Tramlines Interview with ‘Dead English Gentlemen’


The line-up this year at The Leadmill for Tramlines is just looking amazing. Included in that line-up is the fantastic local Sheffield band, Dead English Gentlemen. With a great sense of humour and good music to match, they’re not to miss this year. Social Sheffield writer, Francesca Rolle, talks to Rob, Kyle and Ryan about their musical journey so far.

F: What’s one of your favourite venues to play in Sheffield?
DEG: One of the favourites has to be St Paddy’s Day, when they put up this massive tent. We played to a full tent, none of them were there to see us, they were all wasted watching the rugby, but it was amazing thinking ‘look at all these people!’ There have been occasions where we’ve just played to our girlfriends and the bar staff!

F: What’s your dream venue or festival to headline?
DEG: Glastonbury. Wait! I take it back, South by Southwest would be excellent. It would be nice to do some festivals abroad, just for the whole experience, driving ourselves out there in a van.

F: How did you form as Dead English Gentlemen?
DEG: Well Ryan and Kyle are brothers, so they’ve been jamming about for years not taking it too seriously. A few of the early songs formed really slowly, like, years slowly. When we realised we played really well together and bounced off each other, was when we started taking it seriously. We asked Rob a couple of times in the past and he gave us the brush off! But we wore him down.

F: When do you think you went from being a group of musicians to being a band?
DEG: The thing is we’ve been friends since we were little kids, so it was just instant really, it wasn’t like we had to get to know each other, or what we were about musically.

F: What annoying habits have you all got?
DEG: What annoying habits don’t we have? We’re all lunatics. Ryan tries to solo over everything! It’s weird when you’re mates, because the things that are annoying are the things that kind of bring you together.

F: Moving back towards more of the music side of things, what’s the best show you’ve ever played?
DEG: We recently played a surprise birthday party for Christian Carlisle, the BBC Introducing Sheffield presenter, and it was fantastic. Bang Bang Romeo played it as well, and the chap from Ginger Tom. Everyone was just massively up for it. There were just such high spirits.

F: And what’s the worst?
DEG: Ooh, there’s been a few! It’s not because of the venue though, it can be the best venue but sometimes things just fall to pieces in front of you, because things just go wrong don’t they? Technical difficulties. We had one where the snare just started falling to bits! It kept collapsing into Rob’s legs, so he had to play fast just to get through a song, because the drum kit was just moving apart in every direction!

Dead English Gentlemen | Social Sheffield

F: What’s been your biggest learning curve so far?
DEG: Put a carpet down underneath your drum kit and buy a new snare stand. Going in the studio and being prepared, getting the sound you want in your head before you go in there. Do your thing, what you want to do, lots of bands get sucked in to getting signed, and when you sound like someone else it’s already too late.

F: Have you got any other advice for fellow bands?
DEG: Someone else’s drum kit will sound different, will feel different, so take in your own gear, whether you headline or not. It’s a massive bonus being able to play your own kit comfortably and confidently.

F: Where have you recorded your EPs?
DEG: We recorded our EP at 2 Fly with Dave Sanderson, and he came down to watch us beforehand, and he was just all over it, he listened to us, our ideas, and it meant we went in there with a real focus. Can’t say enough good things about him. Recently we’ve been recording at The Old Pig Farm. It’s just such a lovely environment, it’s easy to make music there.

F: And who did the artwork?
DEG: Tom J Newell, an amazing artist in his own right. He was brought in by Ron Adams who funded the EP. Which was amazing really, because obviously he is a really well known Sheffield artist, so when people see that 12inch vinyl cover they’re actually more likely to search for it and maybe buy it. He actually came to the studio to talk to us about our ideas and what we wanted.

F: So who writes the songs and what sort of themes are they about?
DEG: Well we all write the songs. They all come from the practice room, so Ryan might just start playing a riff, or anything sparks it, we don’t sit down and plan it. We’re all in the same vein of when we’re coming up with song ideas we’re doing it to impress each other, not to sort of like write it because we think a particular style is in at this moment. None of the titles fit the song, we just sit in the pub and talk a load of rubbish! The lyrics are usually the last thing that happen.

F: Quite a hard one – what’s your outlook on the record industry today?
DEG: It’s certainly going through a lot of changes because of streaming and downloading, and illegal downloading in particular, so it’s really difficult to get signed, or it seems to be! We’ve been trying to get signed for at least 15 years or so. It’s not how you imagined it to be as a kid, you used to get people scouting bands out, and now it’s all social media and that. Labels look at how many likes you’ve got on Facebook, and that doesn’t mean anything at all really. But there’s still a lot of amazing, interesting music being released.

F: How are you feeling about playing Tramlines?
DEG: Excited. Very excited. Wahhoooo. Really buzzing. This year it’s a step up, a huge, huge step up.

You can catch Dead English Gentlemen at The Leadmill on Saturday 25th at 18:20

Photography by Sammi Sparke
With thanks to The Broadfield for providing the interview venue

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Francesca Rolle

Francesca grew up being taken to festivals and gigs, and today is surrounded by friends' bands. She is now putting her proximity to the music scene to very good use, writing about local Sheffield bands and venues.
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