THE LAUNCH – North Shields alt/folk rock band HECTOR GANNET reveal the video for their new single ‘The Launch’ & talk about their debut album.


Songwriter Aaron Duff was born in North Shields, and like many in the Tyneside region hails from a family steeped in the industries of fishing and shipbuilding….

The Launch was influenced by viewing old footage of shipbuilding on the Tyne. So many Tynesiders are connected to this industry in some way and such was its reach among the community the launching of ships were very big occasions.

Archive footage from the Tyne shipbuilding industry is weaved into the video…Yeah I visualized the build, and the structure of the tune kind of mirrors that. Starting from the foundations it builds up to the final push as the song reaches a crescendo when a ship is finally launched. I really wanted the piece to reflect the anticipation and ultimate sense of pride and elation when the hard work is completed.

Even in these uncertain times the band, who have been together since 2017, are steaming ahead with their plans to release their debut album, Big Harcar, in October. The record was produced and mixed by Paul Gregory and engineered by Alex Blamire, the son of Rob Blamire and Pauline Murray, (Pauline is a member of North East punks Penetration)….

The whole album was recorded in Polestar Studios in Byker, Newcastle, run by Rob and Pauline. Once we’d done the first couple of tunes it was a no brainer to go back and do the rest of the album there – we all got on absolutely great.

Polestar has a great edge and atmosphere and a brilliant Trident 75 mixing console that gives a wonderfully unique sound. I think with Paul and Alex working on the record they allowed us to create something special which I don’t think we would have got anywhere else.

Along with the album released on CD there is also a vinyl version, was that important to the band ? Yeah, we wanted to have vinyl as it’s not just trendy but it looks and feels much better to have a full package, by adding the artwork and sleeve notes said guitarist Martin Wann, and Aaron added they were lucky to get two great artists to work with….Dale Maloney did the front cover, he runs the brilliant Old School Gallery in Alnmouth up the Northumberland coast, Dale used to be in Lo-Fi Allstars.

The internal gatefold has been done by Woody, the drummer from British Sea Power. The work they’ve produced is absolutely fantastic and we’re so proud to have them work with us. Can’t wait for people to see the artwork, it’s great; very colourful and captures the essence of the album perfectly.

Plus we wanted to give the people who’ve supported us a chance to be involved so we have done a special short run of heavyweight 180gm Gannet White vinyl, and people who have ordered will have their name on the sleeve notes. After the special run it’s black vinyl only, but still 180gm heavyweight.

The band have several festival appearances already confirmed for 2020/21, alongside further support slots with Lanterns on The Lake and Sam Fender (dates below).

Are the band looking to include all the album tracks in any future live gigs ?

We intend to play all of the album whenever possible said Aaron. It’s not over long at nine tracks, not including the two bonus tracks, and it’s all do able in the set …that is if we ever get to play live again!

With all this lockdown stuff it’s pretty crazy just now, for everyone not just us. The sound engineers and promoters are all feeling it. Covid is affecting the music industry massively, and that will be permanently, unless something is done to support everyone involved.

The album is available to pre-order now from:

 Watch The Launch here:

06.09.20 –Bobiks, Newcastle (solo headline show).
18.10.20 -Hit The North 2020, Newcastle.
26.03.21 -Newcastle (w/ Lanterns On The Lake)
29.05.21 -Northern Kin Festival, Stanhope.
30.05.21 -This Is Tomorrow, Newcastle.
02.07.21 -Corbridge Festival.

Previous interview with Hector Gannett:

Interview by Gary Alikivi  August 2020.

ALL HANDS ON DECK – with North Tyneside musician Aaron Duff from Alt-folk rock band HECTOR GANNET

After recently signing a deal with Wipe Out music publishing and supporting fellow North Shields musician Sam Fender, Aaron and fellow band members, Jack Coe (drums), Joe Coady (bass) and Martin Wann (guitar/korg) need all hands on deck as they prepare to release their first single ‘All Hail, All Glory’.

The track sounds not quite War on Drugs but easily nestles alongside The Maccabees, it has a release date of November 15th, a huge significance to songwriter Aaron Duff…..

It marks the 51st anniversary of the sinking of the Hector Gannet. It was the name of a stern trawler that my Grandad sailed on. The boat was working as a support vessel for gas and oil rigs off the Great Yarmouth coast.

In November 1968 there was a blowout on the Hewitt A rig and while attempting to rescue workers from the drilling platform, the bad weather caused the Hector Gannet to capsize, tragically resulting in the loss of three crew members.

Thankfully my Grandad survived the disaster and is still alive to tell the tale. For me, the name means a lot, and sort of symbolises my heritage in a way.

23 year old Aaron also writes and performs solo. In 2017 he wrote an original music score to be performed alongside archive film footage of North East England.

Ironically the film contained footage of his grandfather and other family members working at sea…. Like most people from the North East, I’m very proud of the place and the people that I come from.

When did you first start playing guitar and who were your influences ?

I can’t ever remember not being interested in music. There was a guitar in the house that I’d pick up from time to time, but it wasn’t until I was about ten that I started to actually learn the instrument.

I’ll listen to anything that’s played with conviction. The Clash were a massive band for me growing up. Their sentiment is something I completely latched onto. Their attitude and their ideology, I’ll stick by it for life.

Today people have described my music as Alt Rock/Folk. There’s a lot of folk influence in there, the likes of Lindisfarne/Alan Hull are huge local heroes for me, and I’m influenced by artists like Dylan, CSN&Y, The Band etc.

