We had the pleasure of heading down to the Craufurd Arms in Milton Keynes last week to see ever-awesome The New Roses. Because of that, we felt like we just had to check in with frontman Timmy, a year after our last interview!
Last time we spoke was this time last year. How’s the last year been?
Nice question! So we released the record, it’s been out for a year now. It’s been going great. We’ve been touring all of Germany and Europe. We’ve been to Spain and France and now we’re here in the UK so we’ve travelled a lot. It was the busiest festival season ever in our career. We played everywhere and every festival. It was so cool!
The record was received very well. Especially songs like ‘The Usual Suspects’ and ‘Warpaint’. It’s been great. Love songs were received very well. So we can’t complain!
And how’s the UK tour been?
We’re finally on it! We had the luck that last year in Switzerland we played a festival and we met Massive Wagons. They played I think two slots before us, and I watched their show and I was amazed. They’re really good! So much energy and a really nice vibe. A real friendly energy. So I called him [Barry] up on stage to jam with us. We kinda really connected and we stayed in contact, and this is how this tour came together. That’s why we can present ourselves to their audience now and it’s a good match! We’re really recruiting a lot of fans on this tour and it kinda paves the way for bigger stuff in the future!
Obviously you’re headlining tonight [Craufurd Arms]. How’s it like to be playing as a headliner?
It’s great! A little smaller venues. But we can really see the results already. The people that saw us with Massive Wagons are coming again like four nights later to see us. And ticket sales went up on this venue as well because people said ‘I only saw them for 45 minutes, I want to see them for 90’.
Have you got much more after this?
We’re here for another week. Next Tuesday we’re back in Germany and then we have two days off. Then we play the last four or five days in Germany and then it’s time for Holidays. I’m flying to Florida and you can all kiss my ass!
What’s it like to have Norman Bites back in the band?
It’s crazy! It’s been a back and forth kinda thing. Dizzy formed the band with us back in 2012. Then he left, we got Norman in. Then Norman left and we got Dizzy in. Now Norman wanted to come back and of course we didn’t want to kick Dizzy back out so there was only one option; that I stop playing guitar and we keep both. It’s crazy. For me, I started off as a singer, like 20 years ago, but all my time in New Roses I’ve played guitar. So for me it’s like… in a way it’s like someone’s taken away the crutch. It’s still weird for me.
Just yesterday somebody sent me a video from two years ago or something and I saw and heard myself playing guitar and it was weird! You see just how fast you adapt to the present situation!
Have you got much scheduled for next year?
We’re still working on it. We’re trying to work on the new record of course. We’ll see how that goes and if we’re ready in time we’ll release it next year! Then everything starts up all over again!
It is no secret to any long time readers of this site, or to anyone that knows me, that New Roses are one of my favourite bands. Having been introduced to them back in 2017 through Hard Rock Hell, I have seen them work hard to slowly gain more and more of a foothold in the UK. The other night was a testament to that. Midway through their first major tour of the UK with Massive Wagons and taking a couple of nights off to headline their own smaller, packed shows.
And, being supported by the wonderful Empyre and local boys Devil’s Ransom, it really was a show not to be missed. Thankfully, we didn’t, and are here to tell you just what you missed!
First on were Devil’s Ransom. They fit the bill pretty perfectly as they are very similar in sound and theme to New Roses. The band only had half an hour, but more than put that time to good use! Even with some technical difficulties, they played through it like pros and we had an improvised yet fun drum and bass solo while the guitarist sorted stuff out. The band played their hearts out through a fun set and put on a great show for the crowd!
Next up were moody alt rockers Empyre. Promising to bring the mood down in the best way possible, they delivered a much too short set full of moody, awesome music. They are one of the best bands in the UK underground scene today, be that live or on track, and that was on full display here. Hendrik has one of the most powerful, incredible voices in all of rock at the minute. On tracks like opener ‘Waking Light’ or ‘Hit and Run’, it honestly gave me chills. That’s not at all to take away from the other band members, either. Did, Grant and Elliot create such a brooding, captivating atmosphere with their playing and performance. It sucks you in immediately and holds your attention throughout. Their presence on stage is incredible.
Honestly, I’d love to see this band play bigger shows with a Tool-like stageshow. I think it would fit them perfectly and add even more to the aura of the band. One of the best sets I’ve seen all year! 🤌
Now, this is the fifth time I’ve seen The New Roses. Somehow, every single time I’ve seen them, they have gotten better and better. This was no exception.
Being a five-piece now for the first time since the band’s inception, it’s worked out better than I could have ever anticipated. Frontman Timmy having the freedom to move around and dance and interact with the crowd more without his guitar was awesome to watch. Meanwhile returning lead guitarist Norman Bites brings so much energy and showmanship to the stage that I honestly didn’t realise I’d missed from their shows until his return. Dizzy still holds his own as a phenomenal guitarist, and both Hardy and Urban play their parts to perfection too.
