I can’t believe it’s taken this long to get Shake Your Halo Down to play at a Youth Anthems gig but on the plus side they’ve got an absolutely incredible new EP so it’s no bad thing. Top people all round you are going to have a great old time watching them on January 26th so here’s a great little email chat we had for you to read whilst have a boogie to them.
Could you please introduce yourselves (including all the bands you’ve all played in!)
Chris Bonner (CB) Chopper, Pylon, Powered by Tofu, Yoi, Lentil Institute.
Kerry Ramsay (KR) also known as Kez, Kezza, Kezmatron, and various other names starting with the letters K, E and Z. Formed my first band, Caphony (named after a Jacob’s Mouse song) aged 14. We played one gig at Perry’s Nightclub in Darlington in 1989(ish) before going on indefinite hiatus. Since then I’ve been a singer up front and also round the back for (in no particular order): A Headless Horse, Don’t Die, Protectors, Big Love, Laboratory Noise, Albeit, The Ridges, The Agency and Green.
Paul Denny (PD) P. Diddy, Pylon, SYHD.
Chris Charlton (CC) My first band was Psycho Cart Remedy, with my pals Craig Wallace and Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai. I was 11 and living in Lanarkshire, Scotland, we learnt to play songs by The Jesus and Mary Chain, Bauhaus and The Cure. I moved to Yorkshire in 1988 and joined The Pie Of Life with Paul, later became Effigy, Doctor Polanski and his amazing bread and butter pudding, Happy As Fish, Two Man Cuppy, Wynoni, Chopper, Elvi, Pylon, Nathaniel Green ‘Shitstorm’ backing band, Protectors, YOI, Shake Your Halo Down and St Cyrus.
How’s Wakefield doing music wise at the moment and what could Leeds learn from it?
CB: I only go to Wakey as a tourist these days. Home is the cold hard city of Leeds.
KR: You’re asking a Leeds resident here, so I’m not totally across Wakey’s music scene – but having lived in Bradford for many years I can see the similarities and difficulties in being located so close to a major city which has so many popular music venues. It’s hard enough competing with what Leeds has got going on even when you live here (having helped out with putting gigs on here too) – but with events like the Body’s gigs at The Establishment, festivals such as Long Division and labels like Philophobia, Wakefield has totally got its own unique treasures that many big cities could learn from – not just Leeds.
CC: I’m somewhere between the two so dip in and out of both. Like Kez said there are good people doing their best in Wakefield. I might well be totally out of touch but I’m not sure there are many younger bands coming through. Us oldies had the benefit of Players Snooker Club where you could book a dirty dark room for free, borrow a cheap pa and a couple of mics, ask a few bands to play and charge a quid in. That DIY approach from the original Chopper boys was instrumental and inspired the likes of Dugong, Pylon, Milloy and The Cribs. The monthly Bodys gigs are really cool, everyone reading should check them out, there’s also a new monthly Philophobia Music night at Henry Boons.
PD: Wakey music seems to be on the up again at the mo’. Getting a bit more support from the city’s venues has helped. I think the whole arts scene in Wakefield is working together more to create better events.
What do you all get up to outside of the band and how does that help or hinder things music wise?
CB: I’m at Leeds College of Music which is brilliant and gives me discounts. I drive the Leeds Water taxi and live on an old coal barge. Unhelpful would be my OSD (obsessive snooker-watching distraction). Also my two Teacup rescue Chihuahuas, Dolly and Thor. I love them too much for words and am wandering how I can make them outlive me as I will die of actual heartbreak if they go before me.
KR: I’m having a little career break at the moment, but in my last job I pretty much had to listen to music 10 hours a day Monday to Friday for about six months. I’m also in two other bands and help out at various gigs every now and then, so the time that leaves me with afterwards is mostly spent in a never-ending search for peace and quiet.
PD: 2 years ago I took on a massive building project which has given me very little time for anything else. It’s all consuming so anything that has the ability to stop me thinking about it is special. The band has that ability!
CC: I work full time for the NHS and have a young family, mouths to feed. I’m trying to teach them to play drums at the minute, mainly AC/DC Highway To Hell. Any spare time I have left I write and record songs at home. I just upgraded my studio and so got lots of learning to do this year, new toys.
