When a band introduces itself by saying “We make noise that leaves you feeling like you’ve been hit hard and repeatedly in the face with a box of stale cereal,” you just have to listen to see what they mean.
If that’s what Manchester band Sly Antics are calling their fun, funky, bluesy rocking sound, then keep the hits coming — it feels really good.
This fresh, young band is made of Sam Hudson, vocals and guitar; Lee Hudson, drums; and Alex “Tommo” Thompson on bass.
Their first EP, “Captive City,” has five tracks that, upon repeated listen, I’ve found to be bluesy, ballsy, funky, crunchy and sexy even. Sam’s smoky vocals and guitar riffs, Tommo’s deep bass lines and Lee’s syncopated drums make for a delicious mix of sounds in your ears that leaves you yearning for more.
Sam was eager to talk and share the band’s story, its desires and hopes. Here’s our conversation from a recent evening:
Hey, great! How are you tonight?
Great thanks been busy filming a new video today.
Video for which song?
For the intro track off the EP, Should be edited and up this week. (See the end of the story for the video)
Ah, that one reminds me of a Western …
Cowboy boot feel at the beginning?
Yes! “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” style ..
So you were going for a gun fighter kind of theme …
Nah, the concept is actually quite simple. It’s urban time-lapse of Manchester mixed with us playing against different backdrops.
So, when did you actually get the band started?
Well, me and the drummer (Lee) decided one night while drunk we should give it a go. That was about a year ago, however I had never sung before so it was a slow start before we were ready to perform. We had our first proper gig in October 2015.
The best decisions are made whilst drunk!
It was, at the time, just a decision to jam, but everything has moved very quickly.
Had you sang in school or anything?
Nah, nothing before the band. I always wanted to but couldn’t sing for more than a minute before my throat hurt, so I got a course of singing lessons to try to teach me out of bad habits. The backing vocals you can hear are Lee and he hadn’t sung before until on the day when the producer asked him to give it a go.
Wow. You are really brave. I like your voice, it’s good for the funky rock sound you have going. Kind of smoky …
Yeh, it’s weird how it comes out, my speaking voice is nothing like it, but its the most comfortable and natural way for me to sing.
Well, I’d just go with it, it works. What kind of musical influences do you have?
Big live bands mainly — Muse, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Royal Blood, Arctic Monkeys …
OK, I can see that. Good bands to aspire to being like.
Yeh, John Frusciante is the ultimate guitar influence for me. Feel like there’s fewer guitarists these days who put as much into their music.
He’s one crazy man. The Chili Peppers are great. You don’t hear so much about the guitarists lately, to be sure.
How is the music scene in Manchester?
I think it’s actually one of the best I’ve come across. there are a ton of great venues small and large, and a great history of music, as everyone knows.
Are you from there originally?
We are from about 30 minutes away from a small village called Hebden Bridge in the countryside. Me and Lee the drummer moved here a few months ago. It made things much easier with the band because we can watch more live shows and network better.
Are you learning a lot from watching?
I think so yeh, in two ways: we see great bands put on great shows and pick up a lot from that and we also see smaller bands making mistakes which we can try to avoid ourselves.
That’s good thinking. You can also make great friends to share show support with.
Yeh, exactly. We went to see a band from Glasgow recently. They really appreciated the support and have already mentioned possible gigs for us up there with them. You have to go and watch bands if you expect others to come see you. Everything about being a new band comes down to how many you can bring to a gig, as it’s the best way to get booked.
Have you found it easy to get your foot in the door?
The honest answer is no unfortunately, but i guess it’s not supposed to be easy. The songwriting and performing comes very naturally.
Guess it’s only easy if you know someone.
Exactly, we see bands excel past us who have massive investment or great connections.
It can be demotivating sometimes, but we truly believe in our tracks and we know if we put the work in we can get there. We had a gig last weekend and had over 50 turn out just for us so things are growing fast.
Yeah, that’s a good start. Nobody starts at the top. How many tracks do you have now?
We have 12 I think. As most of our sets are support slots then we have no urge to write enough for over an hour set, but we know we could quickly write more if we needed to.
That’s a good number to start. Do you do any covers?
We try to avoid although we do now and again throw in a section of a popular song into one of our own tracks during a live set, so recently we dropped into a Jay-Z tune after “Morning Games.” It’s a real heavy rock version and tends to go down well as a live extra.
That’s cool. How are the crowds responding?
Loving it every time. We often get people coming up to us after a show asking where they can see us next which is great feedback. We don’t just stand still on stage we tend to throw ourselves around a bit.
We’ve had to sign EPs, etc. People tend to be shocked at how new we are compared to how polished we perform.
So far no negative feedback however we are prepared for that as everyone gets it at some point.
Yeah, it surprised me when I checked you out on Twitter. I was impressed with your cocky attitude and comment about stale cereal … Never heard that before, lol!
Haha, yeh, you can’t hold back with that kinda stuff. Cocky but likeable.
Your low followers numbers surprised me.
These things take time, I think. There’s so many social media channels to be active on.
We spent a lot of time on Facebook from the start and our response on there is much better than Twitter.
Yeah, you have to put up or shut up, and you definitely put up.
There’s a lot of ways to connect these days with fans, for sure, and you have to use every avenue.
We are getting better at it. I even do a “Sly Sounds of the Day” on Twitter now, where I just post a track we’ve been listening to that day. Small things like that, I think help people understand who you are.
It’s a great way to make friends.
You’ve got to think of ways to speak to people other than saying “listen to our tracks!”
Yep, and some PR like this interview won’t hurt either.
Exactly, the more people we chat to the more people have a chance to hear us and that’s all we want.
We often give away our money earned from gigs to make the tickets cheaper to get more people in.
Be sure to get your track out to as many radio people as possible.
Yeh, we have two more videos to make, then we will be doing a full launch and going out to national press.
But you’ve got to get paid something, other than beer, to survive.
It’s so tough at this stage to make a living from it. All bands go through it. I think it’s a good test of how much you want it.
You have regular jobs too?
We do, otherwise we just couldn’t afford to live.
The dream is for next year to be the year we can leave them and do this full-time.
Oh, give me last names for everyone.
Hudson for me and Lee, we are cousins. Thompson for bassist.
His first name is Tommo?
No that’s his nickname. Real name Alex.
Ok, can you think of anything to add?
Just really that there’s a lot of negative stories out there about the cost of being a musician and the industry in general, but there are tonnes of great artists still making awesome music and people should keep seeing bands they like live, and for Sly Antics, this is just the beginning for us, we have huge ambitions for this band.
Have you applied for any festivals?
Yeh, we literally applied to all. Took a long time. We are playing a couple of confirmed ones in Manchester and Liverpool and waiting back on others.
Oh, great. Do you want me to mention places and dates?
Best one to mention is our next show at Star and Garter 16 April and that we are playing Blackthorn Festival (not sure which day yet).
You can find Sly Antics on Twitter @slyantics , on Facebook, at their website http://slyantics.com/ , and on SoundCloud and YouTube.