Tag Archives: Hey Sholay

Creative Selling: Hey Sholay Interview

3 Dec

Hey Sholay

The level of creativity in band merchandise is undergoing something of a renaissance at present. Cassette tapes are once again seen as a fairly legitimate way to distribute music, albeit on a small and limited scale, and the resurgence of vinyl has seen countless variations of the limited edition release. Coloured vinyl, heavyweight vinyl, multi-coloured vinyl, etched vinyl, liquid vinyl, all these and more have been produced and sold by artists in the last year. While there are only so many ways a record can be cut and produced, Sheffield band Hey Sholay is taking it to a whole new level. Not, as you might expect, by using modern technology to create something remarkably modern, but by looking to the past and recreating an ingenious piece of vinyl’s history. We spoke to guitarist Laurie Allport to find out more.

“Russian chemistry students used to get an original, smuggle it into the country and copy it onto x-ray acetate”

With a barnet that the Hair Bear Bunch would be proud of, he is the complete opposite of his rocking onstage persona where the head bangs and the hair flails wildly. In conversation he is quiet and contemplative, honest and enthusiastic, especially when it comes to the special vinyl they have made for their latest single, “My Blood”.

Inspired by the way western music would be smuggled around the Soviet Union during the Cold War, the band has produced 37 x-ray vinyl editions of “My Blood”. That’s the single produced on actual x-ray acetates that have people’s actual ailments on them, not just a picture disk of a broken foot or something. He explains how he discovered the history, ”there is a friend of mine who used to live in the Soviet Union and he is kind of obsessed with the history and things like that and he told me a story about how in the 1960s, he couldn’t get Beatles or Bob Dylan records under the iron curtain”.

“They were banned, so what Russian chemistry students used to do is get an original one smuggle it into the country and then copy it onto x-ray acetate. So you could get these acetates and you could roll them up your sleeve because it was an arrestable offence, I think the jail sentence was four years for pirating music”. And you thought people who illegally download music and get caught are harshly treated.

Hey Sholay x-rayjpg

From there the tale continues in passionate detail, including the science of how the acetates were made, ”a reverse gramophone method, so you put the input to the speaker and output through the vibrating needle”, and how Laurie set about working out if he could make one. His initial attempts at making his own lathe to turn the acetate failed but, as luck would have it, one of only a handful of wax cylinder makers in the world happens to be based in Sheffield. So, with the help of Duncan from Vulcan Wax Records (who was already playing around with some pretty out there ideas for how to shape and manufacture vinyl records) the x-ray vinyl experiment was underway.

Ultimately, while the acetate is strong enough to withstand a stylus, they are understandably not as sturdy as regular vinyl and, as Laurie admits, ” they don’t sound perfect by any means”! Each one of the 37 has been tested and each one works but they are definitely more of a collector’s item, coming as they do in a large frame and with a CD version too.

”We enclosed 500 photos from our childhood, originals that we took out of family albums and cut them up”

Making new (or in this case old) and unusual ways of selling and distributing their music is something that the band appears to enjoy, but we get the sense that it is Laurie who is driving the ingenuity. Previous releases have also tipped the needle on the out-there-ometer. The Foetus EP (another of Laurie’s ideas), was a string of five EPs each on USB and contained within five separate rubber foetus’ from stage zygote to pre-birth with a free umbilical cord necklace (because who would do something like that without giving away a free umbilical cord necklace?). As far as we can tell only The Flaming Lips have done anything even close to that with their USB in a jelly skull release, “ours was actually first” Laurie is quick to note with a smile. Hey Sholay aren’t limited to crazy vinyl or USB sticks either, there was also their first EP which was ”a pink cassette with six of our songs on. It was in a little cardboard case with brown fur around it, and a little kind of tie off with a postcard”, Laurie recalls, ”and we actually enclosed 500, we made 500 photos from our childhood, originals that we took out of family albums and cut them up”!

We have been fortunate that the majority of people we’ve interviewed over the last 15 months have been eminently sensible and, notwithstanding risking the wrath of irate parents, Laurie is no different. Hey Sholay is, he says, at an intermediate level right now and he appreciates that people are not necessarily aware of them yet. It is a fact that will be proved right later in the evening when they play to a small but appreciative crowd in Norwich, but it is not a fact that he appears worried by. He knows that not all bands can get the same level of coverage and is grateful for the chance to introduce themselves to any potential new fans.

”The most flattering thing is when people choose their own nuggets about what you do, that’s really cool”

So far critics and bloggers alike have, unusually, failed to agree on what exactly Hey Sholay sounds like. In a day and age where labels stick quicker than superglue to fingers, the fact that they are as yet without a pigeon-hole is quite something. When pressed he plays it safe, ” we would profess to write pop music because that covers the giant spectrum”. The lack of a consistent descriptor is something Laurie quite likes as it suggests a subjective connection from the listener. ”The best thing is that all these different people will give us different descriptions and I really enjoy that because, if you’re reading a good book or you’re looking at a beautiful painting or something like that, people will emotively react to different elements of it”.