As for the setlist, it was awesome. Still touring on support of their latest release, last year’s Sweet Poison, the set was heavy with tracks from it. However, the likes of ‘The Usual Suspects’, ‘Warpaint’ and ‘Sweet Gloria’ are crowd favourites. Meanwhile, deeper cuts like ‘The Lion in You’ and my personal favourite, ‘Veins of This Town’, were very welcome and sounded amazing. And the band still threw in older classics like ‘Life Ain’t Easy’, ‘Glory Road’ and perennial set closer ‘Thirsty’. And they still had time to throw in a cheeky Tom Petty cover, too! It was the perfect setlist, and the 90-minute set flew by far too quickly!
They are one of the best live bands around today, and have somehow only gotten better now that they are a five-piece! I cannot recommend them enough, be it on track or live. If you have the chance to see them live on this tour or in the future, you must take it!
And there we have it, folks. An utterly awesome night of rock music. Three amazing bands playing their hearts out for all in attendance. And, a quick shoutout to the venue too, as the Craufurd Arms is a really awesome rock bar! If you get the chance to see any of the three bands live, I’d highly recommend doing so. It really feels like the future of rock music, and it’s looking very bright!
Fuzzy doomy newcomers Almost Honest are set to release their debut album, The Hex of Penns Wood, next week. We’ve had the chance to chat to Shayne from the band about it, as well as their sound and future plans. Check it out below!
How did the band come together?
We formed in freshman year of High School although we had all been playing music prior to this.
How would you describe your sound?
Groovy Sexy Viking Funk Doom Rock. We blend all of the things that we like together. We didn’t want to just stick to genres tropes.
What’s the writing process like for you guys?
We do not have a set way for writing but most of the time it starts with myself (Shayne) bringing a riff or a full song idea. Then the rest come together and figure out what works, what’s the best part for each section, and if something needs to be cut or added. Usually the lyrics are written separately from the songs. The lyrics will then be chosen based on the feel of the song and if it fits.
In terms of the album, does it tell a story through it?
It is individual ideas per track however it has an overall theme of Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore and Culture.
What’s it like getting to work with the legend that is Gene Freeman, even from a mastering perspective?
That was huge for us given his wealth of knowledge. Our producer had a contact and he reached out to him and he said yes. We only communicated via email but even just that we learned a lot. Hopefully in the future we can do something more together but I am very happy working with Dynamo Audio. Gary did a fantastic job on this record.
How did the collaboration with Brandon Yeagley come about?
It was actually just as simple as me reaching out. I never expected a response let alone to work very closely with him. I was a fan of Crobot when I first saw them live in 2014. They showed me what a live show could and should be like. He was extremely nice.
Do you have a busy start of next year planned once the album is out?
We do! No shows are officially announced yet but we will have an album release show soon. Then we hit the ground running with touring in March and April.
Do you have a dream tour lineup you’d like to be a part of? Weather it’s supporting a huge band or playing with your mates.
This is one of the toughest questions I have ever had to answer haha. It honestly depends on mood and what fits. I am going to give you two answers. One including our band and another just for my enjoyment. Dream tour with Almost Honest included would be Mutoid Man, Crobot and Red Fang. I think we would fit in well and that would be extremely fun. Now a tour that I would love to see would be Clutch, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Truckfighters and Man Man. I could pick a thousand more bands.
We had the pleasure to sit down with the legendary Tim Hicks at The Long Road festival a few weeks back. Check out what we talked about below!
What got a guy from Canada to pursue that genre?
Well it didn’t come naturally, that’s for sure. I kinda fought it, to be honest. I didn’t grow up on a ranch or a farm, there was no country radio growing up. But, I had a love of acoustic guitar and every time I wrote a song on it, from the time I was 13/14, people would say ‘that’s a great country song!’. I was like ‘eww, but it’s not!’. And then somewhere along the way things change. Aldean started to make a stir and all of a sudden you had country bands on CMT with mohawks and chains and ripped jeans. I was looking at that going ‘that’s what my band looks like!’.
And of course with my last name being Hicks, which is my real last name… It was shortly after that that Eric Church blew up, Brad Paisley was rocking, so it was guitars. And I have three guitars in my band. We were doing cover songs as a living and playing everything from Rolling Stones to ‘Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)’, to keep the lights on. But there came a point where I realised this country thing, I loved it. And I had way more in common with those guys musically with like Coldplay or Dallas Green. I couldn’t identify with that kind of music any more.
So I said to my band one night, ‘we’re doing country full time’. They were like ‘you are crazy’. We were the house band at an Irish bar in downtown Toronto. ‘We’re in the biggest city in Canada at an Irish bar, and you want to wear your boots and sing country?’ and I said yes. It wasn’t long after that that we had lineups of kids around the block. And it wasn’t long after that that I got the call to go to Nashville. So it made a lot of sense. It took me 30 years to figure out where I belonged as an artist.
