Today evergreen York indie-rockers Shed Seven released their sixth studio album A Matter Of Time, a record heralded by Classic Pop Magazine as "as consistently strong as A Maximum High", the band's 1996 benchmark. As the new record hits the turntables of dedicated "Shed Heads" across the world, frontman Rick Witter was kind enough to answer Townsend Music's questions about the new record and we are proud to have a test pressing of the album, signed by the band, to give away to one lucky winner.
A Matter of Time sees Shed Seven look back to their roots, drawing inspiration from the records and sounds that ignited their passion for songwriting over 35 years ago. Delivered with a renewed and youthful enthusiasm, they have created without a doubt some of the very best songs of their career. Retropop Magazine declares that the record is "a reminder once more that it was only ever "a matter of time" until Shed Seven reemerged and cemented themselves as one of the finest and most enduring acts of the Britpop generation."
TM: A Matter Of Time drops today and is already receiving some incredible reviews - Classic Pop has declared the record is "as consistently strong as A Maximum High". 27 years on from that 90s classic of the Britpop era, many of your contemporaries are nostalgia acts, yet Shed Seven are stronger as a creative entity than ever - what is it that keeps you inspired to keep moving forward and producing new music?
Rick Witter: Yes, it’s very pleasing to see that this new record, A Matter of Time, is getting a lot of love. I think sometimes in life everything aligns and I believe that within the process of the writing, then recording and starting to promote the album I could sense that all aspects seemed to come together and gel pretty perfectly which is kinda rare.
For a period of time we were turning into a nostalgic proposition and were almost comfortable just playing hits from the 1990’s but after accidentally writing some new songs a few years back, realising that that aspect of being in a band still stirred the juices was a great moment for us. The fact that we still do it really well only adds to the excitement for not only how well this album does, but looking forward. I think it’s important to keep relevant, and although we haven’t invented anything new per se, we have updated our classic sound and made us feel fresh, exciting and, within the music scene, contenders again.
TM: In the press release for the announcement of the record, Paul Banks (guitar) declared that “The influences of bands like The Smiths, R.E.M., U2, Simple Minds, The Cure, and Duran Duran permeate every note” and this record has been described as a reconnection with the classic albums that inspired Shed Seven to form. Why was this record the right time to look back to these iconic 80s acts as direct inspirations?
RW: Myself and Paul did sit down and reminisce about our childhood and youth when we started the writing process for this album. We met as 11-year-old boys and bonded over a love of music which then inspired us to start giving it a go ourselves at the age of about thirteen. I have fond memories of dancing around my family home listening to Duran Duran or Frankie Goes To Hollywood pretending we were in those bands, or sitting in Paul’s bedroom designing record sleeves for songs we’d yet to write. I guess subconsciously all these memories of those times started seeping into what we were writing. It’s almost like we were trying to recapture those times when we were 14/15 writing songs but as 50-year-old men. And funnily enough, as far as the basic core writing of a song goes, nothing much has changed with me and Paul. We still approach the start of the process exactly how we always have over the years. I guess the only difference is age and experience enough to take things to new levels, which I think on A Matter of Time we’ve thrived at.
TM: We’ve had a taste of the album on the single ‘In Ecstasy’, with its driving motorik beat, squelchy synths and a rousing chorus featuring Happy Monday’s singer Rowetta. It seems to me that as well as channelling arena rock on this album, this track is a nod to the influence of turn-of-the-90s acid house and 'baggy' indie. Was that a deliberate intention when writing and choosing the collaborator on the song and was that period of Manchester music important to a young Rick Witter?
RW: Yes, weirdly with 'In Ecstasy' it became apparent pretty quickly that the song was going to be influenced by that late 80’s/early 90’s scene. After Paul had sent the initial guitar riff over to me I pretty instantly came up with the melody that you hear and immediately thought it sounded like something Rowetta would sing. When I’d finished the chorus lyrics I again thought it sounded very Rowetta, so we reached out and asked if she’d like to join in, and happily she was really up for it. Interestingly, what you hear now is pretty much exactly how I’d imagined it at the initial writing stages.
That time, at the turn of the 90’s was a very influential and exciting time for us as it was when we hit our late mid to late teens and we found ourselves soaking it all in.
TM: A Matter Of Time is your first album on the respected and storied indie label Cooking Vinyl, joining the likes of Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Billy Bragg, The Darkness, Del Amitri and The Prodigy. Why was CV the right label for Shed Seven in 2023?
RW: It’s been great working with Cooking Vinyl on this album. It’s been a thrill working in conjunction with the guys at the label and seeing the fruits of everyone’s labour ripening. We hope it’s the start of a long and prosperous journey together, and I’ll take this opportunity to say thanks to CV for the hard work they’ve put into it to help make it what it’s become. A special shout has to go to Tom Newman who has been handling our day-to-day commitments and has been helping to steer the good ship Shed.
TM: A Matter of Time is available across a multitude of colour vinyl, cassette and CD editions on the Official Shed Seven Store. In today’s streaming culture, does having your albums released on tangible formats remain important? And how do you listen to music yourself nowadays?
RW: Yes I think it’s really important. The pleasure of holding the product in your hands and poring over the cover and inner sleeve and dissecting the lyrics is something amazing. It’s what we are used to from growing up and falling in love with music, and if we can turn people on to those feelings then it’s a definite win. Hell, we’ve even brought it out on cassette! How old school is that?
I still listen to vinyl and CDs but also dip into the modern streaming as well. I guess it’s all about the time and the place I find myself in.
A Matter Of Time is out now on Dolphin Vinyl, White Vinyl, Signed Deluxe Digipak CD, CD and Cassette. All formats are available bundled with Changed Giver Deluxe Digital Download.
Enter our exclusive giveaway to win a signed test pressing of Shed Seven's A Matter Of Time.
The winner will be chosen on Monday January 15 2024.
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