Preston’s Saytr Play are quickly establishing themselves as one of the hottest prospects in the north,
just four years after forming at the city’s University of Central Lancashire. Unabashedly a live outfit, the four-piece’s groove-inflected indie pop and tireless touring schedule has been earning them a fearsome live reputation of late, culminating in a rapturously-received set at Kendal Calling, where they played to a huge crowd and were later named ‘Kings of the Woodland Stage’ by the festival itself. They’ve just released their debut single proper, ‘Mother’s Love’, with another scheduled for the end of September. The week after their Kendal triumph, which was the biggest show of their career so far, frontman Fred Farrell and bassist Dan Crowther stopped by the Beatstream office to talk future plans, their influences and that unusual band name.
Beatstream: How did the band come together initially?
Fred Farrell: We were originally a two-piece, myself and Jamie Vere, the guitarist. We were both studying to be actors, and he came up to me and asked me to sing at a Christmas show where he was playing guitar. He kept pestering me, and eventually I agreed to sing-slash-rap ‘Santa Claus Is Coming to Town’, which was actually better than it sounds! People were asking us, “how long have you been a band?” And our response was, “we haven’t, we’ve known each other a week!” I lived with the drummer, Paul Kershaw, and then Dan originally recorded us as he was studying sound engineering, and eventually he joined on bass. It fell into place quite nicely.
How did things pick up from there?
Dan Crowther: We started out just playing flat gigs, and the thing is, all of the courses in the creative arts tend to interlink, so it’d turn out that a guy next door to the flat we were playing at was a promoter, and they’d ask to book us for an actual show. We’d play that, and then a venue in Preston called 53 Degrees picked up on us and asked us to play with The Hoosiers – that was our first support slot. We kept in touch with them, and we ended up supporting Little Comets too, which was mega, because we love them. After a few months, we realised it had some potential, and we all asked each other, “is this what we want to do?” And, you know, the answer was “too right!”
I suppose at that point, you need to start solidifying the band’s identity…where did the name come from?
FF: It started out as a bit of fun when it was just myself and Jamie. We were in an acting lesson, and we were being taught all the Greek stuff. We started learning about satyr plays, which I’d never heard of before, and basically, long story short, they were these really crude, unusual plays that people would go to in order to celebrate the god Dionysus. They’d drink wine, make love, and watch this really fucked up play – I just thought that sounded really cool. I turned to Jamie and said, “that’s what we’re calling the band,” and he was buzzing, because ‘satyr’ means ‘half man, half beast’. Needless to say, as we were a double act at the time, he took a lot of enjoyment out of going around telling people, “it means ‘half man, half beast’, but which is the man and which is the beast? Wheyyyy!” He’s a bit of a nerd like that. We spell it slightly differently, but the name has a lot of meaning to us.
You’ve talked about being inspired by bands like Blossoms and Catfish and the Bottlemen – how so?
DC: I think a big part of it is just that those guys toured relentlessly to get where they are now, and we want to do the same. Catfish, especially, they did what we did in that they just put a load of music up on the internet for people to hear, and they waited until they’d built up an actual fanbase before they started putting out proper releases, like EPs and albums. That seems like a good idea, rather than waste all of your best material early on whilst nobody’s listening.
FF: And, to be fair, I think we always would have done it that way, but when I saw those bands doing the same thing, I went, “that’s what I’ve been talking about! That’s how we’re going to make it happen!” I felt vindicated by that, especially because as the frontman, I’m the one going out and doing a lot of the networking. Van McCann, the Catfish singer, he’s a prime example of that in interviews – he’s a character, and you see him and you think, “he’s a nice guy, I want to be his mate.” I think it’s working for us, because people seem hungry for the music.
What’s next after ‘Mother’s Love’?
FF: Release number two is on the way, a track called ‘Don’t Go East’ that’s coming out in late September. That one’s a real fan favourite, and we’re going to put out a nice little tour video with it, just so people can see a bit about what we do on stage and and what we’re like as people – because we really are four very different individuals, but that’s what makes it work. After that, there’ll be another single and an EP, but we’re not sure on the timeframe yet. We’ll be playing a few live dates as well around the single launch, so there’s plenty to come. We’re going to be pestering a lot of people!