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Stick in a Pot Quietly Impress

Don’t tell me, they’re called The Bearded Bandits?
No.

Hairy Harry and the Facial Hairs?
No - this is Stick in a Pot, a harmonic folk band made up of five members -Piers Blewett (vocals, guitars) Ollie Barron (guitar, vocals), Adam Whittles (bass, vocals), Alex Hay (keyboards, vocals) and Richard Joy (guitar, vocals).

Five singers – who do they think they are, Il Divo?
The songs are sung by Piers, who writes the material too, but each of the band members provides harmonies, often all at the same time - sort of like the Beach Boys used too, but the songs are more folky rather than California. Richard joked: “The gig organisers love us when they ask how many microphones we need and we say five.”

When you say folky, do you mean like Morris Dancing, or like Bob Dylan?
Actually, the music steams from Piers’ love of Sparklehorse, an American indie band led built around singer Mark Linkous, who took his own life in 2010. The music of Stick in a Pot is along the same lines of the contemporary folk of recent years by successful bands such as Fleet Foxes. Mumford & Sons are the most successful of the current British acts, even if Stick in a Pot are not fans.

Sparkle who?
You’re not the only one not to have heard of them. Bassist Adam told us: “I hadn’t heard Sparklehorse until a few months ago, when I thought I had better find out about this band we’re supposed to sound like! I like it though -it’s folky but there's a bit of psychedelia in there too.

Did they not try to take their chance whilst folk music was enjoying its mini revival then?
Piers said that when Fleet Foxes and similar bands came along, rather than thinking ‘this could be our time’ he felt he had “missed the boat”. The band has though seen more people coming around to their type of songs. Alex said: “I know of one band that has always been a rock and grunge band that have kept their name but now have banjos.

So is this a new band?
In its current form, yes, as the band only added Adam and Alex to its number in recent months. Piers and Richard started in about 2005, playing a few open mic nights. Their first gig was at The Candy Bar on St James Street in Brighton, supporting Oom, a trip hop band who actually originated in Horsham. Alex was a guitarist with Oom, one-time winners of Horsham’s Battle of the Bands.

What about Ollie Barron?
Ollie came in after Tom Patterson, the band’s previous guitarist, left. Ollie said: “I was in a rival band called Super Ego (they later became Shoot More Holes) but that fell apart. I heard Piers was putting Stick in a Pot together and joined.”

Stick in a Pot; strange name really.
The band did discuss changing its name but couldn’t agree. Adam said: “I searched for us on Spotify and it came up with the message ‘Did you mean Sick in a Pot?’”

What has the band done so far then?
Piers said: “I released an EP called When the Monsters Arrive which I recorded with some friends in Melbourne and released when I got home from travelling. Then in April this year we released the album, A Number More Than Nothing At All. I recorded it with a friend, Ed Chivers, at my parent’s house in Horsham. Ollie and Richard play on the record, but it’s more of a bedroom project.”

Is it any good?
At AAH, we think it is.  When Piers gave it to AAH at a gig at the Tanners Arms in Horsham, he warned that it was a ’grower’ and would take a few listens. He was right – we have enjoyed it after repeated listening, and as we mentioned in last month’s ‘Top 10’ we loved Plinky the Alien off the band’s EP. Decider, Naval Lint (view the video at http://vimeo.com/18557037) and Synaesthesia are all well worth a listen. A video is now being made for the latter, even though the band isn’t sure how to play it!

How can they not play it?
The song was recorded with Tom Patterson on guitar, and he’s now left the band. The new line-up must work out the complicated arrangement.  The video itself will use stop motion animation – Piers said it features a spider and a little man.

Will the five-piece be putting together songs for their new album?
Yes, they’ve been writing songs for a second album. Piers said: “We’re at the drum stage at the moment, as we don’t have a drummer. I have a friend who is away at the moment but he said he would record the drum parts separately.  It’s a similar sound although the songs are better. Well, they’re certainly not any worse!”

Is it still mainly about Piers?
Not so much. He said: “Since Adam and Alex have joined the band there’s been a lot more arrangement in the music and it’s more of a collaborative effort. Before, I was sort of bossing people around.”

Do they have big hopes then?
Stick in a Pot are not expecting to be top of the pop charts any time soon. Piers said: “We’ll send off demo tapes to record labels with new material but whereas in the past we might have been massively excited about doing that, we won’t be too expectant. The music so far has been put out on my own label (Sad Sentry records) but I’d like to think that we can try and get it released by someone else. It would be nice to be successful, and make a living from music, but it’s not realistic.”

Are they all so downbeat about their chances?
Keyboardist Alex said: “The whole industry has changed, and nobody really ‘makes it’ unless they were sort of pre-ordained to in the beginning. But at the same time, it’s become much easier to make your music be heard because the recording process is more affordable, and then you can put it straight up on to the Internet.”

Can I see them live soon then?
Most of the live gigs are in London and Brighton, but they have recently played at the Tanners Arms in Horsham and are trying to arrange another night to play there. They are a very good live band, and the music is appreciated by most music fans.

Not all fans?
They do have the occasional night which must dent their enthusiasm. Richard said: “We did a gig recently just to the sound man. It does happen sometimes, that you take on a list minute gig and so you don’t take a following along. Normally other bands are there and they all watch each other, but they had all gone outside for a cigarette!”

Where can I find out more about them?
All you need – tour dates, tracks, CDs – is at http://www.stickinapot.com/
You can view the Naval Lint video at http://vimeo.com/18557037 (there is a link on the Culture section of the AAH website at www.aahorsham.co.uk)

Stick in a Pot

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