A chance meeting with UB40’s Brian Travers opens some doors for Mile Wide Stride.
Nathan Russell has known he wanted to sing ever since his first pub gig.
And now his band, Mile Wide Stride, is about to open for UB40’s upcoming tour.
We asked him how this happened – and what advice he has for local bands to break out.
Wow, your band is really on the move – when did you know you had a future doing this?
I started to sing and nobody told me to shut up! But in all seriousness I knew I had a future when I first stepped into a studio, I knew I would give everything I have to continue making music; it’s very addictive.
What were your first gigs?
I played local pubs and music venues, playing solo acoustic covers of my favorite artists such as The Who, The Jam and David Bowie.
What did you learn from these?
I learned the craft of performing; in between covers I would slip in a few of my original songs and gauge the audiences reaction. Sure, it may have been small gigs in a pub but it’s those punters that buy records. So I never forget that. Then I moved on to form the band MILE WIDE STRIDE; it was a natural progression really.
What were your next steps into building your fan bases/audience?
Building a fan base just comes with exposure and time.
What would you say was your next transition as a band?
A chance meeting with UB40’s Brian Travers – who went on to produce our first EP.
OK, what was that ‘chance’ meeting?
We were playing a gig in Coventry; Brian had heard a bit about us and came along to check us out. He bought me a whiskey after the show and we had a good chat about music until last orders. It was great to listen to someone with over 3 decades of experience in the industry. The whiskey wasn’t bad either.
So how was it you where chosen as support for UB40?
After working with Brian on our EP, he was kind enough to offer us support on their UK tour. We were happy to accept.
What advice do you have for local groups who want to break out of doing only local gigs?
First thing’s first: practice, practice, practice. Go into a recording studio and pick 3 of your strongest songs that show diversity. This is what you will use to tell the world what you are about. If the opportunity arises then you need to be ready.
Once you have your recording, send it to anywhere and everywhere that is relevant. A wise man said to me “Do you know what happens if you don’t promote your music? NOTHING!!!”
What do you do now that is especially effective at building and maintaining your fan base (that is, other than opening for UB40!)
It may sound obvious, but get out and gig.
Is there any special prep now for the coming concerts?
Stay sharp, stay focused, in tune and out of trouble. Ha ha.
And after that?
Well I have a list as long as my arm… but my main goal is to write a record that people really, really get, a ‘hit’ that stands the test of time. Who knows if I will ever achieve that but I’ll tell you something, I’ll have a great time with my mates chasing that goal. And that’s what being in a band is all about really, isn’t it?
Mile Wide Stride are Nathan Russell, Chris and Steve Eardley, Zane Macrae, and Spencer Walker. The boys are attracting attention after being championed by UB40’s mighty Brian Travers. See them on Facebook