We heard that The Sherpas were in Exeter playing a show at The Phoenix, not only did we have to be there, we wanted to chat to the guys before the show to ask some deep and meaningful questions. They agreed to a meet up on neutral ground, we settled on the car park at The Phoenix. We chatted for a good 20 minutes about all sorts of topics including raucous rock n' roll antics, their love of 'School of Rock' and their favourite cheese, here's how we got on....
MM - I know a bit about you as a band, please would you introduce yourselves to the readers of our website?
TS - I’m Pierre, I’m the singer of the band and I also play guitar, I’m Ben, I play guitar and sing a bit, my name’s Josh, I play the drums and I haven’t been in the band for very long….
MM - How long have you been in?
TS - About 7 months, it doesn’t seem that long, I think it’s gone really quickly as these have been the busiest 7 months of our band career so far
MM - Has he been through any ‘Sherpas’ initiation process?
TS – I think him having to put up with us has been enough! Josh did have to dunk his head into a keg of ale and not come out until it had all been drunk! There was a bit of that but we go back a long way, Ben, Josh and I (Pierre) did a music course a long time ago when we were younger, when we were looking to get a drummer, there was nobody else we even thought about, Josh was our number one choice
MM – That’s nice to hear, I can see a little tear in Josh’s eye there, ahhhh!
TS – He’s made us all better people as well….we don’t hate the world as much as we used to!
MM – Please tell me the names of the two that are not here for the interview?
TS – Jake who plays guitar who looks like Johnny Depp and Chris who plays bass who doesn’t look like Johnny Depp! He couldn’t look any less like Johnny Depp if he tried! He actually looks a bit like Art Garfunkel….
MM – Does he have the hair thing going on?
TS – He had the hair then he chopped it all off, we like funk music and he went and chopped his ‘fro off, it was a crying shame!
MM - Sherpas are renowned in the international climbing and mountaineering community for their hardiness, expertise, and experience at very high altitudes, does this sum you up?
TS – I think our parents like it solely for that reason, Ben is scared of heights so he wouldn’t be as good a Sherpa as the rest of us! None of us are particularly sporty or in shape, I think we settled on the name as our music ‘raises people up the mountain of sound’ but most of all, we just wanted a good name for a gang
MM – Rather than The Jets or The Sharks?
TS – Exactly!
MM - How did the band form?
TS – The original drummer (who we replaced with Josh) he was friends with Chris and Jake for quite a long time, that formed the shell of the band and he asked me (Ben) and Pierre to join, we basically thought who were the best musicians that we all knew (and didn’t know that well), get us all in a room together and see what happens, we hit it off straight away
MM - Did you all have similar tastes in music?
TS – I think so, it’s a gradual thing where we introduce music to each other and go from there really, we have slowly been moving into the 70’s and 80’s funk and it has come through in our own sound
MM - I read that one of your interests is ‘School of Rock’, if you are referring to the movie, which character would each of you be and why?
TS – Oh dear, you saw that? Chris would definitely be the pianist (Lawrence), Ben would be Zach, I don’t think any of us are like Jack Black! The funniest thing about the film is that when we first watched it, we all thought it was really cool, when we watch it these days, it’s one of the most cringeworthy thing ever, quotes like “I gotta pay the rent with my rock n’ roll”…..I guess it’s a shift from wanting to be like Jack Black’s character to not wanting to be anything like Jack Black’s character as we have matured. I like to think that Jack Black’s character is me (Ben) in the future! I think one of the finest quotes from the movie is “Would you tell Picasso to sell his guitars?”, that one always gets me! We could go on to quote the whole film if you like?
MM – er, let’s move on!
MM - Peter Hook from New Order said that you’re 'Brash, noisy and young’ and that he ‘quite enjoyed it’, how did that make you feel?
TS – We all had a bit of a laugh at it, I mean “I quite enjoyed it”? it’s as if he listened to us and said “yeah, they’re okay, I quite enjoyed it”, but on the other hand, Peter Hook is a LEGEND and after god knows how many years, he’s still touring the world doing what he does, he’s a big deal and his band is awesome. We hadn’t been together long as a band when we received the quote….
MM – Do you know where the quote came from, did he see you live?
TS – I think a track was sent over to him to check out and someone emailed us the quote, at the time, we had only been a band for a couple of months, we’d only played a couple of shows and the tracks we played would have mostly been covers but at the time it gave us such a lift….
MM – Send him your new EP, maybe he’ll….like it a bit more?
TS – Maybe he’ll simply say that he “likes it”, which is a level up from “quite liking it”….
MM – In his true Mancuanian style!
MM - It sounded like Bristol and Sheffield were both great shows, what happened at Derby?
TS – Nothing to do with us, we were supporting a band that night and they had to cancel at the last minute as two of the band members had left at short notice
MM – A valid reason…..
TS – Absolutely, it’s never nice to have to cancel shows at all. We played a gig the week before with a band who’s bass player had left and they still managed to pull it together and play the show. It makes us realise just how good we are together, all these bands around us are falling out and we’ve had a great spell over the past year and we’ve not had one falling out, we’re having a lot of fun
MM – I think that’s what it’s all about, younger bands get together and then they start having a hard time and it becomes a bit of a chore rather than fun and that’s when you start to see the cracks appear
TS – It’s never been a chore for us, I can’t think of any time when we’ve sat down and said that we haven’t had fun doing what we do. If we play a live show, driving 8 hours in the driving rain, not knowing there’ll even be anyone there to watch us and barely covering fuel costs, we always have fun on stage.
