For those unfamiliar with Those Damn Crows, imagine all the best bits of American mainstream rock, wrapped up in songs that are actually good and presented with something resembling an actual personality and you’re almost there.
For the last 18 months, these Welsh rockers have been tearing it up on bigger and bigger stages as the radio plays more and more of them. Rocksins managed to catch drummer Ronnie Huxford shortly before their show in Southampton Joiners’, which had been postponed from the start of the tour to the end due to frontman Shane Greenhall getting poorly.
So here we are, postponed date – I assume you’ve got over the Corona Virus now?
Ronnie: It’s all gone yeah…apparently, it might come back, you never know…
Has there been many times you’ve had to cancel or postpone a show? I imagine it’s something you don’t ever WANT to do…
Ronnie: No, none of us want to postpone or cancel. I think there was a show before where Shane was really rough and managed to still scrape through it. It’s the thing you want to do least in the world, but the only way you can prevent it is spending less time after the gigs hanging out with fans… You’ve just got to try and overcome it and face the elements. We’re doing an hour show, sweating, boiling hot and then we might spend an hour sometimes out cooling down and then you’re shaking hands and everything and we always try to spend time with everyone and try and do as much as we can, so it’s inevitable you’re going to come down with something. The good thing is, I’ve had a cold on tour but I’m not trying to front the band!
I figured it must be bad – the man managed to do 3 sets at Download…
Ronnie: Oh yeah he’s got a killer voice! Like I said, it’s inevitable. The original plan for this tour was to keep it intimate, but then you haven’t got flashy heating or you haven’t got such and such or the catering’s off…So you’ve got to make do. We’re trying to build this slow and maintain a connection with the fans, especially with the new record being released, we wanted to keep that bond there.
As you’ve mentioned the record (Point of No Return) – it’s been out a month now, how’s the reception been?
Ronnie: Incredible. Absolutely incredible. The buzz before was amazing, but the lead up to it was just mind blowing. As a band, we felt like it was a proper old school release. I remember finishing school and be buzzing about a record and the internet wasn’t out so you’d rush round your mates’ house and look at the artwork and stuff. We did the album back in May, while we were still kind of promoting our first record, then it was a long lead up, dropping the odd track and teasing what we were doing.
How was it, sitting on it for that long?
Ronnie: For us as a band, yeah it was painful coz you want to play every track, but we did a few tracks here and there at certain gigs, so we had a feel for it, then we had to wait for the album to come out to show certain gems.
The tour’s been going OK so far?
Ronnie: Absolutely amazing!
Sold out tonight I hear…
Again! It’s not the only one though right?
Ronnie: All of them!
Ronnie: Thank you….I think London was a few tickets shy… it got upgraded to The Dome, so it would have been… high fives all round and great times in the camp!
Any themes running through the album?
Ronnie: Lyrically that’s Shane’s department and he’s been very hands on. I think it’s just real life issues and he resonates with a lot of what he’s singing about.
What actually is you’re writing process? Do you all jam or does someone present a song…?
Ronnie: It varies. It’s definitely been a transformation from the first record and anyone can come up with an idea, but then it’s how it’s crafted into a song. First record, I did a dabble with some lyrics and Shane would put that together and make it better. This record has been predominantly Shane with the lyrics. Maybe I’ve played some guitar, but when it came time to record there wasn’t much to do. We’ve all got individual studios, so we can jam it out, have a couple of cups of tea and play it through ProTools.
When touring your debut album it’s an easy set coz all the songs are there, but with a second album is it hard to know what to take out or are you just playing longer?
Ronnie: We are playing longer, but we’ve had to take a couple out. It’s just nice to have a selection. We like to have a singalong with the crowd so we try and incorporate that.
When I was listening to the album I thought “that’s an audience participation moment”
Ronnie: See? That’s wicked! There’s a few where we’re holding back because if we came straight out of the tracks there’s nowhere to go and we don’t want the crowd to get bored.
I don’t think you should pigeon hole bands like “Welsh band Those Damn Crows” or “London based Iron Maiden”, but it does happen, so do you feel like you’re flying the flag for Welsh rock and roll or with the success of bands like Funeral for A Friend and Bullet for my Valentine, do you think they’ve done that and it’s all just British now?
Ronnie: It’s a weird one, see, because when we started this band we didn’t just do like 50,000 gigs in Wales, the first thing we did was get some gigs in London and get a following around Britain. Maybe 10/15 years ago when Bullet and Funeral got their breaks it was a different scene, streaming wasn’t even around. I think with streaming now and people’s attention spans you can’t really just look at one country, there’s just too much out there! We can’t say “we’re gonna fly the flag for Wales!” – most of Wales listens to Hip-Hop now…
I blame Goldie Lookin’ Chain
Ronnie: It’s all about Stormzy… But I think as a rock band, it’s a big world out there, you can create a fanbase anywhere.
You did the big reunion gigs with Funeral For A Friend last year, where they an influence on you back in the day?
Ronnie: It’s difficult to say if they were an influence, because we were all just mates. It was more the fact that we egg each other on. Same with Bullet – went to school with them, so I don’t really look at them as global superstars… I know it sounds bizarre, but I’ve stood on the side of the stage at Download or Reading and gone “ah look at the boys”
Has your sound evolved much over the years? When you started did you have this modern classic rock sound?
Ronnie: No, (debut album) Murder and the Motive, was what it was. Myself and Shiner (Ian Thomas, guitar) sat and said what we liked about other bands and what we didn’t, so we kind of set out what we were doing, this is what we enjoying, then as everyone joined the sound stayed on that path, but just evolved as a unit
What’s the rest of 2020 got in store?
RH: We’ve been on a massive ride since 2018… I think 2020 is festivals, hopefully some more touring….and that’s literally all I can say at the moment!
The new Those Damn Crows album, Point of No Return, is available now via Earache and you can read our review of that here.