Interview with Scott of Secret Shine

Hi Scott!  How are you doing these days?

I’m doing fine now after a horrid 2010 on many levels for most members of the band for different reasons, except of course the final days of the year  and releasing our new album.

Your latest album The Beginning And The End came out last December, on Christmas day no less, and I wanted to include it in DOA’s Best Albums of 2010, but there was no time to do that.  What was its release like?  Did you go out and promote it and play shows?

In typical Secret Shine fashion, it was a low-key release which is why we ironically released it on Christmas Day. In a way we were saying it doesn’t really matter when the record comes out for a band like us. We don’t have the time or spending power to invest in pushing and plugging. We know who likes us and people will still listen to it and hopefully enjoy it. I am proudest of all of this record. Although some people criticised some of the more gentle, meandering tracks – everything on this record was well thought about and constructed. Most of the songs are Jamie’s with the exception of a few that I did music for and I think it shows him as a great songwriter!

How would you compare your previous album All Of The Stars from 2008 to your newest?  I’ve reviewed both albums here at DOA and it seems to me like you branched out more on your latest, incorporating varied instrumentation and not just magnificently swirling and distorted guitars.

 All of the Stars was a more live album. At the time we were playing and rehearsing again, so lots of the songs were shaped in a rehearsal room. The Beginning and The End was written and recorded at a time when our drummer Richy Lee left the band, so Jamie and I were writing and recording straight into the computer. Jamie who produced it had also learnt lots more about recording, so it’s an altogether smoother sound. It suits the  songs which are more intricate and delicate (some exceptions!) and suits where we are now. All of the Stars sounds a little like an homage to our sound in the mid nineties which is no bad thing either.

What are you and your bandmates up to now?  Are you working on new material for another Secret Shine album, or maybe an EP?

We plan to release two new EPs next year using more experimental guitar sounds again. We’re slowly starting to write songs but we’re all quite busy in our non-music lives! We don’t need the pressure of another album just yet, but it’d be nice to try some new stuff in smaller chunks!

Speaking of EPs, I wanted to ask you about the reception to your Greater Than God EP that was released in 1994.  Was there any controversy over the EP’s title?  Who came up with the EP title and does it in any way reflect on the songs, or feelings about the songs?

The name Greater than God was actually something we came up with for the band that Jamie and I also wrote for, The Dreamscape. We were going to release two 7″ singles called Greater than God, parts one and two.  When The Dreamscape got into a contract tussle with the label we were on and it wasn’t going to happen, we decided to use this name for the Secret Shine record. I don’t know if the name reflected myself and Jamie’s lack of belief in the established notion of an all-seeing God and so became just an arbitrary statement for us. I may be putting words in mouths here – it’s a long time ago to remember. We didn’t get any negative feedback as I remember about the name. It was quite well received as a record by the critics.

Personally, I think your Greater Than God EP is a shining moment in your music catalog and actually eclipses your debut Untouched, which to me is a bit too muted.  Do you also feel that there is a difference between the EP and the album? 

At the time I thought it was miles better than anything else we’d done, but in hindsight it’s not as warm as cozy as Untouched. It’s quite digital in its sound and tighter. It’s similar to our move from All of the Stars to The Beginning and the End – the production and songwriting had definitely stepped up though. The only regret about the EP was that the wrong version of “Last Words” ended up on the record. We mixed a version without digital drums which I liked better. When we did our comeback gigs in the USA and Germany a few years ago, we played “Deep Thinker” and “Ignite the Air” again – they were still good to play. I don’t think we’d ever do “Liquid Indigo” again though.

I interviewed you here at DOA in 2007 (and also way back in 1996 (!) for my music fanzine Stratosphere) and you mentioned possibly working on an acoustic album.  Is this in the cards at some point

We did the acoustic tribute album Morris for charity when our drummer Tim died in 2005. In terms of an original acoustic album – no plans as yet, but we’ve played a couple of acoustic shows which have been fun.

Going back to my 1996 interview with you, and in a totally non-musical vein, both you and Jamie said one of your favorite films is Withnail and I, and when I interviewed Miki Berenyi of Lush around that time, she also said that was one of her faves.  I have it on VHS tape and also love it.  What is it that draws you to this film?

Yes, I still love it, but don’t watch it as much now. Jamie and I had just come out of living in student accommodation, so it reminded us of the dreams and disappointments, the squalor, the amount of hash, recreational drug-taking and boozing we came across. It’s still the best work that Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann have ever done and the scenes with Uncle Monty are totally hilarious. Great soundtrack too.

What bands/singers are you into at the moment?  I’m digging… Well, actually, I’ve been on a The Smiths kick for some reason.  Oh, and I’m enjoying Sarah Nixey’s latest album and Whirl (newer shoegazer-type band).

Can’t speak for Jamie, but I’m loving The National and The Horrors. I went to a folk festival recently too and realised how much I like traditional folk – all the shanty stuff as well, but seeing the brilliant Eliza Carthy band was the highlight for me.

Can you list your official site(s) where readers can find out more about Secret Shine and purchase your albums?  Thanks!

http://www.secretshine.co.uk/ and http://www.facebook.com/secretshine