But my heavier influences lie with bands like The Pixies, without doubt one of my favourites. There are current artists that I find inspiring too, Courtney Barnett has to be my favourite at the moment. Just brilliant song writing. Genius lyrics, really catchy.

Does your song writing happen quickly or take time for the lyrics and music to come together ?

Most of the time it starts with a subject but it has to be real to me. I suppose it goes back to that ‘Clash’ mentality. I have to write about things that really mean something to me, that I’m passionate about, enough to want to share with the world. Hopefully that way they’ll mean something to other people too.

Sometimes it can happen straight away, sometimes it can take an age. I’ll sit for hours messing about on guitar and sometimes a tune will come out of it, then I’ll come up with some lyrics to fit in around it and the melody evolves around them.

What’s your thoughts on crowdfunding ?

Some highly regarded artists use it, not just little-known ones like us. It has its place, and a lot of artists have used it successfully. There’s always the worry that it won’t work, or people won’t invest, but that’s the same with releasing your music anyway, people will invest time and money listening, or they won’t.

New single ‘All Hail, All Glory’ is released on November 15th 2019.

The band are due to support Sam Fender again in December 2019. For further information check the social media contacts:

Or the official website:

Interview by Gary Alikivi   October 2019.

ONLY A NORTHERN SONG in conversation with Tyneside songwriter John Clavering

What projects are you working on ?

I’m in the studio writing and arranging with musician Cortney Dixon. Cortney is like a creative soul mate we have a lot in common the way we work. She is also working with a writer called Jim Lowe – Grammy award winning producer whose worked loads with bands like Stereophonics and the Charlatans.

So the songwriting is really coming on and she plans on releasing something this year. I also play keys for her live.


On stage with John and Cortney Dixon.

It’s really interesting stuff as Cortney is not interested in pop or the girly image. She’s interested in making an album with two sides, the cover, the whole product you know. Really old school. I’m enjoying that stuff.

She has management who benefit her with contacts and wisdom as they’ve been around a long time.

A couple of year ago when I was engineer at The Customs Space Studio in South Shields I was working with Martin Francis Trollope who is engineer there now, Cortney and Jade Thirlwell who went on to be in Little Mix. Obviously, Jade went through the whole TV route while Cortney went opposite to that but they are both talented and great singers.

It’ll be interesting to see where Jade goes after Little Mix and the crazy pop world that she is in. Cortney has been offered that route, she met the Cowells and all of them you know but she didn’t want that. I’m proud that she’s took her own path. Quite a punk ethic really.

What is your background in music ?

I was in a few bands in the ’80s and ’90s. One was 3 Kicks a Newcastle based funk/pop sort of band then The Ghosts of Soul. For that band we done our songwriting, gig’s and video all funded by playing the workingmen’s clubs.

We would have a different name doing the covers, make some money then put it all back in and do some recording. I remember how hungry we were. We would of done anything to make enough money.

We were at college when Ghosts of Soul were about so we had a grant but that wasn’t enough. We could use the studio gear at college which was great but to be a travelling, touring musician can be expensive.

Were you making a living as a full time musician…..

I don’t think you can make a career out of it you’ve got to be lucky to play more than a couple of gigs a week. But if you get a couple of corporate gigs, you can get paid £600 for a night’s work.

In my experience some people aren’t interested in creative stuff when they do covers. Unfortunately people don’t see you as a real musician in the industry.

How do you think live music is seen now ?

I worried a few years ago that it was going to be everybody singing along to a MacBook (laughs). But it hasn’t gone that way, it’s gone back to bands. There has been a huge resurgence in the sales of classic guitars, Fender, Gibson and old analogue keyboards.

As a keyboard player and music technologist that really interests me. But still can’t afford the buggers (laughs). As a ’80s/90s musician it feels good that it’s going back to that as it worked really well. It’s fascinating.


John 2nd from left and Cortney (in blue) with the live band.

There might not be the financial returns from music but it’s still valuable….

Yes, like you with film and video you do it because you want to do it. It’s a need. You get an idea in your head, you create it and put it out there. The only way you can justify your existence is by people saying that’s good and that’s a kind of ego rubbing there.

But I find it sad that in this commercial world so few people can make their way by just being an artist. A lot of artists I know have another job.

People don’t pay for stuff now with Spotify, and on You Tube there is visual tours of art galleries now. So they don’t have money for new art.

There are original bands out there who use the internet as their only outlet. A lot of niche stuff getting heard on Soundcloud and Spotify. They’re not playing live so not making any money at it.

But there is nothing like standing in the front row of a gig. You will never get that feeling from watching You Tube on your phone. I love going back and watching the ’70s/80s stuff that I missed like Led Zep.

That’s all great but seeing stuff live like Sam Fender is amazing. Sam is a good friend of mine from North Shields. He is a singer/songwriter. He has a really good band, it’s exciting, he’s touring again this year.

Some of his songs have a strong meaning and tackle things like suicide. He get’s it across well. Really visceral with hundreds of students at the gig jumping around. Me standing there like an old fart but it’s really great.

On stage it’s all live. There is no tech running. Just guitar, bass, drums, singing.

Sam has built a following with drip feeding a few original songs on-line, and with good management he has been guaranteed live gigs, TV stuff. He was on the Jools Holland show a few months back.

He is very media friendly, and I think you will see a lot of him. It’s very interesting watching his career develop.


What does music mean to you ?

Music is a huge part of my life. It’s kept the wolf from the door in a financial sense but creatively it’s my steam valve. I feel really good when I write a song. It’s a soul thing, part of my make up is to be making music.

Interview by Gary Alikivi   January 2019.