We caught up with Those Damn Crows vocalist Shane Greenhall to chat about their rise in popularity despite Covid restrictions, how he feels about the welsh music scene pushing more exciting bands into the limelight, and what Download festival means to him personally.
Greenhall genuinely came across as a guy that loves his fans, music, and the entire scene that helped shape him from a young age. A truly humbled human and from one of the most intoxicating bands to arise, not just from Wales, but the United Kingdom as a whole. Keep an eye on these lads; we anticipate big things in their future! In fact, the band is signed to Earache Records and will drop their new album Inhale/Exhale, on February 17th, 2023.
So I’m joined by Shane from Those Damn Crows. How you doing?
Shane Greenhall: “What’s happening, dude? Yeah, good.”
Now you guys formed back in 2014, and you pretty much have gone from strength to strength, especially playing Download 2019. You actually played more than once at that festival, didn’t you?
“Yes, it was three times in two days; it was amazing. We played in the RIP the night before. I think it was Thursday night, and I couldn’t believe how amazing it was actually; it was rammed, but then we did the Dog Tooth or stage on the Friday, and then we did an acoustic set in the afternoon but yeah, amazing times, dude. Feels like a lifetime ago, actually.”
So you played Download shortly after the release of your debut album. Did you ever actually expect to get the attention you received from it?
“No, I gotta be honest. I suppose, like every band, you just go out and jam with your mates, and then you just see it snowball into something, and thankfully we picked up this fan base, which is unbelievable, The Crow family, as I like to call them. We did (Download) Pilot last year, and that was insane as well. And again, it’s just like, after Covid, people were so busy in live music again. So it’s just incredible. But the trajectory of the band has just been insane, so wonderful, man. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Now, you played the pilot last year; what was that like? Because unfortunately, I missed it. I know it was a smaller affair, but given that it was such a small affair compared to what we are used to, how did you find it? Was it more intimate? Were you able to connect with the fans more, do you think?
“It was, was really daunting! It was like, because obviously nobody had seen each other for two years, and then we lucked out, and it was like 10,000 people. It was just like, should we be doing this? Because you haven’t seen anybody, it’s incredibly daunting, and it was nerve-wracking, but I swear to God, it was like a roller coaster of emotion. I was watching people crying because there was music again and crying because they had lost people that had supposed to have been at the show, but Covid did what it did. So it was a real roller coaster of emotion. I’ll never forget our show; it was, it was really special.”
Now, like all bands, there was a challenge with the shutdown of the entertainment industry, with many bands actually calling it quits to a degree because they just couldn’t survive with the situation. How did you guys deal with the pandemic? And you released your second album during that period. What was it like producing it and getting it out there? Given everything being shut down?
“It was really hard for us. We had just released Point of No Return, our second album. We’d done a week’s tour, I think was like seven or eight days on the tour, then Covid happened, so we couldn’t tour the album anymore, so it was bittersweet. We could have done so much more with our second album, but obviously, Covid got involved, and that was that. But we created Crowcast, which is our podcast, just to touch base with our fans, and that was getting some killers guests on from other bands and talking about their experiences with Covid, and that just snowballed into this unbelievable support network, and now we’re doing Download today, and, like I said, the Pilot last year, and just seeing those people, you’re putting the faces to the names of those people when they’re watching the Crowcast, and honestly today I was buzzing because there’s so many people I didn’t know but knew of via social media, and just watching their faces buzzing and being there. It was so surreal to have played the main stage at Download; I’m sweating. I can’t stop sweating because it’s just the adrenaline, dude. It’s an amazing feeling to me.”
What challenges actually came out of the pandemic specifically for you? So I don’t think you guys did, but many bands did some virtual gigs, but what do you think? Do you think they were worthwhile doing for people? Do you think it helped?
“It’s such a strange thing. Dude. It was like a lot of firsts for a lot of bands. You quite rightly said; a lot of bands kind of quit because of it and because of the financial situations, but we did a Planet Rock show, and there was nobody in the room, but they videoed it and sent it out on a live stream, and that was really surreal because if you come to watch us, our shows are all about that interaction with the fans. We were just looking at cameras and red lights, and there was nobody in that room, so it was very strange, but again, it was a first for us and something we really kind of just had to do, so yeah, enjoyed it. But at the same time, there’s no substitute for that live audience in front of you, man. It’s everything for us.”
