Shane Cortese & the 8-Track Band is a tight-knit group of friends who share a love of music and delight in performing together.
Although lead singer Shane is a formidable triple-threat in his own right, he likes people to know this band is not about him. He’s only one part of a whole.
The other parts are Chris Jones on guitar and vocals, Robert Scott, also on guitar and vocals, Steve Abplanalp on bass and vocals, Scott Cortese on drums and Pete France on Saxaphone.
The whole is indeed more than the sum of its parts and Shane Cortese & the 8-Track Band, now three years old, is proving very popular with its repertoire of cover songs from the 70s, 80s and 90s by classic bands such as Th’ Dudes, Dragon and Dance Exponents.
As well as being very much motivated by the Kiwi/Australian Pub Rock scene, Shane points to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band as an inspiration.
“I’d just seen Springsteen the last time he was here at Mt Smart. We loved his band. Actually one of our pieces of inspiration was a picture of Bruce playing out the front, laughing, with the guys from his band. I thought, that’s what music should be, it should be playing with your mates and enjoying it.”
Shane’s previous band was ‘The Class of 58’, an American Graffiti style Rock and Roll band.
“I have an affiliation with old Rock and Roll music. The Class of 58 had been a very successful band – but I was sitting on the deck at Chris Jones’s house on Waiheke, having a beer and we talked about all the songs that we used to love, you know, all those great sounds from places like the Glue Pot - we liked Hello Sailor, the Exponents, INXS, the Choir Boys and Springsteen and we decided that we would one day like to get a band together that played that kind of music. Well I’m not one to sit still and rest on my laurels and neither is Chris so we said, ‘why don’t we just do this?’”
“So we put a band together and put very, very good musicians who connected with us really well into the band and started to play around over the course of a year, year and a half with a playlist and it worked.”
As well as Chris Jones on vocals and guitar, Shane’s cousin Scott Cortese (drums) and Steve Abplanalp (base) came on from the start. Scott and Steve had been working with each other for the best part of 25 years, since their school days. They also make up the rhythm section of Push Push, which is just about to go on tour again after a 24-year break.
Robert Scott, from The Breeze FM radio station, is on rhythm guitar and vocals.
“He’s an old school friend of mine. Actually we’re godfathers to each other’s children.”
As far as the 8-Track Band name goes, Shane says Robert Scott talked about the old 8-track tapes they used to use in the era the band’s music is based in - the 70s, 80s and 90s.
“So I thought, Bruce Springsteen’s got the E-street band, why don’t we call ours Shane Cortese & the 8-Track Band?”
Shane says the band’s musical inspiration is very much the Kiwi/Australian pub rock scene – “Choir Boys, Hello Sailor, Dudes, Exponents, Split Enz…” however when Shane Cortese & the 8-Track Band play, they’re not playing as a pub band, they’re giving a concert.
“What I like doing, because I’m a performer and that’s my job, is to put together a set which is like a recreation of those old concerts.
“I sit down with the boys and we discuss strategically what’s going to happen. I don’t want us to ever be a band that says, ‘we’re just going to take a short break and we’ll be back in a minute.’ That’s the domain of pub bands and party bands.
“What we do is recreate a two hour 15 concert. Once we start, we don’t stop playing for two and a quarter hours. We play 30-plus songs.
“We don’t take breaks. Once you start taking breaks you lose connectivity with your audience. You lose the chemistry in the room.
“I’ll bring in a support act that plays 45 minutes or an hour and then there’s a 15 minute break and we come on and do two and a quarter hours. So the audience gets a support act and full show.
“It’s like Bruce Springsteen. It’s a concert. He doesn’t break. He plays for about three hours. That’s how it should be.”