Beware of surfacing Sewer Rats

By Mark Burrow

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A common question, “Where did you come up with your band name?”, was responded to by Luke Morris simply with one word: “Shithole”. Morris said their bassist Iain Morrison came up with the name and the rest of the band liked it immediately. I asked if it reflected the ‘shitholes’ they previously performed in: Morris agreed it certainly could reflect those gigs the Sewer Rats trio had played in their earlier days.

Social media frequently comments on the “madness” which surrounds their gigs. I was intrigued as to why. Morris said that something gets broken after every show. Always various pieces of equipment. What was the most expensive piece of equipment? “Guitars and cymbals often get broken,” Morris replied. “Cymbals are expensive.” I was left imagining the sheer noise and chaos this cymbal destruction would create.

Fans join in with the madness and contribute to the breakages. Morris described the crowd as “Mad . . . often because they are always pissed.” He paused to share the laughter with me as I tried to picture the carnage. Certainly the madness produces the funny side of music. Listening to the tracks ‘Skint’, ‘Money Maker’, and ‘Devils Blues’, the heavy guitar, sonorous vocals and rhythmic drums certainly offer a picture of their live performances whether in official venues or, as Morris told me, in a friend’s basement in Leeds. But this is nicely contrasted by mellow instrumental performances from tracks like ‘Black Label Serotonin’. Sewer Rats offer a break from the madness and allow us to build up our levels of so-called controlled normality.

Who is the ‘maddest’ out of bassist Iain Morrison and drummer Dean Robbins? “Definitely Iain. . . . He’s a loose cannon. . . . A fuckin’ mad’en. . . . Uncontrollable,” Morris replied, convincingly.

The front cover to Sewer Rats’ debut EP Money Maker – available also as 10” vinyl and via download – is highly Medusa-esque: the female piercing eyes and the flowing snake coiling around her neck echoing traits of the Greek mythical character. Morris said he really likes the artwork which was produced by “some girl down in Brighton.” I considered if the cover, like the Medusa symbol, could be used to ward off evil spirits: “Something like that!” Morris laughed. Again, another laughable moment: one could laugh with them for hours but must also recognise how serious they are in their music.

As with all northern groups I have interviewed, the conversation was a laugh. I enjoy the correlation between the madness, the laughter, and the superb future of underground music.

Sewer Rats, from Immingham, certainly paint a picture of lively characters, lively performances, with strong ambition to spread their wings and take the madness further afield. Perhaps their ambition is to be like the title of their track to go ‘So Far Away’? Like a loose cannon, they will cause madness wherever they land – and so their enthusiastic ambition will explode, then they will surface from the sewers to reach for the stars.


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Cover photo by Keira Anee