Shelf Lives have just brought us their mini-album Yes, offence and it’s a crunchy, 4-on-the-floor gem that acts like a short course of antibiotics for modern life that aims to cure the mental health and social issues that are the fallout of recent years and what the band call the “chaos, beauty and brutality of everyday life.” Joyzine caught up with band members Sabrina and Jonny to ask about the band and the music that shaped their past and gets them excited in the present.
1) What is your earliest music-related memory? What do you remember being played at home when you were a child?
Jonny – The very earliest is my dad singing John Lennon songs to me when I was like 3 or 4 years old. Kind of stuff that was played in the house was The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Yardbirds, George Harrison, Stevie Wonder, Oasis, Blur, Nirvana, D12, Dr Dre, Jungle Brother (Urban Takeover Remix), The Eagles, Michael Jackson. List is endless.
Sabrina – My mom taking me to a Rod Stewart concert when I was super little, and I vaguely remember him possibly wearing a pink suit. Being played was a lot of Phil Collins, Richard Marks, and various Italian artists like Zucchero, Lucio Dalla, Ricchi e Poveri and Eros Ramazzoti.
2) What was the first single/album that you ever bought? Where did you get it and do you have any recollection of the experience?
Jonny – It was either Gorillaz (2001) Or The Eminem Show (2002). Definitely HMV. I have no recollection of the details, haha.
Sabrina – With my own cash I think I went to an HMV in Toronto and got a Nirvana Live From the Muddy Banks of Wishkah CD and it was probably to look cool in front of my brother ha but I definitely had chosen other albums and singles out for my mom to buy me before that. We also were apart of this mail order CD club called Columbia House run by Columbia Records and we acquired a stupid amount of CDs through that. I would’ve picked anything from Celine Dion to Alice In Chains. (Track – Nirvana – Aneurysm (Live from the muddy banks of wishkah)
3) When did you really start to develop a passion for listening to music? How did that come about and what were you into at the time?
Jonny – I can’t really recall it being such a defined point in my life for that. But I’d say like around 2001/2 was when I started skating & listening to my own bought albums. Very much into eminem, D12, gorillaz, green day, cky, some iron maiden, blink 182, Oasis, Sum 41.
Sabrina – I started since I was super young like, 4ish probably. I loved Pop music , boy bands and girl brands, etc like as old as New Kids On The Block and that unashamedly carried into a BSB/NSync appreciation. Also, Britney for life. I loved it all and it wasn’t necessarily bc my parents or older brother liked it although in my pre-teen/early teens era I was way more influenced by him and found grunge, post-grunge etc especially getting into Soundgarden, pearl jam, alice in chains, silverchair…
4) What was the first gig that you went to (as a member of the audience)? Where was it and what was it like?
Jonny – I think it was The Eagles. In Birmingham or Manchester. I remember it being like the most exciting thing I’d ever done. Me and my brother we’re up on the balcony side stage. I remember the guitarist waving at me and I lost it, haha.
Sabrina – Besides being roped in to seeing Rod as mentioned earlier … not gonna lie, I think the first gig I went to with just a friend was a Backstreet Boys one with her and her older sister. Good times.
5) What are your memories of starting out making music? What was the first song that you learned how to play?
Jonny – My Dad got me a guitar on the way home from school. At the time it was really random as learning an instrument hadn’t crossed my mind at all. But he obviously got a ping to get me one. I enjoyed the challenge of learning it, and boy am I ever grateful that happened. First song I learned to play is the typical first song every guitarist learns to play, which is smoke on the water by deep purple lol.
Sabrina – I started learning how to play the piano when I was six… it was mostly classical which was cool – I didn’t think it at the time though. I taught myself how to play a few Muse songs when I started to really get into the idea of making music, their music has classical elements mixed with rock so it was a no brainer for me really.
6) What was your first band/musical project? What music was influencing you at that time? What are your memories of playing your first gig and are there any recordings out there?
Jonny – First band was when I was like 13, it was called Warm Gun. Which I think is another phrase for heroin syringe. Pretty disturbing for a 13 year old haha. It was named after the John Lennon song Happiness is a Warm Gun. We strictly played green day covers. Our first gig was in the school music room. There are, thank god, no recordings of this in the world.
Sabrina – haha Shelf Lives is my first band … so. In the years leading I was listening to such an eclectic mix of music, always 90s grunge but more modern would be from Billie Eilish to Idles. Well our first gig was Oct 2021 so I still remember most of it … it was wild, we didn’t even have our single out yet, it was a Worn Out show at the Sebright Arms and the crowd was so awesome …. We even got a mini mosh pit. I assume there will be instagram archive stories of it somewhere.
7) What are your memories of forming Shelf Lives? What was your first recording and what do you think now when you listen back to it?
Sabrina – Well, it didn’t happen that long ago… probably a year and our first release was about 6 months ago so I’m not sure that’s enough time to contemplate anything. Out first recording was Call Me, though. We didn’t know it was gonna be a band at that point. It was just a verse we recorded… didn’t even have a chorus.
8) Which band/artist do you think has had the biggest influence on your music over the years? What is it about them that inspires you?
Jonny – I couldn’t put this style down to one influence. It’s quite an eclectic mix. From 90s grunge bands, to post punk like new young pony club, peaches, delta 5. Punk bands like big black & black flag. Then there’s a whole other side to of beats, listening to artists like machine drum, death grips, airhead, vegyn, footwork music the list goes on.
9) Who are some of your favourite current artists?
Jonny – Gilla Band, Vegyn, Frank Ocean, onoe caponoe, brockhampton, chilly gonzales, turnstile
Sabrina – I’m enjoying Ditz at the moment
10) You’ve just released your new mini album ‘Yes, offence’ – how has your approach to making music changed since you started out, and how has your sound developed over that time? Is there a particular song on the record that epitomises what you’re aiming to achieve or that is particularly special to you for any reason?
Jonny – We ain’t changed much. This is still quite fresh. But the next stuff is our best yet. From this first set of songs; Fighting that Bitch is one that goes off live. We want to keep this energy of tension and release in almost a dance song format. Think of going to a rave but it’s heavy guitar music and it only lasts 40 mins haha. I think the next stuff has reached a good medium between the track Shock Horror & Fighting That Bitch.
Sabrina – I don’t think it’s really changed much. Maybe we’ve embraced pure alt-pop side a bit more. I Don’t Think I’ll Go Out Today is a special one for me. I’m a really social person in general but over time and over lock down it became more clear to me that maybe I was being more social than I actually wanted to. The track explores the struggle with isolation over not wanting to participate but actually is also exploring the frustration around it sometimes not being that deep and there is no actual reason ….
Introduction by Paul F Cook