British rock is not going anywhere but up, and The Sherlocks are here to show you why. With anthemic alt-rock choruses, they are a festival staple and guaranteed crowd-pleaser, and there’s no doubt that their love for live performance is what has gotten them to where they are today. From watching their favourite bands as teenagers to supporting them on UK arena tours, the group have played over 1500 shows and are only just beginning. With new members Trent and Alex joining the band last year, the group are gearing up for the next era of The Sherlocks which they proudly promise will be the best yet.
FRONTRUNNER goes undercover with brothers Brandon (drums) and Kiaran (vocals and guitar) to discuss this year’s single, End of the Earth, the recording of their third album, and how you don’t always need to reinvent the wheel to make your mark.
What’s it been like sharing this experience of being in a band with your brother?
B: Good! It’s good because you still have your rows or whatever you want to call it, we’ve obviously grown up together, but we’ve grown up together in respect to being in a band as well. When we both went into it, we didn’t know what to expect. I’ve obviously travelled the world with my brother, and you create memories and experiences. As you grow up, most families probably go their own ways with their brothers and sisters but ours is really like one unit – our dad’s been our manager, and tour manager, for ten years now. So, we’re just on tour all together as a family anyway, which is good.
Did you plan that or did it just kind of happen?
B: Yeah, it just happened. Me and our Kiaran used to play in this conservatory, just me and him jamming – I was on the drums, Kiaran played guitar – then we got one of my mates around who probably couldn’t even play an instrument. We probably couldn’t even play an instrument at that point! We used to just jam out together and try and write songs and then we took the next step, played pubs and clubs and Kiaran started writing his own music. We’d write our own tunes together, and it just progressed really in about three, four years. We call it an apprenticeship by just playing clubs and pubs!
I read that your band name came from an inside joke between you, is this true?
B: It came – it’s a bit of a crap storyline – but we recently changed two band members, Josh and Andy, who were with us for ten years, decided they wanted to step away from the music game for a bit and just live a bit of a more normal life. So, we’ve got two new members, but it originally came from Andy who was the bassist – he was really young when we first started, he was like thirteen or something – he used to say really obvious things, just daft stuff, but we used to go, ‘oh, well done Sherlock!’ And we were struggling for a name for absolutely ages and we just said, ‘well how about we call us The Sherlocks?’ And it just stuck, and people seem to remember it. It’s alright, crap story but there it was! You don’t need a good name, do ya? You just need good music. Look at Arctic Monkeys!
I noticed you guys are very active on social media, so I was wondering how you feel about social media? Do you think it’s beneficial to the music industry?
B: Yeah, definitely! I wouldn’t even have social media if I wasn’t in a band, because I’m just not one of those people. I’m just not into it, it’s all false. I get why you’d want to follow somebody you look up to or you’re into and you’re interested in. I just don’t get it, people put like a picture of a cat on or whatever, and you just think, ‘nobody cares about that cat as much as you, so why are you even posting it?’ But yeah, it’s definitely beneficial for bands, it gives you a platform across the world, so I suppose if it weren’t for social media, people in Korea and Japan wouldn’t know who we were.
And this year you released End of the Earth – by any chance was that inspired by the pandemic?
B: Our Kiaran wrote it so, I don’t know! I think he said there were elements like frustration and stuff when we were in that first one and I think it were an old tune, but I think he put some new lyrics to it or whatever. I’m not sure, to be fair – I can’t get in touch with him, been trying to get in touch with him all morning, he must still be in bed or something!
Here he is – hi Kiaran!
B: Where have you been? You been in bed?
K: I’ve been asleep, it was St. Paddy’s day yesterday…
We were just talking about your upcoming single End of the Earth, so I was asking if that was inspired by the pandemic at all?
K: Yeah, it was actually, a little bit. Definitely most so the verses, the first verse I wrote in lockdown, like beginning of March last year. And then the chorus not so much, but definitely the verses.
B: It was a fun process recording that because we’ve got a third album in the bag and it’s been ready to go for ages, but we’ve recorded this End of the Earth as a stand-alone single, it’s not on an album, it’s just going to be one of those where we put it out and leave it. And we recorded it with somebody called Adrian Bushby, and he’s a top producer and he reached out to us because he wanted to work with us because he heard of Will You Be There – which is the first tune on our first album – he heard that and he liked it and he was like, ‘do you want to work together?’ But the level of talent he’s worked with is ridiculous, I only found out a couple of weeks ago he’d worked with U2 and Muse and Foo Fighters, he’s worked with all these massive bands – he’s even worked with Spice Girls!
Why did you decide to have this standalone single in between albums?
K: I think we’re just trying to hold off releasing this album to be fair. I saw something on Twitter saying it’s been two years since we’ve released a song! We’re just desperate to get a tune out really, for the fans but for ourselves as well just to freshen things up, but we don’t want to start releasing tracks from the album just yet because we really don’t want to put this album out if we can’t gig it, so that’s the main reason.
And you’ve said this next album is the best yet – why is that? What makes it the best one yet?
K: I just think the songs are definitely better than the last album, probably better than the first album, and I think the way it’s been recorded has probably been the best experience we’ve had in a studio, the best sounding.
B: Yeah, we probably owe a lot to Dave Eringa because he mixed it and produced it.
You recorded Will You Be There with him as well, so why did you decide to bring him back for this album? What do you like about working with him?
B: That reason! We went back in with him because to date we still think Will You Be There is the best sounding recording we’ve ever had, or ever put out into the world, because we’ve always been a band that’s all about live, and people turn up at our gigs just knowing it’s going to go mental. And he’s captured a bit of that in that recording and I think he’s captured that on our next album as well. And he’s just an absolute blast to work with, he’s funny as hell. You’ll literally spend three weeks living with each other, and you’ll wake up in the morning, go out into the living area and he’ll just make you laugh within about ten seconds. Everyone who knows him says the same thing about him, he’s just an absolute legend.
