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RGM Introducing – Shanghai Treason

Hiya lads take a seat, introduce us all to Shanghai Treason how did the band get together?

Hey Carl, cheers for having us mate, yeah we’re Shanghai Treason, a new Celtic Punk inspired band from Sheffield/Barnsley, we played our first gig in December last year supporting Buzzcocks in Manchester and we’ve just been making ourselves busy putting out music and playing gigs since. The band became an idea when I (Sam Christie) met Tom Jackson at a gig I was running at in Cafe Totem in Sheffield, Tom was performing and I was watching thinking ‘this dude is clearly into a lot of the same kinda music as me’.

After he’d finished I asked him if he’d ever consider starting a celtic punk band and it turned out he’d tried to get one going in the past but couldn’t find the right people. We started chatting regularly about the idea and eventually managed to rope in Tom Hardy; who’s a fairly well-known multi-instrumentalist in Sheffield, the three of us started jamming and went onto play with a number of different talented musicians trying to lock in a line-up, we kept having setbacks and hitting brick walls with the rhyme section and we lost a bit of steam at one point before totally lucking out and finding our drummer Alex Fell, my god that man is a demon behind the kit, the four of us were rehearsing at Yellow Arch Studios which was a favourite practise rooms for us at the time because it has a functioning bar and a few of us a partial to a pint or two at band practise.

One day we got chatting to the gentlemen who was pouring our pints in there and it turned out he was a bassist, Joel Hughes, we managed to get Joel into a session one day and it just clicked we were off! We spent the best part of a year getting everything ready and now here we are.

Do you feel like you are progressing through the industry?

What we do is quite niche I guess but it turns out there’s a huge underground appetite for Celtic Punk, we’ve found that it was embraced with open arms and we were pretty taken back actually by the response to our first to releases, people we’re buying t-shirts and gig tickets from the off, even when we’d only put out one song, we were thinking ‘this is mental!’, we’ve all been in a lot of bands between us so it was shocking that it was received that way so quickly. We’re happy with how it’s going, we’re trying not to lose sight of what important; the songwriting and having a good time!

People are unaware of just how tough the music industry is to break through, how do you stay motivated?

I just try not to worry about it, to be honest, I think if we keep putting out the best songs we can we will carve out our own little audience, this is DIY Celtic punk, we ain’t going gunning for stadiums, ya never know but we’re happy getting our kicks in small venues around the UK, as long as it feels like stuff is happening we’re happy, we’re all totally galvanised by the songwriting process to, we write something we love and then fight tooth and nail to get it out there, it takes bloody ages to sort it all out but we feel it’s worth it and we’re loving it all at the moment. 

Is there enough support out there for new artists?

We’re Sheffield based, for the most part, we’ve been trying to work with the local industry heads and have been lucky to pick up some of the best local PR, radio plugging, distribution, promoters, producers, filmmakers, photographers etc… to work with us. We like it like that at because it feels like this big Sheffield effort is being made to push a Sheffield band forward. No band is an island as I like to say; you need a team around you and we think we’ve got a good one about at the moment. Is there enough out there? I think yes, bands need to get off their arse and go find em.

What was the most fun you have had on stage?

It’s a toss-up between our Buzzcocks gig and our Edinburgh show. The Buzzcocks one was special because we’d worked so flipping hard to get to that point for over a year, we got loads of reviews back saying how slick and full of promise our performance was, some of the lads got quite emotional on the stage because we were finally getting to play these bastard songs live and to such a big crowd! Not many bands get such a big gig as their first gig, that will stay in the bio for a long time let me tell ya haha. Our Edinburgh one was special in another way, that was grassroots promotion at its best, we’d teamed up with some lovely local acts who grafted their arses off alongside us to fill a small venue, it was our first time playing that far away from Sheffield and it was bliss, packed out room, everyone cheering, foot-stomping, clapping, what’s not to love? That’s our idea of bliss mate, we made a shed load of money for charity too!

What was the worst experience on stage?
In general? My god; I was in a band once where the stage actually set on fire, a big fire too whilst we’re playing! The guitarist had accidentally run a plastic-coated jack lead over this halogen light which started melting plastic onto a couple of guitar cabs which both had a fluffy coating thing on em, they went up quick like haha, the venue owner legged it over with fire extinguishers. We were only a few songs in, shortest set ever haha. Shanghai Treason haven’t had a bad stage experience yet, don’t tempt fate here Carl haha. 

