Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide to start the band?
(Jake Dixon speaking / Lead Singer / Guitarist)
I’ve been writing songs since I was 14 years old and I’ve been interested in the craft of song-writing ever since. In 2016 I lost my father, and I had a few songs piling up in my songbook. I thought it would be best to put an album together, which would give me a creative outlet for my grief and the experiences that I had already gone through in my life. This album went on to be the first Hiding Magpies record. However, the first album was recorded by myself and with the help a friend who was a drummer and a recording engineer, so I had no band to play the songs with live. At this point I was going through the phone book, thinking of who could play in the band and do the songs justice.
Introduce us all to the members and your musical history?
So here is the line-up for The Hiding Magpies:
Jake Dixon – Lead Vocals & Guitar
Dan Arnold – Lead Guitar
Jack Herbert – Keys & Backing Vocals
Shug Spencer – Bass Guitar
Mike Smith – Drums
When I was thinking of musicians and people I wanted to get in the band, it was a difficult decision at first but then a lightbulb came on in my head! I was already playing in a covers band with Shug and Mike, and they are one of the finest rhythm sections around the UK in my opinion. They are such old-school groovers, and with their musical history, well, where do I start! Shug Spencer was once the bass player for Denny Laine (ex-Wings guitarist) and now he plays in the 70’s Prog-Rock band, Atomic Rooster. Mike Smith was once the drummer for Nico, and then in later years he found himself touring with Chuck Berry. Can you believe it?! Mike and Shug’s musical history goes further than that, but I’ll keep it short.
The guy who mastered our first record, Mat Arnold, mentioned that his brother was a guitarist. I had been asking a lot of people who I could get in on lead guitar, and after speaking with Mat, he said I should give his brother a call. I called Dan and within a matter of minutes we were laughing, talking music, and about the ideas I had for the band. I went around for a jam, and I instantly knew he was the man for the group. What a guitarist he is! If you see or listen the group, you’ll hear that Dan is incredibly good and can play rock and roll like no other. Would you believe it though, the guy is also a jazz wizard!
Jack came to us after our original keyboard player left the band (due to university commitments). I’d always known about Jack, but I thought he was busy playing in other bands. I knew he was a great piano player and singer, so I just asked him if he would like to join the band, and he said yes! Jack brings something else to the group. His playing is out of this world and he sings like a gem. We couldn’t have asked for anyone better, and I’m happy to say that we’re now a band of brothers in The Hiding Magpies.
How positive are you feeling now restrictions are loosening?
I think we’re all feeling optimistic about restrictions being lifted. Obviously, we can’t play to a full audience at the moment which is a shame, but the people that have recently come to the few shows we’ve had, have been so
grateful for live music, and we’re so grateful for the chance to play our songs again. So even with a limited audience, we’re happy just to play and to have a sense of normality back in our lives!
What advice would you give other artists starting out?
Have patience, Ha! You’ve got to play gigs for nothing now and then, just to get your music out there, and when you do those gigs, give it your all! Make sure your harmonies are good, the band is tight and drop any over-confident egos. It’s nice to be nice and people will recognise you for that, which is just as rock and roll!
What’s one question you’re sick of being asked when interviewed?
What are the magpies hiding from?! Hahahaha! I get it, but once you’ve heard it a few times it becomes a little old. The name came to me after my dad had passed, and you know how people believe that loved ones come back as robins? Well I kept on seeing magpies everywhere. God knows why and nor will I ever be able to explain it, but at the time whenever I was feeling low, a magpie would appear! Bonkers, I know…
What’s your favourite song right now from another band currently on your local circuit?
That’s a tricky one as there are so many great bands and artists out there on our local circuit but I’d have to say our friend Joe Martin has many beautiful songs, but one in particular called ‘Daddy Gene’. We like to call him the storyteller as he comes up with these beautiful songs that have such great stories within them.
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?
Naaaaah! Not worth your time.
What useless party trick /talent do you have/?
I can do a good impression of everyone in the band… and of all The Beatles!
What was the most fun you have had on stage?
I think the most fun we’ve had on stage was at The Great British Folk Festival back in 2018. The audience were so responsive and we all loved it. To say we’d never played at this festival before, it was amazing to receive a standing ovation after we had finished. We’d never seen anything like that before, and I’m not going to lie, I teared up with the amount love that was in the room for the band and for music in general! What a gig.
What was the worst experience on stage?
Oh god! We played a gig few years ago (I won’t mention where) and this bar was just insane. We all like a drink and to have a laugh with our mates, but this place was bonkers. The owner was an absolute gem, but there were people fighting, people trying to get on-stage, touching the equipment. It was very much an anxiety-driven gig for us all. The one saving grace for us was that there was a bloke dressed up as a pirate. What a winner!
Tell us something about each member that you think people would be surprised about?
It’s a hard question is that, as what you see is what you get with us. There aren’t really any hidden surprises. The only thing I could say is that Shug and Mike have had a phenomenal history of playing with famous musicians and artists throughout the years, and once you get talking to them, the stories they tell are incredible. They are true rock and rollers!
If you had to describe your band to an alien how would you describe them?
I think we’d probably describe ourselves as an energetic force of rock and roll. They would then ask, what is rock and roll, and then I’d show them Chuck Berry! Can you tell I’ve thought about this? Ha! Honestly, I don’t know what I’d do if I saw an alien.
Which one of the band is the most unpredictable and why?
SHUG! He just comes out with the funniest stuff, and you never know what he’ll come out with next.
Which one of the band is the biggest nightmare? (Just a bit of fun)
Dan, Haha! We love him and we wouldn’t have anyone else in the band, but his time keeping isn’t the greatest, and it’s especially frustrating when you’ve got a long journey ahead of you to the gig. All that said, he makes it up with his great personality and his amazing guitar playing! We love him.
You have one phone call and you have been locked up for a crime you didn’t commit? Which member would you call first?
Jack. He is like the father of the band who looks after us all and he’s good at googling stuff, whereas the rest of us are a bit slow on that side of things.
Name a four-piece band made up of legends – who would be in it? (drummer, bass, lead singer etc)
Easy – The Beatles! John, Paul, George, and Ringo.
Right now, whats pissing you of the most? (Cant say the virus )
Being 3 stone over-weight!
Tell us about a time when you had a proper reyt laugh while you were all together?
Well, there was a time where we were all together in the car and stories were being passed around, but I don’t think I ought to share it. Let’s just say Shug has his way with words, and had the lot of us in tears! To be honest, when we’re all together, it’s always a laugh!
Whats your favourite song to play live and why?
I think it’s got to be our song, ‘The Hiding Magpie’. It covers so many different genres from Rock to elements of Scottish Folk and it’s just fun to play. It’s probably the eeriest song out of our set.
I hear you have a new album brewing, what can you tell us about it?
Well, the album is now out on all streaming services. It’s called ‘Searching for Gold’ and it covers a varied mix of emotions and scenarios we’ve been in throughout our lives (both personally and as a band). I can only describe the sound as a mixture of rock and roll, infused with elements of folk, blues, RnB and country.
What are your plans for the year ahead ?
So, this year we have gigs scattered around the UK. It’s been hard trying to get into places, as so many bands have just been moved forward from last year, because of Covid. So, we’re just looking to promote our second record with a run of shows this year and next, and we hope to see you all out on the road!
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
We just want to say a huge thank you to our family, friends and fans, because if it weren’t for them, we would have really struggled. I know that sounds rather cheesy but it’s true. We wouldn’t have been able to get by if it weren’t for them. And you all know who you are. We love you!
Thanks for doing us today folks, all the best and keep in touch.