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A. Current Information
A-1. Who is currently in the Cranes?
A-2. What are they up to at the moment?
A-3. Are they currently signed to a label?
A-4. Are they going to be touring my area soon?

B. Background Information
B-1. How did the Cranes get their name?
B-2. Where is the band from and when did they get started?
B-3. Where can I find bios of the members?
B-4. What happened to Matt/Mark/Manu?
B-5. What music are Cranes listening to?
B-6. What is the Cranes relationship to The Cure?
B-7. What happened to Dedicated?
B-8. Who is Bite Back! And what happened before Dedicated?

C. The Music
C-1. Where can I find Cranes music?
C-2. Can I listen to any samples before I buy?
C-3. What is the Cranes' stance on Napster?
C-4. What about finding live songs or albums that are out of print
C-5. What are good albums to get first?
C-6. Who writes the songs and the music?
C-7. Are there going to be any videos released?
C-8. Where can I find lyrics to the Cranes' songs?

D. Where To Get More Information
D-1. Where should I send my fan mail?
D-2. Where can I find more information on the Internet?
D-3. How do I subscribe to In The Night, the Cranes fan mailing list?
D-4. Are there any Cranes message boards out there?
D-5. What Cranes Usenet newsgroups are there?



A. Current Information

A-1. Who is currently in the Cranes?
The bandís current line-up is:

Jim Shaw Guitar (also some vocals, formerly drums)
Alison Shaw Vocals (and sometimes bass)
Paul Smith Bass, Guitar, Key Boards
Jon Callender Drums
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A-2. What are they up to at the moment?
The group has just finished mixing their next album and is preparing it for release. They have also started rehearsals to get a feel for how the new material sounds live. Furthermore, the Cranes are also in the process of starting thier own record label, Dadaphonic. Jim is also working on finishing his own album of instrumental/orchestral music. When new material becomes available, it will be accessible at Starblood.org.

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A-3. Are they currently signed to a label?
No. After Cranes split with Dedicated Records in 1998, the band entered negotiations with RCA records. The band was close to finalizing the deal but chose not to sign with RCA because the label wanted something more "radio orientated" than the band was offering. After that, the band moved forward with its next album without a record deal. Now, with a new record imminent, the Cranes have announced that they are starting thier own label, Dadaphonic.

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A-4. Are they going to be touring in my area?
The band has recently announced the following live shows:

Date Day Location/Venue Purchase Tickets/Info

July 21, 2003 Saturday Bush Hall, London, England Purchase Tickets


Note: If you are able to attend any of the above shows, please send your pictures, setlists, and reviews to cranes@starblood.org. You will receive due credit for all info received. If you take pictures but do not have a scanner, please let us know. We can always work something out.
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B. Background Information

B-1. How did the Cranes get their name?
The band took their name from the familiar skyline objects that were prevalent in Portsmouth in the late 1980s. According to a Jim Shaw in the mid-1990s, "When you went into Portsmouth, 5-8 years, the skyline was filled with these mechanical cranes. At the time it was just a good word to use. Unfortunately, all the cranes are gone, the shipyard all boarded up and they've lost their jobs."

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B-2. Where is the band from and when did they get started?
The band grew out of the Portsmouth, England scene in the mid-1980's. This is the area which Jim and Alison Shaw called home. The band's evolution began when Jim and Alison reunited and found that they shared a desire to make their own music. While Alison was studying abroad, Jim was teaching himself to play the guitar and drums. When they began collaborating, Alison picked up a bass and began playing with Jim. The two started recording their sessions, according to Alison, and, "got really hooked on record recording and effects."

The first recording that the Cranes released, Fuse was issued in 1986 and the first Cranes' gig was a 10 minute show in Portsmouth in 1987. They started recording and playing more gigs in the local area, recruiting members Mark Francombe (a local Portsmouth musician) and then Matt Cope (a young guitar tech).

The siblings abilities and sound continued to grow and in 1989, Self Non Self was released and immediately caught the attention of John Peel. Peel played the album (four times in a row) and invited the group to do a Peel Session. This milestone triggered Dedicated Records to sign the band. In 1990-1991, four EPs were issued, followed by the first full-length LP Wings of Joy in September 1991. It was these EPs and LP that caught the Cureís attention and earned the Cranes an open slot on the 1992 Wish tour.

After the Cure tour, Jim and Alison incorportaed their experiences into a new album, Forever and followed up it up with 1994's Loved.

In 1995 and 1996, the Cranes demonstrated their versitility by exploring new musical areas. They created an orchestrial adaptaion of a play, La Tragédie d'Oreste et Électre, and scored a motion picture, Scarborough Ahoy!. The 1996 album Population 4 futher demonstrated the band's ability to re-invent their sound, having a distintly different and modern sound. Following a tour and difficult contract discussions/negotiations, the Cranes headed back to the studio, eager to further develop and diversify their music and again redefine their sound. The result is the 2001 release, Future Songs, a fresh exploration at the cutting edge of today's sound.

