Single Review – Hurts – Hold On To Me

Another day, another spacey pop effort from Hurts. Released just a number of days before their fourth LP Desire hits the shelves, Hold on to Me blends big sounds with a reflective theme. It’s still very much Hurts, despite the headier side to their style being explored on Ready to Go. Theo Hutchcraft’s winning vocals glide over the backing track, while the song is made smoother still with the bubbles of bass and the beautiful, beautiful saxophone, though instrumentalism very much takes a back seat on this one. Compared to some of their more recent material, Hold on to Me seems a little more defenceless, a little more bare, and for that reason I think it has the potential to be one of Desire’s strongest assets.
Ellie Chivers

Sunday Suggestion – Maximo Park – The National Health

From a song by one of the North East’s finest bands in Maximo Park, that seems very apt given the unbearable next five years which ‘our’ country decided to vote for. It’s title and lyrics were initially in protest to the state of the country as a whole in 2012, but it has since took on the double meaning of a song bemoaning the dismantling of the nation’s health service. Without any hesitation, I say that this song acts as the mouth-piece for what the vast majority of our region believes and with another five years of struggles ahead of us, we’ll do what we always do. We remain defiant and dignified in the face of targeted neglect and patronisation. A mentality that is perfectly encapsulated in this track from the band’s self titled fourth studio album.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Alistair Sheerin Q&A Interview

Remember the name because this guy is going places. Middlesbrough’s Alistair Sheerin talks to Stockton’s Owen Riddle (I’m reliably informed that’s me) about supporting Miles Kane, Why he got into music and about Teesside too. For which he talks a lot of sense.

For anyone who hasn’t had the chance to hear your music; can you describe your sound and what you’re about?

Well my name is Alistair Sheerin, i write rock n roll. It’s catchy, honest and doesn’t mess around! I’m from Middlesbrough and have been gigging for a long time now both acoustically and with my backing band, just finished a Miles Kane tour supporting him throughout the UK and been working with Tom Clarke from The Enemy. I’m in the middle of doing the festivals for this time of year whilst recording some new stuff in the studio. Exciting times man!
           Who are the primary influences to your music?
Well the reason i picked up the guitar was because of Noel Gallagher, i saw ‘Familiar to Millions’ from 2000 at Wembley Stadium and i was like ‘fuck! I wanna do that’. So i started learning guitar after that and then through Oasis i found Paul Weller, The Kinks etc. In my house though the radio was always on and i was brought up on people like The Beatles and Motown music. So i think it was in the blood from an early age. Noel and those are still my primary influences today along with Tom Petty, John Lennon and Bob Dylan. But you should never pigeon hole yourself! There’s too much good music out there to enjoy, i make sure i listen to everything i possibly can!

You’ve got yourself a band if I’m right! Who’s who and how good are they?

That’s right. They don’t have a name or anything they are my backing band. We sometimes go with ‘Ally She and the Knobhead Three’ for a laugh haha. I’ve been playing with them a year and a half now. It’s Luke Freeman on rhythm guitar, Ryan Shaw on bass and Ste Fenton on Drums. We’re all from Middlesbrough so we have the same craic. They are great players, i throw everything i can at them and they just take it and play it exactly how its meant to be played. Live we have so much energy, i can’t fault them at all. I’m very lucky to have met these people and they’ve become like my best friends too and it’s such a joy to be on the road with them. It’s nice to be able to say that after all this time after some of the shit i’ve put up with in the past when i used to be in other bands and stuff, very lucky indeed!

There’s a bit of resurgence in more straight up classic rock from The Strypes, Jake Bugg and Miles Kane of course: Do you think it can last and get bigger?

Absolutely! What people forget is that type of music never goes away. Yeah it has moments where is not the ‘in thing’ but it always comes back around bigger and better when all the little fads die out. There’s always an audience for it and a loyal audience too! I’m all over it man. I’m happy that people are including me as part of it and its nice people are putting me in the same leagues as Miles and Jake Bugg etc. There’s still a lot of work to do but it’s gonna be bigger thats for sure, i’ll certainly be part of that for as long as i can because i have a point to prove and things to say!

Being a fellow Teessider, it’s great that there are acts like yourself about. However, do you think it’s harder for the region to compete with other areas of the country due to how strong chart music is here?

