Sheffield four-piece Oddity Road are emerging as one of the most exciting new indie guitar bands. With close bonds, talent, and enough ambition to fill stadiums, it’s easy to see why they’re attracting interest wherever they go.
Sat in the beer garden of the Camden Monarch, Joel, Jack, Ethan and Dan are musing over the one thing that will always confuse a Northerner-London. “London is like the opposite to everywhere else,” says drummer Ethan. “It’s just completely different. When we’re doing Sheffield, it’s mad, whereas here, the people tend to just watch things.”
It’s true, the crowd at the Monarch tonight may not be the moshing, sold out venue that the band have recently got used to, but as this will only be their second gig in the capital (they played The Lock Cavern in April this year) they are still establishing themselves as a band that has more than just that local teenage appeal. “Everyone seems really like, vibrant and confident here I think. And everyone’s very talkative, definitely more than Sheffield,” he decides. “I’m sure they’ve got the potential to get involved.”
This confidence in their ability is not at all naive. After selling out multiple gigs in their hometown of Sheffield, Oddity Road enjoyed a very successful festival season, culminating in their raucous YNOT set. “We loved that one,” lead singer and guitarist Jack says. “YNot was obviously incredible, with the sheer amount of people.” In reality, extra security was called in to attempt to manage the unexpected crowds, and people were dancing in the rain outside the tent. Quite the achievement for a local band embarking on their first festival season.
More recently, they took on Neighbourhood Festival for the first time. Famously difficult to plan due to the number of line up clashes, it was another surprise success for the boys. “There was a queue outside the building. We were on, at like, one or something [quarter past one] and it packed out the room.” Neighbourhood is Manchester’s inter city festival, using the city’s venues and bars to full capacity. Revolution on Oxford Road, usually more accustomed to a quiet Friday night drink, became the place to be as the day started. With the upstairs room spontaneously converted into a mass mosh pit, there were even fans stood on the stairs trying to get into spaces that simply weren’t there. “Yeah, the bar staff looked a bit shocked,” Jack laughs.
Their dedicated following is no more apparent than in Sheffield. Oddity Road have now played countless gigs in their hometown, and their fans are keen to repay this loyalty. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s a pub basement or the University Student Union, the crowds are always on top form. The scream-along choruses and riot-inducing riffs make for the perfect soundtrack to any teenage Friday night.
However it’s not just the physical familiarity that has ensured Oddity’s local success- in 2017 online presence is equally as important, as demonstrated by perhaps the most well known of the new bands emerging from South Yorkshire- The Sherlocks. Aside from their crowd pleasing hits, they are notable for their relentless use of Twitter. “There’s a lot of bands like that, you don’t really get anywhere if you’re not”, guitarist Dan says. And it certainly does seem the case that a band’s success is reliant not so much on the traditional PR techniques or press releases and conferences, but more on the excitement and ‘online buzz’ they can generate. “It’s such an easy way to get your name out there, why wouldn’t you take that opportunity?”
Furthermore, the online generation have led the way for a relationship that breaks down the barrier between fan and band members, and this is something that Oddity Road are keen to continue as their fame grows. “It makes people feel involved in your group. If they’re outside, they might not be interested, but if they’re involved, they feel connected,” Ethan goes on to say. “And if you just ignore someone, it’s just a bit shit isn’t it?” He adds, “It’s nice when someone knows who you are.”
Oddity Road are part of a new generation of the age-old indie guitar band, driven by familiarity of fans and a reputation built on word of mouth- whether this be virtually or not. It is important to remember that they have achieved a solid fanbase despite being yet to release their debut album. In the past few weeks, they have headlined in both Nottingham and Liverpool to equally excitable crowds, however Manchester has given them perhaps the most memorable show. “It’s small but it’s mental to say we’d come from nothing beforehand,” Jack tells me. “We’ve only headlined once there, at the Deaf Institute, which is 200/ 250 people.”
Despite their modesty and drive to achieve more, when you take a step back and consider what the Sheffield four-piece have achieved in the past year, there is nothing to be sniffed at. Jack tweeted his amazement in reflection of their growth throughout the year- ‘from local pubs to festival stages’ in a matter of months. “Yeah it’s been mad. Really this year has taken us by surprise. I mean it’s been our first proper season so, we’re blown away.”
The obvious question is, then, what’s next? The subject on the fan’s lips is the ever looming suggestion of an album. When this inevitably came up in conversation, it was met with awkward laughs and avoided eye contact. “Ahhh no,” Ethan laughs. “There’s live things, definitely live things. And we can say we’ve been in the studio a lot, like a lot a lot.” Not even a hint? “We’re not actually allowed to say! We just have a load of stuff, but yeah, we’re not allowed to say,” the whole band agree.
As our conversation comes to a close, I’m struck by the professionalism and maturity such a new band are able to hold themselves with. It’s evident from their musical focus and lack of cliche ‘lads on tour’ behaviour that they’re driven by a collective passion for what they do and, as the past year has shown, they have the work ethic to achieve.
Words by Briony Warsop