Sweet Crisis + CURRAN
Sweet Crisis is a new English rock band formed in Cambridge in 2013.
“What we play is guitar-driven rock’n’roll,” says guitarist Piers Mortimer. But as singer Leo Robarts explains: “We’re not tied down to one genre. We’re a rock band, but we want people to dance to our music – to feel a physical and emotional connection to it.”
The band’s influences include Free, Jack White, The Rolling Stones, The Black Keys and Led Zeppelin. They also draw inspiration from such diverse sources as local boys done good Pink Floyd and vintage soul music.
“We love those old records by Free, the Stones and Humble Pie,” Robarts says. “It’s rock music with soul and this kind of laid-back energy.” But if this classic rock sensibility is at the core of Sweet Crisis, this is still very much a modern rock band. “We write the kind of songs that can be played in a club,” Mortimer says. “Songs that make you move like Lonely Boy or Seven Nation Army.
The band recently played their début live show at The Garage in London. Wednesday June 3rd June, sees the band headline their second show at The Borderline.
Sweet Crisis features a core trio of Robarts, Mortimer and Dave Cullen on drums. In the studio they use session player Peter Martin on bass. All of the band’s songs are written by Robarts and Mortimer, and this partnership goes back a long way.
They have known each other since they were six years old, and in their teens they bonded over a love of great rock music. One classic album from the 1970s had a profound influence on them: Fire And Water by Free. “The way that band laid it down is exactly how I like it,” Robarts says. “Rock with that funk groove beneath it.” For Mortimer, Free guitarist Paul Kossoff was a key inspiration. “Kossoff would play one note instead of five,” he says, “and that simplicity was so beautiful. He always left space for the vocal, and that’s what I do – because Leo has such a great voice.”
The singers named by Robarts as major influences are Paul Rodgers of Free, Nina Simone and, most of all, the soul genius Donny Hathaway. “There’s so much depth and so much power in Donny Hathaway’s voice,” he says. “The live album he made in the ’70s is amazing. The version of Jealous Guy is even better than Lennon’s.”
The one song that Robarts keeps coming back to, more than any other, is Baltimore, written by Randy Newman and sung by Nina Simone. “I’ve listened to that song more times than I can remember,” he says. “Every time it blows me away. And more than anything, I’d like to incorporate that kind of soul vibe into rock.”
In advance of their début album, Sweet Crisis recently recorded a number of songs at Headline Music studio in Cambridge with producer Simon Efemey (Orson/The Wildhearts/Napalm Death).
“We kept is very simple,” Mortimer says. “It’s just the band playing live in a room. There are very few overdubs. It’s raw and honest.” Robarts echoes the point: “The best take might have a little mistake in it, but for us it’s all about capturing a feeling and a vibe.”
Support on the night comes from CURRAN.