I think Middlesbrough is a forgotten part of the UK in general. Not just in music but in every sense. Sometime’s it feels like we’re the arsehole of the country and we’re not! We have some of the best audiences up here who are dying for big names to tour this way and we have some great bands coming through. I think it is easier for bands in say London to get noticed because of it’s vastness and because there is an audience for everything. But then i think those artists struggle up north because we know what we want and if it’s shit we just don’t follow it. It’s irritating that acts in Boro have to travel to get recognition but then again isn’t that the name of the game? We have some promoters doing great work for unsigned music here and it’s building man, it just takes time. I think we’ll get there eventually.

What’s the reaction been like to your music in Middlesbrough, Stockton etc.?

Off the scale mate, it’s taken a while but i’ve got a loyal following now and it’s really been set in stone this year. I returned to The Empire in Middlesbrough for a headline gig and it was packed out! I felt great and i thought ‘i’ve finally arrived’. Stockton Weekender was a great reaction too, a lot of familiar fans in the crowd came down and sang along. At alot of the gigs i get my songs sang back to me and its emotional but really makes me feel good. Like i said it’s taken time but im here now, and i’ll keep going to spread the word as far as i can.

‘I Don’t Need You’ is a quality song. What is the song about lyrically and musically?

Thank you, it’s been the closing song in the set, alot of people really dig it and have connected with it. At the time i wrote it it was about being in a relationship with a girl who was holding me back and would do that thing of ‘pulling a mood’ after a gig if girls wanted pictures or because i couldn’t spend time with her because of a gig. Musically i had the riff for ages and i took influence from a French artist called Jacque Dutronc, he has a song called The Responsible and i loved the way he sang the verses and i used that technique and tried it in mine and it worked. But for other people you can take what you want from it, it’s not just about a girl if you don’t want it to be it can be about a shitty job or a mate, anything!

What do you think is your most complete tune?

Hard to say because i always try and better myself on every song and for me i get most excited about the brand new stuff. I’d love to name one but i don’t think i’d be being honest.

You do some other songs justice too. What are your favourite songs to cover?

I used to do an acoustic cover of Miles Kane Come Closer with an off-beat strumming, that went down well. I threw in a cover of Noel’s If I Had A Gun at a gig a year ago and people went nuts for it! But my favourite i think was when me and the best used to do Cold Turkey by John Lennon at gigs, it was rocking and we made it a bit heavier. I used to love playing that guitar riff in the verses!

You’ve supported Miles Kane which must have been alright! What was it like for you and did he give you any words of wisdom or encouragement?

It was top! They were some of the best shows i’ve ever done and what made it more special was people had been checking me out when it was announced and so the venues were full for me going on. I was buzzin! Really nice, loyal fans. I spoke to him a fair bit but i wouldn’t say he gave me any words of wisdom. I was only meant to do two shows on the tour but he saw my first gig and then told me he was gonna’ get me on more so i ended up doing most of the tour! That was encouraging for me to know that he really liked my music and wanted me on the bill with him.

What’s the best venue you’ve played at?

Birmingham O2 Academy. Not for the actual venue but the crowd were the best i’ve played to yet, one of the best gigs of my life!

Is there a venue that you’d really want to make it to?

There’s loads mate but the ideal one for me would be The Royal Albert Hall. I’ve seen my heroes play there and the sound is amazing too. For me that would be a massive achievement.

Where do you record your tunes? Is it easy to do so?

I record them all over, it depends where you want to go really, no set place. At present i’ve been keeping it up north with a guy called Steve Metcalfe producing my stuff. It’s a long process recording, its easy when you and other musicians know everything really well, but sometimes its good to challenge yourself and take yourself out your comfort zone and do things you don’t do live.

What have you got in mind for the future? An album perhaps?

Nah not an album yet, it’s too early. I’ve got some more songs which i will eventually be putting out, gigging more, something special happening next year that i can’t reveal. For now all i can say is follow me on Twitter or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/alistairsheerinmusic) and keep a look out for what’s going on. I’m in a good place right now and i just want to keep going until my time has arrived, its all exciting!
Thanks to Alistair for giving some straight up and honest answers and be sure to have a look at his music.
Image from © Tim Bailey 2012