MM - So, talking about touring, do you take it in turn to drive or do you have someone who does it all?
TS – Jake’s dad Gary is our 'designated driver'
MM – So you can sit in the back doing ‘rock n roll’ things (smashing up TV’s, ladies of the night etc…) whilst he’s driving you about?
TS – er, well, sleeping, drinking Ribena (other cordials are available) and quoting School of Rock to each other. Jake’s dad is a hardy Londoner so it’s good to have him along
MM – Does he play a part in the band’s management?
TS – We often ask him for advice, he’s really ‘no nonsense’ and is so level headed, he’s really good to have around, if we’re hanging about outside a venue for too long, he’ll just say it as it is “Get in the van, we’re going home!”
MM - So, The Exeter Phoenix is the venue for tonight’s show, do you find homecoming gigs easier than playing to complete strangers all over the country?
TS – I think they both have their merits, we sort of know that we’re going to be playing to a good bunch of people, friends, family alike and they’re going to know some of the words to our songs so they can sing along which is a really good thing, it really suits our music, the energy gives us something to feed off of. Seeing friendly faces in the audience is good, on the other hand, it’s an amazing feeling when you play to a room full of strangers and being able to impress them and seeing their reaction to our music, it’s not as if they have to say that they liked it if they didn’t whereas friends may feel pressured into saying what we want to hear? Even if one person tells us that they enjoyed it, it makes us feel so good, it makes it all worthwhile.
MM - Will there be any parents in the audience tonight?
TS – Oh yes, it’ll be the first 3 rows, mums, dads, aunties, uncles, I think Pierre’s mum is bringing about 30 of her friends along, we’re their pride and joy!
MM - Festival season is upon us, I couldn’t see any listed on your Facebook page, anything lined up?
TS – We have one festival booked this year in Portsmouth which is really good, it has a seaside stage and The Flaming Lips are playing so it’s quite a big event, I think The Mystery Jets and Johnny Marr are also on the bill
MM – We saw Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals) play in Exeter a while back and he had the drummer and the Keyboard player from The Flaming Lips along with him, they were incredible! Are you planning on hitting the festival scene hard in 2016?
TS – We’re already working on next year’s festivals, things have changed quite dramatically in the last few months, mostly around how many people we have behind us, we can already feel and see the difference from the feedback that we’re getting and I’m certain that we’ll be playing at a fair few events next summer
MM – I think you’d go down really well at festivals, your music is what people want to hear
MM - Your sound is really refreshing, some amazing grooves and bass parts going on, have you always played this style of music?
TS – Personally, I (Ben) wasted a lot of time listening to heavy rock music, sitting in my room, playing my guitar for 8 hours a day….
MM – Noodling away to Metallica?
TS – Not so much Metallica, more Whitesnake!
MM – Oh dear, did you have the David Coverdale hair style as well? Maybe the chest wig?
TS – I don’t need to work on the chest wig (opens his shirt to show us a more than impressive ‘chest thatch’ (wolf whistles all around)
MM – Get the man a medallion!
MM - If The Sherpas were to all enter a UFC style fighting cage, who would be the last man standing?
TS – Josh! Though I think the final would be between Ben and Josh but Josh would no doubt win!
MM – What about Jake and Chris, they’re not hear to defend themselves!
TS – Nah, they’re thinner than me (Pierre)! I think Chris would be the first to tap out as he would have thought about it but would then change his mind! Josh is the most athletic out of all of us, he plays volleyball, he doesn’t smoke, he is the complete package!
MM - Your Track E F E G D stands for Everybody Freeze Everybody Get Down, it would be great if the chords used in the song are also E F E G & D…..
TS – We played it using the chords and it is very much a punk chord progression, not really our style. The reason we abbreviated it is because all of our songs consist of one word and having ‘Everybody Freeze Everybody Get Down’ on the back of the EP made it look a bit silly so we shortened it down so it would fit in with the rest of the track names! We might write a new track with that chord progression in the future….
MM – Well if you do, remember who suggested it (I want royalties!)
MM - The one that everyone has been waiting for, what is your favourite cheese?
TS – For me (Pierre) it’s a good Red Leicester, every time, it’s a bit like cheddar but stronger. This is where things get interesting as I’m (Ben) lactose intolerant, so my favourite cheese is lacto free cheese (nice…)
Gary (Jake’s dad) turned up with a rucksack having hunted half of Exeter looking for one of the missing Sherpas….
Having 3 Sherpas to hand, we had a choice of who should have the responsibility of enduring the quickfire round, Jake & Ben looked to Pierre to take one for the team, we strapped him in and adjusted his crash helmet (better to be safe than sorry!), here's how it went....
Pot Noodle or Cup a Soup?
Cup a Soup
Indian or Chinese food?
Fender or Gibson?
Camping or Campervan?
Travelodge or Premier Inn?
James Bond or Jason Bourne?
CD or Vinyl?
Beach or Pool?
Beards or No beards?
Tattoos or Piercings?
Fry up or Sunday Roast?
Springwatch or Baywatch?
God or Google?
We'd like to thank Jake, Ben and Pierre for sparing their time before their show to chat to us, we felt that we were doing them a favour as if they weren't with us, they would have only been causing chaos doing 'rock n roll' things in the venue, do you know how long it takes to remove Ribena stains? (other cordials are available folks). If you'd like to find out more about this ridiculously talented bunch of guys, please take a look through the links below....
Website (under construction)
Interview by Steve Muscutt
Photography by Julian Baird