Introducing... Shade of Red
St. Ives five piece Shade of Red are an eccentric bunch. Despite all being below drinking age and barely out of school, they have been making significant strides and were recently handpicked by Graham Coxon to support his recent Falmouth show on the final date of his UK A&E tour. We caught up with Dani and Elliot from the band following the show to talk about their roots and rather unique strand of melodica-heavy indie rock.
How did you all come to meet each other?
D: We met through school originally because me, Fred and Elliot had all been friends for five, six years and it was just a case of sitting around the lunch table and deciding ‘let’s make a band’. *laughs* We had a band before we were officially Shade of Red and Fred, Elliot and me were the original members from that but that didn’t really go anywhere.
What was your band name back then?
D: *laughs* We were The Undecided. It was some years ago and then we reformed Christmas two years ago.
How old are you all now then? Are you guys still studying?
D: Three of us are still in college and Isaac our bassist is still in school. The drummer is the youngest one, he’s still in school too.
What was it that drew you to each other musically, was it a shared desire to be in a band?
D: I think it was the fact that we all just wanted to make some music; we didn’t really have much of a hobby. It started off because we were really bored and it was something to do, then it just developed from there and we just really liked playing together. I think we enjoy actual gigging and people’s reactions.
With your debut EP Don’t Trust the Captain, is it right you recorded and mixed that at home?
D: Yes, we recorded that in Elliott’s bedroom.
So who amongst you is the most adapt with recording. Who’d been experimenting with production the longest?
E: Probably Dani. Dani did all the mixing, he got all the equipment, I just had the bedroom. We all had an input into it. there was no master plan it was just put it together and make it sound as good as possible.
What did you use to record the EP?
E: We recorded it on an old desktop computer which we stripped out and put cubase recording software on it. Then we got an audio interface to plug a condenser mic into it. We pretty much recorded the whole EP one instrument at a time with one mic.
The EP seems quite eccentric; the track Mahatma Ghandi in Space and the ‘oscillating like a radiator’ lyric is pretty bizarre. Are you all into quite off-kilter music?
D: What I think it was is, Fred is the main ‘off-kilterer’. It’s just the fact that we like making weird music. It’s just more fun that way than trying to take ourselves too seriously. We just wanted to play with it, we weren’t always sure what we wanted to do. It was like ‘try and just speak through a kazoo’, we’ve always been quite experimental in our approach.
Fred’s melodica and kazoo seems to be on nearly every track. How did you write that into the music or did he just jam along?
D: He’s always been the one just jamming along since the beginning; he does a lot of improvisation. It was a case of developing our sound with him in mind; he’s been a big part of it. He does write some of it but he has an ear for what sounds good.
All your lyrics seem to have quite an earnest quality but at the same time seem quite absurd; do you all have an input into the song writing?
D: It’s not like somebody tells everyone what to play, it’s interesting because everyone does their own bit. If I have a song idea I won’t tell other members what to play, they will make it up based on what I had in the beginning. With the lyrics to 'Shakespeare', Elliot came up the original stuff for that and we sort of just developed it from there. You just have a feel for it. With 'Mahatma Ghandi in Space', the title lyrics are never actually in the song. I think it might have been Josh who suggested it - it’s ridiculous but it works.
Shade of Red - Mahatma Gandhi In Space by ShadeofRed
What artists played the strongest part in influencing the experimental approach?
D: Gogol Bordello, a lot of local bands too just for the DIY element of it. Down in Cornwall you just have to kind of do it yourself. It’s just kind of ... you just get on with it and do the best with what you’ve got with equipment, etc. The weird kind of lo-finess of it is sort of an ideology rather than from a specific band.
What’s the kind of response to the EP been so far?
D: We sold out of the first 50 in like a month. We’ve only ever ordered 100 and we only ordered the second batch for the Graham Coxon show.
How do you think the Graham Coxon show went?
D: We think it went really well. The time was meant to be 8:30 but we were on at 8:00, just the way it goes. It’s not the biggest show we’ve done in terms of number of people but it’s the most prestigious thing we’ve done. I think probably the best sound system as well, sound quality was great.
Are you going to drop another EP or move on to an LP?
D: Starting next week, we’re going to start recording our next EP which we’re very excited about. It’s probably going to be three or four songs. I think the plan is to concentrate the best elements down into four really good songs. With the last EP it was a collection of songs that we really, really liked. Now we want to do something more direct and impressive. It will have the crazy elements a bit more and getting the songs as good as we can get them.
Do you think the rest of 2012 is going to be busy for you guys, or do you have other commitments?
D: We’ve had exams and college but starting soon we’re going to do as much as possible. When we’ve got the EP done we have all sorts of ideas for music videos, just gigging as much as we can really in the meantime.
For more information, visit the band's website.