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Saturday 15 January 2022

Interview: During The Pandemic Sam Fender Turned The Mirror On Himself & The Results Will Be Aired @ The Brighton Centre

Back in the spring of 2019, Sam Fender was still piecing together Hypersonic Missiles, the sky-scraping debut which six months later would go on to top numerous charts and mint Fender's status as the most important songwriter of his generation. Two years on we have second album, Seventeen Going Under on which Sam turns the mirror on himself.
Credit Jack Whitfield

Through the prism of an acutely aware kid from a council estate in North Shields, Hypersonic Missiles tracks such as Dead Boys, The Borders and Leave Fast yearned for escape while finding poetry and drama in the lives of those surrounding their author. They were songs with their eyes - and their hearts - wide open. 

As he sat in the afternoon sun, Fender reflected on the viewpoint within his songs with typical North Eastern self-deprecation.

"I find it easier to write about other people because I can be completely honest about them," he pondered. 

"I can't be completely honest about myself because everyone would think I was a miserable c**t."

Fast-forward to 2020 and like the rest of the planet, Sam Fender was faced with little more than the four walls in front of him. 

There were no old boys propping up the bar at The Lowlights Tavern or Poundshop Kardashians to draw inspiration from. Instead, for the first time as a songwriter he had to turn his gaze to himself.

"I didn't have anyone to write about. I've always relied on that stuff. On hearsay, rumours, stories, gossip… gossip made mankind," recalls Fender today from his studio in North Shields. 

"I didn't want to write about Covid because fucking no one is ever going to want to hear about that ever again, so this time I went inwards."

You don't need to be intimately acquainted with his backstory to realise Sam Fender's own life isn"t short of material to draw from. 

Press play on Seventeen Going Under and in the surging double-header of the title track and Gettin' Started you can hear the beats of his own story, his journey from North Shields and his own battles pounding through the music"s euphoric rush. 

You can practically feel the wind blowing in your face as the motor starts running and the vista of a life unfolding opens up ahead of you.

"Some of the stories are autobiographical so they write themselves," he says. 

"In a sense though, you're writing about the human experience, but you do feel exposed."

Though in relative terms Seventeen Going Under is coming under two years after Hypersonic Missiles, Fender's songwriting is light years ahead here. 

Musically, the songs are far more nuanced, more detailed and more textured than before. 

If the album's first half largely mirrors Fender's own story, its second deals with the toll life and your own feelings of self worth can take. 

"This album is a coming of age story. It's about growing up. It's a celebration of life after hardship, it"s a celebration of surviving," reflects Fender. 

"I think it's fucking leagues ahead of the first one."

Sam Fender plays The Brighton Centre on 30th March 2022. CLICK HERE for tickets.

by: Mike Cobley


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