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The UK has never been the natural home of country music but there’s a growing scene and The Shires are at the forefront of it. Ben Earle says it’s not all cowboys and rhinestones ahead of their UK headline tour which kicks off in Leeds next week.

How did you become interested in country music?
Crissie had always been a big fan. She would sing along with her granny to classic singers like Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline. My introduction was much more recent. About three years ago I heard Need You Now by Lady Antebellum for the first time and was completely hooked. I couldn’t believe it was country.

What did signing to Decca Nashville mean to you?
Decca really understood and bought into our vision of being the very first UK country act in the Top 10. Country hadn’t been big in the UK at all and it was definitely a risk. Everything we were setting out to do hadn’t really been done before, which was slightly scary but ultimately so exciting.

Do you have a US following?
Since our album went top 10 a lot of people in the industry in Nashville have started talking about us. We’ve been lucky to meet quite a few big country artists too who all know about us (which is still a bit weird for us). We haven’t had the chance to promote the album out there yet, but with all the support we seem to be getting from Nashville we’ll hopefully have a great platform.

Why do you think country music has never really taken off in this part of the world?

For a long time country wasn’t very relatable for us in the UK. It was all about the cowboys, rhinestones and stetsons. It’s very different now. When we wrote and recorded our album in Nashville, it seemed that the only people wearing cowboy boots were tourists. Today, Nashville is a modern, vibrant city with people from all walks of life and the music is reflecting that.

Country music is about storytelling. What story does Brave tell?
Brave tells the story of our dream of “building our own Nashville underneath these grey skies”. We love US country music, but we will never forget our roots so you’ll hear about very British things like fish and chips, pints and pebble beaches.


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