IF you like your music hard, heavy with plenty of awesome riffs…
then you cannot go far wrong with the Yorkshire band, Sobriquet. The boys discuss the origin of that band name and what the music scene is like in Yorkshire. The boys are proud of their home city, Sheffield and extol the virtues of the community there. I am intrigued to find out about their future plans and whether we can expect any new gigs. The band are heading to the O2 Academy on 11th so I was keen to find out how they were preparing – and whether they were excited about hitting the stage. Sobriquet selects the albums that have meant the most to her and the local bands they recommend we check out.
Hi guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Ludovico (vocals): Yo! Not bad at all, really. Just loving that sweet student life and trying to survive this big ol’ storm that’s currently flying around. You know, the usual.
For those new to your music, can you introduce yourself, please?
L: Gee, that’s kinda tricky… we’ve been described as everything from “a cross between My Chemical Romance and Norma Jean” to “A poor man’s At the Drive-in”. Both are pretty on the money to be fair. Screamy, sing-y and a tad flamboyant.
How did you fellas get together in the first place? Have you known one another from way back?
L: We all got together at uni. pretty much – me and Jake, our guitarist, met way back in our first year and hit it off pretty quick.
When I joined James (drums) and Mike (bass) in forming the band – it was pretty much a no-brainer we’d play together!
In summer 2016, when I got back from a year in Japan, we wanted to expand our ability to play the new material we had live; brought in Tom as a second-guitarist and things have just clicked since then.
Michael (bass): Yeah. I got approached by James. At first, I thought it was an elaborate scheme to flog me a bass guitar (I didn’t have one at the time) but it turns out it wasn’t. Or at least, if it was, there is some serious dedication to the ruse now – being three years into the band.
Before I go on, I’m introduced by the band name (‘Sobriquet’). How did that come about and if you had to give each other a nickname what would they be?
L: Man. We agonised over our potential name for days – eventually, someone gave up and just said “Alias” and we were too exasperated to debate it. We just picked ‘Sobriquet’ cos ‘Alias’ is a bit crap, honestly. As for our own sobriquets; we’re constantly sabotaging our fellow bandmates’ usernames on the group Facebook chat: as of most recently, Mike’s the ‘Moriarty of Eating People’; we have a ‘Djenty McDjentface’, a ‘Bob the Builder’ and ‘J.R.R. Turner’ – a memorable anecdote behind each of them I can assure you. Me? I’m ‘Lud O’ Faye’. Yeah, I don’t get it either.
M: It was a living nightmare. Well, over two-hundred names were put forward. And just in case there is any worry, no: I do not eat people, nor am I a criminal mastermind.
You guys are based out of Sheffield. What is it, would you say, defines Yorkshire music? It seems to offer more diversity and originality than anywhere else. What is the secret behind that?
L: It’s incredible how many of my favourite U.K. bands have come from Sheffield – as someone from London, one of the things that attracted me to Sheffield in the first place was the utter fearlessness and passion for diversity – that can only ever crop up in a place like Sheffield. It straddles the line between rural charm and a vibrant city culture. That to me has been my enduring image of the city ever since arriving here.
Jake (guitars): Having grown up in the Steel City, I think the music here is driven by the huge number of people making new connections at both universities in the city. Also, I think the large variation of venues to perform at encourages those with a musical interest to produce and perform their own unique sound.
How does the Sheffield music scene differ to, say, Leeds or York for instance?
L: On the one hand, it’s a lot smaller – which sucks when big bands tour the U.K. and decide that Leeds or York is a bigger crowd to play to and you miss out on some amazing shows.
On the other hand, it’s because the scene is relatively small here that the flame of passion for this kind of music burns all the brighter; and you end up with an excellent D.I.Y. scene and super-passionate fanbases with a desire to do something of their own (plus, Sheffield has Corp. Does Leeds or York? Enough said!)
Tom (guitars): I think because of how competitive the scene is in Sheffield it encourages bands to constantly improve or they get left behind; that can only help the overall quality of the scene. It speaks volumes, that in recent years, Sheffield has produced hugely recognisable names like Bring Me the Horizon, While She Sleeps; Malevolence and Rolo Tomassi, whilst other Yorkshire cities haven’t produced anywhere near as many great bands.
Looking back at your time together; what have been your proudest memories as a band?
L: Supporting Palm Reader was awesome. It’s been so cool playing with a band I’ve personally been a fan of for a while. But, I think the one all five of us can look back on fondly is our first show at The Green Room; playing to a packed-out bar full of our friends and family; singing back the words we wrote. Those are the kind of moments that remind you how worth it playing music is.
J: The Green Room was probably one of our most energetic shows but my proudest moment was the first time we played Vriska at a gig in Foundry at Sheffield University and seeing the crowd cheering and clapping along. Most of the people there had never heard of us before or any of our songs – but they still seemed to be really into what we were doing.
M: We have had some really great moments. For me, it would be The Green Room gig. I remember two songs in (just) getting up on the top of the bar for the last part of a song and just losing my mind. That kind of feeling with that kind of crowd was pretty special.
I know you have uploaded a lot of demos. and covers. Are there any more cover versions coming up at all?
L: We have a fantasy list of, like, ten-or-so songs we really wanna try and give a go at some point. Recently, we’ve been sound-checking with Reuben’s Freddy Krueger and that’s gone down really well.