Top influences on Shake Your Halo Down from the world’s of music, books and TV?
CB: I’ve been watching Blindboy Undestroys the World..his podcasts are great too..
Also Alan McManus whose snooker commentary is pure poetry “O’Sullivan has the heart of a Kalahari Lion..”. Music has a part to play in resisting negative authority, inspiring people and getting people together to realise their collective strength so we can push for better things.
Sadly my songs tend to get listened to by the few not the many 😂
KR: I ashamed to say I don’t have the time nor the patience to read books, and having made a lot of telly programmes in my time I tend not to draw inspiration from there either – but in terms of influence, I’d definitely say that having Pylon’s genes and a shared appreciation of 1990s indie stalwarts pretty much sums up where the SYHD magic comes from.
PD: 4. It’s a bit lazy but I let Spotify work it’s magic so listening to all sorts lately. Radio 6 on the site radio generally. Haven’t read a story book for years and watch very few films. I struggle with fantasy and have never seen Star Wars!
CC: This last year or so I’ve been watching a lot of World War II documentaries, that and catching Mr Mimes on Pokemon Go. Music wise I’ve been listening to the latest Lana Del Rey, Advance Base and Fleetwood Mac.
Top three bands we should get for future Youth Anthems gigs?
CB: Hen Ogledd, David O’Doherty and Doe.
KR: Church of the Cosmic Skull for sure (although I’m not sure they’d all fit onto the stage at Wharfy C’s). I hear The Lentil Institute are pretty good. Keith Burton might be able to do family friendly if you ask nicely (don’t hold your breath). Failing that you can always bank on Nicky Bray for coming up trumps with her latest musical adventure.
CC: White Legs, Crake and Confidence Man x
Top three puddings?
CB: Booja Booja Ice Cream.. Temple donuts and IKEA bluberry jam ,(its called Bla Blar), on toast with peanut butter.
KR: Pease pudding, pease pudding and more pease pudding. You can’t beat pease pudding.
PD: Cheesecake! Sponge and custard!
Pretty impressed by Vegan ice cream at the moment.
CC: Rhubarb crumble, Bakewell Tart, Battenberg.
What advice would you give to any young people wanting to start a band?
CB: Be nice to your parents or carers – you will need their cars and money.
KR: Bonner really did hit the nail on the head with this one. But also have fun with it! It’s what making music with your mates is all about
PD: Do it with people you love! Or at least like!
CC: Yep, all that. I’ve had the pleasure of writing and playing music with some really great people over the years, I really miss that. Ha! Thankful I still am 😉 I love it so much I don’t think I’ll ever stop doing it, I always want to do more, there are never enough hours in the day. My best advice to any young person would be to learn AC/DCs Highway to Hell lp from start to finish in your bedroom. That and get the Garageband app on your phone, tablet or whatever. It’s never been easier to make music kids! If you enjoy it, and fancy having a crack, just do it, get off your xbox ! You don’t need to learn theory or get to grade 8 on the oboe. Oh yeah and get yourself to a Youth Anthems gig at Wharf Chambers!
What plans have you got for the rest of 2020?
CB: I’ve recently become a Grandaddy (this will be Billy-Bobs first gig!) so lots of time with him. I’ve also acquired an old lifeboat, currently floating about in Leeds Dock. So far I’ve sat on it and thought a lot – its also hosted a saxophone quartet for Leeds Samaritans. Hopefully it will become a useful fun creative space – suggestions on a postcard please….
KR: Mostly making the most of having a bit of time off. This is likely to involve making a big fuss of my two cats, trying to convince myself I really can cook (I can’t) while also trying to convince others I really can play bass (see previous).
PD: This year I plan to finish all the things I’ve started over the past few years, Then I’m having a rest.
CC: Shake Your Halo Down are back at Greenmount Studios at the end of Jan to record a couple of new songs. It’s always fun down there with Jamie and Lee. I’ve also written and recorded another 6 new tunes to be released by Philophobia Music in Feb under the name St Cyrus. You can hear a new track here. In 2020 I’m also going to try and learn how to perfect a passion fruit caipirinha.