Philly Punk Rockers Sheer Mag Release Debut Full-Length, 'Need to Feel Your Love'

(Image credit: Marie Lin)

Considering the bend-heavy, Seventies guitar hero dynamics infused into Sheer Mag’s Need to Feel Your Love, the band’s debut LP is primed to be pumped out of basements still lined with bong water–soaked shag carpets.

While lead guitarist Kyle Seely confesses to Guitar World that he’s not much of a toker, the album’s perma-baked sound could have something to do with the stoners that set up shop beneath the band’s North Philly practice space. That is, at least before the 420-friendly operation got everyone thrown out of the building earlier this year.

“This group of weed activists had a massive ‘smoke-easy,’ like a speak easy,” the guitarist explains with a laugh of the illicit situation that’s temporarily put his project out on the street. “The SWAT team came and busted it. They seized, like, four guns, 200 pounds of weed, and 70 pounds of weed edibles. They shut the whole building down. The building managers were like, ‘You’ll be back in two weeks once we get it back to code.’ That was two months ago.”

Like Sheer Mag’s potent trio of EPs, Need to Feel Your Love cuts like “Rank and File” and “Just Can’t Get Enough” have Seely and rhythm guitarist Matt Palmer tight-rolling punk politics with Thin Lizzy–style riff rock (“It’s an obvious comparison that people make to our music, I can’t deny it,” Seely says of the latter).

But the longer runtime also has the band flexing outside of their comfort zone, whether its Seely chicly conjuring Nile Rodgers’ funky sway on the discofied title track, or ripping into Mick Mars–leaning whammy bar leads on the Sunset Strip–style power stomp, “Turn It Up.”

“We had to reel that one back in a little bit,” the six-stringer says of the latter, saying its Eighties metal edge had to be sanded down slightly to become more than just pastiche. “It’s probably the heaviest song we have. That guitar solo—the Floyd Rose dive bombs, and shit like that—that’s a guilty pleasure of mine. That shit’s sick!”

Though Seely was concerned about the genre-hopping on Need to Feel Your Love, the songs are still united by the lo-fi 8-track treatment he and co-producer/band bassist Hart Seely gave the sessions. Likewise, all are compact, well-crafted cuts that back the beautifully bristly, bluesy wails of vocalist Tina Halladay. While Seely can run wild on his fretboard—a leftover from initially picking up a bass in his teens to tackle “decadent” Primus runs—the guitarist will always take songcraft over soloing.

“We were both sort of into the flashiest playing of any type of instrument,” he recalls of he and his brother’s formative days, adding, “we both sort of gradually moved into punk and hardcore, and realized, ‘Oh, just playing the most insane shit is not always the coolest thing to do.’ ”

(Seely) Fender Deluxe Nashville Telecaster, Schecter Hellraiser with active EMGs, Gibson SG standard, 1985 Fender Squire Katana
(Palmer) Peavey T-60 1980 natural ash.

(Seely) 1982 JCM 800, 2x12 Marshall Cab
(Palmer) Fender Hot Rod Deville II 60-watt 2x12

(Seely) Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner, Xotic SP compressor, Boss Super Chorus, Boss GE-7 Equalizer
(Palmer) Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner, Electro-Harmonix Soul Food

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Gregory Adams

Gregory Adams is a Vancouver-based arts reporter. From metal legends to emerging pop icons to the best of the basement circuit, he’s interviewed musicians across countless genres for nearly two decades, most recently with Guitar World, Bass Player, Revolver, and more – as well as through his independent newsletter, Gut Feeling. This all still blows his mind. He’s a guitar player, generally bouncing hardcore riffs off his ’52 Tele reissue and a dinged-up SG.