Ben Winch

writer / rocker

Shadow History

Lost greatest hits


By the time I turned twenty I thought I’d given up on rock music. My first band Movement had not been the success I’d hoped it would be and I was making a name for myself as a novelist. I sold my amp, let my electric guitar collect dust and played the acoustic for my own edification. But I never stopped writing songs.

By 1997, age 24, I was as burnt out with writing as I had been with rocking. Although at first the arts grants had seemed generous, I realised how hard it would be to sustain my momentum, and I left the peace and solitude of Tasmania for a life of sharehouses, partying and straight jobs in Melbourne and Vancouver. Meantime, almost by accident, I wrote an album.

As the album grew to 20+ songs, I learned production with a Tascam digital 8-track via a series of jams and improvisations (see Cottage Industry Recordings), loathe to waste my “real” songs on anything less than a professional sound, and I kept moving. Friend Paddy Ryan of Greater Northern, fresh from audio engineering school, recorded me a demo. Tom Barton (AKA Tomsea) did the same. Only in Manchester in 2009 did I form the band I called Shadow History. Comprising Liverpool postpunk legend Chris Layhe (ex-Icicle Works) on bass and brothers Leigh and Paul Eaton (owners of Stockport’s LP Studios) on drums and guitar, Shadow History had three recording sessions and played a handful of gigs before I returned to Australia in 2011. A last demo, recorded with Reed “Bleed” Cathcart in an Adelaide Hills loungeroom, plus a single gig in Adelaide with Reed and Adam MacBeath (Swimsuit, ex-Mandelbrot Set) in 2012 finished the story. I moved on.

The problem with Shadow History was my high expectations of it. This was Loveless with a story, Darklands with a fourth chord. It was pop music – there was no way I was gonna record it lo-fi! But with basic equipment and no recording expertise I didn’t think I had a choice. Well, it’s been 20 years. I have a bunch of demos to testify to what might have been, and – surprise! – a new sound (Light Traveller) that suits me better than all those break-up songs anyway. For now, my greatest hits package will have to remain in the shadows. Sure, I’ve been tinkering with it now that I’m halfway proficient at recording – I can’t help myself! But I still can’t quite catch that big sundrenched indie rock sound. Resurrection or no? For now, the jury’s out.

Shadow History

Shadow History demos
Photo by Andrew Noble


Light Traveller

Celestial rock



Cottage Industry Recordings

Lo-fi shambolism




Original shoegaze