Sheer Mag Interviewed: The No-Nonsense Philadelphian Punks Reigniting Classic Rock

US punks Sheer Mag hit the UK this week for the first time. To celebrate, here’s NME’s first chat with one of the most hyped garage bands to emerge in years

As Sheer Mag entered the final throes of their first set at SXSW earlier this year, someone from the crowd stumbled on stage, hands fumbling at the crotch of his jeans. Her bandmates continue plying their punk-tinged take on classic ‘70s rock, but singer Tina Halladay gave the invader a hefty shove back to the ground. “Get your dick back in your pants dude,” she spat, and he fell.

“Everyone just moved aside when I pushed him off stage and he completely faceplanted,” she cackled replaying the incident in her mind to NME the following day. For what it’s worth, Halladay’s gang are just as uncompromising when it comes to their music. Over 18 months they’ve become known for putting on exhilarating live shows and writing some of the most immediate riffs in years. The latter was first evidenced on their self-titled debut release – especially the fizzing standout track ‘What You Want’ – which the band originally uploaded to their Bandcamp page with an asking price of $100,000.

“We weren’t ready to have people buying it ‘cos the physical copy wasn’t ready [at the time],” Halladay explained to us. “We were like, ‘What if someone actually does buy it, that’d be crazy!’”

They might not have ludicrous stacks of cash in the bank yet, but that’s not stopping the Philadelphia quintet. Their second 7-inch – which came out earlier this year on Katorga Works – offered four more near-perfect tracks, and there are rumours of an already-recorded full-length to be released early next year.

What makes the band so special? That’s easy: their songs are incredible, and by refusing to sign to – or, in some cases even correspond with – any of the record labels desperate for a deal, they’ve created an air of mystique that has only magnified the level of hype surrounding them. To put it simply (and paraphrase something the organisers behind last week’s Static Shock Weekend said about the band), a few years ago it was Milk Music who came along with a bunch of tracks so instantaneous that they sent shockwaves through the DIY community. Then it was Merchandise, Parquet Courts and Royal Headache. Right now it’s Sheer Mag.

NME
Sheer Mag, photographed in Austin, Texas for NME in 2015

At present they’re touring really hard – their first ever European tour kicked off in early November and is seeing them undertake a mammoth, mouthwateringly heavy schedule, with just two rest days out of 45 (the remaining dates on the tour are listed below). For most bands, this might be enough to kill them, but back in March Halladay told NME that touring was a welcome break from the claustrophobia of the studio.

“We record everything ourselves so it gets kinda crazy,” she explained. “It wears thin on our patience for each other – so does touring but it’s fun to be around so many people all the time.” After hundreds of gigs wowing everybody who’s witnessed them across the pond, it’s finally time for Europe to get a dose of one of the most exhilarating new bands to emerge in years.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oS9RfLyfl94

Sheer Mag, live at Babylon (Bakersfield, CA) March 29, 2015

SHEER MAG: THE DETAILS

BASED
Philadelphia

FOR FANS OF
Thin Lizzy, Smith Westerns

BUY IT NOW
Two 7-inch releases are available on Sheermag.bandcamp.com and at selected record stores

BELIEVE IT OR NOT
Tina is a huge fan of Meatloaf and says he’s one of her inspirations as a singer

SEE THEM LIVE
Cribbed from Facebook, here’s their latest European tour dates:

Fr. 13.11.2015 London – The Lexington
Sa. 14.11.2015 – London – DIY Space For London (early)
Sa. 14.11.2015 Brighton – The West Hill Hall (late)
So. 15.11.2015 Paris – Le Picolo
Mo. 16.11.2015 Amsterdam – Occii
Di. 17.11.2015 Münster – Gleis 22
Mi. 18.11.2015 Bremen – Sielwallhaus
Do. 19.11.2015 Hamburg – Hafenklang
Fr. 20.11.2015 Aalborg – 1000 Fryd
Sa. 21.11.2015 Copenhagen – Ungdomshuset
So. 22.11.2015 Gothenburg – Bengans
Mo. 23.11.2015 Oslo – Revolver
Di. 24.11.2015 Uppsala – Costeau
Mi. 25.11.2015 Off Day
Do. 26.11.2015 Tampere – Vastavirta
Fr. 27.11.2015 Jyväskylä – Musta Kynnys
Sa. 28.11.2015 Helsinki – Lepakkomies
So. 29.11.2015 Stockholm – Human Audio
Mo. 30.11.2015 Malmö – Harem Bar
Di. 01.12.2015 Berlin – Thommy Weissbecker Haus
Mi. 02.12.2015 Dresden – Az Conni
Do. 03.12.2015 Off Day
Fr. 04.12.2015 Leipzig – Zoro
Sa. 05.12.2015 Vienna – Venster 99
So. 06.12.2015 Budapest – Müszi
Mo. 07.12.2015 Belgrade – Klub Fest
Di. 08.12.2015 Ioannina – Antiviosi
Mi. 09.12.2015 Patras – Sticky Fingers Basement
Do. 10.12.2015 Athens – Idryma 2.14
Fr. 11.12.2015 Thessaloniki – Biologica Squat
Sa. 12.12.2015 Istanbul – Peyote
So. 13.12.2015 Skopje – Mkc
Mo. 14.12.2015 Zagreb – Attack
Di. 15.12.2015 Milan – Sacrestia
Mi. 16.12.2015 Grenoble – Le 102
Do. 17.12.2015 Barcelona – tba
Fr. 18.12.2015 Mallorca – Sabotage
Sa. 19.12.2015 Madrid – Rock Palace
So. 20.12.2015 San Sebastian – Dabadaba (early show for kids & a regular show too. Both at the same place.)
Mo. 21.12.2015 Bordeaux – tba
Di. 22.12.2015 Lyon – tba

This is an adapted version of an article that originally appeared in NME after SXSW