Rolling Stone introduced Philadelphia's Sheer Mag as "a gang of punks with a not-so-secret love of '70s classic rock." But the band's love of gritty riffs isn't the only thing that makes them a throwback to rock 'n' roll's freewheeling heyday.
They have largely shunned social media and thus far self-released all of their music on Bandcamp. In a media landscape where bands often pay to have their content compete for attention on news feeds and in email inboxes, Sheer Mag's understated DIY approach to both music and self-promotion makes the band's escalating buzz — including its recent late-night TV debut — all the more unlikely.
"It's a weird time in music where you can just look up someone and watch a million videos of them and read all these interviews and go on their Facebook," lead singer Tina Halladay says. "It's just a strange way to pick apart something. Bands back in the day were larger than life because you didn't know any of that stuff about them."
Sheer Mag's old-school approach is a refreshing regression to the days of walking into a record store and picking up an album with little more than album art or a suggestion from a friend to prime the listening experience.
"Even discovering something on your own without seeing a sponsored ad or it being shoved down your throat is a lot more special and cool — to discover something like that on your own. Maybe you have to try a little more to get there, but it's more worthwhile," Halladay says.
Of course, staying away from social media hasn't made the bandmates immune to their fair share of industry bullshit. Asked about playing Coachella, Halladay lets out an exasperated sigh.
"It's, uh, it was weird," she says, quite clearly still processing the experience. "It was really strange. There were lots of celebs and lots of people who actually didn't give a flying fuck about music and just were there to wear tunics and just look at celebrities and think they look better than everyone else."
Though she says the band had fun playing the festival, she didn't fare as well fighting the festival crowds.
"I was going up front to try to see a band — I think it was Guns N' Roses or something. I was doing that thing you do at shows, which is if you want to go up front, you push through a bunch of people — like, that's what you do. I guess that's not really how people who don't go see music ever think about it."
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Halladay found herself feeling at odds with her surroundings and getting elbowed by "a guy wearing glowstick-shaped glasses."
"And then all these people were just looking at me like, 'This fucking fat bitch!' I wanted to fucking hit him so bad, and he kept elbowing me and shit, and I was like, 'All right, I'm going to go look for Ja Rule smoking a blunt or whatever' — which I missed because I was out there trying to see fucking Guns N' Roses for some goddamn reason. Everyone else saw Ja Rule smoking a blunt backstage, which is way cooler."