THOSE DAMN CROWS ON BRINGING BACK LIVE MUSIC | INTERVIEW
This weekend will see, in effect, the return of live ROCK music to the UK when the Download Festival takes place in scaled-down ‘pilot’ form. Among the all-domestic lineup are Bridgend’s swashbuckling hard rockers Those Damn Crows, whose frontman Shane Greenhall is unsurprisingly buzzing at the prospect.
How did you find out about this opportunity – did you know Download were doing this before you got asked to play?
Shane Greenhall, Those Damn Crows: We were lucky enough to be asked to play the main stage in 2021, but for obvious reasons that didn’t happen. We thought we’d have to wait another year to play Donington, but when our manager told us that they’re trying to put on this pilot and asked if we’d be interested, we jumped at the chance. To go from playing no shows this year to playing our first show back to a 10k capacity venue at Download is incredible!
Have you thought much about what your set’s going to be like, how you’re going to treat the occasion etc?
It’s gonna be a pretty full-on, in-your-face 40-minute set. We just want to keep the intensity and energy up from start to finish, so we’re leaving the piano and acoustic guitars usually brought out on longer headline shows at home.
The organisers seem to want the audience to act as normal as possible, so maybe everyone should just pretend COVID never happened…
Kind of hard to pretend COVID didn’t happen as it’s affected so many lives… however for these three days we’ve all got an opportunity to scream, sing, dance ‘til we drop and let out the frustrations of the past 16 to 18 months.
I’m guessing this is the longest Those Damn Crows have gone without playing live since you began. Can you just snap back into this whole thing with a few rehearsals, or are practises totally different vibes to actual gigs?
It doesn’t matter how much you rehearse in a room, there is no substitute to playing live shows and in front of a killer crowd. So we’ll see, haha. Truth is every band is in the same boat so we’re gonna give it everything we’ve got, leave it all on stage as we always do and see what happens. We’ll pick up the energy off the crowd! We’re all in this shitty mess together!
Can you remember much about your last live performance without having to look up the details?
It was our sold-out headline tour of the UK, back in February last year, literally days before the world shut down. Seems like a lifetime ago. We did however travel to Germany to play Rockpalast last October in a socially distanced setting, which was really cool – but without the crowd interaction etc, that’s always gonna be hugely missed.
How much have you been able to ‘be a band’ in the last 15 months? Latest album Point Of No Return came out right before this all kicked off, which is both good and bad timing I guess…
We’ve been busier than ever to be honest. We’ve stayed in touch with our fans by creating our online virtual podcast, CrowCast, which has had special guests from the rock world, music industry, actors etc. Yes, we had so many more tours and shows lined up for Point Of No Return but we have managed to produce and record new material, a music video for Sick Of Me, some acoustic versions of our songs, and released PONR Ultimate Edition – so we haven’t done too bad.
Download is happening in England, so operating on different rules to us here. What’s your opinion on how Wales has approached lockdown, especially with regard to opening up live music again?
Ah man, I’m no politician and wouldn’t want to get into what we should or shouldn’t have done – do we follow others etc? It is bizarre that there seems to be one rule for one and another rule for just over the borders in the UK… but Wales is leading the way in the vaccination process so that’s got to be a good thing.
What’s on your agenda for the rest of 2021, and how hopeful are you that that agenda will be fulfilled?
We have quite a few shows pencilled in the calendar for this year, which is amazing. In July we headline in Bradford, Buckley, Bury St Edmunds and are on the bill at Steelhouse Festival; in November, Derby, Inverness, Sheffield, and Planet Rockstock. If you asked us at the start of the year, these shows were not happening, so hopefully a step in the right direction.
words NOEL GARDNER photos ROB BLACKHAM