Shed Seven have shared their anthemic new single ‘In Ecstasy’ featuring Happy Mondays powerhouse Rowetta, and spoken to NME about how they also recruited Pete Doherty and Reverend And The Makers’ Laura McClure for their sixth studio album ‘A Matter Of Time’. Check out the new video on NME first below, along with our interview with frontman Rick Witter.
The rousing track, sees Witter and the Mondays’ singer trading vocals, over a driving, motorik beat and soaring guitars. It came together after the frontman stumbled across a melody he felt would be perfect for Rowetta’s powerful vocals.
“When I was writing that song, as soon as I thought of this particular melody, I just thought of Rowetta, I just thought ‘I can hear her singing that,’” he told NME.
“Because we’ve met a few times over the years and we supported the Mondays way back when, I just thought I might as well reach out and see if she’s interested and she was all over it.”
He continued: “She’s just got that sass hasn’t she? She’s got the Manchester sass, that Manchester energy. It didn’t take a lot for her to understand what we wanted either. I just showed her the melody and said, ‘These are the words, see what you wanna do and before we knew it she had a big (adopts her singing voice): ‘In ecstaaasy!’ It was very Rowetta.”
The Shed Seven frontman also managed to get Pete Doherty onboard for the album’s closing track ‘Throwaways’ after he caught The Libertines man singing along to their songs at the side of the stage at last year’s Bingley Weekender.
“We played just before The Libertines on the main stage and while we were doing our set, I just looked at the side of the stage and discovered that Peter was stood there with my family watching the gig and he was singing every word,” Witter remembered.
“So after we’d finished our gig, I went over and he was telling me that in the ;90s – pre-Libertines – he’d sit on his bed with his guitar and learn Shed Seven songs, which I thought was pretty cool. I just said, ‘Look we’ve got this song, we’ve got another couple of guests on our record, we might as well throw the boat out here, would you fancy jumping on?’ And he said, ‘I would absolutely love to’.”
Elsewhere, the York band recruited Reverend And The Makers keyboardist and backing singer Laura McClure for ‘Tripping With You’, a song about an obsessive stalker.
“We wanted a girl’s voice that sounded really sweet and innocent,” Witter explained. “We’ve supported the Reverend a few times over the years and I thought of Laura. I spoke to her over the phone and gave her the brief and said it’s a bit stalker-ish. We wanted someone very innocent down to the point where I wanted a sort of giggle on there. So she gave us a few different giggles and I chose the right one for us and I think she nailed it.”
Ahead of the writing sessions for the album, which started in March 2022, longterm drummer Alan Leach and guitarist Joe Johnson left the band to pursue other projects.
“It’s one of those things isn’t it? You can’t stop someone from doing what they want to do,” Witter reasoned. “And the two guys obviously felt that it was time for them to try and do something else. All we can do is wish them the best of luck with what they do in the future.
“But I guess as long as there is me, [bassist] Tom [Gladwin] and [guitarist] Paul [Banks] in the band, we are the mainstays that have been there from the beginning. So as long as people are watching me fling my hips about onstage and singing about gold and rainbows then we should be all be happy shouldn’t we?”
Following the duo’s departure, the band drafted in former Audioweb drummer Robert “Maxi” Maxfield and multi-instrumentalist Tim Wills, who had previously worked with Ian Brown, for the recording sessions on ‘A Matter Of Time’ which eventually saw them retreat to the Spanish mountains. There they reunited with Killing Joke bassist Youth, who produced their 2017 album ‘Instant Pleasures’.
“We were in Spain for three weeks in his studio, halfway up a mountain with one hire car and he was the only person that was allowed to drive it. So we were basically trapped there and he’s quite a force of nature is Youth,” said Witter.
During the sessions, the producer would force the band to play each song on an acoustic guitar rather than listen to their demos.
“We found ourselves every morning having to show him the next song we were gonna record so we basically recorded a song a day,” the frontman explained. “He would say, ‘Right what song are we playing today?’ And we’d strum it on an acoustic guitar and I’d be singing and one minute he’d be looking to the heavens wondering what on earth he’s hearing and the next he’d be going, ‘Oh yeah that sounds really good’. He’s a very clever man and it was a really interesting process to kind of hear his thoughts and opinions! And then he’d fall asleep while we were recording.”
As for his thoughts on working with the new band members, Witter said: “It’s been fantastic. They’ve made us pull our socks up because they’re hungry, they’re brand new to the party, they want things to go as well as they possibly can. So it’s kind of given us a massive kick up the arse. They’re also fantastic musicians and we don’t have to tell them twice how to do something. They’re just clued in.”
Having recorded two albums in the last six years, Witter argues that the band have finally shed what he describes as their 90s “nostalgia tag”.
“We’ve lost that nostalgia of just going out and playing our old hits like a lot of bands tend to do,” he added. “We’ve found ourselves feeling a little more current again because we’re doing brand new stuff. The fact the new stuff definitely stands up with our past material in the sense that it sounds very fresh and current is a great thing. So we’ve found ourselves in a really healthy position.
“Having said that I’ve never got bored of singing our old stuff because of the fact that everyone there in that room watching us is just having the best time. It’s difficult to get bored when you’re looking at 2,000 people looking like they’re having a really, really good night out.”
Before they release their new album, Shed Seven will head out on a UK tour next month which they hope will give them the chance to roadtest their songs with some of the guest artists on the record.
“Unfortunately Rowetta is in Australia while we’re doing most of these gigs. It turns out that she gets home the day before we play Manchester so that would be pretty cool if we could get her to come out and join us onstage in her hometown. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that she’s not too jet lagged,” Witter enthused.
“If we’re in Sheffield and Laura’s available we’ll definitely ask the question. And with Peter obviously he’s a busy man himself but they’re always welcome and why wouldn’t we? The other alternative to that is to get a big screen and get them to sing on it. We’ve gotta keep up with the modern times haven’t we?”
As for what lies ahead in 2024, the frontman concluded: “I think it’s gonna be a big year for us, starting with the release of our brand new album in the first week of the 30th anniversary of our debut ‘Change Giver’. If you’re a Shed Seven fan I think you should buckle up because you’re gonna be in for a good ride. And if you’re not a fan, find a big rock and hide behind it.”
A ‘Matter Of Time’ is released on January 5, 2024. You can pre-order/pre-save the album here.
The band’s UK tour dates are below. Visit here for any remaining tickets.
Shed Seven’s UK dates are as follows:
19 – Cardiff Tramshed
20 – London O2 Shepherds Bush Empire
21 – Nottingam Rock City
23 – Stoke Victoria Hall
24 – Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall
26 – Glasgow Barrowland
27 – Middlesbrough Town Hall
28 – Manchester Albert Hall