But, to be honest, we are just so stoked on the new songs we’ve been working out in our practice space the last few months – that covers have mostly been put on the backburner for the time being – but who knows!
We might come out with a cheeky leftfield surprise or two…
Can we expect any new original material this year? What have you guys got brewing at the moment?
M: It is definitely in the works. The new E.P. itself is written and even has a title (still very hush-hush) and we are looking for a summer release. Because we can’t help ourselves, we have even started writing another… but that will have to wait.
You’re playing O2 Academy on 11th March at the Shot of Discovery competition. Are you excited about that and what kind of thing can one expect if they attend?
L: Our advice? Keep your heads covered in case of low-flying-bassists.
M: Beyond excited; such an awesome venue with such a diverse line up of bands. As for what to expect we are trying to up-the-ante: if all goes well, we hope to have our best show to date. For what it is worth, as a low-flying-bassist, no-one has been hit yet (apart from guitarists, but what do they matter?!).
There must be a lot of great things about being in a band. Does it ever have its bad moments and do you have time to unwind away from music?
L: We’re having the time of our lives at the moment.
Sure, being independent artists mean it’s a bit of a hassle keeping everything organised between the five of us – but the boring administrative downsides are barely worth mentioning when considering the pure joy of making and playing the kind of music you love.
We’re literally never not involved in music – when we’re not writing or playing, we’re either listening to, debating or rapturously enthusing about recently discovered bands and songs, whatever. We’re nerds, basically.
J: I love playing our live shows – the only downside to the weekday shows are the fact I am up at the crack of dawn for work the next day. Have absolutely no regrets.
M: It is obviously all worth it for the shows: wouldn’t be doing it otherwise. However, actually booking them can, at times, be a real struggle and a pain. I am sure other bands have similar problems but for every one show we book, you can be sure we have tried to contact another five who don’t reply. As I said, though, totally worth it: when it all comes together at the shows it is a great feeling.
If you each had to select the one album that has meant most to you, which would they be and why?
L: Modern Life Is Rubbish by Blur. I hold it up as the prime example of a band doing something completely unprecedented and unpopular in the mainstream at that time, and how, on the strength of passion – hard work and brilliant songwriting alone – they managed to win over the mainstream without sacrificing any integrity of their own. Plus, this has RIFFS FOR DAYS.
T: Grey Britain by Gallows. It was the first out-and-out Punk album I listened to where the spirit of the album really connected with me. It’s dark and angry and nihilistic as you like but it’s also really catchy with little quotable lyrics in every song. It has the kind of attitude that I’d like to channel into Sobriquet – especially in the live performances.
J: Toxicity by System of a Down. It was one of the first albums that made me believe you should like music for the way it sounds and makes you feel; not what is the popular norm. Plus, it’s a beast of an album that makes me mosh and attempt to sing along to.
M: The hardest question! I am torn between a few, obviously, but for me, it would be the self-titled debut, Quiet One – by one of my, if not all-time-favourite artists (Benn). It’s singer/songwriter stuff so a bit different to the music we do but I think it shows how to write just the best music in the simplest way possible.
Who are the band and singers you guys were raised on and inspired you to go into music?
L: Damon Albarn was my icon and inspiration growing up – everything that man touches, no matter what the genre, is musical genius. More recently, though, Jason Butler from Letlive; David Byrne from Talking Heads and Ryo Kawakita from Maximum the Hormone have been hugely influential in how I write and listen to music.
T: Trivium were the first Metal band I really got into and I always saw Matt Heafy as someone that I could emulate. They were a real inspiration for me wanting to take playing guitar seriously and joining a band.
M: Blame my dad is, essentially, the short answer. Black Sabbath, Deep Purple – even Hawkwind. Eventually, I found my own niche and my tastes got heavier: Rammstein being at the forefront of that. Specifically related to Sobriquet, I would say bands like HECK and ZOAX. The energy they have at their live shows was the trigger for me to just go a bit mental myself.
Is there any advice you’d offer upcoming songwriters?
1) Be original – make the music you want to hear but doesn’t exist yet;
2) Be selfish with your art – who cares what anyone else thinks of what you’re doing: if you’re enjoying it, that’s the first thing that people will notice.
Who are the new artists you recommend we check out?
L: From the local Sheffield scene, we’re well-into the Pop-Punk band, Not for Long! They’re absolutely brilliant; check them out big-time. Outside of that, we’re really into what bands like Puppy, Milk Teeth and Black Peaks have been doing for the U.K. scene. Quality stuff!
Listen to Black Peaks as if your life depended on it. I can’t express how much love I have for that band!
J.A: Not for Long are amazing live (and lovely people).
But, I also have to recommend Fourth Gate: we have played two shows with them and they were incredible.
If you think we put energy into a show you need to see them.
Not for Long, again. They genuinely are awesome.
Also, slightly further afield (from Leeds) a band called PEACH. Played with them very recently and they blew us away: really tight outfit that is very talented.
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can select any song you like and I’ll play it here (not yours as I’ll do that).
L: My brain says Mu Empire by Glassjaw, but my heart says Dead Tree by Dir En Grey… I’ll leave it up to you 😉
J.A: For easy listening: Bamboo by TTNG. But, if you’re looking for something a bit louder (try) Clarity by Amavasya.
M: I shall be the black sheep of the group and choose something far softer: Sink by Quiet One.