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Shadow Smile Q&A

Powerful, heartfelt and fiercely independent, with anthemic tunes to boot, Sheffield's alt-metal quartet Shadow Smile have recently released the latest in a long line of excellent singles, 'Dearly Departed'. Crowdfunding their way to a new album in 2023, the band are currently working hard to build their community of fans whilst retaining an independence from the usual music channels and looking to firmly establish themselves on the UK metal scene. Vocalist Connor kindly spent some time answering a few questions for 'Ballroom Blitz's Man At The Back' on the band, the album and the music scene in Sheffield amongst other topics.

Shadow Smile are Connor McGovern (Vocals), Adam Smith (Guitar), Ethan Goebel-Todd (Bass) and Joe Fletcher (Drums).

Singles 'Digital God', 'The Unholy Trinity', 'Left Hand Path' (all 2019), 'Beautiful Disaster' (2020), 'Marionette', 'Join Us', 'Nameless', 'You're Safe' (all 2021) and 'Dearly Departed' (2022) are available on all the major digital sites. An album is planned for release in 2023.

Hello Connor, thank you for taking some time to answer a few questions. First off, for those readers who might not be familiar with Shadow Smile, could you give a short history of the band?

Not at all, thank you for talking with me! We are a metal band based in Sheffield which formed in 2019 and have self-released 8 singles since then. We've just crowdfunded our debut album which we're in the process of recording. We really try to focus on building a community around the band instead of just a fanbase. We speak directly with as many fans as possible and get their feedback on what we do.

And who would you say were the main influences on Shadow Smile?

It's such a wide pool of influences but I do think we all agree on Avenged Sevenfold, Pantera, Bring Me the Horizon and Ghost.

You've recently released a new single, 'Dearly Departed'; do you have a sense of how it is doing out there in the 'big wide world'?

It seems to be getting out there and getting a great response. All the reviews have been excellent which means a lot because it's such a personal song.

Where did you record the single? Somewhere you've recorded before? And are your tracks all self-produced / recorded or does somebody help you put them together?

We recorded at Treehouse Studio in Derbyshire which is where bands such as Bring Me the Horizon, While She Sleeps and Bullet For My Valentine record. We've been working with a producer called Daniel Jeffery since lockdown ended and he really gets the vision we have for the band. He's almost a 5th member at this point.

You've recorded a number of singles over the last three years - any particular favourites?

The current single , 'Dearly Departed', is definitely my favourite because it came together seamlessly and I got to write from a really emotional place. It really acted as therapy for me when I was going through a tough time and to see the response means the world to me.

And you're aiming to have an album out next year - anything you can tell us about it?

Yes! The main thing to report is that our fanbase has been incredibly supportive and helped us to crowdfund it which is really useful for the band as it keeps us from owing a label any money for the production. The album itself is a concept album about the Seven Deadly Sins and how they still have meaning in a less religious society. We also took inspiration from Dante's 'Inferno' for some of the lyrical themes. But it's not a prog-style concept album, it's still Shadow Smile doing catchy metal songs. There's just a theme that the songs orbit around.

Do you have any songs not yet released that you're particularly looking forward to getting out there?

The whole album is really exciting to me because our songwriting, production and musicianship has really levelled up. If the reaction to 'Dearly Departed' is anything to go by it seems that people are beginning to really resonate with what we're doing and I'm excited to see how that continues.

What's the writing process in Shadow Smile? Does somebody come along with an almost finished song that the other band members add to or do the songs come out of a more 'jam orientated' scenario? And as lyricist and frontman, do you have any particular themes you like to explore in your lyrics?

It really depends on the song. Pre-Covid we definitely jammed the songs out a lot more but during lockdown we learned to be more individual in our writing. Usually I'll take a few chords and begin to structure a chorus and I'll work on that before taking it to the band and then everyone will throw ideas in. It's usually done by recording and emailing rather than jamming these days which I actually think allows us to be more creative and spend more time crafting the parts.

As a band you're fiercely independent; has there been anything though that has tempted you to join a record label in the past?

We've definitely been tempted a few times. If a label said 'you can have full creative control of the songs, the marketing and the tour cycles' we'd definitely listen. But we've yet to find anyone who fully shares the faith in our vision and we've made it work this far without them. It's not a case of £10million would make us sign because we're really more interested in making the art we enjoy. We can make money any way we like.

Have you any shows coming up that people can catch you at?

We've got a couple of escapes from the studio coming up. There's October 18th at 'The Hairy Dog', Derby and November 9th at 'Corporation' Sheffield. Then we're finishing the year with Winter Rocks Festival in Sheffield.

Do you feel there is a good rock / metal scene in Sheffield currently? Any bands from the city (and surrounding area) that you'd recommend to readers?

There is a great scene. I'm ashamed to say I've strayed from live shows a lot lately because of album commitments but bands such as Sobriquet, Terminal Sun and Air Drawn Dagger are definitely worth checking out live. We've played a few times with each of them and it's always a great show. Habberdash are also great but they haven't played live in a little while. Hopefully they'll be back soon!

Finally, what plans for Shadow Smile for the rest of 2022 and going forward into 2023?

It's just working on the album until 2023. Finishing the recording, making music videos, making sure the artwork is done etc. After that we plan to tour the album and keep building the Shadow Smile Cult!

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