We recently had the chance to catch up with vocalist Jodie Schell and drummer Nick Woods of the hard rocking band, The Shakers. We spoke at length about their new disc, Rescue Team, and their unique retro approach to recording. The band also currently has an Indiegogo campaign to fund the vinyl version of the new record. Here is how the conversation went!
As an audio engineer and self-proclaimed audiophile I find it interesting that you recorded to analog tape. How did that come about?
Nick: It’s something we’ve all been interested in for a long time. When you get talking with other musician’s you find it’s a lot of artist’s fantasy because of the honest, warm, and natural sound that analog tape captures. That type of sound lends itself beautifully to our style of music. Let’s be real, this is how many of our favorite records have been recorded! Speaking of favorite records, our friends in a band from Phoenix, AZ called Black Carl recorded to tape, and when we heard their stuff we were like “WOW!! That sounds SOOOO good, how did they get that to sound so good!” So we’ve been anxious to have the opportunity to record to tape, and we got it!
Was the whole record done this way or just the single, “Over and Under”?
Nick: The whole record.
Nowadays everything is done in the digital realm, did you find it difficult and did it take significantly longer to record this way?
Nick: It was actually not any more difficult, and if anything it was more fun! The only added time came when we were listening back to takes; you have to actually “rewind” the tape. But that was so cool to see and hear, and was way more interesting than clicking a mouse. We definitely made sure we were tight before going in for tracking so we didn’t have to do too many takes. Although with that said, there are still some little imperfections, but that is because we are human, but we like the live and natural vibe that comes with these imperfections.
Check out the song “Over and Under”
Are you happy with the way the record is turning out?
Nick: YES! This is definitely going to be the best representation of our “sound” captured on a recording to date.
Jodie: Definitely. We’ve come a long way since Oh So Loud; a lot of miles and months and lessons and losses. We can’t wait until our fans can click play on this album and experience that journey with us.
Your new disc, Rescue Team, is due for release this Spring and was self-produced. What was that experience like? Would you do it again?
Nick: I think it is very natural for a collaborative band like us to self-produce a record. We write the songs and have a very good idea of how we want them to sound. We were there when they first came to life in the rehearsal room, so it makes sense to have the say in how they come to life on a recording. It is a 100% creative experience that is very enjoyable, so we would definitely do it again. With that said, there are some big name producers out there that we would definitely love to work with. If we are able to work with a producer who has the experience we will absolutely be excited to have them help us create a sound that we may not find on our own.
You guys just played a nearly sold-out show at the legendary Roxy Theatre, what was that like?
Jodie: When the curtains rose at The Roxy show, the guys had me standalone onstage singing the intro of our song “I’ll Find You”. The feeling when I looked out on that audience, with the sea of familiar faces, and my Mom and Dad at the VIP booth in back was overwhelming. There’s a weird balance of panic and bliss that I have no ability to properly describe.
Nick: It is so exhilarating! Your adrenaline starts kicking in, the sound is so huge and amazing, and in turn it brings out the best in all of us.
Jodie: The show will always standout in our history because that was the show that Kyle pulled up his girlfriend Jade and proposed onstage. It was the perfect way to start 2013: romantic and heartfelt. He turned the place into one big family.
What is your writing process like, do you all write together?
Jodie: We do write together. Every song has its own life cycle and story, I feel – but most our songs have a similar start: Nick and Chris and Kyle will get a nip of mischief at a rehearsal and start jamming something. If there’s something weird or interesting about it, we get addicted and revisit over and over like maniacs until the patterns and momentum emerge a little more. That’s when I start adding a melody or confessions. Of course some songs are more calculated, but the majority of Shakers songs took a lot of risks and a lot of trust.
Do you have a favorite track off, Rescue Team, or one that has a good story behind it?
Nick: No way!! I can’t pick a favorite. That’s like picking your favorite child.
Jodie: Hardest question ever! Aye aye aye. They are all magic, poignant, perfect babies. Ahaha. I had to tell a guy last week he couldn’t buy “I Spy” yet and he couldn’t handle his emotions. He pounded the merch table. Ahaha I can’t wait to put the song in that guy’s hands. I call it my Dusty Springfield song. I didn’t write a single thing in it, but I love that the guys employed these pop melody mechanics and gave them this unique, aching, soulful rock spin. I could see Dusty Springfield wanting to perform it, in a blonde beehive and jewels. And “Whatcha Want” is my Tina Turner song: it’s like a dagger. I want her to hear it! It’s a call-to-arms against that lowlife that steals all your thunder. And by ‘arms’, I like to imagine Tina Turner’s high-heels as I sing it.
What kind of touring plans do you have in support of the record?
Jodie: Our first steps when we introduce Rescue Team will definitely include our hometown. And “hometown” has a lot of different meanings for us because we were “born” in Philly, but our first steps were in LA, then our stomping grounds were New York, and Tempe, and San Francisco, and Phoenix, and Jerome, and our Utah roots in Springdale, Cedar City, St. George, Park City, and more! We’ll be road trippin’ fools in our Honda Element with Turtle on top.
What is next for The Shakers?
Nick: Can we say world domination? Haha. Well, we are going to really push this record when it comes out. Play a lot of shows. Start writing new material. Figure out how to get to Europe. Probably submit to a grip of indie labels to see what opportunities are out there. We’ll also try to work our way onto some bigger bills and festivals, and get to a point where we can all quit our day jobs.
Check out The Shakers’ “Rescue Team” video