British born, Hong Kong-based band The Sleeves are preparing for their UK tour, which takes in a number of dates in the North East, so Damian Robinson caught up with frontman Keith Goodman to find out what gig-goers can expect.
You’ve been described as ‘part punk, part classic rock, part throwback 80s indie and proper rock ‘n’ roll’, which is quite an endorsement. How would you describe your sound?
Well that’s already pretty detailed. It also reflects our collective influences, so I’m happy with that description. Mix up The Kinks, the Sex Pistols, PIL, Stone Roses, Kasabian and The Faces and you’ll be close.
The band has an interesting story as you’re all British but based out of Hong Kong. How has living in Hong Kong influenced your sound and creative output?
Yeah, the band was formed in Hong Kong (in 2007) and has always been based in the city. But we’re all English born and bred and our music and lyrics mostly reflect those formative years.
Hong Kong’s relatively expensive cost of living makes it a transient city so there have been various line-up changes over the years. It also means that we all need full-time jobs to pay the bills. On the plus side, new band members have kept our songwriting dynamic and fresh and the gaps between albums allow plenty of time for quality control.
And to make it more international, the new album ‘Deliverance’ was recorded in Cambodia. What prompted you to record in Cambodia?
Mainly Hong Kong rents. Cambodian studio time is inexpensive by comparison, but recording in Cambodia also meant that we were able to step away from our daily lives for a week and focus 100% on the album, which is a far more effective way to record … give or take the occasional bottle of whiskey.
How would you describe ‘Deliverance’? And how’s the reaction been so far?
By comparison to our debut album ‘Arcade Rock’ (2011), which was an anthology of songwriting by early band members, ‘Deliverance’ is a more cohesive body of work as it was all written and recorded by the current line-up. We generally aim for rocking guitars and a shoe-shuffling rhythm section, but there’s some light and dark stuff in there too, to mix it up.
You’ll be returning back to UK shores playing dates in Darlington, Northumberland and Middlesbrough. Are you excited to be coming home and playing the new material? And, as an international band, how does a North East of England crowd differ from crowds elsewhere in the world?
Well, we’re always excited to go out on the road but we’re really looking forward to this tour, which begins and ends in the North East, where we’ve never played before. Our first night (of 8) will be at Coquetfest on the Northumberland coast (Friday 18th August) and then we finish the trip in Middlesbrough (Whirling Dervish at TSOne on Thursday 24th August) and The Quakerhouse in Darlington (Friday 25th August). My mum’s side of the family live in Darlington, so the last night will be something of a Prodigal Son’s return…for her if no-one else.
Finally, what is inspiring you at the moment?
That varies on a daily basis. Right now it’s the chance to spend some quality time with my kids before the tour. Last week it was the energy and atmosphere around a week-long live music festival that I run in Hong Kong. And musically it’s ‘Rock & Roll Queen’ by The Subways…how the hell did I miss that the first time around?
To find out more about The Sleeves, including their full list of UK tour dates, please head to thesleeves.hk.