RepoMen take no prisoners

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THEY may not have had any hits or rocked any stadiums but Sheffield post-new wavers RepoMen have released enough songs to command a compilation album.

In fact, the indie rockers enter a rather exclusive club of Sheffield bands that have got to such a stage, namely the likes of Pulp, Def Leppard, Human League and Moloko.

And while RepoMen may not have troubled the charts, they have certainly been consistent.

Retrospective collection Occasional Sensations was launched at RedHouse on Monday and is an engaging account of a band who have simply got on with the job of making music without chasing fads.

“We’ve never nailed our musical colours to a particular sound or movement so I guess we’ve never been in fashion to go out of fashion,” admits ever enthusiastic singer and keyboardist Denzil Watson.

“The ironic thing now is a lot of Sheffield bands are citing ‘80s influences while we’ve had an ‘80s sound all the way through.

“Also we’ve never set ourselves a goal of ‘making it’ like a lot of bands do. The only goal we’ve ever had is to write good songs and enjoy playing live. And to a large extent I think we’ve succeeded.

“Some people may laugh at a relatively unknown band releasing a ‘best of’, but given the material we’ve released over the last 10 years, we thought it would stand up on a ‘best of’ album.”

The quartet – who claim to be “for fans of The Cure, The Go Betweens, The Undertones and The Violent Femmes” - have recorded 10 EPs and an album and take stock of this on Occasional Sensations with 20 tracks in chronological order.

So, in light of say Human League or Arctic Monkeys, does Denzil feel RepoMen might have gained a higher profile had they made more concessions to ‘the Sheffield sound’, whatever that is?

“A higher profile would have been nice, but not really to be honest. If we’re talking the ‘80s and the likes of the Human League and Heaven 17, that wasn’t going to happen as we are predominantly a guitar band.

“Equally, if we’re talking the noughties and the post-Arctic Monkeys sound, I don’t think people would have taken us seriously as none of us have Sheffield accents.”

Whatever the ifs and buts, RepoMen have provided people with many hours of live entertainment and the new album represents a group of musically-minded blokes enjoying making music for the sake of it.

That’s not to say this is throwaway stuff. While those around them may have made millions singing about nights out, the lyrics wade through often choppy waters. There’s love, for sure, but there’s also disppointment that can bring (the likes of She’s In Love), and how many acts do you catch making songs about a dying man seeking closure for himself but new life for his loved ones (Tonight).

RepoMen may not have toured the world but their songs often reflect a mature, widescreen view of life beyond Sheffield, and Ric Bower (guitar), Simon Tiller (bass) and James Hughes (drums) have soundtracked that accordingly.

Denzil agrees RepoMen present songs with a bit to think about, motivated and inspired by individual tales, perhaps in a deliberate effort to dodge cliches.

“I guess it’s a bit of both really,” he says. “There’s only so far you can go with the ‘went down the pub, got the beers in and met a girl’ narrative isn’t there.

“So we tend to have less obvious themes in our songs. There’s burglary and suicide (Dietrich), despotic south-east Asian regimes (What We Do) and the plight of Mexican’s on the US border (Flicker).

“Sometimes it’s the reaction to the mainstream that inspires us; take Out Of Here for example. It’s a reaction to I’m A Celebrity and looks at vignettes of three people who really do want to get out of situations they are in.

“There’s quite a lot of mortality in there, but hopefully it’s far from morbid. As our guitarist and main songwriter/lyricist Ric so beautifully put it on the sleeve notes, ‘We shine our small torch on the big wide world’.”

n RepoMen are part of Tramlines festival, at the Frog and Parrot on July 24 at the Fourth Reich of Rock’n’Roll event, stage time 3pm.