The Canadian scene seems to be great too!
It’s thriving! We’ve got our own thing going on up there. For me, that’s why it’s so special to be here. I never thought I’d have a career outside of Canada. I was okay with that. It was a conscious decision for me to not break America. I just didn’t want to do it. I was too old at the time. When my career took off I was 33 with a baby. We have a few groups over in Canada who are uniquely Canadian, and they were my model of success. When things like C2C and The Long Road started coming up, I thought it was really interesting. I never thought I’d get to play in another country as Tim Hicks, the artist, you know. I’m really pleased to be here!
Have you done much in the UK before?
I’ve done C2C a couple of times now. That brought us to places like Berlin and Amsterdam and the O2. For me the whole goal is to try and stir up enough ducks that they’ll give me the budget to bring my band over. Do what we do. I really believe that if I can get my guys over here doing what we do in Canada, we could turn some heads in the UK.
Is the scene a different feel here to in Canada?
Yeah, you definitely get the sense that it’s a growing genre right now, which is really exciting to be at the speartip of that. It’s super interesting to see another culture embrace country music. And I know there are some uniquely UK bands and acts that are a part of this. I look forward to seeing what they’ve got going on and how we’re similar. Canada and the UK, we’re very connected!
You recently put out Vol. II of Campfire Troubadour. What drives the creative process with that sort of release?
What drove that was Covid. I couldn’t do anything in Covid; I couldn’t tour, I couldn’t go to Nashville. But I could write songs in my studio, and I had lots of songs kicking around. One of our hacks during Covid to try and preserve our sanity was to light fires in the back yard and have a couple of neighbours over with some beers and we could be distant and it was safe. And of course the guitars would come out. We always knew I would do an acoustic thing at some point. I’ve always done acoustic gigs. In Canada, if you want to survive as a musician, you’ve got to do everything. Tuesday Wednesday Thursday for the first 18 years of my career I was playing in pubs by myself taking requests. But by the weekend I was picking up the band.
But when the campfire thing was happening I called up my producer in Nashville and said ‘dude, I think it’s time to do the acoustic record, and I think it should be a campfire album’. He loved it. I said I can record my stuff here, and send it to him on the internet and he can add his stuff and mix it. That was why we did it, because that was the only thing we could do at the time. And then we got a Juno nomination for it! It was mindboggling that this little EP that I recorded in my basement suddenly gets this spotlight shone on it. So my team came to me and asked me if I had enough songs for a second volume. Of course we wrote some but the pleasure of it is that I can find homes for songs that I wouldn’t normally get to cut.
I imagine you have a few more you can bust out if you want to?
Yeah! We can do it, we don’t need a budget for it, I can just record songs and send them to my buddy. As long as people are digging it we’ll keep putting these things out on the side. it’s kind of a side gig.
There’s at least two songs from Troubadour in the set that I have right now. But I kinda keep it loose. I like to vibe out the audience and see what people are digging, change it in the moment. But I get to play harmonica on those songs so it’s kinda a novelty for me!
And you recently put out your new single, is it the start of a new larger release?
It’s sort of the tail end of Talk to Time. We’re talking about ‘Ye to the Haw’, which is a ridiculous song. I’m known for these ridiculous, tongue -in-cheek songs so it makes sense. It’s a good party number. It will be a part of the deluxe version of Talk to Time. I probably had half a dozen songs that didn’t make the initial cut, but people are digging the record so much I thought why not put these out. They’re great songs, they maybe just didn’t fit the first round.
And do you have much planned for the rest of the year?
Yes! We’ve got 32 dates on the books from the end of October, starting in Western Canada and working our way East, and touring Campfire Troubadour. We didn’t get to tour it during the pandemic. So three of the six band members are going to go on the road with a very small crew and tell the stories behind the songs and sing them campfire style.
We sat down with the amazing, local country band Gasoline & Matches at The Long Road the other week. Check out as we chat about the UK scene and their plans for the future!
What’s it like playing country music in the UK?
I mean, we started writing and performing as a band probably six or seven years ago now, and we feel quite privileged to be riding the crest of the wave of the UK bands that are doing a lot of the same festivals up and down the country. The genre’s really building. We feel really proud to be on that wave.
I also think musically, yes it’s a conscious decision when you’re categorising yourself in a genre, but we’re just writing the music that we’ve always listened to and loved. We really do try and keep what we do British. But, at the same time, so many of our favourite artists are American, it’s been a really amazing thing seeing so many of them finally coming over to the UK.
You guys have done a few shows in the US, right?
Yeah, we’ve done a lot of showcase gigs, some support slots as well. Small tours, things like that. But whenever we’re out there we definitely try and research the local open mic and just spread the word about the band.
