Little Man Tate, as predicted on these very pages, have proved to be Sheffield's latest success story. Signing with V2 Records last month and leaving their day jobs behind, the quartet are quickly adjusting to life as a fully-fledged touring band.
We meet them before their biggest gig yet, headlining a sold-out Plug. Frontman Jon, guitarist Maz and Ben on bass talk record deals, selling out venues and rivalry between South Yorkshire bands.
How's life as a signed band treating you?
Jon: Good, very good.
Maz: We never thought we'd get a deal so to actually have it is incredible.
Ben: Not having to go down the job centre is great!
What made you go with V2?
Jon: They were the only ones interested! [laughter] When we met people, a lot of them were right corporate and V2 weren't like that. We were in London to record the single and we met one of their A&R guys and he was a nice lad.
Ben: We didn't talk about music much, we just got on with him and chatted about football.
Jon: Then, when we were on our way to London Barney [LMT's manager] got a 'phone call, and afterwards I was like 'Who was that, Richard Branson?' and he said 'Funny you should say that...'. The next time we spoke to them was the day before the London Barfly gig, we went down to their headquarters.
Maz: They've got this basement in the headquarters of V2 with a bar and table football.
Ben: We met all the team from the director to the junior scouts, and they were all right sound.
Jon: They came to the Barfly gig and we'd been talking about 'Wednesday season tickets, how they're really expensive, and one of the guys came up to us and said 'You're not going to have to worry about those tickets'.
Ben: The marketing bloke came up to me and said 'What do you want next?' and I said 'A deal'. He said 'I've got it here, put your signatures on it and that's it'.
Jon: We kept having meetings with them and it went to the lawyers but from the word go it felt right. They came to Sheffield and took us out for a drink. I'm surprised they've got funds left to release anything after that!! They were just right nice, asking us how we wanted it go, consulting us all the way.
Maz: Really, all we wanted was to record an album.
Ben: They were bothered about us, that's the main thing. They didn't just ship us away to record, they were coming up to listen to it.
Jon: I'll laugh my arse off when they drop us next year!
You do hear a lot of horror stories like that, don't you? One minute they love you and the next they won't return your calls.
|Ben: Still having trouble with the ladies?|
Ben: I've had that with girls!
Maz: We're not kidding ourselves, we know we've got to put the work in and write the songs.
Ben: But it's the busiest we've ever been. Even when we were working and gigging, never been as busy as this.
Maz: We've still got to get the album out and make sure we get a good response to that. It's not like we've done anything yet.
Ben: It's just the beginning, basically. I don't want to use a crap analogy but you know how they say when you pass your driving test that's when you start learning to drive? It's like that.
Jon: Absolutely beautiful! (laughter)
Ben: Thanks. I'm the poet in this band, not just the backbone, the bass player and the looks.
Jon: He's an artiste.
So, presumably now you've got the deal you don't have to work?
Jon: No, but I still find myself going to The Boardwalk [Jon worked in the box office] because I'm sad!
Ben: Dan's not selling fruit and veg.
Maz: I'm not at uni anymore.
Jon: We haven't got time to do it, you wouldn't be able to work and do what we're doing now.
And that's getting on with the album, I guess?
Ben: We've done it, it's finished.
Jon: They wanted us to do it really quick, after we signed the deal, to make sure we didn't lose any momentum.
Maz: We're looking at a mid to late summer release.
In the meantime, though, there's a single out in May.
Jon: That's right. 'What? What You Got' is out on the 22nd.
The video was recorded in Blackpool with some of the fans – tell us about that.
|Jon attracting some attention?|
Ben: It's another thing we never thought we'd be able to do, actually to go away and make a video with a proper director.
Jon: There's such a difference between that and the first video where we were just chasing a van down a road. Meeting the fans was the best bit, we invited loads of them down. Some even drove down from Glasgow!
Ben: A lot of them were steaming drunk by the time we met them.
Jon: The director told us to ask them not to get drunk but it was already too late.
Ben: We weren't expecting the amount that turned up. There were about one hundred of us all walking down the pier.
Maz: It was a long day, we started filming at eight in the morning and didn't finish until 10 at night. But we're over the moon with it, saw it last week and it's great.
