Interview – Sierra

I recently reviewed Sierra’s new EP, Screaming Into The Void. The band have a great sound and I wanted to find out more – read on below to find out more!

By Jane Howkins

What can you tell us about SITV?

H: It’s our first recording as a full five-piece and it’s been a long time coming. We’ve had this huge back catalogue for ages and we were sort of drip feeding them out one or two at a time… then we decided to finally do an EP, make some physical copies, have a launch party – basically do proper band stuff. It’s also the first time we’ve recorded with mostly live instruments – before it was pretty much all DIY.

C: I like to consider it as an exercise in intensive maximalism. Musically we wanted to do something as grandiose as possible, but the recording of the EP was done in the spare room of my flat with one microphone and very bare bones equipment. That juxtaposition of maximalist music with a very minimalist process is cool, to me, at least.

Has the pandemic hindered your work much?

H: Not really. We cut our teeth recording the first singles during lockdown, and our drummer lives in Shepton Mallet, so we got very used to Google Drive and Zoom calls. Might have had a few gigs get cancelled but all in all, we managed to take the whole thing in our stride.

C: If anything it gave us time to reassemble the band into its current iteration and get ourselves gig ready. That process would have taken much longer if we were all working other jobs full time also.

What is the writing and recording process like for you?

H: Usually Charlie will write about 80 or 90% of a song and bring it to us pretty much ready to go, then we all pick a part to play and fine-tune it, maybe suggest a few little ideas to add and it’s done. Lately though, we’ve been making an active effort to jam more, and Charlie is aiming to only write general progressions and basslines so we can all be a bit more creative coming up with parts.

Do you plan to release any singles in the near future?

H: You bet. We added a new synth-driven song into our set recently. Think Depeche Mode, but with balls, and we’re very keen to start recording and get that out into the wide world. We’re also looking to record one of our setlist staples that we’ve been playing for a few months now. It’s a funky and jazzy number where we basically rip off Paul Simon, and it’s just about the only one that isn’t recorded, so it’d be a shame to leave it out.

C: Those songs straddle the two worlds of Sierra; one which is more electronic, synth-driven, angular, the other which is more organic and centered on harmony.

Have you started writing for another EP or an album?

H: Not really, but like I said, we’ve got so many songs just sitting in Logic projects that we almost considered starting with an LP! Then we thought, “Best pace ourselves”. We’ve definitely got plenty more music where that came from.

C: The Charlie archives are vast and murky. There’s plenty of stuff in there that could conceivably see the light of day in the next 12-18 months.

What/who are your influences? What have you been listening to recently?

H: David Bowie, Everything Everything, and a shit ton of post-rock.

C: I’ve been getting back into Dylan. Specifically the record Street Legal. My Spotify On Repeat tells me that I’ve been listening to Everything Everything, Steely Dan and a band called Her’s. There are two really cool smaller UK bands I’ve discovered recently, one called Atticomatic (who we played with last month) and one called Moa Moa. Both worth a listen.

Where are you based? What is the music scene like in your part of the world? Are you influenced by your surroundings?

H: We’re a Bristol-based band so we’re on the doorstep of a decent music scene. There’s a lot of jazz, funk and neo-soul, but also pockets of harder rock and metal, so it’s an interesting mix… there are a few indie bands, but they’re mostly confined to the same venues. We keep playing at Crofters Rights & The Louisiana, which we absolutely love, but we’d be keen to play further afield and outside of Bristol too. I dream of a mini tour nightly.

C: I’m definitely influenced by living in a city. It’s noisier, more claustrophobic. I’ve always lived either in the suburbs or in the sticks, so constantly being around everything all the time is bleeding into my writing. A sort of frenetic anxiety.

Do you have any tour dates lined up?

H: We’re playing with Murder Club at The Louisiana on April 29th, and then supporting The Winters at Crofters Rights on 2nd June.

C: And we have a homecoming show in Torquay on August 13th, and we’re playing The Cullompton Festival in July.

What can people expect from one of your shows and why should people come and see you live?

H: The songs, but played live, with a lot more silliness. Come along if you like to groove about and don’t mind us toying with a few different styles.

C: Capes, lobster costumes, instrument changes, Radiohead covers. And you should come and see us live because we want to be famous. At any cost.

Any last words for the fans?

H: Plant on the head/Give me a taste of Curtain paste

C: Thanks for the huge support you’ve given Screaming Into The Void. It really is flattering.