Getting To Know... ABQ

Following on from a wave of highly-praised singles including 'Twisted Fear' and 'Edge Of The Earth', as well as string of headline shows around the capital, London-based band ABQ are ready to bring their bright and uplifting pop-rock aesthetic to our ears once again as they deliver their new single 'Neon'.

Produced by​ Charlie Russell ​(The Strypes, Jamiroquai, Robbie Williams, Kasabian) at Dean Street Studios in London, 'Neon' looks to cement the four-piece as a truly wondrous and euphoric outfit. With its lofty and ambitious tones, the group look to follow in the footsteps of acts like Imagine Dragons and Kodaline with its bold and powerful direction.

So with them back on our radar, we sat down with frontman Paul Shevlin to find out more about their earliest influence and what led them on this path they are now venturing on.


What were the first instruments you fell in love with?

I’ve been obsessed with the piano for as long as I can remember. I think the depth of feeling you can get from it surpasses everything else for me. I grew up with my Dad listening to Elton John, Billy Joel, David Bowie...and they became a huge part of my love for the piano. Bowie’s ‘Oh you pretty things’, ‘Kooks’ and ‘Life on Mars’ were some of the first songs I tried to learn on the instrument.

What has been the most prominent inspiration behind your music so far?

With ABQ, we have been heavily influenced by bands like Biffy Clyro, Imagine Dragons and Sigur Ros but our tastes definitely overlap in the pop world too - we love the huge scandinavian pop sound of Sigrid, Tove Lo, Lykke Li. When it comes to what we aim to achieve in our tunes, it’s the combination of this rock-band feel with the hookiness and production of a pop banger. It’s a difficult one to land.

What kind of music did you love as teenagers?

I went through a number of different phases. I had my classic rock phase - AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, The WHO, Queen. Next I got super into singer-songwriters like Ben Folds, Damien Rice, Nerina Pallot, Regina Spektor...and then I just had a complete Radiohead year. I think I got lucky in that I still love all of these artists. I don’t have many skeletons in my musical closet.

When you wake up in the morning, what kind of music do you like to listen to?

I like to ease into the day with something chill like Nils Frahm or The National.

How many of your songs have you written about people in your life?

Most of the songs I’ve written are about either very personal experiences with myself or large concepts. The exception to that would be the ones I’ve written about my wife, Jenny. I also recently wrote a song for one of my nephews.

What has been the most memorable moment in your career so far?

A few moments stand out, particularly winning the Next BRIT Thing award at the O2 in London. It was fairly early on for me and was overwhelming at the time. When we played the Great Escape I had the best weekend too. The shows themselves were a lot of fun but it was the vibe in Brighton that swung it. The whole city just felt alive.

If you weren’t musicians, what other path do you think you might have taken?

I would be a failed writer I think (of novels). I spend most of my time reading (devouring) books and graphic novels. So, yeah, I think I’d have thrown my hat into the ring of being an author. I’ve always had an interest in psychology as well, my Dad is a counsellor, so I think a career path in treating mental health could have been really tough but rewarding too.


ABQ's latest single 'Neon' is available to stream and download now. Have a listen to it in the player below.