Ten Minutes With: Rick Witter, Shed Seven

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Shed Seven, Band, Stockton Weekender, 2014, Britpop, Going for Gold
Shed Seven achieved national success in the Nineties with tracks like Going for Gold (which peaked at number eight in 1996 when chart positions actually meant something). They play Stockton Weekender on Saturday 26th July
It’s a festival, people want to hear the hits and we’ll definitely be playing ours. The thing we struggle with is dropping songs, there’s too many to play all of them which is a happy problem I suppose.

 

Shed Seven split in 2003 and performed a sell-out farewell tour. How heartening was it when fan demand enabled you to reform and continue playing live?
We’re like a bad smell, we just don’t go away. It was a bit of a weird time for us in 2003, we found ourselves on a small indie label having come from a big label. We’d had a few chart hits then suddenly we found ourselves on this smaller label who were basically saying to us, “We want you to go into the top ten.” But they weren’t giving us any money or press coverage. We’d never written songs for the charts, we just wrote then chose which songs would be a single, which might be a B-side. We found ourselves in the rehearsal room under a little bit of pressure. We’d write a verse and go, “Is that verse good enough?” without even considering the chorus. We thought if we carried on, we’d end up falling out, and because we’d grown up together we didn’t want that so that’s why we decided to call it a day. But we missed playing live, so we just booked a week of gigs. Lo and behold we had to keep adding gigs and upgrading venues, it was great! A bit of a surprise, but also quite satisfying because it meant what we did do way back in the Nineties actually meant something, it wasn’t just a flash in the pan. The fact we can still sell-out tours – and we’re not doing any new material yet – and the fact that people are still singing every word back makes my life dead easy.

Hopefully they’ll be doing that at all these festival dates you have planned for the summer.
It’s a bit of a different ball game doing festival shows. They’re not our gigs, we’re part of a day’s worth of events, but fingers crossed people, even if they’ve never heard of us, might stop and have a little listen.

The line up at Stockton Weekender looks great: there’s the Happy Mondays, Martha Reeves and The Vandellas, Public Enemy, Reverend and the Makers.
When we got the offer through and saw the line-up we thought, “Good God, that's going to be a great weekend.” Hopefully we’ll get to see a few of the other acts. I’d like to see the Happy Mondays, I haven’t seen them for a long time. We did support them in about 1999 when Shaun Ryder was really going through the mill. That was an entertaining tour, they looked after us very well and we got on well too so it will be nice to catch up.

Can fans expect to hear all the classic Shed Seven songs when you play in stockton?
It frustrates me when bands don’t play their hits. It’s a festival, people want to hear the hits and we’ll definitely be playing ours. The thing we struggle with is dropping songs, there’s too many to play all of them which is a happy problem I suppose.

I thought you missed a trick during London 2012 by not re-releasing Going for Gold.
We would have had to re-record a new version of it, so our ex-record label probably missed a trick. I was quite surprised, I was thinking with the Olympics and Going for Gold that maybe it might have been heard quite a bit, but oh no, it was Spandau Ballet all the way. That’s all I bloody heard. Their coffers will be stocked up.

You’ve been performing on the dj circuit recently, but can anything beat performing live? Is that still the ultimate for you?
Without a doubt. Since I started writing or wanting to be in a band aged about 11, it’s all I know what to do. DJing is okay, but I find it quite weird if you turn up at a club and say for example you play a Pulp song at midnight. People come up to you and say “Brilliant! Thanks!” I think “Hold on, I didn’t write it, I’m just putting it on.” It’s a different world. If I wasn’t doing that, I’d only be a home listening to the same thing and having a few drinks. I might as well go out and be with the people.

A lot has been made of the 20th anniversary of britpop, do you miss those days?
Not particularly. It was great while it was happening, but at the same time you’re so busy doing it, that you don’t actually realise what’s happening. It sounds horrible to say, but it was more like a job. When you first break through, everything is brilliant: the first time you’re played on the radio, the first time you’re on the telly, then because you’ve had that success, you want to emulate it and keep it going. It becomes more like a job, but a very enjoyable one. I don’t look back hankering for times past, there’s too much in the future to look forward to. The Britpop movement is probably the last music scene we’ll ever have. Since then it’s gone very technological. I don’t think you’ll ever find two bands warring to get to number one on the News At Ten. Those days are long gone. People can now press one button and get a song instantly, there’s no buzz. I feel sorry for my children’s generation, they’ll never understand what that’s like, but that just makes me sound like an old biddy, doesn’t it? I remember having to get on my bike with my pay packet when I was still at school to get the new Morrissey 12-inch. The whole idea of waiting a week to get it, and the physical act of picking it up in a record shop can’t be beaten for me. My oldest lad, if he asks me questions about Shed Seven, I say, “Oh yeah, ten times on Top of the Pops,” and his immediate response to that is, “What’s Top of the Pops?” Top of the Pops is something I grew up with from a very early age, thinking, “I really want to be on that one day.” It’s a shame, but it’s life, you just move on.

Do you think you’ll ever get back in the studio and record new material with Shed Seven again?
Fingers crossed, there’s always that option. This is the staple answer I offer – I totally understand why we’re asked this question because it was 2007 when we reformed and we still haven’t done anything new. Because we split and reformed, a lot of the other band members do different things. It’s difficult for us to even agree on a time to rehearse, let alone sit down and write. If we did record some new songs, how would we release them? I don’t think any of us would want to go down the route of another record deal, we’re a bit long in the tooth for that. There’s always melodies going around in my head, but until they’re let out, who knows? If we booked a gig and nobody bought a ticket, we’d know that we were done, but we’re quite happy trundling along. There is a chance that maybe in a year or two or three, we’ll announce we’re releasing two tracks on iTunes. No fanfare, just something for people who really like Shed Seven. If you like it, go out and get it. There’s always hope.

Stockton Weekender

Saturday 26th – Sunday 27th July
Stockton Riverside
Tickets available from www.stocktonweekender.co.uk or 01642 606525

Published in: June 2014

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