Shed Seven amassed 13 top 40 hits between 1994 and 1999. Putting that into context, Oasis managed 12 during that same period of Brit Pop chart domination.
Understated, often underrated, the York five-piece never got involved in media-fueled chart battles or the headline-grabbing antics of their counterparts (they never featured on the cover of NME let alone the front page of the The Sun), allowing their conveyor belt of hits, including “Disco Down”, “Going For Gold” and “Chasing Rainbows” to do their talking.
“We formed in 1990 in York where there was no indie scene at all,” said lead singer Rick Witter. “In 1990/91 we thought we were the only ones around doing that thing. But Cast were probably somewhere thinking the same thing, Oasis were probably somewhere thinking the same thing and then suddenly it exploded.
“We were just always on the lookout for us. We always came back to York. We were never the type to go out scrapping or getting in the papers. Brit Pop was the last music scene I think. Online has something to do with it. We’ve got to move with the times though. I like it.”
Witter was, by his own admission, struggling to break away from Twitter when I called him. He’s been using it to promote Shed Seven’s latest tour dates – a greatest hits tour which is becoming more synonymous with Christmas than Santa.
“I’ve been using it quite a bit (twitter). I’ve been using it mainly as a great promotional tool. If people want to ask me something then they can. It’s good for fans because it adds a personal touch and it’s something that’s immediate.”
The band kick off their tour at Newcastle’s O2 Academy on Friday, December 6th and Witter is looking forward to getting out in front of their army of fans. “We’ve been a fortunate band. We’ve always had a strong fan base. We may not have millions of followers but the ones we have are guaranteed for life. They know what they are getting with us.
“We have got to the point where we are wondering how long we can carry on doing this (this will be the band’s fourth Greatest Hits tour in eight). I’ve been quite surprised though. Although people are asking us when there will be new material, they can’t wait to come along and sing their hearts out to the hits.”
The last album was 2001’s “Truth Be Told”. So when will there be some new material? “Shed Seven have never been that great at recording records. There’s always the opportunity that we’ll do something. Never say never but it is very difficult. It’s difficult enough trying to organise a meeting let alone getting everybody in a room to record.
“It’s all I have ever done though. I’m always writing down lyric and thinking up melodies. The soundchecks are dominated by new riffs. Around October we’ll get together and get back on the bike.”
Seeing them on stage again following their farewell tour in 2003 didn’t exactly seem likely but the singer admits he’s happy the way things have panned out. “I do regret announcing the split the way we did. I wish we had just left it alone for a few years and not said anything. We were having a run of bad luck and problems with record labels so in that respect it was the right time. In 2007 we booked four or five gigs during a week. We just wanted to play music together. It went through the roof though and we couldn’t believe it. There was no record label, we decided everything. There was no pressure and it was fun again.”
Having fun is something Witter is doing more than ever now, epitomised by the enthusiasm with which he has embraced his new a role as a radio presenter, on Minster FM 104.7, Sundays from 7 until 9pm.
“It’s a station local to York but you can listen to it online from anywhere. It’s been building up ahead of steam. Guests who have been on include Bonehead, John Power, Jake Bugg, Alan Carr and Keith Lemon. With it being on Sundays I always ask what they have been up to that day. Mike Joyce from The Smiths said he had been preparing salads for the week. It’s something different.
Shed Seven play Manchester Academy on Saturday, December 7th.