Damian: The new album is all about ancestry and stories of years gone by. With that in mind, you first played Newcastle City Hall, as a solo artist, in 1981, what memories of playing Newcastle, and the City Hall, do you have?
Shaky: Well every time we’ve gone up to Newcastle we’ve always had a great night. A really good night. I haven’t been on tour for a few years and I’m looking forward to coming up to Newcastle. They’ve always had great musicians like the Animals and Hank Marvin and Sting, the list goes on and on. There’s some very talented musical people come out of Newcastle, there’s no doubt about that.
Damian: Thank you, that’s a nice thing to say. You have a fantastic legacy as a live performer, going right back to the days of Shakin Steven’s and the Sunsets, and your days in the West End playing Elvis; can we expect you to climb up any curtains or dance on any pianos on this tour?
Shaky; (laughing) I won’t be doing that I’m afraid. I think those days are over. The curtain incident happened in Cardiff and I remember it really well. That same night we were off to Oxford afterwards and once the 2nd show was over I took my shoe off and my ankle had ballooned. (Laughing) I was in plaster after that for the next 6 months. That was the only incident I ever had in my climbing career.
Damian: The new tracks on the album, particularly ‘Suffer little children’ and ‘down in the hole’ are very soulful and meaningful, and sound difficult to sing live. Is this the most vocally challenging show you’ve been a part of?
Shaky: It’ll be different to the other shows, which I think is important in keeping a show fresh, but I’ll be playing the hits also so there’ll be a good mix.
Damian: And for the new songs, this album sounds very different to most of your previous work which was more rock and roll, and skiffle. Has this sound influenced the band you’ll be touring with?
Shaky: Yes, the musical themes of the record can be quiet dark so that’s influenced the band’s shape and instruments. I’ve been really pleased with the reaction the album has had, especially as it’s themes are about family and the past, so it’s very dear to me.
Damian: I agree, people seem to really like the record. The track ‘Down in the hole’ is about coal mining, and it’s an angry song. Coal mining is something we can really relate to in the North East. Where did the anger come from Shaky?
Shaky: Well, there’s a few things, the conditions the miners were working in were really poor and I lost family in the mines. When mines were shut a lot of work went from certain towns and villages with was hard also. I don’t think that people were really looked after at the time and hence the feel I put over in the vocal, especially when I was thinking about my family.
Damian: That’s great to hear. Last question, the album is very intense and meaningful, it’s been lovingly crafted with well thought out images. Am I correct to assume that music is as important to you now as it’s ever been?
Shaky: Yes, it really is. Music has been a big part in my life right from the early days, and it will continue to be so. This album is a move on my previous ones, and long may it continue.
Damian: Great, we’ll see you at the City Hall. If we see you climb any curtains, we’ll come and drag you down.
Shaky: (Laughing) I should hope so too. I look forward to playing Newcastle so can’t wait.
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