INTERVIEW: Stealing Sheep on their US headline dates, the newest single and what they’re looking forward to the most
This next interview was an incredibly sad one to post, despite the act being a gamechanger. Liverpool’s Stealing Sheep was the last live show I attended and fittingly, the last in person interview too. Just two days later, Governor Baker of Massachussetts shut down any gathering of 250 or more and we all know what happened after that. It was the last show I saw at Great Scott too, and the jumping off place for many international acts and the jumping off date of Stealing Sheep’s first US headline run. Followed up by festivals, the future was bright but it will continue to be bright. We’ll have shows again in the future and as I continue to say, art is our armour. I’m beyond grateful that my last live experience for a very long while was with this talented trio and their live show is a no miss. Find our chat below!
This is the first date of the US tour, obviously with what’s been going on, there have been some hurdles, the canceling of SXSW, Boniface dropping off, so clearly this is going to be quite the trip. You’ve clearly put in so much time and thought into these sets so it’s probably very important for you to do this. How do you think this first show went and maybe the preparations for this set? How this all kind of came together? “Just Do” being the brand new single as well.
Rebecca Hawley: The set has kind of been evolving, all of its elements, over the last year because we released “Big Vows” our album in like April of last year. So we’ve been touring that around the UK and doing big festivals in the UK. Sort of seeing what works, with different audiences, and whenever something gets a good reaction, it tends to stick. Then we developed it each time and then obviously, tonight was the first time playing in the US as our own headline show. So that was quite interesting as well. People seem to dig it.
Everyone here seemed very, very into it.
RH: They were very committed.
It was a very dancey crowd.
Emily Lansley: Brilliant isn’t it? I loved all the dancing that was happening.
Like we were just saying prior, you’re still playing your SXSW shows, just unofficially so it’s still an element. But having Boniface drop off these shows, headlining this tour and having openers in each city. Maybe expectations or hopes you have for this first tour, if you have any? Considering you were kind of thrown for a loop, SXSW was only canceled a week ago, but maybe hopes for this run.
RH: Well, one kind of good thing that happened, after the SXSW thing because obviously that caught us off-guard but we got offered a recording session at Spacebomb in Richmond. To work with a dude called Matthew E. White and we feel like that was another door opened to go and do something interesting there. Then we’re still doing quite a lot of showcases at SXSW because they’re still basically doing a DIY fringe event in response to it. There’s a lot of expectations but it’s also fun when things change.
And it’s cool to see everyone responding to it so well. The community in Austin still wanting it to happen. So many bands that would have been coming already here, you’ve been in the Visa process and it costs so much money to come here. Obviously the band has been a band for so many years, you have several albums now. You just put out the single, “Just Do”, last week but the album only came out in April (of 2019). So maybe the story behind the song, “Just Do”, how did it come together? Was it something written during that same session, something new.
RH: Oh, the new single!
EL: We have these projects that we do in Liverpool called Wow Machine, so we’ve been writing a lot of music using Delia Derbyshire’s samples. She did the music for Doctor Who on the BBC. So we’ve done this kind of performative dance thing on a weird stage with lighting and we all write music for that. So we took a track from that and worked with Raf Rundell from The 2 Bears and we just collaborated with him and another guy called James in the studio for two days, just sort of deconstructing a track. Quite a slow, soft track and we sort of condensed it into a party, unusual banger, quite strange. So yeah, that’s how that formed! Does that answer the question?
Lucy Mercer: Yeah it does!
And because that album is not even a year old so I’m sure it’s something where you’re playing all those songs, kind of focusing on that record. You’ve been doing this band for so long, I believe it’s been the same lineup.
RH: I mean I consider this band as this lineup. Although I worked on another project before for a little bit but I consider that as a different thing.
EL: And we’ve been together ten years this year. So it’s a really long time isn’t it?
