Sertraline formed from the ashes of hard rock band Blue Origin, based in Stoke-on-Trent, UK. Founding members Mike Hawkings, Dan ‘Hendo’ Henderson, Josh Sutton and Tom Eivers were excited about starting a new project and needed a singer to complete the line-up. After several weeks of advertising and auditions, Lizzie Parry was recruited to complete the band in August 2014.
With a couple of songs ready and written, work began on their debut EP ‘Bury the Ghosts’, which was recorded in the October of the same year at Vale Studios. Sertraline’s first live performance was also in October 2014, at Grand Central in Manchester. From there, the band built some hype and released their debut single ‘Set The World Alight’ in December 2014. It was a busy first 5 months!
Still being a new band, 2015 was spent raising Sertraline’s profile within the UK underground scene. The video for ‘Set the World Alight’ was released in February, closely followed by the debut 6 track EP ‘Bury the Ghosts’. The EP was very well received and catapulted the band into the spotlight. Gigs filled the diary, including support slots with Toseland and Kobra and the Lotus at local venue The Sugarmill. It was in 2015 that Sertraline embarked on their first UK tour, supporting Denmark’s Forever Still. These high-profile shows helped to push the first EP, whilst creating the foundations of a widespread fanbase.
The back end of 2015 gave Sertraline their first test. A small, headline UK tour was booked to celebrate a year of the band, however one member couldn’t commit to touring demands. As a result, Josh Sutton was permanently replaced on guitar by Tom Wilson, who already knew Mike from their days at University. Tom slotted in effortlessly to the group’s dynamic, and the first headline tour was an immense success for such a new band. A couple of new songs were in the works, and Sertraline felt very positive for the future.
Despite the positivity, the challenges of 2015 were not over yet. December 2015 saw Tom Eivers leave the band, and Sertraline ended the year without a drummer.
Now a 4 piece; Lizzie, Mike, Hendo and Tom refused to let a lack of drummer get in the way of progress. They recruited Lizzie’s friend Ed Dennis, a professional session musician, to help fulfil their gig commitments. This included a memorable support slot to Butcher Babies and Sumo Cyco at The Live Rooms in Chester. Not even the writing process had been affected; 5 new songs that would make up Sertraline’s second EP were complete and ready to record.
Sertraline hit Vale Studios in May 2016 to record the new EP. Ed was available to track the drums and smashed out all 5 songs in one day. The band spent a week adding all the other layers, producing the EP themselves with the aid of engineer Chris D’Adda. 4 video diaries were filmed to document the making of the EP, you can find the videos on YouTube here.
To add to the year’s phenomenal workload, auditions for drummers were also taking place. Si Douglas from Manchester stood out from all the rest, he was invited to join Sertraline for 9 dates on their 2016 Single Release Tour. The UK tour was 12 dates in total and took the band to both new and previously visited cities. Si relished the challenge and grew more confident with every show. Following the tour, single ‘Change of Heart’ was released worldwide along with a music video.
The new single created a buzz about Sertraline’s new material, and another release date was eagerly anticipated. On 21st November 2016, a release date and pre-order packs were announced for the new EP 'Guilty'
With the release of ‘Guilty’ scheduled for 3rd March 2017, Sertraline opened the year with an EP release tour. The tour was a chance for fans to hear the EP before it’s official release, and the band enjoyed shows across England, Scotland and Wales promoting the EP. Reviews flooded in, building the expectations:
“Spiced with emotion and attention grabbing tracks, you cannot fail to be impressed with them” – RAMzine
“Emotive potency…colossal grooves”– Metal Hammer
“Another strong contender in the UK melodic scene is on the rise here” – Distorted Sound Magazine
The EP was an instant success with fans. Although the record was more experimental and heavier than ‘Bury the Ghosts’, it showcased the band’s song writing ability at its best, highlighting the progress they had made since the line-up change. The EP release was quickly followed up with a music video for ‘I Admit the Blame’, which has since racked up thousands of YouTube views.
