Interview with Toni & Mark of SHYNE


Interview By Woody

shyne ep coverMR’s own AOR/Melodic Rock walking/talking encyclopaedia, has a chat with Toni & Mark of the newly formed, SHYNE. See if you can spot who the talkative one is, compared to the quiet one. Ha!



Hi guys, Shyne are a really new band and as far as I’m aware you haven’t been formed long? How did the band get together and how would you describe the sound of Shyne?

Hello Paul and hiya to Midland Rocks… Toni Gale (vocals) and Mark Wilkins (guitar) here

Toni – Well, SHYNE was formed by myself and Mark in about April last year. Mark and I had the initial idea of forming a band to play some proper 80’s style melodic hardrock, try to get a sound similar’ish to bands like my favourite RATT and Cinderella, La Guns and Mark’s faves Dokken, Queensryche, Van Halen anything with Paul Gilbert in etc…

The idea of forming our own band came to us in the pub garden of the Jolly Collier in Willenhall… I knew Mark a little and we sat there one day talking about our music as we call it. As we staggered off home Mark asked me in to his for Jack Daniels (he lives about 15 doors away). He poured a drink and picked his guitar up and then did a note for note rendition of Van Halen’s Eruption guitar piece. I looked on astonished and obviously blown away by his guitar playing. When he played me a riff he’d had in his head for a while I instantly heard a chorus and then we both kinda knew what had to be done. Mark came round to mine 3 days later and we wrote what is now SHYNE ON…

We both loved the result and knew instinctively that this was something we had to do. It took me about a month to talk Mark into considering forming a band and another month to force him into coming out of retirement and playing live again, we did an acoustic version of ‘If I could’ at the Barge and Barrel one night as a favour to our mate Kev Samujh in about June and Mark and I both realised we had the mojo back again.

That’s how SHYNE started. We did our first gig in August 2012 at the Robin 2.

We wouldn’t be as presumptuous as to categorise ourselves, that’s for others to do. All we try to do is to play powerful, catchy, Melodic Hardrock songs with as memorable a chorus and hook as possible.

Our sound? Well it definitely could be loosely influenced on the above bands, especially RATT !

I know in recent months you have recruited two new members, who are they and how did they come to be part of the band?

We unfortunately lost our previous drummer and bassist the brilliant Jack Foster and Mitch Vaughan just before Christmas. After about a month we grabbed Dez Wootton in to do our drums. He became available after his last project with Lee Smalls. He was our first choice as drummer right at the start but couldn’t commit due to his work with The New Saints and Lee Smalls. When we found ourselves stick-less Dez expressed more than a passing interest in joining and knowing that he is possibly one of the best drummers around, Mark and I obviously, very happily said Yes.

Adam Mason came in to do the bass. I had known of Adam thru my good friend, Kenny (bassist, Gypsy Pistoleros). Adam was a guitarist in a band called 4q. He came to see us play quite a few of our early gigs, liked the songs and us as a band and he wanted to join as a second guitarist, we don’t really want a second guitarist so when Adam found out we needed a bass guitarist he asked if he could have a go. So he did; and he’s pulled it off and has stayed, glad he did as he is a fantastically lovely dude and so far has done ok.

Mark – Dez is an old friend of ours who has been on the rock scene for ages, when he heard we needed a drummer he was keen to jump in. Adam is really a young guy that Toni knew and kept asking to join, so he joined.

You have just recorded a three track EP at MadHat Studio’s in Wolverhampton. It’s called ‘If I Could’ – could you talk us through the songs, titles, how they were written and any stories or meanings behind them?

Toni – Yes, this is our first EP. We recorded it in on the 24th/25th March at MadHat Studios in Coven.

The first track is ‘SHYNE ON’. This was the first song Mark and I wrote. Mark came round to my house with his Ibanez and a 15 watt practice amp and played me the riff. We pretty much recorded it there and then onto my laptop via Logic and I then wrote the bass riff, keyboards and lyrics. It’s a mid tempo classic melodic hardrock song with a great melody and chorus. The lyrics are really about Mark and I, about the length of time it took us to be able to get back to doing what we love. It’s predominantly about never giving up your dreams and never listening to people criticising and talking you out of stuff. Like the song hints at… hold on to those dreams and SHYNE ON!

‘If I Could’ is the second track. This song again was written from another brilliant Mark Wilkins riff, exactly the same as we did with Shyne On and again after half a bottle of Jack Daniels each. We recorded the riff, Mark wobbles off up the road and I sit up to stupid o’clock and write the bass, keys and lyrics. Slightly slower, very melodic, this song has an earthy organic, emotional simplicity to it.

