Interview by Kris Griffiths
When The Verve disbanded a few years ago, bassist Simon Jones found himself jamming in a new set-up with none other than the legendary John Squire, freshly departed from one-album-wonders The Seahorses. Unfortunately it was not to be and after eight months of rehearsals and a meagre output of six songs they decided to knock it all on the head. But an unflinching Jones was determined to keep going with their talented young vocalist, and after recruiting fellow ex-Verve namesake Simon Tong, The Shining rose from the flames. Declared as the UK’s next great rock and roll band by NME, the new outfit has released two quality singles from stonking debut album TRUE SKIES and intend to swagger onwards with a rugged strength The Verve always lacked. I spoke of the future with an optimistic Simon Jones.
You’ve only recently started touring together as a band. How’s it been going?
Pretty good actually, though it’s quite nerve-racking going out in front of a few hundred people who haven’t heard any of your songs, so you have to do the business. The Manchester gig has been the best one so far but mainly because we’re all from there and it was more of a hometown gig. Duncan’s only really done about fifteen gigs in total so far, so it’s been more nerve-racking for him but he’s pulled through ok.
From what I’ve heard he sounds like a quality vocalist. Where did you find him?
Me, Mark the drummer and Duncan played in a band with John Squire for a while but nothing ever came of it. That’s how I met Dunc. I’d also kept in touch with Si from The Verve so The Shining fell together like that really after the Squire band fell through.
Do you know what John Squire is actually doing with himself these days? It’s quite frustrating for Stone Roses fans like myself to see Brown, Reni and Mani all still out there playing and Squire not doing anything.
I don’t know to be quite honest cos I haven’t spoken to him for a while. He is making music but I don’t know how long it’ll take for him to actually get it out there. He’s not the fastest worker in the world (laughs).
What exactly were the reasons you didn’t stick out with him?
It just wasn’t happening for me… I just had a nasty gut feeling about it all. Then there was all this travelling about to rehearse with each other, so there were personal reasons as well as musical differences. In the end I just laid my cards on the table and that was that.
The Shining already have a distinctive sound with some tangible influences. Do you have a particular method of writing your material or is it all a bit random?
Well it’s a bit random at the moment cos we’re still developing organically how we play. The exciting thing about this band is that you’ve got a bunch of good musicians with no real leaders as such and we’re just letting our sound grow naturally rather than saying “right, we wanna sound a bit like The Stooges mixed with Led Zeppelin”. We’ve just been continually jamming and recording and buzzing off it.
Naturally buzzing? When writing material does drug use help or hinder you?
It depends what drug it is man. I’ve done a lot of experimentation over the years but mainly I’m a smoker and get stoned a lot.
Do you not ever find that getting stoned makes your material sound a lot better than it actually is?
(Laughs) That’s why we record everything! Some of it will be complete bullshit. But there are certain drugs that are terrible for writing music; cocaine being the main one… it’s just so counterproductive.
Did you think up many other band names before settling on The Shining?
Oh yeah, we went through a couple of months trying to get a name. It’s hard because you think of a good one then you check this band name registry website and there’ll be a band in Portland, Oregon or somewhere that’s already got it. There are actually a couple of other bands called The Shining but they haven’t released anything yet so we won’t have to add another word to our name.
That’s what happened to The Soft Parade didn’t it?
That’s right. The Electric Soft Parade and that band Liberty X (laughs). But we even had trouble with The Verve years ago – we had to put a ‘the’ in front of it. Nowadays so many band names have gone now that it’s getting difficult to come up with something original.
Who would you say is the best band you’ve played with before?
The Verve. (Laughs). No, it would probably have to be Beck. He’s an amazing artist.
What was your first ever job?
Oh God, the first job I ever did was when I left school and got a job picking up litter off the side of a motorway to get some Christmas money. It wasn’t a career I really wanted to go into.
What are you going to be doing for the rest of the year?
We’ll be playing some festivals in the summer – Glastonbury and Reading – then we’re off to the States for a few gigs in July, then a festival in Germany. We’re just playing live as much as we can really to get some experience behind us – that’s all we wanna do. We’re only at the start of our career as The Shining. This is just the first chapter in our book.
Hopefully it’ll be a long one. Thank you for talking to PHASE9.