20 Questions with The Sheratons: “We're not a stereotypical indie rock band”
“20 questions” is a feature where writer Tom Farmer touches on 20 topics with some of the UK and Ireland’s most promising new acts. It’s a bit like Vogue’s 100 questions, but a lot shorter and a fair bit less glamorous. May contain strong language and shit banter.
This week, I was joined by The Sheraton’s Finley Ryan. The Leeds four-piece are making serious waves across the North’s music scene, whilst causing notable ripples down South. With a style hard to pin down, perhaps attributable to their wide pool of influences, the outfit’s self-professed “banger” of a new single is out next month. Having been lucky enough to sneak a preview of it, I can attest to this, with a big sound guaranteed to induce sweaty mosh pits post-COVID.
Ahead of their new single and their return to live music, including a slot at Our Sound’s “Hull All Dayer”, Sheratons merch-clad Finley and I spoke about band origins, Glastonbury pipe-dreams and the importance of perseverance.
TF: To kick us off, what is a Sheraton?
Finley: Me and Kane (the flamboyant frontman) are big Oasis fans, like a lot of people our age. The Sheraton is a make of guitar from Epiphone: the Epiphone Sheraton. It was made famous by…Noel Gallagher. It was one of those names that we got ages ago and it’s just stuck.
TF: How did you all get together and start playing?
Finley: We’ve been going at it for three or four years now. Me and Kane have been friends for ages so it was only a matter of time before we did something together. We picked Emma and Alex (the drummer and bassist) up around the same time, so we’ve been at this line up for a few years now.
TF: How would YOU describe your sound?
Finley: I mean, stereotypically, we're an indie rock band! But I feel we create a vast range of stuff, to be honest. We can do indie pop, but we can do the heavier stuff. I think we cover quite a vast array of music.
“The new single’s got everything you'd want in the genre”
TF: New single out next month. Is that business as usual for you or is it something new?
Finley: If you don't mind me saying, this is a banger! We’re really proud of this tune- it’s indie rock at its finest. It's catchy, it's got big guitar riffs. It’s got everything you'd want in the genre.
TF: I saw you got your track spun by the likes of Steve Lamarq and John Kennedy. What’s it like to have the backing of big names like them?
Finley: I would say it’s validation in some way. If it's good enough to get on national radio, then you know you're doing a good job.
TF: What’s the nicest thing someone’s said to you about your music?
Finley: I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head! It’s probably been after we've played a gig. You’re in just in the moment and can only think about it the next morning. But honestly when I play a gig I black out. I’ve got no idea what’s happened.
TF: Have you got any unlikely influences?
Finley: Kane’s a massive Pink Floyd fan. I feel like, with the music we create, that's probably not the first band people would think is an influence. But it’s definitely there.
TF: What was the first song you fell in love with as a kid?
Finley: The first gig I ever went to was Green Day at Sheffield Arena. I remember that was the first time I remember thinking “Ok, this is cool”. I know Green Day are a bit hit-or-miss, but seeing someone that cool playing to thousands of people! That’s what I want to do, that’s the dream.
TF: You’re the latest on the list of illustrious band from Leeds. Who’s your favourite artist from Leeds?
Finley: Off the bat, the biggest one is Kaiser Chiefs. They went on and did crazy amounts of stuff. They were massive a few years back and they still massive now, having built that cult following. You could be anywhere but if “I Predict a Riot” comes on, everyone knows all the words. They’re just one of those bands.
TF: A year since we first entered lockdown. I know you pride yourselves on being a quality live band, so how did you adapt?
Finley: Lockdown hit just after our last single came out. We had a ten-day tour planned and a debut London show. But then everything just fell apart. The live scene just went dead. But it also gave us a chance to step back and look at the social media side of things, how to promote ourselves. It’s something that goes amiss with bands, but it’s really important. So hopefully when we come back out of this, we'll have a lot more people at our gigs and we can't argue with that.
“If we’re looking for a big song to get the crowd going, I feel like we all go into a headspace: ‘let's get a big riff in there’”
TF: What did a classic lockdown day look like for you?
Finley: Get up at God knows what time. Put a bit of music on, have a bit of lunch. See what’s on Netflix and scroll through for hours. Hopefully there would be some football on in the evening.
TF: Any TV, films or books that got you through lockdown?
Finley: Me and Kane are big fans of the Office US. I finished it a while back and thought “what do I do with myself now?”.
TF: How important is it for you to tell true stories in song?
Finley: I think it is (really important). We say with our last track “Raving and Drooling” that Oasis had “Cigarettes and alcohol”. It was just a pick up on society. People can relate to that as well, which I think is a big thing.
TF: You describe your music as “refreshing yet relevant”. What do you mean by that?
Finley: I think a lot of people that listen to us for the first time wouldn't know how to describe us. We're not such a stereotypical indie rock band, but we're not such a stereotypical indie pop band. We create (our style of) music because we all like it. All the different influences that go into it creates something refreshing. But there’s still a modern sound and it still fits into the genres, so that’s what “refresing yet relevant” links to.
TF: I heard your tracks being described as “festival anthems”. When you writing a new tune, do you find yourself thinking “how big will the mosh pits be?” and how the crowd will react in a wider sense?
Finley: I definitely think so! When we're constructing set lists, you obviously want to build a bit of energy up to something or drop it down to something a bit more mellow. If we’re looking for a big song to get the crowd going, I feel like we all go into a headspace: “let's get a big riff in there”. We’ve written songs in that way and they’ve gone down so well that we continued to write that way.
TF: If one person slid into your DMs and complimented your music, who would you be most starstruck by?
Finley: One of our main goals is to get some to Radio 1 play. I think I'd have to have to go with someone like Jack Saunders. If he comes in and says “I like your sound”, that would be a crazy thing!
TF: And if you could support any band, who would you want to tour with?
Finley: Sticking with the Leeds connection, it would have to be Kaiser Chiefs. Imagine going on a tour with them! That would have to be up there.
TF: What’s next for you over the next couple of months?
Let me pull up my notes! The single release is obviously 15th of April- that's the next major event. Obviously, we got the Hull Our Sound All Dayer in September.
TF: Tickets now on sale, by the way.
Finley: Gotta plug that! We’re supporting Apollo junction at the Warehouse in Leeds. Massive gig for us and we love the boys at Apollo Junction so that will be a fun one. Next on the list is our headline lead show on 27th of January. That was supposed to be on the original tour last year and now it’s 2022!
TF: And where do you see yourself in five years?
Finley: For a band, five years is a long time. Obviously, I want to be getting onto that festival scene. Reading and Leeds and other great festivals. I’ll probably be a bit cheeky saying something like Glastonbury, but that’s obviously on every musician’s bucket list.
TF: You gotta dream big!
Finley: If we’re dreaming big, then we’re definitely looking to get to those top-tier festivals like Glastonbury!
TF: What’s one lesson you’ve taken from the last 12 months?
Finley: Don't give up, I think it's as simple as that. Sometimes things might come quickly. Sometimes think things might come slowly, but you'll never know if you give up.
Her Mind is released on Thursday 15th April. Follow The Sheratons on Spotify to be notified of the new release.