Monday, 20 November 2017

An Interview With SHEAFS ~ 10.11.17

With an already impressive back catalogue of studio single releases behind them, and an ever growing repute for their colossal live performances,  SHEAFS (made up of Lawrence Feenstra, Callum Wright, Charlie Eastap, Charles Mellor and Chris Goodacre) are fast becoming the ones' to beat on the Sheffield music scene. Latest release 'This Is Not A Protest', with its' ferocious riffs and angsty lyricism, was unassailable in its' delivery and earned the band deserved high acclaim from the likes of BBC Radio 1, This Feeling and Radio X. One thing's for certain, they are a band with a big presence; emphatic, unequivocal vocals atop vehement instrumentation ensures that once seen, these guys are impossible to forget.

I was able to speak with frontman Lawrence and bassist Cal following their final hometown show of 2017 at Sheffields' The Leadmill. Having just played a triumphant set to a sold out crowd, the energy and delight from the pair was evident, and it was interesting to hear more of the successes within their career thus far.


How and when did you first come together as a band?
Cal: You take the lead here, mate. Well I wasn't there initially, was I?
Lawrence: Me, Chris and Charles all knew one another from somewhere or another, and then we were like 'Well we can't start a band with just a singer and two guitarists so lets put an advert out, reluctantly, for a bassist and a drummer as well.' We did that, and managed to draft in Cal and Charlie... that was it, really!
Cal: That's a little bit inaccurate really, because actually I put an advert out for myself. I was a guitarist actually, I didn't play bass.
Lawrence: A very good one, I must say.  

What did you guys grow up listening to, and how did it inspire you?
Cal: Lawrence was into a lot of N-Dubz.
Lawrence: Can we just judge each other? That would be more fun. Cal started out with My Chemical Romance.
Cal: I dabbled in Slipknot. Just dabbled. It wasn't intense, but I dabbled. What were you into? Lawrence would listen to N-Dubz, Tinchy Stryder... big Tinchy Strider fan. When we're backstage, that's sort of like your go-to isn't it? The one.
Lawrence: Who, sorry? Is he an insect?
Cal: You were into a lot of Spandau Ballet...
Lawrence: To be fair, serious answer now, I got into music quite late. My mates who listened to music would listen to more electronic kind of stuff really... more dance music. Then through some way or another I moved on to what I suppose is more indie music... stupid things like The Wombats, basically what you'd listen to when you're younger. Stupid songs like that and then I realised that I was a little bit different to my mates. Every time Arctic Monkeys or something like that would come on, I'd be well into it but as soon as Deadmau5 or something like that came on I was a bit like 'Ugh.'
Cal: I'm the same really because I think when you're growing up, you're more into what your mates are listening to... but then you find your own.
Lawrence: It's a bit collective really, isn't it. It's trying to find your way when you're younger and shit, and then that's kind of the pivotal point where you go 'Right, actually... I prefer guitar music even though everybody else is into dance music.'
Cal: I think the difference as well is that if you have a friendship group who are into dance music or whatever, when you start to break away from all of that you're just a little bit more passionate about it because you found it yourself as opposed to being exposed to it by your friends. When I went to uni, that was kind of like my thing and I wanted to be in a band. I do think we all got into it quite late.
Lawrence: Definitely. I only started playing guitar when I was 18. I only got a guitar because I wanted to play songs on a night to listen to. I just wanted to play along to the songs that I liked to listen to and then from there, it kind of just grows.


You've had a pretty big year so far; you had quite a big festival season, a couple of successful single releases and plenty of praise... I don't mean to feed anyones' ego here! If you had to pick just one highlight of 2017 so far, what would it be and why?
Cal: I think we both know what the highlight would be, really. It's probably Y-Not isn't it? It's got to be.
Lawrence: Awkward. I was going to say Tramlines! I think it's different though. Faith, everything that we do at this point is new to us... everything we do. So when we played Y-Not, we played the allotment stage and we had a bit of a point to prove, I think. We'd made a bit of an impression at Isle of Wight and Y-Not was our chance to prove ourselves.
Cal: Y-Not for me personally is like my hometown festival because I'm from Derby which is really close where it's set, so it was a really big thing for me. It was the first festival I ever went to. It was very special for us, but everyone else who went to that festival hated it!
Lawrence: It's probably the closest we'll get to like a mainstream festival, I think.
Cal: Probably. Quarry Stage aside, we had a really great time at the Allotment Stage with This Feeling. We came off stage and we were buzzing because it'd gone really well, and then we got asked to do the Quarry Stage.
Lawrence: It was massively last minute. I remember Charles had that bottle of whiskey... he came off stage and there was about three quarters of this bottle of whiskey left. As soon as we came off stage, it was a bit of a relief. We felt like it went well and we were celebrating. Aaron Procter got a message over his earpiece or whatever and he was like 'Look lads, do you want to play the Quarry Stage?' and of course we said 'Too right, we fucking do!' Next minute, we were smashing all of the gear over to the other side.
Cal: We were under the impression that it was happening in a few hours, but then we were told it was now and that we had to be over there straight away.
Lawrence: I don't know how you can top that personally, as a band. You come off stage after a performance where you're literally on the ceiling and you think it's fucking massive... and it is massive for us, and then you come off and go over to do something magnified. I say this honestly, I don't think we'll ever be able to top that.
Cal: Even down the line if we get to do a show in front of that many people again, which obviously we hope we do, it might be planned and we'd expect it... but with that, we were kind of all ready in deep water with it being a festival, and then we were pushed in even deeper. I don't know if you remember, but I said to you 'People are going to leave when we start playing. Just expect it.'  They weren't expecting us... they were expecting a rapper, bear in mind. It's such a different genre.
Lawrence: We tried our best to get them involved.

