Can you tell us about the process of writing and recording your debut EP? 

Writing and recording Vacant Pavements’ debut EP “The Cost of Complacency” with my bandmate Paddy McDermott was 100% one of the best experiences I’ve had during my time at Riverside. We worked with Ronan McStay from the HND sound production course, who was super patient and supportive, always willing to let us re-record and be picky until we were happy. He gave us valuable suggestions too, which made the whole process fun and full of good vibes. For the writing, Paddy took the lead, creating all the riffs and lyrics you hear in the project, but I’ve definitely become more involved in the writing process with our new material post-EP. Paddy and I both have a shared love with post-punk bands like Bauhaus and Joy Division which made starting this project easy and natural. The EP is inspired by the Chernobyl disaster, and you can listen to it on most major streaming services (recommended with headphones and NOT on shuffle!). 

Shannon with bandmate Paddy McDermott: Vacant Pavements

Can you tell us a bit about your own musical influences?

In terms of Vacant Pavements, as I mentioned Paddy and I definitely bonded over artists like Bauhaus, Molchat Doma, and other bands in that scene. We both had the same vision for the band which made working together a dream. Since Vacant Pavements began I’ve been getting into more synthwave artists like Crystal Castles and Boy Harsher which has influenced the band massively, and helped with my knowledge on different synths and drum machines. As I’m also a drummer in multiple projects, sometimes I struggle with creativity and ideas for drums. In that sense, I always find myself inspired by the drum arrangements in bands like Sonic Youth, Black Country New Road, and Radiohead.

Why did you want to study at Riverside Music College? 

Coming from East Kilbride, there was always a pretty decent music scene with three different high schools that were involved in musical projects like battle of the bands and lots of different showcases, which is where I got my first experiences performing. I’ve always known I wanted to study music as it was the only thing during school that never felt boring or like a chore to me. After leaving in fifth year, Riverside seemed like the perfect option due to the close-knit community and the fact that the lecturers are professional musicians who genuinely want to help and give advice. It felt like a place where I could really grow and learn from people who are passionate about what they do. 

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How has the Music Performance course helped you – which skills/ knowledge/classes have been the most useful for you?

The music performance course at Riverside has been life-changing for me. I’ve met so many people who I can’t imagine my life without – both as friends and fellow musicians. I’ve gained knowledge on things I had no idea about before, played countless live shows, and got valuable studio experience with a variety of different bands and artists. I’ve also been offered hands-on experience working at the college, covering drum lessons and being offered opportunities and making connections like no other college. Working on different instruments throughout my time at Riverside has also massively improved my musicianship. The classes at the college have taught me about things like EPKs and given me so much professional experience. Every time I come in, I learn something new, not just from the lecturers but from the people around me every day. It’s a fantastic place with an awesome community of like-minded people and my confidence as a musician has grown so much during my time here. I wouldn’t be where I am now as a musician without
Riverside.

You’ve been acting as a mentor to the RMC Academy Band Experience class, how have you found the experience, what has been your biggest take away while working with the students? 

The whole experience so far has been incredible. It’s really rewarding getting to pass on all of the knowledge I’ve gained over the past two years at Riverside, especially to younger people who are thinking of coming on the course. Getting to see all of the students improve week by week is great, and seeing them respond so well to aspects of music like writing together is so refreshing to see. Of course there’s bumps along the road but getting to work with my classmates Sarah Forrest and Louis Brownisky has made the whole thing a lot easier as all of our projects are very different genres, and we have a lot of different things to offer the young people in the Band Experience class. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with them and helping them really enjoy playing music and working with other musicians.  

What’s next in store for yourself and Vacant Pavements? 

With Vacant Pavements, we’ve just came off the back of an incredible EP launch gig at Dannsa. It was a great night, with support from “When Bored” who also consist of members from Riverside. We’re not stopping though, Paddy and I are definitely writing some new material and taking a different direction with our next project with help from Darren Mulligan who has been a massive asset to us on guitar in the past couple of months. In terms of shows – we will be playing at King Tuts for the second time on August 4th as part of their summer nights festival. Other than that, we’re taking the summer to define our new sound and work on creating new music. For my other projects, I’ve been working closely with Sarah Forrest on drums for her solo project. She recently headlined a busy McChuills show, and she’s been working on some really cool new music which I can’t wait for everyone to hear. She’s constantly testing my ability on drums and is definitely one of the most talented people I’ve met. Her new single is out on the 23rd of June! Additionally, you can also see me working with a variety of different artists at Riverside including Rachel Roberts, Katie McKenna (Snails from Jupiter), Gemma Wallace (Carmen Creature), Abby Allan, and more! They’re all super cool projects that you should check out. 

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