We’ve worked with quite a lot of different brands in terms of music companies and things. Steve works with Blackstar and we’ve been fortunate enough to be endorsed by Auden guitars and G7 Capos. We’ve met a lot of these companies and there’s opportunities when we’ve been over for things like the NAMM show. We’ve performed on shows there, showcasing what their gear is. And alongside some amazing artists like members of the E Street Band, Lindsey Ell, Sadler Vaden. Really really cool!
Is there much difference from the scene there to here?
Yeah, yeah. It’s a very homegrown thing in the States. They’ve definitely got their own thing going on. The umbrella for country music is huge, lots of different styles. We tend to enjoy real instruments as opposed to synthetics for what we do, so our roots are in blues and rock music. We don’t try to imitate because there would be no point. We try and carry on that thought process of Atlantic tennis where someone from the States will come out who’s influential and Britain has given a lot of influential stuff too.
In a lot ways we’re at an advantage that we play Country/Americana music here in the UK vs in the States because there are so many artists over there and it’s still quite a new thing here. I feel that we do get to share lineups with much bigger artists from being here. Even from an audience perspective, we get to see artists that may be playing stadium shows in the States in much smaller venues. I think it’s a really great experience.
Recently we were over in America and we’re friends with some of Lainey Wilson’s band and we were lucky enough to go to the Gillet stadium in Massachusetts to see her supporting Luke Combs. It was quite a different experience seeing her there and seeing how the fans are. We’ve been in the audience at festivals like The Long Road or C2C watching some of these same artists and it feels like a much different experience. Definitely over here it’s a listening audience. In the States there’s a lot of conversation!
It must be cool to see the rise of the country scene over here?
Yeah! We started going to C2C many years ago and it’s just growing bigger every year. And The Long Road of course, an amazing festival that the guys put on for bands. We’re so happy to be performing this year.
You’ve put out a few singles, is it building towards a longer release?
The plan has been in the works for a very long time now to have our debut album out. The tracks that we’ve released recently, ‘Afraid to Fall’ and ‘Patient Wolves’; we have another single that will be out this year. Then, moving on into the new year, we are hopefully finally putting out an album. We’ve got another host of tracks we’ve been in the studio recording with Gavin Monohan. So we’re at the stage we’re just getting final mixes and mastering. So 2024 will be a big year for Gasoline & Matches!
Have you got much planned for the rest of the year?
We’ve never really done a cluster of a few days, which you would deem as a tour. We’ve never headlined a tour, but we’ve never headlined one, so we are in the process of looking at when the right time is. It might be more into the new year.
We’ve got a few other shows. We host a regular songwriter round in Birmingham at the Symphony Hall, Nashville Sounds in the Round. We have international artists and UK artists performing at that every couple of months. We still have a few more of those happening. We’re also starting a new night in the Midlands called Wish You Were Beer. It’s in a venue called the Roadhouse in Sutton Coalfield. It’s a super cool bar with lots of movie memorabilia. We’re starting that from the 29th of September. We’re hoping to have some other country music guests come join us.
So that’s our plan, a few more shows just to play us out. Then to rehearse up the set as the album, I guess, and do a string of dates in the new year. We need to get back up to Scotland!
With last year finally being completely okay with the world, it must be nice to get back on the road!
It’s fantastic being able to do shows in real life!
And then tell us the story of The Crooked House
So there was an iconic pub in the Midlands called the Crooked House. We had been booked to play there but the gig got cancelled about a month or so before we were due to play. Then, the night that we were meant to be playing, it burnt down. It got picked up online, someone Tweeted the poster because with a name like Gasoline & Matches, when the pub burns down it seemed like a weird internet hoax. On Twitter it got around 250k views on the post, and we were contacted by so many different journalists about it. We spoke to the Times, Daily Mail, BBC Radio 4, even LADBible and ITV National news. The story made it to the New York Times. So, for our press… it did good in the worst way!
It was a very loved and famous pub in the area so we’re sensitive to the knowledge that a lot of people were upset that it happened. We’ve already pledged and said if there’s anything happening towards rebuilding it or in some way making an exhibit, we said we’d absolutely give a gig away to help fundraise.
We had the chance to chat to the amazing Tenille Arts back at The Long Road festival a couple of weeks back. Check out as we talk about the scene, her plans for the future, and the origins of her debut single!
Firstly, what got you into the country scene?
I mean, growing up, that was what we listened to on the radio. I’m original from Canada and a lot of the music was country. And my family were farmers, so a lot of it resonated with us. And the storytelling and all that, I just thought it was so cool. I was about 15 years old when Taylor Swift came out and she was writing her own songs and all of that so that’s when I got into guitar. I think it sparked a thing. I’d always been writing songs but I’d never actually been able to play them before so that really sparked it all for me!
And you got scouted out quite young, right?
I did! At 15. I’d just learnt guitar and somebody from Nashville asked me to come down and start working with them and start writing real music, going in with actual songwriters. Learning the ropes. So yeah, I got involved very early!
So your first single was a charity one, how did that come about?
So, growing up I was a dancer. I worked for this dance company and this girl, I think she was four at the time, and I was assistant dance teaching, just working with the kids. Helping wrangle them mostly! And one of the parents of this girl came up to me and said ‘we heard you’re a singer, would you like to perform at our charity event?’. And I said sure, what’s it for. They said Cystic Fibrosis and that was something I’d never heard of before, I had no idea what it was. And I did my research and came back and said I absolutely want to be involved in this.
Later on throughout playing at their shows for a while, I was connected with a lot of the CF community in Canada and over here actually, too. The song that I recorded was by Matt Scales. He unfortunately passed away due to Cystic Fibrosis but he was an artist and he wrote this song. I recorded it and put it out with all the proceeds going to CF research and all of that. That was the first thing that I ever got to do and it was incredible. And it’s still out there if people want to donate or be a part of that.
And you’re on tour over here at the minute, right?
Yes, this is actually my last show! Caylee Hammock and I were doing a co-headline tour in the UK. So we did three dates together and then I’m playing today and she’s playing tomorrow. So yeah, it’s been really fun. It’s been a little bit of a whirlwind. This is probably one of my quickest tours over here. We arrived at like 9am the one morning and had a show that night so it’s got a little wild. But we’re good!
And can you make any comparisons between the scene over here to the North American scene?
I love it over here. I love playing small clubs and things like that, especially over here. I will compare the UK to Canada; it’s a very respectful audience. They learn your songs and all of that. Some of the time you’re not even sure if they like you and then they give you a standing ovation! They’re so respectful vs the US where they have so many people playing all of the time, I feel like it’s kind of brushed off sometimes. They get a lot of music all the time. Once in a while there’s obviously some amazing shows over there, and amazing fans and superfans, but here it’s different. And I love it!
You put out a single at the start of the year, is that a standalone release or part of something bigger to come?
So I put out a song called ‘Jealous of Myself’. Then I added LiAnn Rimes to the record, which is really cool! Then I put out a song called ‘Summer Don’t Go’, and we have another one coming out before Christmas. Then, hopefully a full album by January/February. I’ve already written and recorded everything, everything’s ready to go. I’m excited, but it’s all of the extra work that comes with it after that now. It takes a long time. Working on visuals and stuff like that now.
And the rest of the year looks pretty busy for you?
Lots of shows, lots of fun things and obviously trying to fit in finalising the record so I might be away from shows for a little while. Just making sure it’s everything I want it to be. Then I’ll go back to Canada for Christmas and then hopefully next year will be so busy I won’t even have time to breathe!
We had the pleasure of sitting down with the awesome First Time Flyers at The Long Road festival last weekend. Check it out as we talk about their sound, the scene and their plans for the future!
You guys were in individual projects for a while, what made you want to get together to form this project?
Poppy: Simon Cowell!
Tim: As you say, all solo, but just through the nature of our work, we’ve all written together, performed together, I’ve produced stuff for the ladies and a track or so for Jake. We’ve also played in Jake’s band. So between all of that we’ve known each other and of each other for so many years. It was actually Jake who suggested it to me. That we should do it as a four.
Jake: He was reluctant, not gonna lie!
Tim: He just wanted to share fuel costs! But I said what could go wrong starting a band?
Vicki: And then we got involved!
Jake: I think when the idea came about we always wanted it to be very harmony-heavy. There’s something about two guys and two girls that’s so rich when you get that vocal blend together.
Vicki: And now we are a four and we are no longer individuals!
And just how did four people from the UK come together to form a country-inspired band?
Vicki: I think country is a guilty pleasure of a lot of people. They just don’t want to admit it.
Jake: I also just don’t think they know that they’re listening to country!
Poppy: Country is storytelling and instruments and great singing. I think we’ve all loved country music as individuals and now we’re doing this. I wouldn’t say we’re strictly country, we write what feels good and sing what feels good. But we’re hugely influenced by it.
Tim: It’s always the harmonies that make it come back round to that.
Poppy: And the stories in the songs. We always pull that from personal experience and that’s such a country-heavy thing as well.
A couple of you have worked in the US before; are there any comparisons you can make between the scene there and over here?
Jake: I did a lot of writing in Nashville. It was great fun. You learn so much because they’re just so quick! You can’t hang about when you’re writing with the Americans!
Tim: For me, the stuff I did in America was really bucket list stuff. I was very fortunate at the time to do a couple of shows at the Oprey and the Ryman. It’s mad. It almost feels like a past life it’s so surreal.
But the performing side of stuff doesn’t feel any different. I think there’s just a special feeling when an American audience embrace you. They can be quite territorial about country music.
Poppy: It’s so embedded in their culture to like country music so in a way it’s like, you have so many people who love it, are they gonna get into it.
Tim: I think we’d have fun out there! We will have fun out there.
Poppy: We should and we would!
What’s it like to be a part of this boom of country music in the UK?
Vicki: Yeah, it’s wonderful! I’ll play any festival.
Poppy: You [Vicki] have always said a lovely thing in that you think there’s not many fans here and then you watch someone like Lady A.
Vicki: Yeah, basically, like we were saying earlier that country is taking off but people are scared to admit it. Then you go to these festivals and you’re like ‘where have you been hiding?! Where do you live the other times of the year?’. You just don’t hear of these people. And when you do headline gigs or whatever, we’re very fortunate that we have people who come out and support us and will follow us round, but then there’s all these other people who will go to C2C and the Long Road and there’s SO many more people into it.
Tim: How do we make them regulars!
Poppy: And that’s the cool thing about being in the scene. I think a lot of people think there’s a ceiling in the UK scene but it’s constantly bigger and bigger and bigger.
And obviously you’ve put out a handful of singles now, is it building towards a larger release?
Poppy: We have so many goals! With us, it’s always building to something!
Tim: Honestly, I think we’re quite flexible with what we’re doing, because we’re not tied to a label or anything. Because we worked together really hard before we actually launched in January, we have such a backlog of songs we can put out in any order depending on what we’re aiming for. It’s nice to have that freedom to do stuff. We’re happy to go with anything.
Poppy: And we’re just getting started really!
Is the plan to stay as an independent artist for now?
Tim: I think the beauty of what we do is… it’s this, it’s the live stuff. We love playing in front of people. We love collaborative stuff that isn’t just us sat in a bedroom recording. Yes, you have to do that sometimes, for monetary reasons usually, but because we are so flexible we are open to meeting people. I think those sorts of things happen when you aren’t looking for them. It’ll happen when you least expect it. If the right thing comes along absolutely, we’re ready for it.
And you guys are on tour this month, is this the first time you’ve toured together as a band?
Jake: As a band, yeah.
Poppy: Yeah, well this is our eighth gig as a band! And we have five more. We’re hitting big number 10 this weekend, and then that tour will rack us up to gig 16.
Vicki: That’s actually ridiculous when you say it out loud!
Poppy: This feels like a mini-tour though as we’re together all weekend. We’re so excited.
Tim: We also have a tendency to go away on week trips to write, so they always feel like mini-tours too. We know we vaguely get alone.
And what was it like playing Hyde Park?
Tim: We found out pretty late on, as well. It wasn’t much. They do historically leave it quite late sometimes! But we’re glad it was us, for sure. That was a special day!
Do you have an goals you want to hit in the next say five years?
Tim: Talk him through the box, girls.
Vicki: You tell him about your box Poppy!
Poppy: I ordered us a box saying ‘The Adventures of First Time Flyers’ and I got us loads of bits of card and we wrote down what we wanted, and a little reward inside it, and we filmed it. Actually, the first one we opened was BST. And that was a nice little video that went out, it felt like a real moment for us.
We have so many goals. Sell out this tour would be the immediate one. Collaborate with artists, play big festivals, play a support tour would all be absolutely awesome.
Tim: There’s a nice one of playing ‘that’ gig. Where we feel like it’s the pinnacle kinda thing. And that could be today. We don’t know.
Poppy: We have so many big goals, and I think that’s why we’ve had such an exciting year so far. And why it’s not going to slow down.
Jake: We are four very driven people. I think that sort of eggs us on a bit. It’s so much fun. I didn’t have to spend eight hours in a car going to a festival last weekend by myself! It was awesome!
Ahead of his massive England debut set at The Long Road festival this coming Sunday, we had the chance to chat to Shane Smith. Check out as we talk about The Saints’ sound, their last year and their plans for the future!
How would you describe your sound?
I think the simplest way to describe our sound is “Folk-Rock”. Certain songs have elements of: “Country”, “Celtic” or “Singer-Songwriter” styles, but overall “Folk-Rock” seems to summarize it best to me.
What was it like touring with Eric Church last month?
Touring with Eric was an amazing opportunity. We’ve never opened for an act that pulls over 25,000 folks in a single night… it kind of blew our minds! And yet, he was such a nice guy. I had the chance to talk with he and his wife for a long time on our last night and they were both so kind. It was inspiring to hear their story and see what they’ve built together. On the first day though, seeing roughly 10 tour buses and nine different 18-wheelers, all with his logo, loading in their gear was a very eye-opening experience.
What was it like doing Red Rocks? Always been a venue I’ve wanted to go to and seems like a bucket list for a lot of bands!
Headlining a sold out Red Rocks show was a goal that I wasn’t necessarily sure was possible for us… lol, but we’ve always considered it to be the mile-marker for “making it” as a musician. It has always been the “apex venue” in my mind, so seeing 9,000+ of our fans waving their iPhone flashlights during “Fire in the Ocean” was an absolute dream come true. It will probably forever be my favourite venue.
Is The Long Road the first time Shane Smith & The Saints have played the UK?
Over the years we’ve spent quite a few hours delayed at the London-Heathrow airport, but we’ve never had the chance to play a proper show in England. Bennett (fiddle) and I played several acoustic shows over in Ireland years ago, but that’s the only UK performances up to this point.
You’ve put out a few singles this year and last, is it the beginnings of a new album?
Yes, we are currently finishing up a full length album and a few of those tracks will be featured on it. There are many more to come though!
It’s been 10 years between your debut album and most recent single. How would you say your music has changed in that time? How has your fanbase changed?
I feel like our sound has evolved a significant amount since the beginning, and each album has its own, very unique character. This current record definitely has me most excited though. Even my voice has matured so much since the beginning, and you can essentially hear the scar tissue from touring over 10 years. Regarding our fan base, I’m very biased, but I think ours is the best out there… haha! They’re just a very “real” and down-to-earth group of people that have been truly devoted to helping us grow and spread our music around. We appreciate them so much, and it has been incredible to see it grow, these past few years.
How would you say the scene is doing after a tough few of years of restrictions etc?
We’ve seen numerous bands and musicians have a very difficult time bouncing back from Covid and the lockdowns. It caused so many friends of ours to seek out work and jobs outside of music, which then creates scheduling conflicts and a tough environment for a band to keep moving forward. I was very thankful that we were able to hold our band and operation together during that time, while also keeping everyone paid. Our fans played a massive role in that effort, by supporting our merch store and watching all of our livestream concerts.
Do you have a rough plan for the next 5 years? Any goals/milestones you want to hit?
I think our main goal at the moment is to release this next record in a big way and continue to make our fans happy. We would also probably love to release music and content more consistently, but while having a much more balanced tour schedule in the years to come, since it’s been so crazy lately. Releasing this new music is our next step though, and I think it will take a huge weight off of our shoulders. I’m very excited for our fans to hear it and to start playing the songs live.
Do you have a dream tour you’d want to be a part of? Be it big act you’d want to support, or friends you’d want to bring along?
I would love to see us open for Chris Stapleton eventually. That would be a big goal for the next few years to come. We’ve always been a fan of his music in the Steeldrivers and his early songs before he was so widely recognized. It would also be cool to collaborate with a wider range of musicians and genres in the years to come. From First Aid Kit to Billy Strings, there are so many musicians we respect that we’ve never been able to play shows with or collaborate with.
It was awesome! When you’re on early there’s always a worry you’re going to play to one hungover guy. And I mean if that hungover guy is having a good time then I’m happy! But yeah, it was fabulous! We had a big crowd so early and they were proper up for it, singing along and stuff.
And so what’s it like being adopted into this NWOCR scene?
Well the best thing about it is that there’s definitely a sense of community. We come to a festival like this and not only do we get to play but we also get to see our friends in the other bands and support them. It’s got a very loving vibe about it. That’s the best thing we can hope for, really!
How would you say the scene is doing these days?
I think it’s better. It’s definitely recovered. It’s getting there. You’ve got the people who really missed it in lockdown. But there’s also the issue that venues are struggling because people still aren’t wanting to buy tickets in advance. You’ll get like 30-40% of people walking in because they’ll wait until the day. And obviously people are still worried that we’re going to cancel. Just for the people out there: we don’t cancel unless someone’s in hospital! That’s the rule!
It’s getting there but people out there, please buy tickets in advance! It’ll support the promoters, the venues and the bands as well. But I think we’re getting back on the right track now after lockdown. Isn’t it great! It’ll continue in a good trend!
So your latest album was last year, right?
Last July, yeah. We had our first review a year ago today from Power Play. We went to Preston to get the magazine. See, we’re in a band, so people say ‘you’re in a band, you’re a rockstar!’ and I’m like ‘no, I’m a wanna be rockstar’. But then for us, being able to get a magazine that we were buying as teenagers, and reading a review, that’s still mad to me.
That album was so well received by everybody. It was quite nerve-wracking for me as I put everything into it. There were no secrets. But yeah, it’s been absolutely wonderful. We can’t thank people enough.
And I imagine you’re writing already again?
Yeah. We’ve started writing for album number for as we speak. I think this album’s going to be a lot more aggressive and have a darker turn to it. It’s going to be more raw and natural with all our emotions. The aggression side is more what we’re aiming towards because the last album, while it was aggressive, had emotion and feel to it. This time…
I don’t know, I’m probably going to put a pop-funk song on at the last minute! You could end up with anything! That’s the thing, we’re classified as a hard rock/NWOCR band, but we don’t like to pigeonhole ourselves to just one genre. A good tune is a good tune, it doesn’t matter what it falls under. I might rap, who knows!
What’s the writing process like for you?
Normally Beth will bring in bangers and then we’ll advance on it. Or like I’ll bring something in and if Beth likes it she’ll chop and change it into a way where it’ll fit better. There’s some stuff I bring in where it works, but it works a lot better once another mind has jumped onto it too.
The thing for me is I’ve been writing songs since I was eight or nine years old, they just kinda come to me. Sometimes they’re fully formed and other times they’re not so I’ll send it to Sam and tell him what I feel like it needs. Then these guys put their flavour in it. Sometimes people think it’s just my thing but it’s not. If these guys weren’t playing on the songs it wouldn’t sound like it does. We’ll arrange everything together and it’s really fluid. I like it!
We sat down and chatted to the amazing Fury a couple of months back at Call of the Wild. Check out as we chat about their set, their plans for the year, and everyone’s favourite song!
How was the set?
Yeah, it felt good, we had a good time, the crowd was good. Over too soon I guess! As soon as we went on it kinda felt like we were at the last song. But yeah, really enjoyed it!
What’s it like to be playing festivals like this? Especially with how big the underground scene is in the UK these days!
It’s been really good. It’s great that the NWOCR fans have embraced us onto some of their festivals. It is great to play with these kind of bands that are doing those shows. It’s kinda made a different element of Fury. Before we were a lot heavier while now we’re a little more accessible so we’re able to play these sort of festivals. So yeah, it’s great to be involved in these kind of things. It’s a different fanbase that we can now appeal to. We still have the heavy songs in some of the sets and on the new album but we’re able to reach further now!
You obviously played a big ballad today [Upon the Lonesome Tide], how did that come about?
Oh yeah, folk songs, he loves them!
I mean our sound… we’ve released four albums now and our sound has evolved with each album. The the album it’s from, The Grand Prize, was a lot more shorter songs compared to the album before.
I have got a lot of the sea and boats and pirates and all that. We’d done kinda similar themes on that before but this was the first one that we a proper full on ballad. Even on the previous two albums we’d done folk but a bit more rock and metal whereas this one is a full-on power ballad. It’s basically just me fulfilling all my fantasies! There’s a bit of a Dubliners influences and some sea shanty influence.
It seemed to go down well live too!
Always does! Like before we played it live I was dead against putting it in the set and then the crowd loved it every time so fair enough! Every heavy metal fan loves a ballad.
I mean, the set that we did tonight… it’s a Sunday… we only had 35 minutes so we were a bit unsure of what to play. The temptation to just give them fast, rocky stuff, and for the best part it was. But it’s one of those things that if we bring that energy down just a little bit and let people enjoy it. And after the set, that’s the one people talk about the most. There aren’t many bands like us doing ballads so it’s something different.
It’s been a year since the last album, are we working on new music?
Yep! Yeah we are. So this year was supposed to be a quiet year. But we’ve got a new guitarist so it’s kinda bedding Tom in and then a new album. But then we’ve had lost of gig offers. And yeah, we’ll gig, we’ll play live, that’s why we’re in a band. But yeah, that’s still the focus, writing an album. Between gigs we are getting together, rehearsing and writing. The aim is to get it recorded through the summer so we’ll figure out a release date after that!
Have you guys got much booked for the end of the year then?
Yes, loads! In October we’re going on tour in Europe again. Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands. The last few years we’ve played a festival in Switzerland called URRock Festival. Last year we were main support of Skid Row there which is incredible. The guys there always really seem to like us. They said last year there’s no URRock festival without Fury! This year they’re having a year off from the festival but instead they’ve booked us a few shows out there. It’s gonna be great!
So given that you guys have done a fair amount in Europe, how would you compare the scene there to here?
Comparing here to say Germany and Belgium, I think the fans are a lot more enthusiastic over there. And it feels like not as many people start bands as there doesn’t seem to be as many there. When they are really good they do well, but when they have bands coming in from the UK they’re like ‘oh my god, this is amazing!’. They think it’s so cool you’re from England as they know so many great bands that have come from here.
The Europeans are great with merch, too. Over here a person will buy one CD. In Europe they’ll buy three CDs, and when you ask why they’re like ‘one for home, one for car, one for my friends’.
You tend to get fed better in Europe. Oh, the catering! Shoutout to Ragnarök in Belgium. Everywhere we go in Europe it’s homecooked meals brought straight into the green room. Then again, the British government is terrible for funding music, so I don’t put the blame on the venues themselves here. They’re trying their absolute best but just not getting any support.
Do you have say a five year plan at all?
America! Oh, and Brixton. So the ballad you mentioned, we filmed the music video for that back in 2020, the restrictions had been eased a little bit but you still weren’t be able to get in. We were able to film music videos, and we filmed it down in Brixton. Because of that I think we’ve gotten quite in with the Brixton crowd. We’ve done their pirate festival for the last couple of years. This year they had a galleon out in the harbour and they had a band play on that. So in the very near future, that’d be great!
Obviously we’d like to venture out further into Europe. We played Download last year, we were on one of the village stages, it’d be great to be a part of the main thing! And to just support some really cool bands! A good support slot for a big tour is something we’ve not really done so we’d like that very much!