IntroducingCeltic punk band Shanghai Treason
What are the origins of the band, how long have you been playing together?
The band was formed in early 2019 by Sam (vocals), Tom (guitarist) and Hardy (banjo/accordion/everything) and had a bit of a revolving door line up except for them in its early days. I know they all had a shared interest in Celtic Punk music and there weren’t really many bands at all doing anything close to that where we’re from. They went through a few drummers before I got asked to join by Tom around April 2019 after my other band High Visions played a show with him in Sheffield. A few months later we got Joel in on bass and the line up’s been the same since! We recorded our first EP towards the end of the year and went on our first couple tours right before COVID hit and put a stop to all of that. But we’ve been continuing working on stuff since and somehow managed to keep the band growing online despite the absence of live music for over a year, and are ready to get back on it the second we can!
How did you feel performing your first gig? And how was it?!
Our first gig was supporting Buzzcocks in Manchester, to a huge packed out room, which was a bit like jumping in at the deep end, but it was an awesome show, one of the best I’ve ever played personally! I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me I was equally excited and completely shit scared for the whole show. Ideally, we’ve had a smaller show to warm up first to iron things out a bit before playing to such a big crowd, but it went down really well and definitely helped give the band a big boost early on!
What should people expect when they check the band/you out? How would you describe yourself?
Celtic Punk in a similar vein to bands like Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly, but with our own twist on it. It’s all pretty energetic, fun, catchy, sing along stuff to get people moving. But I’d say we’re a bit more of a punk band with folk instruments incorporated, as opposed to more folk based. But maybe with a cleaner more rock style vocal? I definitely think it helps us have a bit more potential crossover appeal than going full punk or full Celtic or whatever. I know a lot of people who don’t listen to any similar bands who really like us so I guess it’s working out in some way. While also the community behind this specific style of music has been really supportive of us, so we’re kind of getting the best of both worlds in that way.
The new music scene is bursting at the seams with fresh talent, in what ways do you feel that a band has to stand out from the others trying to build a name?
I think finding what your identity is and honing in on that, really pushing the aspects of your band that help you stand out and resonate with people, rather than watering it down to appeal to more people. I think there’s no point worrying about what’s the ‘big’ thing at the minute, trends come and go and you end up with too many people doing the same thing and then everyone gets sick of it and moves on to the next thing. And I guess just trying to do something there aren’t already a million people doing. We’re kind of lucky that we’re a
Sheffield band playing Celtic Punk, it’s not a genre many people do (especially where we’re from), and the people that do like it really like it and support all the bands doing it, so we carved out our own space in that scene pretty quickly. Never underestimate the dangers of an oversaturated market.
What are you working on at the minute that people can check out?
We have a debut album coming out in the fairly near future – recorded at Arch Audio, produced by Dan from Ferocious Dog and Luca who works with The Rumjacks. It’s also coming out on Luca’s Black Dingo Productions label. For those not familiar, they’re both bigger, more established Celtic Punk bands, so it’s been awesome to work with them (I’m sure most people who know our band know them though). We’ve released 3 singles off of it so far – ‘Emerald Causeway’, ‘Wildfire’ and ‘On The Ropes’. You can find them on all major music platforms, and they’ve been getting a great reception so far, we’re all really proud of them!
What band out there at the minute do you feel that you would be best suited to open for?
I’m gonna say The Rumjacks, and funnily enough, we’re doing 16 dates on their UK tour supporting them early next year. Gonna probably be our first tour post COVID, it’s a bit of an exciting one for us! We can’t wait to get playing again and meet the people who’ve shown us so much support.
Who do you feel is the next band to break out?
I haven’t listened to that much new music recently, but I can give you two artists I know that I definitely think should be a lot bigger than they are. Joel our bassist plays in an indie band called Floodhounds and I think they deserve all the attention they get, great band with great songs, everyone should check them out! And you should also check out a solo artist who goes by followthewater, one of my favourite musicians who I also play in another band with, and he just released his first solo track. Big, anthemic, poppy stuff, it’s definitely worth your time, just really great songwriting! What are your first musical memories? And what was the light bulb moment that made you go “I want to do that”? I’m a big Rush fan and I think the earliest memory I have of drumming is watching a live DVD of there’s when I was a kid and seeing a classic Neil Peart solo and thinking how cool and impressive it was to me. And then seeing how he could incorporate that kind of flashy, interesting playing into a song in a musical way, rather than just being technical for the sake of it, that was a big inspiration to me wanting to learn to play.
What was the last gig that you attended as a fan?
I saw The Menzingers play at the Albert Hall in Manchester just before COVID hit. That was an insanely good show, I’m huge fan of that band and it was my second time seeing them live. Some of the best songwriters in Punk without a doubt. And a great gig to go out on if I’d known I wouldn’t get to see one again for a year and a half (and counting).
The album that you have in your album collection/spotify playlist that would surprise most people?
Gonna go with Amerikkka’s Most Wanted by Ice Cube. Love that album, the whole sound and aggression of it. It’s surprising cause it’s a bit of a running joke in the band that I only have the attention span for fast 1-2 minute punk songs, but I do enjoy a lot of 90s hip hop. And I’m generally a fan of a shorter album. 25-35 minutes is perfect for me, I’d rather have no filler and just throw the album on over and over again whereas, hip hop albums in general tend to be quite a bit more bloated than that. Though to be fair it’s like 45 minutes long which is pretty short and concise by those standards.
Although 2020 has been a year to forget for many reasons, there has been some incredible music released; what would be your album of the year?
Hands down my favourite album last year was ‘Skeleton Coast’ by The Lawrence Arms. For my money they’re as good as punk music gets, the songwriting and lyricism is on another level compared to everyone else, they definitely hit me on a personal level few bands can manage. I feel every song is perfectly written, every note played is exactly where it needs to be, it’s rare to get that kind of precision in a band that still sounds gritty and traditionally punk. I can’t recommend it enough.
How active are you on social media and where can people connect with you?
We’re on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, all that stuff. And we’re on all major music platforms. Give us a search online, we’ll come up. Or better yet, come to a show when you can!