Staffordshire unsigned band Sugarthief to support The Twang

Following a very successful year, previous Unsigned features Sugarthief are soon joining The Twang on their UK tour and returning to the studio to record new tracks. We managed to have a chat with guitarist Jack James about the year and what the future holds for the Staffordshire indie band.

Sweet sound – Sugarthief                             picture by Sarah Jeynes
Sweet sound – Sugarthief picture by Sarah Jeynes

So it sounds like you’ve been busy since we last caught up with you?

Yes, it’s been a brilliant summer. We played the Main Stage at YNOT Festival which was an unbelievable experience. Performing on the same stage as the Stereophonics was unreal, sadly the event was marred by the horrendous weather (we were the only band to play a full set) but having thousands of people singing along to Joy Affair and waving umbrellas at the end was amazing.

That same weekend we had to drive to Cumbria to play Kendal Calling, luckily we decided to leave YNOT early, otherwise we could have still been stuck in a very muddy field in the Peak District.

We also played a couple of local festivals including Barr Beacon (Walsall) and Stafford Castle, but the highlight has the be playing Beyond The Tracks. It was such a cool festival, being right in the centre of Birmingham by Millenium Point, with views of the Selfridges building and trains passing by just metres away.

It had a really local feel and we received lots of great feedback. BBC WM recorded out set live which was a little scary, but we seemed to go down well and gained a lot of new fans. Backstage was surreal, rubbing shoulders with so many famous musicians and finding out how down to earth and generous most of them are (maybe it’s a Midlands thing!). Finding out our heroes Superfood and Jaws know our music was humbling, but the best moment had to be bumping into Phil Etheridge (lead singer of The Twang) who offered to take us out on tour with them for a few dates.

Supporting The Twang sounds serious, where are you playing?

We thought they were just going to offer us one show, but we’re supporting them at Leeds, Glasgow, Oxford and Newcastle playing to crowds as big as 2500 people. I think it’s really cool what they do, Phil is such a genuine guy who really cares about local music and we know so many of the other bands who are going to support them – all local and mostly unsigned (such as Jaws, Ivory Wave, The Assist, Cut Glass Kings etc.)

What about new music, have you found time to get in the studio?

We’ve got loads of new songs. We were meant to be going into the studio in Autumn, but we have moved it back to January with so much going on. We’ll be recording in Wolverhampton again, this time with the guys at MAS (of which Robert Plant is a patron) and RML who’re closely connected with MAS. We’ve also been short listed in a Battle of the Bands competition with part of the prize being £1500 worth of studio time which could come in really handy.

Tell us more about the Battle of the Bands competition?

We’re not really ones to go in for battling with other bands, we prefer to try and build a scene and support all the bands we come into contact with, however this was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up on. We saw it at PMT Music who along with Firestone, Orange Amps and Arena are sponsors. We’ve been shortlisted to the last six and if we can get enough votes we’ll play at the final in Birmingham. If we’re lucky enough to win there’s a prize of £2000 worth of amps, £1500 worth of recording time and festival opportunities across Europe. People can vote for use by clicking on the links across our social media pages and voting closes on November 23rd.

You’ve come a long way since your days busking a little over two years ago, how did you make it happen?

It’s difficult to say really. We’ve had a lot of support from promoters, radio, bloggers, bands, fans, friends and obviously you guys too. We’re under no illusions and appreciate we have achieved nothing yet (well that’s what our manager/Dad says anyway). We’re all still at university or college so that has to be taken seriously, but we would love the chance to do this full time. There are thousands of good bands doing the same as us.

Our audiences have grown steadily and our latest headline show was our sixth sell out on the bounce. We invited a band up from Hastings and they couldn’t believe the crowd for a Thursday night and we’re planning a trip to Hastings in the New Year. The crowds we get are amazing and the stage invasions are a little scary now. We try to be very interactive with people who take the time to come to our shows and we’re also trying to think of ways to get radio plays with Steve Lamacq (BBC Radio 6) playing us quite a few times now. Our Spotify plays and followers is growing too which must help, but I think the biggest thing is to get out and play. We’ve played about 30 shows this year, some big, some small and some in stores which really helps us to develop but also gives us a great chance to find and make friends with fans.

So, what’re your targets for 2018?

Our main aim is to record our new tracks. We would love to play some more major record labels and hopefully play some more out of town shows. We have had a little interest from record labels, which could change things, however our manager is dealing with that – we’ll just concentrate on writing and playing the music.

Sugarthief are playing Birmingham's The Sunflower Lounge this evening with support from YVES, Mint and The Life

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