Rick Witter on Shed Seven’s first album in six years, collaborating with Rowetta and Manchester memories

These lot aren't just Chasing Rainbows, they're still as ambitious as ever.

Danny Jones Danny Jones - 19th September 2023

Having recently announced a brand new album — their first in six years — and a sellout UK tour to go along with it, The Manc was lucky enough to be offered some time with Shed Seven frontman and Greater Manchester-born musician, Rick Witter.

The alternative rock and Britpop group might have been formed in York, but with Witter hailing from just down the road in Stockport and Shed Seven playing a big role in the Madchester scene of the 1990s, the band have always had a special connection to our city.

With that in mind, we were delighted to sit down with a veteran of the industry who clearly still has a lot of love for this place and has dipped back into the Manc music pool for the new record, A Matter of Time.

Shed Seven’s new album and how it came about

Asking about the six-year hiatus between this upcoming album and the previous one, Instant Pleasures, Rick joked, “It’s taken us to get to fifty years old to reach the sixth album, but we’re lazy, so there you go.

They’ve even got the local lads coming along with later this year.

“The last one was 2017, which was the first new material in 16 years, so it kind of shows that we’re not being as lazy, I guess. We shaved 10 years off this time, so if everyone’s lucky, we might have one out in about two years.”


Returning to the same place in Spain they made the last album — the studio of producer and musician Youth (real name Martin Glover) — Rick said, “We knew we were going to get good sounds and we also knew it was going to be quite hard work.

“If you go around telling people, ‘we’re gonna go to Spain for three weeks and record an album’ people think you’ve got the best life in the world but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s like boot camp and it’s proper full on; every move is questioned, every chord is questioned, but that’s healthy because it really makes you create.”


The 50-year-old said he and the rest of the band walked after three weeks “feeling absolutely knackered, but also elated” in the belief that they’ve come back with something “brilliant” and, judging by the first two singles, it sounds like they have.

‘F:K:H’ and ‘Kissing California’

Expressing our love for the lead tracks off the new album, ‘F:K:H‘ and ‘Kissing California‘ — an uplifting pair of songs that seemed to have tapped into their most uplifting discography whilst delivering an unmistakable Shed Seven chorus — we found that the origins of one came from simply messing about before a show.

It’s already irresistibly catchy.

“It’s a bit of a tongue-in-cheek joke”, he said of ‘F:K:H’. “We were in soundcheck at some point last year and Paul [Banks, lead guitarist and the band’s other chief songwriter] just started playing this riff on the stage as we were soundchecking and I’m saying to him, what’s that?


“I just started singing one of our old B-side verses over the top of it and it just fit really well. Obviously, we didn’t want to recreate an old idea but it just seemed to fit at that moment, so we took it into the dressing room after we’d soundchecked and thought, is there any room for this?”

“Lyrically, I took it lyrically somewhere else after that but the whole bones of the song started by having a little bit of a laugh and a bit of an inter-band tongue joke. Anyone who’s a fan of us and knows that particular song, it’s called ‘Around Your House‘, they’ll know the little nod.”

Knowing it wouldn’t get radio play because of the lyrics (‘Feeling Kinda High’), Rick said they just wanted to channel The Rolling Stones; a bit of pomp and swagger and it certainly seems to have been received well online.

They’ve also teamed up with prolific UK producer Jagz Kooner, who’s worked with the likes of Primal Scream, Oasis, Kasabian and more, to create a real Happy Mondays-esque remix which we’ve probably played more than the original now, to be honest. Speaking of collaborations, this is by no means the only one they’ve had fun with of late.

Cooking up collabs with some of Britain’s best

In fact, since we mentioned the Mondays, one of the most exciting feature artists on A Matter of Time is beloved Manc songstress, Rowetta, who has delivered her trademark gospel vocals on ‘In Ecstasy’, a recording in which Rick says she was “on top form as always”.

Rowetta hasn’t just jumped on the new Shed Seven album, she’s already filmed the music video.

But the special guests don’t stop there; fans will also get to hear Laura McClure of Reverend and The Makers on the folky-pop number, of ‘Tripping With You’ and Witter’s duet with the one and only Peter Doherty on the album’s dramatic closing track, ‘Throwaways’

Refusing to give away any secrets, he only harked back to that Britpop moment and how the 90s seems to be “back in”, adding that “we wanted to kind of jump on that as much as we can before it all disappears again.”

