As Shed Seven head out on tour with new album A Matter of Time on its way, Rick Witter has a word with Two Big Egos

Shed Seven: Autumn tour and new album. Picture: Barnaby Fairley

IN this special edition, Two Big Egos In A Small Car podcast duo Graham Chalmers and Charles Hutchinson interview Rick Witter, frontman of Shed Seven.

As the Sheds head out on an autumn tour, Rick discusses the story behind the York band’s new studio album, next January’s A Matter Of Time, early band names for Witter and Paul Banks in their schooldays, fresh band members, and what it takes to be among the great survivors of Britpop.

Head to: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1187561/13761949

Shed Seven head for Leeds Millennium Square this weekend with new album A Matter Of Time confirmed for next January

Shed Seven 2023: Regulars Rick Witter, left, Paul Banks, second from right, and Tom Gladwin, right, with new additions Rob ‘Maxi’ Maxfield and Tim Willis. Picture: Barnaby Fairley

SHED Seven will mark their 30th anniversary by releasing their first album in more than six years, A Matter Of Time, on new home Cooking Vinyl on January 12 2024.

Look out for special guest contributions from The Libertines’ Peter Doherty, Happy Mondays’ backing singer Rowetta and Reverend And The Makers’ Laura McClure.  

The announcement coincides with today’s release of lead single Kissing California, their first new material since November 2017’s fifth studio album, Instant Pleasures, on BMG. Their first too since guitarist/keyboardist Joe Johnson and drummer Alan Leach left the York band after the 2021 summer festival season.

The remaining Shed three, vocalist Rick Witter, guitarist Paul Banks and bassist Tom Gladwin, have since been joined by keyboardist Tim Willis, from Ian Brown’s band, and Audioweb/Ian Brown drummer Rob ‘Maxi’ Maxfield for their live engagements, and they now play on the new album too.

This also will be the line-up for the Sheds’ Sounds Of The City 2023 outdoor gig at Millennium Square, Leeds, on Saturday, when Cast and York combo Skylights will be on the 6pm bill too, and for an eight-date headline tour (with no Yorkshire shows, alas) in October.

For A Matter Of Time, the Sheds reconnected with the classic albums that first inspired them to form a band in York in 1990. The resulting record “sparkles with the liberated exuberance and full-throttle rock’n’roll attitude of a group who are making music for the sheer joy of expressing themselves and performing together”. Three songs out of 12 featuring “Let’s Go” in the title would testify to that!

Sheds’ publicist Simon Blackmore, of Black Arts PR, reports: “While the album broadens the Shed Seven sonic palette a touch, it’s full of the towering, arms-in-the-air anthems and yearning melancholia that fans have come to love them for.”

Shed Seven line-up, 2007-2021: from left, Tom Gladwin, Joe Johnson, Rick Witter, Alan Leach and Paul Banks

As with Instant Pleasures, the album was produced by the Grammy Award-winning Youth – famed for his work with Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney, The Orb, Killing Joke and The Verve – at his residential El Mirador Studios in Andalucia, southern Spain, before being completed by leading mixer Cenzo Townshend (Florence + The Machine, Inhaler).

Paul Banks says: “For this album, we took a nostalgic journey back to our roots, immersing ourselves in the records and sounds that ignited our passion for songwriting at the tender age of 12.

“The influences of bands like The Smiths, R.E.M., U2, Simple Minds, The Cure and Duran Duran permeate every note, making it a heartfelt homage to those cherished times. It embodies the essence of rebirth, empowering individuals to embrace their true selves without inhibition.

“With utmost conviction, we declare this as the pinnacle of our musical endeavours: the record we’ve always yearned to create.”

Lead single Kissing California is billed as “instantly addictive, with chiming guitars, sun-scorched melodies and charismatic vocals all contributing to its life-affirming positivity”.  

Rick Witter asserts: “Kissing California is Shed Seven’s summer anthem. It’s essentially a celebration of being alive and grabbing the opportunity to paint the town red with someone special and have the best of times. It’s the medicine we all need sometimes.”

Elsewhere, A Matter Of Time flows from adrenalised punky power-pop right through to epic slow-burners, further bolstered by Rowetta contributing fervent gospel vocals to In Ecstasy, Laura McClure singing on the folk-pop Tripping With You and Peter Doherty duetting with Witter on the dramatic closer Throwaways.

The poster for Shed Seven’s sold-out outdoor show at Millennium Square, Leeds, on Saturday

A Matter Of Time can be pre-ordered or pre-saved at https://shedsevenn.lnk.to/AMOTPR. A wide range of physical formats is available with exclusives for Amazon, Assai Records, HMV and selected indie stores. A special bonus A Matter Of Time: Deep Cuts CD is available only with bundles purchased from the Sheds’ official store, with options including a signed digipak CD, a signed dolphin-coloured vinyl and a dual pink/green cassette.

Shed-heads who pre-order A Matter Of Time from the official store will receive access to a pre-sale for tickets for this autumn’s UK tour. The pre-sale will open at 9.30am on Wednesday, July 19 and will remain live until any remaining tickets go on general sale at 9.30am on Friday, July 21.

Those autumn dates will be: October 19, The Tramshed, Cardiff; October 20, London O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire; October 21, Rock City, Nottingham; October 23, Victoria Hall, Stoke-on-Trent; October 24, Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton; October 26, The Barrowlands Ballroom, Glasgow; October 27, Middlesbrough Town Hall, and October 28, Albert Hall, Manchester.

Before then come this weekend’s sold-out, 6,000-capacity gig at Millennium Square, Leeds, and a headline set at Party At The Palace, Linlithgow, Scotland, on August 12.

Shed Seven emerged as one of the big hitters during the heyday of Britpop, their catalogue of singles taking in 15 Top 40 hits from 1994’s Dolphin to 2003’sWhy Can’t I Be You?. Seven made the Top 20: 1995’s Getting Better and Going For Gold (a maximum high of number eight); 1996’s On Standby, Chasing Rainbows and She Left Me On Friday; 1998’s The Heroes and 1999’s Disco Down.

This was complemented by the albums Change Giver (1994), A Maximum High (1996), Let It Ride (1998), Going For Gold: The Greatest Hits (1999) and Truth Be Told (2001).

Their popularity has risen anew since reforming in 2007, notably with 2017’s Instant Pleasures album debuting at number eight, their highest-charting record in 18 years. Sold-out shows have included Leeds First Direct Arena, the Brixton O2 Academy, London, and Manchester’s O2 Victoria Warehouse, while their June 2018 open-air concert at Castlefield Bowl, Manchester, drew a crowd of 8,000.   

Hot off the presses: The artwork for Shed Seven’s sixth studio album, A Matter Of Time, released next January

A Matter Of Time: album track listing

1.Let’s Go

2. Kissing California

3. Talk Of The Town

4. Let’s Go Dancing

5. In Ecstasy (featuring Rowetta)

6. Tripping With You (feat. Laura McClure)

7. Let’s Go (Again)

8. Real Love

9. F:K:H

10. Ring The Changes

11. Starlings

12. Throwaways (feat. Peter Doherty)

Just to clarify

SHED Seven were formed in 1990 by Rick Witter (vocals), Joe Johnson (guitar/keyboards), Tom Gladwin (bass) and Alan Leach (drums). Next year’s 30th anniversary celebrations mark the 1994 release of debut double A-side Mark/Casino Girl and debut album Change Giver.