Nick Shane is undoubtedly one of Scotland’s most influential singer/songwriters with multiple releases as a solo artist and with his bands NSA and The 121s. He is also the face of various clothing brands and has been heavily involved in LGBT Rights Activism over the past ten years. This led to him being awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Music & LGBT Rights in 2015. We interviewed him back in 2018 in our very first interview with an original artist, despite Nick having various haircuts since then the passion he has for music, clothing and LGBTQ+ rights remains the same. We have kept in touch over the last few years and It’s great to catch up with him again in a more in-depth talk about his band 121s eagerly anticipated album “Wired To The Moon” which has managed to gain 200k worldwide streams and downloads. As well as being featured on various radio shows including our partners The Glory Boy Mod Radio Show.
Tell us about the new album and the inspiration behind the single of the same name?
This album explores a lot of different feelings and emotions that I’ve experienced over the last 5 years or so. I wrote the majority of this album between 2017-2018 after the breakdown of a four year relationship. I hadn’t really been in a relationship before and this affected me greatly. By coincidence, the first three tracks describe my general feelings, in order of experience. ‘Wired To The Moon’ is kind of about mental health, and isolation, brought on by the initial breakup. ‘Hola Hello’ was written during my own preparation for saying “Hola Hello”, and re-entering the “dating world” and all the horribleness that goes with it. ‘My Beautiful Mind’ was about thoroughly enjoying single-life, i.e cavorting with fellow-singletons, drinking in numerous nightclubs, touring this pleasant little country without a care in the world etc. As the album goes on, there are a few other personal issues I chose to write about. Recreational drug use, family issues, further heartbreak, tory scum etc. The usual suspects.
You worked with Dundee legend Paul ‘Lefty’ Wright on the track Wired To The Moon who also features on Paul Weller’s track ‘Glad Times’, from his 2021 album ‘Fat Pop’. How did you connect and what’s his involvement in the track?
Lefty has been a friend of the band for a long time, and first appeared on my solo single, ‘Cloudy Monday’ (and B-Side, ’Wishing Well’ -2020), playing some amazing sitar. Since then, he’s been heavily involved in a lot of aspects of my music, and has inspired me to write with a more ‘Eastern/Western’ point of view.
Lefty has truly led an amazing career, and is probably the jewel in Dundee’s crown. I don’t know many people who have been involved in Paul Weller’s music, and to have one of them not only from the same town as me, but who is involved in MY music, is pretty spectacular.
You are heavily involved in LGBT Rights Activism and have been over the past ten years. Why is it such an important issue for you to highlight and support?
Yeah it’s been a big part of my life. The same stigmas are still very relevant today, as they were previously, in the days of the Aids crisis of the 1980s. I still see and hear abusive comments and segregated attitudes in many parts of modern society, both Right Wing, and sometimes Left. It’s still seen as a ‘conversation stopper’ when brought up in crowded rooms, and is still seen as a weakness. However the good is starting to outweigh the bad, and the good are no longer a ‘resistance’, and more the ‘norm’, ultimately leaving the far right, ‘homophobic’ attitude well within the minority. Because of social media, most notable goings-on are being filmed these, so the homophobic, transphobic, sexist, racist and all the other generally awful ideologies have even less places to hide. During last summer, we all got to see the ugly side of social media, over a missed football penalty, no less. Despite Marcus Rashford’s undying commitment to feeding the poorest children in our country. But these awful people don’t get to sit in the boozer and ramble drunken ramblings anymore, its either being filmed, recorded, or even better, the brainless idiots write on their own socials, offering their abhorrent stupidity to the world on a plate.
You have released close to 100 songs combined with your bands The NSA, The 121s and as a solo artist. It’s seems your continually reinventing your sound with each release. Is this intentional or is it a deliberate to show how diverse you are as a singer/song writer?
We’re up to 70 original tracks released so far, plus a few covers and live albums over the years (91 songs in total), and yeah each album and single is usually a few million miles away from the last one and the next. And I do like to keep things as unpredictable as I can. There’s loads of great styles and influences in my brain that I’d like to try out, before I eventually run out of spark and call it a day.
Tell us about the Mod clothing brands that you are ambassador for and those you have modelled for throughout the years. How do these collaborations come together?
