"You need a good strong melody, like Elvis Presley...” - hmv.com talks to The Sherlocks
Things have changed a bit in the last few years for South Yorkshire indie quartet The Sherlocks. Less than a year after the release of their second album Under Your Sky in 2019, one of the band's two pairs of brothers - namely guitarist Josh Davidson and bassist Andy Davidson - departed together in 2020, leaving vocalist / guitarist Kiaran Crook and drummer Brandon Crook with half of their line-up missing and some big shoes to fill.
Replacements were found in guitarist Alex Procter and bass player Trent Jackson, who join the band's new-look lineup on their third LP World I Understand.
Recorded at Wales' famed Rockfield Studios by Dave Eringa, best-known for producing a string of albums by Welsh rockers Manic Street Preachers, their third album arrived in stores on Friday (January 21) and ahead of its release we spoke to Kiaran Crook about their new album, how the new members have fitted in and their touring plans for this year...
So obviously the big change is that this is your first album with this new lineup. How was it getting settled into a writing routine with a new set of players?
“Yes, well, writing-wise it's always been the same, to be honest. I've always started it on an acoustic guitar or whatever and brought it to the band, but yes, It's been fun to be honest. Right from the start, there's no question about if they could play it like they’re good musicians, but I think it was more about how we gel as people. But we get on like a house on fire, it's just constant laughs. So it's good to have them in. Top lads.”
Did you have a goal of what you wanted to do differently with this record? Or do you just write and see what happens?
“I try not to overthink it and just write it. I just write as I always have. It's the kind of stuff that naturally happens anyway, when you get in the studio with a producer or whatever. Whether it's changed, I think that just happens, that's just a natural thing depending on where you record it, who you record it with and what sort of mood you're in. You'll come out with a different outcome each time so I don't really worry about that too much, just focus on writing tunes like I always have, really.”
Given the way the world's got the last couple of years, everyone's had a lot of enforced time off. Did that mean for this album you had a lot of songs to pick through?
“If anything, it's probably been more productive, because we had all that time on our hands. I think a lot of bands probably had a period of time where we've got into lockdown and it's just seemed like the end of the world, it has been a bit of a nightmare, you can't gig. But for us, we just start thinking about all the things we could do rather than getting too down about it. What can we do? We can make an album, we can make some music videos. We just cracked on and, to be fair, we kept ourselves very busy.”
Did that mean you had a lot of songs to choose from? Were there many that didn't make the cut?
“Not many at all to be honest. I think I heard Sam Fender the other day say something like 'Oh, I had 60 songs and had to whittle it down'. That's just crazy to me. Like, I've probably never written 60 songs in my life.
"I don't like the idea of writing 50 songs and then trying to whittle it down. I just write songs until we've got enough. For the first album we had 15 songs and ended up with 12. For this album, we wanted to go into it really knowing exactly what's going to be on our album and do it that way. We knew how many songs we wanted on the album."
How was Dave Eringa to work with? How did that come about?
“On the first album we went with Gavin Monaghan, but leading up to the first album there were two frontrunners that we wanted to work with, either Gavin Monaghan, who's a good friend of the band, or Dave. We did a lot of stuff previously with Gavin, like early singles and stuff, then the opportunity came up to try Dave to see how we worked with him. We did two songs at Rockfield before the first album came out out, 'Will You Be There?' and 'Chasing Shadows', but we ended up going with Gavin, not because Dave wasn’t good, just because we all were a lot more friendly with Gavin at the time. So we did the album with Gavin, but we still wanted to use Dave's version of 'Will You Be There?' because we thought that sounded better than the one we tried Gav.
"So we always knew we'd try again with him at some point and then coming around for this third album it just seem like the perfect time. Someone suggested him and we were just like, 'Yeah, let's go with Dave. We got in touch with him and found some time to do it, like a three week period. And for me it's been my favourite album to make. Like I said, there was no question whether he's good or not, it was more about whetehr he'd get on with me for that long! But that wasn't even an issue, he's a proper funny bloke. We had a lot of fun making it.”
Obviously he's done a lot at Rockfield studios before, Manic Street Preachers for one, so he knows the space really well, which must have helped...
“Yeah, we know Rockfield and it almost feels la bit like home to us. We've made three albums, but we've been there twice now. So it starts to feel like, okay, I wouldn't be surprised if we go there again, to be honest. It's the best studio I've been in, it's quality.It does help that it's residential, you're there the whole time, you eat sleep and breathe the album.”
Does that help to get things done rather than like doing a day and going home and coming back?
“Yeah I think so, that's definitely my preferred way of doing it. We've been fortunate, to be fair. I suppose It depends on how you like to do it, but for me it wasn't even a question. Every single album we make I'd always like it to be residential. I don't really like doing all that leaving and then packing up and coming back. Even if we ended up doing an album in Thailand or Spain or whatever, I think it helps, just being locked away. Especially at Rockfield as well, it's not like it's in the city, it's literally on a farm so you are surrounded by sheep. There are no distractions and you don't go on your phone because the signal is a bit crap, so you're just soaked in your own music and I think that's where we work best.”