“If somebody says ‘you sound like blah… really like blah’, we’re not influenced by that but that’s amazing, it’s really cool that you get that. That’s the most flattering thing you can get [is] when people can choose their own nuggets about what you do, so that’s really cool”.

Critics could well get another stab at classifying Hey Sholay in a sub-genre relatively soon as thoughts are already turning to album number two. ”Now we are demoing for the new record”, he tells us, ”[and] we are going to start recording in March […] that’s the plan”.

There are plans too for more unusual merchandise; he won’t divulge everything to us but he is keen to explore the idea of producing a puzzle disc. Something, he explains, that hasn’t ”been done since the 1920s and 30s” and involves having ”four sides of a vinyl on one side”. Again his unbridled enthusiasm is on show as he explains how it would work and even our obvious incomprehension doesn’t dampen his spirit. This is probably a good thing as he knows these experiments and projects are unlikely to make them any serious money as only the very rare pieces of memorabilia fetch the big bucks these days. Something he has experienced himself, not the getting big bucks bit, he found out first hand that memorabilia doesn’t always go for as much you’d expected.

”I did an internship at a company called Warp Films in Sheffield and I was lucky enough to be a runner on a shoot for the Arctic Monkeys live at the Apollo. They signed about 100 of these special huge, huge posters and I got one. I think it was part of a leaving present when I left, and times became hard financially for me and I sold it. I got nothing for it! I got like £40”.

He is hopeful mind you that their dare to be different attitude will help. Anyone can sign a poster after all, but not everyone can get a record on actual x-ray acetate, or 3D t-shirts, or one of only 100 “Re-Dream” CD album packages hand woven with gold thread.

If you want to own any of Hey Sholay’s bonkers merchandise, head to their online store to see what’s left.

Stalk Hey Sholay: Website / Twitter / Facebook / SoundCloud / You Tube

Summing up the City – Our Closing Thoughts on Norwich Sound & Vision 2012

20 Oct

This time last week, the Norwich Sound & Vision Festival was preparing for its final day of conference panels and night of gigs across the city. In its third year, and its first to incorporate the John Peel name into its music element, the festival was bigger and more successful than ever before.

Our personal experience was almost entirely positive as we enjoyed interesting panel discussions (particularly on the role of the critic and opportunities for artists to get their music on the radio) and amazing gigs (as we outlined in our day by day reviews). Yes there was the odd bump in the road but it was a three day festival and conference across multiple venues with around 100 artists performing and countless panellists speaking, that there were so few bumps was a testament to the team involved.

But what makes a festival such as NSV so important to the city and its residents? It was heartening to see so many different people in attendance, particularly during the day for the conference. College kids, musicians, video makers, PR reps, managers and music fans alike came to learn and hear the opinions of some significant players within the industry. It gave them the kind of exposure to, and opportunity to interact with, people who would otherwise be out of their and our reach. Opportunities that are, unfortunately, few and far between in our fine city.

As positive as that was though, for us as music lovers and advocates of new music, it was the gigs that were the major draw. We’d not attended the festival previously but had heard good things about last year so bought our full delegate pass as a super early bird with no indication at all of who would be playing. When the initial line-up announcement was made, we were ecstatic for amongst the list of performers nestled two bands we’d been getting very excited about all year and never thought would come to Norwich, Vuvuvultures and Public Service Broadcasting. And that for us, was the point. A good number of bands do come to Norwich but given its relatively remote location, out here in the east, often the closest bands come is Cambridge, sometimes even just to London. Too often we would get excited by a forthcoming tour announcement only to be disappointed when Norwich wasn’t listed against the dates.

Norwich Sound & Vision has changed that and the new partnership with the John Peel Centre for Creative Arts has brought more and more bands to the city. Something that has excited Festival Director Adrian Cooke, as he explained to the Eastern Daily Press recently. ”I think people were really amazed at the quality of the bands they hadn’t heard of previously and that’s what we wanted.
“We had people from Norwich, records companies, people that travelled and it all worked. I think people who may have heard of Norwich Sound & Vision and didn’t know what it was are finally getting it – and how big and important it could become”.

Punters such as ourselves are the obvious beneficiaries of events such as NSV, with such a wide range of music available in fairly close proximity to one another. As Tall Ships quipped to us, ” It’s like a musical buffet”, and indeed it is. The freedom for people with festival passes to go to almost any show at any time is a massive draw and one that Public Service Broadcasting’s J. Willgoose Esq, picked up on, ” I think if somebody’s got a wristband for the whole thing, I think it’s nice to just waltz in and you know, listen to ten seconds and naff off when they realise it’s not for them!” Of course, with the ability to pootle down the road to try something else without having to spend any more money.

