Sheffield post-hardcore crew Sobriquet are preparing to release their sophomore EP A Hundred Thousand Tongues on 1st May, and with three of the four songs already released as singles they have been drip-feeding the world their new material slowly and surely. With latest single ‘Higami 僻’ out now they sat down to talk to us about A Hundred Thousand Tongues, their chaotic live shows and how COVID-19 has affected them:
What does ‘A Hundred Thousand Tongues’ mean?
It’s from a line in Higami – ‘Cough up the grime or face the lashings of A Hundred Thousand Tongues’. It’s a metaphor for the way you’re battered from every angle these days with opinions, content, adverts, and just general noise.
The opening track Higami 僻 is an interesting name – what does that mean?
The title is written in Kanji, a Japanese character, which encompasses all the possible interpretations of the word ‘higami’ – ‘Inferiority complex’, ‘warped view’, ‘prejudice’, and ‘bias’. Lyrically this song’s about coming to terms with the parts of yourself you don’t like, embracing your flaws, realising perhaps that ‘hey, maybe I’m not as much of a weird, fundamentally unlikable person as I think I am and that aspect of myself exists only within my head.’
“It’s a metaphor for the way you’re battered from every angle these days with opinions, content, adverts, and just general noise.”
Also on the topic of names is there a double meaning behind Benighted? With knight and night
Benighted means to be ignorant or morally bankrupt. The subject of that song is a murder from the perspective of the victim who feels sorry for the murderer due to their ignorance, and in the knowledge that the killing won’t improve their life in any way. There’s no intended double meaning behind it
What do you feel the most important personal influence on this EP is?
Lyrically [Ludovico Fahey – vocals] had the most input, but there’s no unifying theme between the songs. Higami is based on Ludo’s time spent in Japan on Okinawa, so it’s somewhat grounded in real life experience, but other songs are totally conceptual in nature.
“If you are not willing to put your everything into expressing your passion for what you are doing, how can you expect your audience to?”
How do you feel this pandemic is affecting you as a band – even more than the postponement of shows?
Not being able to sit down as a whole band and practice is hard but we’re trying our best though, and plenty of demos are being developed.
The effect on shows has been the hardest for us, as we’ve had to rearrange our release show and reschedule a tour, but every band is in a similar situation so we’re doing the best we can. Recently we livestreamed a stripped back acoustic set from our living room which was definitely a success, and certainly filled a gap for us, so there is potential for more gigs of a similar nature over the next few months. It’s important for any band to keep the momentum up, especially around a big release so we’ll probably be looking into more of those kind of shows.
Is it reinforcing your drive to do this, and your energy?
In a sense it’s given us a bit of breathing room. We’ve now got more time at home with our instruments than usual so creativity is improving, and we’ve got longer now to prepare for the tour and make it the best it can be. Being somewhat forced into a situation where a livestream was our only option has opened the door for some new areas we wouldn’t have otherwise considered.
The press release describes your live shows as being similar to legendary chaos makers Dillinger, do you feel that a band making more chaos means that the audience feels that the music is more authentic, and the energy resonates?
Our approach to live shows has always been focused on making the show energetic and that naturally becomes quite chaotic with the nature of our music. But more importantly you can’t expect anyone to enjoy your music if you aren’t enjoying it yourself. If you are not willing to put your everything into expressing your passion for what you are doing, how can you expect your audience to? That has always been our approach, and there’s definitely an element of catharsis in there too.
However this style of performing also comes with risks – have any of you ever been injured while playing?
A headstock to the face would definitely be a frequent risk onstage (and sometimes off). Or our lead singer smashing his head into the floor to the point we can feel the vibrations isn’t exactly rare, but it’s all just us getting caught in the energy of the show. We’ve done stuff in the heat of the moment which in hindsight is probably really dumb.
Finally, what do you think that this forced period of isolation will do to the music industry – do you think that people’s creative sparks will come to the fore more prominently?
I think we’re already seeing it happen – Nine Inch Nails have released two albums recently that were something of a product of isolation, loads of bands are doing livestreamed shows, and generally the grassroots music industry is coming up with creative fixes to the problem we’re all faced with. Code Orange are a brilliant example of how to deal with it, their livestreamed gig felt like a watershed moment for how we consume live shows. Personally, I’d pay for livestreamed shows of that quality for one-off events like full album shows etc., and more locally platforms like Facebook live and twitch are allowing smaller bands to reach bigger audiences.