Interview: Sweetness

Somewhere between The Smiths and The Cure you’d be forgiven for thinking these songs were written years ago but Sheffield band ‘Sweetness’ have their own distinctive feel that adds new life to this sound. The band spoke to us about their beginnings and what’s next for them in 2020.

How did you guys meet?

Aedan – Myself and Ryan went to the same school and were drawn together by a desire to be in a band, which has continued to grow and change since then. Jacob on the other hand was found via the powers of the internet and coincidence, and we haven’t been able to get rid of him since.

Ryan – Well Aedan and I went to school together, we weren’t actually mates but we kind of knew of each other through mutual friends. I used to mess about a bit in the music rooms on the kit with some mates as a sort of jam session band thing. One day, word got around that Aedan was starting a band and the bassist in the jam session asked if I’d go with him to this new band. The rest is history as they say. 

Jacob – Funny one really. I and Aedan were at one of the same gigs in February of 2018, then a few months later through the power of the internet and a bit of detective work on Aedan’s behalf, he got in touch with me and I’ve not been able to get rid of them since.

Where did the name come from?

A – I was always a fan of bands with just a simple one-word name (maybe at a push with a ‘The’ in front) and it just seemed an odd word. It rolls off the tongue and is easy to spell, plus its often used in older romantic poems, etc which are some of my favourites.

R – We spent ages brainstorming names, we wanted it to be one word, simple & sweet, stick in people’s minds. After 100s of random words were thrown about, Aedan put forward the word ”Sweetness” – a bit of a contrast to typical guitar band names.  I think it was originally pilfered from some poetry, but once it was suggested we kept hearing it in everyday things. 

J – I’m not too sure, I joined the band once the name was decided.

 What’s your go-to cover song?

A – Though I do agree with Ryan and state that we morally oppose the idea of a cover, if I were forced at gun-point I’d say In Dreams by Roy Orbison.

R – We’re Sweetness, we don’t do covers. 

J – Either Bad To Me by Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas, or Oliver’s Army by Elvis Costello.

Fans of what other artists would be fans of you?

A – It’s a wide net really, of people who like the more typically melancholy (or poetically uplifting) jangle of the 80’s from bands such as The Cure / The Smiths, but also those who like more traditional rock and roll from the 50’s and 60’s, as well as those who like the storytelling and heartbreak of 60’s soul.

R – We’ve got a lot of different sounds to us. There are elements of 50s rock and roll like Bill Haley & His Comets, a bit of post-punk kinda Joy division style, but we still keep it fresh and fit in with some modern bands like Blossoms (just without the synth).

J – 80’s and 90’s Manchester bands such as James.

Highlight of 2019?

A – probably finishing our soon to be released single ‘A Little Longer Yet’ as to date its the song I at least, am the proudest of and moved by.

R – Either playing O2 academy Sheffield or our most recent Donny gig, purely because it was the most fun and energetic gig we’ve done in a long while – the synergy between us on stage was phenomenal.  

J – Playing the O2 academy in Sheffield, Kylie Minogue played there!

 As a band, what are you looking forward to in 2020?

A – finding new audiences in new cities, and bringing out our new music (which we hope people will love.

R – New music, new fans, new venues, and our first proper headline. And dressing for gigs as if it’s the roaring 20’s.

J – Another year of great music and spending it with these lovely two.

If you could tour with any other artist who would it be?

A – probably Neil Hannon (either with the Divine Comedy or Solo) as it would be a great laugh and we seem to be into the same music, so there would be conversations a-plenty.

R – Arctic Monkeys. Cliche I know but I’m a proper fanboy, I won’t lie. In a green room with Alex Turner, making margaritas and listening to stories about Ghost Cookies and that – what’s not to like?? 

J – The Libertines, it would certainly be an eye-opener.

Describe your sound in three words.

A – Jangle New Wave

R – Post-Punk Jangle.

J – Very, very lovely.

What’s the most important thing you learnt being in a band?

A – extreme and almost unbreakable patience, which is essential in life today anyway, but is absolutely crucial for being in a band, as nothing happens overnight.

R – It’s hard, but it’s worth it. Nothing ever comes straight away, but put the work in, and you’ll get there – and it’s far nicer when you do because you know you’ve earned it.

J – You only really get out of it what you put in.

What’s your earliest music memory?

A – probably buying Johnny Cash live at San Quentin on LP, as that’s the first time I bought music for myself that I liked.

R – When I was about 3, I first sat at a drum kit that my dad had just bought on a whim.

J – Listening to Dirty Old Town by The Pogues in my Grandpa’s Van.

Do you own a T-shirt of a band you don’t listen too? 

A – I would never commit such a heretical act, I learnt from a close friend that if you wear band merch, people will ask you about it and if you don’t know who it really is on that t-shirt, your buggered.

R – I don’t, out of principal. Aedan and I once ripped into our mate for wearing a ramones t-shirt just because he thought it looked nice in the shop. I should say he’s a really top guy, but bands and guitar music isn’t his forte. 

J – I used to be a bugger for this when I was younger. Always used to get football shirts of team’s I never supported. Luckily no-one asked me who my favourite player was.  I’ve learnt the error of my ways and now view it as nothing but blasphemy…

Outside of other artists, what is your biggest influence when songwriting?

A – probably plays and poetry ( a bit of a romantic cliche I know) but also just the world we live in. I find day-to-day life incredibly beautiful but totally baffling in equal parts, and that has always influenced my incoherent scrawlings.

R – I’m useless at writing, but I love the art of it all. I love language and how words flow into each other so my influence would be poetry, be that traditional, slightly archaic and ostentatious poems, or comical and reasonably modern (God Bless John Cooper Clarke!). I also take influence from reading (a bit of admission here) old love letters, the hopeless romantic that I am.

J –  I really don’t write as much as I should, but it tends to be everyday life and things I happen across, for example, my friend was sold two frozen ducks by a Del Boy style chap, and if that’s not lyric worthy I don’t know what is!

When can we expect new music?

A – Either late Jan or Feb (because if it drags on like the prep for the last release I will expire from stress overload).

R – Whenever we sort the artwork. Which should be soon. So expect it to take ages.

J – Very shortly, keep your eyes peeled!

Who are your favourite smaller bands right now?

A – Nervous Pills, utterly sublime that’s all I need say, them and Desperate Journalists (also utterly sublime)

R – How small is small? Bands to jump on before they get properly big – I’d say Working Men’s Club, Spinn & Valeras (who we’ve played with and I thought they were excellent) would be my top 3.

J – The Losing Touch, we supported them recently and they were outstanding.

What’s the best way for people to find out about what you have coming up?

A – All this social media malarky that I am utterly awful at (for I live in the 19th century when it comes to tech) follow our Instagram and Facebook etc and we will keep you in the loop with (if nothing else) awful pictures of our un photogenic mugs.

R – Find us on any social media platform – @sweetnessbanduk or come see us at a gig and have a good old fashioned chat with us three – we’re actually quite friendly, honest.

J – The usual social media outlets, or just come and chat to us after a gig.

Check out ‘Sing, Don’t Shout’ by Sweetness bellow:

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