The Wired sit down for a chat with me ahead of their headlining Leadmill gig in mid-December. I’ve seen the band on quite a few occasions, sometimes supporting, sometimes topping the bill themselves and I’m looking forward to meeting them properly. Backstage at the Leadmill, I’m greeted by lead singer Caleb, guitarist Jacob and bass player Richard but sadly drummer Harris Slater is missing in action.
Backseat Mafia: How long have you been together as The Wired and how did you get together?
Jacob Beaumont: We started early 2014. And me and these two and this other lad all met at college, at All Saints, and had about a year or so of doing that. And then the drummer decided it weren’t really for him. It weren’t his kind of thing. He’d told us already he were only going to do a year.
Caleb Smelt: He said he was only going to do one gig at first!
JB: And then Harris joined and he’s been with us ever since and we’ve gone on from strength to strength.
BM: So where did the name come from originally?
CS: It was just the best of a bad bunch really.
BM: And what were some of the others?
JB: There was something to do with the Lake District?
Richard May: It was just the best of a bad bunch. Let’s leave it at that!
BM: Did any of you play in any other bands?
[All at once] This was our first band.
JB: I wouldn’t want to be in any other band. I just couldn’t imagine it.
[jokes ensue about who wants to leave the band secretly and where Harris actually is]
BM: How do you find playing the big festivals compared to smaller local venues like the Leadmill?
CS: It’s less nerve-wracking, that’s for sure. When you play to two people, that’s more scary.
BM: Do you have loyal fans who come to see you?
RM: People have been there since the first gig and they keep coming. A few have joined the bandwagon recently. A few fairly loyal fans. Not many though. [laughs]
JB: I don’t think we’ve ever had a bad reception anywhere we’ve played. The only thing that changes is how many people are there. And even if it’s like one guy, like in York. He still right liked it! At this gig, this man were sat there, it were a day festival or something and things were cancelled and it ended up with us having a practice session in York, but even this one man still liked it, so we’ve always had a warm reception.
BM: Does it affect your performance?
CS: Not really. We try and play for ourselves firstly. It’s a lot more nerve wracking playing to fewer people.
JB: You can make eye contact with them for starters.
RM: At a bigger venue, you only see a load of heads and you just go for it.
BM: Who would you say are your band or individual inspirations?
[Caleb directs who should go first and jokingly suggests he could be their inspiring figure]
JB: I think it’s more of an indie collective. I’m not sure there’s any one in particular and I couldn’t pick a song out.
RM: Liam Fray [from the Courteeners] for me. Well, he’s beautiful isn’t he?
CS: Richard Ashcroft for me. He’s God.
JB: I know who now. This year, the DMAs have inspired me. Because they’ve gone from strength to strength to strength and I just straight like them!
RM: I think probably for all of us growing up, it would’ve been the Arctic Monkeys. In 2006, that’s when the first album came out and that’s when you actually started listening to music. We were about, what, ten? It’s all we listened to for about six years.
CS: This might sound boring, but Oasis. How they were just normal people and did everything.
[A discussion follows about the documentary “Supersonic” and how Jacob missed a viewing by going home early from Caleb’s. Jacob mishears and thinks he missed “Strictly Come Dancing” which he then professes his love for.
They also discuss how they don’t really immerse themselves in the Sheffield scene and like to befriend bands from other cities. Caleb seems to have the contact numbers of other bands which I jokingly suggest is because he has more time to schmooze whilst the rest of the band have to set up. It turns out the band all help each other out in setting things up, from lighting to restringing guitars.]
BM: How do you put together a line up like the one tonight? You have so many acts on!
CS: Well, we wanted Liberty Ship because we really like their music but we didn’t think we’d actually get them to support. Ben at the Leadmill suggested SHEAFS who are like the same sort of scene and we got Paul Fletcher in about a week ago as we were trying to get more attention around the gig.
RM: This is the first time we’ve really picked our own support. We haven’t played a headline gig in Sheffield in about a year and a half, not a big one.
JB: It’s funny isn’t it? We don’t really play Sheffield a lot, you know, compared to other acts.
