A Chat with Shadows Like Strangers (26.04.20)

During the chaos of coronavirus with self-isolation and quarantine, it is important to keep in touch with people and good music. Just because you’re locked inside your home doesn’t mean you can’t discover something new. Taking time from their lockdown, the lads from Shadows Like Strangers answered some questions about their new single ‘Leave Me In The Shadow’ and some other stuff. Thanks to Jezza Bruce (JB), Paul Davies (PD) and Aaron Stuart (AS) for the chat.

OSR: I know this is a cliché question, but how did you come up with the band name?  Was it easily chosen or difficult to come up with?

JB: I was listening to ‘Join The Club’ by Bring Me The Horizon when I heard Oli sing “feel love shadows like a stranger”; I misheard the lyric and adapted it to have its own meaning. We aren’t always representations of our past. It was a quick and fairly organic process for once. *laughs*

OSR: How did the band come about?

JB: I was releasing music under the same alias for a while. I saw a few bands come and go and no-one was delivering the sound that I envisioned, so, progressively, over the course of a year, I got the band together instrument by instrument.

PD: Yeah, Jezza was doing his thing for a while and after a while, he asked me to get involved, there was no going back from then. It’s been a buzz!

OSR:  You released your debut album Cali last year.  Can you tell us a bit about the album concept and recording process?

JB: The album was recorded in stages with both Russ Hayes in a wicked studio on the Snowdownian coastline called Orange Sound Studios and Natt Webb at Ratcat Studios in Nottingham. Drums for some of the songs were tracked at The Old Pig Farm studios in Sheffield too with Steve Goodison and James Hill. It was a really cool experience.

PD: *laughs* Yeah, I remember The Old Pig Farm sessions because my van broke one morning and I turned up three hours late. Fortunately, it ended up being a great session. I think all our sessions were great, to be honest.

AS: I wasn’t part of the band at this time but I know for a fact that the album is largely based around Jezz’s ambition to take our music to the States. There’s a lot of American bands that influenced this project; it’s more evident in some songs than others.

OSR:  You released a new single in mid-March.  Can you tell us about ‘Leave Me In The Shadow’ – the concept, writing process, recording process, that sort of stuff.

JB: We’re always writing. I tend to start the ideas and send fully fleshed out songs to the boys. They make tweaks and suggestions here and there and we work until we have a finished product. We started writing this right off the back of the Cali release.

PD: Yeah, we worked on this for quite some time. We made a host of mistakes with our release of Cali, so with this one we worked from the ground up in a writing, recording and PR perspective.

AS: This was my first release with the band so it was a cool experience. It’s been a lot of hard work but it was definitely worth it because we all love performing this song and the feedback has been immense.

OSR: You describe yourself as a rock band from Nottingham.  What or who are your influences?

AS: Personally, I love Good Charlotte and I know Jezz has drawn upon their music in the past.

JB: Yeah, there’s a whole host of influences on our sound as a whole. We love the anthemic nature of bands like A and Good Charlotte, but our main influences right now are probably Linkin Park and Taking Back Sunday. We do draw a lot of inspiration from Bring Me The Horizon, The Neighbourhood and even U2, but that’s not always a reflection of the sound we deliver.

PD: I never really got into Linkin Park but I’ve really dug the BMTH stuff since Sempiternal, so it’s only natural for those kinds of bands to affect our sound. I know what Jezz is looking for when he takes inspiration from Linkin Park but, trust me, it’s all in aid of crafting our own identity which I think we’ve found.

OSR:  Considering the number of bands (big and small) who are creating crossovers of musical styles, do you think genres are even relevant anymore?  I mean alternative rock now has pop or folk elements, just for example.

PD: Well, our influences stem way deeper than the bands we’ve just mentioned. We all love different types of music. The sonic differences between ‘A Way Home’ and ‘Leave Me In The Shadow’ are huge, but I think if there’s enough in there that lets the listener know that it’s us and it’s cool.

