Country in the UK: An Interview with The Shires

Country is making itself known more and more in the UK, and I was lucky enough to speak to The Shires, Crissie and Ben, a pioneering country duo who are heading out on their “Home-Grown” tour. I catch them before they hit sound check.

How is your new tour going, especially since the release of your EP?

C: It’s going amazingly, we’re having so much fun! The venues have been pretty much sold out and we’ve had great crowds, people singing along and everything.
B: It’s been the first performances we’ve played with the band as well, so people get to hear it the way it sounds on the album, and it’s nice to have others on with us. Sharing the experience has just been great.

This is the first time youve performed and it hasnt simply been the two of you and an acoustic guitar, whats that been like?

C: We absolutely love it. The guys are absolutely seamless, so the songs sound exactly like they sound in our heads, and it’s just great.

You recorded your EP at the famous Green Note Studios in London, but you recorded your upcoming album in Nashville, why did you choose to do that?

B: It was always a dream really, doing country music… it’s like being at the home of it all. The musicians out there are amazing. They could just listen to demos once or twice and then play it all live, so most of it was done in one or two takes. I think just being there was inspirational, it made the album better because we were there.

Being a UK band in a genre primarily dominated and associated with America, how does that come across in your music?

C: Well we originated with kind of folk music, and country’s still a very small genre over here, but we just absolutely love what’s coming out of America at the moment and yet we can still retain our kind of Britishness as well.
B: We both love country music, but there’s no point trying to imitate it. We really want to bring what we love about country music, the honesty and the storytelling, and put our own spin on it. It’s definitely getting bigger over here, like Tim Mcgraw being listed on Radio 2, the amount of CMA coverage, and everything else as well.

You guys often get listed as folk-country, because country itself is so hugely expansive, so how does it feel to be a part of this hybrid genre?

C: It’s very much a representation of what’s going on in country at the moment, because country is that wide ranging. It is about getting different people’s styles of music that they enjoy and bringing them together to make a new sort of sound.

I have to ask: Whos the top played on both your iPods right now?

B: I think just for me, most consistently, it would be Lady Antebellum. There’s a song on her new album called ‘Lie With Me’, and it’s just classic Lady A, and the play on words when you listen to it, it’s just amazing.
C: I’ve been listening to a lot of unsigned stuff recently, as well as Tim Mcgraw, that seems to get played a lot in my house. I like just listening to different country radio stations, and just hearing completely new stuff. Half the time I don’t know who it is, but I’m enjoying it anyway.

Which song that you guys have written together are you most proud to perform?

B: I think Made In England would be one. We unfortunately can’t play it on this tour, but when we wrote it, we just had an exact vision what we wanted to do that day, and where normally you’d go in a lot of directions, we were focused.
C: We just sat down and knew that was what we wanted to write about.
B: And people really get it, they hear that first lyric, and they get where we’re coming from.
C: It’s a uniting kind of song.

Check out The Shires at www.theshiresmusic.com (album out 2015!)

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