MY INSPIRATION: THE ARTISANS | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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On Monday 12th August (known as The Glorious 12th), The Artisans are releasing ‘A Distant Call’, a protest charity track that is creating quite a media stir thanks to the support of wildlife campaigners Chris Packham and Mark Avery and the coverage received in a national newspaper.  All proceeds from the track will go to Wild Justice, founded by Mark, Chris and Ruth Tingay, to help them continue to fight for legal justice for our wildlife

The protest charity track highlights why the date is far from glorious. The Glorious 12th marks the start of the grouse shooting season, a Victorian ‘sport’ still played on heather moorland uplands in the UK.  It costs not just those wealthy enough to ‘play’ but also the taxpayer for the lives of half a million red grouse and other wildlife to be taken each year – whilst the environment is also badly degraded. 

The Artisans’ bass player Karen discusses the inspiration behind their new single below.

After reading environmental campaigner Mark Avery’s book titled ‘Inglorious’, which is all about driven grouse shooting, I (Karen the bass player) had the idea to write the track.  I emailed Kevin (the singer and rhythm guitarist) a very quick, rough recording so he had an idea of the vocal melody, lyrics and chords I had in mind and then we developed the idea into an Artisans song from there with Nick Thompson (lead guitars and trumpet) and Glenn Johnson (drums). 

As an organic cheesemaker in the North York Moors, Kevin is used to seeing first-hand the impact of driven grouse shooting on the moors and made some great additions to the lyrics including my favourite line in the song “the bog, for peat’s sake harder than before, the bog, for meat’s sake grazed til it’s no more.”   

We had added trumpet to a few of the tracks on the album and loved the extra dimension it gave to our songs and sound.  It seemed obvious for Nick to add it to this track, especially as trumpets are often associated with military / protest songs and a call to action.   

We went to Blank Studios in Newcastle at the end of April, to record this track and two others with Sam Grant.  Of the three tracks, this was the one to us that stood out the least as a single but the one we really wanted to release to share the message behind it.

It was Kevin’s idea to release the song on the ‘Glorious 12th’ and with a simple video on YouTube which would, through illustration, put the attention on the lyrics.  Kevin contacted Brighton based illustrator Mia Underwood, who has an impressive portfolio and recently worked with The Wildlife Trusts on their Wilder Future campaign, with the small amount of hope that she would be involved despite the fact we had no budget.  We were really delighted and surprised that Mia agreed to work with us and kindly donated us her time and talent to create the beautiful illustrations that support the track. Her only ask was for Kevin to send some of his cheese in return, which he did on the hottest day of the year!

As Mark Avery had been the inspiration behind the track, we contacted him with the song to let him know of our plans for the release.  We were so pleased that he replied so enthusiastically stating that he loved the track, would help with its promotion and was also going to share it with Chris Packham.  They both have been a massive support promoting the track on their social media and as a result we’ve picked up a whole new following of wildlife lovers – plus a few rather disgruntled shooters.

For more info about driven grouse shooting, Karen who is a trustee for Northumberland Wildlife Trust has also written a blog expressing her own views further on the subject, which you can read on the Trust’s website. 


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