Birmingham unsigned band SUE unveil debut record
There's more than a hint of tongue-in-cheek humour when SUE frontman Elliot Stone tells us he is looking to be a trailblazer for future musicians from Kinver.
The lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for the four-piece noise rockers struggles to think of any other bands releasing their own material from the South Staffordshire Village.
He's not being arrogant, both of us are finding ourselves stumped. And a sense of dreamy pride comes across his voice as he starts to picture himself as an industry first (NB: both The Ticket Unsigned and Elliot Stone wholeheartedly apologise if we have missed anyone out).
It's a frantic time for Elliott. Speaking to us over the phone, he sounds like he is in a bustling city setting - perhaps the campus of Birmingham City University (BCU) where he is finishing the second year of his music technology degree.
As well as hitting those final deadlines, Elliott and his bandmates - Kidderminster lad Ashley Lavelle on lead guitar and backing vocals and Brummie brothers Harry and Euan Woodman on bass and drums respectively - have released their debut album.
"We recorded it at BCU, there's these studios you can book out," he tells us. "They encourage students to get in there and learn how to make a record.
"It was great fun. I have always wanted to be some kind of music producer myself, so I really enjoyed the process.
"It was challenging at times. There was a lot to do. But I really enjoyed the process and I'd say the guys did too."
That love of the production side of the industry grew for Elliot at a young age as he "played around" in a studio set up by his father. In 2016, upon the dissolution of a previous band, Elliot went it alone.
"When I first got into songwriting I was really inspired by the work of Johnny Cash. I find the dark themes and moods in his music really interesting. He has this song - A Boy Named Sue - which I really love. That's where the name came from.
"I started recruiting musicians to play with me. Ash was with me from the start, the first formation of the band. At the beginning of 2018 I found Ewan, and he brought his brother in. We'd had a few bassists and drummers by then.
"It's a good set-up. I write the songs and they write their own musical parts. We've got good communication skills and we get on quite well. There's no fallings out or anything."
They've been writing since, and that work has culminated in the debut record It Will Never End, which came out digitally on Wednesday before a physical release this weekend.
"I've been playing it to my girlfriend, mum, dad, my mates - driving them mental with it," Elliot adds. "They think it's good, but then they might just be being nice.
"We had a show at the Sunflower Lounge last May where we played it from start to finish. It seemed to go down well so hopefully it's the same now."
And funnily enough they return to the same Birmingham venue - the city the band class as home - tomorrow. They're supporting Belgian band Cocaine P*** alongside Bad Girlfriend and Deafs Door and are treating it as the album's launch. Physical copies of It Will Never End will be available to buy from them.
"It's going to be an energetic show based on the line-up," Elliott adds. "We had planned to do our own release show on May 1, but with uni work and other commitments it just wouldn't happen. Things have been pretty chaotic, but I think that quite suits us.
"I've become really big fans of a band called The Exhalers and also The Butter Aliens, I'm a big fan of their sound. We tried to get them to support us as we've played with them before but we just couldn't arrange a date that worked for everyone. So we turned to the guys at Birmingham Promoters and they sorted us out with this. They're great guys.
"I hope people enjoy the record. I'd recommend buying it, but then I am very biased. A lot of hard work has gone into this."
After that, it will be time to promote the record digitally and grow that SUE brand.
"We plan to flood social media and in the next few weeks we'll look at hiring a PR company to see if they can get exposure for us, both of us sending out emails etc.
"I'm also printing out stickers with a QR code on them and I'll stick them up around the place so people can scan that and find the album."
Then, the rest of the country is their oyster.
"I'm trying to get some gigs in other cities. Getting into different scenes.
"We played in Sheffield a couple of weeks ago and we loved that. We want to grow the brand elsewhere and then hopefully get ourselves a record label - even just a small one - so they can help us with the infrastructure and help me get to grips with all that side of the business."
But what about their local turf first?
"We've played the Sunflower Lounge, The Flapper and Actress & Bishop in Birmingham, and also a couple of gigs at The Giffard Arms in Wolverhampton too.
"It's all about connecting with the crowd. It's about their enjoyment and reaction rather than numbers.
"The Kinver scene might not be for us," Elliot adds, returning to his hometown with another tongue-in-cheek reference. "We might be a bit too loud for it."
People can make up their own mind by cracking the album open themselves.
SUE are on Facebook and can be found @madmadsue as well as on Instagram @mad_mad_sue. It Will Never End is now available on their Spotify and Bandcamp pages as well as Amazon and their YouTube channel, and if there is enough interest they plan to release physical copies properly via their website www.suesuesue.com