Shed Seven have announced their biggest ever UK tour to date including a gig at The Baths Hall in Scunthorpe.
The band, known as one of the shining lights of Britpop in the 1990s, visit The Baths Hall on 3 December.
This is the band’s only date in the Humber and Lincolnshire region on this tour.
Interview with Rick Witter from Shed Seven
Interview by Charley Grace & Alex Blatherwick
We had the pleasure of doing an interview with Rick Witter from Shed Seven ahead of their upcoming gig at The Baths Hall in Scunthorpe. He was half an hour away from locking the door to his house and going to start the tour. He mentioned how they’ve never played in Scunthorpe before and they really are looking forward it. I’ve got to say that Rick came across as such a genuine, very down to Earth and it really was a pleasure speaking with him. Here’s what he had to say about Shed Seven, old and new…
The tour is starting today (21 st November), are you looking forward to Shed-cember?
“I am yes, it’s a weird one because we do this every other year as a rule, obviously we play other times, but this big Shed-Cember thing we do is every other year. So it’s a bit weird because we put the tickets on sale for this and advertised it in February/March time and when we did that there’s an excitement at that time but we think ‘Well that’s 8 or 9 months
away, it’s ages away’ and we kind of forget about it, and then suddenly I’m about to lock my front door and go, so it has come round very quickly. But we’ll just get a couple of gigs under our belts and we’ll be up and running”
What do you feel is the biggest difference touring now compared to when you toured back in the 90’s?
“Well it’s difficult really to remember the 90’s *laughs*. We played an awful lot over the years, it isn’t really that different, you get on the stage and you’re playing your songs and you hope that people are going to come and love it and sing along, which we’re a lucky band because that does tend to happen quite a lot. I guess the difference being is when we were a touring band in the 90’s and releasing a lot of records you had your hardcore fans that would come, but over the last few years of playing there are people of our age that are coming to relive their youth, and we’re noticing that they’re also bringing their teenage children or even younger kids. It’s good because it doesn’t look like they are there under sufferance and they’re singing along as well. So obviously these people are playing Shed Seven at home and the kids are getting browbeaten into it *laughs*. So, in that respect it’s positive for us because it means if these young pups are coming and enjoying it then they’ll keep coming back, so we’ll just carry on and we’ll be the new Rolling Stones *laughs*.”
You’re headlining Leeds Arena with support from Reverend And The Makers. You have to have a big following to play a venue that big with support acts like that. How do you think you’ve maintained that following for such a long period of time?
“I think we’ve been a little bit savvy to be honest. We have been doing this an awful long time now. Shed Seven started in 1990, and it’s taken us 30 years to get to the point where we can headline an arena show. We’ve played plenty of arena shows over the years but always as second fiddle. I think we’ve just built up a profile again over the last maybe 10 years. The longer we continue to play live and do good gigs, the word just kind of spreads and I think we’ve now got over that “Oh Shed Seven… that band, championship Britpop” so to speak. We’ve just kind of proved it over the years. Either that or we’ve browbeaten people into submission *laughs*”
Your most recent album “Instant Pleasures”. Songs like “Hang On” and “Said I’m Sorry” seem to have a different vibe – was that a conscious decision to keep up with modern trends?
“Not really no. That’s the first release in 16 years for us, and to be honest the writing process is no different to how it used to be in the respect of we don’t sit round a table and discuss what we’re going to do, we just do it. It’s all very natural, and if we feel we’re liking what we’re doing then that’s the first step, and then we just hope other people will follow suit and like it as much as we do. We’d never release anything that we weren’t happy with. I guess the fact its so long after the last release and we’re a lot older, you obviously improve and have different ideas over the years anyway. But I’m really pleased we did because we nearly didn’t. It was a bit of an accident writing that album and it was such a joy to do, but there was no plan to do one. We just did it off our own back and it was like we were 15 again and we were writing just for the hell of it. I think that comes across because it sounds fresh and it sounds like we’re having a good time doing it.
Are there any plans to do another album?
“Probably, but when we’re ready. The last one took 16 years, and I think any Shed Seven fan who desperately wants to hear more new stuff and likes ‘Instant Pleasures’, you know the wait will be a positive. It could happen next year, or it could happen in 18 years who knows. Hopefully fingers crossed it will at some point.
