Tomorrow on January 24th, the Scottish alternative rockers 13 Crowes will release their newest album, ‘Solway Star’ via Homebound Records. The collection contains lead single & focus track “Dying Breed” (Spotify/Soundcloud).
These guys take influence from the likes of Brian Fallon, Chuck Ragan and Jared Hart, having honed an infectious, heartfelt and uplifting brand of rock n’ roll. The upcoming record is an anthemic and beautifully delivered ode to the working classes, with bit of grit & a bit of romance. 13 Crowes supports the album release with a headline European Tour in February 2020.
Learn more about 13 Crowes in the following All Access interview-
Happy New Year! When it comes to your music, what are you most excited about for 2020?
2020, the year of the mad dog or the year of perfect vision, as Conor McGregor says! We’re very excited about it to be fair! It feels fresh, a fresh decade and all that! I feel a lot of good things can happen this year, obviously releasing our second album is a big one especially with it being 3 years since the first. It’s been a long wait and we’ve had a lot of time to prepare to get it out there and get on the road in February! Then we’ll go from there I suppose.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Do you find that your band name still represents you and your music today?
We’ve all known each other for a long time, since school! Although we didn’t hang around together back then. I remember all three of the boys coming up to me at separate times in a boozer or at a gig round Annan saying something like “if you ever need a drummer“ or “if you ever need a bass player“ so I guess it was a long time coming! Yeah we still like the number and we still like the bird! Very clever bird, a crow!!
How do you think your hometown has influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group? If not, why is that?
We are all very proud of where we are from and we have a strong sense of belonging here! The influence comes from everything really from the feeling you get just walking down the street to the people you know or even don’t know, it’s a very small and very working-class area. As far as how we carry ourselves, I feel personally I have been very lucky to have served my time as a bricklayer and I think that has given me a great work ethic. Sometimes things might get hard but if you don’t get the head down and arse up, that wall will not be built. You know what I mean? We’re very lucky too that a lot of the successful people around here who I admire and have learned from are grafters! They’re fishermen or builders or men in saw mills who have knocked their pan in! They are who they are because of the work they put in. I love that! I’ve been doing some building work for one of those men lately. He’s VERY successful. He could sit back and put his feet up now but he’s still up at 4.30am rigger boots on and running around getting the work done because that’s the way he’s built. I love that, it makes me work a little harder! I’m inspired by the people, the lassies in the roll shop on the go in the early hours sorting you out with a hot piece for work, posties writing wee messages on my letters like “The Boss.“ I love just seeing people in this town going about there lives, everyone has their something to offer the world!
Let’s talk about your album, “Solway Star.” How excited are you all to be releasing this collection? Did anything about the process of putting it together surprise any of you?
Very excited! We’ve been working on it a LONG time!! 2017 was the last time we released an album, our debut album “Young Poets.” This one has been a long slog so it’s very nice to finally see its release just around the corner. Yeah there’s always surprises, surprises is maybe a polite way of putting it but we’re happy with the way it’s turned out! Definitely surprised at how good my left hook sounds in the opener “Gypsy Queen“! Haha!
What was it like going into the studio to record the songs on this album? Can you pick out a couple favorite memories during this process?
We did some recording in a gym actually. The Deep Burn Gym in Annan is one of my favourite places in the world. We recorded with Dave Miller from Circa 16 and he’s always looking to try out cool locations for different sounds! We did drums for a couple of the tracks in there. It was part of an old ammunition’s factory and the acoustics are incredible! Dave recorded me punching the heavy bag too and we used it in a track! So my left hook is on that album! I’m proud of that!
Can you talk about the inspiration behind some of the songs on this collection? How did you pick ‘Dying Breed’ to be the lead single? How did it come together?
We all really loved playing “Dying Breed” right from the first run through in the rehearsal room. I think we were all keen on it being a single and it was a first choice from Fabi from Homebound Records too so we went with it
Generally, how does this group go about writing your music? Do you write together or separately? What is the first step in your music-making process?
