By Chris Bryson
Photo by Thrasher
Sheer Mag play with their hearts on their sleeves. The critically acclaimed Philadelphia five-piece’s take on lo-fi hard rock brings riff-laden grooves to anthemic heights, with their lyrical concepts fueled by a steadfast vision for a better world.
Sheer Mag will be coming to Winnipeg with hardcore/thrash beasts Fury, Red Death, and Power Trip. Although Sheer Mag are stylistically the most ill-fitting of the bunch, their punch nevertheless hits just as hard. Tina Halladay, singer of the band, said they’re excited to finally be doing a non-headlining tour with a bunch of bands that they know. “Sometimes it’s just fun to not have to play last every night,” she said. “I mean it’s awesome it’s amazing but it’s going to maybe help to have people who normally wouldn’t see us play maybe do that and just kind of be like a fun, we’d be able to play a shorter set and stuff like that.”
A part of what’s made Sheer Mag such a distinct entity is their political and emotional ethos that stands up for the oppressed and misunderstood. With their lyrical concepts and having a female vocalist, the span of their influence goes beyond the reach of their music. “I get young girls coming up to me, also just because you know there’s not tons of women in music,” said Halladay. “Especially like more aggressive music. Lots of girls come up to me they say they started a band after they saw us. And I think that it’s cool because we do a thing where (Disrupt) J20, the people raising money for the people who got arrested at the protest for inauguration day, they would come out and have a table at a bunch of our tour dates the last time we were on tour. So the fact that we can do things like that is really important.”
Halladay knows the importance of being non-judgmental, open-minded, and able to put yourself in another person’s shoes before jumping to conclusions about their behaviour, and many people could benefit from her point of view. “I think any time anyone is open minded and can listen to other people’s perspective is someone that’s worthwhile and kind of deserves to be given a chance to figure out what’s right and the opportunity even if they’ve maybe been blind to certain things in the past or whatever,” explained Halladay.
She described a situation where she was with some friends who were talking about something offensive a celebrity had said. Halladay remarked that the celebrity “didn’t come from a place of privilege where she was educated about why what she said wasn’t okay or whatever.”
“And I just think that people often forget that not everyone comes from an education and background where they can understand all of those things,” Halladay said. “And given the chance, some people just need the chance to be explained. Instead of answering in outrage to some things they should be patient and understanding and kind of help educate people who maybe don’t have access to knowing those types of things are offensive or upsetting to people.”
Sheer Mag’s lo-fi style is one of the defining characteristics of the band’s sound. On their debut full-length, Need To Feel Your Love, they decided to put a smidge of polish on and threw bits of funk, soul, and disco into the mix. “It’s all about us and learning, we just got better at what we were doing. So that’s like in taking whatever lesson we learned from past mistakes or whatever and improving on them. I think of course it’ll get a little bit better in production hopefully,” said Halladay. “We make it sound a certain way on purpose and there’s also parts that are just the limitations of the equipment we’re using and our knowledge on it. So there’s certain things that will always be important to us in how we sound. But there’s also other aspects that are going to improve because we’re getting better at doing it.”
For a band on a steady career upswing, Sheer Mag still likes to keep their values close to heart. “We don’t have a crazy plan, just to continue making music that we think is worthwhile, staying independent and doing things the way we want to, being true to ourselves and making sure our shows are affordable for people who always support us from the beginning, is always important to us,” explained Halladay. “We have to fight with venues and bookers. I mean we love our booking agent but you know it’s probably frustrating to work with us sometimes because we don’t do things like everyone else does.”
Halladay explained how they often fight to keep shows at a reasonable price and have their shirts made in the U.S. to stay away from sweatshop labour, in turn taking less marginal profits in comparison to other bands. Halladay said, “just trying to keep our morals intact is basically what our main goal is I think. Just practicing what we’re preaching and all that kind of thing.” In a world plagued by as much chaos that it’s currently consumed by, Sheer Mag are one of those still standing up for what they believe in.