We’re on the button with Shines, the project featuring two of Grimsby finest songwriters, Rob Cross and Richard Dutton, joined by Marc Poole on bass and Chris Day on drums. Not even at the stage of their first gigs release yet, but the buzz around them is building already. We jumped on this, and got Rob to give us the lowdown on the band, ahead of the game style. Here it is
Give us a potted history of Shines
Rich and I met in a lock-up during lockdown with a couple of guitars and his old Macbook. We intended to just have a play around really. It was lockdown; we finally had a bit of free time. There were no expectations, and we were in a state of flow. I’ve since realised that these are the perfect conditions for creativity – like a kid playing with Lego – and maybe that explains why it was so productive. We suddenly had all of these great songs, and the whole thing eventually developed legs.
Who inspired you to start making music?
Rich inspired me to make this music. I often don’t like getting into projects because you can find yourself tangled up in bigger commitments than you were hoping for. And so I was reluctant to start something. But he just kept asking and asking and he is a persuasive guy so in the end I was like, ok, let’s make a song. And right from the start he just reeled me in with this mad energy that became infectious and before you know it I was inspired to make music again.
And the one (or maybe two) records that inspired you artistically?
Shines are inspired by all of the bands we love: a little bit of the Clash here, a touch of the Smiths there; a flash of Jarvis Cocker in some of the lyrics. Too many ingredients to mention really. One band who you might not expect me to name though, who were quite fundamental to our process, was The Drums. Rich was well into them at the time we started writing. I’d not really listened that much. He was looking to imitate their simplistic sound built around repetitive bass and drums and catchy melody. That approach drove a lot of the music. Loop the drums, play root notes on the bass, find a simple guitar line and repeat it. It was bedroom pop and it felt like the simpler we made things, the better they sounded.
If you’re trying to explain who you sound like to someone that’s never heard you, what do you say?
It’s indie music: guitar, bass and drums. With a modern feel: programmed, liberated from the constraints of musicianship, born on a laptop rather than a stage. First and foremost though, it’s song-writing. Rich and I have written probably over a hundred songs between us down the years and we’re getting pretty good at it.
Tell us about your new material?
We’re not sure yet but we’re looking to release the track Lost In Transit perhaps as first single. It reminds me of The Smiths a lot, and there’s a bit of The Cure in there too. The lyric is me remembering my first day travelling to work to begin a career as a newspaper journalist, many years ago now. I had to take an obscure bus route across the shire. It was the kind of bus route that only existed so that there was a transport link between two places if anyone ever needed it. The bus was pretty empty, and I sat pressed up against the radiators, staring out of the window, dreading my entry into the real world and wishing I could just stay right there amongst the safety of my own thoughts.
Where can we get hold of it?
I’m not sure yet. We haven’t done our first gig yet, have no record label or anything. We’re probably just going to self release it at some point in the next six months. Just getting everything ready at the moment for us to start putting things out in 2024.
Tell us how you write?
We can write in many ways really. We could create things independently and bring them in, but for this we deliberately tried to work from a blank canvas in the lock-up. That way we both feel involved and it also adds a bit of freedom too and creates that state of play that allows creativity to breed. Now that we have a full band we’re going to work differently for the next batch, but try to keep that collaboration between all members.
Tell us about you’re live show?
First gig is at the iconic hometown venue Spiders Web on 04/11. It’s a venue that means a lot to us. Next year we’ll be putting on some hometown shows again, and looking to get on some festivals and play a few of the cities. We are also open to any offers from promoters around the UK who are interested in booking us. However, we know from experience that excessive gigging at this level can be counter-productive. We know people will want to see us live but this is the Internet age and it’s content that matters. For that reason we recently created the live in session video at Playing Aloud studios, which will be available online soon.
One thing I can say about our live show is that the music sounds different live to the record. When we made the record we were two lads with a laptop. Now we’re four lads with a drum kit. We’ve had to adapt the tracks to make them work live but the songs don’t lose any of their power. If anything, the live versions of the songs are more complete and developed than the record.
What can we expect from you in the near future?
We’ll release this record ourselves next year and wait for our phones to ring. Would love to play a few festivals in the summer. Looking forward to creating the next batch of songs in early 2024 and then start the process again.
Tell us your favourite record(s) (apart from your own) that’s rocking your headphones / tour bus / stereo
I love the latest Viagra Boys album. If anyone hasn’t heard them yet, I’d describe them as a cross between Happy Mondays and The Fall. Some of the lyrics are batshit crazy. I’d written a song myself called Ignore Alien Orders about a conspiracy theorist, in which I refer to microscopic robots in the vaccine. Then I listened to Viagra Boys and heard pretty much the exact same lyric in their song Creepy Crawlers; so I guess they got there first. But I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in history to mention John Claude Van Damme, Vinnie Jones and Ian McShane in a lyric – see our song Stunt Double for that.