Their journey began over two decades ago when vocalist and guitarist Carl Mann and keyboardist Simon Oxlee landed a record deal in a previous band. Now, the duo has become a quartet adding on bassist Martin Corder and drummer Phil Elphee. Hailing from Kent, indie-pop group The Show Window offer a nostalgic sound bringing the best of yesteryear to 2020. We spoke with Carl Mann about their new single ‘Evacuate’ and much more!
How was The Shop Window formed?
Returning to the UK after a few years living in New Zealand, I called old friends Phil (drummer) and Martin (bass) to see if they wanted to make some noise. We had so much fun that it became a regular thing. Kicking some old demos around fast became a reason to book some studio time to lay down six tracks. I invited my old mate Syd (backing vocals and keys) to put down some BVs in the studio. We have developed our own sound without really realising it. After that session, we decided to give ourselves a name and keep going.
What is the backstory behind ‘Evacuate’?
‘Evacuate’ started life when I was messing around playing the guitar with my 4-year-old. He started this crazy little dance and I tried following his moves with a rhythm, picking a couple of strings, and boom! The riff was born. From there I found chords to sit under it, and the vocal melodies and verse came not long after just playing around with it at home.
It has a fairly ambiguous lyric that I hope people will interpret in their own way. It actually stems from a desire to put down roots and have a place to call home. My endless moves created endless anxiety – nine years in nine different places, London to New Zealand with stops along the way, later returning to finally settle in Kent (UK). Simon (Syd) helped to flesh out some of the lyrics until we got to a place that felt right.
What was the writing and recording process like?
I got the home demo version to a place where all of the parts were sitting well together, and we jammed the song a lot in rehearsals to get it grooving and find the right tempo. Recording it for real during the album sessions was a joy as we had done so much preparation. It was just a case of fine-tuning sounds and pushing the envelope a bit more. I told the boys to just go for it and love/live every note, every beat. I think you can hear that passion and joy in the performances on the recording.
If you could tour with a single artist (living or dead), who would it be and why?
Teenage Fanclub – I have been a huge fan since falling in love with their album Bandwagonesque as a teenager. All of their albums are just brilliant, they have three incredible songwriters and they also seem like a decent bunch of guys.
Tough question though, on a different day I might have picked The Stone Roses or The Beatles.
What is your creative process?
It varies from song to song. Sometimes it’ll start with a vocal melody, other times a guitar riff. I always start a rough demo of ideas at home in the early stages and just keep improving on them over time until I love every element of a track.
Syd will sometimes help out with lyrics if I am short of a few lines here and there. He’s sent me thirty sheets of lyrics over the past six months and on occasion sings a melody down the phone – a couple of the tracks on the album started life this way!
Describe your music in a single sentence.
A collage of jangle-pop, 80s and 90s indie/dream-pop and shoegaze.
What are your future plans?
In July we finished our album The State Of Being Human. We plan to release two or three more singles after ‘Evacuate’ and then drop the album in Spring 2021. Depending on how it all goes, we would love to do a vinyl pressing if we can justify and finance it. We can’t wait to be able to get out and play these songs live. Hopefully, one day in the future it will be safe for all to enjoy gigs again
What do you hope people take from your music?
Joy, hope and inspiration.