Self-confessed ‘Sheffield sad boys’ Dead Slow Hoot talk to Underground about their nightmarish-name, their headline gig at Foodhall in Sheffield on 17th November (click here to get tickets), as well as their love of the Northern musical heritage. The alt-quartet have also just released their newest single ‘Wine Country’ , which will be followed up by ‘Clare Delamar’ on 1st December.
Describe your sound in three words.
Sheffield sad boys
How did you guys meet and when did you form a band? Where does your name come from?
Originally three of us played in a gospel choir band together for about two years. I was playing a lot of singer-songwriter stuff separately, but I started writing songs that I felt would work better with a full band and so I asked Sam and Luke to give them a try with me. Dom joined us after we recorded our second EP ‘I Suppose They Were Better Off As Dead’ to fill in on all of the instrumental parts we couldn’t cover as a three piece. We became a four piece straight away, he was between projects and we made sure to lock him down before someone else realised how good he is! Luke already had the name tucked away before the band even formed. Apparently it came to him in a nightmare where he watched himself being pecked to death in slow motion by a feral owl, and he said that’s what we sounded like.
What was your first gig like?
It was great! We played at a pub that had never put a band on before, and quite possibly hasn’t since… We were the only band playing and I think we did a 2 hour set even though we only had about 5 songs. It ended when the bar staff put on the Arctic Monkeys over the speakers and told us to play along, which we could not….
In November you’re playing your headline show at the Foodhall. What do you think is so special about having Sheffield and the north of England as a musical backdrop?
Ironically, 75% of us are from London but we all met in Sheffield at uni. Sheffield has such a rich musical heritage and a really strong and supportive scene that venues like Foodhall – a community arts space and pay as you feel restaurant – are actively involved in supporting. It’s relatively easy to go from playing small pubs to your fist ‘big’ ticketed shows at more established venues. Trying to develop as a band in London is a pretty steep uphill struggle when people have to travel an hour to come see you play your first pub shows, I think you need to stick to a pretty clear idea of what kind of band you are to build an audience there.
It’s been really beneficial to us that audiences are very open minded up North and will come to try something new. We’ve been able to evolve as a band pretty much in front of audiences for the last 4 years, we only play one song now that we were playing for the first two. People let you take risks with your music, and there are a lot of great bands that aren’t afraid to be who they are here. That has really influenced us musically.
Other than that, I think the North cultivates a strong sense of community that really permeates into how people interact with each other. People make time for each other and value their heritage, which has influenced all of us as people which I guess in turn influences what we write about.
Are there any bands from your hometown we should listen out for?
Yeah there are so many great bands! We’re huge fans of Oh Papa, Garden Room, Before Breakfast, Otis Mensah, Ganglions, Blood Sport, Knife Man, Witchgrass, Katie Pham and the Moonbathers, and so many more.
For us, your music has the post-modern melancholic sensibilities that emerged during the early 80s. Who/what would you say are your biggest musical influences?
I’ve always really loved artists that try something new every time they go into the studio, the first two that spring to mind would be Wilco and Radiohead but that’s just the start of a very long list. I’ve been really enjoying This Is The Kit and Palm Honey lately so I’ll throw those guys in too.
What was the first music you bought?
I somehow made the excellent choice at 10 years old of buying the Red Hot Chili Peppers ‘By The Way’ album which I think is an unusually good first purchase, but it doesn’t reflect what I was listening to back then at all.
Your most recent release an ‘An Island Keen to Float’ is seductively oscillatory; it has lazy guitars that suddenly ramp up to an extreme cataclysm of sound. What is this song about exactly and what inspired it?
It’s about choosing isolation instead of being honest with yourself about what your problems are and where they come from. It was written as a sort of defeatist Brexit anthem, I’ve applied for it to be sung at football matches but no-one’s gotten back to me on that one yet.
You’ve also played a few festivals, including Tramlines. I’ve read elsewhere you were super stoked to get that set. What was it like to play there?
It’s always great playing at Tramlines, when we got the mainstage slot at Leadmill in 2015 it was definitely the highlight of our ‘career’ at that point! We got a very warm welcome for a band that no one had ever heard of. We’ve played every year at tramlines on a lot of different fringe stages and we always look forward to it. It’s got a great vibe because the whole city turns out for it and there’s live music on in every bar you can chuck a stick at.
We know you have some exciting new releases in the woodwork, so how is the future looking for Dead Slow Hoot? What are your plans for the rest of 2017 and into 2018?
We’re releasing two singles in November that we recorded earlier this year! That’ll be coinciding with our Foodhall gig, which will be our last show for 2017. We’ll be back in the studio in January to record another EP, and then we’ll have to find some gigs to go play it at!
Finally, if you could play any venue with any act as your support, what would you pick?
That would have to be the 1974 Eurovision with ABBA at the Brighton Dome.
To grab tickets to the boys’ headline show, click HERE.