We first heard 20 Miles From Grimsby – aka 20MFG – about a year ago. We got to meet and interview the band soon after.
In the months since, they've continued to pack out venues, as well as securing a record deal with indie label Ramble On and releasing an EP of self-penned grunge rock bangers.
Now, with original singer Tom Auty having moved on to pastures new, 20MFG is starting a new chapter with a new lead vocalist.
The Sheffield-based band, comprising guitarist Harry Stephenson, bassist James Eaton, and drummer Aren Walker, has announced that it's ringing the changes with a new, female lead vocalist: Nicole Footitt.
We met up with Nicole to learn all about the rock chanteuse and how she came to join 20MFG. Read on for a big belter, embarrassing kisses, and the inside track on the audition process.
Please introduce yourself.
I’m Nicole. I’m 19. I’m the new lead singer with 20 Miles From Grimsby.
Are you also a Sheffielder?
No, I’m from Barnsley. But I will hopefully be moving to Sheffield soon.
Tell us how you came to join 20MFG. Did you know the band before?
One of my best friends, Carys, actually knew Harry and James. She showed me their first EP a while ago, so I had listened to that. I liked it. The band had its own sound and wasn’t just like every other indie band out there.
Carys was also the one to tell me they were looking for a new singer. She definitely pushed me to get in touch about auditioning.
Nice one Carys! What was the audition like? Squeaky bum time?
Honestly, it was the nicest audition I’ve ever experienced. I thought they were all so lovely. They were all so chill and happy for me to do things in whatever way I wanted that best suited me.
It could have felt a little intimidating going into a room full of lads, being the only girl, so it was so nice to find that all of them just seemed to be on my wavelength: super chill and easy to talk to.
I started off by singing some of my own songs. Then I performed the two that the lads had asked me and the other auditionees to prepare beforehand.
We then finished with me singing some more songs that I felt suited my style. We also chatted loads, getting to know each other a little.
And how did you find out you were in the band?
I actually heard the day after my audition. I woke up to the message on my phone. Because I read it when I was still half asleep, it took me a minute to actually process what it said.
It was a message from Harry saying that they loved my audition, and how we all clicked and got on well during the audition process. They wanted me to be the new lead singer. I wasn’t expecting it all. I had to double-check that the message was actually meant for me!
You’re replacing a male vocalist. Is that difficult?
I honestly haven’t found it difficult, so far. I can sing the songs the way Tom did, but the guys have also said I can change how I sing them to suit my voice and make them more unique to me.
My voice is different to Tom’s, of course, because I’m female. My voice naturally sits higher. My vocal range is just short of three octaves. I’m a big belter!
I love adding vocal riffs where I can, which I think adds something different to the band’s sound. It’ll be interesting to see how audiences react.
When will we get to hear you and the guys together?
Soon. I can’t wait! Watch this space. I have a favourite track, but I can’t say anything about it yet. It’s one I know I’ll enjoy performing live.
We’re looking forward to hearing it. Are you excited about gigging with the band?
Yes, absolutely. I love performing and I have always wanted to go on tour with a band. I hope there’ll be an opportunity for us to tour. That would be crazy!
Have you always been into music?
Yeah, my parents are music lovers and I grew up surrounded by singing and musical theatre. I’ve always had a strong love for music. I never really go a day without it.
I first started performing and dancing when I was about three. I think I was 10 when I started performing roles in amateur shows.
I remember playing Maria in a school production of West Side Story where I had to kiss my friend who was playing Tony. If you’re not familiar with the show, Maria and Tony kiss a lot. It was so embarrassing!
I’ve since done loads of musicals, I’ve sung opera, pop, all styles and genres. I also studied at CAPA College, which is a specialist performing arts college in Wakefield. It was a 2-year A-Level course in musical theatre. I really enjoyed it.
I also write songs and I’ve been working on my own music at a studio in Sheffield.
Who are some of your musical heroes?
Okay, there’s a lot! My all-time favourite artist is always going to be Ariana Grande. I grew up listening to her music and being inspired by her as a person. She defo helped shape me into who I am today.
I’m also a huge Cigarettes After Sex fan. Their music just makes me cry!
Maggie Lindemann is someone I’m obsessed with. I like to think we’re quite similar vocally. Also Lozeak who is blowing-up on TikTok. I love her and can’t wait for her to become huge! I could go on, but we’d be here all day.
As well as singing, do you play any instruments?
I’m learning guitar, with help from friends and now also Harry.
No better teacher! Name three albums everyone should own.
Okay, here goes. 'AM' by Artic Monkeys. 'Rated R' by Rihanna. And 'Starboy' by The Weeknd. That’s the hardest question I’ve ever been asked! If you ask me again tomorrow, I’ll probably have changed my mind.
Okay, we’ll be back tomorrow. What do you like doing when not making music?
I’m not going to lie; I can be very lazy. If I have no plans, I can happily just stay in bed and read a book. Or I’ll go shopping. Retail therapy is definitely a thing. I spend way too much money on clothes.
What’s the best way to start the day?
I make myself an iced coffee with coconut milk every morning, without fail.
That’s one of the healthiest responses we’ve had to that question; most just say coffee and a poo. Do you have any pets?
I have two beautiful British Shorthair cats: Arabella and Beatrice. I can show you some pictures. They’re not the best of friends, so I don’t have a picture of them together.
Lovely pussies. Thanks so much for answering our questions. It’s been great to meet you. We’re looking forward to hearing 20MFG 2.0.
Thank you, I’ve enjoyed it. I love what you’re doing with TEN OF CLUBS. I really like that you guys have a music blog. I’ve never known other brands do that, especially not a small business. They should all take a leaf out of your book.
I’m such a fan of graphic, printed t-shirts, and I love the attention to detail on this Bone Heads Tee, especially on the back. Very cool.
Thank you. Romany will be happy to hear that. She spent hours drawing the skulls by hand. Lastly, what’s next for 20MFG?
We’re currently recording a brand-new EP. It’ll be coming out soon. We’re all really excited for people to hear it.
Any final words?
I’m just really excited to be part of such an amazing band with such awesome fans.
📸 Band photos by Joseph Clarke Photography
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