Hypersonic Missiles will be released on August 9 via Polydor Records. It was written, recorded and produced at Fender’s own self-built warehouse studio in North Shields. It was recorded alongside long-standing friend and producer Bramwell Bronte. When the 24-year-old won the Brits Critics’ Choice award at the tail end of 2018, his name was added to a list of previous winners that includes the likes of Adele, Florence & The Machine, Sam Smith, and Ellie Goulding.
It’s a veritable hall of fame that feels a million miles away from the guitar-fuelled indie rock that Sam writes.
It was deserved recognition for the hard-working Fender, but nobody was as shocked as he was when he first heard the news, driving past his old secondary school where a teacher once told him to put his musical aspirations to one side because it would amount to nothing. Straight out of school, Fender found work behind the bar in a local pub (“a drinking town with a fishing problem” he’s joked on more than one occasion).
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He was discovered by his eventual manager when the pub’s landlord, recognising him, nudged Sam to go fetch his guitar and play something.
Fender, usually castigated for musing on a guitar during work hours, picked it up and belted out two or three songs of his own. The pair have worked with each other ever since. Dead Boys, a song that really raised the stakes for Sam soon after signing his record deal, tackles the taboo of male suicide.
Having lost close friends to the epidemic and read up on the matter to better understand it, Fender was compelled to address it head on in song.
The reaction was immediate. Aided by a stunning Vincent Haycock directed video, young men have since cautiously approached Sam after shows to thank him for writing it.
Radio stations have received notes from their listeners on a similar theme. It’s touched a nerve, and got people talking. It’s done what good music can do and already become far bigger than just a belting tune.
And on Hypersonic Missiles, there’s a sense that there are far more of those revelations still to come. Fender's shows now sell out instantly, with a hometown show at Tynemouth Castle in the summer shifting 4,000 tickets quicker than most new artists manage in the capital to an eighth of the size.
He follows that show by heading south to support Bob Dylan and Neil Young in London’s Hyde Park, and a recent trip to the US found the buzz and excitement had already stretched over to the Atlantic, with further sold-out shows greeting the young Geordie. Festival season can’t come soon enough.As litmus tests go, Sam Fender has passed them all, and with Hypersonic Missiles, the artist voted Britain’s 'most likely to' make it as a star is about to go stratospheric.