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Tell us something about each member yourself that you think people would be surprised about? 

Alright let me give this a go; well I’m Sam, I’m the singer, I’m originally from Huddersfield, moved over to Sheffield for uni around 2009, never left haha. My day job is a concert promoter so I live and breathe this stuff, we do a lot of town hall, city hall, old theatres kinda stuff, heritage acts and breaking blues-rock is our speciality but we do all sorts. It’s a living, I love it to tell the truth.

Tom Jackson, he’s our guitarist, proud Barnsley lad if you can believe such a thing exists haha, he’s studying law or something; the dudes smart! Tom Hardy, he’s from over Stocksbridge, die-hard Sheffield Wednesdayite, plays the banjo, mandolin, guitar, accordion, just about anything he can get his hands on, even bagpipes!

Then we have Alex Fell, a born drummer, he’s flipping great at it, based out in Rotherham, plays in loads of punk bands, flipping hilarious guy too, loves his fast food, he had the most unusual haggis chips and cheese thing in Scotland haunts me just thinking about it. Last but no means least is Joel Hughes, the nicest guy you’ll ever meet, used to run pubs in North Wales, you can see why he’d be good at that because he’s such a lovely bloke which is odd because his bass playing is pure evil melt your face off riffage! 

What tips do you have booking tours and managing the travel?

Do it on the cheap and live within your means, we’ll look for hotels where you can have 3-4 people in a room or air bnbs that will fit all in, sometimes metro inns are good they are traditionally for truckers, dead cheap! Cook a load of grub before ya set of, keep it in a cooler and that’ll feed ya for the next few days instead of slashing cash out at every service station. In terms of booking tours, use the full arsenal that’s available to you, gig swaps, hire venues, work with promoters, look for small festivals, just get out there and don’t lose sight of what got you into the whole thing in the first place which is usually having a good time and performing our songs, make sure your set is banging. 

Whats your biggest achievement as a band?

It’s still early days for us, we’re just buzzing that we exist haha. We did make a lot of money for charity over the Xmas period, we ran a lot of gigs for Musicians Against Homelessness who raise money for Crisis homeless charity, as we were travelling around the country the Homelessness we witnessed was saddening, I was particularly shocked when we played in Liverpool, it felt good to be trying to help the situation. We’re back out doing it again in March. 

What makes you stand out as a band?

There are not many Celtic Punk bands out there, especially in Yorkshire, it’s rare you see a punk band rock into a venue and start plugging in banjo, mandolin, accordions etc.. haha. Please don’t tell Tom Hardy how important he is or he might go full-blown diva on us ha

Right now, what’s pissing you off the most?

It was once said I’m so laid back that it’s a surprise I don’t fall over. Not much gets my back up, to be honest, I’m a chilled out guy. That being said; I’d like to see an effort to reignite the Sheffield music scene, I think it’s a bit of a sleeping giant at the moment, I think we need more community lead projects that celebrate homegrown talent, people trying to pull together bands, all-day events, outdoor stages. I think our city kind of has a life cycle when it comes to its music scene, when it’s at its best we always deliver some bands who breakthrough to a national level, right now we’re incubating, it’s gonna take a big effort to spark the next fire but this tide will turn. 

Tell me about your new single Drowning Heart and how it came about?

As I say we’ve been working on all this stuff for over a year, I can’t actually remember how this one came about, feels like we’ve always that song, it’s one of our older ones. I guess it’s a nautical-themed tale of a life lived and love lost; the power that love has, it can pull you out of the depths of despair and drag ya back onto dry land. I think we’re all at risk of emotionally drowning at times, it’s usually our friends, family and relationships that can save us. I find music can help a lot too!

What’s coming up in 2020 for the band?

Cheers for having us, Carl. We’re on the road in March, come and check out a show here:

March 2020
Wed    6          The Water Rats                    London
Thu     7          Dead Wax                             Birmingham
Fri       8          Corporation                           Sheffield
Sat      9          Banshee Labyrinth                Edinburgh