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Interview: Sennen

PUBLISHED: 13:37 02 April 2010 | UPDATED: 15:41 29 October 2010

Rob Garratt

On the eve of releasing their third album with a launch party at Norwich Arts Centre, Sennen have a realistic claim to being the city's biggest band. ROB GARRATT speaks to guitarist Rob Kelleway.

Further listening: Sennen

On the eve of releasing their third album with a launch party at Norwich Arts Centre, Sennen have a realistic claim to being the city's biggest band. ROB GARRATT reports.

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Norwich has seen its fair share of musical highs in recent times. Just over a year ago it was singled by the NME as one just two places in its influential Future 50 list. And last month the spotlight was renewed when it was nominated as a potential City of Culture 2013.

Both accolades have helped throw off the shackles of the Norwich's backwards, Partridge-inspired image, and the city's blooming indie scene has picked up more national notice then ever before.

But for all the hype, there is yet to be one big breakthrough artist, an act that has ridden the wave and translated the enthusiasm into record sales.

On the eve releasing their third album, noise-mongers Sennen look perfectly poised to capitalise on the city's growing kudos. Age of Denial, to be launched at Arts Centre on April 9, refines the band's shoegazing soundscapes into a more radio friendly package. Beneath the trademark screaming guitars the album is packed with short songs, neat hooks and catchy choruses.

“There wasn't a particular plan for this one,” admits singer and guitarist Richard Kelleway. “Sometimes we felt like we had a lot of slow and more drawn out material, and we started playing rockier stuff on the last tour and we enjoyed it. The melodies came through a bit poppier, and yeah, that can't be a bad thing.”

The momentum is already picking up, and the band has just signed a deal to release this album and its predecessor, Where The Light Gets In, in Japan. Upon its 2008 release, that album was hailed by music chronicle Word to posses “all the widescreen sweep of big, bleak Norfolk skies.”

Kelleway says the epic landscapes conjured by their music were never intended. “A lot of people say they can hear Norfolk,” he muses. “It makes me wonder if it's in there subliminally.”

But for all the positive press and extensive touring, Sennen's name is not one bandied around the city half as much as other Norwich bands with a fraction of their record sales. “A lot of people in Norwich wouldn't know we exist,” he admits. “I know people on the scene but musically I don't think that really we've ever had much in common with other what most Norwich bands do, we've always done our own thing.”

There “own thing” is a twisted combination of mangled Mogwai sound collages, grungey Sonic Youth rhythms, Spititualised-like cacophony and sheets of My Bloody Valentine white noise.

Their epic, yearning sound was formed slowly after the four-piece first hooked up while still students at the UEA, in 2002, meeting through a musicians' society where they bonded over a shared love of bands like Teenage Fanclub.

They played their first gigs with promoters Wombatwombat - who are behind next week's album launch - and they band made early demos at Magoo's studio, who were on Mogwai's label Chemical Underground. Soon after they signed with Norwich indie label, Hungry Audio, who they are still with today.

“We were students messing around,” remembers Richard. “We started to get a bit more serious when we weren't students. You have all the time in the world when you're a student but you don't use it because you're lazy.”

By 2006 the band's first mini-album, Windows, was released and they had recruited a manager and press agent. Two years later their profile peaked with a glowing 8/10 NME review for their next full album, Where The Light Gets In, which was promoted with a couple of high profile festival slots and a European tour, but failed to translate into the huge record sales the band were hoping for.

“We sort of thought last time with all the press it might lead to something,” said Kelleway. “It's nice to read nice things about you, but sometimes you do show up for a gig and there's no one there. We've never had a big break through, a single on the radio or something that pushes it a bit further. We haven't really made any money.”

Age of Denial, however, could prove a crossroad in the four men's lives. Right now, they clock in and out with day jobs, balancing tours around work commitments. Richard works in IT at Carrow Road, while his brother and bassist Tim, the latest recruit to the band after Andrew Horner left recently, works in finance. Guitarist and keyboardist Laurence Holmes works in London for Charity International Medical Corps, while drummer James Brown is in insurance.

“I hope this could be our year,” Richard added. “I do think this album's very good. We're all very proud of what we've done before, but this time round we think we've got it right. If it makes something happen, that's wonderful.”

t Sennen play Norwich Arts Centre on April 9.

t Age of Denial is out on April 5.

Further listening: Sennen

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