|The Shining |
|Imagine a band that can make music thats as paranoid and beautiful as a Stanley Kubrick movie. Written by Stephen King. Sung by a twenty-two year old called Duncan with a smile like Blackpool Illuminations and cheekbones, which could pass as threatening weapons. Well, your lucks in. Theyre called, suitably enough, the Shining. Dont treat them lightly. Just when you think youve got their number (sort of Sly Stone jamming with the Stooges, playing Can, produced by Funkadelic, you know the sorta thing) a chorus creeps up on you, lures you in, and next thing tiny traffic cops are beating the inside of your head with rubber truncheons and youre smiling all over. |
Needless to say, for laconic bassist and gloriously disheveled founder Si Jones, the noise they create is, one of those things that, yknow, just seems to happen.
The name was almost the last thing to fall into place he drawls over mid-afternoon coffee as the sunsets slowly over Camden. It sort of makes more sense as time goes on. The movie was obviously part of the appeal, but what we were after was that sense of atmosphere. But its mostly to do with the power of music. Theres a supernatural element to rock music which rarely gets tapped into these days, I dont know why. The fact that you can hit a groove and keep on going and then take it to another world entirely. Sometimes when Im playing, I just find that you hit a spot and youre transported to another place. You close your eyes, and for a minute youre just...gone
Anyone whos seen The Shining at one of their handful of shows (a mere fifteen to date, and most of those in Ireland and the Scottish Highlands) will know exactly what he means. Forged from a rhythm section comprising the stunning John Bonham-like capabilities of drummer Mark Heaney and Si on bass, The Shining launch a sonic avalanche, which builds to Everest-like proportions. The effect on an audience is startling. Conversation stops. Feet start moving involuntarily. Limbs that had previously given up for the night suddenly start twitching uncontrollably, steamrollered into action by
the sonic deluge seeping in through their synapses. It can give you the shivers. Astro-rock has visited similar terrain before, but never at quite this altitude.
I think the important thing for me is that the band should force you to dance, continues Si. Thats all Ive ever wanted from any band Ive ever been involved in. For me, and for a whole generation of people brought up on the idea of dancing in clubs just in your own space, theres this idea that rock bands should be more than just a verse and a chorus. For me they should be something you can get lost in, where the grooves take you to somewhere else, where theres no real thought as to whats coming next, youre just enjoying whats going on around you.....
BUT ENOUGH! On to the boring historical stuff. The only thing is, with the Shining, there is no boring stuff. But then how many other bands met in John Squires back garden?
Duncan: Yeah. Imagine it for me. I was a nineteen year old kid and Id been asked by John Squire to start rehearsing with his new band in Macclesfield. And then I find out that the bass player is Si Jones from Verve (youd guessed already, surely). There we are, the three of us sitting in the back garden having a smoke, and Im thinking, I must be dreaming...
Eight months of rehearsals and a meager six songs later, Si knew things had to change. Great as the prototype new band was, it still wasnt the soundtrack to the symphony in his head. Something had to give.
It just wasnt feeling right concludes Si, gazing back at it through a fog of Marlboro Lights. It was just one of those things. We all parted amicably. I just knew that I needed to do something which felt newer and fresher, somehow.
Relocating to a railway arch in Londons East End, Si recruited Duncan and drummer Mark to continue their quest and added ex-Verve guitarist Simon Tong to the line up along with fellow Wigan-ite lead guitarist Dan Macbean.
Suddenly things began to click. For the bulk of 2000 the group rehearsed till their fingers bled, recording ten or so tracks, ranging between the Rohypnol space rock of Wonder How, beautiful Hendrix-esque dream-ballad I Am The One and skyscraping, throbbing electro-rock like Until The End. The space-surfing sound of the band that you will soon be unable to shake from your head was forming around them.
Duncan describes the songs as classic rock, yknow, the fuckin great stuff, Zeppelin, Roses. Si describes them as modern day twenty-first century dance music, except played by an awesome rocknroll band.
Whichever, the combined effect is a debut album which sounds like a fleet of juggernauts driving headlong through a diamond mine. Produced by Youth and mixed by American Tom Rothrock (Beck, Badly Drawn Boy), it takes the blueprint forged on Verves Northern Soul (an inevitable comparison) and leads it into dreamier, more reflective waters. Limited edition debut single Quicksilver starts things off with a stuttering machine-gun bass line, skyscraper-sized Led Zep drums, and those wilderness period lyrics: I kept my feet on the ground/Then my ship ran aground/I still lost my way...
But the overall mood, proven by tracks like rousing Raspberries-esque Danger and acoustic gem What You See suggest a band who, strangely enough, have decided to leave their purgatorial dark days firmly behind them. All fronted by Duncan Baxters remarkable Robert Plant meets Bon Scott vocal.
Im really not interested in the past, explains Si, as, fittingly, the sun breaks through the clouds one last time. I dont think theres any point in talking about the Verve, or what happened before, its irrelevant really. This is a totally new band and what were doing feels like the best and, at times, most optimistic music Ive ever played. Thats all there is to it.
In a gloomy climate where most British rock bands are still content to trawl through the reasons their girlfriends left them for inspiration, these songs are both a farewell to old ghosts and a youthful ray of hope. A guiding light, even, out of the bad times. At volume ten thousand. Hell, they are called The Shining. Get Blinded.