The original Shakepeare And The Bible band first saw the light of day in Hamburg in the early 90s, put together by the ex-Jazz Butcher Conspiracy drummer turned singer/songwriter Owen Jones. Having played frequently in Hamburg between 1984 and 1987 with the JBC, Owen decided to move to the city permanently (motivated partly by Margaret Thatcher’s third successive election victory in the UK and partly by falling in love…). He taught himself to play guitar and soon started writing his own songs, both on guitar and on piano, which he’d learnt as a child.
As soon as he had a collection of half a dozen songs ready, he set about forming a band to perform them. The original line-up consisted of Jones on vocals and guitar, Niki Whitaker on guitar, Stephan von Dein on bass and Michi Stieler on drums; shortly afterwards, the group was augmented by Oliver Hasse on harmonica. The repertoire comprised Owen’s collection of fledgling compositions, plus re-interpretations (rather than straight covers) of songs by bands such as The Jesus & Mary Chain and The Velvet Underground.
The band played live on a regular basis in both Germany and France – and the original repertoire grew – for 3 or 4 years, but it had fizzled out by 1997. Owen was involved in various musical projects (including making albums with both Max Eider ans Goetz Steeger, and occasionally touring again with The Jazz Butcher) over the next ten years or so, but he more or less stopped writing his own songs.
Following a serious illness in 2007, Owen found himself moved to start creating his own music again. He recalls: ”Intimations of mortality gave me a much-needed kick up the backside. I’d always felt I had more songs in me, but I’d become too lazy and stagnated to put any work into digging them out…”
So, ten years after the demise of the original SATB, a new version of the band was born. In addition to Owen Jones, it comprised: Kristina Rauen (an old friend with whom Owen had been playing music, on
and off, ever since he’d arrived in Hamburg 20 years previously) on vocals and bass; Adrian van de Welde on drums; Christian Schütze on guitar ans Oliver Hasse on harmonica and keyboards. They were
soon gigging regularly in Germany, France ans Belgium; and since 2008 they have also toured at least once a year in the UK. In that line-up the band recorded two albums: ‘Plus Or Minus Zero’ (plattenbau 09018) in 2009, and ‘International Departures’ (plattenbau 110208) in 2011.
A ‘Road Dogg’ review of both albums enthuses about ”…every ounce of energy and soul soul that makes this band so unique. Not a single track on either release is there to flesh out the album; this is a classic case of bands taking their time ans ensuring that every song counts…”
The track ‘Play Misty For Me’, from ‘International Departures’, was made into a video in 2012. It caught the attention of veteran rock critic Keith Altham, who wrote: ”I love a good bar song – and this one is on the right side of a smokey malt scotch…”
In 2012 SATB’s original bassist Stephan von Dein rejoined the ensemble, with Kristina switching to percussion and taking a more prominent role in the singing. In 2014, Adrian van de Welde was forced to
leave the band through ill health. The drums were taken over by Tom Moss, from Leek in the UK. Initially, Tom was engaged as a short-term replacement for one tour, but it quickly became apparent to
the others that he was exactly the right man for the job, and he was asked to join on a permanent basis. When Oliver Hasse left in 2015, he was replaced by our old friend Holger ‘Knox’ Becker on keyboards
and harmonica. The group has been galvanised by the new musicians, who have added a fresh dynamic to both live performances and new recordings.The fact that neither Tom nor Knox live within 500km of Hamburg hasn’t made life any simpler in logistical terms but, in Owen’s words, ”I’ve been searching for the right group for 25 years, and now that I’ve found it, I damn well want to keep it…”
In late 2016, the new line-up started working on a new album – provisionally entitled ‘Please Keep To The Left’ – in Field Street Studios in Leek, UK – which is now near to completion, and scheduled for
release in early summer, 2018. In addition to songs that have been written over the last five years or so, it
includes a ‘suite’ of music inspired by a journey Owen made in the Nepalese Himalayas in early 2017.