Do you write songs with the live performance in mind?
K: Yeah, I think so. I think the ones that rose to the top in our setlist that sound the best are always the ones where I’ve probably had a live thing in mind, thinking ‘how’s this going to translate in front of an audience? How’s it going to sound when I’m singing?’ And, because pretty much every song I do I try and do a demo to it and it ends up changing. As soon as I get in the practice room, I realise the chorus is not hitting the note I want to so we have to move it up a key or the verses sound mint and then I start singing the chorus but it’s too high for me, so we move it down or whatever. But yeah, I think we care about how it’s going to sound live, so we always go back and change things.
And you’ve toured a lot, including with some huge names in rock such as The Libertines, Kings of Leon and Liam Gallagher. What’s it been like being on these big tours and playing big venues?
K: Been class! I think when you get the chance to go on tour with these bands, you just see the next level and you realise why they’re as big as they are, not only the songs but it’s just everything, you see the scale of it. Kings of Leon was a good one, we only got to play one show with them but like, when we were in soundcheck and the band turned up, I don’t even think they did a soundcheck to be fair!
B: Yeah, that’s a different level completely. Same with Liam; Liam literally turned up ten minutes before he was on every night because he just didn’t need to be there because they’d just play a playback of his vocal from the night before through the speakers. It’s just like Kiaran said, it’s different levels. You probably get some bands who get to our level and they’ll get offered a slot like that and not think much about it, they’ll just be like, ‘oh, it’s just a tour’ kind of thing. But we buzz off all that, it’s exciting.
Did you learn anything from playing with them or get given any good advice?
K: Not so much advice, but probably with Kings of Leon I think you just realise it’s literally a simple set-up. They’re a guitar band just like us, except they’ve got mint songs – not that we haven’t – but they’ve got mint songs and then even how big the band is, I like how it’s still a couple of guitars, bass and drums and then maybe some keyboard – that’s it. So, it’s just a constant reminder that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, you just need to keep writing good songs and Kings of Leon are testament to that, I don’t think they could write a bad song!
B: Yeah, I think that resonates with us as well, with Kings of Leon, because they are literally a family band like ours. Like our band’s always been family-orientated and they’ve got three brothers in theirs and one cousin. We look up to Kings of Leon to be fair.
I know in the early days you started out playing pubs and small venues wherever you could, so I was wondering if you have any funny stories or if you can remember any weird shows you’ve played? You must have played hundreds!
B: Yeah, I actually think we’ve played probably over fifteen hundred gigs now, easy. I know we hit over a thousand a while back and we played a lot since then so, this time out we’ve had has been the longest we’ve never played a gig for.
K: We had someone in a working men’s club once who knocked all the speakers over, they were just hammered! We had the full set-up of speakers like a big speaker that pumps all the bass out, and then we had another speaker on top of that and then another speaker on top of that, and he just was that hammered that he went into it and knocked them all over. Or think we had a woman once in Rusty Dudley, like the smallest pub ever, she fell on the monitor and – it was the old members’, it was Josh – I think she knocked into his mic stand and it bust his lip or something. You get some characters!
Obviously, you guys haven’t been able to tour since Alex and Trent joined the band; are you excited to finally get to tour with them?
K: I am, but I suppose a little bit of me is, not concerned, but like you don’t realise how much hard work they’ve had to put in learning so many different songs, and especially our older songs, there’s so many guitar riffs and stuff, so Alex has had his work cut out really. And then on top of that, before I don’t think any of them used to sing, so they’ve had to learn how to sing, and it sounds good now to be fair like we’re practicing whenever we can and they’re singing and dancing!
In one way this pandemic, it’s obviously been awful and it’s stopped us from doing what we do, but with these new lads, it’s been a bit of a blessing really. It’s given us all the time, and we’ve still got time to keep getting better. I’m excited to go on tour with them though, I think they’re good lads, it’ll be fun.
Because live performance is very important to you as a band, I was wondering if you went to a lot of concerts yourselves when you were younger? Have you been influenced by any bands that you’ve seen and been blown away by?
B: It’s actually weird this because we used to watch a band called The Enemy in Manchester, and then they were literally the first band that gave us a chance supporting them. It was weird, we used to go and watch The Pigeon Detectives at The Leadmill, we used to watch The Enemy, we used to watch Reverend and the Makers who we know now, we used to watch Miles Kane who we’ve supported as well now, used to watch The Twang who we’ve supported, all these bands that were, I’d say the generation before our music came through, they were the bands that were in our scene when we were growing up going to gigs and we have pretty much met them all now or somewhere along the line supported them all.
If you could see anyone, dead or alive, in concert, who would you choose?
K: It’s a bit cliche isn’t it, to pick The Beatles?
B: I was going to say – I always say it but – can you imagine just being stood in a crowd waiting for Queen to come out in their prime thinking, ‘this is going to be madness.’ Freddie Mercury in the flesh just got literally about seventy-thousand, eighty-thousand people, in the palm of his hand – mad! I’d probably say Queen. Yeah or, it is cliche, but The Beatles probably, you’d want to watch them when they’re at their peak though.
K: Yeah, that’s another thing I was going to say Oasis, but in ninety-eight or something. I’d like to watch that but it’s obviously never going to happen unless a time machine gets invented!
B: Yeah, it’s stuff like that – people always remember the early gigs, like everyone says it’s not where you get to, it’s the journey. That’s the fun part. And you see all these bands and every time they’re doing an interview, they always talk about the early days, because the early gigs are what make a band what they are.