Following on from secret sets at Reading and Leeds Festival The Sherlocks whirlwind gig schedule shows no sign of slowing down with a huge autumn tour upcoming and album number two ‘Under Your Sky’ dropping on 4 October 19. The first album ‘Live For The Moment’ was the biggest debut album of 2017 charting at number 6. So how do you follow that? It’s All Indie spoke to lead singer Kiaran Crook to find out.
James Skelly (Producer and frontman of The Coral) produced the new album ‘Under Your Sky’. How did you decide who you wanted?
As soon as the first album dropped we started thinking and talking about the next one. A few names were dropped and James Skelly was one of those. I’m not sure why, I think we’d just heard his name and knew he’d done well with other bands like Blossoms and when we listened to their album we liked how contemporary it sounded which is probably what we needed.
Were you looking to change the sound from the first album?
Not so much change the sound but make it sound a little bit more up to date. Not that the first album sounds old but there’s a lot you can do with the production side and we needed to step out of what we know and hand the reins to someone else. James Skelly was perfect for that and, the same as we’d do for any producer, we give the control to them and see what they come out with and provided we like what he’s doing then we continue in that direction. That’s what happened with James once we got in. It was a shock. He was a shock, but once we got over that, and understanding that he does thing different to how we’d do it, then that’s where you start ending up with a different sort of album instead of regurgitating the same old stuff.
So you hadn’t actually met him before until you got there, is that right?
Yeah, never met him, never heard his sweet little voice! We had seen him at Neighbourhood Festival when we played that a couple of years ago but we never really spoke to him. Literally on the first day of recording it was mental like no pre-productions or meetings with him, it was just turn up on the first day and get cracking straight on to the first song.
It sounds like your gut instinct was right then to go with him?
It just had to work! We jumped in at the deep end and it was signed and done so we hadn’t got time to mess about or let egos get in the way. It was just get in and start and get to know each other as we get going which was what happened. On the first 3 or 4 days we were just getting to know him really.
Kiaran Crook. The Sherlocks
Take me through what actually happened on the first day you got into the studio?
We came in and we probably stared him out and he probably stared us out a bit, looked us up and down, bit of eyeballing going on, shake hands and that was it really. Within the first half an hour we were straight into the live room, this big room where your drums are set up and stuff and we set some amps up and literally started playing through the first tune which was ‘NYC (Sing It Loud)’. We started playing through that and James went into the other room and then he was talking to us from the other side saying try doing this and try doing that. So we tried some drumbeats and stuff.
When did you know that you’d chosen the right person, and that is felt like it was going to work?
After the first day it was the complete opposite of that, we still didn’t know him, we’d not had that time yet so we couldn’t take a lot away from that first day apart from the song we’d started with, ‘NYC’, sounded completely different and we weren’t sure if we liked it. First day was a bit weird, second day was the same again but after the third day we started warming to each other. We just didn’t really know him until then, we needed to get our heads round how he worked. By the time we were tracking guitars on ‘NYC’ that’s when it started sounding good and when we started getting vocals on it everything seemed to come together and we understood which direction he was trying to take it in.
Had James heard your first album? Did he know your normal sound or was he completely fresh to The Sherlocks sound?
I think he’d had a skim through and did his homework, once conversations were happening. There were a few people involved and he was always a front runner. I don’t think he’d have just said yes without listening to the first album and that’s when he agreed to work with us. He must have liked what we’re about.
Is it completely your decision, you and the band to who to go to or does the label have any control?
Yeah they have input and might try and steer you in a certain direction and try and help but it always comes down to us and who we want. You can’t force it, if we really didn’t want to go in with somebody they couldn’t make us because the chemistry just wouldn’t work. It’d be a bad vibe. They were always up for James Skelly but we were the ones who decided it in the end.
Promoting this album you’re playing lots of little venues/ people’s garages etc. You asked the fans where they wanted to see you so how’s that going down?
We’re loving it, in fact we’re doing one today in York in a brewery which is always fun. We haven’t really done this in a long time though we did a couple on the first album. It’s been good to get up close. We played in someone’s back garden the other day in Nottingham and there were like 50 of his mates round so that was really good!
What do the neighbours think when you do that?
They seemed to have been alright. There were a couple watching from their windows.
Do you change your performance at all from when you’re playing little gigs to how you play the big stages?
Slightly but not much. It’s just more relaxed when we’re doing this sort of thing, it’s not really professional it’s just the vibe that needs to be had. It’s pretty off the cuff turning up at someone’s house anyway!
You get instant feedback then when you’re so close to people . You know when the songs are going down well whereas sometimes at the big festivals that’s a different relationship.
The bigger the audience the less intimate so there’s not much opportunity to mess around or point people out in the crowd. In these small acoustic gigs you can point somebody out and start having a laugh and everyone there can see what’s going on and join in on the joke.
What track from the new album do you like playing the most?
‘Magic Man’ is fun, we all enjoy playing that, it’s pretty rocky, verses are good, second verse is pretty punchy, a big chorus and a weird solo which is good to play.
What’s the dream then for you and do you share the same dreams as Brandon, Josh and Andy?
Ah tough question, probably arenas, we all share that dream because we’ve been able to play in a couple like with Kings Of Leon (KOL), and it was so much fun playing then. You’d think it’d be nerve wracking but it’s actually alright.
I’ve read before that you’ve said KOL was the best one out of all the big supports you’ve done. Is that right?
Yeah I’d say that. It was just everything, for a start us being there and playing it, even the soundcheck was good, playing the show and meeting them and then watching it. The whole night was good, the most memorable of all the big shows we’ve done.
Did KOL actually take the time to talk to you?
Yeah, we were lucky to meet them because it was pretty high security and there’s no way into the dressing room unless they let you in. We got allowed in to meet them for 5 or 10 minutes so we were lucky.
Thanks for the chat Kiaran, before I let you go what music are you listening to at the moment?
On the way here I was listening to Liam Gallagher’s new album, he’s smashing it at the moment we like him.
The Sherlocks are:
Kiaran Crook - Lead Vocals/Rhythm Guitar
Josh Davidson - Lead Guitar
Andy Davidson - Bass
Brandon Crook - Drums
Brandon Crook - Drums
‘Under Your Sky’ is released on 4 October. The Sherlocks UK/EU tour starts in Dublin on the same day.
Words and photographs by Rhona Murphy