The best unsigned band in Britain? As Sheffield’s The Sherlocks head for Nottingham, JAMIE BARLOW speaks to frontman Kiaran Crook
Made up of frontman and songwriter Kiaran, his brother and drummer Brandon, guitarist Josh Davidson and his brother and bassist Andy, The Sherlocks are hotly-tipped as a band to go far.
The Sheffield-based indie quartet are the only unsigned band, since a certain Arctic Monkeys, to have sold out the city’s famous Leadmill venue – a feat they have accomplished twice – and, earlier this year, they supported The Libertines aboard their arena tour.
The band have only released four singles and have spent the last several years gigging up and down the country, amassing 700-odd performances and support slots with the likes of Simple Minds, The Beat and The Enemy.
When did you set up the band and what’s the story behind its name?
I think we set the band up in 2010. We couldn’t really think of a name and our bass player, Andy, used to say really obvious things all the time. We were looking for a name, I think it was Brandon who used to say to Andy: “Oh, well done Sherlock,” for all of the things he used to come out with.
Who’s been the best band to support?
The best experience we’ve had supporting a band was The Libertines in January. That just showed us the next level. We’d played a lot of gigs, but we’d never played in a venue like an arena – we’d never done arena things before. To play with them just showed us that, surprisingly, it’s not as daunting as you’d think it’d be, playing an arena. I’d be lying if I’d say I couldn’t see our band playing arenas eventually. It didn’t feel too weird or not normal, it felt pretty good to be fair. We spoke to some of The Libertines, we met them all but separately – we never really saw them as a group. They were all doing their own thing, but they were really nice to us. They stuck us on three dates. I’d say that was the best experience, it was something we all looked forward to for ages. But we supported a band called Starsailor. Starsailor were the most talkative to us, not that The Libertines weren’t welcoming of us, but Starsailor really had a lot of time for us – we enjoyed doing a few dates with them.
What’s Nottingham like as a city to play in? You’ve played at the Bodega numerous times and at the Rescue Rooms, including Dot to Dot Festival this year.
Nottingham’s good. I always get a chilled vibe in Nottingham and, when you actually play the gig, the crowd’s really up for it. We haven’t had a bad gig in Nottingham at all. There are certain places where you might think didn’t go as well, but Nottingham’s always been good to us. There are certain areas where we do really well – like Manchester, Glasgow, obviously Sheffield and I’d say Nottingham’s on that list as well. It’s always fun returning back to Nottingham.
For those that haven’t listened to you, how would you describe your sound?
A lot of people say we sound like The Courteeners. I always see that as a positive anyway. When we get compared to certain people, I don’t think I’ve ever taken offence or anything. All these bands, like The Courteeners, have been relevant to us growing up. So we probably have been inspired by them a little bit, without knowing. Then there’s older stuff that we’ve been brought up from my dad’s record collection, like The Jam. As a band, our influences are really wide. We could listen to anything, to be honest. We do listen to a lot of The Clash, we love The Clash. Sometimes it’s not about the music, it’s about their attitude or how they perform on stage – their energy and stuff. Whoever we’re listening to, we’re just trying to take the best bits from them. We analyse their band and think to ourselves: “What have they got that we like about them?” It’s just the same with anybody. We try and take what works for them, and then try and add a bit. And then when you’ve got all of the influences from all of the other bands, you’ve got your sound anyway.
Are you still unsigned?
At the minute we’re not signed to anybody. There’s the band and then mine and Brandon’s father, he’s been the manager up until this point and, just recently, we’re working with Circa Waves, Two Door Cinema Club and Maximo Park – we’re under the same management. We’re under part-management and we’re not signed to anyone, yet. I’m sure that’ll all change.
You played at South by Southwest festival in Texas earlier this year. As an unsigned band making strides in America, that’s incredible isn’t it?
Definitely, yeah. There’s no-one plastering our name or pumping loads of money into us, just to make us popular. The popularity we’ve got has been done by ourselves; we literally started in my nan’s garage, practising in there to get to where we are. We started off not having a clue about anything. We didn’t know what anything was, we could barely play our own instruments. And now we’re playing at Leeds and Reading and doing our own tours and stuff. It’s mad. You don’t really stop and think about things, you just keep on going. But it is crazy. If you were to sit back and think how far we’ve come, it’s good – but we can’t really afford to stop and think we’ve done well. We’re just approaching the first step of the ladder really.
Texas was a blast. Steve Lamacq from BBC Six Music is a huge fan of ours, and he was the one who put us forward for it. We met him a few times in Texas – we had breakfast with him one morning, we had some ribs in Texas.
Is it any coincidence that you played as part of Ocean Colour Scene’s (OCS) Mosely Shoals 20th Anniversary Tour, considering you’ve worked with Gavin Monaghan – who has also worked with OCS.
I think that’s just a pure coincidence. There’s no connection as far as I know. Those dates were fun. They were a good couple of days; I think we did three – one in Birmingham and two in Leeds, or two in Birmingham and one in Leeds. It was good to work with Gavin. It seems to be all about levels really but, before we met Gavin, we’d never really been in with a proper producer at all, anybody as good as him. When we got in with Gavin we were just blown away. We were not used to hearing ourselves sound like that, we were used to hearing home demos that sound shocking. But at the time it sounded good because we’d never heard ourselves sound any better than that. And then we met Gavin.
To be fair, we owe a lot to Gavin because he recorded Last Night and Heart of Gold. We’ve done Live for the Moment, but that was done in Leeds – that was really early. Escapade, that was done from not far from where we live, and it was like a home studio sort of recording. It was a good home studio recording and then we met Gavin, started working with him and we recorded a few songs. But Heart of Gold, that wasn’t meant to be a single, that was meant to be an album. No real thought had gone into it, it was just an album track, and then the lead par at the beginning and end – that didn’t exist. Me and Josh used to just play the chords on it, there was no real other structure and stuff. There was no real thing to the song. The best thing about Gavin was that he changed us. We could go in with a song that we thought was good enough, and we’d come out with near enough a totally different song. It made the song a lot better. When we released Heart of Gold, the band all felt we were releasing something to allow us to take a step up when we released it. With the sound of it as well. I think that might’ve been the first single we properly got on Radio One. Every time it came on, it felt like our band had taken a step up – every time we heard it, it sounded massive compared to the last two singles. Last Night did the same thing; I think that got even more play on Radio One, as well as Six Music and loads of others. The next single, it feels like another step up as well – it feels like it’s growing.
You must have plans to release the first album. Is that something that’s in the pipeline?
That’s something that’s on our minds every single day. One thing we’re definitely not going to do is rush it. We’ve seen too many bands release an album prematurely, and it doesn’t do anything. We just want to make sure, when we release our albums, they’re going to make an impact. The tunes are ready – a few of the songs are recorded. Straight after the tour, I think we’ll be straight into the studio for however long to start recording. We’ve still got to decide on the track listing for our album and sit down together and see what we all think – and then it’ll be a long process choosing the songs. But, in my opinion, I think the songs are ready.
The Sherlocks play at the Rescue Rooms on Wednesday, September 14. Tickets are sold out.