“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with liking rock music, and there’s nothing wrong with rock music,” declares Scheer vocalist Audrey Gallagher. “It’s quite a fashionable thing to not like rock bands, but most of the people who slag it off haven’t really listened to a lot of it.”
Unabashedly polished and powerful, Scheer could alter people’s perceptions about the merits of heavy rock. The Irish quintet-though far from metallic-are certainly more than willing to inject currently unpopular things like dramatic flourishes, propulsive drumming and, of course, volume-happy guitars into their complex, infectious songs.
They formed six years ago in the small North Irish town of Magherafelt. At the time, Gallagher and guitarist Neal Calderwood augmented another local band, White Lies, whose line-up included Scheer’s guitarist (Paddy Leyden), bassist (Peter Fleming) and drummer (Joe Bates). White Lies’ “sweeter, jangly” pop sound was transformed dramatically when Gallagher and Calderwood came on board. But rather than play out immediately, Scheer opted to woodshed their ideas for a while.
“It was maybe a year after we got together before we even gigged anywhere,” says Gallagher. “Once we decided to play, though, taking it from the studio to playing front of other people was a very strange transition.”
The band took this transition in stride and played “hundreds and hundreds” of gigs over the next couple of years, including, by Audrey’s count, 150 Irish shows in one year, sometimes two a day. After releasing asingle and an EP on the Irish indie Sun, the band were courted by labels large and small until they dl’cided to sign with 4AD.
“All these people were interested in us, but nobody wanted to put their money where their mouth was and make a decision. But we were really impressed with the way 4AD sticks with their artists to develop them, rather than trying to simply make some fast money.”
Though a specious case could be made for Scheer’s anomalous condition on 4AD, the band exists in a much more uncomfortable state in the larger music world. Rock is vehemently unfashionable at the moment – especially in the U.K. – and Scheer’s debut is pretty rockin’. Between the opening three-song fusillade of “Shéa,” “Howling Boy” and “Wish You Were Dead,” Infliction barrels through melodrama (“Babysize”), quietude (“In Your Hand”) and epic pop (“Screaming”), never once stopping
to look back at the damage.
“I think that we show that we’re not just doing thrr\” minutes of heavy stuff all the time,” says Gallagher. “Like the cello on ‘Goodbye’ shows we’re very much a song-based band; and at the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to. When we played with Korn and Paw, it was weird because we had all the metallers in the audience, and we thought we were going to die a death up on the stage. But it went down really, really well. But even an indie crowd, like Belly’s, really got into it as well. Since we’re not really ‘aiming’ our music at a particular audience, it really comes across and different sorts of people can understand what we’re doing.”
“And that way,” she says with a laugh, “they either really like it or they just hate it.”
First appeared in the June 1996 issue of Alternative Press.