Sister Shotgun “Having a female vocalist shouldn’t be a gimmick anymore” Interview

Hailing from the West Midlands,  Sister Shotgun have been making music together since 2011. Their latest album ‘Fragments’  could be their ticket to the ‘big time’. But what is the bigger picture for a talented band like Sister Shotgun? We caught up with guitarist Niall Wills to talk about women in rock, the current UK music scene, and writing unique songs.

Your new album ‘Fragments’ has just been released, how would you sum it up in a few sentences?
An emotionally driven soundtrack to your life of heartbreak and optimism that you can still crash your car to, you can headbang to it, you can cry to it and there are songs you can even dance to, no song has the same gear or the same vibe. Fragments is like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates you don’t know what you’re gonna get, it’s a variety of flavours you can hate one song but you’ll find another song to dig.

A lot of the tracks on the album do not follow conventional themes, was this a conscious decision or did it come naturally? 
The way we look at music is we don’t want to follow what’s already been done, we never had a “let write in this style” or “we should be like this band” because you become a diluted version of somebody else. so you could say to an extent it’s always been a conscious decision from the beginning to not follow conventions or cliches however it’s very natural for us to do this, we don’t have lengthy discussions about going against the grain we just experiment and what comes out comes out, the most conscious thing for us is the song titles we don’t want to name a song the same as an existing one, there’s only one Living On A Prayer or one Bohemian Rhapsody so that’s the most conscious effort for us.

Musically, your style is hard to pinpoint – how would you describe your music and which bands do you listen to? 
That’s the point of it we’re not exactly reinventing the wheel we are a metal band or a hard rock band of course but we’re taking our own path writing our own style of riffs and melodies, each member of this band has their own personal preferences in music and what they like about their favourite artists Chloe likes My Chemical Romance, [Niall] likes Mötley Crüe, Tim likes his Killswitch Engage, Dave -Korn and Benji -Machine Head… to name some of their all-time favourites and influences. We all have bands we mutually have a love for and some we just completely dislike, so when we write songs we take influence of what makes those songs and artist so great and infuse it into our own recipe, again if we write a song and it starts to sound like somebody else or not us well straight up ditch the song or rip it to shred because there’s no use being a copy of a popular band that can do what you can but better because they established that sound you need your own voice.

There has been a little experimentation on ‘Fragments’ do you feel bands should evolve and try new things over time?
Hell yes they should! I love it when a band does something off the wall sometimes it doesn’t work but then they learn and hit back harder or create something great from it, after a while you can only write so many songs before you just end up ripping off your own songs and recycling yourself it becomes stale, so freaking things up experimenting with new sounds or songwriting I’m a huge fan of that it’s creative and that’s the point of any price of music or art.

There are a lot of female musicians in rock bands these days, do you feel it’s still hard for women in the rock or metal genre?
It really is because once there’s a new metal “queen” a current popular female that’s what you’ll get compared no matter how different you are, then it becomes about image. There are high expectations for females in metal or rock people will deny it, but it doesn’t matter how talented ,the pretty ones get most popular which is a sad thought really. With metal being so “Macho” these days who’s the heaviest who’s the most hardcore, the most popular theme being “love the music don’t like female vocals”. You ask them why and they just say they don’t it ain’t “metal” female instrumentalist like guitarists, bassists, or drummers still have a hard time but it’s not as intense as a female vocalist people can’t get past it. It isn’t a gimmick any more females have been in rock bands for years look at Blondie, Fleetwood Mac, The Runaways, Distillers, Evanescence. Between all those bands that’s still 40 years plus right there – It ain’t new.

 In your opinion, do you feel the music industry is still safe in the UK? 
The music industry in the U.K. feels very controlled they’ll only release what is an instant cash cow or they’re ramming it down your throat. They don’t look at progressing a band or seeing potential because that’s not financially safe for the U.K. industry, that’s why if you look at the charts 9/10 of the artists are American, Britain still has the talent we have all the legends and the greatest of all time. It takes a lot more convincing and hype to get British fans off the sofa and to get them to a show, especially when you sound like nobody else. However, we’ve been very lucky and managed to do so but you see it all the time concerts getting cancelled for lack of sales and these are a good band and sometimes very popular ones.

 So let’s go back to the beginning, how did Sister Shotgun start as a band?
[Niall] had a house party in his tiny house, so many musicians turned up you could barely breathe. Naked bodies and bodily fluids a few visits from the police filled the air. Chloe is one of the guests at this party however at this point she had her own projects, Niall tried to create a band many times and could never complete a line up, this gathering of like-minded musicians helped as Niall and a former guitarist planned to create a band full of big riffs and stadium-sized choruses after many failed attempts of finding a solid enough vocalist, no shows on auditions and ones that leave for the tv show “The Voice”. Chloe joined after leaving her punk band as she was bored of singing a past vocalist’s lyrics, covers and lack of drive for new material. With Chloe came to the name “Sister Shotgun” they began their journey with those set rules of the stadium-sized song and Chloe came with the power to execute that vision. To bring us back up to speed a few line-up changes and an e.p and some concert experience later came along Tim, Dave and Benji which solidifies the strongest and driven version of Sister Shotgun.

So what’s next for the band? 
A bunch of Headline tours and some support tours with some very notable artists and more than likely pissing each other off and theirs some talks of some overseas and festivals and expect more singles with accompanying music videos.

Any advice you would give anyone wanting to start a band? 
Do your own thing be your own band be the next big thing to shake up the music industry write lyrics about things that haven’t been written about, be patient, passionate, stand your ground and take the odd punch now and again and it will pay off.

The current album ‘Fragments’ by Sister Shotgun is out now on CD in HMV and as a digital download on various channels.

Check the band supporting Gamma Bomb at the following dates:

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About Neale McGeever

Contributing Editor - I'm an entertainment writer ('journalist') from the North East. My favourite bands include Slipknot, Nirvana and Ninja Sex Party... I've freelanced for the likes of Kerrang!,Closer, Front, ZOO, and many others! I'm also big in to movies, video games, live comedy and!

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