Interview | The Shahs

Ahead of their headline show at King Tut’s on 26th March we managed to catch up with four piece The Shahs, Glasgow’s latest up and coming band. They’ve been touring non stop across Scotland the past year so we decided to stop them in their tracks and have a wee gab.

Where did you get your name from? 

The name itself is actually Persian and translates to “Kings” – so essentially the band is called ‘The Kings’ in English (but that doesn’t really hit quite the same, does it…). Back in the very early days when becoming a band was just a childish pipe dream, we went through many names (admittedly, most were god awful) before we settled on ‘The Shahs’, which was Arzjang’s suggestion; him being Iranian himself, the Persian symbolism just made sense to us.

You’re playing King Tuts on 26th March which is pretty exciting and you’ve played in some other cracking venues, which one would be your dream to headline? And who would your support be?

Playing King Tuts has always been a stand-out goal for us as a band and to finally be able to play at the iconic venue feels nothing short of amazing! As for a dream venue? There’s so many we’d love to play, honestly. We’d say our dream headline would have to be the infamous Barrowlands. Playing at one of the most iconic venues in the city (if not the UK) would be beyond an actual honour – you’d have to look afar to find someone who does not know about the legacy of the Barras! We’re striving to conquer the music scene and we want to go all the way, so after Barrowlands we’d have to go with the Main Stage at TRNSMT (as long as the chicken nugget stand is still in attendance obviously). Glasgow is full of outstanding venues of all sizes, so it’s pretty damn hard to choose a dream headline.

As for our support, we’ve played with some brilliant bands over time and to choose only 2-3 of them would be painfully difficult. We’d have to go with Girls Speak French, The Accolades and Torrs because they absolutely blew us away when we played together, genuinely lovely and down-to-earth lads and are a few of the upcoming bands we believe are part of the revival of the Glasgow music scene. 

Any new music on the horizon? 

Yes! We’ll be releasing our third single “Barcelona” sometime after our Tuts gig. There’s no concrete date yet, but keep your eyes peeled on our socials for this one & make sure to sign up to our mailing list on our website. Oh, you’ll also be able to hear it live at the gig (unless any last minute setlist changes are made which we’ve definitely 100% absolutely never done before… maybe).

We put an immense amount of work into this song to do it justice as the sounds, vibes and lyricism are fascinatingly unique and unlike our other songs. It’s standard to record to a click track but we realized this killed the groove and energy of the song and so chucked this and did a live recording with our legend of a producer, Lewis Jaoui. This required every member to play their part absolutely perfectly from start to finish, admittedly this took a while but it was worth it as we came out with a record we’re all incredibly proud of and can’t wait to share with everyone. 

Who are your biggest guilty pleasures? 

Alan (Lead Guitarist): I’m a big Swiftie. Yeah I know, but I have no guilt about it, beautiful musically and lyrically you can’t go wrong. 

Luke (Bassist): Can’t say I’m sure the band even knows this one, but I’m far too easily captivated by (awful) 2010s pop – think ‘The Fame Monster’ by Gaga herself. Big up mama G.

Arzjang (Drummer): Should I feel guilty about knowing the entire discography of Lily Allen?

Caleb (Vocalist/Guitarist): I don’t feel guilty about any of my pleasures.

What’s your live music bucket list?

I think one thing we can all agree on that we’d love to do onstage is to bring somebody from the crowd onstage to perform one of our songs together. I think that would be an absolutely surreal moment for us and it’s something we’d definitely want to do live. Anyone reading this right now who is coming to our Tuts gig – get practising the lyrics asap…

Where do you take your musical influences from?

As a whole I’d say we all enjoy similar music but at the same time can have wildly differing musical influences and tastes. But then combining all of our contrasting influences allows us to create and synthesize experimental and completely unique sounds and songs. 

Alan: If I was to go purely from a guitar playing stand point, I go from anywhere from Slash, Van Halen, Jimmy Page to Jimi Hendrix, Joe Bonamassa, John Mayer. A mixture of hard hitting rock and solo melodic blues type rock, nothing better than a beautiful crafted guitar solo. In terms of pure music, I tend to go through phases and venture into all sorts of genres, I was older when I properly discovered music so I’ve had to cram allot of music since. When I first got into music I was listening to bands like Oasis who I adored, before venturing into Classic Rock, into Metal and Pop Punk and recently been finding myself into Country, Rap and who can forget Swift. I think whatever phase I’m in influences how I play instrumentally, so my playing constantly changes, so I mean look out for my improvs live.

Luke: I’m definitely more of an 80s alt-rock lover – there’s nothing nicer than the heavily caked-in-chorus bass tones along with the controversial () use of a pick… My favourite bassists are Tony Butler (Big Country), Andy Rourke (The Smiths), and Geddy Lee (Rush).

Caleb: Some of my musical influence come from childhood mainstays such as Gorillaz, Kasabian and Queen, but as I’ve gotten older Arctic Monkeys, The Smiths and The Beatles have helped expand my mind, compelling me to improve as a songwriter, while a lot of the lyrical inspiration comes from a spiritual and satirical view of the world.

Arzjang: I’m pretty much a slut for new music so I think my list could be endless. As a kid I always overheard my brother blasting metal and punk from his room and got hooked to the same stuff when I was able to steal his iPod, then I had a very long rap/hip-hop phase mainly because I think poeticism is a big part of Persian culture and I saw the modern version of that in the deep lyricism of artists such as Rakim, Nas and Tupac and the beats actually influenced a lot of my drumming when I just started. After that, I pretty much ventured into every genre from classic hard rock to jazz and neo-soul music and now I’m just a playlist-making junkie. But in terms of my drumming influences, my main idols are John Bonham, Dave Grohl, Neil Peart, Matt Helders and Ben Thatcher. 

Random question: what’s your go to order from the chippy?

Luke: Years ago back in school, I’d always go for 2 rolls & fritter since they were a disgusting 50p each. Then when I moved on up and became a baller (when student loan payments began) my order became 2 rolls & fritter – but with the addition of a half pizza crunch. And chips and cheese. And a deep fried mars bar. The list is simply endless.

Alan: Chips, cheese n doner meat, the goat of post night out scran.  

Caleb: I like fish suppers when they are bought for me, besides that doner kebabs are quite enjoyable (mainly on nights out).

Arzjang: Chips and gravy, same order I’ve been getting for the past 8 years. Also managed to survive a week straight on just that in uni.

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