‘The Crookes’ set up shop back in 2008, with the name derived from the suburb Crookes in their native Sheffield. Their music has been described as a mix of ‘heartbreaking melodies’ inspired pop music from the 50s and 60s and Kitchen sink realism. Steve Lamacq has nothing but praise for them, comparing them to such greats as the Smiths, Orange Juice and the Everly Brothers. BBC 6 Music has also often been heard proclaiming them as their favourite band over the airwaves.
Their debut album ‘Chasing After Ghosts‘ was only relased in March of last yeart but they have plucked up enough inspiration to release a blinding follow up LP in June of this year. On the back of their latest release ‘Maybe in the Dark’ we jumped at an opportunity to speak to them all about the brand new record.
[Daniel (Guitar/Lyrics) and Russell (Drums) answered the main questions]
‘Hold Fast’ appears to be somewhat divergent from ‘Chasing After Ghosts’. How would you compare the two records?
Daniel and Russell – We wrote Chasing After Ghosts in Sheffield in the Winter so it’s a lot darker thematically and musically than Hold Fast as the latter was penned in Europe and Japan in the Summer months. By the second album we had become a lot more confident and competent in our abilities, both as musicians and as song writers. I think the songs on Hold Fast are better developed and much more mature than those on the first album.
It must be a hard task deciding on an album title. How did you reach the decision to go with ‘Hold Fast’ as the title track?
Daniel – The title had already been decided on even before we started writing. We had a drink with Richard Hawley (Pulp) and he used the story of sailors tattooing their knuckles with HOLD FAST as a metaphor for being in a band and battling on no matter what the challenge. It’s a great motto for the underdog and a figurative “fuck you” to all those who doubt us.
What did you learn from your first album experiences that you swore never to repeat on the second?
Russell – We spent a lot of time trying to get things ‘perfect’ for the first album, trying to get the tracks sounding really well polished and seamless. The second album was a completely different kettle of fish in that we spent a lot more time trying to recreate how we sound at gigs. Most of the time we worked at night and drank too much alcohol than we care to remember. Basically, the entire process was a lot more laid back and a fair few of the tracks were recorded pretty much entirely live.
You completed the second album in next to no time. Was Tom Dakin’s recruitment anything to do with this or did the European tour and way of life play a heavy role in influencing your song writing this time round?
Russell – We have always been fairly prolific really. The first album came something like a year after the Dreams of Another Day EP. Unlike a lot of bands, we didn’t repeat ourselves and put some of our older tracks from the EP on the album. We didn’t write anything for about 8 months after the first album was released. Then, towards the end of 2011, we put our heads together, bringing all our individual ideas to the table and the songs just seemed to come together really quickly. We wrote Afterglow, Maybe In The Dark, American Girls and Where Did Our Love Go? in the same week. Sure, it could have been down to Tom’s presence. He’s a brilliant musician; considerably more competent than the rest of the band. Apart from that, I think a lot of it was us wanting to prove something to the doubters who may have thought we wouldn’t be able to keep things running smoothly after one of the main song writers had left.
As a band what do you find the most difficult to agree on, musically and generally speaking? I’ve read that you have had an easier time reaching agreements for the second album.
Russell – Yes. That’s about right. We basically agreed on everything this time round. We spent a bit of time discussing different ideas about the recording process as well as what kind of album we wanted to record. Creatively it was exceptionally productive. We constantly focused on the songs and just didn’t waste any time disagreeing on directions or sounds. I think as a whole we just enjoyed this experience so much more and I think that resonates in the songs.
Are there any new groups under the radar at the moment that you recommend?
Daniel – Our label mates ‘Hey Sholay’ are a brilliant pop band. We love ‘Seize the Chair’ as well. Both hail from Sheffield.
Noel Gallagher praised your lyrics, saying all Sheffield bands seem to have some great lyricists. It’s obvious you’ll agree with him on that but why do you think Sheffield gets this reputation?
Daniel – I’m not sure if coming from Sheffield has much to do with that really, but I of course agree. On a literal level, Sheffield can be a pretty depressing place to live and as is often the case in the UK, there is a certain romance in hardship. Depression has a tendency to breed creativity.
You recently played at the Benicassim festival in Spain. How was that?
Daniel and Russell – The whole weekend was amazing. Prior to that we played a brilliant show at the Latitude festival and then slept at the airport before flying to Benicassim. The show there was great again. We had a great time backstage there. The gig itself went really well and we got to drink a few beers with some of the other bands before heading off for another night’s sleep at an airport.
How have your foreign gigs gone in general? Where have you had the wierdest/worst experiences?
Russell – To be honest, we’ve always had great experiences abroad. There are countless stories we could never repeat, but we honestly have tales we could tell for the rest of our lives just from the last few years of touring. We spent 4 days in Italy playing 2 festivals a few weeks ago and that was amazing. We didn’t have to travel far between the different venues so we were able to spend the days on the beach drinking litres of red wine.
You have a big tour coming up in a couple of months so what will you be doing until then?
Russell – Well, believe it or not, we have another tour, covering Europe. Also, despite having only just released the second album, we’ve been told we have to start writing another album. In other words, we’ve got our work cut out for us.
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