Lancaster’s Battle for Bloodstock

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We all know that Lancaster’s music scene can be a little lacking at times, as a fan of what many may call, ‘alternative’ music, I’d almost give up hope on any finding anything to please my ears. Enter, The Shipman Project.

After seeing the band perform a short set at the recent Livewire Lancaster’s Atticus Battle of the Bands competition, and being very pleasantly surprised at finding a band that didn’t consist of fifteen-year old scene kids, I decided to give them a further listen. The Shipman Project describe themselves as purveyors of “Red Metal” and consist of Niall Robertson, Aiden Burnett, Allan Gardener, Stephen Houghton and Adam Higginson; vocals, keyboards, drums, bass and guitar respectively.

The Shipman Project recently entered Bloodstock Unsigned, a competition for unsigned acts to play at the UK’s largest indoor metal festival in August. There are three categories, and the band with the most votes in each gets to play at Bloodstock Festival this year. The Shipman Project are currently the most viewed in their category which covers Industrial, Power, Progressive and Speed Metal.

I interviewed the band to find out more about them and why they think they deserve a chance to play at Bloodstock Festival 2010. I began asking about how the The Shipman Project got together, Adam ‘Higgy’ Higginson told me that they had been together in their current form for almost two years now, and spoke about how they formed a group. “I harassed Niall in the street when he was pissed, I said “I know you from that band, I’m starting a band, do you want to be in it?”. There were a couple of other members that came and went and we eventually found a group of guys that got on quite well, and although we didn’t like and of the same styles of music, we created some reasonably good songs!”. To this, Stephen ‘Sexfish’ Houghton responded, “We’re more friends that play music than a band that plays music” before laughing and asking me to quote him on that. There’s a quote for you. He then continued to talk about when the band started, and how they came up with their rather unusual name. “We liked ‘The Project’ because it’s a bit weird and a bit out there, we wanted something that stood out. We were toying with serial killers and we came up with ‘The Shipman Project’ and one of the guys no longer in the band just hated it so much and so intently that we just had to have it”.

The band have a wide variety of influences, and each member has their own tastes and preferred style. From Aidan’s love of Pink Floyd and jazz fusion, to Niall’s Dillinger Escape Plan, Cannibal Corpse and ICP. Then there’s Stephen’s Nine Inch Nails and Damien Rice (“Damien Rice maybe? What, I like Damien Rice”) and Adam’s ‘conventional metal’ such as Iron Maiden, Combichrist and Dimmu Borgir. After discussing The Shipman Project’s influences, Stephen commented, quite rightly, that “a collective is the word for our musical tastes”.

The Shipman Project have played a wide variety of venues, and when I asked them if they had a favourite, Niall replied “little places like Academy 3, we headlined Manchester Academy 3”. The band see this as the high point of their career, but Stephen commented that he also loves playing at the Yorkshire House in Lancaster, despite it being a small local venue. The band continued to talk about offending fans, if particular mammals ovulate and some of their unusual stage antics, a conversation that ended with “one of us touched each other’s junk anyway”.

I moved on to ask the band about the Bloodstock Unsigned competition, and why the band entered. Stephen told me rather honestly, “we wanted to go to Bloodstock, and basically, we just didn’t want to pay”. Niall added “I thought that it would be cool to say that I’ve played with Cannibal Corpse”, a band that he has been influenced by. I asked the guys what they thought set them aside from other bands, to which Stephen replied that the band have good banter on stage, and “we’re mildly entertaining when we’re not even on stage also!”.

The Shipman project were amazing guys to talk to, and they’ve got some pretty good music too. You can check out their website, www.theshipmanproject.com or look them up on Facebook and Myspace. They also have their music available to download on the iTunes store. For a chance to see these guys live, check them out at The Attic in Manchester on Monday 17th May as part of the Surface Unsigned Festival. They are also making another appearance at The Park Hotel in Lancaster on 23rd July at another Livewire Lancaster event.

If you’re looking for something different, beyond the rather repetitive ‘indie’ local acts, definitely check out The Shipman Project, and make sure you vote at for them to play at this years Bloodstock Festival by registering at www.bloodstock.uk.com. The competition closes on 30th June and the winners will be announced on the website on 1st July.

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