As well as being an important fishing port on the North East coast, North Shields is fast becoming a musical hub for home grown talent with Radio One favourite L Devine and Brit Award winner Sam Fender storming the charts.
Now however, a band from the town are heading Stateside after taking the local and national music scene by storm with their distinctive sound combining folk and rock taking its inspiration from nature, industry, and under-represented sections of society.
Hector Gannet is fronted by ex-Middens frontman Aaron Duff whose family is steeped in the history of the fishing fleet. Indeed, the name of the band is taken from a vessel that his grandfather sailed on, and which tragically sank in 1967 with the loss of life of some of his crewmates. Aaron took the name as a mark of respect for the vessel and crew, and proudly works both solo and with the band under the moniker.
The band’s debut album Big Harcar, named after one of the Farne Islands off the east coast, was released in Oct 2020 with song subjects including the geographical and geological formation of Northumbria ‘The Whin Sill’, and the history of the area ‘The Haven of St Aidan’s’. Their latest EP “Into the Deep” is a haunting track about whales and reflects their love of nature and the environment. The band has pledged to raise funds and awareness for two nature loving organisations. Wild Intrigue, who specialise in urban safaris and nature treks and the British Divers Marine Life Rescue who come to the aid of stricken or injured marine mammals such as seals, dolphins, and whales. The EP is also made from vinyl cut offs which would normally go into landfill.
The conscience and love of nature from Hector Gannet has gained them some special recognition. Naturalist Chris Packham shared their carefully crafted animated video for “Into the Deep” on his social pages, and the band have secured an official partnership with Europe’s biggest manufacturer and supplier of bird food, Vivara.
The band have also struck up a unique friendship with the widow of Tyneside music legend Hilton Valentine, the original guitarist in The Animals. In 2019 Hilton posted on social media about his love for the Hector Gannet song “The Haven of St Aidan’s”, and when ‘Big Harcar’ came out in late 2020 he pledged to help the band. Sadly, his passing prevented that, but his widow Germaine was determined to follow Hilton’s wish.
She has put them in contact with some of Hilton’s professional contacts in the USA and the band will travel to America in April to take part in radio interviews, a video shoot, spend time in the recording studio and perform at a few live dates.
“Helping Hector Gannet goes beyond carrying out Hilton’s wish. I don’t have a choice when it comes to the music I love; it makes me do these things. Hector Gannet’s music is piloting all of this. I want people to listen to the music I’m passionate about. I’ve also been passionate about animals and the environment since I was six years old, so Hector Gannet and I are a perfect fit. Through the years, Hilton helped many musicians by bringing them into the studio, getting them on television and arranging gigs. He would have been all in on this. Connecting Hector Gannet to some of Hilton’s contacts is the next step in helping the world hear their music,” she said.
Aaron was delighted to accept the offer. “We were honoured when asked to perform some songs at the unveiling event of Hilton’s Blue Plaque in North Shields where we played a couple of The Animals songs and one of Hilton’s as well. Then when Germaine asked us to go to the USA, we felt we could use the time wisely to promote the band and gather material for the next album. We’re extremely grateful and massively excited.” said Aaron.
The band will travel to the USA soon after their biggest show in the North East to date, at Newcastle Students Union on March 19th. Tickets can be found at: https://www.seetickets.com/event/hector-gannet/newcastle-university-students-union/2179575
Media and PR Keith@highlightspr.co.uk 07814 397951
Photo: Hector Gannet
Aaron formed his first band at 14, called The Middens, named after a set of perilous rocks at the mouth of the Tyne that have historically sealed the fate of various ships and vessels over the years. Former Middens drummer Jack Coe was joined by bassist Joe Coady, and Martin Wann (guitar, synth), to form Hector Gannet.
Hector Gannet (full band, and with Aaron working solo for some gigs) toured with Sam Fender in 2019/20
All tickets and info at band website: https://hectorgannet.com
Hector Gannet partner with VIVARA: https://www.vivara.co.uk/vivara-are-partnering-with-hector-gannet
Hector Gannet / Wild Intrigue: https://www.wildintrigue.co.uk/mini-expeds/story-of-the-tyne-kittiwakes/
Hector Gannet / BDMLR: https://bdmlr.org.uk/folk-band-hector-gannet-supporting-bdmlr
Hector Gannet / Chris Packham: https://twitter.com/ChrisGPackham/status/1445697231953092625