THERE are many terrific artists…
based in Yorkshire right now. I feel the area does not get the respect and attention it warrants. I asked the Sheffield-based band, MOLLYANNA, whether they agree with that statement. They tell me about the new single, Thief, and what inspired its creation; how the nostalgic look of its video came together; who the new artists are we should be keeping an eye out for – whether the band have any tour dates coming up.
I discover how MOLLYANNA has changed since its inception and when we can expect more material. The guys share their favourite albums and memories from music; what advice they would give to new artists emerging – and, given their busy schedule, they have any time to relax and wind down.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey, Sam. We're pretty good. It's been a busy week, getting ready for our single launch on 31st March. It's been all-go with rehearsals!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
We're MOLLYANNA; a four-piece Alternative-Rock band from Sheffield. We write gritty, melodic tunes about what goes on in our heads...
We are Bernadette (Vocals), Mike (Guitar); Josh (Bass) and Laura (Drums).
Thief is your new song. What is the story behind it?
Bernadette: This song took ages to write. Mike presented me with this amazing riff and, for months, I couldn't come up with anything to do it justice. Then, I stayed at my parents’ house in some sh*t village for two weeks cat-sitting for them. It was really lonely and I was surrounded by all these photos of me and my siblings growing up.
I wrote Thief feeling nostalgic about summertime and all the mistakes I've made; what I'd do differently if I could…
The music video was shot entirely on VHS. Was that an instant decision? What was the reason behind that?
That was a decision made by Adam Fitch (Director), really. We'd been chatting for a while, trying to decide how best to get that nostalgia across on screen, and he had the idea to do it on a camcorder from 1987. It was so much fun to film! I like the fact everyone has their own room and I travel between them - it's like I'm visiting different memories.
Is there going to be more material coming? Might we see an E.P. later this year?
We're working on some new material, and it'll hopefully result in an E.P. coming out next year. I'm really excited to get stuck into writing again.
How did MOLLYANNA get together? When did you meet one another?
Mike is one of my oldest friends and we've been making music together, one way or another, for almost eight years now. He's a technical genius and can really focus on tiny details to make sure something is perfect. I'm more ‘big picture’ and deal with melodies and structures. We work really well together.
We formed MOLLYANNA in 2016 as a duo and then recruited three other people to play live with us. Those three left last summer but we gained Josh and Laura - who are both incredibly talented and the most fun to perform and work with!
You are based out of Sheffield. Is the scene quite healthy at the moment? Do you think the area gets the credit it deserves?
Josh: I would say the scene in Sheffield is thriving at the moment. A lot of it in the past up until, maybe, mid-last year was very Indie-based - and still is to some extent. But, there are plenty of great bands coming through all genres now and it really feels like everyone involved in music around Sheffield is out to help and support one another.
It's amazing to be a part of…so, yeah; I think it does get the credit it deserves!
Who are the artists you all grew up listening to?
Bernadette: I grew up listening to Nirvana, Green Day; The Offspring, NOFX; System of a Down, Machine Head but, also, Alanis Morissette, Cyndi Lauper and Savage Garden, because, why not.
Josh: I grew up with a lot of my stepdad's music taste; so there was a lot of The Beatles, The Who; David Bowie, Talking Heads and New Order to name a few. From there, I found my own tastes and people like Jeff Buckley, John Mayer and Red Hot Chili Peppers inspired me a lot.
Mike: Sum 41, Blink-182 and System of a Down. Then, through the Red Hot Chili Peppers, I got into Soul, Jazz, and Hip-Hop - and then it just spiralled a bit.
Laura: I grew up listening to a lot of Green Day, Nirvana; Radiohead: pretty much all of the 1990s Rock bands!
If you each had to select the one album that means the most to you; which would they be and why?
Josh: For me, it would have to be Grace by Jeff Buckley. It continues to inspire me to make music every time I listen to it, and I will always come back to it. For me, it's (just) perfection.
Bernadette: This is so hard! It'd have to be between By the Way (Red Hot Chili Peppers) and Dookie (Green Day). Teenage loner vibes.
Laura: Tough question...I guess Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette. It was the first album growing up I felt I could really relate to.
Mike: Anything by The Smiths. Because it reminds me of the positive power of pure hatred.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
We want to write an E.P. and take this show on the road (tour).
Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Laura: Too many! My best memory has to be when I and eight-hundred other drummers got together in 2012 to break the world record for the number of drummers in the same room playing in time with each other! That was mad! We also raised over £150k for the MS Society UK.
Bernadette: I put a lot of myself into our songs, so performing them live and seeing people respond to them always feels amazing. I played a sold-out gig last year where we'd squeezed one-hundred-and-thirty people into a one-hundred-capacity venue - it was so warm but the atmosphere was insane.
Mike: Probably just small breakthrough moments with songwriting - which are few and far between. Sometimes, you have to really grind to make something happen…but there have been a few moments where I’ve sat down to write something and had a full song thirty mins later. This happened once while writing Thief - and that’s probably top for now.
Josh: It’s so hard to choose one moment. I’ve played a lot of really cool gigs with a couple of bands; so I’m like Bernadette in that I love performing. But, what’s great about having joined MOLLYANNA is that it's pushed me to be a better musician - and that is something that's going to stay with me!
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Bernadette: work hard to perfect your music; work to your strengths and invest wisely if you need to use outside agencies for anything. Do your research!
Josh: Make sure you don't lose sight of why you got into playing music in the first place. It can be easy to get bogged down with lots of planning and admin but, if you still love the music you play and get excited about what you play, then you’ll love it.
IN THIS PHOTO: ENGINE
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Josh: Ten Eighty Trees (Newcastle/Sheffield) are amazing, as well as The Sky Moguls (Sheffield) and ENGINE (Leeds). I'd also say Kid Conventional (Sheffield) and Weekend Recovery (Leeds), who are both supporting us at our launch this month.
IN THIS PHOTO: A Hundred Crowns
Where can we see you play? What gigs do you have lined up?
We have our single launch-party on 31st March in Sheffield, which we're super-excited about. We also have some local festivals (Tramlines and Heaven & Hell Fest). We're currently booking some dates further afield for summer…so stay in touch to find out more!
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Bernadette: I like to drink gin and go bouldering…separately.
Josh: I also like drinking gin. I'm training to be a journalist and I find that helps - to be able to get to the pub!
Mike: Putting on a stupid podcast and trying to learn to draw. That does it for me right now.
Laura: I'm not sure I ever unwind completely from music: I’m constantly tapping away.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Josh: Ol’ '55 by Tom Waits - it’s beautiful
Bernadette: I'll Make a Man Out of You by Donny Osmond (Mulan Original Soundtrack). For like, no reason…
Laura: Cherub Rock - Smashing Pumpkins
Mike: Walk Like an Egyptian by The Bangles