Getting to know th’sheridans in 7 questions

Getting to know th’sheridans in 7 questions

After a decade on the DIY scene London band th’sheridans has signed to Reckless Yes, remastered the pick from across their catalogue and released the career-spanning compilation as Pieces Of General. We get to know the band with 7 key questions.

th'sheridans - Julia Oetli and Adam Sherif standing in front of a bright pink cloth backdrop

It seems to strange to run a getting to know introductory piece about a band that has been around for 10 years and is so embedded in the DIY scene. But with ephemerality so often a feature of that scene – the sense of continuity coming from the frequency with which bands bubble up and just as quickly dissolving back into it – the longevity of th’sheridans (Julia Oertli and Adam Karenina Sherif) is really quite remarkable, and provides a deep back catalogue for newcomers and established fans to dive into and explore.

Fortunately for those who haven’t yet come across the band they’ve remastered a selection of tracks from across that deep catalogue following their signing with independent label Reckless Yes, and released it as compilation Pieces Of General (out now). Working with Livio Beroggi on mastering, and with fresh artwork from Nestan Mghebrishvili the 14 track compilation showcases three distinct sounds from the band – what they refer to as big sheridans, pop sheridans, and soft sheridans.

Live you might never know which version of their sound you’re going to get – much depends on their set-up for each gig – but here you can tour them all. You get handclap punctuated janglepop on Awesome Summers & Kate, narrative anti-folk on recent reissued single A Quiet Year, and punk n fuzz guitar on the previously unreleased Ashley Is A Geek. Often with the personal-political slant which comes from their lived experience, they stretch beyond the standard instrumentation of a duo, and bring in a quick wit for songs which are just as easy to get up and dance to as they are to feel deeply and draw comfort and solidarity from.

For tracks which sit across the spectrum of their broadly indiepop sound, and come from a long timeline, there is incredible cohesiveness in the choices made here and their sequencing. There’s no sign of the usual quickfire jostle you can get throwing tracks together, but rather a lovely cadence of surprises to stillness on an album which could be drawn from their best live setlists.

Vital in the DIY scene to hear th’sheridans is to love them, and Pieces Of General catalogues the a band spoilt for choice on picking their best. Whether you’re already well into them or just hearing them for the first time our 7 questions will help you get to know them.

Getting to know th’sheridans in 7 questions

What is your first memory of listening to or being affected by music?

J (Julia Oertli): I’d say my earliest memories are more of making music than listening to it – like playing terrible violin with my sister and singing songs with my parents at all times of the day and for every possible occasion.

AS (Adam Karenina Sherif): Honestly, and this is not a qualitative answer, for me it was probably listening to the two-disc HIStory set by Michael Jackson on CD on my folks’ stereo. One disc of hits, one disc of disjointed experimental mid-’90s tracks. It’s the earliest thing I can remember, and probably when I really fell in love with music and had my first big ‘phase’.

What has music meant to you during the pandemic and lockdowns, and how easily has creating come to you through this time?

AS: The pandemic’s necessarily meant no rehearsing and no shows for us. And that’s still where we’re at. Mercifully, putting together Pieces Of General has been something we’ve been able to do over this time, and we’ve been blessed to be able to collaborate with Reckless Yes (label), Livio Beroggi (mastering) and Nestan Mghebrishvili (artwork) who have all done such wonderful work on the album. More personally for me, I’ve spent a lotta time playing guitar through headphones, experimenting with sounds and recorded textures. I’m hoping I’ve learnt some things and have a little more command over my guitar tone. I’ve also audited all our gear (#KonMari) and re-arranged both mine and Julia’s pedalboards, just to have some band activity to do.

J: It’s been difficult, and for me actually all the complex feelings were so loud for a long time I needed a lot of silence to process. So I ended up not listening to much music in the beginning. Not being able to rehearse and play together also meant a really important way of connecting to music had been suspended. However, I found myself being moved much more deeply by individual songs. Like when ‘Jerusalema’ by Master KG and the dance challenge went around the internet, I was putting it on repeat for days on end (and learning the steps, of course). I also picked up the ukulele a bit more so I could play chords and sing along rather than just doing a melody on the viola (have yet to transpose any th’sheridans songs onto the uke, though).

Which artist or album has most influenced you and your work as an artist?

It’s definitely impossible to distil this down to a single artist or album for us, but we can mark out the first three Ramones albums (learning how to write songs), the second Bratmobile album (learning how to express your values in catchy songs), Papa T (Julia’s dad, taught her how to improvise and make harmonies). There’s tons of other influences we could pick out, but as much as anything, we continue to be affected by what we’re exploring now, and who we share space with.

Do you have a favourite format, time, or place to listen to music?

J: On trains, at home when I have to do boring things like dusting, but most ideally in a live setting, which however is not a feature of pandemic life for me.

AS: The answer used to be on my commute back when, but at the moment it’s mostly bluetooth speakers at my desk or in my room while practising Yoga (With Adriene). Of the analogue formats, I love cassette, CD and vinyl all equally. I even got into MiniDisc for a hot, dodgy minute.

If you could form a supergroup from your favourite musicians, who would be in it with you, and what sort of music would you make?

Assuming we still cover guitar, viola and synths…

Core band:
Drums: Janet Weiss
Bass: Gail Ann Dorsey
Piano: Alicia Keys

Live touring personnel:
Harmonium: Shilpa Ray
Backing Vocals: Kelly Hogan, Allison Wolfe
Organ: Benmont Tench

We probably end up sounding like a wonky version of The E Street Band or The Heartbreakers, but with songs about our favourite art exhibitions and how they unfortunately tend to be held in very oppressive spaces.

If you had a time machine which gig or musical event would you travel to witness?

AS: Time travel is definitely iffy while Black, but I think I would have loved to have had the chance to see The Ramones, either in the early days at CBGB or in the ’90s period when CJ was playing bass, and probably in Argentina (The Ramones are huge in South America).

J: I’d go back to when we toured Switzerland in 2012 to watch our friends Manolo Panic again. They were incredible live. Lead singer Ramon is no longer with us, though the times we shared that summer will stay forever in our memory.

If someone has never heard you before, which one song of yours would you direct them toward as a perfect introduction?

We used to say the live show was the best way to really grasp our distinct brand of shenanigans, but the compilation now hopefully makes for an optimal entry point. Of the different modes we play in (big sheridans, pop sheridans, soft sheridans), it’s probably the latter, the acoustic stuff, that’s the most direct and the most intimate. So we’ll say Architecture because it’s in that mode *and* it has a viola solo.

Editor’s note: You could start with our reviews of the remastered singles I Don’t Wanna Be Dismembered and A Quiet Year


Compilation Pieces Of General by th’sheridans is out now on limited edition CD and digital via Reckless Yes – you can order on Bandcamp.

Find th’sheridans: Twitter | Instagram | Spotify | Bandcamp

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Disclosure: Sarah Lay is editor of Popoptica and co-founder of Reckless Yes, so has some involvement in the release of this record – but she really does only write about or work on music she loves.

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Sarah Lay

Sarah Lay is editor of Popoptica.
A long-standing music journalist she's also co-founder of independent record label Reckless Yes, an author of novels, and when not messing around with words and music, a digital strategist.
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