I was lucky enough to see Sly Antics earlier this year at Jimmy’s supporting Sophie & The Giants and really loved their music. When I heard that they’d gone in a new direction with Hudsun I was really keen to find out more. I caught up with Sam a week ago, just a week after the release of their new single Retrograde.
Debbie: How come Sly Antics had you taken that as far as you could?
Sam: We’d already decided to change direction anyway a little bit and when we first started Sly Antics many years ago; it was different members, a different plan that we had; different music we were listening to and everything had changed, so much over those few years – it felt like we were trying to mould it into something that it wasn’t. We decided to change it rather than keep trying to remould it so we could change it something fresh and hit the ground running.
As soon as we made the decision it felt right. Even the name Sly Antics, the connotations behind it, we were a bit younger, we had a wilder lifestyle and it didn’t really match up with what we were doing anymore. Now the music has matured a little bit, we’ve matured a little bit and now with the name Hudson it totally makes sense now.
Debbie: It was your cousin you were in Sly Antics with wasn’t it?
Sam: Yeah. The line has changed so many times. Originally, we had another bassist and my cousin, and now we’ve got a different mix again. So, there’s me, I’ve always done the writing and recording anyway, but as a live band I have a drummer that’s kinda permanent, but he does other things and we have musicians who come and go. It’s nice now we have a flexible thing – there will always be me there but dependant on the size of the venue and the stage there might be 3 or more. It’s kind of a similar set up where you see artists like Sam Fender. He may have a bigger band one night, but he always has his core people he plays with, if that makes sense.
Debbie: Yeah, definitely. I guess It also puts less pressure on you as musicians to conform to the way you’re creating your sound.
Sam: I think that there’s this pressure now o be active as a band on social media and it’s great when you’re younger and you’re all having nights out together as a group and share that. A lot of bands we see each other for rehearsals and show and not much in between and so it puts a lot of pressure on because you can’t really put content on line if the rest of the group aren’t in it – When you take that out, it’s much more realistic to do that.
Debbie: How’s the response been to retrograde so far?
Sam: It’s been great, really good. We had to take a little bit of a hit – we had to switch the name over on Spotify and due to this it reset our followers, so usually with past released it would send out updates on release radar for our followers so it would be easier to get the plays up. We knew this time around we would have to work a little harder. It’s been great though, it’s more about the feedback than the numbers for me. It’s people who’ve been messaging saying love the track and the reviews we’ve had. For me it’s more important for people to show that despite the name change and things changing around that the music is still there and that there’s still a full big live band sound. Some people have been messaging me and saying oh you’ve gone solo and expecting me to be doing open mics and guitar solos and stuff. It’s very much a big band thing, we’ve got live musicians on the tracks and we will have at gigs as well. We put this out soon after the name change just to make people aware of the sound we still had.
Debbie: It’s quite clever that you’ve chosen the name retrograde, I don’t know if deliberate or not, but it’s about going back, taking a step back. Is that why you chose the name?
Sam: Yeah, the name always reflects the lyrics. it’s that concept of looking back, from the grass is greener point of view. Like was it better then or is it better now. It’s about that eternal battle in your head, and it is about the band as well. It does make the sense that was the track. We do have 4 fully produced tracks ready to go, but we chose that one for that reason.
Debbie: So, when’s the next track going to be released?
Sam: So now we’ve released this one and we feel less pressured, I want to make sure that the next has a full music video for the next single. It takes a lot of work to make it look decent, and coming up to Christmas, it’s quite tricky to get filming right especially if it’s outdoors. We’ll probably work at it in the background and it’s likely we’ll get the next single out early next year once people are done with Christmas, so we can hit the ground running in 2020. Retrograde was recorded a year ago, whereas the new singles were recorded a month ago so there’s a big difference and step forwards in terms of sound we’re going for. It’s stressful and hard not to share it with everyone as I want to share what we’ve done, but I have to sit on it just a little bit longer.
Debbie: So, if you could give us a clue as to what the influences might be with the new material, what might it be; what direction you’re going in?
Sam: Retrograde was a good track to show the transition between the old and the new as it has both elements in there. The new ones that are due for release I got really into my synths and my production. They’re definitely more vocally driven. I would say we spent almost half of the time in the studio on the vocals and the lyrics whereas in the past we’d smash them out in a day.
With this stuff we wanted to make it more authentic and I would say it is. It’s more vulnerable in the way that I’m singing. I’m just yelling I’m singing more softly, it’s a bit more experimental but it’s got the core elements of what we are still.
Debbie: I think that’s really interesting, when you open yourself as a musician or in any walk of life the more vulnerable you are, the more genuine you appear, and the more people connect with you.
Sam: Absolutely yeah. That’s what the producers were saying as well. If you’re not singing honestly, with your accent in this then people they just won’t connect with it. They might enjoy it as a quick track – the aim of these new tracks is for people to really get it, to really understand it and so that’s what we’ve gone for. We’ve done really honest songs. No songs about getting drunk and stuff, they’re songs about real things, Feelings, thoughts and the rest of it.
Debbie: So more grown up?
Sam: Yeah that’s definitely it.
Debbie: When are you guys going to be gigging next?
Sam: The first gig we’re playing as Hudsun is part of the Off The Record thing in Manchester – we’re playing on the 15th at Soup Kitchen.
Debbie: Great venue!
Sam: Yeah it is – I think that’s a perfect venue for us, as it’s an industry lead festival so it’ll be good to show our new stuff. Then we’ll see about our next headline. It might not be this year; I think next year we have a full plan and we’re realising the new singles, so we’ll be gigging around them.
Debbie: Will you make an appearance at YANA (You Are Not Alone) Festival?
Sam: I know the guy who runs it actually…
Debbie: It was amazing this year honestly, fantastic
Sam: It’s a good cause as well…
Sam: Yeah it makes sense to try and get on that and the cause strikes a cause with us as well.
Debbie: I’m going to ask you the question now I ask every musician when I interview them. I’m going to give you a tenner and you can go into a record shop and buy 2 for £10 classic albums or one for a tenner that’s current, what would you buy?
Sam: Erm… Are we talking vinyl?
Debbie: Yeah, it can be whatever format you’d like.
Sam: I’d like to have classics on vinyl… One would be Radiohead; In Rainbows I would definitely have that on vinyl and the other one would be…... I’m really into an artist called The Cinematic Orchestra at the moment. They have incredibly beautiful stuff, they have this album called Ma Fleur, it’s about 10 years old so it’s not that classic but the songs on that are beautiful on that one and there’s so much depth between those records.
My thanks for Sam for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk to me. You can stream Retrograde
. The band Spotify is
. You can also keep up to date with the bands latest news via their
If you’d like to catch the band at Off The Record this weekend then you can get tickets
The lyric video for Retrograde is below