20 Miles From Grimsby alt rock band

20 Miles From Grimsby: Happiest Playing Live

Quick to establish themselves on the Sheffield music scene, alt rockers 20 Miles From Grimsby have built their reputation by gigging hard in pubs, clubs and festivals throughout the north of England.

When the Covid pandemic hit the UK, gigs were put on ice. Now the boys are back, fresh from signing their first record deal, playing live and loud, with lashings of heavy bass and drums.

Also known by the abbreviated 20MFG, the energetic four-piece consists of Tom Auty on vocals and rhythm guitar, Harry Stephenson on lead guitar, James Eaton on bass, and Aren Walker on drums.

To find out more about their musical journey, as well as toasting their succes, we had a quick chat with 20MFG before their latest sold out gig. Read on for the lowdown and the highlights.

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How did you guys meet?

TOM - I went to school with Harry and James, so we knew each other from there. We formed 20MFG in 2019 and we played local pub gigs. James had played with Aren in other bands, and that’s how Aren came to join us last year.

And where did the name come from?

HARRY - That’s me. In the summer my grandad often drives to the East Coast, because he says they do the best fish and chips. If I call anytime on a Sunday morning and ask where he is, I can guarantee he’ll say 'About 20 miles from Grimsby.' It was originally a working title for the band, but it kinda stuck. 

20MFG guitarist Harry Stephenson

Tell us more about those early pub gigs.

JAMES - Our first pub gig was in July 2019, at The Wharncliffe Arms in Chapeltown. It’s a great pub. At that time we were banging out covers of Kings of Leon, Catfish, Arctic Monkeys, stuff like that. It was the first time our local had experienced a mosh pit. We absolutely loved it. Playing live is such a rush.

Any other gigs that particularly stand out?

AREN -Yeah, our first festival. We opened the New Music Stage at Wentworth Festival in September 2021. The crowd was huge. Our set was all original songs – one of the first times we’d not done any covers – and the reaction from the crowd was fantastic. It was a real buzz.

HARRY - It was a great experience for us. Our social media following grew immediately because of the exposure, and we made lots of great contacts backstage.

AREN - It was an awesome day. We played our set, then spent the rest of the afternoon chilling, eating pizza and listening to the other bands.

Jaws Tee alt rock inspired graphic tshirt

Sounds bloody marvellous. Is that how your record label found you?

JAMES - No, we were supposed to headline a gig at the Dublin Castle in London. It’s the legendary venue in Camden where Amy Winehouse used to work behind the bar, and where the Arctic Monkeys were signed. This was a big connection for us, being from Sheffield, but we had to pull out at the last minute because Harry was in hospital, hooked up to machines. It was quite serious for a couple of weeks, but he made a full recovery.

HARRY - Another band took the slot instead. They happened to be signed to Ramble On. We were gutted for having to pass on the gig; so, really to cheer ourselves up, we decided to contact Ramble On. I sent in some demos, they liked what they heard and asked us for a meeting.

How was the meeting? Squeaky bum time?

TOM - Oh yeah! We played our full live set in their studio, to give them a taste of our sound and what we’re about. We got on really well. They offered to sign us there and then. We couldn’t believe it!

20 Miles From Grimsby and fans. Credit: @_joseph_clarke_photography_

Boom! Recognition well deserved. And you're still playing plenty of shows.

JAMES - You cannot top live music. We're happiest playing live. The pandemic has been so hard because there’s really been no live music happening anywhere. Every venue was shut. 

HARRY - We want to get out and play as many gigs and festivals as possible. Our dream for the band is to play Tramlines in our home city of Sheffield.

Who are your musical heroes?

TOM - I’m a big fan of Bring Me the Horizon, and The 1975. Yeah, I’d say Matty Healy and Oli Sykes are my heroes.

HARRY - I grew up listening to my dad’s classic rock records in the car. I fell in love with Guns N’ Roses at an early age. Slash is my idol. 

JAMES - Dave Grohl and Wayne Bergeron. Dave for his ear for music; Wayne for the music he produces.

AREN - Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Freddie Mercury.

Gunslinger Black Tee cotton graphic tshirt

We'd like you to each tell us something unusual or unexpected about one of your bandmates.

HARRY - Tom is a black belt in karate. Genuinely. And he likes skateboarding.

AREN - Harry is addicted to buying guitar pedals. He’s constantly tinkering with his pedalboard.

TOM - James once had trials for England’s American Football squad, and he’s proper into Formula 1.

JAMES - Aren is addicted to watching TV, especially soaps. Doesn’t matter which one. Somehow he manages to randomly bump into cast members when he’s out drinking and loves a selfie with them. He met Ian Beale from Eastenders the other day.

Aren meets Eastenders legend Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt)

Thanks for answering our questions, guys. Where can peeps go to find out more about 20 Miles From Grimsby?

HARRY - We’re on InstagramFacebook and Twitter.

AREN - And we’ll be back at Wentworth Festival in Rotherham in September. Come along and see us!

TOM - We’ll be announcing more gigs soon.

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📸 Joseph Clarke Photography

 

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