Covid-19 might have brought the live music industry to a grinding halt, but that hasn’t stopped one local band making the best of their time in lockdown. We caught up with Sheffield-based alternative rock quartet, Concrete Armbands, to hear about their success, the impact of Covid-19 and their upcoming EP.
Tell us a bit about the band.
We met in our first year at the University of Sheffield, with Josh (vocals) and James (guitar) arriving in Sheffield as friends from back home in Durham. Josh studied history and James met fellow band mates Ali (bass) and Ben (drums) on the music course. Our musical style is notoriously eclectic, bringing a range of musical influences together with the addition of open, honest lyrics and a whole heap of heavy. We love making music together, but we’re all also really close friends who enjoy catching up over a pint or two.
Before Covid-19 hit, what was it like playing the local gigging circuit and following in the footsteps of some of Sheffield’s biggest musical exports?
We’ve enjoyed playing at a range of venues in Sheffield, starting out in smaller but highly important venues like The Washington and Green Room before more recently graduating to support slots for bigger bands at venues such as Corporation and Record Junkee. James and Ali were lucky enough to watch IDLES play at Record Junkee in September 2018 at a gig that was revolutionary for the direction of the band’s sound and aesthetic. To think that we have since played on that very same stage twice is a humbling honour. Gigging in Sheffield as a local band is fun but difficult – the all-important support slots at bigger shows are incredibly competitive and have been monopolized by bands with the classic indie sound associated with Sheffield because of bands like Arctic Monkeys and The Sherlocks. We’ve found it hard because Josh doesn’t sing our songs whilst trying to do an impersonation of Alex Turner.
What artists do you take inspiration from?
One of our main influences has to be IDLES. Their music is so raw, visceral and lethargic, but above anything else we admire their openness and honesty. Their live shows are also a force to be reckoned with, and that too is something we hope to develop. On top of this, our other core influences include Biffy Clyro, Frightened Rabbit, Shame, Fontaines DC, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. It’s all about musical and lyrical honesty.
Your unique and varied style across your tracks has been widely applauded, how did that come about?
This probably arises from the fact that alongside our core musical influences, we all have differing and diverse musical interests and so consequently, our creative process is impacted by a variety of perspectives. The bottom line is that we all just live for music and we hope that that comes across when we make music together.
What can fans expect from the new EP?
The new EP, ‘I Don’t Like People Who Think They’re Above Everyone Else’, definitely has a more tightly-focussed sound and aesthetic than any of our previous releases, but we’ve tried to retain that definitive Concrete Armbands ‘sting in the tail’ as it were. It is our attempt to both pay homage to the influence of punk on our music, whilst simultaneously putting our own stamp on it. Expect it to be loud and audacious, with some fat bass sounds and killer drum fills.
How has Covid-19 affected you?
Lockdown has been tough for everyone. For us and many others, it was mentally trapping. Luckily, we were able to use our creativity to express and release that in the form of some acoustic sessions at the start and then our drummer Ben’s (aka Ghostmod) remix of our debut EP ‘Anti-Therapy’, featuring the lead single ‘Further Apart’ and its accompanying lockdown music video. It’s certainly been an adjustment as we’ve all been in different parts of the country, but we’re proud to have come out of it with a successful remix EP, a finished second EP and a solid idea of what comes next.
What can your fans look forward to beyond this next EP?
Looking forward, we can’t wait until we can safely gig again. We’ve wanted to play at The Leadmill for a long time and so that one’s still on our list. Ben is already planning and working on another remix EP for ‘I Don’t Like People Who Think They’re Above Everyone Else’. Without giving too much away, we’re also already working on new music as a band, and also potentially have something a bit more visual in the pipeline too. We’re just going to continue making music and expressing ourselves creatively, tackling the issues that we face on a daily basis on both personal and societal levels.
Anything you’d like to say to your fans?
We all really hope that you enjoy the new EP, please be sure to share it and follow us on Spotify and our socials to stay up to date on what we’ve got coming up!
Concrete Armbands’ new EP, ‘I Don’t Like People Who Think They’re Above Everyone Else’ will be available from 23rd October. You can listen on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/artist/4K5AdDPYagfXR4Ds84Dgfo
Image Credit: Concrete Armbands