This song is totally about me. It’s about something that happened to me in my life with someone whom I love very much and the hurt I feel still. It’s about missing an opportunity, its about two people who feel the same about each other but something inexplicably got in the way and it is saying if we could have one more chance, there ain’t no way the same mistakes we made would happen again and this time we would get it right!

‘If I could’ is incredibly important to me, it is the only way I could get it out of my head… write a song about it! Hopefully it’ll help someone else’s head too!

‘Can’t Sleep’ is the third track, this is an up tempo stonking Hardrock anthem with an unbelievably brilliant Mark Wilkins special as the guitar solo.  Written in exactly the same way as the other two; the lyrics are about a particular woman during a particular part of my life and this is what I went through. Obviously it applies to many other people by the reaction to the song.

You have got a picture of them, you are mad about them, you are away from the person concerned and it hurts like hell – and you can’t sleep, cos you just keep thinking, and thinking and bloody thinking.

We have probably all been there at some point. I find it helps my sanity to write songs about stuff. Mark thinks I am completely off me rocker regardless and so now do the other two but then they would because they eat tomatoes. But it helps to write about it, as with all the songs they’ve gotta rock but I want them to mean something too. Don’t worry though, I’ve got a good few songs about a nice ass and backcombed hair, you just have to wait for the album for them.

Although Mark and I had written these songs when Dez joined, Dez has totally made the drums his own. When we recorded this EP and when we do these songs live the effect Dez has had is enormous. Dez has Dez-ified the drum parts… Awesome!

The EP was called ‘If I Could’. It could be about the middle track. More likely to be a tongue in cheek comment on the particularly shapely form of a waxed up female on the front cover. Hmmm! I ain’t saying nothing on the matter!

What is the song writing process like with you guys? Who writes what and how does it all come together?

Toni – The songs are all written by me and Mark. As alluded to earlier, they all start in my dining room! Mark comes round to my house with a riff which he has dreamt up in his brilliantly weird mind. He plays it to me, we have a few Jacky D’s or a Jim Beam or three, we either tweak it very slightly or change one tiny bit or invariably don’t and then record it straight onto an laptop thru Logic. Mark then wobbles off home and I then write a basic keyboard drum bit, just to set the tempo and until Dez can get hold of it. Then I come up with a bass riff (I was a bass guitarist once upon a time) any keyboards and ultimately the melody and lyrics.

Where Mark gets these guitar riffs from, heaven only knows but from Mark’s brill guitars I get the song title first, mainly as a picture in my head. When I know what the song feels like, what it wants to be about… the words just come.

We take it to the rehearsal studio and Dez gets hold of the drum situation. He then puts a proper Dez drum riff to the song, as only he can, adds all the brill drum bits to it and Adam plays the bass riff or as near as dammit – and that’s it!!

Mark always comes up with these brilliant riffs, without which there would be no songs and except for the drums I do the rest and bingo!  Mark and I just instinctively know how the other feels and thinks. We are very similar people, except he is tall and dark and a Viking I am smaller and blonde and a true Saxon. Mark is a nutter and I’m quite obviously not! OK??! And well Dez… Oh and Adam… let’s just not go there!

Mark – Toni and myself get together. I come up with all guitars and riffs and Toni puts his melodies and lyrics and bass to it. It seems to work!!

Obviously I know you have more than three songs as I’ve seen you live a couple of times now! Can you tell us about any other songs you have or indeed are working on at the moment?

Mark – We have 4 or 5 more songs in the pipeline, it’s just finding the time to finish them.

Toni – We recently dropped a few of the early songs ie  ‘Take me out’ and the ‘Storm’ song, in favour of the new songs coming through.

The newer songs like ‘She’s the Girl’ and ‘You Want It’ aren’t about anyone in the band but are written about specific people I know.

‘Who are you’ is all about those asshole supposed friends who are two faced.

We do a song called ‘I’m on Fire’ about backcombed hair and a nice arse, wrote it about a particular glammy girl who has an amazing arse, lovely assets and big hair!

“Sunshine girl” is about those women who have that amazing “light up the room” smiles, I know a couple of them!

The other new songs; well they are about various other things, come and see us and have a listen.

Oh and recently, we have also sometimes slipped in the RATT cover of ‘Your in Love’ purely cos it’s my favourite song and we all love it. We currently have a couple more new songs imminently arriving… with whacking great big singalong chorus’, we’re really looking forward to those and a couple more in the pipeline including an acoustic song which will go right into the middle of the set…. Good times!

You have a show coming up at Lucy’s in Hednesford with fellow Melodic Rock bands Daylight Robbery and Skin & Bone. Are you looking forward to it and what can those who are yet to see you live expect to see?

Mark – We are looking forward to the gig as I’ve heard good things about the venue. Hopefully people will be singing our songs after they’ve heard us. I don’t know the other two bands.