I’ve worked with a decent number of really cool labels, including Aceface, Subkulture, Merc 1967, SixtySix Clothing, and currently I’m a brand rep for MadCap. I love making music, and I love wearing cool clothes. And it’s good to keep as busy as possible, between writing, making albums, and planning tours. As we all know, Mod music and Mod clothing go hand in hand, and I’m gonna cover as much of that spectrum as possible. Really looking forward to representing MadCap/Atom Retro Clothing on tour this month, as I feel they’ve got a really modern touch in their range of clothing. And I’m really happy that they’ve asked me to be a part of their brand
We spoke in the past about your aspirations to work on film and screen as an actor and writer. Tell us about your hopes for working in that industry in the future?
Yeah as I said, I’m looking to explore as many avenues as I can, before I decide to call it a day. I’ve got loads of ideas that I’d like to explore. I’m an avid fan of films like Quadrophenia and Pebble & The Boy, and more. But at the same time, I have a die-hard affirmation to films like Pride, Beautiful Thing, and other LGBT+ related themes. Which leads me to ask, why has no one ever written a gay-themed Mod screenplay? I’m not gonna lie, I’m the only bisexual Mod I know, so far, and I sometimes feel a bit isolated. “Sweeping generalisation”, maybe. But it’s genuinely how I feel. I went to Brighton recently, and I was one of the only Mod in the gay clubs, while at the same time, the only gay in the Mod clubs. Openly LGBT+ themes are few and far between within the Mod community, and that’s something I’d like to change, even just for one film/music video. I thought “Mod” meant “Modernist”, and what’s more “Modern” than a tribute to the ever-growing LGBT+ community. There’s nothing more Modernist than inclusion. So if Chris Green wants to get in touch, then please let him know I’m happy to play all the characters like Eddie Murphy, any day of the week.
I’d also love to make something more true-to-life than a lot of what’s seen to be the norm for the gay community. The LGBT+ movies seem to have the feel as the 1950s straight films did. It’s all quite palatable sometimes. Two lads meet each other, slowly realise they are in love, have a few tiffs, then walk off together in the sunset, with the parents eternal support. I did not have this upbringing, and do not share any of these experiences. I had a disgustingly hard time at school, and I had little or no support in my life to tell I was ‘okay’. I was never made to feel normal, and who I wanted, or not wanted, to shag always needed to be a factor of who I am. I get how the Gay community needs to be “palatable” to the sheltered straight-folks who are watching, but an element of reality needs to be acknowledged to those who these productions are supposedly aimed at. Sometimes life like that. Sometimes the sun never shines, and the rainbows never appear, no matter how many fucking flags we drape ourselves in.
So to sum up, I want to write a film where two lads in the Mod community fall in love, and we can see the true reality of what I have to go through every now and again, and the self-loathing that comes with it. I sometimes struggle to look at myself in the mirror, and I very rarely see what others seem to see. I was a Mod before I even knew what a Mod was, but I’ll always be a very frustrated teenager, scared of his own shadow. Even now, homophobia is very real, and it happened yesterday, it’s happening today, and it’s all set to happen again tomorrow. Just because Tom Daley and Harry Styles are “camping it up” in London and all over Instagram DOES NOT mean that it’s a safe world for us. Try holding hands with a bloke in Dundee’s Town Centre, or out on a Friday night. You will be told that you are wrong, and you are disgusting.
Sorry, what was the question?
Your currently working on more releases at the moment can we expect much of the same as “Wired To The Moon” or can we expect something different again?
Since recording ‘Wired To The Moon’, I’ve taken a step back lately and am concentrating on an ambient, stripped back, semi acoustic solo album, with a few live shows to go with it, in the not-too-distant future. These are basically just tracks which were “too quiet” for The 121s, much like how tracks from ‘NS’ (2016) were tracks which were too quiet for The NSA. ‘Wired To The Moon’ is very dark and heavy, the next, upcoming solo album’s gone completely in the other direction. ‘Cloudy Monday’ & ‘Youth The Young’ are going to be included in that record I think, with some tracks similar, and some going down a heavier route.
The NSA started with a couple of Mod/Punk inspired albums in 2014-15 (‘TV & Sunshine’- 2014 & ‘Feverland’- 2015), while at the same time, the more soulful, acoustic, singer/songwriter songs were kept for solo albums (‘An Introspection Of Now Here’ – 2014 and ‘NS’ – 2016). Since Lockdown, I’ve kept to the same aesthetic, with tracks like ‘Cloudy Monday’ playing a very soft and “eastern” dynamic to my 2020. A year later, I began releasing singles by The 121s, where tracks like ‘Wired To The Moon’ & ‘Hola Hello’