Interview with Francis MacDonald Shoeshine Records

Shoeshine records where established 2 years ago and the brainchild of Francis MacDonald. Who for aims plays with various other groups of vagabonds namely BMX Bandits, Speedboat, Radio Sweethearts, and Cheeky Monkey & Speeder. This venture was born out of, as Francis said “Freetime”, he had a fair bit of it on his hands as the Bandits weren’t touring etc. So far to the labels credit there have been releases of 10 7″ singles and 2 albums. Which have achieved a fair amount of success and got both good reviews and radio airplay.

They vary tremendously in style from country to pop. All the records which are currently available can be purchased via Shoeshine Website or by mail order although some of the better record shops do have a few of them dotted around. The artists who have been evolved on the tracks read like a who’s who of the Scottish music with the likes of Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) & Duglas T Stewart. (BMX Bandits).

This label is independent in the full sense not just a subsidiary of some major. So distribution has not been easy as most record stores are tied to the major labels. The album was available in HMV, but it was put under various so not exactly accessible. Well that’s the story so far………..

Interview with Francis about his Record Company for Scotland Calling! (Scottish Music Network)

James: – As you told us you have a lot of spare time with not doing much touring and things, so what made you decide on starting up your own record label, and not doing promoting or booking work for groups?

Francis: – I wouldn’t really know where to begin with promoting/booking and I have heard horror stories of people putting on shows which were ‘guaranteed’ to make some money and then have stiffed. Shoeshine allows me to bring out projects that either I am involved in or projects by other people which I think should be heard. In some ways it is a much more extreme version of making up a compilation tape of music for someone that you think they ought to hear.

James: – How long is the process of making a record, from the first contact with a group to the release of it?

Francis: – It depends – largely on cash-flow. Once a group has a finished material recorded and mixed and artwork approved you can have finished product in 2-3 weeks. But you might want to hold back on releasing while you try and start promoting to radio/press.

James: – How is your label doing at the moment?

Francis: – Hmm. Cash-flow is very tight. There are a couple of albums that I want to bring out but I have to wait for some things to fall into place. So far I have released ten 7″ singles and two albums and I am very proud of all the music.

James: – Have you any new releases coming out on the Shoeshine Label in the near future?

Francis: – The next release will be Radio SweetheartsNew Memories…Revisited” (SHOECD 003). This is the debut album by the band which came out originally in the USA. The Shoeshine version has 6 bonus tracks plus liner notes. Work is underway on a new Sweethearts album – Alex Chilton helped out with some recording. I also plan to release an album by Speedboat.

James: – How do the independent labels find getting their stuff play listed on radio?

Francis: – It can be tough for the small, true independents. I would say that college radio is most likely to playlist releases by indie labels, if you drop a single in the post and they happen to like it. But their listening audiences are very small. Regional indie shows can be supportive but some only run for 1 or 2 nights a week for maybe 1 or 2 hours. So getting even one play is a result – but that isn’t going to make too many people rush out and buy it. At the national level, Peel, Evening Sessions or Radcliffe may play records. But getting regular plays is unlikely unless you can afford to hire a plugger/promotion company.

James: – Regarding your other projects, do you find this a good way to promote your own thing without going through the hassle of finding a record company that will take the band on?

Francis:-Definitely. Part of the reason I set up Shoeshine was knowing that I could bring out stuff by Radio Sweethearts and Speedboat (my first 2 releases).There was no else interested in their releases at the time. Radio Sweethearts are a wonderful band. But they play country music (not pop).

Just like to thank Francis for taking time out from his work to speak to us. All the best with your next release and your musical future.

Taken from Scotland Calling