Toni – Ye, really looking forward to it. Firstly Lucy’s Bar is a superb venue, a great place, great lights and a great sound… so providing we can hear ourselves up there, we will rock the place. We would like to think that we will complement the other two bands. Obviously as the ‘new boys’ none will know us or our songs but we would hope that those folk who get up there on the 24th May will get to hear brilliant riffs, massive chorus’, superb solo’s and a half decent song.

I personally see the Lucy’s show as great value for money for the average Melodic Rock fan as each band has its own distinct style and flavour. Do you know the other bands and what do you think of them?

Toni – I totally agree. More people than ever like melodic rock. But it has always been a major force… thru grunge and thrash, the noughties and now this college boy band rock. For me, Melodic Hardrock IS proper Rock. You have 3 bands on this bill, all under the same genre of Rock, but I think all very different in our own subtle ways. A fascinating line up to be honest. Personally I don’t know too much about Skin & Bone, heard a bit and they have a great sound and the mere fact that they are on with Daylight Robbery speaks volumes. I just know I am gonna like them when I hear the rest of their set, can’t wait to see them in their entirety. Daylight Robbery I do know and I like what I know. Superb, refined, full on sound, Great vocals, mighty songs; like I say, it’s gonna be fascinating…. also that Tony Nicholl is someone we got a hell of a lot of time for. Top bloke.

Like many new bands you’re working hard trying to get support slots with bands in local venues. Is it hard work getting these slots?

Toni – It is a massively hard thing to achieve actually. The problem is, getting to play these venues when you are a relatively unknown new band. We are all experienced musicians but we are a NEW band. To get a following a new band needs to play these venues, to play these venues you need to have a following or be established. Its kind of a Catch 22. You can be the best band in the history of bands but if you don’t get the break or the opportunity to show, then it’s pretty difficult.

We have been lucky because we have played the Robin2 and will be back there again May 18th, and we have played and are again playing, the Slade Rooms and are lucky enough to be doing Baseline and the O2 and this great gig.  And yes I suppose it has been our sheer hard work, our belief, and dedication, trying hard to do the very best we can do and be the nicest people we can be – and YES, it is also down to an element of luck. But by far the biggest thing for us has been thanks to some very brilliant, very  exceptional people who were willing to take a chance and give us a break.. Tice, Gobbo, Hils (she is one heck of a woman) , Tony, Connor, Mr Woodward! You know who you are and believe me, SHYNE appreciate it. At the end of the day though as with everything it is sheer bloody hard work!!

Mark – Yep it’s hard to get gigs with bigger bands, it seems to be not what you know but who you know, but we will keep on working at it.

You have two good support slots up supporting Enuff Z’nuff in Wolverhampton at the Slade Rooms and Nazareth at The Robin in November. Do you have any other support slots lined up?

Toni – Thanks. They are great supports for SHYNE to play. Can’t wait to play at the Slade Rooms with Enuff Z’nuff – one of my all-time favourite bands, I totally LOVE Enuff Z’nuff. It looks like we will be the first band on though which is a shame but hey beggars can’t be choosers, just mighty pleased to be able to play.

Nazareth, well they are legends aren’t they? SHYNE supporting Nazareth and at the Robin2 – I was speechless when I was told. Can’t wait.

As for other supports, very hopefully we are gonna support a major UK Rock legend in June and there is a 75% chance we will be supporting two of my favourite bands from LA later on in the year. Oooohhh my giddy aunt will I crap myself. Like “I am not worthy” – MASSIVE gigs for us. So YES we have maybe 3 or 4 major supports lined up but unfortunately I daren’t really divulge this information. We are sworn to secrecy until it can be announced. I’d probably have to kill you if I told you!

Mark – There are a 3 or 4 BIG supports potentially gonna happen, but we’ll let you know if they come off!

Is there any Shyne gossip or hush hush ‘you didn’t hear this from me’ news you could divulge?

Mark – Yes Toni HATES tomatoes!

Toni – Look out for an album a little later on this year. May or may not be called “Who are you?”

And I do have a pathological hatred of tomatoes and related products!

Is there anything else you would like to say or add for those reading?

Toni – Well… it’s just a bloody great big thank you really. So many people have supported SHYNE. So many people have helped us, followed us, supported us and really liked our songs and our sound. Frankly you are brilliant and SHYNE really do appreciate it. It’s a massive thank you to those who have come along on this journey so far; stick around a bit longer, cos this journey isn’t finished yet!

It’s like the songs says – “On a rocket ship to the moon, it’s where I wanna be. On a journey to the stars, baby you and me. SHYNE ON.”!

Mark – Thanks people. Hopefully you’ll all come to the gigs, like what you hear and see and give original bands like us a chance to entertain you.