Interview: Electro-punks SSHH talk making new music & the lure of a live show

If you rocked up early to either (or both) Liam Gallagher or Primal Scream’s recent Australian shows, you would have bore witness to the frenetic energy that drives SSHH‘s dynamic live show. The British-Australian duo came to Australia as new faces on the scene, but with the release of the band’s new single “Rising Tide”, we had to find out more about how Sshh and Zak Starkey have found the experience of introducing debut album Issues to fans Down Under.

“It’s really quite mad, everything that’s been going on.” Australian vocalist Sshh says. “It’s exciting and we’re ready for more. It’s been amazing playing; to be able to come home and be able to play to audiences here and see their reaction. They seem to be really grooving on it, which is what you want from any audience. To have that from your home country is really nice.”

“I feel like we’ve always just let the music take us wherever we can go,” he says. “Now that we’re gaining this momentum and we’ve played with so many amazing artists and in so many amazing places all over the world; I feel really blessed to be able to do something that’s great fun. I mean, it’s still hard work, all of the stuff that goes on behind the scenes. But then you get the cum shot, if you will, of playing the music live! At the moment, we’re just having fun with it and take it as far as we can take it.”

Of the band’s recent shows in Australia, Starkey reflects on the bombastic nature of each gig.

“We’ve changed everything,” he says. “It’s a lot more balls to the wall every night. It’s really a punk show. It’s best to just kick it as hard as possible and as fast as possible; if you’ve only got 25 minutes, you’ve got to just keep it going. That’s what we try and do.”

“That 25 minutes or half an hour we get every night…it’s an escape. Some people watch soap operas, we do gigs, you know?”

“It’s therapeutic for people.” Sshh adds. “To be able to let loose and dance around and try to forget whatever bullshit problems the world has or what they have, personally. It’s the same for us, playing live. We go to a different place and it’s amazing.”

If there’s one thing that the band implores of their future audiences, it’s that they let the music completely take hold of them in the moment. At the very least, don’t feel like you need to be on your best, most polite behaviour…

“I can’t stand people who, when you see them on the side of the stage just standing there, not doing anything. It drives me nuts.” Sshh laughs. “Unless it’s the opera, where you’re not meant to wolf whistle…I learned that the hard way. I was trying to show my appreciation and that didn’t go down well. I was like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, you know what I mean? Sometimes it can take certain crowds a minute to understand what’s going on but then once they really get it and people are dancing, they come up to you afterwards…that’s what it’s about. It’s about connecting with people. It’s about making people dance and feel something, you know? To take them away and take them somewhere else for however long you’ve got them for, whether it’s live or on record.”

Having had the chance to perform with a number of excellent bands since Issues came out in 2016, both Starkey and Sshh reflect on the experience of taking in a variety of sounds around them, while bringing their own flair to more new creations of their own.

“We try not to be influenced that’s going on now, but we are deeply influenced by Little Richard and Marc Bolan from Aphex Twin.” Starkey says. Of course, having had a rich career already with the likes of The Who and Oasis, he notes the difference in performing with this new project. “I’ve been in loads of bands but I didn’t write any of the music. I didn’t write fucking “Wonderwall”,  I wish I had! We wrote this and when it comes down to the gig, when you’re watching people dancing to something you made? It’s a totally different feeling. I would not swap it. This is it, it’s so rewarding.”

“It’s exciting.” Sshh chimes in. “That’s what’s great about playing with other bands as well, you get to reach people who you wouldn’t necessarily have come into contact with. Also, for us, we get to hear music that we wouldn’t have necessarily heard before.”

SSHH’s new single “Rising Tide” is out now!