We know you had disagreements with record labels in the past – was that the main motivating factor for the hiatus back in 2003?
“Pretty much yes. We were on a major label for most of the 90’s and then I think they got cold feet. As far as they were concerned, we weren’t selling as many records as perhaps they wanted us to. So, we parted ways with them at the end of the 90’s and then ended up on a smaller independent label, and that was alright but they just didn’t really have any money to back it. They were saying to us ‘You’re the band who have had all of these top 40 hits, and we’re a smaller label so it would be great if you could write some more top 10 hits for us so then we can all earn money’, and it was like, well hold on a minute, we don’t just sit down and write to order, we don’t do that. We just write songs and then we choose what might be a single and choose what might be a B side once we’ve written them all. So, we found ourselves under quite a lot of pressure. I do remember quite well we’d all be sat in a rehearsal room trying to write new music and we’d write a verse and we wouldn’t even get to the chorus before looking at each other and going ‘well is that top 10 material?’ and that was never what we set out as a band to do. We didn’t want to write to order. We just thought let’s have a little bit of a break and some time off, because otherwise we’ll all end up falling out. It was the right move at the time.”
What made the band reform?
“We had 4 years off and then reformed just to play live because we missed it so much. That was 2007 so that was 12 years ago, crazy. We’ve been going more now as a reformed band than we were when we were originally a band.”
You were at your most commercially successful period during the 90’s with more hit singles in 1996 than any other band. Who did you enjoy touring with the most during that time?
“Yes, I did hear that fact I thought it was quite satisfying. We toured an awful lot over the 90’s, we had a lot of bands supporting us who went on to sell more records than us. We had Stereophonics, The Bluetones and Supergrass who supported us for a full tour and it was always a pleasure watching them play on stage. Then we supported quite big bands like The Mondays, The Beautiful South, and they were all great gigs. It’s just a pleasure being able to play live.
What music can we expect to hear on this tour? Do you still enjoy playing the classics?
“It will be a mixture of old and new. When we first reformed in 2007, we could cherry pick 90’s singles because that’s all we had, and we’d have the freedom to play the odd good album track. But writing this new album, it’s meant we’re going to have to play some stuff off that, which we quite clearly want to. It’s good in the respect that we have the choice. We obviously can’t not play certain old hits because people come to hear them hits. But also, for the true fan who has bought the new album then they’ll be pleased as well because we’ll play a few tracks off that too.
We then asked Rick a few quick-fire questions.….
Which artist is your biggest influence?
“Probably The Smiths”
Your favourite Shed Seven song?
“Well that’s a tough one because we’ve had so many of them and it’s like having children – you can’t choose. But in the respect of playing live, ‘Chasing Rainbows’, everyone just loves it, so it’s a pleasure to play live and its an absolute pleasure to watch people singing it back at you looking like they’re absolutely loving it. I’d go for that but off the new album there’s a song called ‘Better Days’ that I’m really proud of.
Favourite song of all time?
“That’s far too difficult, there’s been so many good songs over the years, that to pick one would be criminal really. Also, my mind changes every week. I’m the type of person that’ll buy an album and listen to it over and over again for months, and then I’ll not listen to it for about 3 years and then go back to it and re love it all over again. There’s so many good songs, I can’t possibly whittle it down to one.”
Current state of modern music?
“Music comes in waves doesn’t it. Its important that there’s so many different types of music because you can pick what you like and just get on with it. At the minute, as far as the indie scene is concerned it’s gone underground again which I quite like because that’s what it was like when I was growing up. At school I was a fan of The Smiths but I was one of a handful of kids in the entire school that liked them, so we were looked upon as the weirdos of the school. *laughs*. To be honest that gave me a big buzz and I enjoyed listening to them more because of that really.
On a final note is there anything else you’d like to say to finish off the interview?
“Just to get yourselves down to Scunthorpe and have a nice night out.”
The tour marks the 25th anniversary of their first album release will feature a mix of Sheds classics and choice cuts from Instant Pleasures including fan favourites ‘Room In My House’ and ‘Better Days’. So get down to the show and have a dance!
Tickets are available from www.bathshall.co.uk
The gig will be supported by The Twang...read more here