Sertraline spent the remainder of 2017 promoting the EP, primarily through live shows. Highlights included Chester Live Festival, Sonder Festival, headlining The Slade Rooms (Wolverhampton), supporting VOLA at Sanctuary Live (Basingstoke).
Meanwhile, the band’s online presence had been steadily growing, reaching 3,900 Facebook likes at the end of the year. Si Douglas was now firmly in place as the drummer for the band.
2018 brought Sertraline some incredible career highlights. In February, a UK/EU Tour was announced. 8 dates covering 4 countries; England, France, Switzerland & Italy. This was the first overseas venture for Sertraline and they couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to Europe. They returned to the UK having won over many new fans, alongside making great relationships with the overseas bands and venues.
January through June saw the 2018 editions of the Metal 2 The Masses competition take place. The winners of each region were awarded a slot at the UK’s biggest heavy metal festival, Bloodstock Open Air. Sertraline entered the competition with no expectations, but a lot of determination, and went on to win the Lincolnshire region. They played a storming set on the New Blood stage at BOA, receiving nothing but positive reviews:
“Great quality on show and a enigmatic performance made them one of the highlights of the day” - Rock ’n’ Load
“They had an almighty kick about them” - Decibel Geek
“Sertraline are another band with a big future ahead of them” - GBHBL
“Today’s stand out band” - RAMzine
Sertraline spent the remainder of 2018 working on new material; in particular a single, which was recorded with Pointy Halo Productions ready for release in 2019.
2019 kicked off with an appearance at UK Tech-Fest’s all day event in Derby, alongside the likes of Ingested, Valis Ablaze and Voices from the Fuselage. This was quickly followed up by the highly anticipated release of a new single. ‘Relapse’ was released worldwide on 15th March to a wave of excitement from fans. The music video was also a huge success, accurately depicting Sertraline’s high energy live performance.
To support the new single release, Sertraline hit the road in March as tour support to Skarlett Riot, playing packed venues each night. The run of dates finished up with another support slot to The Raven Age at The Key Club, Leeds.
High profile shows continued throughout the year, including a guest headline slot for the Metal 2 the Masses Liverpool competition, an appearance at BLOVE Festival and a main festival slot at UK Tech-Fest. ‘Relapse’ was picked up by Primordial Radio, securing a spot on the A-List and Sertraline were invited to play a sold out ‘Primordial Radio Presents...’ at Rebellion, Manchester.
For many months, the band had been working on a brand new set of songs. In November 2019, Sertraline went into the recording studio to put together a new EP. Working with a new engineer and producer (Myroslav Borys-Smith, Jigsaw Audio) was extremely refreshing. Sertraline ended the year on a massive high having a new EP in the bank ready for release.
Whilst planning the release of their 3rd EP, Sertraline supported Chasing Dragons at their last ever hometown show. Sertraline premiered what was to be their lead single from the new EP, and it went down a storm with the audience. Little did they know that it was going to be their last performance for a while!
On 6th March, ‘Inside Out’ was released, the lead single from Sertraline’s 3rd EP ‘Clouded Minds & Silver Lines’. It has proved to be the band’s most successful single to date, racking up over 45,000 streams on Spotify alone. The music video reached 36,000 views in just a few months.
To fund the merchandise for the EP, including the physical copies, Sertraline set up a Kickstarter campaign with various pre-order bundles available. The funding target was reached halfway through the campaign and went on to reach 122% overall. This was a huge achievement between the band and their fans, and things continued to be positive despite the country going into ‘lockdown’ around this time.
The COVID-19 pandemic has since put a stop to all live shows and rehearsals. Undeterred from making progress, Sertraline are continuing to promote their new EP with the help of various online outlets, radio stations and of course, their fans. Here’s what some people are saying about ‘Clouded Minds & Silver Lines’:
“Throat-ripping belligerence” - Metal Hammer
“A rare case of perfection” - Small Music Scene
"Don’t sleep on this band, they have all the tools, talent and technique to conquer the musical world, and boast a sound destined for arenas" - Upside Down Shark
2021 is already looking promising with lots of rescheduled shows and festivals. Most recently, Sertraline were announced for Takeover at Download Festival which will be a career highlight for the band. To be continued...!