The Shining – Duncan Baxter

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Interview by Mark Bayross

Taking their name from the Stephen King book (and Kubrick film), The Shining is the holy union of vocalist Duncan Baxter and drummer Mark Heaney (both ex-Seahorses and long-term collaborators with legendary Stone Roses guitarist John Squire), guitarist Dan MacBean and the duo of bassist Simon Jones and guitarist/keyboard player Simon Tong, both formerly of The Verve.

With three singles behind them and debut album DARK SKIES out soon and produced by (the equally-legendary) former Killing Joker Youth, the band are slowly but surely building a following worthy of their illustrious collective past.

Time to check in with Duncan…

Could you just relate the story of how the band got together?

First of all, me, Mark and John Squire were playing in a band, then Si [Jones] came and joined and played with us for a bit. After a while, we decided it wasn’t working and Si left. Then we split with John… Eventually I rang Si and asked if he wanted to together again. Si knew Simon Tong from The Verve and I knew Dan from Wigan, so we all kind of came together again. This time the chemistry was right, and I guess the history between the band members is very important for that. So we locked ourselves away for 12 months, practised like mad and recorded demos. We deliberately didn’t go looking for any record deals at that time.

How did you meet John Squire to begin with?

Through a good friend of mine in Blackpool…he knew him when he was in Manchester. I spoke to him on the phone one day and he said that John had a band and was looking for a singer, so he got me in touch with him.

How did you feel working with a legend like him?

Well, I’m a pretty level-headed person, really, so I was like, “ok, cool”. It didn’t matter that he was out of the Roses, I met him on pretty equal terms…I liked what he was doing and he seemed to like what I was doing.

From where do take the inspiration for your songs?

It’s really quite natural – the songs just came out. Most of the material we have is relatively new, not adapted from our earlier bands, and we’ve managed to take the best elements out of those. I think the band’s quite good at that. Si and I write most of the songs, Simon Jones writes some as well…we kind of help each other with parts – I might help finish a line or one of them may help me out with a guitar part.

Are you pleased with how the singles have been received so far?

Well, we weren’t expecting them to go to Number One or anything! It doesn’t matter if it is two people out of The Verve…if anything that may have worked against us. But we’re only a new band – we’re not expecting much to happen yet. It’s great hearing our songs on the radio – QUICKSILVER got a lot of airplay, so has YOUNG AGAIN, which has also been on MTV2…so, we’re pretty happy with the way things are going!

Having heard the singles, what can we expect from the album, TRUE SKIES?

Melodic tunes. Quite a lot of groove-orientated stuff. And heavy guitars – not heavy metal, I should point out [laughs]…heavy riffs! The band’s got a lot of influences, so most people should find something interesting on it…there’ll be a few surprises…

What has been the best moment for The Shining so far?

The tour we’ve just come back from. We were out in Germany and the crowds were great out there – they were really getting into it. We all really loved it. It was great to getting out of the country and playing to people in a new one.

What are you most looking forward to?

Touring. I love playing gigs. I guess, once the album’s out, I’m most looking forward to people knowing the songs when we play them. When we’ve been playing festivals, people have been dancing to the songs, really moving to them, and several rows back as well. It’s a fantastic thing to see…

What was it like working with Youth? How did you come to work with him?

We had the same management and they suggested him to us. He produced URBAN HYMNS, so it made sense. He creates such a good atmosphere, and we all liked his style. We ended up as a kind of family unit in this new studio called Fear, down in Battersea, and it worked really well.

What have Simon Jones and Tong brought to the group?

Their playing style is what makes The Shining so special. They really are shit-hot musicians – they’re brilliant…I love them! [laughs] I suppose, basically, what they bring is great basslines and guitar lines.

What are your plans for the future?

Touring, touring and more touring…[laughs] We’ll probably bring out another single too…

Is it too early to start thinking about album number two?

We can’t wait to get on to the next album! It would be great if it were still like in the 60s and you could bring out an album every six months! After all the touring, the band has really moved on and we can’t wait to get working on the next album…