November 10th 2017, Down The Front Media covered a live performance in an almost empty venue in Leicester from Belfast/London alt-rock duo REWS. Full of energy, bounce and charisma, the duo, made up of Shauna Tohill (vocals/guitar) and Collette Williams (Drums/vocals), astonished with their depth of sound, humour and perfect harmonies. Now, 10 months later, one hugely successful album under their belts, countless festivals and appearances to shout about, and having secured a 6 date support slot with HALESTORM kicking off in Sheffield on September 22nd plus a new single ‘Can You Feel It?’ being released 21st September, we managed to catch a few moments in their busy schedule to chat about what’s been going on...
In February 2017 REWS signed a record deal with Marshall Records and released their first album ‘Pyro’ in November that year. It was during that headline tour that Down The Front Media caught up with them at the Soundhouse in Leicester, and despite the poor turn out, and Shauna dropping her guitar and hurting her leg, “It wasn’t even my guitar it was a borrowed one!” divulged Shauna, the gig was successful in catching our attention. “All these stories add up,” continued Shauna as we spoke about how busy life is for an upcoming band, “We’ve been so busy, I think we’ve just been used to it, like always having a million and one things to do cos it keeps us kind of motivated and moving forward. I think that’s normality for us now.”
From the John Peel Stage at Glastonbury in 2017, through several festival appearances and singing to new managers and agents to help promote their unique sound, REWS talked about securing the HALESTORM tour, “We recently signed with a new manager in the States, he’s also working in partnership with our existing manager, and as a team they all manage us sort of, so through that partnership they kind of wanted to support us the best way that they could, and they got us the tour and HALESTORM who really liked us as well. We’re really excited, it’s like everything has taken up our whole existence at the moment focusing on this tour. It takes it up another level and it inspires you to work a bit harder on your instruments as well which is what we’re gonna be focusing on and making it a much better mind blowing performance for new fans.”
The amount of people that REWS are now set to perform to is going to be much bigger than anything they’re had previously, “ It’s pretty wonderful actually,” explains Collette, “We’re excited about the new influx of fans that we hope will be joining the current fan base, it’s like the best way to reach out to more people. We feel very lucky [to have secured the HALESTORM gigs] but we’ve got a brilliant team working with us so, if it wasn’t for them... well... Everyone really has worked their little butts off to get us where we are. The fruits of the labour have started to ripen!” And we couldn’t agree more.
REWS are also heading out on their own headline tour in November, “We’re really excited to be back and touring again. And this one will almost be like a consolidation tour, we are doing the HALESTORM tour and we wanted to make sure that any of the fans who wanted to come and see us during those dates weren’t disappointed cos that tour is sold out and they can’t now come to see us. They were saying how disappointed they were [on social media that the HALESTORM tour was sold out], so, it’s probably best for us to then do the same sort of dates that people can come to and see us, and also just show how much we’ve grown as we sell out every single one hopefully.”
In terms of their headline tour and what to expect, Collette explains, “I think it will be transitional in the sense that for the UK fans it will be like a tail end of this celebration of ‘Pyro’ but also an introduction to what we’ve got on the horizon. By then we are hoping to have a half and half mix of ‘Pyro’ songs and what’s going to be on the new album and that will be like an insight and a vision to album 2. Fingers crossed!” ‘Muse’, performed at the Leicester gig, is a firm favourite that didn’t make the ‘Pyro’ album, we wanted to know if that would make it to the new album eventually, “We still need to figure out what we want to put on it but we do have loads of songs to choose from, I think ‘Muse’ is one that will have a recording somewhere, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be on an album, but somewhere so that people can just listen to it so they know the song and can sing along to it at shows.”
However, at present, the second album isn’t yet on the table, “We don’t really have time for it at the moment, because basically, we have still have some legs left in the ‘Pyro’ album. It’s got a lot more life in it yet before we’ve exhausted that album cycle. We are always writing in the background and looking to album two, and it is on the horizon, just not yet.”
Talking of the horizon, we wanted to know if there’s a plan to break the States, “There’s a plan in the pipeline to go over next year so we’re definitely looking forward to going over to the States and create a new fan base, play for a whole different and new audience and just kind of expand our travels as well, We’ve been really lucky to be able to go to a few new places this year, but we’re definitely looking forward to going to the States. We’ve been to Spain, we went to Jersey, and it’s crazy to think all these beautiful places are right on your doorstep that we’ve never been to as well. It was so breathtaking and you feel that you’re really far abroad but it’s just a bunny hop from England as well.”
REWS have already dipped their toes in the water in the States with their track ‘Shake, Shake’ making it to episode 3 of Grey’s Anatomy spin off series Station 19. “It was pretty big [for us], but
we heard loads of rumours about it, but no one really told us for sure about it and then all of sudden it was like ‘Oh yeah by the way, your song is on this spin off!’. Our friends were like, well
done on the track, but we didn’t even actually know, there were whispers of potential but like you hear all these things a lot in the industry you know, ‘We’re gonna pitch you for this...’ or ‘we’re
gonna put you forward for that..’, but you can’t really get your hopes up because it doesn’t always provide fruit but this one actually pulled through so we were like ‘cool!’”
