Nowak’s recording project becomes reality

Spoothawk on stage at Mareel. Photo: Scott Goudie

Spoothawk on stage at Mareel. Photo: Scott Goudie

Hot Love (Straight After Midnight) will be familiar to many folk in the isles – Spoothawk’s brand of crunchy rock n’ roll has had regular play on the airwaves.

The talented-five piece formed in June, trans­forming Ewan Nowak’s compositions from a bedroom project to gutsy live perform­ances.

Guitarist Arthur Nicholson was the one who convinced Nowak the pieces deserved to be played live, and together with Lewis Murray on drums Nicholson on guitar, Rodrigo Ferrari Nunes on bass and Joe Watt on lead vocals, Spoothawk hit the stage.

Ewan Nowak (left) and Joe Watt performing live with Spoothawk. Photo: Scott Goudie

Ewan Nowak (left) and Joe Watt performing live with Spoothawk. Photo: Scott Goudie

Guitarist Nowak, writes everything, from the guitar parts to the drums, with lyrics being the only exception.

He said Spoothawk started off as “a bit of fun” – with him trying to write tongue-in-cheek, cheesy rock music.

“I’ve written music since I was five,” said Nowak.

“I’ve always made up songs in different styles, this is really the first time I’ve tried to write commercial rock, I’ve spent a lot of years trying to write heavy metal.”

And although he tried his vocals on Hot Love (Straight After Midnight), it was after asking Watt to sing on the track that he realised he had to write more material.

“As soon as he did that I thought I’m going to have to write more of these songs because it made such a difference to the sound of it”

Watt’s raspy vocals go hand in hand, and Nowak praises the frontman’s lyricism, admitting it would take him days to get the lyrics together.

The band is due to record a debut album later this year, 11 tracks with all the music written by Nowak.

Passing the material into the hands of the band has given it more life, he says as well as giving more scope to experiment with different aspects of songs.

Nowak, 31, started playing the guitar at a young age. Since then he has played in bands, including a pop group, gigged down in London, where he lived for several years, and supported singer-songwriter James Blunt.

He returned to Shetland six years ago, at which time, the rock scene he says was “non existent”.

But in the last couple of years he says it has been improving and The Heavy Metal Buffet, has helped to pull people together.

HMB champions the Shetland Rock scene, promoting bands through its website, creating podcasts, and organising gigs.

Nowak said more people were going to concerts, there are more original bands, and people are aware of more variety in the Shetland music scene.

Although, there is the obvious problem that in Shetland audiences are limited and, Nowak said, to have a successful band in the larger British music scene, bands have to take their music south.

Spoothawk will be performing at the Lerwick legion on 24th May and will be one of five bands treading the boards as part of a ticket launch night for the Shetland rock festival – The Buffet 2014.

The two-day festival in August will feature Spoothawk, along with bands such as Ten Tonne Dozer and Deathstar Canteen, relative newcomers to the Shetland rock scene.

Nowak is hoping the album will be finished by the end of the summer and is looking to do as professional a job as possible on a limited budget.

Murray and Watt are due to leave Shetland in September and Nowak admits the album is a way of documenting the Spoothawk project, although he is not sure what will happen when the pair leave the island.

Drums and vocals for the record are to be recorded at Mareel, with guitars and bass to be laid down at Stevie Hook’s Wobbygang Hut in Lerwick.

The album will then be mixed and mastered by a friend of Nowak’s in Surrey.

Nowak says he is busy with lots of projects but would be keen to do something similar in future – taking compositions and playing them with a band.

Some of the songs on the album will be more serious than Hot Love (Straight After Midnight), he says, with elements of heavy metal, pop and general hard rock all thrown in to the mix

“I tried to go for a 70s vibe at times. It’s basically quite an eclectic mish mash of stuff that’s going on the album,” said Nowak.

The Spoothawk material was written quite quickly, he added, and is a change to his previous compositions, focusing on progressive death metal.

There are influences from 70s and 80s rock, he said but no-one in particular has influenced the Spoothawk sound. Influences are subconscious in his writing.

“I just soak things up and spit things back out some times.”

About Adam Guest

Reporter for The Shetland Times. I have also worked as a senior news reporter at The Barnsley Chronicle and as a freelance reporter for The Doncaster Free Press. Alongside news reporting I specialise in music and sports journalism. Pork pie lover.

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