Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Crookes - Ticket Giveaway, Interview and Concert Preview - Smiling Moose - July 10, 2014

The Crookes

The Crookes play The Smiling Moose next Thursday, July 10. The band hails from Sheffield, England, and are out touring in support of their most recent album, Soapbox. Here's the lead single off of the album, "Play Dumb."

The band first formed in 2008, but they didn't release their first album, Chasing After Ghosts, until 2011. That album received positive view from the British media, who all picked up on the jangly, Johnny Marr-influenced guitar rhythms.  It was released on Fierce Panda (The Walkmen, Pains of Being Pure at Heart), the same independent label that put out early breakthrough singles from bands like Keane and Coldplay.

The band's next album, Hold Fast, saw an expansion of the upbeat, romantic pop sound heard on their early releases. Again, the press was unanimous in their praise. British music magazine The Fly said "The Crookes are rare in that they’re neither pretentious nor cynical. They’re using old-school approaches to write high calibre pop with unquestionable flair."

The Crookes' latest release, Soapbox, is more rock than pop, but the songwriting remains the meat of the album. It is also, undeniably, a very good record. 

We were quite fortunate to be able to ask lead singer George Waite some questions before the band's stop in Pittsburgh:

Pittsburgh Music Report: First of all, I was looking up Sheffield on Wikipedia, and apparently Pittsburgh and Sheffield are sister cities, and we're both called the Steel City.  So, uh, welcome home?

George Waite: I'm definitely using that on stage, thanks! Not much steel here anymore though, just bands and really good pork sandwiches.

PMR: Each of your albums so far have met with critical acclaim. Is it hard to evolve from album to album when the people are telling you that you're doing everything right?

GW: In a way. We have been lucky in that the first three records have got good reviews but it's dangerous to let how others see you influence your output. With us, there's no masterplan. We only ever try and make the next record better than the last. It's hard enough to make a decision between the four of us. If we started taking other people's ideas into account, we'd never release another record!

PMR: Speaking of your albums, did you set out to do anything different on Soapbox?  I feel like the guitars are cranked up louder than they were on the first couple albums, but its far from a radical departure in sound. 

GW: Fundamentally, I think it's hard to ever completely separate yourself from the set of influences that first inspired you to form a band: The Libertines, Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles... So, to that end we will always stand by strong (hopefully) melodies and thoughtful lyrics; we're fatally old fashioned like that! On Soapbox, though, we did want to add a bit of venom to the overall sound. The lyrics took us in that direction sonically, I suppose - there's more vitriol than Romance on this record - but mainly because it's more fun to be loud.

PMR: When I listen to most of your songs I feel like I'm hearing a story. What comes first when you're songwriting: the music or the lyrics?

GW: This was the first record where lyrics came first. Not every song started that way but quite a few did - and it definitely leads you down a different path. I think Dan enjoyed it, as a lyricist. When the melody comes first, there's not a lot of room to manoeuvre in terms of how many syllables you can use and how the line flows and reversing that gave the words more prominence in the writing process. At one point our housemate asked what all the writing on the walls in the spare room was about. We had wallpapered a whole room with draft sets of lyrics, chord progressions and scraps of ideas and it did look a little bit like a serial killer's den. He moved out soon afterwards.

PMR: What's next for you after this American tour?

GW: The day after we arrive back in England we have a homecoming in Sheffield at Tramlines festival which will be great, if we can stave off the jet lag long enough! Then we'll see. August and September is earmarked for fourth album sessions and we'll be touring again in the autumn so we might be back before the year is out. (Our manager doesn't believe in holidays...)

PMR: There are quite a few notable bands from Sheffield: Pulp and Arctic Monkeys most prominent, and Def Leppard and Human League before them. Who should we be on the lookout for next? And what's the scene like back home?

GW: High Hazels are one of the best new bands in the country, let alone Sheffield. We took them on our UK tour earlier this year and they're frighteningly good. They have an EP out called 'In The Half Light' and are just mixing their debut album, which we can't wait for. From what I've heard it's going to be an incredible mix of The Walkmen, Richard Hawley and Aztec camera. Can't say fairer than that.

Tickets to this all-ages show cost $10 ($12 at the door) and are available via Ticketfly.  Additionally, we have a pair of tickets to the show to giveaway. To enter, send us your name to "pghmusicreport @," and put "The Crookes" in the subject line.  We'll announce a winner sometime Monday. And not only that, the winner will receive a free CD of the band's new album.

Opening are local band Cats in Congress, from Johnstown, and indie rockers Young Buffalo, from Oxford, Mississippi. Young Buffalo have opened for Arctic Monkeys and have been featured on both NPR and Paste.

-- B. Conway

1 comment:

  1. This is my favorite music band as they have done great task in the song. Hope to see them in future soon.