JB: Yeah, I don’t see the problem. It can be difficult for fans to adjust when bands make HUGE changes but it’s difficult to tame your creativity and pursue making music for one genre.

AS: I agree, it’s good to keep things interesting too! We just released ISO – a mixtape designed to take people out of a negative headspace whilst we’re all in the current UK lockdown. That’s just full of EDM and drum and bass. Oddly, you can still tell that it’s Shadows Like Strangers.

OSR: Now some world news.  COVID-19 is affecting countries across the world with significant consequences.  How do you think COVID-19 will affect the music industry and what measures could people take to manage the changes?

JB: It’s pretty much collapsed and it will do until this is all over. I’ve got friends on world tours that have had to call it a day for the foreseeable future. Because of the nature of the business, it’s left them down and out trying to scrape the barrel to get through. I think in some way, the music business doesn’t have the structure you see in other industries, it’s both a blessing and a curse.

AS: It’s been horrific. I’m so glad that people have started to listen to Government advice. We had to cancel our headliner at Bodega set for March 21st, that was a real kick in the teeth because we worked on that show for seven months. At the end of the day, public safety and their health come first.

PD: We’re all self-employed so it’s been a rocky few weeks for us and I know we’re not the only ones. I guess bands signed to major labels are probably fairing better than most of us but you gotta think, their main income will be in touring and that’s off the cards entirely.

OSR:  If you could describe Shadows Like Strangers in three words, what would they be?

PD: Rock and roll.

AS: Loud. Committed. Anthemic.

JB: Unique. Bold. Loud.

OSR:  What are your plans for 2020.  Can we expect more singles or maybe another album?

AS: Currently, we’re planning to release more music. We’re way down the road in terms of writing; it’s just about getting these songs produced with the right people and then we’ll see what happens when we get there.

JB: Yeah, ‘Leave Me In The Shadow’ flies the flag for what we want to achieve going forward so, hopefully, our other new songs can resonate with people in a similar manner.

OSR:  Music is emotional, so how do you hope listeners will feel when they hear ‘Leave Me In The Shadow’?

JB: It certainly is! The song is based on a film called Wild Life – there are underlying themes that illustrate the difficulties people face when people close to them make impacting decisions. It’s relevant to all three of us so it just felt right to go along with that concept.

PD: Musically we really wanted to get people going. Cali was a good representation of the foundations of our sound but ‘LMITS’ is really the start of something for us. We’ve performed it live and people always start clapping or singing along. We just hope they feel connected to the message and get energised by the music.

OSR:  Describe ‘Leave Me In The Shadow’ in one sentence.

AS: It’s an anthemic song for the abandoned that just makes you want to jump.

OSR:  We like to add some “fun” questions in our interviews.  Are you a fan of the Harry Potter franchise?  If yes, which house are you in (or hope to be sorted to)?

JB: I’ve got to tap out of this one, I’ve always been more connected to Lord Of The Rings and Sci-Fi.

PD: I’ll watch it if it’s on at Christmas but that’s about it.

AS: I like Harry Potter; definitely Ravenclaw.

OSR:  What is your greatest fear?

PD: Jezz’s cats!

JB: Spiders! Which is why I have five cats!

AS: I hate the dark. You know when you’re in a forest at night or something, no thanks!

OSR:  Do you have any advice for new bands?

JB: Knuckle down and learn how to write, then knuckle down again and learn about the industry.

AS: Yeah, there’s a ton to learn. On a personal level I would say work on what you like as a musician yourself, and always push yourself at your own instrument. In general, there are so many facets to being in a band you end up trying all kinds of things until it works.

OSR:  Do you have any message for your fans?

PD: Stay safe, keep yourself indoors and make sure you’re streaming ‘Leave Me In The Shadow’ or our ISO mixtape to get you through!

AS: We’ll be back gigging soon. Hopefully, starting with a return show at The Bodega in Nottingham on July 11th!

Thanks to Jezza, Paul and Aaron for the chat! If you want to find out more about Shadows Like Strangers, check out their Facebook and Spotify.

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