Sly Hand. 3.5.20

Only a year into their formation and already Sunderland’s hard rock/ punk duo Sly Hand have gained a considerable reputation for harsh, energetic, guitar music.

Looking to build on their success, the group’s new release ‘Big Pharma’, sees the duo focus their attention on the pharmaceutical industry. 

Dmaian Robinson caught up with Sly Hander Andrew Holder to find out more.

Sly Hand are known for their angry, edgy, edge to their sound. Could you describe the sound of Sly Hand and the manifesto for the band.

Our sound is visceral, guttural and brutally honest. Think Birthday Party era Nick Cave at a therapy session. Raw energy bursting with violent expression and sonic dissonance. Our shows often feel like a car crash you cannot look away from.

The remit of the band is to offer its members and the audience a kind of communal catharsis.

With the new single, Big Pharma, about to be released, how are you finding the process of releasing music in the current climate?

I don’t think it’s changed all that much really. The single is coming out on Bandcamp so our energies have been focussed on our online profile. The audience is literally captive so it’s quite a good time to be releasing music online. We’re releasing fragments of songs on Instagram which seems to be the way of the beast at the moment. People only give you a split second before they’re onto the next thing so you need to grab them.

Could you describe the sound and the overarching theme of Big Pharma please?

The single was recorded in lockdown so it’s very much an expression of the pandemic. It feels stark and compulsively repetitive. Like an anxious internal monologue. Part critique of the pharmaceutical industry and part a lament upon prescription medication dependency. This is a song about the trials of mental illness in the modern age.

Usually artists get the benefit of a tour/playing some live shows to support a release – has not being able to play live (in the traditional, ‘live’, meaning) affected your promotional plans at all; if so how are you coping/ have you come with new ideas?

It’s a positive challenge to respond to, I think. We’ve hammered social media and done the live streaming stuff which has been interesting. You’ve got to adapt. But we’re clamming to get back on stage.

What do your plans look like for the rest of this year (in so far as plans for us all are up in the air)

Paul’s setting up a Hypermarathon where you have to run a thousand miles or something and I’m setting up a facemask Startup. Between that we’re working on our first album which we’re demoing remotely at the moment.

Big Pharma is released on the 29th May.