Laurie Shaw Interview
Who is Laurie Shaw? Conor O’Toole went in search of answers…
For the benefit of those who don’t know your name, can you introduce yourself.
I’m Laurie Shaw, I’m 19. I’m originally from The Wirral which is a little peninsula close to Liverpool but I’ve lived in Kerry for 9 years now.
You haven’t lost the accent anyway.
No. I write and record up at my Mum and Dad’s house down a little corridor. I’ve been doing that for about 4 years or so, 4 or 5 years.
When you say you’ve been recording, you’ve really been recording a lot of stuff. Tell me about when you started doing that first. What was the idea?
First of all my Dad had the equipment and stuff, he bought it, and he was hoping to do some of his own stuff. He had done stuff in the past. He produced the first couple of EPs I did when I was about 14. They were just little songs I’d written. And then eventually I found I enjoyed doing it myself. Then I just began making records. In the end I just kept churning them out I guess. I just enjoyed it. I was still at school, I’d do it when I got in, at the weekeneds and stuff. It just sort of rolled from there.
It was just the buzz of doing it so?
Exactly. I didn’t even put it on the internet at that stage. It was just to friends, probably two people that heard some of them. And I didn’t care, you know what I mean, I liked them. I liked what I was doing.
Normally I’d ask people who they were listening to when they were growing up, or were influenced by at certain ages. What would you say? Was there certain music you were honing in on at that stage when you were 14 or 15?
Yeah, I was probably a bit too into Arctic Monkeys. I was very into them. The Libertines and things like that. Those kind of indie bands I was listening to a lot of. And I’ve always been into The Beatles, just from my Mum and Dad. I was into Chuck Berry a lot when I was a kid, I don’t know why. I think it was Back to the Future, I liked that film. So that was it. That was a big influence as well.
And obviously guitar was, is, your instrument.
Yeah. I enjoyed doing more acoustic stuff back then. And as I got older my Dad had a bass and I was able to play everything else, except the drums…and the keyboard I’m guessing at.
At what stage did you say, I’ll put these up online?
I was in a band called Red Elephant for a while. That was a two-piece band. Drums and guitar. And ukulele at times. We did an album up at my house and we put that online and people sort of liked that. And I thought, well that’s an interesting outlet. I’m not really a big internet…whatever word you’d call it…
Yeah I’m not a geek. I stay out of the way of the internet a lot. But nowadays that’s the only way people are getting seen.
And if we were to put a figure on it, have I seen a figure of 30 albums, or 30 different releases…?
It sounds really stupid, I’ve just done my 33rd one last week. I was down at my Mum & Dad’s house for the summer. It doesn’t mean they’re all good, but yes to put a figure on it…
And I have to own up here, I’ve heard probably two or three of them so I’m only going on a tiny piece of the overall picture. You’re at a new album every couple of months so?
Yeah I try and do one a month. Cos last year I did 12, so that’s about one a month. I thought I’d better keep up that work ethic. And I’ve found myself with more time and I’ve been putting more out. But it just depends on what’s going on, how busy I am. Maybe because it’s not getting that much listenership I just (keep recording). I get into different bands too. So one week I’d be into this band, the next week I’d want to change direction completely.
And you weren’t playing these songs live?
No. Maybe if there was something like the music class (in school) were doing a gig, I might play a few tracks. That’s as far as it went to be honest. They didn’t translate well to me on my own anyway, a lot of the tracks, so it was hard for me. And it was hard for me to find a bunch of people, it’s quite a small town. But I don’t know if playing live is what I really enjoy sometimes. When I do it I do enjoy it, but I do like recording. There’s something about that. I warm to that moreso.
Just the other week there was a big announcement that you were signing with FIFA Records, which is a Cork-based label obviously. How did that contact come about?
They just got in touch with me and said, do you wanna have a chat about putting something out. I think it was around the time there was a bit of buzz. I’d done The Pavilion and I played Rumble on Barrack St (April 2014), and I’d put my record into Plugd and they were helping me to get it out. That’s how I started getting a few gigs. I think it was at that point contact was made.
