Shotty Horroh releases his debut album Salt of The Earth, on October 12. On Salt of the Earth, Shotty Horroh, born Adam Rooney, arrives like the fire-breathing love child of Liam Gallagher, Alex Turner and Sid Vicious: spilling the true blood of Manchester’s council estates, snarling at a system built to hold him down atop crunchy, melodic riffs; it’s the sound of a nation — indeed, a world — in crisis, told by its prodigal son. Mark Millar catches up with Shotty Horroh to talk about what it was like growing up in a Manchester council estate his musical influences and the recording of Salt of The Earth.
I’m really loving your second single Dirty Old Town which is an ode to Manchester. What was it like growing up in Manchester then?
Growing up in Manchester was fun, dangerous and super unique especially in the late eighties, early nineties there was so much fantastic music coming from and coming through the city. There were loads of cool people, and the football was great – it was just a fun place to be. Obviously, we had poverty like no other, but the family vibe in the council estates in Manchester has always been massive so growing up there I was surrounded by love and danger I guess.
You said the music scene when you were growing up in Manchester was amazing. What were you listening to?
I was listening to Joy Division, New Order, The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and The Smiths. It was anything that my uncle was listening to. I have a bigger brother, and he would learn everything from my uncle and teach it to me. I loved anyone who had a guitar and a Manc accent – Oasis were the big band for us. I feel like modern music is missing certain elements that those bands brought and its about time for it to come back I feel.
Are you trying to bring those elements back through your music?
Yes, definitely one hundred per cent. Music, in my opinion, has gone a bit two dimensional lately – you kind of know what the formula is going to be and that’s not for every artist. Its the industry standard that people use specific programs and I want to brighten up the spectrum again and let people know that I’m here to try and make good sounds and soundtracks to peoples lives rather than just trying to stay with a fad. Mancunian rock n roll and Northern British rock n roll is such a pivotal part of music history, and it’s super cool, so I think its a shame for it to die out. The essence and the energy of Mancunian rock n rollers such as Liam Gallagher and Ian Brown are still here – the whole culture is here now, and I feel like I am going to give it the correct representation.
You are very well known for your battle raps. Why did you decide to leave that behind to do what you are doing now?
Battle rap was always a medium like a vessel to get exposure for my music, granted I wasn’t working on too much music at the time but when I started battling there was no real hip-hop scene in the UK and I didn’t have any friends in the industry so my only real way of exposure was to battle and I just believed I could do it and then I felt like my time there had run its course. It wasn’t going to be beneficial to what I wanted to do anymore, but I had a great time doing it – the fans are great, and I broke a lot of records in the battle rap game. I felt as I got older that the negativity didn’t appeal to me. Maybe as I evolved and it evolved we just drifted apart. It’s not something I was waking up passionate about the way I am about my music now.
How did you get into battle rap?
I was always a rap fan. The first music I was introduced to was Prince – it was literally down to hearing profanity in music. Me and my brother found that hearing swearing on a record was amazing. After hearing that my brother would come along and say to me “Hey I’ve found another song with swearing in it you have to listen to this.” (Laughs) And the majority of those songs were hip-hop. I think that’s when rock n roll became a little less cool to me. After that, all I was listening to was Tupac, Eminem and Bone Thugs N Harmony – they were a significant reason why I started rapping. I was just blown away by them and wanted to do that kind of music and try and become the greatest rapper.
You are releasing a new album called Salt of The Earth in October. Did you go into the recording with any preconceived ideas about how it should sound and the kind of songs you wanted to write about?
Not really I just knew it was time for me to be ‘Adam Rooney’ and talk about my life as mundane or whatever it would seem to me I felt it was time, to be honest. I think a lot of people myself included growing up in the hip-hop game you are trying to keep up with the Joneses and you lose yourself in the maze a little bit. I made a lot of great music leading up to this point but now was time to wear my heart on my sleeve and tell stories and try and get across me as a person a friend and a son. I feel like it was so natural and it happened organically with the instrumentation. I was hanging around with the lads that played the guitars I didn’t even know that I could sing anything so there was no way of having a preconceived notion of what we wanted the album to be because we didn’t intend to do a record we just sat down and wrote excellent songs one after another. Then all of a sudden all the labels were hearing about it and got involved so fast but I’m so glad about the way it came out because once we realised what we had I was able to orchestrate it and sculpt it into a really good representation of what a council estate was like in the period that I had grown up there.
Was it an enjoyable experience recording Salt of The Earth?
It was super enjoyable we just did it in the old school way. We got a really big almost abandoned house in a place called Forest Hill in Toronto, Canada. We moved everyone in there, rented loads of equipment, got loads of food and other stuff (laughs) and lived with each other for three weeks. We already had all the scratch demos recorded in a basement which is what got the interest from the label. We thought they sounded awful, but everybody thought they sounded amazing and wanted us to put them out the way they were. The whole experience being with a band and being in this one house together with every floor having someone creative on it was like a machine – a conveyer belt of rock n roll. It was just dope and probably one of my favourite recording experiences ever.
What was your songwriting process in the house?
