And Finally Artist News Beef Of The Week Releases

Beef Of The Week #376: Shane Richie v Nick Knowles

By | Published on Friday 13 October 2017

Shane Richie

I think we can all agree that the real pop beef of this week is that between Eminem and Donald Trump. Eminem really went to town on the US president and his many failings in a freestyle for the BET Hip Hop Awards this week.

The only problem with this is, everything that needs to be said on Eminem’s side already has been said, and Donald Trump hasn’t deigned to respond in any form as I write, freestyle rap or otherwise. I thought about making up some tweets in the style of Trump, but it’s quite hard to parody someone who’s already a walking parody of himself. Sad.

Thankfully, as the deadline for this column drew ever closer, another beef erupted with two figureheads of similar stature. Two men who wield similar power in the entertainment industry and across the globe. Neither is yet a world leader, but it wouldn’t surprise me if either one did rise to that position in the imminent future. I’m talking, of course, about Shane Richie and Nick Knowles.

“Wait a minute”, you may be thinking. “While they are indeed behemoths of British light entertainment, neither of those men has anything to do with music”. But that’s where you’re wrong. So very wrong. And at least one of them will be very upset when he finds out you said that.

Knowles announced plans to release his debut album last month, through Universal Music no less. The ‘DIY SOS’ presenter has been messing around with his guitar, writing songs for fun for years. Why shouldn’t the world be subjected to his talents?

“Music’s always been a major part of my life since I was fourteen and picked up a guitar”, he told The Sun. “I’m the kind of person who gets home from work and picks up the guitar and strums a lot. It’s always been part of my life and a friend of mine said to me one day ‘why don’t you do an album?’ So he connected me up to Universal, we did a couple of test tracks and they came back and said: ‘Would you like to make an album’. It’s been really exciting”.

Yes. Exciting. Actually, scoff you may, but remember that Bradley Walsh had the best-selling UK debut album of 2016, and Jason Manford’s first album is set to go top ten this week, so clearly there’s a market for this nonsense.

What’s this all got to do with Shane Richie though? Well, in a new interview with The Guardian, he says that all these entertainers recording albums are just cashing in, whereas he’s been putting out records for years (yes, really) and is in it for the long haul. Don’t you come around here suggesting they’re anything like him.

“That lot, they do it for a hobby, but I do this for a fucking living”, he says. “When I wasn’t working on ‘Eastenders’, I’d go and play with my band. I’d play festivals. I’d get changed in car parks”.

Meanwhile, “these guys” are just getting by on major label money – Knowles and Manford with Universal, Walsh with Sony. That Richie is now signed to Warner Music’s East West label is beside the point. They haven’t had to graft in the music business like him. And that’s why his new country album, ‘A Country Soul’, is better. “Two years ago, I was funding this album myself”, he says. “I met with all sorts of labels, and they said: ‘You like country, why don’t you do Johnny Cash?’ and I said: ‘Why don’t you fuck off?'”

Turning his attention to Knowles, he continues: “I don’t know Nick very well, but he’s a chippie who sings. I do this to make a living. When I wasn’t on ‘Eastenders’ and there wasn’t much in the way of work, I’d put in a three-week tour and we’d go and play for cash. It’s horrible being tied in with Nick Knowles and Jason Manford. I’d like to be judged on the tracks. If they think it’s shit then, fine”.

I’m not sure if you’ve heard that there was a period when Shane Richie wasn’t on ‘Eastenders’. Anyway, back to judging him on his songs. I’ll pick one at random. How about ‘Let’s Do Sex’ from his now deleted 2000 album ‘Once Around The Sun’?

Before you mock him, Richie does address that song in the Guardian interview, saying: “Sometimes you write a song and your tongue can be in your cheek, but people don’t see it”. I think he’s doing himself down though. “You say let’s do lunch, but I say let’s do sex” is one of the great slow jam lyrics of our time.

If we’re going to examine Richie’s music, we should probably take a look at what Nick Knowles has to offer too. You can hear a bit of his album’s title track, ‘Every Kind Of People’, in this trailer.

I think it’s possibly supposed to sound like he’s channelling Chris Rea, although it does get dangerously close to David Brent’s ‘Spaceman Came Down’.

A deeper delve into Knowles’ YouTube channel also finds some more nuggets of information about his ascendance into the music industry. It turns out that the person who ‘connected him up with Universal’ is a family friend who works in A&R at the label, which is quite handy.

What’s more perplexing is the claim that the idea for him to make an album came after he jammed on a rooftop with Biffy Clyro. That’s not something I’ve heard Biffy Clyro bragging about in interviews, but surely a formal collaboration is now on the cards. Do they appear on ‘Every Kind Of People’? Well, no. But you don’t want to rush in too quick on your debut. That’s definitely something for a second album. He’ll probably have a little guest spot on their next record first.

In a recent interview with Heart, Knowles explained further: “When I’m away filming with the BBC, lots of the crew play guitars and we sing when we are in hotel rooms. I even found myself on the rooftop of a Soho hotel with Biffy Clyro after the NME Awards and ended up playing songs until five o’clock in the morning”.

In the same interview, he also repeats the line he wheels out in every interview, about music having been a part of his life for a long time, but always something he kept as a hobby until now, adding ominously: “I’ve turned up at gigs without anybody knowing and plugged in my guitar”.

I presume he means he’s played a few open mics, but it really does sound like he just gets on stage while other bands are performing and lets rip. Perhaps that’s how he came to ‘jam’ with Biffy Clyro.

Anyway, we were talking about Shane Richie, before we got onto all the Nick Knowles name-dropping. Does Shane have a top showbiz anecdote we could go out on? Sure.

“Ed Sheeran, who was living with my son, Jake, said that of all the accolades he’s got – the Grammys, the BRITs – the one thing that meant the most to him was his Nando’s card”, he says, bringing out the big guns. Does he have a story about hanging out with Ed Sheeran in Nando’s? Well, not quite. He does have one about the one and only time he used his own black card though.

“I was filming in Belfast with Kevin Bishop and John Sessions”, he teases. “I said: ‘I think we can get a freebie at Nando’s’. John got such a giggle out of not paying for a Nando’s. He said: ‘I can’t believe it, Richie: we’re having as much chicken as we want and we’re not paying for it!'”

What a time to be alive. Richie’s new album, ‘A Country Soul’, which features no Johnny Cash covers (but does feature a version of Nik Kershaw’s ‘I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me’), is out on 10 Nov.