10 for 2012 Interview: Piers Sherwood-Roberts of Strangers

By on Friday, 16th December 2011 at 11:00 am

The man behind the keyboards of 10 for 2012 act runner-up Strangers, Piers Sherwood-Roberts, answers some of my questions on navigating the tricky waters of media lumping them in with Elton John, how opening for the Duke Spirit was a defining moment for them this year, and much more. Read on…

Congratulations on finishing #2 (runner up) in our 10 of 2012 poll of bands to watch next year. Unfortunately, we don’t have a trophy or anything to give you, but please know that it was the faithful readers of TGTF that voted to give you your place on this list. Although we risk sounding like the reporters on the red carpet at the BAFTAs, we want to know, how do you feel about this achievement?
Yeah, we feel great, thank you to everyone who voted for us!

Do you consider yourself more of an electronic band doing rock, or a rock band doing electronic?
I don’t think we feel like either. Rock isn’t something we’ve ever associated ourselves with. We feel more like an electronic band doing dark pop or a dark pop band doing electronic. Saying that, we could be wrong!

All three of your EPs (‘EP1’, ‘EP2’ and ‘EP3’) are available for streaming on Soundcloud. How important was it to you as a band to have your material “listen before you buy”? How do you think this fits into how music is going / the current climate in the music industry?
I think it’s quite important these days to let people hear what’s going on. I think people rarely buy music that they haven’t heard at least once before. We live in such a consumerist world, people want things now and they want to know what they are getting.

It’s getting harder for bands just to turn up and get a big record deal and be thrown onto the radio, so I think bands are exploring different ways to get exposure. SoundCloud is a great tool for getting our music out there and it’s simple to use too. We love it.

Do you have a favourite EP out of the three? If so, which one and why?
I think ‘EP3’. It kind of sums up where we are at the moment and where we are taking the sound. It’s got a bit of everything we like in it: epic ballads, upbeat pop tunes and simple melody driven songs.

As a Duranie / New Romantic and a ’80s new wave fan, listening to your music feels very familiar to me, like a beloved jumper that comes out from a clothing trunk to be worn for warmth in winter. Do you draw inspiration from those late ’70s / ’80s eras? (Very sorry if this offends; I find your music reminds me a lot of the bands that I love from that era, so feel free to use this opportunity to explain where you’re coming from, if you feel the media’s portrayal of your music is totally wrong.)
Ha! No no, we take no offense. We’re glad. We are very open about our influences from that era. Depeche Mode, Human League, Duran Duran, Pet Shop Boys, New Order are all big influences on us, Depeche Mode probably being the biggest.

What bands have you been compared to that you feel honoured to be named in the same sentence with, and why? (Like Hurts?) What band comparisons (and by whom) have been the most bizarre, and why?
Being compared to Hurts is obviously nice! A couple of blogs have said that ‘Promises’ sounds similar to Elton John and Kiki Dee’s ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’. Having the words Elton John coupled with us seems quite bizarre but also, we do feel honoured.

You’ve had the chance to play with a lot of different bands this year. Were there any gigs in particular that stick out in your mind as particularly memorable? (This can include good or bad memories…we want the dirt!)
Our first show supporting the Duke Spirit was definitely to most memorable. We didn’t really know what to expect. It was the first time any of us had used live visuals as part of a show and the first time Raife had played the drums standing up. The Duke Spirit loved the show and everything went smoothly. To say we were relieved would be pretty accurate.

What is your favourite instrument in your arsenal, and why?
The ‘stand up’ electric drum kit and lead synth. Without those we wouldn’t sound half as good live.

What item in your record collection do you think we would never guess you owned?
‘The Burt Bacharach Collection’: now there’s a man who knows how to write a cracking song.

What is the most unusual thing about your band that your fans would be surprised to learn
Approach us after a show and you’ll find out!

What do you predict for yourselves in 2012?
Oooo, that’s a tough one. We just want to continue getting bigger and better, picking up new fans wherever we can.

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