Kurt Shanks' debut album Blood Line Heart - released 13th July - is an intriguing transition from NZ chart-toppers Stellar* to solo.
Kurt was a member of Stellar* right from their first indie EP "Happy Gun", through the hits such as Violent, Part Of Me, For A While to their farewell tour in 2010. The band was a Sony success story with seven Top 20 singles, three top 10 albums, and tours across New Zealand, Australia, Germany and the UK.
Since the summer of 2010/2011, Kurt has been working on solo material, with talented musicians such as Wayne Bell (producer & drummer), Andrew Thorne (guitar), and Mark Hughes (bass) coming on board. Collectively 'live' they are Kurt Shanks & The Drakes (the name a sly reference to the unfashionable drinking hole they frequent in Freemans Bay, Auckland).
The four headed to Roundhead Studios to record, with the album engineered by Neil Baldock, produced by Bell, and mixed by Chris van de Geer. Other guests include Dianne Swann, Callie Blood, Lani Purkis, John Segovia, Troy Shanks, Andrew MacLaren, and Mike Newport.
Reflecting back on the Stellar* days, Kurt says he learnt a lot in terms of songwriting, recording, and taking time to enjoy the process.
"My own album is a major change, and essentially I'm starting again from scratch, playing to a new audience, hitting the unique zone of being frontperson where you need to inhabit each song. The songs are connecting, different songs with different people. It's a fun time."
The album features in-your-face rockers like Lost Without Trace and Shoot To Kill, to the guitar pop charm of Shake Shake Shake and The Real You, through to honest ballads that strike a nerve, like Leaving and 15 Years.
Shanks and Bell (producer) have made a conscious effort to keep the songs and voice at the forefront - honest and direct, lyrically sharing the fundamental experiences of human existence.
The new single Shake Shake Shake is an infectious slice of guitar-based power pop, and appropriately, there’s a whole lotta shaking going on in the eye-catching video, directed by Marc Swadel and shot in Tokyo, Paris and London, plus - a little closer to home - K Rd, Kingsland and Western Springs!
Two other songs from the new album were released to radio in 2011 and rapidly gained attention, with We Shall Have Another Day and Shoot to Kill airing on stations as diverse as The Rock, Radio New Zealand and Classic Hits.
A series of live shows throughout 2011 helped Kurt and band fine-tune the songs, including shows around NZ with Steve Kilbey (The Church) and Ricky Maymi (Brian Jonestown Massacre). The momentum continues in 2012 with a killer performance at The Whiskey in Auckland for their NZ Music Month series, and upcoming main city shows in support of the album release.
‘Blood Line Heart’ is released on the Plus1 label and distributed by Sony Music NZ.
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