My bassist is called Jules Lynch, and he is like my writing partner so generally we would start off with me and him sat in his basement just riffing and singing with his guitar. A lot of the stuff at the beginning was trying to iron the Americanisms out of them. We would be going a certain way with a riff and then all of a sudden it would sound like AC/DC or what not and id be like “Yo! fall back on the Americana a minute.” (Laughs) It was cool because a lot of education had to go into it with the boys and they got to learn about the whole history of Manchester and the music. They really became students of the sound and every time it got better. We would record scratch demos in the basement and then go to this big house and do it all there. It was so funny because the engineer that I flew out was English and nobody understood him. He had a thick Mancunian accent, and none of the Canadians knew what he was on about so I was playing translator. It was cool because I’m mischievous and I want to play around as well I would be in the background and be playing football all day, and ill walk in the booth do my thing and walk out and leave them to this mess, but it just felt like a big giant school trip with loads of naughty kids, and something amazing came out at the end – it was so fun.
Do you think that came out in on the album?
Oh yes, definitely you can hear the fun in it. I think in the writing process as well you can almost hear an adolescence. We are young guys trying to form something. We were just messing about, and we all felt super young just like the way we all felt when we first got into the industry – I think it comes across on the album.
What would you like people to take away from listening to Salt of The Earth?
I would like people to just feel that music in its whole big crazy beautiful broad spectrum is still fully open and there is still so many possibilities and stuff to do with sounds and we don’t have to be putting out one sound. I want people to know that there are beautiful stories everywhere in every walk of life and be immersed in a council estate for a minute and what we are going through and what its like to be surrounded by all this love and danger.
You are now living in Toronto. What inspired you to leave Manchester to go there?
I don’t think I ever decided to leave Manchester I just found myself in Toronto for an extended period, and then everyone told me that I lived in Toronto (laughs) I never really made the official move I don’t think. I had a girl there, so that contributes to a lot of stuff but it didn’t work out we broke up quite recently, so I’m back in Manchester, but I still go back to Toronto. I’m a bit of a nomad at the minute I don’t have a home wherever we are going on the road is where I live but I could never leave Manchester – never! I am so Manchester I was just like an alien in Toronto I was like a fish out of water but I love the place. Toronto is a beautiful place with a fantastic music scene and people, and if weren’t for that city I wouldn’t have got the opportunity.
Will you be taking the album on the road and touring the UK?
We will be touring the UK, and all over – anywhere they will have us. I feel like everyone needs to hear this album and get with the journey of what is about to happen.
You will also be co-starring in the BBC film, “VS.,” an urban rite of passage drama set in the hostile and exciting UK rap battle scene. How did you get involved in the movie?
One of the first directors I ever worked with in music was a man called Ed Lilly he is a fantastic director who has an excellent eye for composition on screen and me, and Ed always got on. Earlier on in my career, I paid him to do my videos, and he went his way and did his films, and I went my way with the music. We didn’t see each other for a while and just over a year ago he contacted me and said: “I’ve been writing this writing battle rap movie for a while and you know you are the only guy that can play the role that I want.” I had never acted or done anything like that, and he sent me the script over. I was intrigued to see if I could act and thought it was an excellent opportunity to give it a go – I like to do things out of my comfort zone. Two or three weeks before the actual shoot we went down and done some team building, and I got a couple of acting lessons and went to meet the cast and crew. Everyone was so nice, and they helped me so much. By the third day, I felt I had been there forever and was part of the furniture – I loved it.
When can we see the film?
It comes out in October. I play the main bad guy – which my mother won’t be happy with but never mind (laughs) it’s a very cool story I really like it.
Do you have a record that you always return to?
Id say there’s two which are – Definitely Maybe and Whats the Story (Morning Glory?) by Oasis. The hairs still go up on the back of my neck when I hear anything by Oasis even interviews. The fact that they came from where I’m from and what they did and their sound are so perfect it gives me goosebumps. There is an instant connection with Oasis and me when I play any of their music. There’s not a song that I would skip or say was better than another song. Yeah Definitely Maybe and Whats the Story (Morning Glory?) without a doubt they are like breakfast I need them first thing in the morning.
I love those albums myself, and the great thing about Oasis was they made great albums but they also released singles with great B-sides too.
That’s what I want to bring back man. I want people to feel like I’m in the wrong era. I want people to think “This is how I used to enjoy consuming my music and these are the little tiny nuances that made me fall in love with music”. I want to bring all that back, and I think I’ve already got the ball rolling with it. I hope I inspire other bands and in ten years time, we have a brand new Manchester scene like when we had Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses, Joy Division, New Order, and Oasis – I want that again I want us to take our spot.
What have you been listening to recently that you could recommend?
I like the Blinders and Cabbage they are great bands, but generally, I love the old stuff.
What’s next for Shotty Horroh in 2018?
For 2018 it’s the next single and video, and then we hit the road in anticipation for the album to drop we want to apply pressure we want to inundate people with good music and visuals and really try and put Salt of the Earth out there and get it the recognition it deserves. I think that Salt of the Earth is one of the best rock n roll albums in twenty years if not the best.
SHOTTY HORROH DEBUT ALBUM ‘SALT OF THE EARTH’ RELEASED OCTOBER 12TH 2018
Salt of The Earth tracklist:
2. Frank & Stein
4. Dirty Old Town
8. Absence Of Heart
9. Stay For The Ride
10. Wish You Well