SSS interview

14th October 2008
Band shot by Nick Brown
Last photo on this page by some lad from Leeds.

SSS (aka SHORT SHARP SHOCK) are that one of those bands that you need in your life.

Their mix of bolshy hardcore, thrash and metal has impressed and attacked ears all over the UK and are set to light up more on a forthcoming tour to promote their second full length on Earache Records.

Crossfire’s Tom Lindsey decided to get the best out of lead singer Foxy from his home of Liverpool and delves into the background of why SSS need to be on your stereo.

So let’s kick this off by asking what happened to Dave on the ‘Get in the Van‘ tour with Cold Ones and Down and Outs this year?

Dave went into hospital before we started the tour with pneumonia. He went in on the Tuesday, we found out Wednesday and we were starting tour on the Thursday. So we were in the middle of recording vox and I said. “listen- i got this idea”. So me and Mark legged it down the hospital and proposed the idea that we strip away the guitars and bass and vox from old and new LP, put the drums through the PA, play along and karaoke it up! We were all getting nearly burnt out with doing the LP and we had to get out of town. Shame Dave couldn’t come of course, but i couldn’t stay in Liverpool another week while everyone was on a tour having a laff!

So we filmed Dave in his hospital bed-head banging, we all had viruses on our computers so we edited the vid and outputted online. Then we looped it and put it on our Russian video mp3 player, took a TV with us on tour and placed it behind the kit and ….viola. Dave was still on tour, in spirit at least! It was a really odd doing this but it worked. Something was better than nothing, or worse & nbsp; canceling. People buzzed off what we scrambled together!

What do you get up to on the road?

I’m usually driving. That’s all that happens on the road. 3 in the front and one in the rocking chair in the back! Not really seeing much apart from the road, trees and petrol stations along the way. If we have time and there’s a concrete skate hole in the ground that finds itself on the radar then we load in early and go skate it. Frontside shralp and back to the the venue. Try and cram in as much as possible in is always on the agenda.

Talking of skating you have graced the skate scene a few times with your Night of the Living Dead skate jams, is there intention there to continue these in skate parks or have the boat parties replaced them for good?

Those events for UK skateboarding were a pivotal point i think. The scale and success took me by surprise. I always wanted them to be good. but they got to the core of people’s imagination and attitude and they exploded. Skate all night, bands playing, fly in Antihero, Black Label, Real teams, Death match and blow some stuff up! Liverpool made people go berserk! The City is a law unto itself but it got big too fast and the pressure to come up with new and inventive things got to much. That’s why it died. Everyone wanted a piece, crap shoe companies and energy drink shite hawks wanting in on the underground. Well….we make the underground and you’re not welcome. Plus attitudes at the park changed for the worse.

I avoided this as much as possible but it consumed itself over a very short space of time. The DIY attitude hasn’t left, it’s just been directed into other areas now. Like you say the Halloween events have found new venues, the emphasis is now music. Decorate the place up get great bands to play and tear it down. Never say never though….I was talking to someone about this the other day about doing a new event so you never know…

Looking back, what are the highlights from these past events?

That the kids got stoked on the teams that came over and could rub shoulders with their heroes and at the same time snake them, give them shit and get amped in (at the time) the best sk8park in the UK.That everyone who came got blown away by the attitude of the whole event – a beer soaked 70ft long bowl people slammin’, Slayer playing, fireworks going off! It was unreal! The yanks went home scratching their heads going why can’t we have something like this? Bringing in a PA. getting bands I wanted to see destroy on a makeshift stage made of 70 pallets that got stacked up. Dropdead, Leatherface, Send More Paramedics, Conquest of Steel etc.

Also when I threw out pigs hearts at number Night of the Living Dead 3 kids didn’t think they were real! Two sk8rats brought one back going these are fake! I said eat it and tell me if you reckon it’s rubber! One bit into it and tasted the blood and puked on the other ones shoes!

Is there a favourite city/venue SSS love playing?

Newport is always a good laff, get messy with the loose locals at the gig, Grim from freestyle sk8 shop let’s us stay at his, sk8 his backyard ramp in the morn and load up at the greasy spoon cafe at the end of his street. Birmingham is cool too. Always a good mixed crowd that gets into the spirit very quickly. plus when we done we can drive home to our own beds. Hometown Liverpool gigs are always fun. The clowns come out to play and things happen. Lubline in Poland was off it’s head. The place was rammed when we toured last year with our good friends Daymares. We played every song and they wouldn’t let us leave! Dave kept standing up and this big punk polish fella picked him up and said. “more, more, you play more!” Europe as a whole loves music. I suppose anywhere that isn’t infected with the hardcore-dogshit-too-cool-for school attitudes. In the UK, that is few and far between.

