If Bury St Edmunds-based singer-songwriter Shannon Hope’s raw, acoustic songwriting style hints at more of a rage bubbling below the surface than can fully be conveyed by one woman on an acoustic guitar then that shouldn’t be entirely surprising: Hope is a veteran of bands with a more traditional punk aesthetic. Norwich’s Glory Glory – the duo with which she sang, wrote and played drums – are the most familiar of those names, but the six songs that make up her debut self-titled EP don’t really sound like the product of somebody who played with a band called Rats As Big As Dogs.
Or do they? Stick a couple more guitars and scream the vocals on some of the EP’s punchier tracks – particularly “Block You Out” – and you couldn’t really tell the difference. Hope has an ear for a short, sharp hook, and although the EP has its more delicate moments (“Time Goes Too Fast”, its minute and a half closer, and “Any Road”, which is sweet without being cloyingly so thanks to Hope’s husky vocals being the most obvious) the whole thing clocks in at just over fourteen minutes in the best of punk traditions.
Shannon Hope is out today in digital format from the usual sources through Sturm Und Drang Recordings, although limited edition handmade copies will be available at Hope’s EP launch in Bury St Edmunds on Wednesday evening.
How did you get started writing music and performing?
I started writing songs at a very early age, they were obviously very bad but I just knew I enjoyed doing it more than anything. I had a super cheap acoustic guitar and just wrote and played constantly.
Three words to describe your sound…
Way too personal.
What influences you?
I love Bjork – I think she’s an absolute genius; Cat Power, Elliott Smith, Bob Dylan, PJ Harvey. Good friends, people with a unique sense of humour…
You’ve been involved in music for a while, in bands whose sound was a little different to that on your first solo EP – what inspired you to branch out on your own?
I don’t think I branched out – in fact I started as a solo artist! I have spent more time focusing on my solo work recently just as I’m surrounded by people I find totally inspiring, the guys (and girl) I have the pleasure of playing drums for… it totally helps motivate me as they are all such headstrong, honest people. Also I had a back catalogue of songs I really, really wanted to get out there.
And a related question: does it feel different performing music under your own name, rather than as part of a band? Are there different pressures that come with having your own name attached to the music?
I think the main difference is I obviously have no one to hide behind as a solo performer… it’s a little more personal as these songs are my words, my experiences and my relationships. But drumming for me is just as expressive as songwriting – but a different kind of emotion is put in behind it.
What releases/shows do you have planned at the moment?
I’m just about to release my first acoustic EP on Sturm Und Drang thanks to the lovely Seymour Quigley which will be available on iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp…. I have my release party at the Hunter Club [in Bury St Edmunds] on the 20th of March; after that I have a few exciting acoustic shows planned but they’re yet to be announced…
And what are you listening to at the moment?
Ah, so much stuff! I’m listening to a load of Icelandic music as I went there fairly recently and there is something so beautiful and real about a bunch of those bands/artists. I’m always listening to Cat Power and Elliott Smith. I love Chet Baker, Pixies, Nina Simone, Howlin’ Wolf, Daughter, The Knife, Patti Smith…