Did someone drop out? Is that how you got the slot?
Cal: It was Nadia Rose, the rapper. I'm very grateful that Nadia didn't make it... sorry, Nadia. We got told we were playing the Quarry, which is brilliant, but when we were told who we were replacing... such a different artist. Solo artist, rapper... completely different. But somehow it worked! Somehow we made it work and we are so grateful. I couldn't stop smiling, which is kind of weird for me on stage because we try to be a bit... cool.
Lawrence: I don't know what he's talking about...
Cal: It was awful weather. When I say we had to walk through mud to get our gear to the other side... it was a walk that, realistically, should have taken us five minutes but it took us fifteen. It's memories, though!


Music aside, has anyone in the band got any strange talents or interesting hobbies?
Cal: Lawro's pretty good at football. It's not very strange, but he's quite good. Again, I'm pretty good at football. Nah, I'm awful.
Lawrence: You know when you're in PE and you're forced to do rounders or whatever... you know when you do stupid sports like that? As much as I like Callum, he might be the last person you'd pick. Only because if you ask him to throw a stone across the room, he wouldn't hit the wall.
Cal: Maybe my talent is not being good at sport... which then is a talent because I'm very good at it. I'm trying to think of other talents... Charles is the best bartender in Sheffield. Have you ever seen him pour a pint?! He does it with grace and art. And Chris...
Lawrence: Chris has got the best haircut in Sheffield.
Cal: That's his talent... having a good haircut! And to be fair, and he'll love this, he's quite good at writing tunes. Apart from that mate, you're pretty bad.
Lawrence: Pretty average.
Cal: Charlie is mint, isn't he? Just at everything. He's just one of those guys. We have a good time!


I really like how loud, expressive and opinionated your music is. Do you think it's important not only to use music as an outlet for entertainment but to try and educate people and get them talking as well?
Cal: I think it depends what sort of artist you are and what you're trying to expres, really. If you're trying to express angst, which I suppose is our kind of thing. We're not very political. Well we are individually, but not through our music... yet! Watch this space... second album! Our music is more about social stuff... 'Mind Pollution' have themes about things we're perhaps a little bit dissatisfied with. In terms of politics, a lot of bands like that are doing really well. We're really big fans of a band called Strange Bones and they do the whole political thing amazingly. They've got their heads screwed on and the music that they make is just amazing and quite resonant. I do think some bands really benefit from being quite expressive in their music because it makes people want to listen to it and hear what they think. But then I don't think it's necessary... I don't think you have to do that. You've just got to play whatever you feel.

Would you rather be able to travel back in time or see into the future?
Cal: Travel back in time. I'd love to go back to a time where online music isn't really a thing and see what that's like.
Lawrence: 60's. Mid 60's. I'd probably work my way through after that, I think.


Tell me something about SHEAFS that no one else knows...
Cal: There's definitely stuff...
Lawrence: A lot of stuff...
Cal: Some stuff we can't say...
Lawrence: We told Callum, because he used to have slicked back hair... we asked him to grow his hair because we kind of wanted him to match a little bit. He's half way there now, I think. He used to have the Magaluf look.

Finally... what's next for SHEAFS and what can we expect from you in 2018?
Cal: We're putting together a tour which should take place February/March time, along with a coinciding single which will be announced in the near future!
Lawrence: Coming soon...


Listen to SHEAFS:


Where to find them...
Facebook: /sheafsband
Twitter: @SHEAFSband
Instagram: @sheafsband

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