Have there been any changes to your live show since the last time you were on tour? Are you playing any new material from the new album?

Yeah. We have started to get the newer stuff into the mix. About time too really as been playing this first LP for coming up to 2 years now so things can feel as they are going through the motions on occasion. Always good to mix set lists up. We have been practicing hard and have gotten tight with the new songs. We aren’t on the same page as we were with the first LP.

What have been your influences and mind sets going into he studio to record? I’ve read that your approach to this record is far more aggressive than your debut…

We have avoided painting ourselves into a musical corner, however, things could get boring very quickly so we have delved into our big musical pockets as it were to draw influence from more areas. We did a gig on Sept 11th and that was 80% new stuff. A lot of those songs played for the 1st time. People were into it, or so they said, they could of just been being polite! Ha!. I’ve still got some views to air on this record, aggression to come out musically with us all so yes, I’d say it’s a bit relentless on occasions.

Give us the SSS Top 5 must-have bands on the van stereo…

Dag Nasty, Smoking Popes, Metallica, Lungfish and Queen.

Top 5 skate vids?

Wheels of Fire, Blind Video Days, Shackle Me Not, 1st Anti Hero vid and Speed Freaks.

Spill the beans on stuff we don’t know…

The first ever gig SSS did we jumped on at the 247 club in Liverpool and did 3 songs. Some donkey skinhead giving us V’s right in my face. His pint got slapped out of his hand, so he went the bar and got another, again he trying to be funny so I did the same-smash. Then when we done he’s causing fights with our friends so I picked him up from behind, chucked him down the stairs! he slid on his back backwards down the steps while everyone giving him shit, spitting on him, throwing empty cans on him and pouring the dregs of pints on him. Classic stuff!

Mark and Pete blagged Dave they went to a topless Chinese after a gig once in London. That the waitress poured the soy sauce off her tits onto your food! He was gutted.They forgot to tell him it wasn’t true and after 2 weeks of him telling everyone how he missed out, they remembered! Oh and Thrash musical chairs anyone?

Ha! We know you guys appreciate the collectors out there. Will we be seeing any limited edition releases of the new album?

Yeah. There’s a splatter wax edition for the release gig in Liverpool and on the Earache webshop. Plus if you buy the CD/LP from an independent record shop you get a free Skate and Destroy 7″ on splatter wax too. 6 songs about skating. Plus we got a special guest in the form of Frank Sidebottom. He lays down some serious bosanova riffage! Grimace to SSS and smile to Frank at the same time! Ha! Records come with pullout poster, stickers and all that jazz. The limited editions of records have always been our thing. People that have been with us from the start and get down early will get a good limited package. Once they are gone, they are gone.

The general consensus amongst the music world is that SSS are the figurehead of the modern UK thrash movement. Does that give you a sense of pride or pressure?

It’s cool that people are into what we do. The biggest gift is that a kid is stoked on our record as much as we are. The fact that we are on our 2nd LP is off its head. we never set out to take it this far but to have 50+ songs under our belt at this stage is mega. The whole thrash movement isn’t what we are about though. We have grown up in different climates.If people need to tag us with a label to make it understood and digestible to others then so be it. No pressure has been felt as yet, we will always take our time, and work things out in our own way. We work pretty fast, plus everything is done in-house as it were. We can demo songs easily in our practice room, they can sink in and if anything needs changing it can be done there and then. This flexibility is key as we hate being on any sort of clock. We played Prague and these Russian lads got a train for 36 hours to see us. They were massive and were scared of flying. That floored us that hey traveled all that way. Unreal!

Even though you signed to Earache, you’re still heavily affiliated with Dead & Gone Records. Do you think it’s important to keep in touch with your roots?

Nothing has really changed after signing. We still have families, kids, mortgages and jobs. Daily life doesn’t stop. When we tour we still get a transit from Birkenhead van hire, 3 in the front and one on a rocking chair in the back! The only difference is that Earache has dedicated staff to get your record out to the furthest corners of the planet. Our roots run so deep I don’t think we will ever want to cut loose from them. It’s always nice to swim in the big sea and play really big venues/bands – that sort of thing gets you exposure to a bigger crowd and the experience is mega. I’ts always nice to come back home to the garden pond. – you know what i mean? SSS will always be a photocopied band. We are far too ugly and don’t look good in gloss!

