RedFaces are a rare brand new guitar band who have been snapped up by a major label in open defiance of chart statistics and marketing departments.
Newly signed to RCA and with a debut single – the incendiary ‘Kerosene’ – available now, the band consists of four young lads: Harry Lyon, Ryan Laycock, Isaac White and Charlie Yapp.
The Sheffield quartet’s journey started at 2Fly studios in their beloved city, recording demos with Alan Smyth, the man behind the Arctic Monkey’s first ventures.
Out of these sessions came the band’s first release ‘Katie Come Home’ in early 2015, championed by BBC Introducing, before attracting the attention of the London A&R fraternity.
Shoot! spoke exclusively to Sheffield Wednesday fans Harry (lead vocalist), 17, and Ryan (guitarist), 20, about their fandom for The Owls, their most memorable, and forgettable, memories as Wednesday fans, the fiery Fernando Forestieri, latest additions Jordan Rhodes and Sam Winnall, plus the club’s push for promotion to the Premier League…
Your debut single, ‘Kerosene’, was released earlier this month. What have you made of the reaction to the track?
Harry: “It has been really good so far, we weren’t really expecting loads because we have never had a single out before. So we didn’t really know what we would get. But we have had quite a lot of radio plays from Radio 1 and Radio X, so it is going really well. It is one of those things where you record it, and soon as you record it, you just want to get it out there and let people listen to it.”
How did the band all come about?
Harry: “Me, Charlie and Isaac were friends from school and we all liked the same sort of music and we all played instruments. We knew Ryan from a band in Sheffield and he joined us, and it has all come from there really.”
What were your favourite artists or inspiration when growing up?
Harry: “I like The Smiths and The Beatles, but newest stuff is again like Tame Impala and Childish Gambino.”
For anyone who isn’t yet aware of the RedFaces, how would you sum up your band and what can we expect from you in 2017?
Harry: “Just hopefully good songs which fans enjoy and can connect with and they will want to hear more from us. We sort of class ourselves as Indie Pop and Rock N Roll, but we got called Punk the other night, which was pretty nice!”
Ryan: “I just want to keep writing good songs, but make sure people can connect with them and enjoy them, plus to keep gigging. These past few months have been my favourite few months in the band, being out on the road, playing for different people and meeting different people. We are trying to write new songs whilst we are on the road, it is just all of us enjoying life and as long as it continues like this, I think we will all be very happy.”
Harry: “We haven’t got all of the dates completed yet, but we’ll play anywhere [this year]. We love being on tour. We love being out on the road and doing stuff, just going to different places and playing different venues to different people, it is great. It is my favourite part of being in a band.
“We have also just announced that we are supporting Catfish And The Bottlemen at the Community Day Festival, alongside The Wombats and Slaves, that is something we were right excited about when we got the news. It is on July 1. We are just getting a few festivals booked now, I love the festival season and summer, it is like no other for me.
“My aim would be to get another single out in the next year. We have never really had a song out before, so I would like to do something else like that and get us a bit more known and give us a reason to tour the country again.”
Right, let’s move onto football. You are both Sheffield-born. But, why Sheffield Wednesday, and not United?
Ryan: “I just sort of stayed within a generation thing as far back as I can remember within my family. I didn’t really have a choice of supporting anyone else. But obviously, Wednesday are the better team!”
Harry: “I’m pretty similar to Ryan. My grandad was a bit of a Sheffield Wednesday supporter, so I sort of came along and joined him when I was a bit younger.”
What is your earliest memory as an Owls fan?
Ryan: “I may sound a little bit older, but my earliest memory is probably the League One play-off final [2004-05] where he had players like Paul Heckingbottom and Lee Bullen, who is my all-time favourite Wednesday player. I had never experienced that winning mentality in a side before. When I was just getting into football, we were relegated from the Premier League, so that first big win in the play-offs when I was so young was my first memory.”
How about a worst-ever Wednesday moment?
Ryan: “I think just all of the really bad players we have had over the years! Me and my dad, we used to rant about them all the time. One is Craig Rocastle. I don’t know how he got in the side or how coaches thought he was half decent. Adam Proudlock, up front, I don’t think he scored for us at all. I could go on forever!”
Harry: “I don’t have a terrible memory, but stuff like the play-offs, where we didn’t quite make it, is always bad. We did brilliantly last year to get into the play-offs, but we just never seem to be able to do that last game and quite make it.”
Ryan: “I think our generation kind of has no Wednesday best memories anyway, apart from that play-off final. But it is kind of sad that we have come so close to being in the Premier League. We have the ground, but have not been able to get there and we’ve yo-yoed between the Championship and League One for a few seasons.”
Harry: “I think it is time for a Sheffield side, particularly from the east, to be in the Premier League. It is weird that a city so big has not got a team that are good enough. I feel we are good enough, we started the season pretty well and hopefully we’ll make the play-offs again and go from there, be promoted.”
Who is your favourite ever Sheffield Wednesday player, and why?
Harry: “I’m the same as Ryan, Lee Bullen. We did this charity football match and it was Sheffield Wednesday legends against Sheffield United legends and they asked me to play, because I was in the band, as they had a couple of Sheffield music figures. Lee Bullen played. It was really weird meeting him. He is a proper big guy, and he is proper sound.”
