It’s no secret I have a very long standing affiliation with The Unfortunate Incident. Having seen Russell Palmer (guitar and vocals), Daniel Palmer (bass) and Tom Wilks (drums) from the early days develop into in my, probably biased opinion, one of Sheffield’s finest bands, albeit under-rated and understated. Having released their début album “Build Your Own Ark’ last year, endlessly gigging up and down the country and being listeners’ choice on Steve Lemacq’s radio show it’s amazing why the masses aren’t following them.To sit these guys down and chat to them is a bizarre experience in itself; to actually ask them questions well that’s another matter. Sat in The Harley listening to The Crookes sound check for the Counterfeit Fundraiser, first thoughts were on the local music scene.
“There are loads of bands in the race to ‘make it big’, what’s the point if you’re not having fun? Put down the skinny jeans, pointy shoes and pouty faces and just have a laugh”
For a band occasionally described as The Proclaimers with Zac Effron and music described as a unique rock/country/punk/folk hybrid, it was interesting to find out how they think others perceive them. Dan starts us off “bewilderment is the most common response, as we stubbornly refuse to comply with what currently constitutes ‘indie’, to the detriment of our popularity and marketability.”
Tom follows “I think we usually go down well because we tend to have something to please everyone, but we’re not an easy band to pidgeon-hole which I suspect detracts from our wholesale popularity because people tend to like to know what they’re going to get.”
Asking their opinions on the Sheffield music scene and the apparent clique with local bands, Russell, not once to mince his words, states that he someday wishes to be part of the Sheffield glitterati or Shitterati, as it’s known. Dan jumps in “it’s like the Mafia, once you’re in you’re set for life.” Tom then raises the point that he often feels that Sheffield’s music scene could do with an ego check. “There are loads of bands around and it’s easy to get caught up in the race to ‘make it big’, but what’s the point if you’re not having any fun? Can’t we all put down the skinny jeans, pointy shoes and pouty faces and just have a laugh?”
Having clocked up an amazing mileage in gigs, since late 2008 that includes headlining the Plug and the Academy as well as Manchester’s Moho and the Dublin Castle in London. These guys have had the best and worst gigs, I know, I was there. Best gigs according to the boys, were the big headlining ones at the Academy and Plug. Best gig for Tom was the Academy, “all the bands were great, Russ overcame considerable adversity (he had been throwing up all day and had a sick bucket next to his microphone just in case) to make it to the stage, and I think most importantly we put on a good show.”
Russell’s favourite was the Oxjam gig at DQ mainly for the fact they were selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts on the bar, though states his worst was “when our old drummer didn’t turn up so me and Dan played a sort of acoustic set to about 200 12 year old kids as the other band on was still at school. They just stared at us like we were trying to teach them geography.”
Both Tom and Daniel agree on their worse gig. “The other band and the promoter failed to materialize and we ended up using a toy drum kit .” Tom declares “it got to the point where if the organiser HAD walked in I might have choked him down on the spot and there remained little for me to do but get horribly drunk” (and yes he did!).
While we’re chatting away, there’s one member missing from the conversation, that being the bands mascot and fourth member Jonny Sock. With a reputation as a gin swilling egomaniac is Mr Sock good for the band? As soon as Jonny is mentioned, Daniel maintains not to get him started “on that limelight-stealing, gin-swilling, stripy little twat.” Russell sticks up for the sock monkey believing that Jonny is good for the band. “We use him for contract negotiations, we tell the people what we want then we sit Jonny in front of them and he gives him his business stare till they crack and we get what we want. And being a 66% tea total band he helps us polish of our rider although getting the vomit stains out of wool can be troublesome.”
These guys have a story about everything, good, bad, right or wrong all encompassed with a sense of humour, which is reflected in their song writing abilities. Russell’s lyrics have been compared by the legend that is Paul Gambaccini to those of a certain Steven Morrissey. So where do these lyrics come from?
Russell professes that he tries to write happy songs but they just seem a bit dull, “when I’m done and I’m not happy with them so I add a bit of murder, death and misery and that cheers me right up.” As for influences on the band, Russell states he only listens to about 5 bands “I have a very short attention span so we try and make every song as different as possible to keep my attention or I may see something shiny from the stage and just wander off.”
Both Tom and Daniel praise Russell lyricisms. Dan asserts on Russ’s lack of musical curiosity – “while annoying in conversation – benefits his song writing, as he isn’t remotely concerned with what is currently popular, which a lot of bands become preoccupied with.” Tom loves the fact that Russ comes up with “some unusual stuff because it keeps things interesting and I think it’s important to try new things as a musician, which I’m forced to do quite a lot in this band!”
Next for The Unfortunate Incident is a new song, a contagious foot tapping number named Fool, which believe me will get stuck in your head for days, is set to be released in April. This was chosen as they “didn’t just want to release something off the album and we have played fool a few times live and each time we have played it someone has come up to us after and said that they really liked it, so we thought we’d have a bit of a punt on it.”
Punt away they should, in under 18 months they have grown into a sound band and have a promising future, as long as they don’t beat each other to death with blunt instruments!