The Cribs memories of Wakefield - 'Players was perfect - we’d get a pint of John Smith’s because it was the cheapest thing they had on tap'

Ross, Garry and Ryan JarmanRoss, Garry and Ryan Jarman
Ross, Garry and Ryan Jarman
​It’s the streets of Wakefield, college campuses, bars for rock kids, and a makeshift studio headquarters by Chantry Bridge that made The Cribs.

Back in the UK to promote new album Night Network it’s the first time the Netherton trio of brothers Gary, Ross and Ryan Jarman have been together since the pandemic started.

The album was made against the backdrop of an acrimonious split from their management, questions about the future of the band and recording time in a Los Angeles studio owned by the Foo Fighters.

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As the reviews for Night Network pour in and with the hope of a 2021 tour as light at the end of the tunnel, the band have been taking stock of how they got here, together, from a room in Wakefield.

The simple things in life have made all the difference to people this year.

With bassist and vocalist Gary living in Portland, Oregon, drummer Ross living in Wakefield, and guitarist and vocalist Ryan living in New York City, time spent together is always at a premium.

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Gary said Thornes Park college, where he and Ryan studied, was a place he would often revisit on trips back home.

He said: “I still always try to get down there because the campus hasn’t changed a great deal.

“I can still walk those same footsteps and it meant so much to me.

“Back in the day walking from there into town me and Ryan we would be hitting Morgana on Cheapside. It used to sell metal and body piercing stuff, metal clothes and hair dyes. I was getting hair dyes in poppy red and Ryan got piercing stuff.”

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It was a time before the dominance of the internet, the early 2000s, and as each generation of teenagers before them different subcultures would band together each clinging to their scenes like their lives depended on it.

In Wakefield bars like Players and McDermott’s were at the centre of that.

Gary said: “At Players we’d get a pint of John Smith’s because it was the cheapest thing they had on tap at £1.65.

“Players was extremely important, a refuge for kids like us. When it was all connected all the alternative kids would stick together, skate punks hanging out with metal kids, grungers hanging out with goths - all the outcasts were together.

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“And Players was perfect. Literally underground with a gig room upstairs and the 90s Wakefield sound was hard edged fast punk rock and that had an influence on everyone.

“I’m so nostalgic for that. The connectivity and the tribalism we had - we had to live and die for music tastes.

“I hated the 265 bus to Wakey, getting harassed for having ripped jeans, but it’s that conviction that’s why me and my brothers have been so passionate over the years.

“You had to knuckle down - people who were invested in Wakefield music scene were really hardcore.”

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The older two twin brothers had always played together and younger Ross was being primed to be drummer. In the earlier days of the Cribs the band rented a building on Tootal Street by Chantry Bridge, near where The Hepworth gallery is now.

They would use it as a jumping-off point to build a scene for the city.Ryan said: “We it set up because Players had closed down, we were just spinning our wheels.

“We converted it to a recording studio but it gave us chance to make our own records. We could make records, we could put shows on, unlicensed shows so people brought their own drinks.

“It gave us the ability to lay foundations for a scene because there wasn’t one here, we could bring bands from elsewhere.

“It felt like the centre of something.

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“We only had it for four years I think about the work we could have done. It was height of the 2000s guitar music explosion and I think the city could have benefited but you always love what’s been left behind.”

Ross said: “That’s where we wrote the songs and that was the hub for the band for the first few years, we recorded B-sides and wrote albums there.

“We’d sleep there and we all lived at our parents then.

“We’d just leave sleeping bags and it was freezing, but there was real treasure in there.”

Gary hoped it set a standard for what was possible for bands in the city.

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The Cribs came up during a wave of British indie guitar music during the 2000s.

But even then there was a feeling in Wakefield and in the north that what was possible was limited.

Gary said: “Wakefield now is still this little bastion of independent spirit, which is not what it was in the 90s. And that’s really cool.

“When I was growing up there was a malaise, if you’re not from London nobody pays attention and I think because we got a deal that excuse was gone – that excuse that there was no point in trying.”

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From the early albums to the latest release the band’s music is littered with nods their home city, both being from a place, wanting to see bigger things in the world, and returning to that city. The Cribs are a band from Wakefield, not a city near Leeds.

Ross said: “In the early days it felt a little suppressive but being young I wasn’t well travelled and wanted to see what it was like in other places, we have toured the world but being away from Wakefield a lot made me appreciate it more and more.

“I love it here, Gary moved to Portland, Ryan to New York but for me there is something very comforting to be here. On a plane I’m always excited to be heading home.”

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