The Shimmer Band returned to the Brudenell, this time as headliners to the Games Room, for the first date of their tour and I was able to speak with frontman Tom and keyboardist Schmit prior to their performance...
Let's start with an introduction as to who you are, what you do, and a funny fact about yourself...
Tom: My name is Tom and I am the lead singer in The Shimmer Band
Schmit: My name is Schmit and I play keys in The Shimmer Band.
Tom: I'll tell you a funny fact... Schmit is actually a member of a biker gang. For real. Proper Harley Davidson biker gang! That's true, I'm not even making it up.
Schmit: We kill people...
Tom: So look out! What are you going to say about me, mate?
Schmit: Nah, we talk about you enough. Lets talk about something else!
I want to hear about the conception of The Shimmer Band. How was it that you first came together as a band?
Tom: We all went to school together so we've known each other for forever, really.
Schmit: It was about two and a half years ago that we decided to start this project.
Tom: Yeah. We've all done musical things and played in different bands. We just thought 'Yeah, lets start a new band!' because we all liked the same sort of music, and it kind of made sense. We didn't really think about it too much, it just sort of happened.
What are your earliest memories of music? So both in terms of what you grew up listening to, and also how you started making music yourselves.
Tom: I remember playing 'Sgt. Pepper' on repeat a lot when I was a kid, specifically 'When I'm 64'. I don't know why a little kid would do that!
Schmit: The least rock and roll tune!
Tom: It's probably the shittest song on the album as well, but I just have this vivid memory of playing it over and over again... it's because it's weird and a little bit different, isn't it! I have an older brother and he was a teenager during the Britpop era, so I grew up listening to a lot of that.
Schmit: I grew up listening to The Stones... lucky me! My first proper memory of music funnily enough involves our bass player, Kuras. I got a tiny little squier bass for my birthday and I just remember running round his house with it. At the time he played guitar and we started jamming together... and now we're in a band together which is great, but we've got opposite roles!
Tom: He plays bass and you play guitar! Funny old thing.
You've spent a lot of time on the road already this year, and this is the 1st date of your headline tour. Is there anywhere that you always look forward to playing or have had good experiences in the past?
Tom: Well we've played here quite a few times and it's quite good... it's one of the better toilet venues! So we really like it here.
Schmit: Leeds as a city, as well. We played Live At Leeds last year and that was really good fun.
Tom: Leeds is pretty good for bands, isn't it? There seems to be a lot of bands here and there's always good gigs going on.
Schmit: Yeah, definitely one of the top cities to play. We enjoy playing up North in general because we just love the crowds. Everyone's always well up for it!
Tom: Bristol is a bit more Dance orientated and hip-hop. It's a bit more urban, and they're not really into bands... but you come up here and everyone is really passionate about rock n' roll, which is good. It's good for us because that's what we do!
When you first walk out on stage and see all of the people who have come out especially to watch you perform, how do you feel in those first few moments?
Tom: Don't trip up and don't fall over! It depends on the gig though, really. When it's our own shows, I think we're a lot more appreciative because people have specifically come for us and it's a bit more of a choice occasion. When we do support slots, it's a bit more like war! It's a bit more like going into battle because we've got to earn the right of the audience.
Do you have any tour hobbies or habits?
Schmit: Top Trumps!
Tom: Chequers! We're pretty brutal chequers players.
Schmit: Oh yeah, we've almost fallen out on several occasions over it.
Tom: We go wild. It gets pretty nasty!
Schmit: You've got to find ways to kill time. It's not as glamorous as it may seem!
Tom: It is, what are you on about?
Schmit: Oh yeah, super glamorous... you spend a lot of time travelling and waiting around.
Tom: Pool! We've got pretty good at pool and pretty good at poker.
There's obviously a strong visual aspect to what you do... when I first saw you live, I was completely mesmerized. But it's not just in terms of your live show, but your artwork as well is incredibly vivid. Do you think it's just as important to focus on the visuals as it is the music?
Tom: Definitely. Obviously music, art, fashion cross over and intertwine so it's good to think about all of these things. We particularly like the artwork, actually. It's done by some American woman called Destiny Womack. She's this American artist... she's a bit mental! We found her online, on Instagram or something like that.
Schmit: I think we found some work that she'd done for someone else and did a bit of research.
Tom: We got in contact with her and asked her about the artwork and she got back to us and said she'd love to. She painted us these huge oil canvases and had them shipped over to us, so we took photographs of them and had them made into artwork for all of the singles. I'm really pleased with it, and they all sort of link together.
Schmit: They're a collection.
Tom: We've only got one release out at the moment that you can get as a physical copy but eventually we'll put them all out and it'll be really nice to see them all together. It'll look really cool.
Has anyone got a bucket list? Things you want to do before you die...
Schmit: I haven't... but I can think of something!
Tom: We've finished recording our debut album now... I think! I think it's done! So I'm now thinking about the next album, and thinking about recording that. That's what I really want to get done, more than anything. I want to start making new songs and progress it further.
Schmit: DJ'ing at Glastonbury... that'd be quite a good one for a bucket list!
Tom: Yeah! We're DJ'ing at Glastonbury on the Saturday night so we're pretty chuffed about that. It's going to be fun... we're just going to get messed up and play some great tunes.
Speaking of festivals, you became somewhat of a familiar fixture on the festival circuit last year and have already announced some great appearances for this year too. What do you think it is about a festival that makes them so very special to music lovers all across the globe?
Tom: Festivals have become more important than ever, I think.
Schmit: I think it's a good way for bands to get some recognition and exposure. You get to potentially play to thousands of people.
Tom: Over the last 10 or 15 years, small venues like this one have been suffering or haven't been as popular as they used to be... mainly because people prefer going to festivals and probably feel like they're getting their moneys' worth. You pay a lump sum of money and get to see hundreds of bands if you want to, but like Schmit said, it's a great thing for bands.
Schmit: When we go to festivals, we discover new acts. I've discovered so many new bands at festivals in the past and ended up getting well into them. It's a great way, for new bands especially, to build a fanbase... and then when they do their own gigs, people actually come!
Does anyone in the band have any strange talents or interesting hobbies outside of music?
Tom: I don't really have any, to be honest! I'm pretty obsessed with music. Like I said, all I'm thinking about now is the next album so we're just writing loads of songs and concentrating on that.
Schmit: It's all we talk about all of the time. Just music.
If you could spend 24 hours time travelling, where would you go and what would you do?
Tom: I'd go back to the 60's and write all of the good tunes. Write Sgt. Pepper before The Beatles do it and then write Let It Bleed before the Stones do it. Steal all the good songs, basically!
Schmit: If we get there before the Stones, we can be called The Rolling Stones.
Tom: No, we'll be called The Rolling Beatles and just write all of their tunes before they have the chance to do it! So yeah, that's what I'd do!
Schmit: I agree!
Tell me something about The Shimmer Band that no one else knows...
Tom: Secrets about us? We don't really have any secrets!
Schmit: If we did have a big secret, I don't think we'd really want to tell anyone! We have got a single coming out which we haven't announced. People may not know that our Freedom music video was filmed at Cardiff Arena.
Tom: You can't tell because it's terribly edited! We just thought, they can't use Cardiff Arena every single day... so we contacted the guy who runs it and asked, and he replied saying that there were certain days where it was empty, so we asked if we could come in on one of them and shoot our video and then the guy said yes! So we went in there and just shot a video in an arena! We were there for 2 days!
Schmit: We set up a massive stage and had a crane.
Tom: Yeah, we hired a crane! It was pretty cool... it's just a shame the video was crap because we put loads of effort into it! But yeah, not many people know that video was shot in an arena, and it's pretty epic!
Schmit: We're more a stadium band!
Finally... what are the hopes, dreams and plans for the future?
Tom: To be a stadium band! We just want to be as big as we possibly can, really.
Schmit: We want to play on the bigger stages at all of the festivals.
Tom: Yeah. When you're a kid you don't think about playing the Brudenell.. no offence!
Schmit: When I was younger I remember thinking that if I got to the Louisiana, which is a small Bristol venue, then I'd be satisifed. As soon as I did it, you go on to the next venue and it just goes up and up. You're never satisifed and you always want more.
Tom: We just want to be a big band, really. A lot of people shy away from it or are embarrassed by it for some reason, but for me there'd be nothing better than having a big tour bus, touring the country, playing at all of the arenas and getting to perform in front of 10,000 people every night. That's what we want to do.
Listen to The Shimmer Band here:
Where to find them...