High hopes for High Hazels ahead of hometown Sheffield show

High Hazels.
High Hazels.
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Indie quartet High Hazels seem to have been on the fringes of making it big for years.

The Sheffield band – named after the Darnall park close to where they grew up in Handsworth – recorded their first songs in 2012 and earned airplay on Radio 2 before they even played their first gig, later that year.

They signed a deal in 2013, releasing a four-track EP, In The Half Light, and eponymous debut album in 2014.

However, they then almost disappeared from the radar, popping up sporadically for shows every now and then and a single, single release – Valencia in April 2015.

But it was a deliberate decision.

Studying and working full-time, they have to fit writing and recording around everyday life – and also wanted to ensure their next releases were the best they could be.

“If it took a few versions to get right, we did,” admits frontman and school teacher James Leesley.

“We’re not the first people to be in full-time work and writing.”

They returned with Joined At The Lip in November 2016, which featured on the hit Weak Sun EP last year.

Fellow EP single Sequin Eyes received radio support from BBC 6music’s Steve Lamacq and held the top spot on Amazing Radio’s chart as the station’s longest running number one of 2017 at 13 weeks, which led to the band being invited to host their own takeover show.

Lead guitarist Scott Howes, an upholsterer says: “It’s taken us a while, but we’re happy with it now.

“We were concerned about putting stuff out too quickly,

Drummer Anthony, an Apple Store specialist, adds: “After taking time to learn and hone our craft, we’re now making the music we’ve always been capable of making.”

Scott says: “We want it to be quality, rather than quantity.

“We have written enough for four albums, but we want it to be right.”

“We have got a name and we want to build on that,” adds James.

Now they are back with new single Days of No One, out now and their first release with a revised line-up after Anthony’s brother Paul left for art college in London, to be replaced on bass by “fellow musician, friend and super-sharp gag man” –and ambulance driver – Paul Musgrave and a headline show at The Leadmill.

James says: “We’ve approached the new songs by looking further into the way we like to sound.

“Eventually we’ll find a place we’ve never been to before and the new material feels like we’ve found the edges of that place.”

“The idea of creating something you can sink into and be separate from what’s going on around you – even if it’s only for a short time; that’s what we were after.”

High Hazels play The Leadmill on Friday, May 4. For tickets, priced from £7, see leadmill.co.uk