Jon: It's different to what I thought it would be, the picture I had in my mind. But not in a bad way, we're all really happy with it.
When will we be able to see it?
Jon: It's on NME.com now, and it's down for 20 plays a week on MTV2 as of yesterday.
Ben: Knowing our luck, though, there'll be a breakdown and it'll never get shown.
Maz: There's also going to be a short film, about 15 minutes long... so that's something to look forward to.
How does tonight's gig compare to the others you've played? It's the biggest in Sheffield, isn't it?
Jon: Yeah, it's the biggest in Sheffield.
Ben: It's the biggest full stop!
Jon: I can't believe we're playing it.
Ben: I still don't think I'll believe it until we actually walk onstage.
Maz: It'll be a good night tonight.
Are many of your friends coming along to see you?
Maz: Family, mainly.
Ben: Yeah, there's a really nice green room so your family can come and relax.
Jon: There's a... hang on, isn't that what you just said? (laughter)
Ben: Yeah. We're losing the plot. I was doing this the other day, couldn't think of the simplest words.
Were you surprised by the speed this gig sold out?
Maz: We only found out about it after the last Boardwalk gig, and at the time we thought we were going to be begging people to turn up. Then six weeks later it was sold out.
Ben: We can't ****ing believe it, to be honest. [To photographer attempting to take a picture of his arm] Can you not get any shots of my tattoo? My dad doesn't know I've got it yet. Only kidding. He doesn't know, though, and when he finds out he'll kill me. Me mother saw it yesterday and went 'What's that on your arm? Is it one of those rub-off ones?' And I went 'No'. She went 'You are joking!'
Jon: Get out of my house!
So you live with your parents?
Ben: Yeah, we all do. Not really had time to think about it.
Jon: Apart from Dan, he doesn't.
Ben: Never had the money.
Jon: Still don't!
Do you think you might consider moving out now you've got a deal? Maybe getting a place together?
Jon: Yeah, maybe.
Ben: Not together though... ****ing hell! We'd kill each other.
Jon: I think we'll live near each other, but not together.
Ben: At the moment there's no point having a house. We're doing so many gigs that we'd never be there.
Maz: We're always on tour so it's nice to come home and get your washing done for you.
Jon: I'll only consider moving to the house next door. 'Mum, I've got a house. I'm moving next door!'
Any festival plans this year?
Maz: Yep, we're doing one in Holland with Editors.
Jon: The ultimate one we're doing, though, is Middlesborough Live with Ocean Colour Scene. I'm right pleased to be playing with them.
Maz: Not sure about Reading and Leeds yet.
Ben: With Glastonbury not on this year, every band wants to play the others. But we've been shortlisted for it.
Jon: We never even thought we'd play festivals so it's not the end of the world if we don't play it.
Ben: We've got a couple of dates in Europe, as well.
Could you have imagined all of this happening after the York gig when all your equipment was stolen?
Maz: I thought about packing it in.
Jon: Did you?!
Maz: I thought we all were.
Jon: That's the first time you've told us!
Ben: Aye aye, it's all coming out now!! (laughter)
Jon: Jesus, if that's the way you feel get out now! Then we'll only have to split the money three ways.
Maz: That was a real low point.
Ben: If anything it made us more determined.
Jon: All the other local bands were brilliant, though, lending us kit and helping out.
What's the reaction been like from other Sheffield bands since you've been signed?
Ben: We haven't really had a chance to speak to many of them. Those we have spoken to have said 'Well done, we're pleased for you'.
Jon: I can't see why they wouldn't be. I don't see the point in bands being jealous, they should spend their time concentrating on what they're doing instead. Bands bitching and moaning about each other is pointless. Why waste your time? It's not football.
Ben: It's not like 'I support this band so I can't go and watch that band'.
Jon: There's a lot of good bands in Sheffield. I've said it before but it's not just this music scene, there's metal bands and electro bands, loads of good stuff to see. From working at The Boardwalk I've seen hundreds of them that go unnoticed, and I feel sorry for them. There's bands out there who know that they're better than us thinking '****, why hasn't it happened for us?'