AN INTERVIEW WITH THE SHANDIES
The Shandies are Jake and Jason on guitar and vocals, Paul on bass and recently Jordan on drums, and that’s all kid energy and smart slack and wry buzzing, really the boon humanoids awaited. Fired by a collective good gash to the head, they sound like they taught themselves everything, add quite the honest lyrics.
Their latest EP Rock Music ties the ends between their live sound and some of their old materials. There lies the root of the soot.
WHAT’S IT LIKE GROWING UP IN VIRGINIA? WHAT FUCKED YOU UP? ARE YOU PLANNING ON GETTING OUT OF THERE?
JAKE: Virginia, or at least the part I grew up in right by Washington, DC, was a decent place to grow up, just your average American suburban upbringing I suppose. However as someone in my early 20’s it can be pretty damn boring, I am absolutely getting the heck outta here in the next few years; Philadelphia, Nashville, and Richmond are top contenders.
I wouldn’t say I’m really “fucked up” per se, again my upbringing was pretty routine, but I am a bit of a weirdo and so is my family. I guess that’s where it stems from.
THIS IS THE QUESTION ABOUT THE LOCAL MUSIC SCENE. FRIENDS, SHOW, HOW DOES THE AIR SMELL OVER THERE ETC.
DC is a cool music town with some great history, but there’s a real lack of a cohesive sound. I guess that’s common in the digital age, though I am a bit jealous of some cities like Chicago or Philly that seem to have a tight knit community who influence each other. If you dig deep there’s some great experimental and outsider music but I’m not too into that sort of stuff.
Teen Mortgage and The Firnats are two local groups that sound pretty close to us; and TM actually introduced us to the guy who now plays drums for us (Jordan). Some other lovely groups we like who don’t sound much like us include Venn (shoegaze), Ryland Wilkins and the Intrepid Travelers (synth-y dream pop), XK Scenario (prog-hop), Ruse de Guerre (grunge), Snail Mail (you know who they are), Melanie’s Magic Mellotron (psych pop), and there are definitely a ton of bands I’m forgetting right now because it’s 2AM as I’m typing this but you know who you are. A lot of these bands I’ve mentioned have also been big supporters of our music in the past so it’s nice to be able to shout them out.
LIKE MANY, I FIRST HEARD YOU MUSIC THROUGH KEGZ. THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO SAY SOMETHING NICE ABOUT FATHER KEGZ.
Kegz is the man, he runs a fantastic channel. The thing I like about his profile over some other similar ones (not naming any names) is he is very willing to give the little guys a chance. Some other channels will post more established artists for guaranteed views, but Kegz almost exclusively posts stuff that barely anyone has heard. That’s really great.
Even though the 5000 views or so he’s given us isn’t much in the big picture it’s still, like, 4500 more than we would have gotten otherwise. There’s so much music readily available these days that its super tough to convince random people to give a shit about you.
THERE IS A GREAT SENTIMENT BEHIND “I JUST WANT TO BE COOL,” A BROAD TRADITION OF THE UNCOOL. WHO’S COOL?
Lou Reed was cool, David Bowie was cool, Iggy Pop is cool, Bob Dylan is cool, Patti Smith is cool, I can go on. Anyone who took their own unique personality and inspired large masses attempt to copy them. That song is me making fun of myself and others for aspiring to such vanity. Image is an important part of rock n roll but “cool” certainly isn’t a word I’d use to describe ours and I don’t see the point in trying too hard to achieve what others have done so many times before.
I HEAR A BIT OF DOWN IN HEAVEN WHEN I LISTEN TO CERTAIN SONGS, A CHEEKY APPROACH TO DISASTER. WHAT INFLUENCES YOU? MUSIC YOU GREW UP WITH?
Good ear, we’re big fans of Twin Peaks, we’ve covered “Making Breakfast” a few times in the past. Their live show is insane. I started writing the first songs specifically for this band around the time the singles for Down In Heaven were being released and I listened to that record a ton during that following summer. I can see how their influence must’ve snuck in on me.
I grew up listening to my dad’s classic rock CDs; lots of Led Zeppelin, Guns n Roses, AC/DC, Jimi Hendrix, etc. Not so much stuff I listen to anymore but it has certainly informed my current music taste and it’s also the music that inspired me to start playing the guitar.
It might seem cliché to say but I take influence from a bunch of different stuff when I write music, primarily in the rock n roll side of things. I’m a big fan of old proto-punk stuff like The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, and The Modern Lovers; classic alt-rock like The Replacements, Dinosaur Jr (my all-time favorite band), The Cure, and Pavement; country-folk singers like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Fred Neil, and Hank Williams Sr, and of course garage rock revivalists like Ty Segall, Black Lips, Billy Childish, and Parquet Courts. There are some other odds and ends that inspire me as well that don’t really fit into those categories like Weezer and Black Sabbath.
OVERALL YOUR FIRST ALBUM, SEEMS A SHAME, SPEAKS NICELY ABOUT TIME PASSING AND DEALING WITH THE PAST. “ROCK MUSIC” BREAKS AWAY FROM THAT. HOW DID THE CHANGE HAPPEN?
Seems a Shame was all written between February and November of 2016 if I recall correctly. It was also recorded before we had played any shows and half the songs are studio creations, as in, we never even attempted to play them together before we started recording parts. “Rock Music” is definitely more reflective of our live sound and attitude since we knew what we sounded like as a band before approaching the project.
The theme of passing time is always invading my conscious thoughts so it makes sense that it makes an appearance in nearly all of my songs on that record, especially considering how short of a time frame it was written in. There’s also a ton of self-deprecating humor in those songs, those overtly melodramatic statements that I make aren’t to be taken seriously. I often go for quotability over complete transparency.
“Rock Music” is actually compiled of old songs dating back as far as 2014 that didn’t quite fit with the others, though I kind of wish we put the song “Now I Realize” on the first project but what are you gonna do?
FROM WHAT I FIGURED, “BETTER PLACE” IS A RELIC FROM THE TIME THE BAND WAS CALLED ABSYNTHE. SO IS “I JUST WANT TO BE COOL.” WHAT MADE YA KEEP THESE?
Absynthe was a little recording project me and some buddies started while we were in high school, it’s not actually an early incarnation of this current band. We sorta stopped playing together before we finished writing enough songs, so we never played a single show. A lot of those songs sucked anyways.
“Better Place” was the first song I wrote where I figured out my method to writing, beforehand all my songs seemed a bit forced. I wrote it in like 30 minutes and I barely had to think about the lyrics or what chords came next. That’s a pretty rare experience in songwriting but it was a transitive one, I had a similar experience when I wrote “Seems a Shame” (the song). I kept “Better Place” and “I Just Want To Be Cool” around because I liked the songs a lot and they never got played live, so it felt like a waste to just throw them out.
WHEN CAN WE EXPECT NEW CONTENT?
Short Answer - Not sure.
Long Answer - I’ve written a bunch of new songs in the past year that I’m pretty excited about but we’re not sure when the next full-length project will be out, we just started making some demos of these tracks and we even started playing one of them live. We are going to be shelling out some gig-money this summer to book some studio time to record a 7” single, but we aren’t sure what side-B will be yet or who’s going to release it so it might be a long time before you get to hear it. Find out next time on Dragonball Z.
photo by JOSEPH SEILER