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Firstly, would you like to introduce yourselves?
RICKY – The Lateshift are a popular, five-piece, Devonshire covers band that started off playing in pubs and clubs two years ago, but more and more time is spent these days playing in the functions market. Our music covers all eras spanning from the 60’s to present day. The individual members are Ricky (Band Founder and Manager) on Saxophone and Backing Vocals; Jen – Lead Vocalist who Fronts The Band; Mike on Lead Guitar and Backing Vocals; Andy on Bass Guitar and Backing Vocals and Steve on Drums and Backing Vocals.

What is it that you love about covering other artists?

RICKY – The fact that so many talented artists/writers have created such a wonderful backlog of material that appeals to so many. Playing their songs and doing it well is a challenge, a privilege and an honour and evokes powerful emotions in our audiences. Our job is to seek out the hits that have the widest appeal and to deliver them to the public in a way that they and we can all relate to. The other great thing is there’s no shortage of material.

What is your opinion on the live music scene in the South West?
RICKY – The West Country has a vibrant and continually evolving live music scene. There are a growing number of specific genre bands that do their thing, bands struggling to get recognised and accepted and there are a lot of good quality bands who have been around a bit longer. Most of the time it’s very friendly and you keep bumping into the same musicians/bands on a regular basis. There are also many solo artists who are also very talented, but the ones that I don’t like are “Karaoke Singers” who in my opinion cheat with their backing tracks that can’t go wrong. I think the bands who practice to perfect the whole sound of a covered song deserve the most amount of praise as their work load and commitment is far greater and very often their reward is far less. Live music has suffered in the recession that we’re still very much in but it is still a fun scene to be a part of.

How do you decide on which songs to cover?
RICKY – Good question. As already indicated it’s a moving feast, you have to go with your gut instincts. Most of our songs are tried and tested hits that have and will stand the test of time. We often road test songs to see what the public think and we get honest appraisal which allows us to determine if a song is worth cultivating or not. We all have a say in what material we choose to play and that creates a good cross section of ideas and influences. The secret is not to become complacent and to remain open to new ideas and change.

What does The Lateshift have planned for the future?
RICKY – Playing at a selected number of public venues across The West Country and continuing to play more at Weddings, Parties and Functions. We plan to continue improving as musicians and that means practice more, learn more, play more. We are keen to play in larger venues such as Festivals, Carnivals as well. We will expand generically if required to do so by adding further members but only if we feel its right to do so, at the moment it isn’t. We plan to play every gig as if it was our first or last and to give 100% of ourselves and have some fun along the way, we’re on the way up!

On Lemonrock they have described you as ‘one of the best party/function bands in the SW’, what do you think makes you stand out from the rest?
RICKY – We’re enthusiastic, we love our audiences, we love our music and we aim to please every time we play. We practice regularly and always listen to recordings of our gigs in order to be self analytical and make constant improvements. We have fun on stage, we dress up for the occasion whether a pub or a wedding and we take our music very seriously. We know where we want to go and we are really enjoying the path to that point – The point being you can’t measure good or best but what you can do is give 100% every time and the rest follows. We often get asked to play at parties, weddings, functions etc. We will let our audiences decide how good we are but we will never stop improving.

What funny stories can you share with us?
RICKY – An English man an Irish man and a Scot… We recently played at a wedding in an open field in North Devon, The Best Man was King Richard or Arthur and his subjects were walking around with ferrets on leads whilst Maid Marion led the Jousters to the hog roast, that was a bit odd but highly amusing.

How did you all find each other?
RICKY – I was in a band 3 years ago and they decided that they no longer needed a sax player because they assumed a keyboard player could copy the sound of a sax as well as playing keys! I never say never, and believe things happen for a reason and decided to form my own band. Finding the right calibre of musicians and vocalists was really difficult. Initially I had nothing to offer but enthusiasm. It took a year of auditions to get a decent band together. When I thought The Band was going well we had a major set-back, the talented singer became ill and left and like dominoes the bass guitarist and lead guitarist left at the same time as we were becoming too busy for their liking. Steve (our drummer and like-minded enthusiast) and I were left wondering what to do next. As luck would have it Steve knew of a singer called Jen who was not being tested to her limits in another band and she decided to audition for The Lateshift. I knew of a Bass Guitarist called Andy (whom I had played with in 2 other bands historically) who I had always got on well with and admired his musical acumen and abilities. At the same time we advertised for a Lead Guitarist. Mike and Jen came to an audition for a guitarist and a singer in June 2010 and we all immediately gelled. It was like light bulbs of appreciation and admiration going on and the moment was a magical one I will never forget. You instinctively know when something is right and it all felt so good at that point. We remain as the current line-up and work well together with an open and honest approach to all that we are collectively doing and achieving. I guess you would call it fate!

Playing at weddings must allow you to be part of many special moments?
RICKY – It’s an immense honour to be invited to play for such a momentus occasion. The wedding evening has to go well for Bride, Groom and All the guests. The choice of entertainment and band can make or break a reception. We witness some very loving and emotional moments, not least of all when we play a bride and groom’s special song request, normally the first dance that we have spent many hours learning for their big occasion. We get a lot of wedding gig requests and I think this is because our music has such wide appeal and we’re not too loud, important for the older guests. We love playing at weddings and other private functions because you really feel like you’re helping the moment go with the swing it deserves. It’s great to hear afterwards how much The Band was appreciated by all.

Who are your inspirations?
RICKY – Stan Getz, Stanley Turrentine, Grover Washington Jr. Snake Davies, David Sanborn, Michael Brecker etc. The rest of the band have their own favourite artists and singers and this creates a wide circle of appeal and influences from artistes such as Pink Floyd, Stevie Wonder, Etta James, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, Sade, etc etc the list is enormous.
How long have you been in this business for?
RICKY – Not long enough, about 10 years. I wish I had started as a child but I am looking forward to playing Sax for ever. Steve has played drums since about the age of 10, mike and Andy have played guitar from a similar. early age and Jen’s been singing since she could walk.

For any details on booking The Lateshift for a function, debate or for upcoming gigs please visit their website www.thelateshift.co.uk

Words: Carly Squires