If you were there for three months or something though you'd probably end up cracking up, wouldn't you?
“You actually would. I think you genuinely would. I mean, we did three weeks and I came back from that thinking it's weird even coming back after that and seeing like Me mum or whatever. Because you I don't know what the term is. But you can, you can definitely go crazy. We were drinking like every night quite a lot and having late nights, like five or six in the morning every night for three weeks, when you come back to normal it's weird. It's not stir crazy, That's not the term, is it? But I suppose t's like people who stay in the house too long and then you don't want to come out. It's a little bit like that, you just get comfortable, and I got super comfortable. Just waking up every day at 10 o'clock, get to the studio for 11 and it's just cups of tea, we weren’t really eating that much, and then you're on the beers by afternoon and partying until 5 or 6 in the morning, doing that every day for like three weeks. Just becomes a routine. It's like a soldier leaving the army and still feeling a bit lost 'cause he’s not been told what to do.”
Must've been a good bonding experience though, given the new additions to your line-up?
“Yeah, exactly. I mean, for us, that time we had at Rockfield was basically how we got to know Trent and Alex and it's probably the best way to do it, because it wasn’t like in dribs and drabs, it’s like your spending three weeks with these people and getting to know them, Talking every night and just having a laugh. And that’s how it should be. We had just done a good time. I wouldn’t change anything and we probably couldn’t make an album like this again because even though me and Brandon were making a third album, they were making their debut albums. You never get that back. We’re a lot closer now. We've got to know each other right well.”
What kind of record do you think is lyrically?
“To be honest I'm not really a lyrical person. Obviously, you need lyrics for songs, but like, I’m never been too into cryptic lyrics and stuff. I've always been about melody and I think melodies are the most important thing in a song. The lyrics, I can appreciate good lyrics and stuff. But there's no point in having good lyrics if you've got a crap melody. It depends on what you're into. There's a lot of bands, where they’re like shouting and they're just shouting about politics and people, people get off on that because of the lyrics. But songs like that are crap to me, you need a good strong melody, like Elvis Presley.”
On that basis, you're probably not someone who writes stuff down all the time...
“I record on my phone, on my voice memos. but yeah that's how it starts, with me trying to think of a good melody. It's obviously hard sometimes, but once you've sorted your chorus, which is arguably the most important thing, I think the rest of it seems to fall into place. But we're all the same. I mean, I’ve written some songs where the melody hasn’t been brilliant or whatever and it’s the same, you can't convince the rest of the band that it's a good song if no one's really liking it. We’ve all written bad songs before. It's not easy”
When did you decide that World I Understand was the right fit for the record title?
“We had a few names for the album. I don't know, I think it seemed to fit into place, I think originally we were gonna call it Plastic Heart which is another song on the album and we all like that. And then I think he got to a point where we, I don't know, we just switched to liking World I Understand, it feels a bit more fitting. I don't know, it feels bigger, like a bigger album title.
“We're not very good at naming songs, to be honest, but we're a nightmare when it comes to naming albums, because you’ve got four people trying to decide and you don't always think on the same page when it comes to stuff like that. But yeah, we're all happy with World l Understand now It's called that, and when you get the artwork as well it starts to feel like it's finished.”
So obviously you’re on tour at the moment, how are you going to structure the set now that's you've got three albums?
“It's a nice position to be in, isn’t it? First world problems. I mean, we'll probably just smash a load of singles in there, but I think the hardest bit of the set is the album tracks. A lot of the songs on the new album are super easy to play live, even before we recorded them and we were playing them in a room for Dave. There's maybe one or two which are a little bit trickier and we'll have to think about.”
How's 2022 looking are you getting booked up are festivals coming in? Or is it still kind of falling into place?
“I think we've got a few festivals lined up already but the tour is the biggest one for me. Then European tours and possibly America. I'd like to get back to Japan a well at some point, but yeah there are a few gigs coming in, definitely. Got a few ideas as well.”
Are you starting to dabble around with what you'll do on the next album yet, or will you wait to get home and decompress?
“I'm working on loads of tunes at the minute. Same again, some bands are very good at working, you know, you'll hear them playing a lot of new songs in soundcheck and stuff like that. But we seem to struggle to find time to do that, I think once we get back from Germany, I'll sit down and try and get a list together and work through them. Then it depends on how much we meet up over Christmas. We'll probably have a bit of time off over Christmas and then hopefully I think we're trying to find some time to get back into the studio before the end of the year. There are a few tunes lined up.”
World I Understand is available in hmv stores now - you can also find it here in our online store...