[Caleb admits he tends not to enjoy some of their homecoming gigs due to the expectation built up, but isn’t feeling like that tonight. Jacob agrees that the best gigs are often the surprise ones and remembers playing the Rocking Chair as part of the Tramlines festival. They remember a good experience in Newcastle and a time playing three back to back gigs in January, including London. Caleb isn’t sure if it sounds nobheadish to suggest they can pull big crowds elsewhere, such as having a decent turn out despite being on first at Leeds Festival. We tease him that it does sound like that.]
BM: What does 2017 hold for you? More touring? Recording?
CS: We haven’t done a tour for ages but we’ve got one booked for next year and we’re going for it with festivals booked.
JB: It seems like there’s a lot more booked than there was this year.
CS: We’re not going to fuck about, we’re going to go for it. It’ll be intense, we’ll do like every weekend. What I do is I book all the dates and then Jacob sends me a message asking why the fuck have I booked that date?!
JB: He wanted us to do a gig this Wednesday, in Cardiff, there and back in the same night! He was expecting us to finish work and get there for half six.
BM: How do you find fitting in work alongside your band commitments?
JB: I think because it’s not quite got intense yet that it’s quite easy, but when it does get intense, like if next year is like he says, every single week, then it’s going to be a lot different. Cos we’re all at uni-
CS: Well, two of us are… I dropped out. I went to Derby to do music production. Then I realised-
JB: We told him ages ago it was shit!
RM: Derby’s wonderful really.
JB: Like Rotherham.
BM: And what do you two do at uni?
RM: Business studies.
JB: Primary teaching. They’re coming tonight actually.
BM: The children?!
[Much laughter follows and a discussion about kids, education, schools (Bayonet being from the same school as the band) and how nice Rotherham is, Jacob hailing from there.]
BM: Last time I saw you, you were promoting “Long Lost Days” but you’ve got a brand new track out now, “Lost it As You Were Leaving”. What’s the story behind that track?
RM: Well we thought we need to have more songs out that begin with the letter “L”…
CS: There is a story behind the song yeah.
JB: Actually yeah, it’s the first song that me and him (Caleb} wrote together. Since then, and we think it’s quite good, we’ve done quite a lot together. If we play them right tonight, I think they’ll sound pretty good.
BM: What’s your usual songwriting process?
JB: It’s pretty much the same, except we did it at the same time. Normally, he (Caleb) comes with some chords, rhythm and not really any vocals and then we just like throw bits over that.
CS: We wrote this song about this girl called Mandy.
RM: He said he’d got these chords and I was like, okay.
CS: Then we started riffing some random lyrics over it and I remembered back to this girl called Mandy. Met her at the Leadmill, actually.
JB: I liked her. She were nice.
In the rest of our half hour, I learn how they’re rarely tempted by covers, their version of Nolan Porter’s If I Could Only Be Sure is a rarity, but they would consider other Northern Soul tracks. Last year at Christmas, they covered Shakin’ Stevens’ “Merry Christmas Everyone” and they were intending to do East 17’s “Stay Another Day” but were unhappy with the rehearsals, fearing it could end up being the thing everyone remembered from their gig for the wrong reasons! They’d much rather get their own material out than play others’.
We discuss other bands who’ve rushed to get an album out and then disappoint with a follow-up and the lads say they’re in no rush. They’d rather take their time, make plans to play big festivals and increase their fan base.
We also discuss low points: going all the way to Glasgow in a Ford Mondeo with guitars on top of them and amps in the boot, with a driving dad having to slap himself awake at service stations. Most London gigs seem to involve driving hazards it turns out. Arguments are also discussed, some musical, some personal. Harris seems to be key in some of these!
Then finally, high points: those aforementioned unexpected good concerts; the post-gig buzz, filled with relief and success; and the idea of spending time with best friends making music. It’s clear there’s a lot of affection between the lads. Jacob sums it up nicely:
JB: That’s what I meant when I said I couldn’t be in another band. If it weren’t for me mates, then there’d be no chance.
The Wired were speaking to Ben Lewis. Read my review of their Leadmill gig here.