Shanghai Treason – The Sheffield celtic punks with new single Wildfire and a chat with Sam Christie

Shanghai Treason release new single – Wildfire, feat. Dan Booth – today. We caught up with singer, Sam Christie for a word.

Sheffield based celtic punks, Shanghai Treason have an album in the wings ready to go. In advance of that release the band are dripping a few singles as teasers.

Following on from Emerald Causeway, Wildfire is the second single and the band hopes the album will be with us sometime in the summer.

To Zoom we head to find out a bit more.

P3dro: Where are you and what are you doing?

Sam: I’m the singer in Shanghai Treason, a celtic punk inspired band from Sheffield. The idea was to do the celtic punk with a Yorkshire Twist.

P3dro: Where did the name come from?

Sam: Originally, we wanted to be a band called High Treason, and then we realised there’s about two dozen other bands called High Treason, so the next best thing was Shanghai Treason.

P3dro: tell us a bit about the band. How long have you been together?

Sam: We started writing back in about 2018, mainly me and the two Toms. So, that’s Tom Hardy who’s a multi-instrumentalist, he plays the banjo, the accordion, the bouzouki. He can pick up any instrument. And there was Tom Jackson, our guitarist.

We were all big fans of celtic punk and loved the idea of doing something like that in Yorkshire. So, we spent about a year writing songs, trying different line ups and stuff before falling into our groove with the current five people.

So, we wrote some songs and did some gigs. And, yeah, now we’re here.

P3dro: When you say “celtic punk”, which other bands are you talking about?

Sam: The big three would be Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys and The Pogues. But if you dig a bit deeper, there’s an absolute plethora of similar bands out there. Some of our favourites are: The Rumjacks, Ferocious Dog, Black Water County, The Real McKenzies, Mad Dog Mcrea.

There’s a huge audience out there, even though it’s quite niche.

P3dro: So, the single is out on Friday.

Sam: It is, yeah. It features Dan Booth from Ferocious Dog, which is really cool. We went and recorded with Dan and the front of house engineer, Luke Wheatley [at Arch Audio] in Mansfield last summer, just as we were allowed to start doing things like that again.

We managed to get quite a lot out of the sessions. The guys really knew their stuff and they pushed us to try and create something a bit special.

P3dro: Which is presumably the album we’ll get to hear whenever it gets released?

Sam: Yeah. We recorded 14 tracks and we’ve picked our favourite 11. We’ll release a single each six weeks in the build up to releasing the full album. Slowly drip feed to build up some excitement. We’re a new band, so we don’t want to rush it.

P3dro: How did you manage to hook up with Dan Booth?

Sam: When the pandemic hit a lot of musicians were thinking about new ways of working, Ferocious Dog, being one of them. They made a post saying that when studios were able to re-open they were going to try their hand at some production. We thought: “Maybe these guys could help us to improve on what we had previously recorded.

It was a really rich and rewarding experience. Although, not without its challenges because of the pandemic. There was a lot of bouncing files back and forth on email because we weren’t able to meet up.

We’re very proud of [the album]. And because we’re so new, it’s an interesting prospect to release a record on which we can build.

I think with this genre, the fans will get behind you, so it’s OK to be slowly figuring it out.

P3dro: How did you find the process of working remotely with each other?

Sam: It’s certainly not my preference! We love to be in a room, playing loud and saying we could change this or change that. Working remotely means changing a part can take two weeks bouncing files back and forth.

But we were in a position where needs must and we managed to work as best we could to try and push the band forwards, even during the pandemic.

P3dro: We see from your bio your debut gig was a pretty good one, supporting Buzzcocks.

Sam: We did. And at an incredible venue as well [Gorilla, Manchester]. It was a monumental gig for Buzzcocks because it was just after Pete Shelley had died. It was almost like the fanbase was coming together to mourn [that loss]. It was a big deal and really, really wonderful for us to be in the same room. Buzzcocks blew the roof off the place. It was a euphoric, sensational, shared experience. There was a lot of positivity and celebration of Pete in the air.

We had a great gig as well, but for a first gig, we were right in at the deep end. But I think we made quite a few fans that night.

P3dro: What’s the situation like in Sheffield as regards venues?

Sam: For the most part, the main venues have received grants from the Culture Recovery Fund. But there are some smaller venues that haven’t, because you can be great at running a venue, but that doesn’t mean you’re great at writing a dissertation as to why you should receive funding from The Arts Council.

But there’s a changing landscape and a lot of regeneration happening in Sheffield as well. So, hopefully there will be some new spaces to perform in once that’s all been completed.

I think the grass roots, small venues are really important. As much as most bands would want to go and play big stages, it’s so important to have exceptional venues in every city and every town. So, let’s hope as many as possible are still there when things re-open.

P3dro: Are you booking any gigs at the moment?

Sam: Er, well, I can’t say too much. But we do have a very big UK tour support, with a very large artist, for January, February 2022. That’s about all I can say without getting into any trouble.

P3dro: Is there any timeline for the release of the album?

Sam: We’d originally planned for the album to come out in June, but we may sneak an extra single in which would push it back to August, perhaps. We’re not in a rush, but definitely in the summer. And we’re currently demoing the second one!

We wrote the single, Wildfire, at about the time of the Australian wildfires and I was thinking that would be one of the biggest stories of the year. And then Covid came along, so those fires almost get forgotten about. But rather than being directly about that, the song is about how people might try to dampen the spirit, the fire, that’s in each person. It’s “Don’t let them, pour on petrol instead and let the fire burn within you”.

P3dro: Name a band or an album you think we should be listening to right now.

Sam: I’m really glad you’ve asked that. I’m going to recommend three. I really think people should check out The Walker Roaders. They have a really cool album that features members of Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly and The Pogues – it’s a bit of a super band.

I’ll have to shout out The Rumjacks’ new album, ‘Hestia’. And also, just a bit of a bogey one that’s got me through lockdown is a band called Crazy Arm and their album ‘Born To Ruin’, which is just an exceptional album.

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