Rock and roll and guitar music will always have a market, no matter what the charts say and the success of more retro, revivalist artists like Jake Bugg and Tame Impala are good indications of that.
Another artist going back to basics and giving a nod to the roots of rock and roll is a band from Sheffield, UK called Liberty Ship and I genuinely think that they can achieve mainstream success in the same way that other revivalist artists have.
Based on the sheer strength of songs like “Further”, “Learning To Fly”, “Don’t Wish”, and countless other demos, it baffles me that a major label hasn’t picked up on these guys yet. If they get the proper backing from a record label and management, there’s absolutely no reason why they couldn’t go on to sell loads of records, get lots of radio play, and sell out big gigs.
Their band’s trademark sound is a modern take on classic rock and roll and their harmonious, soulful vocals take their songs to the next level, propelling them to timeless, summery, feel-good anthem status.
Though the band are reluctant to restrict themselves to one particular scene, they have quite a few ties to Sheffield’s blossoming music scene. They’ve sold out Sheffield’s The Leadmill, opened the main stage at Tramlines Festival, supported Sheffield’s own Milburn and Reverend And The Makers, and some of their tracks were produced by Reverend And The Makers’ Ed Cosens.
The band’s new single, “Cast Away”, is another example of the band’s knack for writing youthful, energetic songs that are just dying to be turned into festival singalongs. As for the song’s lyrical content, the band’s lead guitarist, Jack Eddison, said, “It’s about the dream of escape. When you’re sat sharing a bottle of cider with your best mate, nothing matters. We’ve cast away from all you. We’re invincible. Try and stop us.”
After the release of yet another great single, things are only looking up for these guys and if they keep writing songs like these, there’s nothing this band won’t be able to accomplish. Some bands that I love and write about aren’t necessarily destined for mainstream success and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but I can easily see these guys achieving a huge level of success and even on their own terms.
Liberty Ship are a young, four-piece band consisting of Lewis Hancock (lead vocals/acoustic guitar), Jack Eddison (lead guitar/backing vocals), James Brown (bass/backing vocals), and Kierran Bond (drums/backing vocals). I was able to interview the four members of the band and we talked about their origins, surprise influences, future releases, tips for new bands, selling out seven nights at Knebworth before disappearing on a yacht, and much more.
How long have you all been playing music and how did you all meet?
KB: It’s been a while now.
JE: Kierran used to play baritone.
KB: Well no, I played drums first.
JE: You played baritone though.
KB: I went through a phase of brass, yeah.
LH: We all went to school together, didn’t we.
JB: We’ve been playing together about 10 years.
KB: Well, I joined when I were 11 and I’m 21 now, so yeah, 10 years.
You guys remind me a lot of Jake Bugg and The La’s. Your music sounds like a folky, bluesy, modern take on rock and roll. Did the band’s name come from The La’s track of the same name?
JE: It actually came from when we took mushrooms called “liberty caps” and then we listened to The La’s song and thought, this is just right.
KB: We went to John Street to find ourselves.
JE: Yeah and we found ourselves on John Street and that’s where it all started really.
You’re from Sheffield, which has had its fair share of big bands (Arctic Monkeys, Pulp, The Human League, Reverend and The Makers, Milburn, etc.). Are there any particular bands from Sheffield that you take inspiration from or are you determined not to associate yourself with any particular scene?
KB: We try and do our own thing.
JE: I suppose if you’re going to put us into a genre, it is indie what we’re doing, but obviously there’s that rock ‘n’ roll vibe, but obviously if you come to a gig, you’ll see we have got different styles, so it’s hard to try and put yourself into one.
KB: We’re not going to say that nobody influenced us because that’s a lie.
JE: Yeah, obviously we’ve had loads of help from Reverend And The Makers, especially Jon McClure. He guided us a lot when we were first starting out.
LH: It’s different isn’t it. We’re not influenced by the actual music that they’re playing, it’s just how they write songs.
JE: Yeah, it’s where they take their inspiration from for writing songs.
LH: It’s not like we’re writing music like them, but it’s just getting inspiration from them to write different songs.
Your latest track “Cast Away” was produced by Ed Cosens from Reverend and The Makers and you supported them as well. How did that come about?
JE: Jon said, “Yo, you wanna support us?” and we were like, “Yeah man.”
JB: And we was like, “Eddi, you fancy producing this?” and he was like, “Yeah man.”
KB: The end.
There seems to be a lot of great, young bluesy rock and roll acts like you guys at the minute (like Same Streets, Courtney Barns, The Swiines, Louis Berry, The Strypes, Jake Bugg). Do you think this resurgence in artists going to back to the roots of rock and roll is a conscious rejection of popular chart music or is it just about making good, timeless music?
JE: The last one.
LH: Yeah, I mean who’s happy with radio?
JB: When I listen to the radio and it’s just banger, banger, banger. I just think, same song this innit.
