SOMETIMES having no plan can spawn the best results.
Call it a happy accident or simply restless musos seeking another outlet, Unsung National Heroes were swiftly on to something.
Now they’ve released their first album – before even making their official live public debut.
They put that right at The Greystones on Wednesday where they will air tunes from the subtle delight that is It Was Like That When I Found It, plus a few new ones.
“We’re keen not to just play the same set for months and months,” says Sarah Blakeman, who blows trumpet. “So we’ve already got a couple of songs that aren’t on the album.”
The band have shifted 100 copies already while mainly invited friends and family have caught them perform at legendary Sheffield hang-out Club60, where the album also became the first to be released by that discreet venue’s label.
The record grew from a series of analogue recordings, with Sarah’s husband Paul at the controls, after mates Dave Cowling (vocals, ukelele, lead songwriter) and Micky Dixon (double bass) got together to jam on Friday nights.
“Mick lives near me and I would sit with his wife and drink wine while they played,” says Sarah. “Then they decided they’d go to Club 60 and record a few songs, just to give it a go, and Simon Stafford (formerly of Longpigs) played drums.
“They really enjoyed it and Dave did more recording and so the album came about organically, two songs at a time.”
The result is a fairly chilled collection with an unpolished feel suiting the sometimes moodier edge to the lyrics, a tad reminiscent of Paul Heaton’s domestic style of writing but with cooler stories and a huge live feel.
“It’s definitely foot tapping,” says Sarah who joined later after hearing a song with Simon on trumpet. “I used to play trumpet at school and thought I could do a better job. So I decided to.”
Brian Day’s keyboards completed a line-up comprising three members of Black Cat White Cat. All feature in the witty sleeve design. “We said to friends, ‘Tell us who your unsung national heroes are’. Then we said ‘They don’t have to be unsung or national or heroes, just pick somebody’. We made masks and dressed like the heroes and went to the club for the photos.”
It adds an air of mystery to a record that has a very traditional, timeless quality. “I think it’s very accessible so it doesn’t really matter what kind of music you’re into,” adds Sarah.
“And things have slightly changed. Now we’re a band, we’re writing the next set of songs more together.”