We met Shauna from Rews over an online video call to talk about all things environmental, COVID lockdown and their new album, Warriors.
You’ve just released a new album at the beginning of August, Did COVID affect you in any way?
S: Yeah, it has been a really interesting experience. We haven’t been able to tour with it. But to be honest, I’ve learned new techniques and things I can do online with the audience, so from that perspective, it has been quite eye-opening.
Did you have the whole album recorded before you went into lockdown, or was it a case of it almost being there and tweaking the last bits?
S: It was all ready to go. Originally, the plan was to release it in March along with the tour, but the team at Marshall and I postponed it to do the tour first to build it up a bit more. Then the pandemic happened. We were actually in the middle of a tour when the lockdown started, so we had to cancel the rest of the shows, unfortunately.
What does the future hold? Are you going to pick up where you left off or have you got plans for a whole new tour?
S: Lots of plans, lots of ideas! It’s almost irresponsible, if that’s the word, as I don’t want to make plans that are set because no one knows if we will need to pull it or not. So, the idea is possibly springtime/festival season, we are just seeing how it goes. In the meantime, I’m just trying to think of ways we can create more online. So doing lots of live streams, quizzes and female-focused sessions with artists across the UK and Ireland, which have been really fun!
With all these ideas, do you think it’s brought in some new ones with regards to marketing and reaching out?
S: My brain is always buzzing with lots of things to do, but I think it has made me learn more about social media. I’ve always liked NOT being on my phone if I’m with company. I want to make sure I’m actually focused on that person instead of looking down on my phone. So, I didn’t know a lot about social media and how it worked as much. But now we can’t see people, so I’ve been learning how each of the platforms works. I’ve learned how to edit videos; I knew a little bit before but now I am bossing it so, yeah! it has been super productive!
Now we are slowly looking into touring and opening things back up, are you apprehensive at all? Is it in the back of your mind with safety at your gigs or are you thinking, to go back out there and get things back to how it was?
S: I think it is a bit of both. I definitely have my reservations about people’s safety, but I think just looking at likes of the first social distanced arena and it’s almost a better way to experience music. It might be very controversial to say that, but you know it’s awesome to be in the mosh pit and feel the live vibe. But when you get a bit older it’s nice to sit down with a pint and you can see everything.
Is merchandise an area you’re struggling with or are people buying a lot online?
S: I feel so lucky, as a lot of my fans have been supportive in so many ways! There’s been donations and things that have been sent over to Rews, which has been amazing! There’s been a small increase in people buying the merch. When you’re out on tour (selling merch) it’s like your bread and butter, but when you’re at home and you’re not paying out so much with expenses like hotels and transport. You just have to pay for your internet at home and so when people buy the merchandise, it’s nice as you can really see it.
With #BeGreenBeLoud, we are asking everyone how eco-conscious they are with merch and your touring?
S: It’s definitely something I am conscious of and actually quite passionate about. One thing that really upsets me is shrink wrap! I get sent a lot of CDs that are shrink-wrapped, and I don’t want them to be. When we were on tour with our first album, if someone wanted something signed we would have to take the shrink wrap off and then you end up with a mountain of plastic. We wondered how we even dispose of that safely without damaging the environment and it’s not even recyclable most of the time.
Do you think about the cost first or environmental aspects of your merch?
S: With this new record, in particular, all of our CD and vinyl are done through the record label. Which is why I went with the one I did. All of our vinyls are ones that have been melted down and repurposed as Rews records. Also, we have made sure all of the packagings is recyclable and had been recycled before. With this album, I had a big conversation with the managers saying we had a big responsibility to be more eco-conscious. The one thing I compromised on is the shrink wrap – I told them to make sure if they sent me anything, I didn’t want shrink wrap on it, but actual record stores won’t accept them without it on.
Is there more we can do in the industry to reduce the use of plastic?
S: I looked into it loads. I made sure to do as much research as I could, to get the right knowledge and to do the right thing. I think, even just making sure certain rules can be lifted, certain rules about packaging. Or try implementing new ways to be more conscious. Unfortunately, it’s a cost issue but if we all do our bit, we can make a change.
If there were was one big thing you could change in the industry, with no cost, what would it be?
S: So many things! From the environmental perspective, I would like to encourage more people to be aware of what’s happening. So, to stop things like the excess of cups and plastic and just be conscious of what’s happening. Shrink Wrap for me personally. I mean, I can see the effects with the pile of plastic after a gig. It’s so frustrating!
Another big question about touring. If you’re on a UK tour, it is around 20/25 dates with one tour and generates 1600 tons of C02. I think there are few bands like Coldplay who won’t tour unless it is completely carbon-neutral. It is a big thing for you to cut down the carbon footprint or is it out of your hands?
S: We try to make sure any of the journeys we need to make are short journeys and regardless of what musicians are playing with REWS we all try and share the same vehicle. We were a two-piece for a long time, so we went using a small petrol car. The car was quite new so even then we tried not to emit too much.
We’ve spoken a lot about the green side, but if you could describe Rews what makes you, you?
S: It’s my little project that turned into this big high energy rock-pop! I guess my ethos is to make people not feel alone during their trials and the difficult things they go through, and that’s my mission in music.
If you could choose one song from the album, which one is your favourite?
S: That’s so difficult because it feels like they’re all my little babies. At the moment I would say ‘Love Hate Song’ or ‘Bad habits’ as it has a bit of a different Rews vibes.
As a fan, you could tell there were some new sounds in there, was this intentional?
S: It’s a lot of trial and error with different pedals, amps and the producers. I’ve been listening to lots of playlists which I probably wouldn’t to normally and thinking about the different sounds I wanted to create. I wanted an album that made a journey. So, each song you could play at different parts of your journey.
Last question. When was the first time you realised you were on to something and that you can take this somewhere?
There’s been a few moments like that in my career. It just happens in a way, and you ride the wave which is a result of your hard work. It’s when I looked back and I had accomplished some dreams I had as a kid, which is mind-blowing! I had a song that was linked to Northern Ireland tourism for like 2 years and I could hear it on the radio and tv all the time, which was pretty cool. I also had the opportunity to join Snow Patrol on a European tour and perform with them on Set Fire To The Third Bar, that was a pretty big moment!
You can listen to the band’s new album over on Spotify or follow the Sifer #BeGreenBeLoud playlist for our favourite Rews songs.