Ryan: “A bit of Wednesday knowledge, Bullen is the only player to have played in all 11 positions on the pitch, which is pretty incredible. He has been on either side of the wing, centre mid, up front, across the defence, he was the ultimate utility player. He went in goal in a game where we had a goalie sent off and he was pretty decent to be fair!”
Let’s start to look forward. Your last league win was away at Nottingham Forest, what did you make of Fernando Forestieri’s celebration?
Harry: “It was amazing that. I watched the highlights in our dressing room, and I saw [Almen] Abdi’s goal and thought that was really good. Then I saw Forestieri’s and I thought it was even better. I think the way he celebrated and everything was the sort of thing we need, just screaming at everyone, getting all of the fans involved to try and make the club go that one step further. It is really important.”
Fernando Forestieri flung himself about 6 rows deep into the away end at Nottingham Forest when he scored today. Beautiful. pic.twitter.com/hgS94XaFwt
— Ball Street (@BallStreet) February 18, 2017
Ryan: “I think it is nice to see as there was quite a lot of transfer speculation [transfer request]. There is probably some really hardcore Wednesday fans that are still angry at him, but I think there has just got to be water under the bridge now. At the end of the day, every footballer is doing their job and they want to reach the highest reaches of the game.
“He wants to get back to the Premier League. I can sort of understand why he wanted to leave Wednesday if he didn’t think we were capable, but we are obviously showing that we are capable and we are getting to that place. Hopefully if this is our season and we do get promoted, then I think everyone will be happy.”
The Owls currently sit sixth in the Championship. Is a play-off spot the minimum requirement this season? Or, can you still push for the top two automatic promotion places?
Harry: “I think after last season, we need to make progress. I will be happy finishing sixth, fifth or fourth. The top four, for me, we should be aiming for. I think we are a capable side and should be doing it, so I don’t see why not.
Ryan: “I think everyone would be surprised if we didn’t make the play-offs, if you look at the squad we have got on paper, compared to where we were two or three years ago, it is the best Wednesday side that I have ever known in my lifetime.
“I think the play-offs is a minimum expectation and then if we can push for the automatic spots, we will need either Brighton or Newcastle [United] to have a little slip-up this season, which Brighton did last season when we played them in the play-offs.”
The club brought in strikers Sam Winnall and Jordan Rhodes during the January transfer window. Do you feel the duo are the final piece of the puzzle for promotion to the Premier League this term?
Harry: “Yeah, I think so. They have only just started to settle in, but once they do, I think that’s when we will be the most dangerous. They are brilliant players to bring in and it just strengthens the squad again.”
Ryan: “It has been a while since we have had any sort of prolific goalscorer. I mean Forestieri did it last season, but he was coming in from midfield, just behind the striker. I think the last striker that got over 15 goals for us is Gary Madine, when we were back in League One. So to get two players, Winnall and Rhodes, who I think everyone knows if you follow football. They can put the ball in the back of the net.”
Harry: “I think having three players, Forestieri, Winnall and Rhodes, and even [Steven] Fletcher, you have got those players that you can definitely rely on every game to at least hit the target, if not score. I don’t think you can really be in a stronger position than that.”
Ryan: “It will be interesting to see how [Carlos] Carvalhal sets them all up in a formation, to get the best out of each player. But just to have that firepower off the bench makes us better.”
As two forwards came in, one left, Lucas Joao joining Blackburn Rovers on loan until the end of the season. Do you think the Portuguese is coming to the end of his Wednesday career already?
Ryan: “I don’t think that is the end of his career here, he is only 23, so he has still got his best years ahead of him. He looks good when he plays, he just seems like he is just not all there mentally yet, it is just about getting more games and the experience, especially in the English league.
“I think probably getting a few games at Blackburn, and hopefully a couple of goals, will do him the world of good. Then hopefully he can comeback and be like Winnall, a fringe player on the bench for a season and then push to play over Rhodes.”
Harry: “You can talk about his future and everything, but if the player is good enough, he will sort of find his own way.”
Last year, The Owls suffered heartbreak at Wembley Stadium, losing to Hull City in the play-off final. Where were you on that day?
Ryan: “I can’t remember where I was! I knew there was a reason I couldn’t go… But I managed to find somewhere where I could watch the game. We looked very tense and Hull deserved to get back [to the Premier League], who won it through a wonder strike from Mohamed Diame. I think it was one of those situations where you can do all the preparation in the world, but on the day, it can go either way.
“We were not used to playing a game of that high stature. Knowing that we got so close last year, I think it is much easier this season to know what it is about. We have got a lot of players from last season, Carvalhal can just be like go for it, make up for last year.
“When [Dejphon] Chansiri took over as chairman, he wanted Wednesday to be in the Premier League within two seasons. Everyone should be fired up, it is quite adamant that if we don’t do it again this season than we might lose some players to decent clubs or management, I think people will be fighting to make up for last season.”
Harry: “The players that played in last year’s play-off [final], all sort of know about it, but players like Winnall and Rhodes, who have just come in, they have got something to lose because they are just settling down and thinking, ‘I am just going to do what I know I can do’.
“Hopefully they are the ones who score the goals with their experience, so if we do get there, that is what is going to help us.”