How did the hook up with Earache happen?

When the first press of record came out. we were all proud that we got it out. We wanted everyone to know about it too. So posted out 150+envelopes with a CD and covering letter to every label we could think of. A good exercise in self promotion. It was like…here’s what we have made, take a look. Our good friends Ian Glasper, Zac from Crossfire and James Sherry were flying the flag for us and a few bits a pieces ended up in the mags and helped us out. The New York office got the CD, as did Earache HQ in Nottingham at the same time. a conjunction of stellar proportions made everyone site up and take notice at the same time. i got an email from and Al in NYC. they wanted us to sign without even seeing us play. They said the infamy surrounding the band and the music itself sold us, so we scribbled.

You recently played with hardcore legends Negative Approach. How was it playing with a band that is so respected and has been so influential over the years?

It’s always good to be asked to play with a band that are such heavy hitters as NA. Sure there was a line of bands that would have chopped off an arm to do it too, So the gig wasn’t taken lightly by any means. It was great to play with them, the place was packed! People were up for it and it went off. I’ve got a checklist for the band of things we want to achieve. That was one of them.

You have recently toured with Gallows, a band which has had a lot of mainstream coverage recently. What was it like being exposed to a larger audience both live and in the press?

For me (remember this is my first ever band), the learning curve for that tour was straight up. Those size of venues and to interact with that many people is a world apart from what we were used to. The banter went over the heads of a generally younger crowd. On some of those stages I felt like a headmaster at assembly. There were pockets of people into it though at each gig and we’d be straight back on the stand hawking our wares and talking to people who came down. We’d always look at each other and go “how daft is this!” that we were even on that tour. Hats off to gallows for even taking three completely different sounding bands on tour with ’em. Definitely one to remember that’s for sure. Some of the press got it, some didn’t that’s just the way it was. All press no matter how good or bad, it all counts.

You’ve known each other for years and have been together as a band for a while as well. Now you’ve reached the point of that difficult second album are there any tensions in the band?

The black cloud did loom over our heads but the way we work is very fast, even to this day i still don’t know how 30 songs came together to be whittled down to 20 that go on the 2nd lp/cd. We have only been together coming up for 3 years. It was still a big task and that pressure is all external, we never really felt it internally. I can remember writing some full lyrics to songs, some stuff on the bus to and from town, loads of scraps of paper with one liners on in my notebooks. One song had been done two years ago and that was the very last one to be finished lyric-wise. Again for me I can say that i wouldn’t put any other words down on paper just to fill it up. Each one has to say summit, have an idea and a meaning and a conclusion. We as a band wanted the best we can do, a snap-shop of were we are at, at this point in time. I’d say the only strain was getting all the elements of recording, art, dvd to collide at the same time. The best they can be. The few weeks staying up late due to endless lists in your mind was the only part that done my head in. Me and Mark having conversations daily on what done and what’s to be done. That sort of stuff shapes the record as well. Last minute tweaks until the deadlines reached.

Anybody want to make a solo record? Arty electro journey through self expression for Foxy? Nu-Rave album for Dave?

We have some other bands on the go, that’s were the valves are to release that pressure. Mark is in a band called the Down and Outs. I’m in a band called the Bendal Interlude. Both are worlds apart from SSS.

If you had to do one of the following things which one would you choose and why?

a) Caught in a mosh with Anthrax.

b) Caught in a bong with Municipal Waste.

c) Surfing Nicaragua with Sacred Reich.

We don’t do drugs, surfing is for fags so caught in a mosh it is! Why? – You can scoop your brains out with a rusty spoon, beat your chest like kong or bark at the moon and no-one cares what you look like.

And finally the obligatory end of interview question; what can we expect from SSS in the future?

Roll on the 3rd lp! We’d all like to travel in time to see what our 5th LP will be like actually. That’s the ultimate goal, that’s the test , to get it to that stage. It’d be great to look back and think we did all those. You can look at them as a time line. Like a diary and always be in print and if someone gets stoked on it. Bingo. To get the the checklist ticked off with new places to play, bands to take stage with, countries to visit is always up there. Take SSS as far as it can, and look back and laugh. Cheers for the interview, see everyone at an SSS gig soon!

New LP called “The Dividing Line” is out 20th October 2008 on Earache Records. Check for releases, gig info and limited records galore and visit the SSS MySpace for live dates kicking off soon.