Sharp Knees

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Features - Interviews

We were introduced to the guys at a battle of the bands night at Central in Hockley earlier this year.
The competition was very clear cut, Sharp Knees stood out like a sore thumb, or a sharp knee; they were on a completely different level to the other bands performing that night.

Sporting the indie/folk songwriter and performer Sam Bennett as their frontman, Sharp Knees have a headstart on many other aspiring bands with solidly crafted songs and the charismatic lead in Sam that is so often the pitfall of other bands. The group are tight, they love performing and are very easy on the eye. It all bodes well for the ‘big-time’.

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Who’s who in the band?
Sharp Knees are a four piece made up of Sam Bennett (vocals/guitar), Shane Egglestone (bass/ocals), Jacques Moran (keys/vocals) and Peter Dean (drums/vocals).

Sam - how do you balance being a solo performer and one quarter of a very talented band?
At the moment, I’m not playing live as a solo performer, mainly so I can concentrate on the band. In terms of writing though, I spend a lot of time writing, and I also write quite quickly, so I really need to have some sort of solo project so that all the songs can go somewhere, and we’re not constantly changing the Sharp Knees’ tunes.

Why does the world need Sharp Knees (as in the band obviously, no-one needs actual sharp knees, that would probably be painful)?
Our aim is really to just put out classic pop songs. We want to be doing songs that have that special bit you can sing along to, or that little bit that makes you smile. The world needs Sharp Knees to make
everyone aware that you can still do cool stuff without fitting in with a particular scene, or playing a style of music that is particularly in vogue at the moment.

Who do you get compared to and who do you actually think you sound like?
We really struggle to get an accurate comparison to ourselves, and that’s not for want of trying. People often say that we remind them of 80s pop music, and I’d agree with them, it’s a big influence on the band. We used to get a lot of Jack Penate comparisons, but we’ve matured, and so has he, so that’s stopped. We’ve been compared to
Keane, which isn’t as bad a thing as some people think! As for what I think, I have no clue! I think we’re a blend of a lot of things.

What are the plans for the band this year?
At the moment we’re just wanting to push our first album out there and do as much as we can to get people listening to it. We’re going
to be playing as much as possible over the summer, and we’re going to be out there just playing songs to whoever we can. I can see us promoting the album until the end of this year, and then maybe looking at what path to take next.

You’re mostly playing Nottingham gigs this summer, how difficult is  it to start gigging outside your home town?
The difficulty is less about gigging out of town, or getting those gigs, and more making those gigs worth it. Our core following is in Nottingham right now, and we are about to knuckle down and see what promotion we can do in other towns to boost our profile there. It’s so difficult to break out of your local scene. You spend so long building your presence there, and it’s impossible to apply that same technique to every other city around. In short, we’re just quite selective about out of town gigs, because we know we’ll not be taking a large crowd down, so we really rely on there already being a crowd at the gig.

Tell us what you love about the Central music venue?
The Central is a great at being supportive towards local acts. It’s very neutral, and whilst that does mean there’s not a particular scene associated with it, the venue is very welcoming to many, many local bands. You can see such a mixed bag of artists down there, it’s one of those things that pretty much anyone could enjoy a night a week down there.

Who would you say is in charge of the direction the band is taking?
I think the band sort of directs itself, we just follow whatever avenues open up to us and see where that takes us. Musically, everyone has an influence. I’ll write basic songs, and then the band will flesh them out, so whilst I’ll have a melody, and basic guitar parts, that song could still be a ballad, or an up-tempo track, reggae track, anything. I think the positive of that is that you do get a melting pot of all four members influences, which means we’re a bit of a cross breed of a band, like I mentioned earlier.

At what point do you all quit your day jobs and become full time band members?
I think the key thing is finances. When we realise that we can actually survive on the money coming in from the band, and we have been able to for a while, we’ll be able to say. The band are all pretty down to earth though. We know that the chance to become a full time band is a long, long way off, we’ve got a lot of battles to fight and a lot of hearts to win before we get there. I’m not saying it will ever happen, but I’m not saying it won’t either. We’re just giving it our best shot.

What would improve the live music scene in Nottingham?
The music scene is so fractured in Nottingham. I’d like to see more collaborations between artists, more artists putting on their own gigs, and just more general interest in the music that people are putting out. Some of the stuff coming out of Nottingham is good enough that I’d be glad to be hearing it even if it wasn’t a local band putting it out. I think just more general comradeship would help out no end, bands just giving a hand to other bands. I think Nottingham should actually have less gigs! We’re overcrowded! I’d like to see a more selective policy from some venues as well. A lot of bands out there just aren’t ready to gig musically, but can bring in a lot of their friends, so the venue will happily have them on.
From a business view, that makes short term sense, but in the long term, I feel that certain venues are going to get a reputation for not quality controlling their gigs, and in time, the people that might take a chance on going to a gig there, because they usually get good bands, will no longer risk it. Casual gig goers will be a thing of the past, and all bands will just have their mates watching. It’s nice to have mates watching, but do they really like your music? Or do they just support you out of loyalty and a wish to see you succeed? Interact with other bands! Allow your music to make you new fans! Don’t fill your set with in-jokes to your mate on the front row, because to be quite honest, I feel completely out of the loop and have just switched off from your set! Also, if you haven’t got at least 5 or 6 original songs to put out there, you’re rushing things.
Get back to the studio and get some more songs. Nottingham has too many half-formed bands. Let’s have more free gigs! Let’s allow people to mature musically before putting them on stage!

Who are the best and worst Nottingham bands at the moment?
There are so many good, even brilliant Nottingham bands, it’s very hard to name them all, and would take up a lot of space. However, there are a few that stand out to me. Right now, I love Infinity Hertz (www.myspace.com/infinityhertz). Such good soundscapes and such freaky noises. I saw Captain Dangerous play an acoustic set the other day, and I was blown away. The harmonies they put out, the songs they craft, some of it is just so sublime, and I think you hear that better when they are stripped down. Finally, perhaps my favorite live band in Nottingham, Other Left. So funky, so danceable. However, unlike a lot of funky/danceable music, the songs have a lot of substance. Often I watch a funk band, and struggle to tell songs apart. Not so with Other Left. In terms of worst, I’d never like to name a worst, because to be quite honest, the worst that I’d name would just be my least favorite, and I’d just be insulting a band that could be exceptional within their genre, but I just am not a fan of that style. It would probably be a metal band to be honest. But that’s all I’m saying!

www.myspace.com/sharpknees, or search “Sharp Knees” on Facebook!