Published: 28 January 2010
by ROISIN GADELRAB
DEAD Like Harry have serenaded a stranger’s girlfriend, played to nothing but the sea when the ill-timed tide came in too fast, and will soon hit Camden’s most celebrated bowling alley.
Named after an eccentric uncle, the Sheffield six-piece, who place themselves somewhere between Fleetwood Mac and Bruce Springsteen, play Bloomsbury Lanes on February 25.
But the real story is how they managed to cut their debut album Know The Joy of Good Living (released February 15) without spending a cent.
Vocalist Sam Taylor, whose brother Matt is also in the band, says: “Without the backing of a major label it’s hard to finance a professional album. It wasn’t like we could do it in our rooms, we needed that big sound”
They approached Alan Smyth, who produced Arctic Monkeys, Reverend and the Makers, Richard Hawley and Pulp, and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“We asked him for a bit of a deal,” says Sam. “We knew he wanted a new studio but also knew he was low on finance. We proposed the six of us would work for free and we’d get an album made at the end of it. For three months we lifted plaster board and made new walls in an old factory space and at the end of that we recorded our album. Alan put his heart and soul into it.”
The end product is something to behold.
“It’s as vinyl as you can get,” says Sam. “We were listening to classic albums and I just got obsessed with making a record sleeve.
“I talked to designers and came up with even the crinkly paper when you take the CD out. When you put the record on you think you’re going to be listening to something which has that earthy feel.”
He describes the band’s sound as being “rooted in traditional genres, blues, rock and coloured by a pop sentiment”, adding: “It has the pop sensibilities like Fleetwood Mac meets the anthemic ideas of Bruce Springsteen or something like that.”
Their moniker is in tribute to lead guitarist John Redgrave’s great uncle, after he neglected to tell his mother Harry had died for some weeks.
They decided to play Bloomsbury Lanes on recommendation from Jamie of Goldheart Assembly, who was full of compliments about the place, only adding to the eclectic venues they’ve played so far.
“In Chester a guy asked if we could play for his girlfriend,” says Sam. “He gave me £20 and said he really wanted me to play next to the canal. It was a bit weird him watching me play his girlfriend a song along the canal.”
Then at the Beached Festival in Scarborough, they soon realised their crowd had disappeared: “We were on stage as the tide was crawling in but increasing quite fast and so there was nobody stood in front of us for a while. We were just playing to the sea, to the lapping waves against the stage.”