Full of surf tinged psychosis, and the cock sure swagger of a 50’s knife gang, London ‘billy-punks, The Sly Persuaders follow up what seems like an endless stream of live dates with their long awaited debut album. Drawing comparisons to the likes of The Gun Club, The Cramps, and The Birthday Party, they bring their own particular blend of psychosis to create a fresh new twist to the garage rock sound.
As a precursor to the long player release, we present an exclusive airing of ‘TFD’ and asked lead singer Chris Blake to introduce you to the band…
BM: So, who’s who? Where you from? And how did you all come together?
Chris: The Sly Persuaders are… me, Chris on guitar and vocals; Lee on guitar, organ, and backing vocals; Danny on bass and backing vocals; and Alex on drums and backing vocals.
We’re scattered all over South London – Streatham, Lewisham, and Crystal Palace. Our rehearsal space is in Deptford, where we’ve been happily based for more years than we care to remember.
We’ve all been friends for years, but finally got together as a band after me and Danny (Bass Guitar) started up a new project. We managed to recruit Lee (Keys & Guitar) and Alex (Drums) when we got bored of making bedroom demos. Since then we’ve been gigging, writing, and recording. And occasionally breaking keyboards.
BM: It shows that you’ve been friends for a long time, as you strike me as a pretty tight unit. What is it that you think provides the obvious bond between you all?
Chris: Records, a shared outlook on life, and fairly complimentary personalities. But mainly alcohol and loud music.
BM: And that band name, where’s that come from?
Chris: Desperation mainly (joking!). It’s the name of a song by Crime & the City Solution – one of our early influences when we were putting the band together. The incarnation of C+TCS that recorded our namesake song included Mick Harvey from the Bad Seeds and Alexander Hacke of Einstürzende Neubauten (2 bands that me and Danny are particularly fond of).
BM: Talking of favourite bands, what would you say have been the main influences on your sound?
Chris: In terms of what we listen to, Grinderman and The Birthday Party were certainly big influences on us when starting this band, but also stuff like The Fall, Gallon Drunk, Mudhoney, Iggy Pop, The Gun Club, PJ Harvey, and some other stuff like DJ Shadow and Death In Vegas. We’ve all got quite different tastes but generally speaking they cross over on those. And The Stranglers first 3 albums of course.
BM: How about your formative years? Did you grow up with many musical influences?
CHRIS: There were always a lot of records around at home. My Dad’s mainly into rock music (Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy, etc), and my Mum’s more into pop (Madonna, Eurythmics, Erasure) so I got an interesting introduction into the world of music from early on.
BM: From Mum and Dad’s collection which one would you say was your favourite?
Chris: It would be difficult to pin down only one record that I am particularly fond of, but if I had to pick just one I’d say Presence by Led Zeppelin.
BM: So when you mix all that together what’s the result? How would you describe your sound?
Chris: Constantly evolving modern rock music. We’ve got a pretty broad range, from more straight-ahead garage rockers like Wild For The Night to full-on kosmische wig outs like Gun To The Head.
Rock with a surf/garage edge and a healthy dose of noise.
BM: You’ve carved out a well-earned rep as one of London’s hardest working, and most exciting live bands around at the moment. What’s been your favourite gig to date?
Chris: I don’t tend to dwell too much on past gigs, good or bad – I like to focus on the next gig. However the Roadkill Records Launch all-dayer at the Lock Tavern in Camden last March (2016) was great fun, so if pushed I’d say that.
BM: And what about the worst?
Chris: Early on in the band there was a gig where I was very ill and completely lost my voice (and should have cancelled really) but very unwisely tried to power through it. I think we got through 2 or 3 songs before I collapsed. Definitely learned an important lesson that day!
BM: I’ve had a sneak preview of the album, and it does a great job of capturing the spirit and energy of your live set. From the two – been on stage; in the studio – do you prefer one to the other?
Chris: Due to the sort of music and instruments we play, we are quite closely focussed on live performances, but gigging and recording definitely complement each other. I always relish the opportunity to get in the studio and work on some new recordings. I mix and produce our recordings so we’re very closely involved in the whole thing. Also, the act of recording a song can help tidy up the arrangement and tighten up the sound. A song that goes into the studio loosely defined generally comes out carved in stone.
BM: Where and when is the next Sly Persuaders show?
Chris: Our next gig is our album launch on Friday 24th February at Nambucca (on Holloway Road). The night’s been put together by Some Weird Sin and Roadkill, and the other bands are Saint Agnes and Bridport Dagger so it should be a pretty great night.
BM: What are the bands plans for after the album launch?
Chris: Right now we’re looking forward to the launch gig and getting the album out, but we still have a few surprises between now and then (including another music video). Once the record’s out we’re going to be getting out and doing a bit of touring around the UK and hopefully Europe. We’ve also been working on some new songs already, so we’re looking to have either an EP or single out later this year. Oh, and we’ve got the Sly Persuaders Podcast (available on Mixcloud) which has been a bit ad hoc in the past, but we’ll be doing it a lot more regularly this year. So between all that we should be pretty busy!
BM: We’re always on the lookout for new hot bands, so before you go, do you have any bands you think she would have on our radar?
Chris: There are loads of great bands around at the moment (too many to list here), but there’s a few that spring to mind:
Muertos – their new EP is amazing and I was blown away when I saw them last (and their prodigiously talented guitarist/singer Marc did the artwork for our album);
Calva Louise – a cracking live band and Jess is one of my favourite guitarists around at the moment;
Saint Agnes – their shows are never less than euphoric, and their records just keep getting better;
and Hotgothic – they share our love for glam rock and sleaze, and Professor Tsunami’s got to be one of the tightest drummers around .
The Sly Persuaders eponymous first album is set for release via Roadkill Records on February 24th.
Artwork by Marc Crane
Photos by Kaoru Sato www.thedeadzoo.com
Dates: February 24th – Nambucca, London w/ Saint Agnes and Bridport Dagger
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