I would say that’s a very fair thing to call it. Thinking of that, obviously you’re still relatively young and making this happen, coming to the US. Maybe something you would have told yourself then ten years ago that you wish you had done or something maybe you wish you had avoided, if that?
EL: I feel like we’ve probably all got something to say, haven’t we? I feel like if I could tell myself something then now, it would be not to worry too much about things and just enjoy myself. That would be it for me.
RH: There’s quite fun moments sometimes where I look at what we’re doing and I think my past self would never imagine the situation and that’s quite funny. You kind of look at the ghost of your past self and see what’s happening in certain situations.
I like that! Well cleary it worked and I’m sure it’s different back home.
RH: I wish that we could have brought our giant inflatable sheeps here.
Was that only for these performances or has it been part of it for a while?
RH: Well, as you can see, that sheep’s a little-
EL: Overworked, overused.
RH: It’s been thrown around quite a lot. It usually stage dives.
EL: He can’t stage dive anymore, he’s a little too battered.
Is there maybe something for you?
LM: I have the same thing really. Just not to take things too seriously and allow things to happen. Don’t be scared and don’t worry about it. Just enjoy it.
Just enjoy it? Perfect! Then obviously I cover bands from the states too, but also a lot of UK bands. Obviously some come to the states and achieve really big things but then some come here three times. For you, it’s still something new, maybe advice to bands to even try to make the jump? This is going to be a difficult thing or stressful on tour, thinking you were going to have a support act with you. He, Boniface, was posting about this tour on like March 5th so I’m sure that was a big bombshell for you. Maybe advice to bands that still haven’t made that jump, to do it? It’s going to be a fun tour but it’s also going to be some hard moments.
RH: Start saving now! That’s a joke but it’s also quite positive.
EL: I feel like we’re still quite new to it ourselves so it’s hard to exactly say. I would just say perseverance and make sure that you’ve really planned. Make sure that you can afford it. I feel like I’m just being like a real big mum.
RH: It’s quite strange because it’s like starting again. In the UK, we’ve now got a crew with us and a floor package for like lighting and stuff. So we’ve kind of gotten used to the level of production. And so when we’re coming here, it’s honestly a completely new audience. It’s like right at the beginning of starting the band. So that’s quite a weird thing to go through again. I didn’t really want to do that again, doing everything all over.
You’ve worked so hard, you’ve made your name and you’re playing all these festivals. I’m sure you’re really looking forward to the drives. It must be so daunting to be so far from home, while you do so well at home, to be out here now. Like why should I leave, why should I spend all this money? And probably even more expensive now because of Brexit. I’m sure you’ve had a lot of things thrown at you.
RH: Yeah, definitely! I suppose nothing can replace the kind of experience that you’re getting when you come to these new places that you’ve never been to before as well so there’s quite a lot of dimensions to it.
Is there maybe something you’re looking forward to seeing that you haven’t yet?
EL: I’ve never been to LA before. To tell you the truth, I’m just looking forward to all of it.
It’s still going to be fun, you’re still going to have a journey. And you’re going to see Austin really come together with this makeshift festival. To kind of end it off, you’re just starting this tour, it’s the first day, the album is not even a year old. Maybe focuses or goals for Stealing Sheep over these next few months? Is it to kind of get back in the studio? I’m sure you don’t want to talk about it too much or you can’t.
RH: We’re quite interested in releasing singles more freely instead of as part of an album but just throughout the year. When they’re fresh basically. And festivals, obviously. We’re always really excited about that.
You’re coming into your festival season.
EL: With the singles thing, yeah an album might form itself one way or another. A more exciting stage of costume craziness.
Change up the costume?
EL: Yeah, yeah!
How long have you been rocking these suits?
RH: These are quite new. We played two shows with Ladytron, a band from Liverpool, and we tested them out for that. Now we’re here, wearing them!
Well good, people clearly loved it! It was a dedicated crowd.
EL: It was, wasn’t it? I don’t really try to think about the crowd size when we’re actually playing.
They were all about it.