Sheer Mag: The politics of being hip 

Monday 14th, May 2018 / 17:00
By Trevor Morelli 

“Not choosing a side is choosing the side with the oppressors.”
Photo by Michael Wolever

CALGARY – Few bands have as much buzz around their debut album as Philadelphia’s Sheer Mag did last summer when Need To Feel Your Love was dropped. According to lead singer Tina Halladay, the constant pressure to be the ‘it’ band can be overwhelming at times.

“It’s just the fact that we have all these logistical things that most bands of our size don’t bother with,” she explains. “But it is at the cost of other things, it’s a give and take on both ends of it. We’re just figuring out how to deal with it in a way that isn’t compromising our ideals.”

In between the constant touring, rehearsing, and promoting, Halladay still has to find time to do the mundane tasks that drag the best of us down.

“Right now, I’m just trying to get some stuff done,” she concedes.  “Like, shitty stuff, like taxes.”

On the plus side, Need to Feel Your Love has garnered nothing but praise since it was released. Outlets like Spin, Rolling Stone and Paste have layered on the acclaim, with the record making numerous year-end “best of 2017” lists.

“I’m so proud of that record. I just love that record and I want to play those songs,” beams Halladay.

“I love “Turn It Up.” I laughed every time the band did the backup vocals for the first 50 times we played it. I love “Pure Desire,”” too. They’re kind of the two different spectrums of that album. It’s hard to pick, but I think those two are my favorite.”

Rounding out the Sheer Mag spectrum are Kyle Seely (guitar), his brother Hart Seely (bass) and Matt Palmer (drums). Fueled by a DIY-ethos and a unique sound that recalls the best of ‘80s disco-rock, the quartet has been playing everywhere from Coachella to Late Night with Seth Myers since forming in 2014.

“I think that the songs I feel like I love, everyone else does. A lot more people knew all those songs than we even thought,” remarks Halladay.

“I guess that’s the miracle of the Internet that everyone’s listening to your record as soon as it’s done. They don’t have to wait to go get it.”

As tough as it is, Halladay says the band tries not to get sucked into the hype machine, because the web can distort your reality quite easily.

“It’s also weird, because there’s so many platforms, so it’s kind of like driving yourself crazy like, ‘How many Spotify steams do you have?’ It just kind of drives you insane and it’s hard to grasp what it even means, so I try not to go too crazy with that.”

Politics can also be a tricky line to walk, but one positive about being in the public eye is that it has given Sheer Mag a platform to encourage people to speak up.

“Even if you’re not saying anything in your music, I think that standing up for what you believe is important. Not choosing a side is choosing the side with the oppressors. I just think that at this point, it’s pretty imperative to stand for something.”

It’s clear that Halladay doesn’t care for the current administration and hopes that changes are coming soon.

“It’s hard to know. This form of government is going to do whatever it wants, no matter what people say and do. I hope that there is a revolution of some kind that takes power back for people and kind of gives power back to the working class. Capitalism is out of control and there are no checks.”

Back on the front lines, Sheer Mag is currently on tour with Dallas thrash band Power Trip, California hardcore group Fury, and Washington punks Red Death.

“It’s going to be crazy. We’ve never really done a tour this long with any one band, let alone three other bands that are going to share the entire bill with us. It’ll be a crazy, cool experience.” 


Sheer Mag play May 21 at Park Theatre (Winnipeg), May 23 at Louis’ Pub (Saskatoon), May 24 at the Starlite Room (Edmonton), and May 25 at Dickens (Calgary) 

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