‘Both profound and beautiful’ – The Sunday Times
‘Murderously infectious, polished pop’ – The Guardian
SHIELDS is a 5 piece pop band from Newcastle consisting of Luke (guitar/bass/vocals), Richard (guitar, vocals), David (guitar/synth/vocals), John (percussion/bass/samples), and Tom (drums/vocals) who are continuing our exciting #MusicBringsUsTogether campaign.
After forming in 2011 they have wowed big names in the music industry and performed all over the country, including the Melt! Festival in Germany, held at the iconic Ferropolis open museum.
Their album How Can We Fix This? has been praised by The Guardian as ‘Debut album of the year’, stating that: ‘The whole album plays like one long (musical, existential) affirmation.’
Read on to get to know SHIELDS more and watch some live performances.
- Do you play any instruments? If so, when and why did you start playing?
I started playing Guitar at the tender age of 11. My first chord book was ‘Strum Along With Oasis’. [Luke]
- Were your musical tastes influenced by anyone?
My parents really influenced my music tastes and I grew up listening to a real mix. Everything from Led zeppelin, to the Beatles and Hendrix to Miles Davis to Debussy. One of the biggest musical influences however was the film Bill and Ted. [Luke]
- Who are your favourite musicians?
It’s hard to pick favourites but there are few obvious ones that will always be somewhere near the top of the list, such as David Bowie, Prince and The Beatles. At the moment, I’m really loving Childish Gambino, Dirty Projectors and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. [Luke]
- If you had to listen to just one song for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
Under pressure by Queen featuring David Bowie. [Luke]
- What’s the best festival you’ve performed at?
I think the best festival I’ve performed at is Melt Festival in Germany, with SHIELDS. I’ve never seen any other festival like it. It’s in Ferropolis, “The city of iron”, which is an open-air museum of old huge industrial machines which measure up to 30 metres high, 120 metres long and weigh up to 1980 tonnes (thanks wiki). At night, all the machinery is beautifully lit and it looks incredible. The lineup is always absolutely top class! [Luke]
- What’s the best festival you’ve attended?
Without a doubt, Glastonbury was the best festival I’ve attended. We (SHIELDS) were fortunate enough to also be performing on 3 different stages, which were all very different but amazing to play. The Rabbit Hole was the most raucous and was where we had the biggest crowd but we also played in the PRS tent, which was kind of a golden ticket. It was pristinely clean, had the best toilets and showers plus it had free booze. The backstage bar at the West Hoults stage was pretty cool, too. It’s just an incredible place with an amazing vibe. We were lucky with the weather too. [Rich]
- What’s been your most embarrassing on stage mishap?
To be honest, I can’t think of any in particular but we often tell each other of having dreams of the worst kind of onstage awkwardness you can imagine. In my most recent one, we’d just come on stage to play but I’d realised that none of my gear was setup. Everyone was screaming at me to hurry up but I kept dropping my pedals everywhere. Then we started playing and Luke noticed he’d forgotten to put on his guitar half way through a song. [Rich]
- Do you have any superstitious rituals before you perform live?
The usual ritual is to have a quick shot of something, usually energy related because we’d have been on the road all day or had no sleep. The best one was when we once did a tour in Germany for Intro Magazine that was sponsored by Jägermeister. Each gig had a huge carton of these miniature Jägermeister bottles, basically the size of a shot, so we’d down a few as a group before we played – we had a driver so it was all good. [Rich]
- What advice would you give to beginners in the industry?
The best advice I would give is to just trust in your own instinct and try and express yourself honestly with what you write. Don’t allow yourself to be swayed by any current trends or what seems “cool” at the time. [Rich]
- What songs do you listen to when you need motivation?
I don’t actively seek out particular songs or artists to find motivation. Often, if I hear a new track or band that I like, that can be motivation enough. The feeling of discovering something new that really connects with me is such a strong form of motivation when it comes to writing. [Rich]
- When do you know that you are 100% happy to stop working on a song and release it?
I think it’s quite rare that we all agree a song is complete and as perfect as it can be, without at least one of us thinking a small tweak or big change could improve the song. But we all trust each other enough to go with the general consensus…or a vote. [David]
- What one song do you wish you wrote?
The most recent song that I heard that I wish I’d wrote was ‘Can’t Do Without You’ by Caribou, the extended version. We played Glastonbury in 2015 and I was lucky enough to see their whole set including that song, which was a highlight of the festival. [David]
- Which country would you love to tour in?
I’d love to tour Japan and see the reaction of people with such a difference in culture. One of the best things about being in a band is being able to travel and meet people, particularly if they enjoy your music…it’s brilliant for your ego. I’d also have ‘SHIELDS’ in gigantic writing behind us, similar to The Beatles’ Japanese tour…I have it all planned out. [David]
- If you could go back in time to meet anyone from the past, who would it be and why?
If I could go back and meet any musician from the past I’d choose George Harrison and tell say “If Paul and John aren’t letting you get your songs on the albums, let’s collaborate”. Then I’d advise him to make sure he upgrades his security in 1999 to prevent the stabbing that put him in hospital. [David]
- Where do you go to find inspiration?
I feel in a lucky position to be working with the other members of Shields because there’s never a shortage of inspiration while listening to their musical ideas. There’s a lot of common ground with music tastes but we also have our personal tastes, which seems key to ideas seeming fresh. [David]
- What is your song of shame?
I don’t really have any musical guilty pleasures or shame but maybe people would expect me to want to keep the fact that I bought (full price on CD) the first two Robbie Williams albums. I still think they’re mint minus ‘Angels’. I’d go as far to say I think Robbie Williams is better than Elvis (was). [David]