If you have been following us here at #RainbowBiz for some time, you will already know that we are massive Shelter fans. The guys Mark, Rob and Manager Si are just back from their UK and European tour with Erasure, but they still managed to take some time out from recording to answer some of our burning questions.
Who influenced you musically in the past and who do you admire now?
Mark – Kraftwerk, Depeche mode, dead or alive & erasure. Still admire them much the same now as well as artists like Sia.
Rob – I was originally influenced by the synth pioneers that started to come out from the mid 1980’s. People like Vince Clarke, Howard Jones, Kraftwerk. Now I admire the big producers like Avicii, David Guetta, Calvin Harris who add their magic production formula to other people’s music to make it more successful.
What music do you have in the car right now?
Mark – VNV Nation’s Of Faith, Power & Glory album, love them.
Rob – I’ve got over 3000 tracks on a tiny USB stick. There’s all sorts on there but I mostly use car journey’s to listen to Shelter songs with a fresh pair of ears and decide what refinements I need to make to improve them.
You have collaborated with lots of artists over the years, do you have a particular favourite that you have worked with and why?
Mark – Andy Bell has 2 b among the most notable being huge Erasure fans but every artist we’ve worked with has been brilliant hence wanting 2 work with them & it’s all been a great learning by doing process 4 us as a band.
Rob – They’ve all been amazing. Andy Bell. He’s a legend and baked us the best tea cakes in the world. Frankmusic with his jaw dropping voice and making a dream come true for Neil Francis.
It has been a long time since “Smash Hits” and “Look In” magazine have been available. These were magazines for young people, where you could find posters of current pop stars, complete with lyrics. It seems quite bizarre that celebrities are now “available” to talk to through Social Media sites. What do you think about this? What are the positives and negatives?
Mark – Yes we are all more transparent nowadays via online presence and yes we’re certainly all more accessible, Rob & I are very much so through choice. I sometimes think perhaps just a little of the enigma and mystique can get lost when artists are that tangible but either way, being an artist is a very privileged role and I always want to be accessible on some level where possible, I love that reach.
Rob – It’s great to make virtual connections via the internet and it’s given us an amazing platform to launch Shelter and connect with people all across the globe. It doesn’t come close though to meeting people at our live shows or the instant feedback that you get from an audience as we perform our songs.
You have recently toured with Erasure on the Violet Flame tour. We saw you at Manchester Apollo which is a beautiful setting, there were thousands of fans there. Do you find it easy calming your nerves before a gig?
Mark – No, I don’t think easy is a word I’d choose, I think every artist probably has their ‘little things’ they do or ‘little places they go in their mind’ 2 source their own subjective coping mechanisms 2 keep nerves in check. What do you do to prepare to go on stage? I tend 2 dance around ridiculously (like in our tour video!) 2 burn up some nervous energy! I tell myself over and over ‘you can do this’ talking myself into a positive mental attitude subliminally. I guess it’s a case of whatever works 4 u personally, there’s no right or wrong technique just what works.
Rob – We’ve both waited so long to do this. We had a few moments of stomach churning nerves but they were completely over shadowed by the incredible excitement of supporting Erasure and performing live in front of so many electronic fans.
While on tour with Erasure, which was your favourite City and venue to perform in and why?
Mark – Genuinely don’t have a favourite coz they were all equally incredible. Notable highlights were Hamburg (Germany) & Aarhus (Denmark) where we had standing ovations & the crowd left chanting 4 encore! Something that will always stay with me.
Rob – They were all very special but for different reasons. The common theme throughout the tour and across three different countries was the love and friendship shown to us by the Erasure fans. They really are a huge happy and loyal family.
You have recently collaborated with “Tube singer” Neil Francis, how did you first become involved with him?
Mark – Neil contacted us quite a bit the week he went viral and asked if we could do anything 2 help, so decided 2 write him a song reflecting what had happened to him and get him quickly into our ministry bunker studio 2 get the track recorded.
Rob – Neil first made contact with us via Facebook to ask for the instrumental version of our Andy Bell collaboration song ‘Beautiful’. When his tube video went viral he contacted us to see if we could help him get a single out. With 17 million hits we’d have been mad to say no but we had to practically cancel our Christmas break to make it happen. Neil was great fun to work with, very professional and is really working hard to promote ‘Connected’ so I’m certain that we’ll work together again in the future.
Do you think you will work together again in the future?
We never say never to anything coz we never know.
Which is your favourite Erasure song?
Mark – Varies at the moment it’s under the wave from the Violet flame but love breath of life from chorus too as well as ship of fools from the innocents and hideaway from the circus and on and on but I’ll stop there! Lol.
Rob – I love all of their songs but ‘breath of life’ for me is the perfect combination of man v synthesizer.
