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Lyca Sleep

words: Jacky Hall

pics: Chris Saunders

March 2004


Jacky Hall meets the band who are developing a reputation as big as their sound.

Thursday 5th February - The Casbah: Lyca Sleep emerge onstage, their faces obscured by hair and shadows. Not that they’re ugly: they want the focus to be their music and not their personality or looks. Watch them play and you can see the responsiveness between them. Scott doesn’t drum a rhythm mindlessly, but accommodates changes in the dynamics and tempo. If they continue to be pragmatic about gigs and make deliciously distinctive music, Lyca Sleep will continue to ascend.

Somewhere close to Sheffield city centre is where the magic happens. Their rehearsal room is a pit of empty beer bottles, musical equipment and fag ash – very rock and roll. The focus is the music magazine cuttings (Kurt Cobain, Richard Ashcroft, Guy McKnight, Seal… (an in-joke, apparently) all over the walls. “We’re trying to make it look like a lasses’ bedroom,” says bassist Simon.

After negotiating through a Sandman photoshoot (they want their faces obscured, anxious they’re “a bit ugly”) it’s time to talk gigs, influences and music as they prepare for a tour which will take them all over England.

Simon and guitarist Rob are Lyca Sleep’s self-appointed spokesmen, but Scott adds his own outspoken opinions. Singer Dan is the longhaired enigma of the group. Lounging in the chill out area of their studio and sipping Carlsberg, they fidget through the new experience of being interviewed. They met through their mutual interests in music, especially bands like Elbow, Ride and Nirvana. After a month and with three or four songs, they took to the stage on a Saturday night in Wakefield for their first gig. Two years on and gigging is still a vital part of the band.

Lyca Sleep are not a song-based guitar band – any band who pick their name from William Blake’s poetry won’t be playing indie disco tunes. Dan doesn’t want to be considered the frontman. Instead, they all have an equal role through which they concentrate on exploring sound.

All four consider it important to develop and maintain a fanbase. “If there’s a place we haven’t played, we’ll play it because there’s a chance somebody might be into it,” Rob says. Trying to make every gig special and therefore everybody who goes feel special seems to be the right attitude. “You get bands turning up to venues and moaning that the stage ain’t big enough,” Scott criticises. “If your gear fits on and you can play, fuck me, it’s big enough.”

They played at Ecclesall Road’s Classic Rock Bar on the day the license was taken away. Beer was given away to avoid cancelling the gig. “It’s a great venue… the sort of place we’d want to go back to if we ever get really big,” Rob says.

There’s a variety of venues and cities on the tour, which the band organised purely through contacts. They’re pleased to finally play Newcastle – a city they’ve previously found cliquey and difficult to secure a gig in. Apparently, expansive epics and atmospheric music is popular up in Tyneside, so Lyca Sleep should be welcomed back in the future. “We’ll be playing a tiny room above a pub called the Bridge Hotel,” Rob enthuses. “Sounds like the Grapes without the PA system.”

Scott reckons he is most looking forward to “new improvements in motorway service stations to ease my journey.”

Two London dates are included on the tour, including The Dublin Castle with support from Sheffield’s Ormondroyd. Whereas some bands may be overwhelmed by the capital and potential crowds, Lyca Sleep remain pragmatic. Each gig is equally significant. They will return to Alan McGee’s Death Disco, where last year they met their manager. They remember it as a place for scenesters, maybe comparable to Fuzz Club as “there weren’t many people there for the actual bands” (one of Dan’s rare interjections).

Sandman is all about the diversity of music in Sheffield, but how do Lyca Sleep feel about the supposed music scene in this city of steel?

“I don’t like bands trying to outdo each other because they’re too cool for fucking school,” is Scott’s militant response. “That’s not a scene. That’s just being a wanker.”

Although trying to create a definition can be damaging, Rob concedes that there are also positive aspects if “people want to get together and embrace bands.” Lyca Sleep have themselves felt the sting of geographical elitism and try to avoid involvement. “It’s amazing, on the L2SB forums,” Simon tells me. “Someone wrote that we shouldn’t be featured on a website for Sheffield bands because we’re not from Sheffield. If that makes that guy fucking happy…”

Although they may be looking forward to a post-tour sit down and cup of tea, the band will be heading straight to the studio to record the flipside to their upcoming seven-inch.

The band hope to learn from their three-day studio session. As Dan points out, “we’ve only had limited experience of recording.”

“When you play live it comes and goes,” Rob says. “When you record, it’s forever.”

The A-side, Show Me A Ride, was recorded in the rehearsal studio. It’s a five-minute prog epic of spacious guitars and sparse vocals. Putting out some vinyl is a massive achievement, but Rob warns listeners “It isn’t the greatest recording you’ll ever hear, but it’s got feel and dynamics.”

But, as Rob prophesises: “Everything’s going to move up.”


Lyca Sleep
Lyca Sleep
Lyca Sleep
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