Like everyone else, last time we spoke to the Shining we had to sift through the past before we could move on. Now with that out of the way we can leave the memories of the Verve behind us and concentrate on one of Britain's Best New Bands. Just 3 months after those tentative first gigs the band have a new found confidence which has resulted in them winning fans over in Germany as well as the UK. With no peers or pressure laid on them they've been given the wings to fly and on the eve of releasing their debut album "True Skies" we caught up with bass player Simon Jones and found a band truly at ease out in the wilderness doing their own thing.
Q: When we spoke last it was the bands fifth gig or something. What's been happening since then?
A: We just got back from a tour in Germany and it was really good to get out. This band is a totally new band and up until this date we've only done about 25 gigs and we've grown so much in the space of those gigs. It's been like few months of discovery because doing a record is one thing, but doing gigs is another thing all together.
Q: With the album "True Skies" coming out next month it's a real chance to put the past behind you and make this year zero, isn't it?
A: It's not going to be an easy ride for us in this country because of the Verve thing and there's a lot of concentration on American bands etc. But I think it's going to give us space to do what a new band should and grow. I think it would be shit it if was an overnight thing for this band. With my first band, the Verve, it took 10 years to get there...and if it takes that long with this band then fair enough because were all in it for the long term. I like the whole process of evolution of a band and just going out playing live from doing the record we've evolved already.
Duncan woke me up to what I should feel like. I was a bit jaded I suppose and to see it through the eyes of a 21 year old and how fresh his outlook was and how enthusiastic he was - it was like wow, that's how I used to feel. And it's totally rubbed off on me!!!
Q: You describe yourself as "21st Century dance music played by a rock & roll band". It may just be a sound bite but it is trying to be different, it's really ambitious and it's not just this pissy Indie band ethic?
A: I think we want to develop into something really futuristic. This is the first record and this is the start, to be corny, of a journey. I'd love to make an album where you can just go in and play it live and capture the rawness of it. So I see it as a whole evolving thing...were already talking about the next record and how it's going to be and how good the first record would have been had we'd done it now after playing some gigs.
Q: One thing the album does get across is that it's a band in the truest sense, whereas when you first came out it was ex-member of the Verve's new band. All of you are writing and I think that's important to take the band forward. Would you agree?
A: I'd never written a song with lyrics before and likewise for the other guys the potential is the exciting thing about this band. It's a double-edged sword thing with the Verve because were going to get compared to a massive band who were really successful and by the time we get to the next record and are established I hopefully won't have to talk too much about the Verve and I probably won't be as forthcoming because I don't want to be on my fourth album and still talking about them.
Q: I remember when we spoke last time Duncan appeared like two different people. On stage he was really confident and then off stage he was really quite shy. How does it feel now?
A: I think he's learning each day. I remember when I first started the whole concept about being in a band is just about making records and playing live and you don't even think I've got to do interviews. Having now done a few tours he's settling into that a bit more, but I think he was really confident at that Manchester show. Other shows he was shitting himself and maybe didn't come across as being so confident. He said to me the other day that he was just coming into his own, which is great, and he's got even more confidence.
Q: When you first formed the band after the John Squire project and you were ringing people around was it a sense of here's a great frontman with Duncan?
A: I met Duncan and Mark through playing with John Squire so it wasn't as he got discovered or anything like that. That band didn't work out for me as when I came in a lot of the material was written so I didn't feel fully integrated. And as a result of that the band fell apart and John obviously made the decision to make his own solo record with him singing.
It was Duncan who put this band together by ringing me and saying "What You Doing Now? You can't just quit" and suggested we get it together. Duncan was the key to putting this together and it wasn't like me and Si from the Verve saying here's the masterplan. There wasn't any plan. It happened quite naturally. I think if I was so desperate to start playing that I started advertising for musicians it wouldn't have worked. It worked because everybody has a little bit of history together and the chemistry was just there from the first few days we started playing.
I really believe the chemistry of the people in band is more important that anyone's individually ability. It's more about how we work together as a unit rather than how good a guitarist or whatever is. It's about being bigger than the sum of it's parts and all those clichés. If we can get to the stage of making an album where we play it live and capture magic moments where the band are on fire that will be the way forward.
Q: This weekend you're playing the Anti Nazi League "Love Music Hate Racism" gig in Platt Fields, Manchester. One of the few guitar bands on the bill. It's about stepping outside your own little world and doing something bigger than the music?
A: With what's going on with the BNP and them gaining seats in Burnley. It's like I've got to stand up and say I support what you're doing. As musicians you've got to put back in, you can't just take. If there's something I feel strongly about I'll definitely be up for doing it whether it's for the Anti-Nazi League or homeless people or whatever.
If it raises awareness about issue we feel are important I feel it's important that we stand up and do it. And not think what if there's a load of skinheads at the front throwing bottle's at us - fuck that!!!! The cause is so much more important.
Q: Why do you think there aren't that many guitar bands speaking out because in the previous decade there has always been that political voice. Like you guys, there's no political agenda in your lyrics but you're out there as the gig showing your support. What's happened?
A: I don't know, because it felt totally natural for us to do that. I didn't even question it when our manager said do you want to play the Anti Nazi League gig. If you harp back to the 60s with people like Dylan it was really f**king important to mix the two. I just think it's part of your responsibility if you've got some sort of public voice, and maybe were not a massive band at the moment, but if you can go out and help awareness it's your job to do that!!!
"True Skies" is out on 16th September
The band play the "Love Music Hate Racism" on September 1st
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