Not that there were many instances of people naffing off from gigs early. Adrian Cooke noted to the EDP that the response to the performers had been overwhelmingly positive. “ We’ve had lots of emails, tweets, Facebook messages and all from people saying they had a good time. I think people were really amazed at the quality of the bands they hadn’t heard of previously and that’s what we wanted”.

It is not only the punters who have a positive experience, it is of benefit to the artists as well. Every band we spoke to over the three days agreed that festivals such as NSV are important to them. Harmony of Vuvuvultures told us, ”It’s good because you get to be shown to everyone in one go. Whereas if you’re in London you’re constantly trying to get people to come down to gigs and it can be quite hard and you end up doing 5 gigs for the amount of people you might get to one gig here”. Laurie from Hey Sholay agreed, ”[Some] people aren’t aware of a lot of bands at our level because you don’t necessarily get the coverage that other bands get and people always need to be aware that there is a kind of a DIY sub-culture going on, and that there’s people who are kind of at an intermediate level, of a self-funded, enjoying music kind of thing. So it’s perfect for us, it gives us a platform”.

Of course, the bands can often be punters too and many did take time to watch other shows before or after their own and that is probably the most significant reason why festivals such as NSV are important and successful. It affords music lovers of all kinds, be they artists themselves, PR, A&R, Managers, Bloggers, Critics, or just casual listeners, the opportunity to come together and share their mutual passion. Everyone we spoke to over the three days was extremely friendly and enjoying themselves. All the volunteers and organisers were extremely helpful and accommodating to all enquiries and requests and the city could not have had a better three days of music.

They have set the bar extremely high but work has already started on next year’s festival and we can’t wait. Roll on 2013.

Sounds of the City: Norwich Sound & Vision – Friday 12 October Review

17 Oct

We are still on a high from the amazing three days of the Norwich Sound & Vision Festival, so much so that anyone asking us ‘how our weekend was’ is having to sit down for quite a while to take it all in. Luckily for you, you don’t have to hear it all, you can just read some.

Continuing our day by day look at the music on the festival, today we will be looking at who we saw and what we thought on Day 2, Friday.

HIGHLIGHT – Vuvuvultures
The evening kicked off with one of the performances of the festival from one of our favourite bands of the year. Singer Harmony’s shy walk on stage gave no indication of what was about to kick off as the drums thundered out and the guitars licked their surroundings. Stage presence is a gift and Harmony has it in spades, undulating, cavorting and dancing around as she captivated an audience that was rapidly swelling as word spread of the brilliance of their performance, not least from our Twitter account. We were treated to the premiere of two new tracks, both of which sounded immense alongside the infectious moshing grooveability of “Ctrl Alt Mexicans” and the sinister sexuality of “I’ll Cut You” in particular. It was a special performance from a special act.

So good was it that we would recommend them to anyone, their next show is on 1st Nov, click for details and get a ticket.

Don’t forget you can also win a signed 12” EP from the band.

Bwani Junction
Frankly, anyone would have struggled to follow the incendiary Vuvuvultures set but Bwani Junction made a pretty decent fist of it. Sitting somewhere between Bombay Bicycle Club and Vampire Weekend, their danceable tribal pop was met with enthusiasm by the large crowd still buzzing from what had gone before.

Hey Sholay
The sound of Hey Sholay has been described in many ways and that variety of opinion is understandable. There is rock, there is pop, there are synths, effects and energy, lots of energy. Guitarist Laurie strides around the stage, flailing his axe around like an impressively coiffured member of a heavy metal band. Musically they sound like the missing link between Scouting for Girls and the Arctic Monkeys but much better than that description would suggest and there is definitely something about them, though it is hard to express what, they are certainly worth checking out. Expect to hear more from them in the near future.

Palma Violets
Perhaps the buzz band of the entire festival and fresh off their appearance on the cover of the NME, Palma Violets took to the Artrocker stage in front of an eclectic crowd of frenzied fans and curious onlookers. Certainly the NME feature had drawn a lot of people who otherwise may not have been interested, keen to see what all the fuss was about. They were treated to a frantic set of jagged guitars and raw energy. Despite this, beyond the first three rows, the crowd seemed fairly disconnected, no doubt ruminating on how familiar it all sounded and even feeling a little disappointed.

Deaf Club
Our evening ended with the doleful yet subtly dancey tunes of Deaf Club up at Open. What we had anticipated as being a fairly downbeat and swaysome end to the night proved instead to be pleasantly upbeat and bouncy with a series of surprisingly poppy rhythms taking hold of the audience and compelling them to dance.

So that was our Friday. Don’t forget you can read about what we got up to on Thursday here and come back tomorrow to hear about our last night at the festival.

Vuvuvultures picture credit – Adam Shoesmith