High Hazels relish the pressure they put on themselves

High Hazels
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With a new album, eponymously named High Hazels, and a string of festival dates, the up-and-coming Handworth-based band might have overlooked the festival that gave them their wings.

But Tramlines is still close to their hearts.

Lead singer and guitarist James Leesley, 23, a part-time worker at Meadowhead School, said: “We always love to play Tramlines because its in Sheffield; it’s the place where we started, where we live. There are so many reasons to want to play here.

“There is a sort of pressure to play in your hometown, but it’s a pressure we put on ourselves. We want to deliver, we want to do our best for them. As we have a new album, we’ve really worked hard to get these songs tight, so we can be firing on all cylinders, so we can put on a really good show.”

After their first taste of Tramlines last year, the band are looking forward to coming back, but are concentrating on the smaller pubs rather than an experience of the open-air. They played Weston Park, the Shakespeare and the Cathedral previously, but now look forward to gigs at the Shakespeare, on Saturday, 11pm, and Queen’s social club, at 7pm.

What did he think of last year? “It’s been great for us. When we started that was our first taste of a festival that we actually got, and I think it’s the same case for a lot of other bands. We all want to get into a place where we can be seen quite a lot, but it’s quite hard at the start to get on bills and gigs. I think Tramlines is a great platform for newer bands to showcase their stuff to a lot of people.”

Their return to the Shakespeare is particularly exciting. Although they loved the open-air experience, for singer James, it’s the pubs that have the real allure. He said: “When you play in a pub, like the Shakespeare, the dynamic changes. The sound is less relevant, people are not there to see a great light show or anything like that.

“It’s down to the feeling of the music, people piling in, creating a great atmosphere. That can’t be beaten.”