With a trip to York coming soon on their tour, we decided it was time to catch up with Sheffield lads The Crookes. We talked about their upcoming trip to the States, their record label Anywhere Records and the current music industry.
By Jane Howkins
You’re currently in the midst of a UK tour, and will be playing York soon. As Yorkshire lads, do you enjoy playing up here?
Of course! I was born in Halifax so York is pretty close to being a hometown show for me. It’s amazing being in a Yorkshire band because all the other towns and cities in the area get behind you. It’s like you’re the property of a whole county, not just Sheffield.
What would you say is your favourite place to play, is there anywhere you specifically like going on tour?
I have to go obvious and say The Leadmill in Sheffield. The atmosphere is unreal in there when you have 900 people crammed in on a Saturday night. There’s something special about that venue that not many other places have.
You’re also heading to the States after the UK tour, that must be pretty exciting. How do you find that gigs differ between the UK and America?
We’re all huge fans of American culture – bands, films, food – so to have the chance to go and tour over there is a dream come true really. It’s one of those things that I’ll still be remembering fondly in 50 years’ time. The shows are different because we’re starting from scratch over there but it’s still fun and we like a challenge! Plus, the Americans love an English accent so they usually come round to us soon enough.
You formed in Sheffield, do you ever feel like there is a musical legacy to live up to, or does the great amount of bands that have come from there just inspire you more?
I don’t think we’ve ever felt any pressure to do justice to Sheffield’s heritage. There’s so many great bands with roots here that I think you’d drive yourself mad if you did! We have been lucky enough to have had a leg up from Richard Hawley, Jon McClure and Jarvis Cocker among others along the way and we’ll always be grateful for that. Sheffield looks after its own! It’s a very community-driven city and is great for young bands because the more established acts are always keen to lend a hand if they can.
You’ve had some pretty high praise in the past, with even Noel Gallagher of Oasis speaking highly of you. How was that? Are you fans of Oasis?
It was a lovely surprise! I am a big fan of Oasis. I grew up listening to What’s The Story… and skipped school to see them in 2005. We bought a crate of Strongbow from the boot of someone’s car on the way in though so I don’t remember much of that.
Last year you created your own record label (Anywhere Records), how did that come about? Was it a hard process?
We just came to the realisation that it would be in our best interests to have complete control. Nobody cares about our band as much as us so who better to be in charge? It’s definitely a work in progress but everyone involved has stepped up and worked incredibly hard to deliver the new record. To know that we have released our 4th album on our own label, less than 6 months after founding Anywhere Recs is a crazy thought!
You seem to have mostly released your own music via Anywhere Records, do you plan to work with many other artists in this capacity?
First things first…. We have talked vaguely about the possibility of working with other bands in the future but for now, we have to be selfish! There are a lot of good bands around Sheffield that can’t get a break at the moment so if we could provide a home for some of them in the years to come, that would be great but that’s a long way off at the moment.
What do you think of the current music industry, and do you think it’s easier or harder for bands to get their music out there and make some money from it?
It’s easier than ever to record music and to make it available. More and more bands are making records in their bedrooms to save money and with how connected everyone is these days, those DIY recordings can go around the world in seconds. Making money is another story though. It is hard to exist off the music you make alone but if you’re willing to make sacrifices then it can be done.
Who/what would you say you are most influenced by, and what other bands/artists would you recommend our readers check out?
Misty Miller, Christopher Owens, Laurel Canyons, High Hazels, Nude Beach, Golden Eels.
What would you say has been the best or most memorable gig you’ve ever played?
The best was the last Leadmill show we played in 2014. It was just one of those nights where everyone in the room was on our side from second one. I threw my shirt into the crowd at the end and then got worried that whoever caught it would know that I wore a Primark shirt to headline the Leadmill! The other most memorable show was in a converted army barracks in Slovenia. They don’t get many British bands so when we played there were 500 kids in the crowd going berserk, all smashed on this local wine called Bear’s Blood. It was intense.
What should people expect from one of your shows, and why do you think people should come and see you?
Us, playing our songs as well as we possibly can.
Any last words for the fans?
Thanks for sticking with us! No one is more surprised that we’ve managed to make it to album 4 than us and it means the world to know there are still people out there who like what we do. That’s all any band can ask for.
The Crookes is playing at The Duchess on Friday 12 February 2016, 7.30 pm