Shirehammer are a metal three piece from Yorkshire who are metal and metal only. They debuted their technical and gritty style at Einherjar, an all day metal festival showcasing the best up and coming bands. Still sweaty from a gutsy performance, I managed to catch them for a few words.
Mabh: Thanks for talking to the WWRS, if you very quickly want to introduce yourselves?
CS: I’m Conal, I play bass, more or less.
James: I’m James; I’m the drummer.
Sam: I’m Sam; I do guitar.
Mabh: Fantastic, and you are Shirehammer… Tell me a bit about the name!
Sam: We wanted a nice cheesy name; a nice, stereotypically, cheesy metal name!
James: Shire because we live in Yorkshire, the greatest Shire!
Mabh: Clearly you’re all proud of being Yorkshire folk, especially looking at your facebook I notice your bio is written in Yorkshire dialect…
James: With your typical Yorkshire scenery, yeah.
Conal: Nah, that’s just how James talks! We can’t stop him.
Mabh: So what’s the best thing about being a metal band in Yorkshire?
James: Yeah, drinking tea! Free tea shows… Really it’s just playing around, just gigging.
Conal: Good atmosphere, nice people…awesome stuff.
Sam: We’re trying to get around, know people; get used to playing. All good fun.
Mabh: My understanding is this is your debut gig today as Shirehammer?
James: Yes! Yes it was.
Mabh: How’s that felt?
Sam: It’s nice to get the first one out of the way, you know, get over the hump, then hopefully the rest will be a bit easier.
Mabh: How do you think it went?
James: I’d probably say 7 or 8 out of ten?
Conal: It was pretty good. The thing is, in a lot of cases, nobody knows we messed up because this is our first gig…
Sam: But in a lot of other cases they know very well!
The interview is interrupted at this point by an adoring fan who comes to congratulate the band on stellar first performance. Conal’s super technical bass playing in particular in drooled over verbosely. There is disbelief that this is their first gig, and mention of band members’ other project’s including Sam filling in for a hard punk band. Jumping in I ask if the band have any more gigs booked in.
Conal: Yeah, next week, Saturday, playing the Snooty Fox [note: this gig was cancelled but should be re-booked in soon so watch this space].
Mabh: How did you get on the Einherjar list?
Sam: We joined the Leeds Metal Scene page on facebook and James saw a post from Rick [Einherjar Organiser] advertising it, so he asked if we could play.
Mabh: Simple as that! So if people are wanting to keep up with you online..?
Sam: Search ‘Shirehammer’; it’s the only thing called that so it’s easy to find!
Mabh: That is good, in the metal scene, to have a totally unique name! So how did you guys first get together?
Sam: Me and James met in college. James asked me for some help with a song he was working on, before I even started at college- Leeds College Of Music– so I helped him out with that. Later on when I actually went to that college we started writing some songs and we spent a long time looking for a bassist.
James: And finally the French clown turns up! [much laughter ensues; possible reference to Conal’s bright greenish blue hair]
Sam: Conal was a friend of a friend kind of thing.
Conal: Yeah, I was a second hand recommendation. For a second hand bassist!
Mabh: On your facebook page it basically says ‘we’ll play whatever sub-genre of metal we want’; is that because you’re trying to avoid being pigeon holed?
James: We don’t really care. We just all like different genres of metal.
Sam: I guess we’re trying not to limit ourselves in terms of sub-genres but we are pretty much sticking within the confines of metal.
Mabh: So we won’t be hearing any Shirehammer Dubstep?
Conal: Probably not!
Sam: You never know, you can’t predict the future…
Mabh: From what I heard tonight, there’s a lot of very technical stuff going on in your songs. It’s the first time I’ve heard a drum solo in ages.
James: I’m bringing it back!
Mabh: So do you work at it to get these very technical bits in? Is that the goal?
Conal: No we don’t work at anything.
James: It just comes out naturally I’d say.