Shayne Ward And Mike Stock Talk Pop, PledgeMusic And The Making Of New Album ‘Closer’: Idolator Interview
This Sunday (April 12), Shayne Ward’s fourth album, an excellent pop-and-soul ride called Closer, will be released globally (grab it on iTunes). Not only will it be the Manchester, UK singer’s first record to see the light of day here in the States, it’s his first to be released outside of a major label. After three albums done jointly through Sony Music and Simon Cowell’s Syco Entertainment following Ward’s 2005 UK X Factor win, Shayne, now 30, had quite frankly been there and done that.
“What normally would happen with Shayne, he’d be in a record deal with a major label, they’d pay him an advance and he’d work the rest of his life paying it back,” producer Mike Stock, who steered the Closer ship, explained to Idolator. “That was the normal way it worked. I’m not a fan of that way of doing things, so we had to do things differently here.”
Once Stock initially met up with Ward and became aware of just how eager the singer’s fans were for new material, the pair took their project to funding platform PledgeMusic late last summer in the hopes of hitting a certain target. But not only were their expectations realized when Closer hit 100 percent before December, the original PledgeMusic target was ultimately blown out of the water: Three days before the release of Shayne’s new LP, it now stands at a whopping 220 percent.
But, okay — enough of the business chit chat; let’s talk the pop pedigree of these two. Shayne Ward is a Brit with an unparalleled vocal talent as far as his male peers go. (Sorry, Sam Smith, but real talk here.) He’s got six UK Top 10 hits to his credit (yes, we’re counting double A-side “No U Hang Up” and “If That’s OK With You” separately!), and his upbeat, sultry sophomore LP Breathless still sounds flawless eight years later.
And as thrown around as the term “music legend” is these days, we gladly give Mike Stock a pass, because those two words were originally paired up for musicians of his caliber. This is the Ivor Novello- and BRIT Award-winning songwriter-producer who shaped the sound of Kylie Minogue’s first four albums, starting with a little number called “I Should Be So Lucky.” Rick Astley used to serve him tea until Stock threw the poor kid a bone with “Never Gonna Give You Up” and “Together Forever,” two songs that hit #1 in America. He gave the late, great Donna Summer an incredible comeback with “This Time I Know It’s For Real.” For the love of God, he was even able to transform drag icon Divine into a legit pop star thanks to “You Think You’re A Man”!
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, to say the least, but you get the point. Once these two began collaborating last year, we knew we had to get the full story on the making of Closer. So cut to this past March, when Shayne and Mike sat down in a room for a long talk with Idolator about the making of Closer, following a day spent playing the LP for a gathering of fans in London.
What follows is our lengthy (be sure to click through all the pages!), quite unfiltered and rather fascinating conversation with Shayne Ward and Mike Stock about their time spent recording an album made entirely on their own terms.