORROR – I Found The Answers And Now I Want More
GIHE writer Jay Mitra penned a great review of dance-punk trio TOKKY HORROR’s debut EP earlier this year, branding it “a cyber goth masterpiece that hits you as hard as MDMA” – and they’re not wrong. Packed full of manic electronics and pounding beats, I Found The Answers And Now I Want More is a whirlwind of EDM energy that’s impossible to sit still to. (KC)

Honourable Mentions

Alex Loveless – Phone Keys & Wallet (EP)
Arlo Parks – Collapsed In Sunbeams
BISHI –Let My Country Awake
CHERYM – Hey Tori (EP)
Elodie Gervaise – Syzergy (EP)
Elsa Hewitt – LUPA
Grace Petrie – Connectivity
Halsey –If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power
Maria Uzor – Innocence and Worldliness (EP)
Me Rex – Megabear
Naoko Sakata – Dancing Spirits
Nun Habit – Hedge Fun (EP)
Okay Kaya – The Incompatible
Penelope Trappes – Penelope Three
SPELLLING – The Turning Wheel
Tirzah – Colourgrade
YAY MARIA – OYEZ
WILLOW – Lately I Feel Everything

Introducing Interview: th’sheridans

Following a decade on the scene, indie pop duo th’sheridans have recently released an epic, career-spanning compilation – Pieces Of General combining both old favourites and some newer treats. Showcasing their knack for creating scuzzy hooks, jangly beats and a swirling energy, the album offers reflections on poignant issues whilst oozing an uplifting effervescent euphoria. Whilst harking back to old favourites with a shimmering sense of nostalgia, the duo have managed to evoke a stirring resonance for right now; a sparkling call to arms, oozing a quirky, colourful spirit.

We were lucky enough to chat to the band to find out more… Have a read!

Hi th’sheridans! Are you able to tell us a bit about how you initially started creating music together?
We met at Bongos?! World Music Society in 2010 where we played “international folk” covers that ended up sounding more like a big indie band. The first thing the two of us really played together was an arrangement of the Italian partisan song ‘Bella Ciao’ (which may some day emerge as a b-side). And after trying out a batch of original sheridans songs, everybody agreed to do band.

I love your scuzzy, sparkling sounds but who would you say are your main musical influences?
Thank you so much! We put a lotta thought into the sounds and textures we use, so it’s lovely whenever that resonates with someone. Our songwriting really comes out of the Ramones playbook in that the songs can usually be broken down to a set of chords and a pop/R&B melody. As well as the broader ‘70s New York scene, ‘90s Riot Grrrl is a huge influence – especially Ladies, Women and Girls, Bratmobile’s second record. It’s key in terms of figuring out how to express and own our values in the songs, while keeping the hooks as tasty as possible! Klezmer music, Papa T. (Julia’s dad), and The Velvet Underground’s drone all play a big part in our arrangements, especially with the viola. Lastly (although this could easily spin out into a whole encyclopaedia…), artists like Hundred Waters, Beth Orton and Metric have really helped us hone how we incorporate electronic elements like drum machines and synthesisers.

You’ve just released your new career-spanning compilation album – ‘Pieces Of General’ which is super exciting! Are you able to tell us a bit about this? What made you decide to put together this collection of songs new and old?
This album really came out of conversations we had with Reckless Yes after signing with them in 2020. We were thinking about how we could best introduce ourselves to their audience while also capping off the DIY phase of our work. So Pieces Of General is basically greatest hits for a band that’s had… no hits, with some new tracks mixed in. The key thing for us was to sequence it as a coherent album, which only really became possible through Livio Beroggi’s incredible remastering work. Getting the chance to present these songs in this way has been truly wonderful, and having the label stand by and co-sign our work has meant so much to us personally.

And how have you found recording and promoting an album during these strange times?
Day to day, it’s honestly felt quite abstract, which is tough. But it’s also been a blessing to have this project to work on, especially with such wonderful collaborators. Having the remastered tracks coming in from Livio, or seeing Nestan Mghebrishvili’s artwork and design take shape – those were moments of total joy. Promotion’s been an unusual vibe (when is it not?), and at times it’s felt like folks have had more energy to get down and engage with something – and at times less. And that’s okay, we’re all trying to survive right now. But we’re grateful for where our work’s been given space or shared, and we’re particularly appreciative of Reckless Yes’s efforts to get our stuff further out there.

How have you been connecting with your audience and other musicians during the pandemic?
It’s been v. v. difficult. We’ve definitely missed the energy of a scene, of seeing friends do their thing and being inspired by that. The divisiveness of the UK government’s “it’s all up to you now, so fight amongst yourselves!” policies has been especially painful. We haven’t been rehearsing or taking bookings in the pandemic, because that hasn’t been right for us, and that’s still where we’re at. Bitch Hunt put it so well in a recent interview, where they pointed out that “it’s just less visible when people are not-doing-stuff.” Meanwhile, virtual connection has definitely felt more meaningful, whether that’s social media or ZOOM calls.

And has there been anything/anyone specific that has been inspiring you, or helping to motivate you, over the last couple of years?
Absolutely! In terms of craft or artistic practice, artists working in other media have been an increasingly big deal for us in how we approach our work as a band. Over the last few years, that’s included Frida Kahlo, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Diane Arbus. Exploring how someone develops, refines, unpacks, diverges from, expands on the themes in their work is just endlessly interesting – and where you find connection in that, it’s such a precious, beautiful experience. Same goes for how an artist lives their values – lately that’s been writers like Cecil Castellucci, artists like Bianca Xunise, and the folks over at wildly rad UK record label Amateur Pop Incorporated. And on that level of inner work, cultural workers like adrienne maree brown, Layla F. Saad, and Prentis Hemphill offer invaluable insights and pointed, necessary challenges. All their podcasts come highly recommended by yr local sheridans.

As a band keen to call out sexism and racism, how do you feel the industry is for new artists at the moment? Do you feel much has changed over the last few years?
There’s always values at work in any piece of art, the same way there’s always values at work in any conversation. And because of the overt and more transparent experience of fascism in recent years, we’ve felt the need to be increasingly direct and open about our values, as in songs like ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Dismembered‘. It’s also important to pair that kind of projection with practice and embodiment. And, while we name and explore the things we can speak to, we’re also trying to do the work around the things we don’t directly experience. As far as what we’ve seen lately, it’s a mixed bag(uette). Something we’ve noticed is a kind of values drift, particularly when it comes to specific intersections of marginalised identity (eg. white bands only paying attention to gender as a lens). And it’s hard to know how much it’s just the predictable co-option of whatever’s on-trend, or something else. Dr. Angela Y. Davis reminds us that even if it is just co-option, it means we’re getting somewhere. And at the same time, one of the biggest shifts has been witnessing the start of mainstream conversations that were previously totally off the table, specifically with regards to structural racism. And, as so many of those who have spoken truth to power have always underscored, one of the things that keeps us going is the idea that folks younger than us won’t have to go through the same things we have over the last decade or so.

And, as we’re a new music focused site, are there any other upcoming artists or bands that you’d recommend we check out?
A list! Shilpa Ray (‘70s New York vibes for the modern day, best scream outside of metal), Naz & Ella (grunge + indie + folk), Breakup Haircut (spooky pop-punk), Jemma Freeman and The Cosmic Something (cutting edge post-punk), Whitelands (shoegaze lives!), sweetbellechobaby (radical atmospheric pop), Bitch Hunt (emotionally real indie punk).

(Great choices – all GIHE faves!)

Finally, in addition to the release of your album, what does the rest of 2021 have in store for th’sheridans?
Anxiety and hibernation! We do have our next release already in the can though (a li’l late ‘80s throwback), and we’re currently figuring out which thematic batch of songs to get into next.

Massive thanks to th’sheridans for answering our questions!

Pieces Of General, the new compilation album from th’sheridans, is out now via Reckless Yes. Buy it on bandcamp now.