IT’S been a tumultuous season for The Crookes. In September guitarist Alex Saunders announced he was leaving the band just days ahead of a European and Scandinavian tour.
But this didn’t hinder The Crookes. Ending the band was “simply not an option”’ as the Sheffield-inspired group posted on their website.
And to this end, in haste, they drafted in Tom Dakin from fellow Sheffield band the Silent Film Project.
It was a savvy appointment, as George Waite (bass/vocals) says: “It was a shock when Alex left but we managed to get Tom Dakin just a few weeks after he left and we’ve played the last few shows together.
“We didn’t want to cancel any shows but Tom was brilliant – he learned about an hour’s worth of Crookes songs in four days. By the end of it he knew the songs better than we did.”
As he speaks, the band are making their way from Oslo via Denmark and then to Holland. And all in a battered, filthy van.
“We’ve been pulled over so many times by the police and I’m sure it’s because our van is in such a state. Fans have even written notes to us in the dirt – we must look so dodgy.”
But occasionally the band are upgraded from their sleeping quarters.
“We sometimes stay in hostels or hotels and often stay on the sofas or living room floors of fans who have been kind enough to put us up.
“Sometimes if we can’t find somewhere because it’s such short notice we’ll make an announcement on stage.”
In spite of their hobo existence The Crookes are, in fact, one of the best-dressed bands on the British circuit.
They are supported by British clothing brand Burberry, which kindly supplies the Sheffield foursome with swanky apparel. “It’s funny – we’ll be sleeping on someone’s floor or in the back of a filthy van in a £100 t-shirt.”
The Burberry partnership has led to shows in far-flung places such as Tokyo, as part of the company’s drive to endorse its brand with acts such as The Crookes.
“They must see something in us that fits with the brand,” says Waite. “I think it’s the way we present ourselves.”
They are now working on their second album, Hold Fast. “That’s the working title,” says Waite.
“It’s about the aftermath of Alex leaving and it sums up our defiant attitude during this difficult time. It’s also about the difficult time many musicians are having at the moment – though I’m aware of how lucky we are to be doing what we are doing.
“We have got the best job in the world and I can’t complain because I would hate to get up at 7am every day to go and work in an office in a job I despise.”
The album will be released in time for next summer.
“We’ve already got half of it finished and will finish the rest when we get back to Sheffield after these shows. But it’s coming along pretty quickly and we’re working at a studio in Leeds with a producer who we get on really well with – we’re not afraid to say no to his ideas and he’s not afraid to say which songs he doesn’t like.
“We wrote the bulk of it in the summer months, so we are hoping to have it released in time for summer next year because the songs are summery.”
This contrasts sharply with The Crookes’ debut, Chasing After Ghosts. “That was written between November 2009 and February 2010, so the songs were very bleak – the weather was miserable and we couldn’t afford to put the heating on.”
But for Hold Fast, The Crookes are raising the temperature and their game. They’ve now performed in a whopping 64 cities throughout the world and have been endorsed and praised by the movers and shakers of the music industry.
But before the band ascend to the next level, they have an important date in Sheffield – a live show at the Queens Social Club on December 17.
After that, it’s a case of watch this space.