We first met grunge rock band 20 Miles From Grimsby – aka 20MFG – in February, when we helped the boys celebrate signing their record deal.
The Sheffield four-piece – Tom Auty on vocals and rhythm guitar, Harry Stephenson on lead guitar, James Eaton on bass, and Aren Walker on drums – is signed to independent label Ramble On Recordings.
In our quest to bring you the full story, we thought we'd try to meet up with the man who signed the band - Ramble On's head honcho, Steve Goodburn - to talk record deals, EPs, and what impressed him most about 20MFG.
But first, we had a chat with guitarist Harry Stephenson to find out what the band has been up to, and how it feels to have a record deal.
You signed your record deal back in February. How does it feel now?
Honestly, it feels absolutely amazing! We’ve had lots of people congratulating us, and we have an amazing team supporting us. It still feels a bit unreal, sometimes.
We only started this band 3 years ago, so to get to this point is fantastic! It’s been a rollercoaster ride, but we’re certainly living it to the full. We just don’t get much sleep!
That’s rock and roll for you. So, what's been happening?
Since our last catchup, we sold out our headline show at The Sidney and Matilda in Sheffield. What an incredible night! Probably our best show yet.
We’ve also been recording our debut EP: ‘We Never Did It Before and Now We’ll Never Do It Again.’ It’s out now on all streaming sites!
Does it feel any different, being a signed band?
It’s definitely started to feel more like having a job; well, a second job. We all still have day jobs, so we recorded the EP at the studio after work, sometimes till almost midnight.
We’ve gained more confidence by playing on bigger stages to bigger crowds. But there is a certain level of pressure that comes with it now, as we’re now being financially backed by our label: Ramble On.
Tell us about the EP.
It’s our debut EP and it’s exactly how we wanted it: a hard-hitting, grungy, bass-filled extravaganza! It’s influenced by Nirvana and Royal Blood.
There are 3 tracks on the EP. The first – ‘You Only Love You’ – showcases the heavier side of our sound. ‘Tattoos and Mischief’ was one of the first songs we ever wrote together. And, for contrast, the third track – ‘July’ – is a sentimental, melodic tune.
We recorded at Ramble On’s studio in Sheffield. It took 5 or 6 sessions over a couple of months to get everything laid down. We experimented a lot with different sounds, backing samples, and pedals to try to capture the energy of the recording sessions. I think we managed it.
Then it was an extra month or so for the mixing and mastering. Steve and Andy from the label produced it. They’ve done a phenomenal job giving it its final mastered sound.
It sounds like you enjoyed being in the studio.
Yeah, it was brilliant. Being around our producer Andy while he works has amazed us and shows how important the mixing and mastering side of recording is. Just tweaking this or that can make a big difference to a track.
And recording drums takes ages. It literally takes hours! Mic’ing them up. Getting the right sound. But Aren did an outstanding job, as ever, and made them sound incredible.
So now you must be busy with promoting the EP.
We definitely are! Sheffield has an annual Tramlines festival and we’re playing the festival fringe at Maida Vale on Sunday 24 August. This is huge in Sheffield, and we are really looking forward to it.
We're playing The Leadmill in Sheffield on 16 October, as support for the amazing Danny Mellin, and we’re working on new material too. Our gigs are full sets of original songs, and we have enough in the bag already for the next 3 EPs! We’re hoping to release another EP by the end of the year. Keep an eye out for that.
Or an ear. Thanks for the update, Harry. Anything you want to add?
Just thanks to everyone for the support, especially Ten of Clubs. Follow us on social media – Instagram, Twitter, and the rest - and any streaming sites you use. You’ll find us there: 20 Miles From Grimsby.
Having heard what the band has been doing since signing on the dotted line, we thought we’d find out what first convinced the record company to get on board. We’re grateful to Ramble On Recordings boss, Steve Goodburn, for making time to speak with us.
Before we talk 20MFG, please tell us a bit about your career in music.
I grew up listening to a combination of my mum's Motown music, Beatles, Stones, and my brother's Black Sabbath and Rainbow albums. They were played on an old, plastic, Fidelity record player. I was about 6 or 7 years old, but that’s when I knew music would be my life’s pursuit.
In the late '80s, early '90s, during the acid house explosion, I taught myself to mix on rudimentary turntables and a very basic mixer. I ended up travelling the world DJ'ing, and generally getting up to no good! I still DJ, as well as running the record label, producing and songwriting.
It was grunge and the rise of Britpop that made me first pick up a guitar. On a good day, I can still get a pretty decent tune out of one!
I progressed through years of live promotion and band management, before deciding to start the record label: Ramble On.
Tell us about the label.
I formed Ramble On Recordings during lockdown in 2020 with my friend and business partner Andy Bolam. The label's grown to include a roster of incredible talent.
The artists represent different genres, but what they all have in common is that they're all more than capable of breaking through in this industry. It takes hard work and perseverance. That's what's needed to make it in today's music industry.
How did you first come to hear 20MFG?
I listened to a demo just prior to Christmas 2021. It was a very rough demo! Andy, who mixes most of our stuff for the label, did a great rescue job on it. But I could hear something in it; there was something special there. Hard to put it into words, but I knew I wanted to meet the lads.
And what was your reaction when you did get to meet them?
I was utterly impressed by them. You rarely see such professionalism in such a young band. They already had a small but loyal following. They’d put a lot of work into their stage presence. They had ideas for their image and their logo. They were obviously serious about their music and had given everything a lot of thought.
Basically, in my many years of working in the music industry, I had not come across such a young band with such a strong work ethic, a clear plan, ethos, brand, and following. It made it an extremely easy decision for me.
We understand you signed the band at that first meeting. You must have been sure of your decision.
Absolutely! And shortly after signing them - about a week actually - I went to see them at a gig. What I witnessed confirmed to me I was right about them.
They had sold out the venue – it was quite a small venue, but they’d sold all 150 tickets – and I watched lads and lasses crowd surfing, screaming at the guys, and singing every word of every song back at them. The reaction was incredible.
Harry’s been telling us about the EP.
Yes, we immediately set about recording their EP. We recorded it in our Sheffield studio. It’s out now. It’s called ‘We Never Did It Before and Now We’ll Never Do It Again.’ It’s a great EP – a three-track EP – and it’s available on all major streaming platforms now. Go check it out.
Thanks for your insights, Steve, and for agreeing to talk with us.
My pleasure. I enjoyed it. And thanks to Ten of Clubs for supporting the boys. I strongly believe they’ve got something special.
If they keep working, and are guided in the right way, and heard by the right people, I’m certain they can make their mark and do something big. You’ll be hearing a lot more from 20MFG.
📸 Images by Joseph Clarke Photography
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