Now things have returned to normal, what’s next on the agenda for you guys? I mean, will you be doing tours to support the latest album? Have you got anything new coming our way?
“So much in August! We got to do lots of shows, kind of like headline shows. We’re doing Chepstow Castle; we love a castle! We did Cardiff Castle last year, and sold out. So we’re doing Chepstow Castle with an amazing lineup of upcoming bands. We’re going on tour with Monster Truck, who are on stage right now; that’s gonna be absolutely killer because we just love the boys; their whole philosophy on rock is just right up our street. So we go on tour with them in September and October. Our album, third album, is done, can’t wait for everybody to hear that; it’s sounding killer. So it’s just getting all the logistics right, all the vinyl and all those packages sort of ready to just explode, when that’s released, and then obviously it’s all around that. So a lot of things pencilled in, no specific dates as yet, but very exciting times.”
While you’re here, will you be checking out any bands yourself or anyone that you specifically want to try and catch if you get the opportunity?
“Oh my God, yes. Obviously, we got to check out Shinedown, Black Label Society is going to be on very shortly, so I’m hoping to catch some of that set, and obviously, the legends, biggest band in the world, Iron Maiden, definitely catch that tonight.”
This is something that’s actually dawned on me recently. There’s been an awfully big music scene coming out of Wales lately. What do you think has attributed to that? Because obviously, we’ve got Skindred, we’ve got the Punk Rock Factory, we’ve got yourselves. What makes Wales so different? Because it’s just something I’ve noticed in the last few weeks, actually.
“I don’t know, man. I mean, I’ve been asked this question so many times. I genuinely believe it’s the roots of Wales. As kids, there were so many jam nights. So there was bands playing guitars, you know, expensive guitars. I tell this all the time, we went to the jam nights as kids, and we’d borrow other people’s equipment, and I was playing like a three-and-a-half grand Gibson, Les Paul, and there’s no way I could afford that at 16 years of age. But these jam nights, these incredible musicians would allow you to do that.
“I think the foundations of rock, in particular, are so strong in our nation, and I think it’s that, dude. You either play sports as a Welsh kid or music. So I think that’s why it’s strong, dude. I think you’re right; it has gravitated the last couple of years; Skindred are doing amazing things; I think they’re one of the best festival bands that are going; I mean, there’s no question. But the Welsh scene has always been strong for the past twenty, thirty years.”
Now, it doesn’t have to be Download, but have you got any incredible festival experiences that you want to share? Be it playing a festival or back before when you were just a member of the audience? Has there been anything that stuck out that really makes you love this? Well, this whole experience of being at a festival?
“I mean, Download in particular, we, we played here in 2019, and we’re watching Def Leppard and seeing those killer songs, you know what I mean? But also past Downloads when Slipknot headlined that was killer, Linkin Park too. I think those types of bands, you could almost argue that Slipknot were the modern-day Iron Maiden. Those were killer times coming to Download and seeing them, but I mean anytime, I generally mean this, it doesn’t matter how big that stage is, as a band, we give our all, man; it’s like every time we give our all, there’s moments in our sets, and it’s happened today. I jumped down, I got into the crowd, and I asked the camera to follow me, and it’s just the spontaneous stuff, man. That’s the things that you remember shows and festivals for; it’s the spontaneous things; it’s just not scripted. That’s the stuff that really gets me, like Cory Taylor, you just see how emotional he got with the response from Download, same with Linkin Park when they played, it’s those moments that rock music is all about.”
I always like to end my interviews with a joke. So I’m going to ask you for one in a minute if you’ve got one. Don’t worry; I’ve got the worst jokes in the world, so most people want to kill me, and I don’t think I’ll be invited back next year because of these. So here’s my joke. What does a tapeworm and the Eiffel Tower have in common?
“I have no idea!”
They’re both parasites (Paris sites).
“That’s an old man joke; I love it!”
Anything from you, though? Don’t feel bad if you haven’t.
“Here we go, two spoons talking together. One says; Looks like rain. The other one says no way sunny today. Wetherspoons!”
I like that one. You know, that’s great. I’ve got one more for you. What do you call a cowardly Knight?
Surrender (Sir Render).
“Legend! Absolute legend!”
I know! But, Shane, thank you so much for chatting to us today. Thank you so much.
“Thank you. Thank you so much.”
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