“It’s funny, isn’t it?” says Shed Seven singer Rick Witter, pondering the increasing popularity of his band’s biennial December tours. “It’s one of these things that seems to have taken on its own momentum.”
Since they reformed in 2007 the York five-piece, whose hits include the Britpop favourites Chasing Rainbows and Going For Gold, have even begun to see faces in the crowd who would have been far too young to have witnessed the band in their first flush of fame in the 1990s.
“Over the last few years I’m noticing more and more late teens at the front and I think a few of these are coming with their parents who perhaps were there the first time round – which makes me sound really old, doesn’t it?” 43-year-old Witter notes with a chuckle.
“But the point is they’re singing every word. It’s not like they’re there under sufferance, they’re actually loving it and knowing all the lyrics.
“So we are here until the bitter end,” he adds wryly.
Not having to promote new records has to some extent made these tours easier, Witter admits. “When we first reformed we had no idea of how it would go down. We’d only actually booked to do three or four gigs in major cities in the country over a week, solely because we hadn’t played live of a while and we missed it.
“Then it went a bit through the roof and we ended up doing a 20-date tour instead and we had to upgrade venues, it was only at that point that I realised that what we did in the 90s actually meant something, it actually resonated and stayed with people, rather than just songs that come and go, because everyone was just singing every word back and loving it and that hasn’t dissipated, it’s still there.
“It’s funny because I’ll do interviews in April time advertising a tour at Christmas and people will be telling me, ‘Oh yeah, we’ve already bought eight tickets and we’ll be be going out so people are actually planning their night out in December in April around hearing us singing songs. You can’t go wrong with that.”
However, the singer does concede Shed Seven can’t trade on nostalgia alone forever. “There is going to be a point where we are going to need to write new songs.”
On their Christmas tour this year Shed Seven will be supported by the Inspiral Carpets.
“We’ve known them a long time,” says Witter. “They broke through before us, they helped us on our way, so it’s almost come full circle in that respect.”
Last year the three albums that Shed Seven made for Polydor were re-released in deluxe double-disc format. Although the band had been dropped by the label in acrimonious circumstances in 1999, Witter says they decided to participate in the reissues. “We learnt our lesson there with signing to a major label it didn’t really matter what we thought,” he says. “That made me then think if you’re going to do this it’s got to be good, it couldn’t be a bit slapdash. So me and Tom, the bass player, decided to get actively involved and we raided our attics and found boxes of old photographs and various demos of particular tracks and thought we might as well help Polydor to make this a good package for people who might be interested in Shed Seven. In the end, with my and Tom’s help, I think it improved what could have been a lacklustre affair.
“If you’re a fan of Shed Seven there’s some demos on there that you might never have heard, some alternative takes and there’s pictures that we never used.”
O2 Academy, Leeds, Dec 21 & 22: www.shedseven.com