Did you ever go to see Erasure on tour before you supported them?
Mark – Seen them many times, Rob took me 2 c them at St David’s hall Cardiff to see light at the end of the world tour and then treated me in November 2014 at same venue to see them in Violet flame tour 5 days before opening for the at Wolverhampton civic as their support act! Andy texted us whilst sat in crowd 2 say access all area passes waiting 4 u downstairs so we went backstage & had big hugs and a nice chat before we were thrown out by security who told us 2 come back after the show where we got 2 meet up with Andy again, along Andy Whittle (tour manager) Emma & Valerie (Erasure backing singers).
Rob – I’ve seen Erasure live many many times.
Where, which year?
Did you ever think you would have a chance to share the stage with Andy Bell?
Never, just surreal!
What is your favourite Andy Bell outfit that he has worn on stage?
Mark – This tour his glittery hot pants & Philip Normal werq werq werq glittery tee. Previously I loved his white leotard & Doc Marten boots but Andy is all about reinvention & I love not knowing what he’s gonna surprise us with next!
Rob – Errr. They’re all suitably outrageous. LOL I like the space helmet in supernature on the Wild tour.
How did you end up supporting Erasure in concert?
Mark – We worked with Andy on his 3rd collaborative solo album “iPop” & I think we were brought to his manager’s attention via that collaboration.
Rob – I’m sure they were desperate and we were available.
Where can Shelter fans find you this year?
Mark – Silicone Dreams Festival Liverpool & BAS2015 in Basildon Essex + more dates yet to be confirmed plus hoping 2 get back over 2 Germany & Denmark ASAP!
Rob – So far it’s BAS2015 and Electric Dreams in Liverpool. More dates to be confirmed soon.
If you had a message for Rainbow Biz, what would it be?
Mark – Be #fierce #ownfabulous #supportlove
Rob – You’re amazing. We always know when you start one of your Twitter campaigns ‘cos’ the lights flicker and the power dips across the national grid.
How do you relax in your spare time?
Mark – I don’t both Rob & I are hopeless workaholics by default we #nevastop !
Rob – What spare time?
Does band life take over?
Yes, but it’s everything we’ve ever worked for & hoped for, it’s in our genes!
Your style of clothing is really unique!
Mark – Thank you, is that a euphemism for clueless! Lol
Rob – This must be a question for Mark yes? I have a binary dress code. It’s all black or all white.
Who designs and makes your stage outfits?
Mark – We discuss colour schemes between ourselves with Simon our manager and decide on a general direction then go 4 some slight variations on a given theme depending on the event. Simon (manager) was very instrumental in the direction of the Violet flame tour wardrobe. He’s very good at making us look like we know what we’re doing!
Do you think you will ever wear a pair of sparkly pants for a gig?
Mark – If I was feeling them, sure, why not!
Rob – This is definitely a question for Mark.
You have a wonderful group of fans who support you on social media and at gigs. What has been the most memorable thing a fan has said to you?
Mark – Every day they say the most beautiful things 2 us via private messages or posts or tweets in 1 way or another especially whilst on tour too in person, very humbling.
Rob – A fan in Denmark said “I must apologise for our weather” Only a Brit would see the irony in that!
What can we expect from Shelter this year?
Mark – Lots it’s gonna be a crazy busy year but v exciting too.
Rob – It’s all happening…..
- Connected single featuring Neil Francis out on 19th Jan.
- A Crowdfunder campaign now until the end of Feb for the physical release of our Andy Bell collaboration album iPop on Deluxe CD and Vinyl.
- An awesome iPop deluxe remix release for digital customers.
- Our Frankmusic collaboration ‘With U’ to be released as a single.
- More new Shelter tracks later in the year.
Any more music on the horizon?
Yes lots planned right out until Xmas some very exciting things planned!
Where can new fans find out about you?
Shelter Official Facebook page or sign up to our Shelter Secret Night Society newsletter [SSNS] by e-mailing: email@example.com and asking 2 b added 2 the newsletter mailing list for shelter exclusives and lots more.
What songs are you most proud of and why?
Mark – Proud of all our work in one way or another. I see every song as a stepping stone to the next and if any one of those little stones weren’t there, we wouldn’t have achieved what we have and wouldn’t be where we are now. Shelter, conquering the heart one song at a time since 1999 x
Rob – We’re proud of all our songs. ‘Neva Luv U More’ and ‘Beautiful’ are stand out anthems in our live shows but we love the retro tracks like fierce and Blur the Lines too.
All of us at RainbowBiz would like to thank Mark and Rob from #Shelter for talking to us and answering some of our burning questions. We wish them every success in the future, and hope to see them again very soon.