After an eventful 12 months which saw solo soul/blues talent Shaun Kirk successfully execute a crowd funding fuelled album campaign, as well as touring every corner of the country, its fair to say the young troubadour is in for a much deserved break.
Titled Steer The Wheel, the latest addition to the Shaun Kirk discography features some of the talents most experimental offerings to date. Heavily exploring his devoted blues roots, Kirk has enlisted the help of some of the countries leading musical talents in an ARIA award winning rhythm section made up of Danny McKenna (Drums) and Grant Cummerford (Bass) for his latest release.
Having already reached the peak of the iTunes Blues charts for the album, Kirk has also received high praise from a range of sources, including Triple Js Blue and Roots listeners as well as from the stations Home and Hosed platform.
Shaun Kirk caught up with Speaker TV to chat about all thing Steel The Wheel, Crowdfunding and collaboration.
How hard did you find the crowd funding exercise for your new album? Did you find it challenging process putting yourself out there, or did you find the interaction with people and your fans a fun project to embark upon?
It definitely wasn’t easy. But it was super rewarding. One of the main reasons I chose to go with crowd funding was to connect with my audience on a more personal level and I think we achieved that.
You raised enough money to have some spare. You kindly donated this to Orphfund. How did you go about choosing the charity to donate to? Did you anticipate having enough money to donate, or did you always want to pledge a little bit of how ever much you received?
Orphfund just ticked all the boxes. They’re 100% volunteer based and 100% of all money donated them goes straight to a child who needs it. The CEO doesn’t drive around in a fancy company car like some other charities. I was always hopeful that we would go a little bit over the target so when we managed to do this and I realised that 5% of money pledged would go to Orphfund it was even more rewarding than reaching the target itself.
Your tour is pretty massive with 30+ dates. How are preparing for the long tour? What preparations have you been making so far? With you be taking any props on tour? Band mates? Buddies?
I’ve pretty much been touring non stop for the past four years or so so its not too out of the ordinary for me to have so many dates jam packed into a short amount of time anymore. I never really plan to take anyone in particular with me, there’s always a spare seat in the van and it generally gets filled spontaneously. Who knows who’s coming this time?
Will it be hard to replicate the recorded material in a live setting or do you plan on mixing it up for your live shows? Any free styling?
Although the album was recorded with a band and I’m doing the tour solo, I still think that with the current setup that I run (Guitar, Drums, Harmonica) I can still deliver the songs with all the dynamic that they need. I’ve been doing the one man band thing for a while now so I can get a pretty big sound when I need to.
This was the first time recording with a band, collaborating with ARIA award-winning rhythm section of Danny McKenna (drums) and Grant Cummerford (bass). How did you go working together? Did you learn anything new in your time with them?
Haha yep! I quickly learnt how bad my timing was. I’ve been playing solo for so long and have never had to worry about keeping in time with someone else so when a shit hot rhythm section like Grant and Danny come in and start grooving to your songs it very quickly puts you in your place.
This is a collaborative record. Who did you get to join you in your album process and why?
My buddies from Adelaide ‘Halfway to Forth’, and amazing jazz electric piano/organ player called Stefan Nowak; one of my favourite guitar players in the country Jeb Cardwell; and some backing vocals from Susie Ahern were just a few of the people involved in this one. The list goes on… it was extremely humbling to have so many talent artists play on the record.
You are predominantly characterised as a ‘blues/soul’ artist. Did you find that there was more room to move out of that niche a bit with the band? Did you experiment with some new sounds that you hadn’t previously?
Totally. The album has songs that could probably pass for country blues, rock, alternative… I don’t plan on spending my careerconfined to a single genre.
What types of things trigger your song writing for the album?
I think this album is the most diverse record I’ve been able to put together so far. As specially from a song writing perspective. There’s some really personal songs on there, some socially conscious ones and some tracks about the journey you know?
You have supported a lot of great acts in your time (Mia Dyson, Ash Grunwald, Diesel and Big Bill Morganfield to name a few). What have you learnt from observing those artists? Is there anyone that you are keen to meet and play with?
These guys really confirmed for me that music really is a lifestyle. They’ve been travelling and playing no stop for years and years. Exactly what I want to do. I could go on forever naming guys that I’d like to play with but I guess some straight of the top of my head would be Springsteen, Dylan, Clapton… haha time will tell I guess.
What has been the most rewarding parts of making this album? Will there be more music to come?
I think the obvious answer would be the positive feedback it is receiving from punters and media alike. But for me, the most rewarding part about releasing an album in this day and age is just simply releasing it INDEPENDENTLY!