As Sticky Mike’s hurtles towards its unwelcome closure, there’s still time for a fitting send-off from another Brighton institution with experience of an impending demise. “We fuckin’ hated each other,” says Blood Red Shoes drummer Steven Ansell, recalling the bleak future of his much-cherished band following a decade of hard touring before the release of their self-produced, self-titled 2014 record. “We didn’t, at any point, have a breather. We probably didn’t see each other for about 10 days a year, tops, for six or seven years.”
That’s where the parallels with the outpouring of regret surrounding the Sticky Mike’s announcement end. “At the end of the fourth record we were like, ‘fuck you, I never want to see you again’,” Ansell says. Laura-Mary Carter, Ansell’s bandmate, took a one-way flight to Los Angeles, while Ansell “took drugs and went clubbing” for a while, presumably dropping in on the fated Frog Bar. He echoes the sentiments of most music-lovers in calling it “the weird and wonderful place”. “We heard it was closing down and immediately decided we had to play one of the closing parties. We’ve actually only played there once – it was in secret, in 2017, for one of our all-time favourite bands, Hot Snakes. That was a total privilege. But we’ve always really loved the place and had such a great time watching bands or partying there. It feels like such an integral part of the Brighton music world that we had to do a headline show there before it shuts.”
So what sparked the comeback? “It got to a point where it was like, ‘if this is gonna work, we’ve gotta change everything,” says Carter, sounding a faint alarm bell for fans of the band’s old sound. In the making of new LP ‘Get Tragic’ – the title reflects their self-awareness – Carter and Ansell were expelled from a rural Welsh retreat, only for Carter to suffer a broken arm (in a motorbike accident) and heart (a break-up) after they moved the sessions to Leeds, and the whole process to be halted by a disastrous record deal. The injury led Carter to try the keyboard, and the result is “the soul of a rock band, but with a more interesting, groovy, sexy style,” reckons Ansell.
At Sticky’s, they’ll play singles – they’ve called it Singles Night – from throughout their career. “That means songs we haven’t played for six years and probably won’t be playing again for a very long time,” promises Ansell. “It’s been a long time since we’ve played a show this small in Brighton. But this is something cooler than a regular gig.”
Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar, Tuesday December 11th 2018. Tickets sold out. The band play an acoustic set at Resident Music on Sunday January 27th at 6pm.