The Shop Window is fronted by the dynamic duo of Carl Mann (vocals/guitars) and Simon ‘Syd’ Oxlee (vocals/keys), whose journey began over two decades ago when they landed their first record deal.
After spending recent years on opposite sides of the world, Carl found himself back in the UK and keen to jam. With old friends Martin Corder (Bass) and Phil Elphee (Drums), a recording session brought six strong songs to fruition.
See our exclusive interview with the band below
Looking back, what were some of your earliest entries into music appreciation? And music production?
Carl – My older sister had great music taste when we were young, I got to know and love all sorts of bands from hearing them blasting out of her bedroom. Things like The Cure/The Smiths and Adam Ant.
As a teenager I think there were probably 4 guitarists who made me want to pick up a guitar and learn to play, they were Johnny Marr (The Smiths), John Squire (The Stone Roses), Andy Bell (Ride) and Graham Coxon (Blur).
I think the first record producer I actually became a fan of was Stephen Street. I love how rich and sparkly his records sound.
Take us through your songwriting process. Are there any particular steps you take when putting music together?
Carl – The songwriting process can begin in many different ways for me, a guitar riff or vocal melody or an event that ignites the creative spark. Some songs are completed in 20 minutes but others have taken years! I have a catalogue of half-finished ideas in demo form and sometimes I go back to them and have a listen. Having time away from an idea makes it really easy to pinpoint the really good segments and then scrap the parts that were not working. We have literally just finished a song I started work on about 7 years ago…
I demo songs and keep working on them until I am happy with all the parts and melodies and everything in it is bringing something to the song. The final process is editing/shortening the song. Sometimes it’s really good to go through and chop lengthy sections down until nothing is overplayed and the song flows leaving the listener wanting to hear it again.
What gets your creative juices flowing?
Carl – There’s nothing better than watching a great band live to get the creative juices flowing, or sometimes I’ll hear something amazing (old or new) for the first time and that will make me want to pick up the guitar.
As a musician, it becomes apparent that there is a huge difference between the art and the business. Is there anything about the music scene that you would personally change?
Carl – I would make it more of a level playing field for artists if it were possible. Music projects are very expensive and time-consuming beasts to get off the ground, so those that are financially well off are in a better position to get further in their careers. You also need to be time rich and up to speed with social media and self-promotion, there are great bands who may not have time due to work/financial circumstances. They are not knowledgeable with how effective the social PR machine works for artists and growing a fanbase. I think because of this there are lots of amazing bands that probably fall through the cracks and are never heard.
Studio work and music creation or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?
Carl – It’s close but I actually prefer music creation and the studio side of it all. Finding melodies and great guitar parts is such a buzz, then hearing all of your hard work and ideas finally come together pumping out of giant studio speakers is a great feeling. Although, a great gig when you’re in the moment and have a crowd captivated is also pretty hard to beat.
What is the most memorable response you have had to your music?
Carl – This recent one keeps coming back to me and just makes me smile. “I’m on this lads, fucking deadly stuff (Dublinese for impossibly brilliant)”
What’s on your current playlist?
Generally playing a lot of these lot at the moment – The Rain Parade/Real Estate/Teenage Fanclub/Ride/Wild Nothing/Isobell Campbell/Roxy Music/Lloyd Cole & The Commotions/The Cure/Deerhunter/DIIV/Hatchie/Pernice Brothers/Nada Surf/The Pale Saints/The Stone Roses/House of Love/Sparklehorse
Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you in the near future?
We’re in the studio in May to record seven new songs which will complete our album “The State Of Being Human”. Following the release of our first single ‘Mannequin Lies’ we’re hoping to release a single every 2 to 3 months until the end of the year, this will be followed by the release of the album. Somehow, we want to raise enough funds to release the album on vinyl. If an indie label got involved along the journey somewhere to help with this, of course, that would be marvellous!!
Famous last words?
Simon ‘Syd’ Oxlee – It’s better to burn out than fade away!
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