One of St Helens’ most successful musicians is back with a new band and challenging debut album five years after his last release.
Guitarist Nick McCabe, who was formerly part of Wigan alternative rock band The Verve, formed Black Submarine with former bandmate Simon Jones on bass and violinist Davide Rossi shortly after his previous group’s final live appearances.
The new group, completed by ex-Portishead drummer Michele Schillace and Bristol singer-songwriter Amelia Tucker on vocals, is now about to release debut full-length album New Shores.
However, although the new band has some elements of Nick’s previous work in its mixture of dark, brooding elements and upbeat outbursts the electronics, ominous chanted vocals and layered strings of Black Submarine may come as something of a surprise to his fans.
Nick, 42, said: “The lesson we’ve learned is not to force yourself into a genre or style, because what doesn’t come out then is your own ideas.
“There’s so much music that goes into the blender, so there’s no conscious effort to do a specific thing, it’s just what comes out naturally.
“What I’m looking for is a fix out of music, a transcendent experience. I want to get out of an album what I get out of film, that experience of sitting in the cinema for two hours.
“There’s a lot of well sung, well executed, well produced stuff around but it doesn’t speak to me, I want that sense of escape from music which I liked when I was young.
“The new band came about because Davide had virtually become an extra member of The Verve and after the band split we felt we had unfinished business and wanted to do more together.
“I’ve worked with Mig over the years and we’ve got a rapport, so with Simon that was the core of the band.”
The five-year break since The Verve’s last album Forth has given Nick time to reflect on how that band ended, and says a love of music persuaded him to give it another go with Black Submarine. He said: “The Verve imploded and it’s been pretty hard for me to get involved in something as political as a band, but the reason for doing it is the good old fashioned one of being absolutely in love with music.
“Before the singer said whether the band was active or not, and there was a reluctance with Black Submarine to appoint someone to that position, and when we finally found Amelia she was a collaborator and a strong artistic force in her own right.”
The band has also released Here So Rain as a single with accompanying music video, and will head out on the road with Echo and the Bunnymen in May.
Despite Black Submarine bringing in influences from far and wide, including the Bristol scene and the 1970s German progressive movement known as krautrock, Nick says his outlook and approach to music is still very much influenced by his home town and region.
Nick, who was brought up in Haydock and now lives in Telford, said: “The lack of things to do in an industrial town like St Helens is a big part in the North West’s musical success, because bands have to create their own world.
“Culture is massively important to people from the North West.”
New Shores by Black Submarine is out now.