An East End date with Sisteray

Indie | Thursday 7th July 2016 | Alice

Sisteray, since breaking onto the scene in 2014, have blossomed with now regular appearances in London including their very own club night. The band, formed of Niall (lead Vocals/rhythm guitar), Dan (lead guitar/backing vocals), Mick (bass) and Marco (drums) have already started to see signs of success including working with Rory Attwell. I was looking forward to conversing with the boys about their influences, which consists of John Cooper Clarke as well as their active discussions on social media revolving politics.

How did you all come to meet and form the band?

Dan: I had been playing guitar and writing music for a few years. I wanted to start a band, so I put an ad out and Niall responded. He was into all the same music so we went for a few drinks together. We instantly hit it off and started writing tunes with my brother who used to play drums for us. I love throwing myself into the deep end so I booked a gig for 3 weeks time. We went into a rehearsal room and started fleshing it out really. A couple of weeks before the gig I went camping for Mick’s birthday, and he asked if we’d found a bass player yet. When I said no he said he would do it although he could barely play guitar. He turned up to our first rehearsal with an electric guitar, which he played bass lines on. For our first gig he turned up with a bass guitar he’d borrowed from someone. The first note he hit on our first gig was the first time he’d ever played bass. A little while after my brother left to go to uni and we were given a festival gig. I put another ad out for a drummer and Marco messaged me saying he was in Italy and didn’t land until the week before the gig. My first thought was that this wouldn’t ever work but I sent him the songs, to which he said he could make an hour rehearsal a few days before the gig. I was thinking he wasn’t going to know all the songs, but when he came to the rehearsal he knew all the songs and was ready to go. We went to the gig and smashed it.
Niall: When you put the adverts up you do get a lot of people coming from somewhere and they may not learn what’s asked to the standard you think, this wasn’t the case luckily.
Dan: Marco had a one-hour rehearsal with us and that was it.
Marco: I put on my MP3 on the plane and *clicks* I knew it like that.

Do you all produce music full time, as it’s a tough climate in the music industry?

Dan: We put in every spare minute. What we’ve noticed, which sets us aside from other bands is when you get to a certain level everyone starts a band, and then when they’ve kind of made it you can go to speak to them and they are kind of distant. We aren’t really like that. We run our own club night and have tried to make our own family of bands. Do favours for each other, like they’ll give you gigs up north and you give them gigs down south. What sets us apart is that (we have a club night coming up) and you’ll see us outside every gig handing out flyers, CD’s and talking to people. We’ve sold out most of our club nights but we don’t think of ourselves above our stations.

You are all very vocal about your politics on social media; do you worry about your following?

Dan: Nah, fuck that. It’s the whole ethos of our band. We are in a position to influence people and if people don’t want to go along with it then that’s their choice.
Mick: Everything comes down to a lot of bands start a band to get their own headline tour or headline all the festivals. If someone comments saying they don’t like that then it’s not necessarily the sort of fans we want. We want to influence people. If we never make it, which would suck as headlining would be great, but if we don’t we don’t. As long as we change people and the way they think then that’s cool.
Dan: I don’t think it’s as binary as losing or gaining fans as we’ve got a message and this is what we want to say, so come on the journey with us.

Do you believe you have broken through?

Dan: I don’t think we’ve broken through personally.
Niall: When you start playing gigs, a lot of them are empty and you think that you can’t ever see this building into people that will come every time. I think we have built that up but breaking through to me would quantify as having a solid album deal or a deal that sets you up for three years. At the moment I think we are still in the pool with other bands.
Dan: We are still desperate to make a name for ourselves to class as breaking through. We are working harder than we’ve ever worked before.
Niall: I think we’ve reached the threshold.
Dan: There’s no way we can be complacent now.

What is your song writing process?

Dan: For us it’s song to song.
Marco: Each one has its own story.
Dan: I can bring something in as an idea for the next single, then Niall can completely change the lyrics. The next single we’re going to release, I brought in as one idea and then Niall changed the lyrics, Mick gave it a different bass and it’s changed. It can start as a guitar driven song before changing into being more bass influenced.

What was it like working with Rory Attwell?

Niall: Working with Rory the first time was an eye opener. The people we worked with before were good but they were a little reluctant to get involved. They’d let us do what we wanted, unlike Rory who was really enthusiastic and would give honest advice.
Mick: Everyone we worked with before acted more as an engineer. Rory worked as a producer.
Niall: On one of the verses of our latest single our manager asked if we wanted to change one of the verses. Rory then had a melody line for something different. He really contributed. Our latest single we debuted at Universal and recorded it with Rory. He helped change the whole chorus in terms of an underlying melody. He’s brilliant. He knew what we wanted and understood us.
Dan: The great thing was Rory was honest. When you start a band you have gigs, which all your mates attend. Everyone just tells you it’s great. You then work with someone like Rory who’s been in the industry for years and has produced with people like Palma Violets, who turns around and suggests changes that could make it better.

sisteray 2.jpg

Did you all expect to sell out your first headline gig?

Dan: We put a lot of effort into it and didn’t sleep for a month. We went to every gig possible to flyer.
Mick: We knew ultimately we had put enough effort into it.
Dan: The whole flyering thing works. We had a girl turn up at the gig who said it was the first time she was going to see us, but that we had given her a flyer a year ago and because we had shown her time she decided to come along.

Who are your biggest influences? 

Dan: Day to day life, Jeremy Corbyn, Patti Smith, Artic Monkeys, The Jam.... There are so many, it's not just musicians but also poets like John Cooper Clarke, the way he voices himself. .

Tell me about your participation in ‘When in Manchester’?

Dan: We played the launch night and it was great and run by enthusiastic girls. It was our first time playing in Manchester but it was great the number of people who turned up. Without girls like that who are so enthusiastic about music and do it for free, the scene wouldn’t be the same.

Go check out Sisteray’s Facebook or visit their YouTube page and check out When in Manchester.