As with most of the conversations I've had with artists for magazines such as Third Outing, if you're here to read this, Secret Shine will likely need no introduction to you. Maybe I do though...
...at the start of the 90's I picked up the guitar as most kids did. I did so because of punk, then post-punk, just before the UK explosion that would come to be known as Shoegaze. I'm John Girgus formerly of Sarah Records band Aberdeen, and all bands had significantly more money, ability, and major league music business interest than I could even truly relate to. About that same time, the singer of the band I had, was given a mix-tape by a record collector friend with seemingly infinite access to every new Indie label at the time. The tape was of various singles and EPs from the now legendary Sarah Records, and that included Secret Shine's first single for the label After Years (later the title of their retrospective from Clairecords). The B-side of that single, Grey Skies, was every bit as great if not even better than its flipside, as often was the case.
"Talking to Secret Shine's Scott has been great, and to finally have my feelings confirmed that we really all were/are working in a similar fashion remains a little head exploding/comforting".
With bands like Blueboy, Eternal, and The Field Mice, I heard something that I loved, related to, and almost as importantly, felt I could actually do (if I wasn't already doing). A year or so later, the singer sent some of our recordings to the label co-owner, who she'd been developing a relationship with. He asked us to record a single for him, making us forever label mates. My band was now part of what would become this canon of revered work collected by a tiny label who somehow shared the same vision as its geographically scattered community of artists and fans.
Bragging rights here; After Years was the first release I owned from Secret Shine. So when Rob from Third Outing sent me a link to the recent reissue of their essential and fearless voyage towards the genre of 'Shoegaze'; Untouched issued by Saint Marie Records, "Interview?!" seemed like the natural response. Sarah's bands were from different parts of the UK ( and with us being one of only two American acts) there was only small scene-type camaraderie between just a few of the bands. Most of us simply didn't know each other, and for me at least, that hasn't really changed. I even chickened out of approaching the band when I saw them for the first time live here in LA only a few years ago. Talking to Secret Shine's Scott has been great, and to finally have my feelings confirmed that we really all were/are working in a similar fashion remains a little head exploding/comforting.
Secret Shine were one of Sarah's few albums bands, having disbanded only briefly after Sarah's cessation of releases, and probably the most consistent output of any of the bands. That said, this also prompted me to catch up with some of their more recent releases, like 2011's The Beginning And The End which I think is some of their best work (it's my jam, as they say).
"Secret Shine are still one of the most influential and beloved bands in the Indiepop and Shoegaze scenes".
To call Untouched a Shoegaze album is not to dismiss, or diminish its originality, because while the sound is instantly recognisable to fans of say Lush or Chapterhouse, the melodies and sentiments are wholly their own, instantly recognizable to fans of Secret Shine, and easily familiar to fans of the genre. As an ambitious studio album, it manages to capture something that was a little rare for the label, the Hi-Fi sound of a recorded full band, playing music more relevant to the era in which it was recorded. With many of the bands still making largely 80's influenced pop (I love my 80's don't get me wrong), the band was heading straight to the heart of the 90's. After something like 25 years, Secret Shine are still one of the most influential and beloved bands in the Indiepop and Shoegaze scenes.