JE: Don’t get me wrong, rock and roll will never die. It’s one of those things that’ll keep being regurgitated over time, but everyone’s got a modern twist on it, a different way of doing it. And it’s all about who’s singing it, what they’ve been through, what they’re singing about and what makes it different: your lyrics and your melodies.
What do you think about the lack of rock bands in the charts?
JB: I just think it shows you how music’s changed, how shit it’s got.
You’ve played festivals like Isle of Wight, Kendal Calling, and Y Not. How was the experience playing at big festivals?
JE: Wicked. Pukka mate. Stayed up all weekend.
JB: I slept quite a lot.
KB: It’s a good vibe that This Feeling have got going off, not just at festivals.
JE: Yeah, what Mikey’s doing for bands up and down the country, it’s like, you wonder why nobody’s done it before, but obviously it takes a lot of time and effort and he’s got a good ear for music. You’ll never go to a This Feeling gig and hear a shit band. So that’s what it’s all about innit.
What has the overall response been to your music from fans at your gigs?
JE: “Wow, why have I never heard of you before?”
LH: We get a mixed audience. We have a lot of young people and a lot of older generations.
KB: It means the gigs are good.
JE: We’ve never had anyone say we’re shit. We’ve had people say we’re not their cup of tea, but it’s always followed by compliments.
You’ve released two singles, “Learning To Fly” and “Don’t Wish”, before “Cast Away.” Do you feel like you’ve progressed as songwriters with each release?
KB: Yeah. Well, I do anyway.
LH: Even though we wrote “Cast Away” before the others.
Have you thought about a debut album yet or are you still trying to build up your fan base by playing more gigs first?
JE: I’ll be honest, we’ve got enough songs for about 60 albums at the minute, but even if someone comes along and says, “Here’s a load of money, go do an album”, it’s pretty pointless if it’s just going to get forgotten about, do you know what I mean? So yeah, you’ve got to build up to it first. It’ll come.
KB: When the time’s right.
What are some of your favorite records that you always go back to?
KB: That’s a hard question.
JE: I always go back to The Beatles personally, either them or David Bowie. If you’re ever in doubt about anything, listen to David Bowie.
LH: “Use Me” by Bill Withers, that’s mine.
JB: AC/DC for me. I always go back to AC/DC. Standard classic rock.
KB: I can’t think.
LH: Kierran’s is The Cheeky Girls.
Are there any new artists or bands that you think people should know about?
JE: The Jacks. Brilliant band on the This Feeling circuit.
KB: Judas. And a new Sheffield band called Henderson.
LH: Shimmer Band.
JE: Cabbage, obviously, but everyone already knows about them. April, they’re boss. Cupids.
JB: Bang Bang Romeo.
JE: Ethan and the Reformation.
In the strange political climate that we live in now and as a band of young guys, do you feel any motivation to start writing political lyrics?
JB: Do we balls.
LH: Do we f***.
KB: I listen to songs to get away from all that.
Is there anybody that you guys listen to or take inspiration from that might surprise people?
JE: Ice Cube.
LW: Yep. NWA. Wu-Tang.
JE: Dre man. That 2001 album is just hit after hit. That’s how you should do an album. It should just be single, after single, after single, do you know what I mean? That’s why you can’t just do an album straight away. You can’t have one good tune on it and the rest is filler.
Have you found it easy to get backing from management and record labels?
JB: Have we f***.
JE: It’s hard with major record labels because you need the fan base and stuff like that.
KB: And it’s all about Twitter followers.
JB: Yeah, it’s all numbers these days innit.
JE: Yeah, there’s very few people that are in it for the pleasure of doing music.
What is your songwriting process? Is it collaborative? Is it usually music first then lyrics?
LH: It can come from the music first or the lyrics first.
JE: You’ve gotta keep trying different stuff. Me and Lewis write the lyrics quite a lot of the time, but Jim does as well sometimes. It’s good to have loads of different opinions on it, like people coming in from a different angle.
What would your idea of success be for the band?
JE: Knebworth. 7 nights. All sold out. After that, just disappear, on a yacht.
KB: Having my own dressing room, so I don’t have to associate with these c****.
JE: Jimmy wants his own tour bus so he can stay up without any of us going, “No Jimmy, come on, we’ve got a gig this weekend.”
JB: Either that or just sleeping, one of the two.
JE: There’s no in-between with you, is there?
JB: No. I either wanna be asleep all the time or awake all the time.
What can fans expect from Liberty Ship in 2017? More music and shows?
KB: Yeah. Festivals. Number 1 album.
LH: Yeah, festivals, releasing as much music as we can really. Well, as much as we can afford to release.
JE: Yeah we’re not just dropping hints, if people want more songs, chuck in a few quid. Stop with all this streaming bullshit.
Thanks for taking the time for an interview. Good luck with everything and I hope I can catch one of your shows soon!
LS: Our pleasure, thank you! X
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