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B-3. Where can I find bios of the members?
Although there is quite a bit of data on the people who are, or have been, in the group circulating in various interviews and reviews, there are very few centralized sources collating this information. Starblood.org is one of these sources, providing biographies of the various musicians who have participated in the Cranes.
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B-4. What happened to Matt/Mark/Manu?
Over time, several people have drifted in and out of the group. The first person to leave was Matt Cope. At some point between the conclusion of the Loved tour in 1995 and the recording of Population Four, Matt departed amicably and started his own online venture, Blistering Barnacles. Matt has fallen off the radar screen recently, although he was seen in February 2000 backstage at a Cranes gig.

Mark Francombe has also left the bandís fold, moving to Norway, getting married (and separated), working professionally in graphic and web design, and continuing making music (see Markís website for more details). Mark separated from the group in 1999 to pursue these ventures, although he has maintained the possibility of hitting the road with the band on a full tour if asked.

Manu Ros was recruited in 1996 to play drums when Jim moved to guitar to cover Mattís departure. Manu played with the band during the Population 4 tour and several follow-up, one-off gigs. In 1999, it was confirmed that Manu had left the group. His whereabouts since are unknown.

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B-5. What music are Cranes listening to?
Looking at what Jim and Alison are listening today, compared with who they listened to when they started reinforces the idea that the Cranes are not a band in stasis - rather they are continually exploring and adapting the the dynamic musical world around them.

Currently, both Jim and Alison are listening to a wide range of styles and artists. In addition to classical music and film scores (with which he has always been fascinated), Jim is listening to old favorites such as Midnight Cowboy, Badlands, Wings of Desire and Tom Waits. Alison is also a Tom Waits fan, and is also listening to Boards of Canada (WARP Records), Funkstorung, Air, Red Snapper, Portishead , Photek, and Autechre, among others.

These differ significantly from the type and style of music the band was into during their formative years. In older interviews, the Cranes, primarily Jim and Alison, have stated that they were listening to artists such as Joy Division, The Young Gods, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Birthday Party, The Swans, Foetus (J.G. Thirwell), Einstuerzende Neubauten, Cop Shoot Cop and The Cure. Jim even mentioned in an interview that he would have like to have had Frank Sinatra open for the band. Consequently, the influences of these artists (with the possible exception of Sinatra) can be heard in the Cranes early work.

This evolution of listening habits can be heard in the band's music. As Jim and Alison grew out of the darker music of their earlier days, the Cranes' records began to diversify, incorporating new sounds, elements, and emotions. It is this musical growth that has kept the band's sound fresh and dynamic.

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B-6. What is the Cranes relationship to The Cure?
The Cure are often mentioned in relationship to the Cranes. This does not really stem from any similarity in the musical style or sound. Rather, the linkage began when the Cure asked the Cranes to open for them during their U.S. leg of the 1992 Wish tour. In the period leading up to the Cureís tour, Robert Smith and Simon Gallup had been listening to the Cranes, were impressed with the Portsmouth band, and invited them to fill the opening slot.

The U.S. leg of the tour was very successful, so much so that the Cure asked the Cranes to continue on through the European leg of the Wish tour. Alison said, "Its just that [on tour], there was so much time when your mind was free to just think about things and sort of dream, and the whole experience of the tour... it just felt like things were opening up for us... I just remember being totally happy every day. Then they asked us to do Europe as well, so that was a double present."

Examples of the two bands good rapport were demonstrated during the European leg of the tour. During a show in Paris, Alison got sick and was unable to sing. Robert Smith came to the rescue by playing guitar to fill in her vocal parts. In another case, in Dublin, the Cure played their unrecorded live encore/jam "Forever," during which they invited the Cranes on stage to play with them.

After the tour, the Cranes took material written during the tour, and headed to the studio to record their next LP, Forever. According to Jim, instead of and particular musical influence, the Cureís contribution to Forever was the feeling of being surrounded by "friends and people that we grew to...be fond." Matt Cope concurred with this sentiment by stating, "the Cure tour was the inspiration for Forever and hence the title of the album was named partly after a Cure song which we all played in Dublin with them, and because we were all so happy at that time."

The Cure-Cranes linkage continues a bit further, as Robert Smith remixed a popular version of the single Jewel off the Forever album. His distinct guitar style is merged with the Cranes sound, creating the closest incarnation of collaboration between the two groups. Since that time, 1993, the two bands have gone their separate ways.

