The Crookes are possibly one of the most underrated bands around at the moment. Having just released their fourth album ‘Lucky Ones’, the Sheffield band are currently undergoing a headline tour across the UK. I caught up with lead singer George Waite before their gig at Doncaster Diamond Live Lounge.
So the new album Lucky Ones is bookended by the songs Brand New Start and BNS part II and obviously you have a new drummer in Adam as well. So how much does this feel like a new start for the band?
A big one to be honest. This time last year there was a possibility that there wasn’t going to be a band any more. We had lost a founding member and when he left (original drummer Russell) we didn’t have any new songs and there was a real point when if we were ever going to say knock it on the head it would have been then. Then it was a few days after Russell left we asked each other ‘well can we live without the band?’ and the answer we came to was ‘no we can’t’, we decided we were going to plough on, write this new record with this new drummer so it needed to feel like a new band. We didn’t wanna do the same thing but with a different member. We set out to make a record that sounded like a début and that is where the brand new start thing comes in. We hope it sounds like that, bands always say ‘it (our new record) sounds so different’ but I hope it does.
In terms of musical influences then, there are a lot of bands from Sheffield who have followed the Arctic Monkeys template. I’ve read before that you are more into stuff like Girls & Christopher Owens and Bruce Springsteen. With that in mind it seems to me that your music is closer to stuff like Pulp or Richard Hawley. How influential has Sheffield been on your music as whole?
It has been very influential, the people you have mentioned. Richard Hawley and Pulp, even before I moved to Sheffield, were very influential. I won’t pretend that Arctic Monkeys weren’t a big influence as well, when I first moved to Sheffield, it was the epicentre of British music with Arctic Monkeys and Milburn, I still think they are great! A lot of people in Sheffield seem to pretend they don’t like those bands but I wouldn’t do that.
In the early days of the band which was 2007, every band in the city sounded like an identikit Arctic Monkeys, we did make a specific step away from that because it got on our nerves that every band just sounded like first album Arctic Monkeys.
You played Doncaster Live back in 2012, what memories do you have of that show?
Yeah! I have great memories of that show, we had a lot of fun that night, it’s so strange that we have played nearly 700 gigs in our life as a band an only two of them have been in Doncaster so that was one of two gigs we have played but it was great! It was Saturday night, the crowd were up for it, it was really good fun. My main memory of it was watching Frankie & The Heartstrings right afterwards and you know when a fight breaks out and then it’s over so quickly and then someone’s just on the floor. So my overriding memory really is watching Frankie & The Heartstrings and seeing a guy just get laid out!
So four albums in now, but you always like to go back to some of your old faithful’s like Backstreet Lovers and We Are Magicians, how important is it for you to remain true to your roots?
It is important. We still go to gigs all the time and when we write, play live or do anything we like to keep in mind that there is nothing worse than going to see a band and they only play new stuff and forget about the songs that got people into them in the first place. So for that reason we always play the old songs and we enjoy them because they are songs that we have written and the crowd reaction makes it worthwhile. We enjoy it because the crowd enjoys it, it’s a reciprocal thing.
I saw you at Tramlines last year and I believe that was one of the first times you played The World Is Waiting live? You seemed like a band with a new lease of life performing that song, how refreshing is it to play new songs live?
It’s really fun, that song was always meant to be a dumb, loud, fun song. We weren’t trying to be clever. The third record we made was quite serious and tense and with that one (The World Is Waiting), it was originally meant to be the first single. We wanted to come out with this whole, were not taking this too seriously and we wanted a fun song that people could dance to. We had this whole image of playing it for the first time at Tramlines and it being this really amazing sunny day and then it turned out to be the most miserable day ever!
Wanderlust is an overriding theme in the Crookes lyrics, music and interviews. George, you said recently that Holland and Germany are your favourite places to play. Is there anywhere you haven’t played that you would really want to go and play?
Yeah, South America, we would love to tour Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, I dunno why really, it just looks like a really exciting place to go. We are lucky that we have been able to play most of the places we always wanted to play. We always wanted to play America…
SXSW must have been pretty special?
Yeah it is, it’s just the craziest week you could possibly imagine. It’s just non-stop, I have just been speaking to Penny our manager and we have something like 9 shows in 4 days lined up this year with more to come! It’s just the most chaotic but fun week you could imagine.
You have collaborated with Misty Miller for Ex Lovers (the b-side to I Wanna Waste My Time On You), if you could work with any other artist who would you like to work with?
Well… I have actually thought about this before so I do have a kind of prepared answer. I would have to say it would be Jenny Lewis, I grew up with Rilo Kiley and all the stuff off Saddle Creek Records..
So Bright Eyes as well then?
Yeah! I mean… I would say Conor Oberst (of Bright Eyes) but I would be far too intimidated! I think I kind of love him a little bit too much so I would be a nervous wreck. Jenny Lewis though, I love everything she has ever done, I love her voice and I think it would be a whole lot of fun to write and record with her – that really is dreamland!
An abridged version of this article originally appeared in Doncopolitan magazine: