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Monday 22 January 2018

Interview: Brighton's Best 40 Shillings On The Drum Set To Tour UK & Release Live Album

There will be no unwelcome re-entry as the promised meteoric rise of Brighton five-piece, 40 Shillings on the Drum, shows no sign of abating. In fact, 2018 is gearing up to be the year of the 'Shillings', as the next twelve months will see them unleash a live album, début studio album and a plethora of live dates.

To see in the New Year we caught up with 40 Shillings on the Drum's lead singer and chief songwriter, Daniel Scully, to look back on the last twelve months and to look forward at their plans for the coming year.

The Brighton Magazine (TBM): Now 2017 has drawen to a close how have the last twelve months treated 40 Shillings on the Drum?

Daniel Scully (DS): It's been a rollercoaster! There has been plenty of ups and downs, but I think that's necessary within any musical line up to both inspire, and make sure everything, and everyone, is right before pushing to the next level. 
We've had amazing international feedback, and are already growing our global fan base, and selling music in countries all around the world. It's an insane thought when we're independent and still establishing ourselves on a local level. 
You take the rough with the smooth and we've had some real low points too - a mixture of unforeseen circumstances and commitment issues caused three core members of the band to depart. This hit us hard as you become close to your band-mates and when things don't work out, initially you can feel at a loss. However myself, alongside guitarist Steve and keyboard player Seb, have always been the key songwriters so it didn't upset how we go about writing songs, and in the months since we finalised the line up, we've found great friends in the new blood that"s come in, and it's revitalised the band as a whole. 

TBM: What difference did these personnel changes make to the band's sound and dynamic?

DS: It certainly made us look at what we do and how best to proceed. When we started out, I had a complete vision of what I personally wanted the band to initially be. That's always important as it will attract the right people to work with and develop a strong sound. It was very much a Celtic, folk-rock sound in the early days as that was where I was drawing my inspiration from. The singing style and lyrical content of that genre fitted nicely with how I work as a songwriter. The idea for us was always to begin in this vein but that we shouldn't tie ourselves down to that particular genre. The changing of the line up brought about a slight change in our sound. They're excellent musicians and whilst we're keeping the essence of how we started out, we're now pushing in a more unique direction and our newest material is amongst the best we've ever written. 

TBM: You've been gaining a lot of publicity via a tie-in with the charity Brighton & Hove Impetus What's the band's involvement and do you intend to take the message out to a wider audience?

DS: The charity approached us after coming across one of our music videos and enjoying the positive vibe of that video. They asked if they could use it to front their current campaign - which ran from October to December 2017 - and explained a little about what they do. The charity helps people who feel lonely or socially isolated because of age, disability or poor mental or physical health, and after speaking with them, it really opened our eyes to these problems. They are a charity local to our hometown of Brighton and we were surprised about how high the problem of loneliness is in the city. The collaboration was a great success and it spurred us on to want to try and help more people on a national scale. With that in mind, we will be working with, and raising money for charities with a similar ethos in every city we visit when we embark on our first UK tour at the end of January 2018. 

TBM: Your video for the track 'The English Coast' seemed to go viral via Facebook. Who was responsible for filming it and is it available to watch via YouTube?

DS: Yes! I knew we were on to something but it exceeded expectations. I had the idea for the video at the beginning of 2017 and when it came to releasing our EP, the concept worked really well with "The English Coast". We advertised for volunteers to be in the video and filmed it ourselves on an iPhone in July. It's such a simple idea but very effective. We chose Facebook to share the video as we already had an engaged audience there, and Facebook"s algorithms take preference to native content. We wanted to see how far the video could get organically without any paid promotion, and it exceeded expectations when it racked up nearly thirty-thousand views and we were receiving messages from around the world! It was a great experience and learning curve, and really demonstrated to me the power of a good idea. You can see the video on YouTube here -


TBM: Note your performance of 'The Call Of The Sea' is hosted on Balcony TV. How did that come and about and was it a positive experience?

DS: It was a great experience and the first time we'd been filmed and interviewed. I've been a fan of BalconyTV for a while and when I saw that Brighton were starting up the sessions again, I got in contact. They were happy to have us in, and were very welcoming. Although it was filmed in September, we had typical English weather so it was rather cold performing on the balcony opposite the sea. The atmosphere fit well with our song choice though! We've had great feedback from both the sessions producers, and from fans of the band. Our acoustic performance is quite different to the high energy live and electric show we do, and it demonstrates another side to us. I'm looking forward to doing many more sessions for different people throughout 2018 and beyond.

TBM: The band's recent Prince Albert gig in Brighton was recorded for a forthcoming live release. What can we expect format and material wise?

DS: We're releasing the album to coincide with our UK tour. I've heard snippets but not the album in its entirety yet. It sounds like we captured something really special that night and the whole band were on form. Our set consisted of popular songs from our début EP, including local favourite, "Brighton Belle", and our charity single, "The English Coast". We also made the rather ballsy decision to play some brand new material that had not been performed at any show previously. We're very confident in what we do, and wanted everyone to get a taste of what to expect on our studio album in 2018. 

We opened the set with "Saturday Night Slaughter", a brand new song about the dangers of drug-driving and closed the set with another new one, "Under the Tree", which, when coupled with its reprise, reaches near nine minutes. We love to write upbeat pop songs, but like to be more challenging and complex than that as well, which is why we took the chance to open and close the live album show in that way. The set also featured a third new song, "The Early Days", which we're confident will go on to be a huge favourite, and we've even named the tour after it! 
The plan is to initially release the album on CD and as a digital download, with the outlook to have a limited vinyl run later on in 2018. 

TBM: Any sign of record label interest yet?

DS: If you're doing things right as an artist, it doesn't take too long for word to begin to spread. We've been fortunate enough to have had some very good exposure throughout the life of the band, and we are getting offers, and coming up with ideas ourselves to earn us more promotion all the time. We are interested in record labels, but we won"t be making any hasty decisions. We've had some interest already and have spoken to A&R representatives on more than one occasion. I can't give out more details than that right now, but nothing is set in stone. We won't sign to anyone unless we are 100% happy with the deal. 

TBM: How do you feel about the internet as a promotional tool as part of the modern music business structure?

DS: I absolutely love it! As musicians, we are in such a privileged time with so many free tools, promotion and advice at our fingertips. I began pushing our Spotify presence in August of 2017 and we already have three thousand monthly listeners with our biggest audiences being in Germany and the USA. That's something that would be impossible before the internet. You'd never be able to reach a mass audience in other countries without even leaving your own unless you were signed and getting airplay. I love looking into the statistics and seeing all the demographics on who"s playing what song and where in the world. 
The challenge is that these tools and platforms are available to all and you have to work really hard to stand out from the crowd. These days, many people want a hell of a lot more from artists on top of the music. I like that though - it pushes us to really think about what content we put out there and to stay consistent.

TBM: Anything else you want to tell us about the band and the coming twelve months?

DS: To me, 2018 is all about building on what we already do. We've got a fantastic EP under our belt, and our first UK tour coming up. From there, it'll be the live album first, to show we can perform live and under pressure - nailing it first time without a problem. Our début album will be released in early summer to coincide with festival appearances, and then we plan to head out on a headline UK tour in autumn. On top of that, you can expect to see a constant stream of online content on all the social media platforms, and we'll be upping our YouTube game big time so make sure to keep an eye on that!
2017 was the starter, get ready to tuck in to the main! 

40 Shillings on the Drum The Early Days' tour:

Thursday 1st February - The Holroyd Arms, Guilford

Saturday 3rd February – The Pomfret Arms, Northampton

Sunday 4th February - Exchange, Bristol 

Monday 5th February - The Night Owl, Birmingham

Tuesday 6th February - Wharf Chambers Co-operative Club, Leeds 

Thursday 8th February - Six Bells, Cambridge

Friday 9th February - The Underground Theatre, Eastbourne

Saturday 10th February - Fat Tuesdays Festival, Various Venues, Hastings

40 Shillings on the Drum release the digital format of their 'Live At The Albert' album on Friday 26th January 2018. A physical release will follow on 16th March 2018. For more info CLICK HERE.   

by: Mike Cobley


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