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From envying emos to ‘shouting at racists’, Dundee musician Nick Shane is no regular dad

Nick Shane is gearing up to release a new solo album and launch a UK tour this spring, starting with a hometown show at anticipated new venue Roots.

Nick Shane wears many colours -  including. songwriter, activist and father. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson.
Nick Shane wears many colours - including. songwriter, activist and father. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson.

Nick Shane isn’t a regular dad. He’s a cool dad.

Not that his 13-year-old daughter Olivia would admit it.

“I’d imagine it’s embarrassing for her,” laughs the Dundee born-and-bred musician, as he talks about his songwriting.

“Especially if you’re a girl. If my dad was a singer, I might think it was quite cool, but she’s into girly stuff and TikTok, American pretty boy bands. I can’t see her listening to my tunes.

“Although she did recently get into the Stone Roses, and that was a seriously proud moment for me,” he grins. “And she’s started wearing leather jackets and black make-up.

“Maybe she’ll be an emo! That would be cool.”

Nick Shane (right) and his daughter Olivia when she was younger.
Nick Shane and his daughter Olivia are best buds.

Nick’s admiration for the emo subculture runs deep. He reveals it was his envious eyeing of black-clad emos around him at school who inspired him to write his first ever song – one which will finally be released this year.

“It’s a song called Come With Me and it was about emos, when emos first started – which tells you how old I am!” laughs the 33-year-old.

“I didn’t really get involved in the fashion side of (emo culture) but I always thought it was quite cool, pretty and dark and mysterious. But it was all to do with self-harm and I never really understood that.

“So bits of the tune are about that element of it and other bits are just about looking good. Even now, emos still look amazing!”

High school talent show trauma didn’t stop Nick Shane

Sporting his signature swoopy fringe (there’s that emo influence) and a graphic Love Music Hate Racism T-shirt, Nick is every bit the indie kid in real life that his music promises.

A well-kent face around the Dundee music scene, he was bitten by the performing bug at 12 years old, when he took to the stage for St John’s RC High School’s annual talent show – with disastrous consequences.

Nick Shane plays in an HMV store while wearing a T-shirt which says: 'Trans rights are human rights'.
Nick Shane holds the record for the most HMV stores played by any artist ‘in the universe’. Image: Sarah Smart.

“I did Hotel California by the Eagles and my guitar cut out – just completely stopped working,” he recalls, shaking his head.

“It absolutely destroyed me for ages. I’m surprised I didn’t just completely give up to be honest, it was dead embarrassing. But then I kind of just forgot about it and horsed on!”

Since then, the dad-of-one has built up an impressive CV of several solo records and releases with mod pop outfit the 121s.

These have included a song with former Texas guitarist Ally McErlaine, a music video starring ’90s pop culture icon Gail Porter for his solo single Shine Over Me, and the record for “most HMV stores played by any artist in the universe”.

Gail Porter collab came out of Instagram exchange

“Gail was lovely,” smiles Nick. “She started following me on Instagram randomly one day, and I thought it was cool, so I sent her a message.

“Then after a few weeks of chatting back and forth, I asked if she wanted to be in a video and she was like: ‘Aye, I’m up for that’. So I met her in the street and we just did it.

“She’s really down to earth.”

Nick Shane, wearing a tan Afghan-style coat, with TV personality Gail Porter.
Nick Shane made a music video with Gail Porter for his song Shine Over Me. Image: Nick Shane/DC Thomson.

With a message about women’s rights at the centre of the song, 200% of the profits from Shine Over Me go to WRASAC, an organisation Nick is keen to champion as a keen feminist and activist.

Indeed, outside of music, has been using his stages and social media platforms to advocate for women’s rights, animal rights, refugee rights and the LGBTQ+ community for the last eight years.

“After the Orlando shooting in America in 2016, that lit a spark for a lot of people, myself included,” he explains.

Nick Shane and fellow marchers wave rainbow fans and a large Pride flag at Dundee's first ever Pride march.
Nick Shane (second from right) at the first ever Dundee Pride celebration. Image: Gareth Jennings/DC Thomson.

“I think as musicians and songwriters, we have a duty to use what little platform we have to highlight things, otherwise nobody will know about it. Because, no offense -” he shoots a mischievous look across the table, “but you can’t really leave it down to the media.”

‘Shouting at racists’ is ‘invigorating’ for songwriter

As well as using his songwriting and online presence to fight for social justice, Nick spends his Sundays “shouting at racists” at rallies held outside a hotel in Erskine which houses refugees.

“It’s quite fun,” he chuckles. “A far right group called Patriotic Alternative go there to make threats against the hotel and tell the refugees they’re not welcome here. And we show up in our numbers and tell them that they are actually welcome here.

“It’s invigorating!”

And though disappointed that he can’t spend his weekend mornings sabotaging fox hunts anymore – “they’re banned in Scotland now because people are sick of their nonsense, so I don’t need to do it here now” – he’s turned his disruptive attention to the war in Palestine.

Musician Nick Shane wearing a T-shirt sporting the Palestinian flag, with another Palestinian flag draped over his window in the background to show support for those affected by the war.
Musician and keen activist Nick Shane at his home in Dundee, 2024. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson.

A regular fixture at city square rallies, Nick is gearing up to release a charity cover of The Kids Are Alright in conjunction with the Socialist Workers Party and Love Music Hate Racism, with all royalties going to Medical Aid Palestine.

“Freedom for Palestine should mean freedom from genocidal occupation, and a from a sexist and homophobic dictatorship,” says Nick matter-of-factly.

And he’s looking forward to kicking off a UK tour this spring at the opening of new grassroots music venue Roots, which is replacing Conroy’s Basement in Dundee’s city centre.

Dundee music scene ‘is very cliquey’

He thinks it’s important to support local original music, often giving support slots to up and coming local acts, as “bands from Dundee have to try a little bit harder to do well”.

“Dundee is very cliquey, and compared to Glasgow or Aberdeen, it seems bands have to do something extra amazing or extra mental to be noticed,” he observes.

“It’s almost like the X-Factor generation where we’d rather read about them in the newspapers than actually listen to their music.

“And cover bands reign supreme in Dundee. People aren’t as willing to take a chance on something they might not like, because ticket and pint prices are so high now.”

Still, he’s managed to build up a loyal fan base, and he’s looking forward to meeting both old and new faces when he hits the road this summer.

“There’s a couple from Aberdeen who have been coming to my gigs for years and now their child comes to my gigs,” he says.

“To me, that’s quite cool.”

Keep up with Nick Shane’s upcoming music and shows on Facebook or Instagram.