Just like most bands, Shook Ones formed out of the demise of several other bands. Since then, the Bellingham, WA five-piece has been churning out an energetic mix of melodic hardcore and pop punk. Staff writer Michael recently corresponded with the band via email as they are in the midst of their first US tour. Here's how it went down...
Scene Point Blank: First off, introduce yourself/instrument/beverage of choice.
Kelly: Kelly/Guitar/Odwalla Strawberry C Monster
Scene Point Blank: You and Sinking Ships are currently in the midst of a US tour together, how have the shows being going thus far?
Kelly: We actually don't meet up till tonight, but it's been going pretty alright. We've had a lot of shows in the south kind of not work out, which is a bumout because a) we really wanted to play the south, and b) days off suck, but all of the shows we've actually been able to play have been good. Plus, we saw Lifetime in Austin, and that's really all that matters.
Scene Point Blank: Last week you guys hit up the South by Southwest Music/Film Festival. What was it like taking part in the event? Did you get to catch any other performances while you were in town?
Kelly: SXSW was a trip. We're not really part of the industry at all, so we all felt really out of place. There were tons of hipsters with ironic facial hair and old industry geeks trying too hard to be young, and it just made us feel awkward. We still had a great time - snuck into the Morrissey show, saw Lifetime, met Dan Yemin, stayed with some of the craziest dudes we've ever met, broke our van window, shoplifted the shit out of Whole Foods. And even with all the douche-baggery going on, the large majority of the people we encountered were really nice. Personally, I got to see Owen, Lifetime, and Morrissey all in one week, so I was pretty amped on that. I think Bo and Funds saw more music in that one weekend than in the last year combined.
Scene Point Blank: How did you guys end up hooking up with Revelation? Was it hard to leave Endwell behind?
Kelly: Paul from Sinking Ships knew Bob at Rev. Sinking Ships started talking to Rev about working together and somehow we got involved in the conversation as well. We started talking to Bob, he turned out to be a righteous dude, so we decided it would be stupid of us to not sign with Rev. No matter how many bad records they've put over the last few years, it's still fucking Rev, and Bob is as solid as a dude can get. Endwell was good, but it would have been dumb for us and dumb for them for us not to take the step up to Rev - it's only gonna garner both us and them more attention.
Scene Point Blank: Slaughter of the Insole is easily one of the best titles for a record I've heard in years. How'd you guys come up with that?
Kelly: Scotty's a clever dude. I'd ask him, but we're in the Birmingham Public Library right now and I have no idea where he is.
Scene Point Blank: The song "So Grown Up" veered away from typical punk/hardcore and had a much catchier rock vibe to it, is this something that we can expect more of on the next record?
Kelly: Probably. We've got a lot of big ideas and have been listening to a lot of ridiculous shit, so chances are there will be a few things that will veer away from the typical punk/hardcore sound. I mean, we're still gonna be ripping off Lifetime, but we're gonna try and rip off some other bands, too.
Scene Point Blank: There is a definite influence from Lifetime and Jawbreaker in your sound, but what are some of the less obvious influences?
Kelly: We all listen to vastly different things, so it's sort of a combination of each of us trying to incorporate our interests. I love dumb pop punk like Fall Out Boy and Taking Back Sunday, Scotty loves clever stuff like Billy Bragg and Belle & Sebastian. Funds loves silly shit like Bathory and Celtic Frost. We're all lifting different aspects of our favorite music and trying to apply it to what we do.
Scene Point Blank: It seems that combining melodic hardcore/pop punk is becoming increasingly popular lately, thus producing a lot of clones. How important is it for you to do something different and have your own sound?
Kelly: It's less about trying to be individual and more about doing something that's interesting to us. The comparisons to Lifetime and Kid Dynamite are obvious, but we like to think we're doing things a little different, and that difference is what makes it interesting to us. Being a straight clone seems really boring, and it's cool if other bands are into that â€“ I'm sure it can be fun - but it's not really fulfilling to us on a personal level. We definitely want to write music that people like and that's fun to listen to, but we also want to write stuff that's exciting to us. Hopefully what's interesting and exciting to us will translate into something that's unique and fun for other people, but if not, we're ok with that.
Scene Point Blank: The lyrical subject matter that makes up the bulk of punk and hardcore is fairly tired. Shook Ones seems to steer away from this, how important is it to tread new ground as opposed to fall into old stereotypes?
Kelly: This is actually something that is pretty important to us, particularly Scotty. By-the-numbers punk/hardcore has its place, and we like plenty of bands that sing about dumb things in dumb ways, but it's definitely possible to sing about universal subjects (relationships, growing up, loss) in interesting ways. There are also plenty of subjects that get completely ignored within punk/hardcore. Singing about silly shit can be fun, but it gets old and I know Scotty doesn't really find it fulfilling or expressive.
Scene Point Blank: Next month you guys will be doing a string of shows with Paint it Black and The Loved Ones. How stoked are you to perform with those bands?
Kelly: As stoked as humanly possible. I shook Dan Yemin's hand.
Scene Point Blank: Life in the Northwest is often painted as very dreary and depressing - mostly due to the weather. Would you consider this to be a just depiction?
Kelly: I'd say this changes from person to person. Personally, 60 days of straight clouds can definitely put a damper on my mood, but I know plenty of people who are into that sort of weather and wouldn't want to live anywhere else. It's not really as bad as a lot of people think either - sure, it rains a lot, but we just watched Dallas have a ridiculous lightning storm where the roads got flooded. That shit never happens in Washington. Also, summers in the Northwest are pretty much impossible to beat, so it's a fair trade.
Scene Point Blank: The hardcore scene of the Northwest is booming as of late. What bands would recommend to our readers check out?
Kelly: In Stride completely blew us out of the water last time we played with them in Vancouver. Daggermouth are sweet dudes and a sweet band. The Helm is doing some interesting shit. Lahar is perpetually raging and vicious. Legit is the best band most people have never heard.
Scene Point Blank: Best 90's act to come from Washington and why (doesn't have to be hardcore)?
Kelly: This would be a matter of huge contention among us, but I'm gonna go ahead and say Sunny Day Real Estate. Diary has got to be one of the most amazingly complete albums I've ever heard in my life.
Scene Point Blank: What plans does Shook Ones have for the Summer?
Kelly: Summer is actually gonna be kind of chill for us, most likely. When we get back from this tour with the Ships we're gonna write the next LP and record it at the end of June. We might do some touring in July, and then we're gonna try to hit Europe in August before the LP comes out in September, at which point we'll make another trip round the states. We also desperately want to go to Japan, and we haven't forgotten about Canada.
Scene Point Blank: Anything else you'd like to add/share?
Kelly: Dan Terr is a beautiful man. 2006: Go big or go home. Thanks.
Scene Point Blank's review of Slaughter of the Insole can be found here.
Interview & Layout by Michael.
Photography courtesy John Campbell.