Take political lyrics, and mix them with a hybrid of punk, ‘70s rock and blues—all with lo-fi production—and you’ve got Sheer Mag.
Based in Philadelphia, the four-piece rock band has pared an array of genres into a cohesive sound, thanks to the consistent and emphatic vocal delivery of frontwoman Tina Halladay. Political lyrics span the band’s catalog; “Fan the Flames” talks about retaliating against landlords, while “Expect the Bayonet” covers class solidarity and voting.
Since forming in 2014, the band has released three albums (one is a collection of EPs) while being road warriors, providing highly energetic live sets night after night—including a scheduled stop at Pappy and Harriet’s on Friday, Oct. 7.
This will be the second show this year for Sheer Mag at Pappy’s, after opening there for Coheed and Cambria in February.
“I had no idea what to expect,” Halladay said, during a recent phone interview, about Pappy and Harriet’s. “It’s really cool over there, and that was the first show of that tour with Coheed. It was a really wild first show of the tour, but it was really fun. I’m excited to play again.”
The band had a prior relationship with Coheed and Cambria, yet the tour invitation was a surprise.
“We played their cruise, which also got postponed two years because of COVID,” Halladay said. “While we were on the boat, I was talking to their manager and stuff. It was kind of last-minute, but it was cool, and that show was particularly a fun one to start off with. I also liked that band when I was 16, so it was kind of a funny full-circle moment.”
There have been various full-circle moments like that Coheed call during the band’s eight-year history.
“It’s things that if I knew what was going to happen when I was a teenager, it would have blown my mind,” she said.
Even though Sheer Mag’s music covers multiple genres, some of the bands the band plays with have a vastly different sound—like Coheed and Cambria, with their poppy prog-metal.
“We feel like there’s no clear-cut band that we should be opening for,” Halladay said. “I don’t know if there is a modern band that’s exactly who we should be playing with. I kind of feel like we can float around and do kind of whatever. It’s a lot more open.”
Starting in the Philadelphia scene meant Sheer Mag performed a lot of DIY shows with varying groups and genres.
“I think we just ended up playing with a bunch of punk and hardcore bands, because those are our friends,” Halladay said. “That was how we knew how to play shows.”
The band is currently planning a follow-up to 2019’s A Distant Call.
“We’re working on some stuff,” Halladay said. “We’ve got maybe four songs that are completely done, but we were going back and forth on whether we want to do a 7-inch or an LP. I think we’re kind of set on doing an LP now, so we’ve got some work to do still.”
As the dust has begun to settle following the pandemic shutdowns and postponements, Halladay said there is no one correct form of action when it comes to progressing as a band.
“I think we all have different ideas of what is the best to do,” Halladay said. “We really didn’t finish touring on A Distant Call before the world shut down. We do want to put out something new before we do another (big tour) on our own around the U.S.—but we can’t do both at the same time. We have trouble doing that. … We’ve mostly done the support stuff, where we play for half hour, or 40 minutes, so we’re just playing the stuff that we know gets people’s attention, and we know people respond to. We haven’t had the chance to test out the new songs, right now at least.”
Halladay hinted that at least some of Sheer Mag’s new music may not be quite as political.
“I think that we’ve all chopped ourselves silly with that subject matter,” Halladay said. “We’ve put out enough about how we feel about that kind of thing. … We might try to talk about some other things.”
Sheer Mag will perform with Twompsax and Ingrates at 9:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 7, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $22.99. For tickets or more information, call 760-228-2222, or visit pappyandharriets.com.