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Digging The Dead Shores
By Liam Ronan
Swine travels to Wigan to meet The Dead Shores; four likely Lancashire lads with both a tremendous humour and an infectious sound.
Down a cobbled back street, Swine finds the John Bull Chop House where the band want to meet; a grim and gritty spit’n’sawdust pub in the middle of Wigan Town Centre, but one which blasts out very loud Rock’n’roll.
The drummer isn’t able to make it, but with us are lead singer Craig Whitfield, bassist Tony Wilkinson, and guitarist David Oakes.
Oozing northern cool, these working lads from Wigan take inspiration from Half Man Half Biscuit. Regulars on the North West circuit, they have also supported The Fall and Babyshambles.
“A lot goes on in Manchester and Liverpool but not much here,” admits Tony, referring to Wigan’s ‘scene,’ “There’s two venues here- the Tavern and the Nirvana.” It’s implied that the band feel they’ve done these venues to death.
But with two great musical cities either side of Wigan, don’t the Dead Shores try to get out a bit further a field?
Craig replies, “We’re just trying to be realistic because we all work, but we’d love to be all over the place. We can’t just put in a holiday request for a few months though!”
Tony continues, “We’ve been to Manchester and played on Clint Boon’s show on XFM which was a bit of a buzz… He was all over our stuff.”
“You have to go through a Simon Cowell type bloke though,” reveals Dave, who seems embittered by a selection process which sounds more like X-Factor than XFM.
Formed in 2003, The Dead Shores have stuck together through thick and thin, despite remaining unsigned for the duration. But recently they’ve decided to “get their arse in to gear,” as Tony puts it.
“We’ve got a big following in Wigan, which is good,” declares Tony.
“There’s definitely a demand there,” adds Craig, “Everyone’s always asking us when we’ve got summat out, so we just burn them a CD… We kick ourselves sometimes for not making more of it.”
“We’ve got so much material,” claims Craig, “We know we’ve got to get it out. It’s a shame not to. It’s just a waste otherwise.”
Although they’re all working lads, who enjoy making music, the band have suffered from idleness when it comes to promotion, as the following comment from Dave demonstrates,
“The last so-called ‘album’ we did just got left at Craig’s house and if anyone wanted one you just said, ‘yeah, pop round to Craig’s!”
In a funny way it seems the fans have actually pressured the band into doing something with their talents. For most bands it’s normally the other way round- shameless self-promotion and then a fan base.
Craig illustrates the promotion plan, “We want to release a couple of singles, then maybe an EP, then an album with mainly new material.”
In the true punk spirit of DIY, The Dead Shores have formed their own record label, ‘Just Good Records.’ The single will be released on 26th October on I-Tunes and a few select independent record shops in the North West. Craig explains the rationale behind their marketing,
“Because it’s the first one; we’ll have around 250 hard copies on offer which we’ll distribute locally, but it’ll be distributed worldwide electronically through the internet.”
Ah, the power of the internet. But if it’s so easy to distribute, then why has it taken so long to do?
“The reason we haven’t done anything yet, God only knows,” reflects Craig, “We have three albums worth of material we can just stick out like that.”
“We’re just lazy bastards! That’s why!” exclaims Dave.
Tony digresses, “We’ve just been waiting around for someone to do it for us really but, to be honest, we’ve been let down a few times as well. We’ve had a lot of promises that never came true.”
It seems the band have had many a hope lifted, only to be let down at the last minute; a common feature in the music industry. But The Dead Shores have many more theories to explain their limited success so far.
“It seems you need to know the right people, the insiders, to get anywhere,” reveals Craig. “We’re not always on the internet either, we haven’t got the time; we’ve got a life!” laughs Tony.
Craig’s even written a song about his distaste of the recent Myspace culture, called ‘My Bands Better Than Your Band,’ which presents a satirical look at the increasingly immature and often disingenuous internet music culture which directly goes against everything The Dead Shores stand for. Craig explains, “It says they’ve got ten million mates, when really they’re just sat at their computer all day listening to their own tracks. It’s fucking shit. We’re normal people and we’re an honest band.”
Craig’s right. This is what The Dead Shores are. They do seem to represent “normal people” and they do seem an “honest band.”
“We’ll always practice regardless of whether or not we’re performing because we’re just doing something we love,” states Tony.
Craig continues, “A lot of bands form for a bit of a buzz, then when nothing happens for a while they just break up and start another project. We’ve been together several years now and we’ll always be together, for a lot longer, because this is what we love.”
Another reason for The Dead Shores limited success so far is a subject previously touched upon in this interview. They find it difficult to tour extensively because unlike most bands, they all remain in full time employment. However, although this is a source of much bitterness and frustration, it gives the band a genuineness that many lack.
Bitterness and frustration is also a great muse for songs. The best two examples of this being the aforementioned, ‘My Bands Better Than Your Band;’, and their next single, ‘Modern Men,’ which is a side-splitting observation of the growing tribe of metro-sexual males.
‘My Bands Better Than Your Band’ and ‘Modern Men’ are just two items from what is a catalogue of evidence yet to be fully compiled by The Dead Shores in a damning but hilarious indictment on life in the UK today; covering subjects which have gone largely un-noticed by the largely middle class indie-boy music of recent years.
The bands lyrics discuss the misery of every day grafting, consumerism and a working-for-the-weekend culture which are laced with a working-class wit and edginess. The words are spat out scornfully and cynically; encapsulating the catchiness of a football chant with the urgency of punk. This creates an energetic and addictive sound, which command audiences to join in.
However, no matter how good Wigan, Clint Boon or Swine think they are it won’t get them anywhere until more people hear more of what they’re about.
“At the moment,” admits Craig, “We put a lot of expectation on the same following, which is hard to maintain. So we’re looking to reach a new audience to add to the fans we already have.”
‘Modern Men’ will be the bands first proper release, available to buy from a shop, or online; not just from Craig’s house.
“We’re just gunna try this and see what happens,” admits Craig, “you never know what’s gunna happen!”
The Dead Shores are playing Manchester’s Roadhouse on 25th September and their first single, Modern Men, will be released on 26th October, available on I-Tunes or for sale at independent record shops in Manchester, Liverpool and Preston.
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