By Terry Marland, Rock At Night Ales
Since the introduction of the COVID lockdown, social media has been flooded with rock artists performing from home in an attempt to keep in touch with their fan-base. Welsh hard rock outfit Those Damn Crows have taken a different approach. Instead of playing in the home studio they are hosting a weekly live Crowcast to engage directly with their loyal fans (the Crow Family) in a totally interactive format.
Prior to being halted by the COVID lock-down the band had been on a roll. Their second album, the critically acclaimed Point of No Return had entered the British album charts at number six and was described by Classic Rock Magazine as “brutal, honest and driven”. Their recent UK tour saw many venues upgraded, to cope with demand, before selling out. An array of concerts was planned for spring and early summer including their first European tour along with numerous high-profile festival bookings.
Point of No Return was released in February 2020 via Earache Records
The Covid outbreak put an abrupt halt to live activity. Adopting a positive approach to the situation they saw it as a chance to take fan engagement to the next level. Within days of the UK lockdown being announced the first Crowcast went live. Front man and vocalist Shane Greenhall takes up the story:
“We thought what a great opportunity, with the lockdown, to put on a weekly show to connect with the fan-base who have been so supportive of us and give them something back and let them know that we are still here and that we are all in this together. It’s Just another outlet really. We just thought let’s strike while the iron’s hot. We had all of these things we needed to say and we thought what a great way to do it as opposed to just putting a post on Facebook. It’s an opportunity to speak with the fans and get their opinions live so we can connect with them and tell them about cancellation of shows, what the plans are with festivals and the record and to say thank you for putting us in that chart position. It’s been great to connect in a different sort of medium.”
The Crowcast is presented as an on-line chat room format with all five band members in attendance contributing from their individual homes and occasionally giving way to music industry guests that have included Jon Norman from Planet Rock, Mikey Evans organiser of the Steelhouse Festival and Michael Paget from Bullet for My Valentine. There are also competitions and giveaways to members of the Crow Family.
Throughout the broadcast questions and comments from fans are scrolled across the screen as the topics for discussion alternate between rock music and everyday issues including distance queuing in the supermarket, cooking exploits and troublesome pigeons.
I put it to Shane that the vibe is similar to a virtual pub environment with friends sitting around having a chat. Was that the intention when you started the Crowcast?
“One hundred percent. It’s all real you know. If you take it too seriously it becomes contrived and it’s not realistic any more so it’s exactly that. It’s a chat. It’s getting them together to talk about what we’ve done in the past week and what other people have done it the past week and the different challenges people face” He adds laughing “It can be more like a bakery show than a rock show.”
Throughout the broadcasts the band constantly reference the amazing work being undertaken by key workers at this time and have been surprised by the number of fans involved in frontline operations.
“I can’t believe how many in the Crow family are also in the NHS family and Carers as well. They are heroes right now. They are just walking straight into the line, aren’t they? It’s absolutely incredible. I know it’s their job but nobody should be sacrificing, potentially, their life, for a job. But they’re saving people’s lives. It’s remarkable.”
This week sees the eighth Crowcast for the band and they won’t be stopping anytime soon. On the other side of COVID they see, perhaps, opportunities to air a condensed version, maybe from the tour bus when they are out on the road.
Whatever the future holds there is no disputing the huge level of commitment this band has to their fan-base who they see more as an extended family. The Crow Family.
Crowcast airs each Tuesday at 9:00 PM GMT
Point of No Return is out now on Earache Records.
Terry Marland was speaking to Shane Greenhall.