Interview: The Shop Window

The Shop Window are an up and coming indie pop band based in the UK – I recently checked out their double A side single, Eyes Wide Shut, and I really enjoyed it! Hopefully our readers did too, but if you missed it you can also find it at the end of this interview!

By Jane Howkins

You recently released a double A-side single titled Eyes Wide Shut, which we reviewed. It features 2 songs, called Eyes Wide Shut & Low. What can you tell us about these tracks and where can they be purchased?

Syd – Lyrically Eyes Wide Shut is about secret crushes; that sense of being a little bit in love with someone from afar but knowing that for one reason or another you’ll never be able to share your secrets. It’s feeling the energy of that spark, the excitement of knowing someone is alive and in the world but that it will ultimately never happen. Wondering if they have felt it too and looking for those subtle signs that maybe you’ve connected on some level.

Carl – Eyes Wide Shut came about in an unusual way for us, Syd sent me an acapella of a vocal melody and lyrics he had come up with. I put it in our ideas folder and almost forgot about it.
We had pretty much finished the songs for album two when I found I had some free time. So I dug out Syd’s acapella and started playing around with it. The vocal parts basically worked over the same 3 chords all the way through, I changed one of the chorus chords for a slightly different feel. Once I found a rhythm groove, the song came together quickly and the jangly guitar lines followed instantly. A few tweaks to the verse vocal phrasing and a change in approach to the chorus vocal melody and it was all done in a morning.

Low came about late one evening while I was waiting for a supermarket delivery. I was feeling, well low and the song just came out while strumming some chords. It was written in about 20 mins, I recorded a rough version of it the following morning and sent it to the band. They loved it. The two tracks are available on 7” vinyl, released through the awesome independent label Spinout Nuggets. The vinyl can be purchased from the label, our Bandcamp or lots of good independent record stores.

The single was released in the classic 7″ format. Why did you decide to release it in this format and will you be releasing more singles this way in the future?

Carl – We’re all massive fans of the 7” record and Spinout Nuggets release lots of singles this way. It’s such a classic way for a single to exist, especially if you’re of a certain age. It will bring back lots of great memories. We’ll have to see how sales of this one go before we commit to doing another 7” single. Lots of people are feeling the pinch financially at the moment, it may not be cost effective to do it again. Who knows!

Syd – singles are beautiful, tangible things. Something that was lost into the 90s but has now made a welcomed comeback. When I’m working on designs for the artwork I always think of them as individual covers, sitting together as a set much as the singles I collected in the 80s and 90s. It feels good to have our music making it out there on that format. But, as Carl has said, it has to be workable for everyone cost wise.

You’ve also recently released an album titled The State Of Being Human. What can you tell us about the album?

Carl – The State Of Being Human was our debut album released over a year ago in June 2021. It has long sold out on our Bandcamp and through the label but if you’re quick there are a few copies for sale on Discogs, from indie record stores. The album was very well received by the indie music fraternity and featured high in many end of year Best Album Of 2021 lists. It received many great reviews and has set us on our way very well.

Syd – I’m very proud of it and see it as a very personal milestone.

Have you started writing for a future EP/album?

Carl – Our second album is finished and will be released in a couple of months on Vinyl/CD as well as digital, hopefully we’ll be able to announce the actual release date in the near future. It’s called A 4 Letter Word… We have released three singles from it so far, Lay of The Land, Lighthouse and Eyes Wide Shut. The reality is, we have already started working on songs for a third album. I never stop writing, it’s my favourite thing to do…

Syd – Yes, lots of ideas flying around for album 3. My phone is choc full of melody ideas. Can’t wait to for the chance to sit down and work through some of them with Carl.

Has the pandemic hindered your work much?

Carl – It hindered our ability to get out there and gig due to the lockdowns but it’s actually helped in other ways. It meant we could focus on songwriting, getting our sound how we wanted it and then recording the albums. As a whole it seems that less people are going to gigs now though, I think that fear of catching Covid still exists and lets face it, the best place to catch Covid is probably in a crowded venue full of drunk people, as many of us have learnt.

Syd – Yes, it gave us the chance just to focus on getting music out there without the support of gigging.

What is the writing and recording process like for you?

Carl – I think I mentioned it earlier but it’s my favourite part of being a musician. I’m constantly recording little snippets of riffs, chords or vocal melodies on my phone and scribbling lyrics down in my pad. Quite often Syd sends me vocal ideas and keyboard ideas/melodies as well. He normally has a novel’s worth of lyrics written to hand that we can use at anytime. These all go into a folder to be worked on at a later date. Once I do start working on something, I’ll record a rough demo to progress a song and get a verse and chorus working. I’ll send that to the band and we’ll normally jam it in the rehearsal room to iron out bits and parts. This normally helps with arrangements. The guys will then record some ideas for bass/vocal harmonies at home and send them to me, I’ll then work on getting a finished demo together that we’re happy with. It will then be added to the pot of songs ready to go and record at the studio.

Syd – Yes, Carl is absolutely the chief song-meister but it’s great to just write lyrics and play with melody ideas that may or may not be useful. We can do so much now without being in the same room, so it can be a constantly ongoing process.

Whereabouts are you based? What is the local music scene like?

Carl – We’re based all over, currently three of us are in Maidstone, Kent, one in Dorset and one in Suffolk. I’m about to move to Wiltshire…

This makes it all very interesting trying to organise rehearsals for gigs but we get there. Technology obviously allows us to still work on songs easy enough considering our geographical whereabouts, files just get sent around all the time for the demos.

Maidstone itself doesn’t really have a music scene that I’m aware of, it’s all a bit lethargic around these parts when it comes to original music. It really feels like people will only leave their house for a cheesy tribute band. We do have a fantastic local promoter who is doing his best to book bands for local pubs and venues. My favourite venue in Kent is the Tunbridge Wells Forum, it’s fantastic. Medway in Kent has a thriving music scene and always has done for as long as I can remember, there must be something in the water over there.

Your music has a dreamy indie sound. What/who influences you most as artists? What have you been listening to recently?

Carl – We all have such broad music tastes but to narrow it down for me personally. The music that influences our sound and approach is 80s/90s kanglepop and indie pop. Lots of the bands on Creation Records like RIDE, Teenage Fanclub, House Of Love, etc.

Also bands like The Smiths, The Cure, R.E.M, The Close Lobsters, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Stone Roses, Cosmic Rough Riders and many more of a similar ilk. The albums released so far this year that I’m really enjoying are from The Asteroid No.4, Andy Bell, Subterfuge, Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band, The Shed Project, Papercuts, The Hanging Stars, Kevin Robertson, Keeley, My Raining Stars, Spoon and Spiritualized.

Syd – Like Carl said, I think we’re channelling our favourite bands from past and present whilst creating our own thing.

Do you have any plans to tour in the UK?

Carl – Not at the moment, without any financial support it’s pretty much impossible for us to set out on a tour.

Any last words for the fans?

Carl – Please keep listening and if you’re enjoying the music then do share it with friends. It’s the best form of promo in the world for us small DIY bands. Word of mouth really does work best for gathering a following, we’re growing all the time because lots of our lovely followers are always sharing the love on their chosen social media.

We can’t wait to unleash our second album A 4 Letter Word.. with you very soon, our close friends and family members who have heard it already, tell us it is stunning. We think so too and are extremely proud of it!

Syd – I think he said it all perfectly!