He did also admit that “it’s quite scary how long ago that was” and that doesn’t seem that long ago that Shed Seven themselves were part of it.

Nevertheless, he did say that there’s something about that period and even how they made their records back then that they were tapping back into again this time around, even down to the pace at which they completed it.

Going back to their roots and riding the creative wave

The difference this time round, according to Rick, is that somewhat like their second album, A Maximum High — which saw them skip the dreaded ‘sophomore syndrome’ — their upcoming record came together quite quickly once the idea was hatched.


“All of the songs on that album were quite upbeat, you know, ‘Getting Better’, ‘Going for Gold’, and this is the first album since then that we’ve kind of followed suit. We literally started writing this album in March 2022 and finished writing in December.

“Me and Paul obviously found ourselves in some kind of purple patch which was really exciting because nearly everything we were trying seemed to just fall into place. It was quite weird and a bit unheard of really, we kind of knew we were onto something good.

“Frustratingly, we had to stop writing to go and record it earlier this year; I think I actually would’ve preferred to have carried on because we were on such a good run. But, fingers crossed, when we do start writing new stuff, we can kind of pick up where we left off.

“We don’t ever sit down and discuss writing anything: we just do it. It’s just always a very natural thing. Me and Paul started writing songs together when we were 13 and we’ve always worked the same way.

Influences and Manc music memories

The clearly re-inspired Stopfordian also touched upon how the record is also infused with a lot of the same bands the boys were listening to back then, be it Simple Minds, U2 or even Duran Duran. He insists they’re only “subtle little things and it wasn’t on purpose”, but that perhaps its just come from getting older and looking back more.


Part of that reflection is also realising that they “don’t feel like [they] have to prove anything to anybody”, noting that they have had theirs ups and downs like any group of artists but are now secure in the belief of one thing: “We’re a good band and we deserve to be doing what we’re doing.”

Witter also went on to insist that since they came up during a time in which so many great bands around here, especially, they’ve always known whether something is “good enough to show it to other people” or needs to be “put to one side until it’s fixed”. He said the same of the venues and Manc crowds too.

“We just love coming to that neck of the woods, to be honest. It’s always just a massive winner. Obviously, I’m from the area myself, so it’s always nice for me personally, but there’s just certain places that you go to play and you know that it’s just going to be a winner.”

We’ve had the pleasure of seeing Shed Seven live in Manchester more than a few times.

On the subject of what he thinks sets this city’s crowds apart from others, he went on to say, “I think it’s passion and pride. Manchester is just synonymous with great music because so many good bands have come from that area and I think the people know what’s cool and what isn’t — and they’d certainly tell you as well, which is quality.

“To be honest, we could play anywhere in the North on a drizzly Monday night and it doesn’t really matter that it’s drizzly on a Monday night because everyone inside that room is just having the best time. We wordinarily play the Academy but we’re doing Albert Hall this time and even though we’ve never actually played there, it looks amazing and we can just can’t wait.


“It’s just an amazing place to come to and even in my downtime, obviously, I’ve still got family in Greater Manchester, so whenever I do get the chance to pop back across I always feel almost like I’m a bit back at home.”

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The ‘Shoctober’ singles tour and A Matter of Time release day

If you’ve been a fan of the band long enough, you’ll know they usually tour later in the year in the storied Shed Seven ritual known as ‘Shedcember‘, with the first two tracks of the album already out, the lads have decided to pivot for a change and push everything up — including the album release date.

Initially due to drop a little later, A Matter of Time will now be releasing on 5 January 2024 and with their UK run of show already sold out, Rick says they’ll be treating it as somewhat of a “singles tour”.

Joking that this year’s event will have to be dubbed “Shoctober”, he said part of the reason behind the schedule shift is also because next year will mark be the bands 30th anniversary since the burst on to the scene with their debut album, Change Giver.

“To start the year and the very first week of our 30th anniversary year with a brand new album is great in itself but it also means that we’re going to be very busy in 2024. We’re going to be doing an awful lot of stuff, so if you’re a fan of Shed Seven, buckle up — and if you’re not, I’d go and hide somewhere.”


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Featured Image — Shed Seven/Barnaby Fairley (via Instagram)