Shyy is a three-piece band hailing from Oshawa, Ontario. The group is a product evolved from numerous past groups finding a sound that works. Composed of Joe Frost (guitar, vocals), Trevor Rolfe (drums), and Kevin Nock (bass, vocals), Shyy draws from early punk and adds elements of beach rock and hazy distortion that fades in and out of the nostalgic atmosphere they create. Kevin Nock recently took some time to provide insight into the vision and creativity behind Shyy, and discussed the value of live music.
Let’s start with your name. Where did Shyy come from?
Nock: We were throwing out names back and forth, and Trevor (our drummer) suggested something like ‘The Shys’ and we all liked how that sounded. Joe (our guitarist/vocalist) thought of Shyy beyond that.
Tell me about how Shyy formed; how long have you guys been jamming?
Nock: Joe and Trevor played together in previous bands around Oshawa (Strange Peaks, Pine Gathering) and their last band was called Seth. Joe and I had known each other, at that point, for a few years and have played music together a couple times just for fun, but it was never anything serious. Anyway, I would go over some days when they had a band practice and a few of us ended up working on some live video of them playing. When the bass player in the band Seth left to join Native Other, Joe asked me to join. I learned their songs and slowly practicing turned into improvising over new riffs. We realized we had a good chemistry together and decided to drop the Seth name and start something different. We’ve been playing together under the Shyy for a few months now.
What is the writing process like for the band?
Nock: Joe and I are both constantly writing on our own time and bringing in new ideas to try. I can’t speak for how he writes on his own, but a lot of my writing starts on an acoustic guitar. I’ll record it on my phone and text it to Joe and Trevor, and they will come up with some really amazing ideas. We’re working on a song right now called “Supermarket” that started that way. When Joe brings a song to the band usually it’s already fairly close to having a finished structure with multiple sections. We’ll jam it out a few times and Trevor and I will come up with a rhythm section. After that point if things need to change we’ll all work on it together.
Some of our more complex songs we write together from the beginning. When we play live we start and finish the set with two long post-rock influenced pieces that were written in Joe’s apartment in Guelph over a weekend. Trevor contributes to the song writing process as well beyond just drumming. Him and I have collaborated on lyrics on a few songs. He’s really good at coming up with one or two good lines that make for a good chorus, and I’ll take those lines and write around them and add some simple music. An important part of our band is that everybody has something to contribute and it isn’t just one person bringing in new material.
Check out the song “Departure”
What value do you place in a local music scene?
Nock: It’s invaluable. I believe the local scene is finally getting some more attention as people realize that talent doesn’t have to fill stadiums, it can fill coffee shops and basements as well. There is really no better feeling than playing a set and then standing front row as all your friends take the stage to play their music. It really connects people and it’s great to feel like you’re a part of something, even if that something is playing in front of ten people on a Tuesday night.
Name some influences and bands you guys draw inspiration from!
Nock: Lately, we’ve all sort of been into the Hotelier and like everything on the Run for Cover record label. We have our own separate influences that we bring into our individual playing styles. I have a very progressive rock musical background that sometimes finds its way into my bass playing. Bands like King Crimson, Genesis or Soft Machine. I think the fact that we all have unique music tastes that kind of converge in the middle is what makes playing music with both of them so much fun. They think of ideas, melodies and rhythms that force me to step out of what I am comfortable with.
Your music seems to have a timeless element, as it draws on early punk sounds. What are your thoughts on time and music?
Nock: We definitely love all those old punks. We wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing without them. I think it’s important to acknowledge your influences and inspirations but equally important to look forward and carve out your own identity. I grew up on what some people would deem the classics. I was very fortunate that my parents were both into music and got me playing at a young age, but I also love what has been happening with music in my own generation. You hear it all the time that music just isn’t what it used to be, but I don’t think those people are looking too far beyond their own record collections. There is a whole other side to music that is very exploratory most people seem to avoid.
What’s on your iPod these days?
Nock: The past few weeks I’ve been listening to some Palma Violets, Joyce Manor, Title Fight, Smith Westerns and The Cure. The new Cloakroom song “Lossed Over” has also been on repeat.
How important are lyrics to you?
Nock: Lyrics are the most important aspect of writing a new song for me. I find that my favourite bands are all very lyrical.
What are some favourite spots you’ve played in?
Nock: This past week we played back to back nights at Mugshots in Ottawa and Smiling Buddha in Toronto. Both venues were great. I tend to like the smaller more intimate spaces more than venues with a larger stage. It just feels a bit strange having so much room. I get a bit disconnected and have a hard time getting into the music. I like looking into the crowd and seeing all my best friends dancing two feet away from us.
You’ve recorded some of your live rehearsals. Was there intention behind this?
Nock: We had a show coming up and wanted to have some material people could listen to before they came to see us play. A good friend of ours, Brad, came over and helped us record and mix the one we have on our Bandcamp page. On my SoundCloud I’ve recorded some rehearsals and demos as well. I admit that it’s for selfish reasons, I like looking back on old recordings. If you ask anybody who has played music with me in the past I’m sure something they’ll tell you is how annoying I can be with an audio recorder.
Who have you enjoyed sharing the stage with?
Nock: We just got back from a week long tour with Viva Mars, and they were some of the best shows I have been a part of. Also, playing with Holy Mount and Benjamin Reines & the Blood Machine Band was great. I really like when all the bands on the bill play different genres of music. It makes for an interesting show, I think.
What role does each member play in the band and what do they bring to the table sound-wise, and in general?
Nock: Joe Frost plays guitar and sings, Trevor Rolfe is the drummer and I play bass and sing. It feels like just recently we found a sound that we can describe as Shyy and it took all of us equally to get to that point. Our individual influence pulls in different directions at different strengths on any given song. Aside from the music, humour is a huge part of our band, we try not to take ourselves too seriously.
Do you guys have anything in the works?
Nock: We just released our first single a few days ago and we’re going to start recording next week. I can’t put a date on when anything new will be released, but we’re hoping early in the new year. There might also be a split 7″ in the future, we’re talking about it.
Check out the album ‘Live Rehearsals’