So the album you sent me recently, Evil, is the one that will be coming out on FIFA, is that right?
We’re thinking of putting it out as an EP, splitting it into two maybe. Or something along those lines. That would be from about a couple of months ago, that record.
So it’s well out of date in your world!
To me it seems out of date – I probably shouldn’t think that.
You’ve done another album since then?
I’ve done three since then!
OK. So I wanted to ask you about that album because it’s fresh with me. Is there some kind of concept behind the whole thing, binding all the songs together?
There is a little bit guess. There’s quite a lot of a Nick Cave influence on that record and I guess that comes through in some of the lyrics. It’s a bit Grindermany at times and a bit Bad Seedsy at times. Especially for that song, ‘Vishnu & The Evil Lites’, I guess I was going for, you know Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars, I like that idea of having a fake band. So that’s where that stemmed from. And I think in the last track I mention The Evil Lites again. Sometimes themes might repeat themselves, that’s why those nine tracks hold together, they all have similar ideas.
Interesting you should mention Ziggy Stardust. I don’t think it was this album but something else I heard on your soundcloud page a few months back definitely had a David Bowie vibe.
I think he’s a hard person to ape cos his voice is quite distinct. I really love a lot if his records. I think it was ‘Handbag’ you said…I’d never really heard that before…
It has kind of a glam feel. I mean I don’t get any kind of glam feeling off Evil.
It’s more Stoogesy, a bit rawer than glam would be.
There was a kind of stomp to it, the backbeat had a certain feeling to it.
I think it was going for more of a punky sound but maybe glam came through as well.
Well punk and glam are not unconnected.
I mention Parquet Courts in that song (‘Handbag’) which are a band I really like. And I’d just bought their record and I thought, pretty cool band, so I thought I’d put that in a track. I like that idea of not being afraid to mention other bands as well. It’s kind of a nice idea. And without being cheesy or whatever. And Nick Cave gets away with that quite easily, when he mentions Oprah Winfrey on a plasma screen. I just think that’s so funny. And even The Fall as well were an influence.
And was it in someone else’s record collection you spotted these bands?
Not really. You know when you read an interview with a band and they say, we quite like this band. And then you’ll get into that band. Like LCD Soundsystem are very into The Fall and I really like LCD Soundsystem. Maybe it doesn’t come through, or maybe in the lyrics. I really like their lyrics. Like the lyrics to ‘Handbag’ are a bit like LCD Soundsystem – they’re quite shouty, they mention other bands, talking about a New York scene.
‘Losing my edge’.
Exactly. I mean the lyrics to that are amazing. That was a bit of an influence. Sometimes things creep in and you don’t realise. Really small influences, like the way I play guitar.
That’s interesting you should say influences come in from different places. Some of it sounds almost stream of consciousness as if you’re deliberately not editing.
Which one would this be?
I suppose less so with the material on , maybe previous stuff.
I think it just happens that that’s what’s up there. I do quite like lyrics that are stream of consciousness. And even some bits on Evil sound a bit like that, the lyrics are sometimes from out of nowhere. Like the last track on it, ‘Encroaching’…
That’s a brilliant song.
…which is the longest one on it. The lyrics on that are a bit more worked on than just shouting “Black wolf” four times. I mean that (‘Black wolf blues’) rips off ‘White Light, White Heat’ completely. But sometimes I’m unshameable.
In terms of FIFA Records, are there any other plans down the line that you can tell us about?
It depends what comes my way I suppose. FIFA are good in that there’s no signing. It’s a gentleman’s agreement. That’s a quote. If something else came along, they’d be happy for me to move up. It’s very flexible. We’re hoping to do some EPs this year and then a proper album next year on physical format.
And obviously FIFA have quite a few contacts internationally – Japan, across Europe, the UK. You’re open to ideas is what you’re saying?
Yeah. I haven’t got in my head where I want to be in a certain amount of time. I guess I’m just along for the ride a bit. And trying to keep up with putting as much out.
Laurie Shaw plays with The #1’s & The Careers
TDC, Triskel Arts Centre, Sept 6th