Pikey Balls | Music | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Pikey Balls 

Sherlock just want something to believe in, asking, Are We Still Cautious Artists?

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The interview is over, notebook closed, pen dropped. Interviewer and interviewee, their business done, shift into carefree chat mode. But the first exchange, an offhand comment about Adam Sherlock’s surname, how it lends itself better to a rock moniker than most (horror of horrors: “Harward,” the band), provides the evening’s greatest insight.


“Have you ever seen Snatch?” he asks. Nope.


“Do you know what a pikey is?” Uh-uh.


“Pikeys are like gypsies in Ireland. They travel around in old trailers selling cheap shit. Some pikeys were also bards, poets and musicians. They’d sing traditional Irish songs called sherlocks when they weren’t trying to sell people cheap aluminum siding that’ll fall off or rust, or run off with your children. That’s the wild thing about my name. My dad likes to tell stories about our family. He just told me the other day my ancestors were pikeys.”


Looking at Sherlock, ruddy face framed on top by a Kangol cap and underneath by short, dark facial hair, one can place him in an Irish pub, and possibly even on a porch with a fat, smiling accomplice. That’s where the similarities—inasmuch as they pertain to crime—end. Sherlock is true to his name, more the working-class bard. He’s traveled, though, fronting his share of Salt Lake City bands (most notably Sandkicker and Hammergun), not many bearing stylistic similarities. With Sherlock (Adam, guitarist Johnny Lofgren, drummer Andy Patterson, keyboardist/pedal-steel guitarist Mike Incze, bassist “Bugsy” Ashby), he’s reached a destination.


“This is the first band I’ve done just for me,” he explains between sips of hot coffee. “I grew up as this hardcore kid in the hardcore/straight-edge scene, so most of the bands I’ve been in have [sounded accordingly]. Sherlock is totally different.”


Understatedly so. Given past projects, one might expect a sound that fits with jigsaw-precision into something that fits underneath the increasingly expansive “indie” umbrella. A little punk, perhaps? Emo? Hardcore? Screamo? Stoner? Maybe even twee? All are way off. Flip back to the pub/working-class references. See the tired, pensive guy at the bar, callused hands wrapped around a perspiring pint of ale? That’s Sherlock. See the same guy get up for a round of darts and lies with similarly fatigued and troubled mates? Set it to music. There you go.


Sherlock, classified in true All Music Guide fashion, is heartland rock with leanings toward bluesy ’80s-’90s roadhouse metal-lite. The songs are long-winded, but their charm lies elsewhere. Guitars are paramount; big, dumb licks—done just right—commingle with dirty, organ gospel and determined “Born to Run” rhythms. Sherlock’s voice conjures Springsteen, Mellencamp and Petty, as do his lyrics.


He’s concerned with personal relationships (not simply romance) and inner struggle/subsequent, hopeful triumph. By today’s standards—better put, “indie” standards—it’s uncool. Never mind the odd aural allusion to “Something to Believe In”/“Every Rose Has its Thorn”-style Poison: There’s no irony in the swagger, little pretense in the passion. Beyond stylistics, Sherlock experiments, dressing his songs with trumpet, vibraphones, E-bow guitar, congas, sax and piano. To be sure, Sherlock’s pikey balls come in handy.


“The title of our record is Are We Still Cautious Artists? [from local indie My Sweet Records, www.MySweetRecords.com]. It comes from a conversation I had with Jake Hawley of New Transit Direction. We were talking about how we knew all these talented people who were doing things half-assed ’cause they’re afraid to take the big leap.


“It’s also [partly inspired] by our keyboard player, Mike Incze. Once he told me how he gets too comfortable in his daily life and he has to go get a new book on philosophy or something to kick his ass … scare him. That’s what I want to do, something that’s not normal and safe. The record entails change. If it’s cheesy, who cares? It’s a good feeling. And isn’t that what music’s for, to remind us of carefree times?”

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