Where have all the strongly opinionated musicians gone I hear you ask… well look no further because this punk rock band are loud and certainly have something to say. Meet Sisteray, a four piece band from London, formed in 2014.
Their energetic personalities and stage presence, alongside their head banging melodies and politically motivated lyrics make them almost unavoidable. We had the pleasure of having a chat with the intriguing quartet before their slot at a local charity event in Swindon to discuss all things politics and the current state of the music industry.
We are like a supersonic boom from out of space.
Their Musical Background:
Marco (drummer) is the only one that has a musical background, playing in the Conservatory Music in Italy for 18 years. But basically we had no musical background really; we just chanced it when we started the band. Dan could barely play guitar and the first time Mick played bass was the same night as our first ever gig.
How Did They Get Into Music:
(Dan) I used to see people like Liam Gallagher and Mick Jagger on the TV and want to be just like them, and then I realised that I couldn’t really sing so I thought I’ll have to do something else, so learnt how to play the guitar.
Current EP/Album Plans:
(Niall) We have just released a 15-minute EP, so the plan is we are rehearsing new songs in order to release another EP with maybe a stop-gap single in the middle. We’ve got a lot of unrecorded stuff that we’ve never released, so we could possible release something like that next.
(Dan) The 15 minutes of Sisteray that we’ve just released is exactly 15 minutes long, and the concept is based on the Andy Warhol quote “everyone will be famous for 15 minutes”, and it is basically our 15 minutes of fame and a statement to say that everyone is famous for just 15 minutes at the moment. I guess the plan is to record some sort of album at the end of this.
Highlight Of Their Career So Far:
(Dan) Carl Barat tweaked my nipples!
(Niall) I’d say playing the festivals is a highlight. Playing Isle of White and Leeds festival and hopefully Reading festival this year.
Struggles Of Being In A Band:
(Whole band at the same time) MONEY! Lack of money!
(Dan) I mean we tour all over the place, we’ve just come off of our first UK tour, day after day, and it is just the struggle of finding money to get from venue to venue. It is like being a student, except you don’t live in halls, you live in a van!
I mean it’s hard enough to even get a van, especially these days as revenue streams are getting tighter and it’s one of the reasons we put on our own nights – venues are charging promoters more, promoters are paying bands less, ticket prices are going up… I mean we must be one of the only bands to travel to Isle of White festival via a mega bus!
It’s easier to be in a band, but it is really not easy to actually make any money from it, there is so much potential there that promoters, especially in London, they just rip you off. We have actually gone back to basic and released our record on vinyl, selling CD’s at gigs and T-shirts which has kind of helped to fund the band.
We set up a pledge campaign for the vinyl and hit our target straight away. This is actually funded a lot of what we do, where as a lot of bands just put stuff up digitally, but we’ve had 350 thousand Spotify plays that we haven’t seen a penny from.
Positives Of Being In A Band:
(Niall) I like recording the most actually.
(Mick) Gigging! If you go to a gig and there are people in front of you listening to you, it’s just an amazing experience.
(Dan) Groupies and free drinks! No in all honesty, my favourite bit is the part on stage, or just before it starts, the build up and anticipation.
(Niall) Kendrick Lamar at the moment.
(Dan) I’ve actually been listening to a lot of American grunge from the late 80’s, like The Cockney Rejects and bands like that.
If You Could Collaborate With Anyone, Who?
(Niall) Aside from Kendrick Lamar, there’s Kate Tempest who has some amazing lyrics. I never actually realised how good some of her lyrics are and topically it seems like she talks about a lot of the same things that we talk about, so maybe something with her would be good. We have a song called ‘Gentrification’, and she kind of always talks about London being gentrified, so if we could get her on board that would be good!
(Dan) It would be good to work with some of the grime artists as well. A lot of out tracks have space and it will be good to fit something like that on there. Most of the topics we talk about are relatable to the topics that grime artists talk about, again with gentrification and that.
They are also some of the hardest working people out there when it comes to the music industry. A lot of bands are lazy – but you look at grime artists and some are playing like 4/5 gigs a night and constantly doing it. But with bands, promoters are iffy, like I don’t want you playing in London two weeks before them bla bla, where as grime artists are out night after night performing.
What Inspires Their Lyrics:
(Niall) We may be political, but our lyrics are coming from a more social perspective that we see. For example, our track ‘Gentrification’ is written because we actually did experience that ourselves with rehearsal rooms shutting down or we are living in and around areas that were changing, like posh new pubs closing down old intuitions like dry cleaners and stuff.
Our song ‘Queens English’ was written about feeling disenfranchised, because it doesn’t really feel like a lot of peoples votes are really counted, in London especially where we voted in, so we are writing from that point of view, aiming it at people who are in charge I guess.
(Dan) I think a lot of people see our songs as political correctness but I think we see it as documentations of what we are seeing at the time. ‘Nostalgia Trip’ came about the same time that The Stone Roses announced a big Wembley show, and people were forking out one hundred odd quid to see a band that should be long gone when really it should be new acts coming through and people should be supporting grassroots music.
‘Famous For Nothing’ is written about the fact that all you hear about is TOWIE and what not! Bands just seem to copy bands – there are one million Oasis copycats out there and it’s just like, there is nothing new, just recycling the same old bands over and over again.
(Niall) That’s the difficult thing these days is bands aren’t just competing with peers from now we are competing with artists from the last 50 years. Labels are just taking on bands that already have fan bases as it is guaranteed money so then bands like us struggle to get signed and get pushed to the curb.
What Are You Doing Differently:
(Dan) Releasing tracks on vinyl and taking back a lot of the power from promoters by putting on our own gig nights, we are on number ten now! If we don’t play personally we DJ or get other bands to play, try to create a community where everyone gets paid.
(Niall) A lot of promoters that put on events tend to focus on the headline act and just get other people on for 20 minutes before, where as when we put on events, we put on the best people in no order for the same amount of time so people can spend like seven pound to see three really good acts, rather than one shit act before the headliners.
(Dan) Our 15-minute thing we are working on is something we really believe in and we have started doing pop up gigs for 15 minutes left right and center. We turn up with our timer, play for 15 minutes then leave and people have actually really caught on to it.
Photo Credit: Alberto Pezzali
Words by Mia Woloszczynska