If you haven’t yet heard of The Shires then SERIOUSLY, where have you been?? Such is the demand for people to get to know Ben Earle and Crissie Rhodes, two humble Brits with a huge passion for Country music, taking the UK and USA charts by storm.
Crissie stole a few minutes away from The Shires studio session to chat with Musicvein about; their experience at the Grand Ole Opry, how Country music as we know it has evolved and feeling a teeny-weeny bit starstruck whilst in Nashville.
Musicvein: The Shires has tongues wagging everywhere, you’ve achieved success so quickly! When yourself and Ben joined forces back in 2013, did you try to put a time frame on reaching success?
Crissie: “We didn’t have a time frame on trying to be discovered, but it all just happened very very quickly for us and a little bit unexpectedly. We’d both been working individually for a while and it just seemed that when we got together everything happened quite quickly.”
Musicvein: And what was it about the Country Genre that was so appealing to you?
Crissie: “You know, the thing we love so much about Country is the honesty behind the songs. The fact that they are stories, you can listen to them and they can pick you up when your feeling sad, help you through hard times or even good times you know – there’s just so much variety in the Country genre that there’s just something for everybody there.”
Musicvein: Do you have a Country music idol?
Musicvein: So how does it feel to be flying the British flag for Country music?
Crissie: “You know it is the nicest feeling. We’re so proud to be flying that flag for Country music over here. For me personally I’ve loved Country music for so long but I felt that I couldn’t tell people how much I loved it, it was so looked down upon in this Country. The genre was associated with rhinestones, cowboys and Stetson hats, people figured that that’s what country music was about but now, the music is so accessible that artists are being discovered by new people on Facebook and Twitter. So many people are getting involved and behind the movement now and it’s a really nice thing to see.”
Musicvein: And congratulations to you on doing that! I know what you mean there though because before discovering you guys, I too thought that the genre hadn’t moved along but now I actually do say I like Country music!
Crissie: “You will still get some people laugh at you though! When we say that we play Country music people immediately expect you to be older and stereotyped but it really isn’t like that any more.”
Musicvein: Now we have to talk about Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry show, which is a major achievement, again, congratulations to you both on getting there!
Crissie: “Thank you very much! It was just incredible to be there – even just to be asked to perform on that stage of the Grand Ole Opry show, it was just a massive opportunity! But to actually get out there and perform we just [sigh]. There’s that walk that you take up to the centre of the stage – the famous circle and there’s a piece of wood that everybody has stood on when the Grand Ole Opry was at the Ryman (Auditorium) where it originally started. The place is just steeped in history, everybody who is anybody in Country music has stood on that stage.”
Musicvein: And how were you received by Nashville?
Crissie: “It was a really nice warm welcome, we’re more noticed out in Nashville than we are here at home. People laughed at us because of some of the lyrics in our songs and the kind of comedy aspect to them. They completely got that we won’t be wearing cut of jeans over here in the UK and we won’t be drinking moonshine (lyrics from Nashville Grey Skies) and that’s the lovely thing about Country, people really get behind the lyrics and really listen to them.”
Musicvein: Were there any moments where you felt a little starstruck?
Crissie: “Erm we try not to be, we generally try to just act cool and pretend everything’s OK. We met Brad Paisley really early on when Ben and I first met. We’ve met Kip Moore, Little Big Town and Charles (Kelley) from Lady Antebellum.”
Musicvein: Really, come on not even a teeney-weeny bit?
Crissie: “OK! (she says with a laugh) just the other day when I met up with Kip back stage, Charles Esten who plays Deacon in the TV show Nashville was a seat away from me and I did go a little bit giddy at that moment which was quite funny.”
Musicvein: Hahaha No Way! Did he notice?
Crissie: “No! I straight away sent a text to all my friends though cause we all watch the show and absolutely love Deacon. I said Oh My Gosh! you never guess who is just a seat away from me?”
Musicvein: I bet they were so envious, I know I am!
Crissie: (still laughing) “but you have to be so cool about it and be like ‘yeah it’s just another person’.”
Musicvein: So as we’ve touched upon before, the genre you play has evolved so much and seems to be quite popular with a younger generation, do you see that too?
Crissie: “Yeah we couldn’t believe it! We’ve been to Country 2 Country (music festival) as The Shires 2 years and were really surprised at so many youngsters, guys and girls, are coming to the shows. I don’t think there’s many music genres that can cross age ranges like that.”
Musicvein: Now for those who are new to Country and want to listen to other artists, who would you say they should look out for?
Crissie: “Little Big Town are an amazing act they’ve been going a long time. Definitely Lady A (Antebellum) again amazing, Kip Moore who’s really flying the flag in America – just so many! Carrie Underwood, oh and my personal favourite at the moment are a Country Rock group called Needtobreathe. They’re a kind of Mumford and Sons/Kings of Leon. I think the UK would be really excited by those guys.”
Musicvein: Great, I’ll look them up. So moving onto your Top 10 debut album Brave; at what point when writing the songs on the album did you think ‘We’re onto something big here?’
Crissie: “When I first heard the songs that Ben sent to me, I just couldn’t believe that someone could write such amazing songs! I got back to him straight away and said ‘Yep, we need to work together.’ We just write what we like, what we enjoy listening to and what we feel at that time, I don’t think we’ll ever stop that process, we just really enjoy it.”
Musicvein: Which is your favorite song from Brave?
Crissie: “It’s hard to say but I think for me it would be ‘Brave’. Vocally it’s a really strong and fun song to sing, it’s pretty emotional too that pulls on my heartstrings. For Ben it would be ‘State Lines’ that he’s most proud of. He wrote that while out in Sweden with our Producers, I think he just enjoys being able to liken someone’s traits to the State Lines of America.”
Musicvein: Could you see yourselves relocating to Nashville then to immerse yourself in the scene?
Crissie: “I feel like we would maybe move there for a short time in the future to perhaps get ourselves up and running in the states, but for now we’re concentrating on the UK and doing bits in Nashville.”
Musicvein: And finally you’ve just played Isle of Wight festival, tell me a bit about that?
Crissie: “It was the first festival of the year and the crowd was huge! The great thing about festivals is that you get people who don’t necessarily know who you are, but are passing by your tent and just decide to stick around – it was a great festival.”
You can still catch The Shires live this year at Glastonbury and Cornbury Music Festivals – see their websites for more details TheShires
The Shires UK Top 10 debut album Brave is available for download from iTunes