Former Shed Seven drummer Alan Leach recently released his debut solo album, I Wish I Know Now What I Thought I Knew Then. Written and recorded by Leach over the last 12 months, the nine-track album showcases his first solo material since he decided to take an indefinite break from indie rock stalwarts and Britpop alumni, Shed Seven.
Alan Leach’s debut solo album
Engineered and mixed by Mickey Dale, keyboardist for the alternative rock band Embrace, the album’s sound and lyrical style are heavily influenced by Leach’s appreciation of the classic melodic 60s and 70s song writers from around the world, as well as the UK’s 90s indie scene.
It features a number of collaborators and guest contributions. Alan’s former bandmate, Joe Johnson, plays guitar on three songs, including the Americana-infused Erica which they co-wrote together. Elsewhere Leach turns even closer to home with his son, Sonny Leach – himself a member of the hotly tipped rock band Serotones – playing guitar on a handful of tracks.
I chatted to Alan about the album and his forthcoming York concerts.
How did you arrive at the title of your new album?
I Wish I Know Now What I Thought I Knew Then, yes, it is a good title. When you are younger you think that you know things but as you get older what you thought was right then isn’t necessarily right at all.
How did you choose the musicians to play on the album?
I have Mickey Dale, the keyboard player from Embrace on the album. He owns the recording studio where I made the album in Bradford and he also engineered it. I can do that side of things, but I wanted to concentrate on the songs.
Are you happy with the finished version of the album?
I am. I wasn’t sure if I was actually going to sing the songs myself, but Mickey said to me that I should have a go. So I recorded one and became more confident and discovered it was actually quite easy to sing.
What is a big challenge for going solo after being the drummer in Shed Seven?
I like a challenge and I like a change; it was a logical thing to do for me as I thought that the time had come.
The history of Shed Seven is that we had a break in the early 2000s, we officially split up for four years and then got back together again in 2007. All the other members in the band tried a solo effort themselves, so I am the only one who has never done anything solo. It was the obvious thing to have a go at.
Do you have good memories of your time in Shed Seven?
Absolutely! I would not have changed anything that we did. You never know, one day I might go back to it but at the moment my solo stuff is a lot of fun – it is a different way of doing things. In a band you have to get the rest of them to agree with your ideas and after a while it can become quite tiring and you end up thinking that you can’t be bothered anymore suggesting things.
Are you looking forward to the concerts in York?
I am, The Crescent is a great venue in York. They had Supergrass on there recently, Tim Burgess has played there. It’s an old working men’s club. They have not done much to it over the years. It is still got a lot of the old features and I really like it in there.
Do you still do your Tipple Tail over the drum kit?
I don’t think I will be doing that at the gigs. At the York gigs I will not have the space to do this, plus you have to remember I will be three or four years older since I last did it!
I didn’t really do it towards the end of my time in Shed Seven because if I broke my leg doing it, the tour would have to be cancelled and the insurance would not cover it. So I got told that I shouldn’t do it anymore.
Do you have any favourite venues in Yorkshire?
We have The Crescent in York and The Barbican, but I have been hearing about Bradford Live, the re-opening of the old Odeon building, which will hold 4,000 people. This will be good for the city.
I used to like playing in the O2 Academy in Leeds, but for the fans if you are queuing a long time for drinks and then the beer is warm that’s not good.
What do you like about living in Yorkshire?
I have lived here 52 years now. I have had plenty of opportunities to leave if I wanted to, but I am still here. I like York in particular. Until I started doing this album I didn’t know much about Bradford. If you believe what you read in the papers it is not a very nice place, but I think Bradford is a brilliant place.
I would finish recording the album in Mickey’s studio in Heaton in Bradford, and then get out on my bike and have a ride around; it is such a friendly place. I thought it was a little bit nicer than Leeds if I am honest, not quite as nice as York but still a lot better than I imagined.
I used to ride my bike from Saltaire to Shipley and it was fantastic. I was really impressed with the area.
Why should anyone come along to the York concerts?
If you like Shed Seven and you like a good night out with some great songs, then come along. It will be all seated. I used to go to gigs and I would be gutted if I got there and found it was all seated, but I think you get to an age when you would much rather be seated than stood up for a gig. This might be of interest to some of the old fogeys who are amongst us – I include myself in that too. Come along, it will be a good to see old and new faces too.
Alan Leach in York
The two live dates are on 2 and 3 December at The Crescent Club in his home city of York, where, backed by a full band, he will be performing songs from the album, with a few surprises thrown in for good measure.