Shaun Kirk has taken control after career lapse

STRONGER: Shaun Kirk said he has become a better songwriter after turning his focus on the craft.SHAUN Kirk admits losing his US record deal before it started “messed” with his head and almostdestroyed his love of music.

It’s been a long road to recovery for the 29-year-old, who was seen as a torch bearer for modern n blues and roots when he burst onto the scene at 21 with his debut album Cruisin.

Finally after four years of heavy touring, but relative inactivity in the recording studio, Kirk is only weeks away from releasing his new single Howlin’ At The Moon. It will be followed by an EP in the coming months.

“It’s been a long, somewhat tedious, process but I think it was all for the better,” Kirk said.

“I’ve done a lot of soul-searching over the last couple of years and I’ve really worked hard on finding the right producer to work with and the right location. I think we’ve got all that nailed.”

The issues began for Kirk in 2015 when just before signing aUSrecord deal to release his album Steer The Wheel the label collapsed due to the CEO’s ill health.

“That messed with my head for quite a while because the dream for me is to tour the States and play some of the places my heroes have played and it was looking done and dusted and ready to go,” he said.

Shaun Kirk – Howlin’ At The Moon“It just disappeared all of the sudden. The last couple of years have been not recovering, but doing a lot of soul-searching, to work out what I’m in this all for.”

The experience led to Kirk focusingon his songwriting. The Melburnian is renown for his blistering guitar playing and soulfulvocals, but he admitted he needed to improve his writing.

That led to Mark Lang from Melbourne indie-rock bandSkipping Girl Vinegar taking Kirk under his wing.

“He bluntly said Ineeded to take a step back and focus on the songwriting and really put in some hours rather than performing,which I’d been doing non-stop since I was 21,” Kirk said.

The result has been a more mature and contemporary blues sound on Howlin’ At The Moon.

The experience of losing a US record deal has also led Kirk to taking tighter control of the business side of his music career by self-managing his latest release and tour.

“Inthe past I didn’t do enough research when working with other people and managers and agents,” he said.

“I was probably not clear enough in describing to them what I wanted to achieve and that has always led to a breakdown in the working relationship.

“At the moment I’m back to square one, which I’m totally content with, and I’ve got bit of a plan now which is the first time I’ve ever had a plan. Before I was just shooting in the dark, which did well for me for a number of years, but it’s important to sit down and make some goals and work towards them.”

Shaun Kirk performs at 5 Sawyers on March 8.