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The Violet May: Stepping Out Of The Shadows

Tuesday, 13 August 2013 Written by Huw Baines

Some shadows are longer than others. The one cast by Arctic Monkeys over the Sheffield music scene is somewhat all-consuming, with Alex Turner and his indie heroes still the talk of the town seven years on from their debut.

One band searching for their own spot in the limelight is the Violet May, who have more reason than most to want to escape their hometown's most famous sons. Until recently, the band's singer was Chris McClure, whose face adorns the cover of Arctic Monkeys' debut, 'Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not'.

As calling cards go, that's a pretty good one. But, for the Violet May, the time has come for something new. With Joe Hudson now behind the microphone and keyboard player Matt Stevenson taking their number to six, they'll release their new EP, 'Strange Lives' on August 19. According to bassist Dan Booth, it's packing balls.

“Everything at the minute just revolves around Arctic Monkeys,” he said. “We wanted to get away from that whole scene and do our own thing, not be associated with that as much as possible. Nothing against it at all, it's just not something we wanted to achieve.

“Basically, what we wanted to achieve was a bit of a ballsy record. Something a bit different to what we have to sit and listen to all the time in Sheffield. We thought we'd get out of town for a bit. We went down to a place near Oxford and holed up on a farm where they had a converted barn that they'd turned into a studio. We all stayed there for a week. Solid music, all the time.”

The line-up shift also brought a new desire to experiment. Whether it was messing around with pedals and amps or strapping on a lap harp, the band wanted to find a new edge. The finished product is laced with biting guitars that recall early Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Queens Of The Stone Age.

“We've been playing different instruments, different amps, different sounds, different pedals,” Booth said. “We've been experimenting loads with our sound recently. We were just picking up any instrument we could find, any amp and playing around. We've got a completely different sound than we used to have. When we wrote the songs, we wanted them to be heavier and wanted to stray from the indie edge, put a bit more balls on it.”

Plans are afoot for a jaunt across the UK in late September to support 'Strange Lives' and while the band have always felt at home in a live setting, in recent months Booth believes that they've managed to find another gear.

“There's a bit of a different dynamic, it's a lot more raucous now," he said. "We're all very comfortable with our roles in the band. Chris took a bit of the focus before, but now we've all got focus on us. Not taking anything away from Chris, he were brilliant, but now it's a full-on show. Everyone is doing their different parts and we've got a keyboard player in as well so there's a lot of different sounds there too.”

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