Welcome back, SHIELDS! In this interview, the band takes us on a journey through their remarkable return to the music scene after a hiatus, shedding light on the decision-making process that led to their exciting comeback. With a dynamic born from their separate creative pursuits during their time apart, SHIELDS shares how their individual growth and diverse experiences have enhanced their collective creativity and expanded their musical horizons. We also touch upon the emotional complexities surrounding the band's previous disbandment and the role it played in their ultimate decision to regroup. As they embark on a new chapter, the band provides a tantalizing glimpse into their evolving sound and what fans can expect from their future releases and tours. In an industry marked by constant change, they discuss their strategies for connecting with both loyal fans and a new generation of listeners and offer insights into the collaborative and forward-thinking approach that underpins their reformation. With a focus on joy and a desire for a stress-free, pleasure-driven journey, SHIELDS outlines their long-term vision for this exciting new phase of their career.
Welcome back, SHIELDS! Can you tell us about the decision to reform the band after your hiatus? What led to this exciting comeback?
Sam and Joe were performing in Sams’s solo project, Kubrick, at Burn it Down Festival 2022 as were Alex and Larry, who were performing on the same day in Our Hollow Our Home. After posting a photo on the band socials of the four of us, Burn It Down reached out to us asking if we’d like to perform as Shields in the 2023 lineup. After deciding to take them up on the offer and come back for a 1-off performance we felt inspired to begin writing again. From there our interests in the band blossomed into plans to pursue Shields on a further basis.
It's great to see you guys picking up the band again. How has the dynamic within the band changed since your reformation? Have you brought any new perspectives or approaches into your music?
Spending time apart from one another, and pursuing other creative projects has allowed us to each learn a plethora of skills that we’re all able to bring to the table. This has granted us the freedom to write more creatively and collectively, as well as giving us the ability to explore styles that were previously outside of our creative repertoire.
During your time apart, did each member of the band pursue individual projects, or did you all maintain a connection to music in some way?
We have all had a consistent relationship to music since Shields ended! Both Joe and Sam were able to pursue new creative projects in which they explored new styles that were different from Shields; Sam launched and worked on his solo project, Kubrick whilst developing his freelance career in ghost-writing; Joe pursued a career in composing music for theater and circus, in addition to forming the band, Honeyflux. Whilst Alex is no longer part of Shields, both Larry and himself joined Our Hollow, Our Home, with whom they played with for several years.
We’re sure that your disbandment back in 2018 came with a whirlwind of emotions since you guys had to say goodbye to your brother and band member. Was George’s passing the main reason you guys called it a day or were there other factors at play?
At the time of George’s death, and for a good while after, we had every intention of continuing without him. We had an album that was due to be released and tours that we’d planned. But sadly everything we did was tainted by George’s passing, and that ultimately contributed to the finalization of Shields.
Whilst this was the main contributor to our decision to end, we had attached huge amounts of pressure to the band as we tried to build our careers out of Shields. So by the end, we’d burdened ourselves with so much expectation that we were jaded and tired. Creating the healthy break needed by walking away from the band was important for us as human beings.
Are you planning to maintain your signature sound, or can we expect some evolution in your musical style since metalcore has introduced a lot of new characteristics in the last couple of years?
In our initial writing of the new material, we absolutely made some conscious decisions to maintain what we believe to be the defining characteristics of Shields. But as we’ve progressed in recent writings it’s started to evolve, taking on sounds and styles that we’ve not yet explored as a group.
We’re pretty certain that your fans are excited to hear about any upcoming projects. Could you give us a sneak peek into what you've been working on since your reformation? Are there any new releases or tours on the horizon?
Since writing and planning for the future of Shields, there have been discussions of exciting release ideas, as well as bonus content related to our debut album, Life in Exile. Our next tour is taking place this October, on which Shields will be direct support to our good friends Annisokay for their UK dates. (Christoph from Annisokay is the producer of our debut album). We are also planning gigs and tours for 2024 and working with Long Branch Records, whom we were previously signed to.
The music industry has evolved since your initial success. How do you plan to navigate these changes and connect with both your longtime fans and a new generation of listeners?
We’ve given some thought to this which has led us to explore new social media platforms plus methods of releasing music that weren’t relevant when we were previously releasing content. TikTok is a brand new platform for us so you’ll be able to see we (Sam especially) have been having fun exploring that new territory!
Reforming a band after a hiatus can be a challenge. What steps have you taken to ensure a smooth transition and effective collaboration within the group?
As our reform came so naturally we didn’t feel the need to take any steps in order to make the reform process any easier. We were just all excited to be doing it together again. We’re now doing this for the love of the music that we create, as opposed to trying to make this our job which has allowed us to work both harder and smarter in the way we organize and write for Shields.
Reflecting on your previous journey, what lessons have you learned from your past experiences that will guide your decision-making and creative process moving forward?
The fact that we’ve all separately worked in the creative industries, accumulating a huge range of skills has allowed us to develop this band in a much more mature and practical way. We’ve developed lives without each other; not sharing a van with one another for weeks at a time has allowed us to grow up individually. We can now all come back together and work on this in a much healthier way.
Many fans are curious about the future direction of SHIELDS. Can you share your long-term vision for the band and what you hope to achieve in this exciting new phase of your career?
Whilst we’re currently discussing what we plan to do with Shields in the long-term, as it stands we’re simply interested in doing anything that brings us joy. This doesn’t mean to say we’ll turn down opportunities if we feel this band is becoming a career path, but for now, we want to keep this band as stress-free and pleasure-driven as we can.
This iteration of Shields is all for the love.