I usually write the songs on the acoustic guitar and take them too the boys. Often I’ve a rough idea of how I’d like them to sound and I try the best I can to explain it! Often the boys will have they’re own ideas too and we’ll try fit them into a song I have. It usually comes together pretty well and pretty quickly. Dave and Ed have been a huge part of this album. Dave knows how to get the best performances from us in the studio. He tells it how it is. If it’s shit he says it’s shit and if he likes it then it really is good! He doesn’t fuck around! Ed Ripley mixed the album and did an incredible job. He really put his heart and soul into it! Sounds cliche but without those two men, this album probably wouldn’t exist!
I always like to ask bands if you all hang out socially apart from the music? When you aren’t working on music, do you guys hang out for fun?
I’d like to say yes but no! (haha) No, I’m kidding we do when we can. George and I work together so we work between the building site and a place I have for a clothing brand I just started called IX Boxing ! We print shirts in there and sort out the merch on days we aren’t building. We also rehearse in there so we are pretty self sufficient. (Haha)
How do you feel that this band has grown through the years? What has remained the same?
The drive has remained the same. I am an obsessed individual and I drag the boy’s along often unwillingly! (Haha)
We’ve grown a lot! In terms of what and how we are playing but everything too. Dickie did all the artwork for this album and the singles too. We screen print our own t-shirts and stuff like that now so I’m pretty proud of all that.
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
Ahh we love recording new music! It’s always great to be in there with Dave. I think you do that and record so it gives you an opportunity to get out on the road and play it! That’s the way it should be at least.
What do you think makes for an ideal show for this band? What have been some of your favorite shows and venues lately?
We’ve played some great shows. Last year we played our biggest with the Flogging Molly support gig in Trier! That was pretty special! There’s loads of factors when answering this like the venue, crowd, city but it’s nice when it all comes together. Getting to play with our pals Mercy Union in Glasgow was special too! There’s too many to mention! They’re all done though so my favourite gig is the next one. Always!
Where are you excited to head to this year? Do you have any 2020 dates scheduled yet?
Yeah we’re back on the Road for our Solway Star tour which starts on Feb 15th! We begin in Glasgow and finish over on mainland Europe. Going to a few places we’ve not played in as a band yet so really can’t wait!
With all the different social media platforms out there, how do you balance it all? How do you think that social media has impacted this band? How often are you all on your different sites interacting with fans? How have you been able to utilize it through the years?
With great difficulty to all of the above! (haha) We kinda do have a system that we try (if I shout and roar at the other three) stick too! Dickie usually sorts out the gig posters and official release kinda posts. He likes all that stuff then I think he goes to sleep. (haha) I try and get George and Jason to spend some time writing back to people and getting involved that way. And I do all the other stuff! It works to be honest. If they do as they’re told! George always says I couldn’t be told what to do so it’s best that way.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how you all think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today?
I go through phases with the political stuff, the referendum in 2014 REALLY opened my eyes as to how much nonsense the media talks and to how many idiots there are! It broke my heart. I vowed not to get emotionally invested in politics again. I think we should get the world leaders in a ring to sort out their own problems. It’ll save a lot of money and a lot of lives! Either that or put me and George in charge!!
What musicians have really been inspiring you all since you first started making music? Who would you still love to work with?
We’re inspired by loads, all of the obvious really. Lately, I’ve tried to get out of the way of thinking like that though. I love working with the 4 of us in this band! I love working with the other bands we meet on tour, promoters, the label and etc. I’m too focused on that to dream about who else. Our heroes have their work and we have ours! If one day those paths cross, that’s incredible. If not, that’s cool too.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
We hope to make people happy ! That’s the ultimate goal, right? Being happy! If you need to listen to a sad song about the struggle to get there then we can try to help
Thanks so much for your questions!