INTERVIEW: The Shires

The fast-rising country pop duo The Shires took time from their busy touring and recording schedules to chat with GiggingNI’s Noelle Ellis ahead of their November 20 show at McHughs in Belfast.

This is country music history in the making as this charismatic twosome, cross literal and figurative borders bringing fresh new faces and a fresh new sound to country music. This is not a gig to be missed. The Shires will be co-headlined with Ward Thomas for the McHughs Basement show on November 20th 2014.

Q: Your single Tonight has been getting quite a bit of notice lately as well as interviews and live studio performances. For a duo that hasn’t been together very long to what do you attribute this rather rapid trajectory?

“We haven’t been together long at all really. We got together in May last year. When we signed our deal with Decca we only had a handful of gigs to our name, roughly 150 followers on our Facebook and Twitter and have to thank BBC Radio 2 for putting our first two singles on their playlist.

Having the backing of a station such as Radio 2 has opened doors for to a whole load of regional radio stations who also support us by playing our singles.”

Q: I understand you found each other through Facebook. Yours must be a unique story. What do you think the role of social media is or should be in the music business?

“As a musician, you really just have to embrace social media. Engaging with your fans and getting your music out there has never been easier.

The big thing we’ve learnt is to focus on the quality of, and the content of what you post online, not just posting everything you do every second. The whole industry is definitely still learning how best to use social media effectively. No one can deny its value though.”

theshiresQ: Nashville. That’s mecca for country artists. How did you find Nashville? How was that experience for UK artists? Does it hold the same sort of reverence for you two as it does for American country artists?

“From day one it was always our dream just to go to Nashville. So to record and write our album there was incredible. Country music is literally everywhere and it’s a way of life. It was great to not feel like outcasts for loving Country, like we sometimes do in the UK!

We were also introduced to a few of the cast members of the TV show Nashville. We hung out in a few bars with them and watched some songwriters play. We definitely got the full Nashville experience and it was everything we hoped it would be.”

Q: Many artists of all genres have been including Belfast on their tour routes. You will be playing McHughs in Belfast this year, a place where you have played before. What prompted you to visit Belfast on your tour map once again?

“We had such a great gig at McHughs last time, it really was one of the highlights of the tour. There was no way we couldn’t go back on this tour. There also seems to be a really good appreciation and understanding of Country in Northern Ireland. So many people came up to us after the gig, and you could tell they were huge Country fans.”

Q: I hear congratulations are in order for having been the first UK country artists to be signed to a major record label. Well done. How did that come about?

“Our manager introduced us to Radio 2 very early. They loved our original demos so much that they sent them off to a couple of record labels. Everything after that is a bit of blur. We played for a few labels, had a few meetings, then next thing we knew we were signing the deal. It all happened so quickly!”

The Shires play McHughs Basement on November 20th 2014 alongside Ward Thomas and The Rising. Tickets are available now.