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B-7. What happened to Dedicated?
Dedicated Records was the Cranes label between 1990 and 1997. They signed the band shortly after the Cranes gained exposure via the John Peel, serving as the vehicle for releasing the four EPs, Wings of Joy, Forever, Loved, Population 4, and the EP Collection. However, the bandís relationship with Dedicated deteriorated quickly during, and following the release of, and tour for, Population 4. The group felt that Dedicated mistreated them during the tour and did a poor job of promoting that album. Adding injury to insult, Dedicated then issued the EP Collection - whose profits went directly to the record label not to the band. Finally, in fall 1997, the Cranes left the label.

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B-8. Who is Bite Back! And what happened before Dedicated?
Bite Back! was the first label with which the Cranes signed. Bite Back! issued Fuse, the bandís first pressing in 1986 and their first LP, Self Non Self, in 1989. After Self Non Self, the group was noticed by John Peel and the media, and moved to the larger Dedicated Records label. In ensuing years, Bite Back! has been of interest because of the scarcity of Fuse. However, the rights for Fuse were returned to the Cranes and Bite Back! no longer has the Fuse recordings.

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C. The Music

C-1. Where can I find Cranes music?
We have heard reports that some Cranes albums are getting increasingly difficult to find. If you are interested in buying Cranes music, here are some hints that we hope help you in your search:

  • Local music store that is known to carry indie and/or alternative artists are probably the best source, although it can be hit or miss (check the used bins!).
  • Chain music stores usually have a copy or two of at least one of the LPs.
  • CD Now and Amazon.com carry at least some of the bandís releases.
  • Half.com is a good source for used copies of their albums/singles.
  • Online auction sites, especially Ebay, usually have a Cranes recording (as well as other Cranes merchandise) for sale.
  • Individual fan/trader sites often include Cranesí recordings (check the links section of Starblood.org)
  • Stay away from places like Wal-Mart or K-Mart, as the chances of finding a Cranes recording there is about as likely as running into Alison Shaw there.


  • If you still are having problems, post a note to In The Night or the Cranes WWW Board and someone will probably help you find whatever you seek. However, don't expect to find anything for free.

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    C-2. Can I listen to any samples before I buy?
    Frequently, independent record shops, which often stock Cranes material, allow the buyer to listen to the album in-store prior to purchase. In addition, several online sites (such as CD Now, Amazon.com, and the Ultimate Band List) provide samples of songs. Furthermore, both Cranes Fan Forum and Starblood.org (see C-4 below) provide downloadable MP3s.

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    C-3. What is the Cranesí stance on Napster?
    Almost all of the bandís songs can be found, at one time or another, on Napster (even with the recent restrictions and filters placed on the company). We ask that you, as an interested listener, make every effort to purchase Cranes products whenever possible. This is the only way that the band can make money and thus continue making more music.

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    C-4. What about finding live songs or albums that are out of print?
    The Cranes' entire back catalogue is owned by BMG Records. According to Alison, BMG has absolutely no interest in re-issuing or promoting parts of the back catalogue (as the band in no longer affiliated or contracted with BMG). However, BMG is also not interested in returning the copyright to the Cranes. This makes it impossible to out of print material to be purchased new. The only possibility for the back catalogue items to again be released is if there is significant interest for a third party to purchase a license from BMG. The Cranes' new label, Dadaphonic, will be investigating this route as a possibility. However, until then, the entire back catalogue is out of print indefinately.

    In lieu of the individual back catalogue releases, your best bet is to obtain a copy of the EP Collection, as it contains all of the songs found on the early EPs, which are quickly becoming the most difficult releases in the back catalogue to find. Because the EP Collection is the most recent commercial release, it is most likely to be found in record stores as well as online sellers (such as CD Now and Amazon.com). For material not on the EP Collection, Ebay is an alternative option. Starblood.org has also tried to help fans obtain the live or out of print material by making several a few songs from the show in Aalborg on 2nd February 1997, as well as rare studio recordings available via MP3 at the MP3 section.

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    C-5. What are good albums to get first?
    Recommending which Cranes album to get first is always a difficult task, as it depends on the listenerís taste. Because the bandís sound has evolved over time, different people were drawn to different sounds at different times. However, Forever, is strongly recommended as a good starting point as it is a musical tour de force that highlights many of the band's musical directions. This recommendation concurs with the results found at the readers poll found at Cranes Fan Forum, which ranks Forever as the listenersí favourite Cranes album.

    While Forever is judged by fans as their favourite Cranes album, the EP Collection is also an excellent album to start with, as it shows the bands musical evolution, starting with their darker early work of the late 1980's to their multi-faceted, dynamic, and sometimes pop-ish work of the late 1990's. The 2001 release of Future Songs promises to continue this trend and is sure to capture a new set of Cranes fans.

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    C-6. Who writes the songs and the music?
    Jim and Alison Shaw are responsible for the composition of the music and lyrics. Alison has been frequently asked about this topic in interviews. Included below are some of her statements regarding this subject.