“I remember searching for the episode,” begins Collette, “Sitting through the adverts thinking when is it going to come on and then finally I found it and we were like ‘YES!’ And it’s a long scene too, it’s not just a snippet, it’s a good 30 seconds of the track where they are being called out and they all jump in the fire engine and it’s on while they are driving along the streets, like they’re bombing along and it’s a good chunk of the song.” Of course, a feature on any type of prime time American TV can cause a influx of fans and open your music up to fans who may not have currently heard of you. “I’d say we definitely have more US fans now but it’s difficult to gauge these things sometimes. People do kind of comment on that and you get a few new people coming in, but I think it’s more of a montage of different avenues for people to find REWS now that we can’t specifically say that it’s come from the Station 19 feature but it’s definitely helped.”
September 21st sees the release of their new single ‘Can You Feel It?’, “It was short listed for ‘Pyro’,” says Shauna, “But we sort of decided to go with 10 tracks instead of 13 and so, it’s almost like a bonus track that wasn't on the album so I guess it’s kind of celebrating that cycle making sure that nothing’s overlooked or not shared before we then go forward with the next creation.”
‘Can You Feel It?’ keeps in with the overall sound of ‘Pyro’ and was mixed and mastered by Romesh Dodangoda (Bring Me The Horizon, Don Broco, Lower Than Atlantis, Stone Broken). On working with Romesh, “Well it was all done remotely to be honest,” states Shauna, “We had sounds from before and then recorded more in a secret location (AKA my bedroom) and he just mixed it and made it into an amazing recording. We already love so much of his work, I mean we’re huge fans of Lower Than Atlantis, Bring Me The Horizon, Don Broco, and obviously he’s kind of the magic who has brought all that together and then having the chance to work with him we were like Yes, Yes YES! Get us board!” Collette pointed out that, “It also means that we can develop a relationship with him perhaps for doing this next album so yeah, that was good. He was so sweet in his messages and we seemed to get on well. The good thing was that he understood the vision of what we wanted it to sound like without any kind of in depth explanation, he just kind of listened to it and said ‘I know what you want’ and it was amazing.”
States Shauna, “It is a song that takes a positive spin on hurt feelings. It encourages the listener to ‘let it out’, ‘dance’, ‘sing' and not be afraid to explore how they feel in order to better themselves & learn to love again. It was inspired and written during a period of heartbreak and describes the stages of grief that we endure.” The intro pulls you in and the vocals from Shauna, complemented by Collette’s harmonies, quickly attract your attention with their full, lush sound. It’s full of catchy moments, high energy and it delivers exactly what would be expected from the dynamic duo. The repetition of “Let it out, let it out, let it out” pushes the idea home of making sure that whatever you feel inside is expressed, that it isn’t kept inward. Full of soaring guitars and melodic vocals, from both Collette and Shauna, makes this an awesome single to bolster their live set. Collette on the drums delivers a superb rhythmic beat, layered, diverse and heavy towards the end of the track, providing a perfect amount of sound to accompany the guitar riffs. You would be excused for thinking that REWS are more than a two-piece, they don’t lack anything in their depth and delivery. A great track thats certainly worth a listen or two, or three...
The new track really stays true to the sound that you produce in ‘Pyro’ and keeps with the vision/aim of inspiring people through everyday life, to look at the deep issues and relate to those through your music, “I think it was successful in that kind of vision, definitely. That’s a lot of the reason why the music is written, to help people who are going through crap in their lives and I think music is one of the only ways that you can target your heart and make you feel better about yourself or what is going on. All the songs on ‘Pyro’ and all the songs to come will always have something that has that inspiring theme to them. The feedback we had since ‘Pyro’s release has all been along those lines, some of the messages we received were just incredible because people have said that they relate to things or that it’s kind of reached out and really inspired them and you can’t really get better than that. When you deliver an album and to have someone saying that back to you it’s really fulfilling.”
So what does the last quarter of 2018 and the next twelve months into 2019 look like for REWS? “Well we’ve got the HALESTORM tour and the headline tour and then we’re kind of hoping for some time off over Christmas and the New Year, and we may have some other stuff coming up, then next year we’re focusing on the States. We’re also going to be looking at working on the new album. There are plans being made but because it’s all working 6 months in advance we still haven’t figured out yet what's going to happen off the back of some of these other things that we’ve got lined up that we can’t yet announce until we’ve got all the logistics sorted as everything triggers something else. Maybe a little less heavy on the touring maybe, because for 2 1/2 years we’ve been flat out, each festival season we’ve done between 20-30 festivals every summer since we’ve been a band and we’ve completed a spring tour and autumn tour and then all the bits in-between that, so it’s been quite full on but great!”
One UK festival that REWS would love to be part of is Reading & Leeds, “It would be brilliant to get that!” says Collette, “Slam Dunk would be a good one to do as well. We really want to dip our toes into the European festivals, we’re only into single numbers of the European festivals but there’s such a huge market that we need to get into. We have got deals set up with European agents so that fingers crossed next year that will create an opening of that as well for us.”
Dipping into their desired venues for the future Shauna said she’d love “a stadium or arena gig back home in Ireland with a mix of Deftones and Foo Fighters with us supporting, that would be cool!” Yes indeed it would! And for Collette? “I think, I’m going big like maybe opening the Super Bowl in America or something like that, like that huge amazing production and do something out of this world, bring rock into that kind of category too cos it’s kind of pop focused. Either that or Madison Square Garden or something. Something epic!” It doesn’t get more epic than that!
Keep an eye on these two, they’re going places!
Keep an eye on these two, they’re going places!
You can find more information about their upcoming live gigs and purchase tickets at:
Shauna Tohill - Vocals and Guitar
Collette Williams - Drums and Vocals
Find out more from them at: