Making the album The Pleasure Of Finding Things Out proved to be quite a journey and PALE BLUE MOON have now released this hugely anticipated debut. Rock Out Stand Out’s Lotty Whittingham spoke to vocalist Shane Kelly about the album, living through lockdown and who he would pick to help him out of a dark cave.
Hello Shane, hope you are doing well given these circumstances. We’re lucky to have bands like you to help us keep sane.
These are crazy times we live in. I don’t know about keeping people sane but as long as we entertain people, I think that’s the most important thing.
First off, how would you introduce your sound to someone who has never heard your sound before?
That’s a really difficult question. I mean the boring answer is that we are a rock band, which we are. I suppose that classifies us in a certain way; drums, guitars and bass etc. We decided that we wanted to approach the band as a project in its entirety. The music being number one obviously but then we want to curate a style and a story to go with the band. Also, to create an atmosphere. That’s sounds really contrived I know, I just wanted it to be a bit more interesting than just writing an album and releasing songs. I think you need to give a bit more.
I suppose I wanted to pay attention to every detail that we possibly could and try to create something that’s a bit more interesting. So, if anybody is interested in our music, its kind of comes with a journey and that everything we do feeds into the previous thing. It grows from something. When I was writing the album, I approached it like a book where each song in the album is a chapter of the book. Whether it’s obvious or not, if you go through all the songs there is a story from start to finish and that it connects.
That answers one of my questions. I was going to ask if your debut album The Pleasure Of Finding Things Out is about a journey you have personally taken.
It’s a quote from a famous physicist called Richard Feynman. I am really interested in physics and science. So, Richard Feynman, who is a wonderful physicist, he was asked in an interview similar to this ‘why science? why physics? what’s the point?’ and it’s the pleasure of finding things out. It’s just the pleasure of discovery and the act of finding something out. I think that’s really apt and to me that describes if you’re willing to put in a bit of effort into the band, it promises to pleasure us with discoveries of what we’re doing. I don’t know where we are going to go with it or where we’ll end up but I know we will end up somewhere. I think there is a joy or pleasure in the discovery of anything.
So, from my research, you had suffered a stroke and you mixed the rest of this album from your hospital bed.
Yes, that is true. I had two strokes, it’s crazy stuff. I had begun recording the album and getting on with things, then I had a stroke. I was in hospital for about a month and the day I was getting out of hospital, I had another one that was very inconvenient. The second stroke I had was what’s called an eye stroke, so what that means is the blood clot went into my optic nerve so I lost the sight in my right eye. That’s OK, I have a spare one that works [laughs].
I did feel very hard done by at first, I thought I shouldn’t be getting strokes at my age but it was just one of those things that happened. It’s not too uncommon I’ve learnt, what happened was the artery in my neck split internally which created the blood clot.
One of the things I noticed about The Pleasure Of Finding Things Out was the song writing. I was moved by some of the lyrics, particularly It’s Not Real. Did you draw upon your time in hospital when writing these lyrics? Also, with changing times etc.
I suppose I do but those particular songs were written and done before I had the stroke. I was mixing the album after I had the stroke. I suppose the answer is yes and no, I’m already writing the next album so that’s informing the next one is coming along. I wanted each individual song to have a particular story. A start, a middle and an end that all make sense to me. You then put all those songs together, all those chapters of the book together and they all have an overarching sense, I hope. I think each song on its own should make sense.
Do you have favourite songs on the album?
That’s a horrible question, it’s like picking your favourite child. I love them all for different reasons and I don’t like to compare them. I think the album is not what people will expect it to be. It’s not all straight heavy rock, some bits are much more mellow and some bits are almost acapella and acoustic. I kind of felt I didn’t want to be afraid to do that. You’re always under pressure to stick within a certain genre and to do everything within that genre. I do understand that, I mean if someone buys a metal album, they don’t want country music.
I didn’t want to be confined by the expectations of the listener. There are expectations between the musician and the listener, there’s a contract. You’re giving me your time to listen to and I feel as a musician I have to deliver something to you so I feel that I have a responsibility to do something. There’s an element of trust that goes there, if you trust me to listen to the album from start to finish it actually goes somewhere.
Speaking of songs, the song Floating comes to mind. It was very airy and made me feel very relaxed. I wondered what that song was about and what you were inspired by when writing it.
That’s a really good example of a song that shouldn’t be on the album. Other people would say as there is the heavy guitars and it’s not that. I give the audience a lot more credibility, I think the people listening are intelligent and I am not going to feed nonsensical rubbish to people. We did think long and hard whether or not to include this song on the album. I felt that the journey of finding something out from start to finish, I think that song shows a little more sophistication in the song writing. It’s above and beyond cranking up the guitars.
I felt this song is a bit more vulnerable, it’s mainly vocal. I think there is about forty vocals in it, I wanted to layer all the different harmonies. You were talking about floating, I wanted to create that feeling of space by putting in all the harmonies and letting them build. The song builds intensity on its own, even though it’s a very quiet song. I think that’s the trick, the trick is to be quiet. It’s like if you want someone to hear what you’re saying; don’t shout, whisper as they will come closer to you and pay attention.
So, it’s no secret we’re living in lockdown. Some people have been taking the time to chill, learn new things, working etc. Have you learnt anything during lockdown?
I would love to say I have learnt something and I would love to say I have lost weight. I haven’t learnt anything and I haven’t lost weight, I have completely wasted the opportunity to get fit and learn something. I have three kids so I have been spending a lot of time with them so that’s been really good. That was also a challenge because they also had to be home-schooled as the schools were closed.
Is there any advice or words you would like to say to those who are struggling to cope with lockdown?
Keep talking is the most important thing. Don’t isolate yourself, I mean we are isolated but don’t isolate yourself. However, you can communicate, do it. Skype or however you do it. Everyone is on Zoom now, which I don’t understand.
To round things up, I saw a photo of you in front of the dark caves and this question came to mind. If you were stuck in these caves. which five people would have on hand to help you escape a dark cave?
Those were the dark caves from Father Ted, I am huge fan of that show. So, who would I have in this dark cave? Somebody with a torch, somebody with a flashing lamp and someone with compass. In terms of actual individuals; I have no idea. Somebody who is more interesting than me, someone who could teach me something whilst being stuck in the caves. Richard Feynman actually, the one who inspired the album title. Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawkins and Stephen Fry too.
Thank you, Shane, for taking the time to speak to Rock Out Stand Out.