    "The music comes first - Jim will start something and play it to me, and I sometimes get an idea straight away. You'll get a thought, and it might seem a bit nonsensical, but you use it as a starting point, work around it."

    "Usually, Jim and I work on things in the studio together. We've always had recording equipment in our home. We've often developed things on our own, then brought it to the group before we play it live."

    "Jim has his own ideas. He usually comes up with the musical parts of songs, unless someone else comes up with something that he can't deny is good. And then he'll accept it. If he thinks you've done something very good, he'll certainly incorporate it. But if not, it's got to be what he wants."

    "If it's an acoustic piece, often we'll start out with just the words, or a few notes. If it's more of a bass and drum piece, we usually start with a rhythm. I can't really say how Jim writes things. He's like a law unto himself. He just kind of disappears for a while, goes a bit odd, and turns up a few days later with some songs."

    "They're [the songs] mostly personal stories. Fragments of things that happen. Sometimes you'll connect a certain melody to the way you felt when such and such happened - and the two things will just collide and give you a certain feeling. But usually I think some start from just a couple of words or one line of something that fits a certain part of the music, and then you sort of build it around that. Often, I write them after I've heard the music. Jim writes quite a lot of things at one time, and just records things all the time. Sometimes it's not until I hear what he's written that I'll get an idea. Sometimes I've written something and we'll do it the other way around."

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    C-7. Are there going to be any videos released?
    To date, there have been no official Cranes videos released. However, this does not mean that videos for some songs do not exist. Some videos have been made and can be found on various promotional in-store videos, and other video compilations. Starblood.org has compiled a list of songs that have had videos made and they can be found in the Videos section.

    However, according to a question posed regarding the release of some of the videos, Paul Smith had the following to say:

    "Ahhhh. As far as I know Alison was pursuing this venture with some vigour. I'm not too sure of the official status but it goes something like this: Dedicated owned the videos, Dedicated is no more, Dedicated were a subsidiary of BMG.... Location of master tapes? ... ownership of master tapes. Rights to release material. Who pays who for what. And that is before the damn compilation is even put together. I'll ask Ali the status of this saga (another saga) and try to let you all know."

    When we at Starblood.org know more, we will let you know.

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    C-8. Where can I find lyrics to the Cranes' songs?
    The first and foremost place to obtain lyrics is to purchase the official Cranes lyrics book, written by Alison and sold directly by the band online at Cranes Fan Forum. Other releases with published lyrics are Heaven or Bliss, Lilies and all of the Population 4 songs. The new album Future Songs will also contain a 12 page booklet containing all the song lyrics.

    Other than these sources, it has been left to the fans to interpret the often indecipherable lyrics. Composites of the many interpretations are posted here at Starblood.org for continued tweaking. All contributions are welcome!

    In addition, the lyrics to Adoration, Clear, and Starblood appear fully on this site with full permission of Cranes.

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    D. Where To Get More Information

    D-1. Where should I send my fan mail?
    Starblood.org is not the official Cranes website. Rather, the best route for getting fan mail to the band is to send it directly to the band at the Dadaphonic website (info@dadaphonic.com), or via their postal address :

    Dadaphonic/Cranes
    P.O. Box 144
    Southsea
    Hants
    PO5 2PY
    U.K.

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    D-2. Where can I find more information on the Internet?
    Although having never reached superstar status, the Cranes have a strong following on the Internet. There are a range of different places to find information, pictures, and impressions of the band. Besides Starblood.org, there are multiple websites dedicated to the group. The following are a sample of some of them:

    Cranes Fan Forum - http://www.cranes-fan.com (Official Website)
    Maybe Iíll Smile - http://www.blankenheim.net/cranes/index.html
    Loved - http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Plaza/8844/cranes.html
    Cranes Discography - http://students.washington.edu/maximill/cranes/

    In addition to websites, there is both a Cranes listserv and a Cranes newsgroup available. The listserv, In the Night, is associated with Starblood.org and more information can be found there. The newsgroup can be found on most news servers at alt.music.cranes.

    For more information about Cranes Internet links, we recommend that you go to the Links section of Starblood.org, visit the Complete List of Cranes Links, or try the Cranes Webring.

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    D-3. How do I subscribe to In The Night, the Cranes fan mailing list?
    Information about In The Night, including instructions about how to subscribe, can be found at the In The Night section of this site.

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    D-4. Are there any Cranes message boards out there?
    The most popular message board is the Cranes WWW Board found at the Cranes Fan Forum. There are additional web boards - sometimes found at larger music-related sites, such as iMusic - but these areas are used very infrequently. We at Starblood.org recommend that you use the Cranes WWW Board, as it is often frequented by current and former band members and is used by many to discuss the latest Cranes news.

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    D-5. What Cranes Usenet newsgroups are there?
    The Cranes' Usenet newsgroup is alt.music.cranes.

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