‘Norwich is always a good night - but a bit boozy!’ Shed Seven lead singer Rick Witter looks ahead to city gig
- Credit: Tom Oxley
For lovers of a certain type of music, you know it's Christmas when indie-band Shed Seven announce a tour. And on Tuesday, December 10 the York-based band will come to Norwich to perform their many 90s classics, as well as a few tunes from their most recent album, 2017's brilliant Instant Pleasures. Ahead of the gig, in which they'll be supported by The Twang, lead singer Rick Witter spoke to David Powles.
HEY RICK, GREAT TO SPEAK TO YOU. WHAT ARE YOU UP TO AT THE MOMENT?
RICK: We're in the process of last minute preparations. We've another couple of rehearsals left and then we're up and running.
We've had this tour booked in since February and when we announced it, it seemed ages away so you forget about it, then suddenly it's next weekend it's like 'wow, where did that time go?'.
We decided to get together once a week from September and start rehearsing and get ourselves match fit again, reminding ourselves of songs that we've played millions of times in the past and a few that we haven't played before.
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We've got to the point now where we are ready. We'll be standing in a room singing 'Getting Better' at each other and it's not really necessary because were ready.
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AFTER ALL THESE YEARS HOW DO YOU KEEP THINGS FRESH?
RICK: We just love playing live and try our hardest to put 100pc into it. We're not one of those bands who just stand there looking at their feet, looking like they'd rather be somewhere else. I think it's important to put on a show.
In this day and age, when there's that much entertainment out there and that much for people to spend their money on, it's a real pleasure to know that people want to put their hands in their pockets and come and spend money to see us. It's important that they go away happy.
I think we've always been a good live band. We put these tickets on sale back in February and I know from Twitter that people are starting to get excited for the gigs now. It helps that it's at Christmas, everyone wants to celebrate, it's a good time of year, everyone likes a drink. It just kind of all blends together for a great party.
YOU'VE HAD A BUSY FEW YEARS, TOURING, FESTIVALS AND RECORDING A VERY HIGHLY ACCLAIMED NEW ALBUM. DID YOU IMAGINE THAT WOULD HAPPEN?
RICK: We're a funny old band, we've never really looked too far ahead, never written to order and we don't sit down and discuss the next year or a career plan as such.
When we reformed in 2007 it was totally off the cuff, it was because we missed playing live and missed that buzz of being on stage in front of people.
Quite rightly a lot of Shed Seven fans then started asking whether we were going to do anything new and for a long time we had no inclination to. We were all enjoying doing other things and enjoying the nostalgia trip. We were quite happy doing that.
Then, weirdly, about four or five years ago, when we were rehearsing for a gig, Paul (Banks - lead guitarist) started doing the riff to a song called Nothing To Live Down, which was on our last album. My ears pricked up and the next thing I'm on the studio floor writing lyrics into a notepad. It was almost like we were 13 again.
Without even considering writing anything new we just got caught up in it. The fact we didn't have anyone telling us what to do, no label and no management pressurising us really helped. In the space of about a year and a half we wrote an album worth of songs but even then we had no idea what to do with it.
We started sharing demos with songs and people said 'you can't keep these to yourself you need to give them to other people' and it snowballed from there into an album called Instant Pleasures. It was just a happy accident really, but a brilliant one and I'm very proud of it. I think it's very fresh and almost like a debut album. If we were a new band doing our debut and came out with that, I think we'd be bigger than we already are.
WHAT NEXT THEN? ANYMORE ALBUMS?
RICK: I don't want to upset existing Shed Seven fans, but all I will say is it took us 16 years to get that album done and out, if it takes another 18 to do another one then so be it. We're not going to write any old rubbish to keep us in the public eye, I'd much rather do something we really believe in.
I'm always scribbling ideas into notepads but it's just a case of us all getting together and being in the right frame of mind to create something. It could happen in four years, it could happen in two, it could happen in 56.
DO YOU STILL FEEL THE PASSION AFTER ALL THESE YEARS?
RICK: Absolutely. Since I was 10 or 11 this is all I've wanted to do. Growing up through school, me and Paul were in bands, playing in pubs, pretending to be The Housemartins. We've always done it and when I was 15 at school and asked to go see the careers advisor I'd tell them 'I'm a singer in a band, this is what I'll do'.
I was told it's a pipe dream and I should grow up. All of these things make me realise that I'm lucky to do what I do and because of that I'll always put my all into it because I love it.
(On how the music scene has changed) It's all massively changed now, some things for the better, some for the worse, but I think, at the end of the day, if you have something in you, you believe in yourself that much and you persist with it, the chances are something good will happen.
I always say to young, up and coming bands, we spent a lot of time travelling between London and York playing to very few people, honing a set. We'd go once a week to play in pubs in London to absolutely nobody, then come back through the night, but we always thought we were good enough to continue and that at some point people would start coming to see us. That belief and dedication saw us through.
HAS YOUR APPROACH TO LIVE SHOWS CHANGED AT ALL?
RICK: No that's very similar. I'll be very nervous, because I always am. It's wanting the show to be good. I don't want to walk off the stage at the end of the night thinking I haven't put my all into it.
I'm still anxious before a gig, I don't want to walk on, trip up and make a complete tit out of myself. Once the music starts, you've heard that crowd roar and the lights go down, the hips start swinging, you just get right into it.
WHAT'S YOUR VIEW OF NORWICH AS A PLACE TO PLAY?
RICK: It's always been brilliant for us. I remember the first time we played Norwich was the Arts Centre, then we went to the Waterfront and ended up progressing to the UEA, which we have been playing for god knows how many years.
Norwich is close to selling out, so we just know that people will be there having a great time as always. I do always worry about that venue because it has those steps going down to the dancefloor. I don't want people to slip and slide all over the place.
But as long as the crowd are happy we are. It's always a good night out - but if I'm honest perhaps a little bit too boozy!
For tickets to the gig click here