The Shears have quickly broken out in the Austin music scene with their danceable pop rock. These guys have been playing together since the summer of last year, have played around 10 shows and were already named one of the top 10 Austin indie bands by the Austin Music Awards. Carter and I got a chance to talk to The Shears this past weekend at their rehearsal space in North Austin. They even played a couple songs for us. Private mini concert with front row seats — we’re loving the perks of being music bloggers. We talked to them about how they formed, where they’re going, how they feel about the nineties and more. Check out snippets of the interview below.
Ovrld = Carter and Dan
The Shears = Aaron – Guitar/keys Inné – Lead Vocals Jon – Drums Albert – Keyboards Tommy – Bass
Ovrld: So how did you guys come about?
Aaron: Well, I actually placed an ad on Craigslist. I had a lot of demo songs I was working on. I had gone through thirty or forty people … And then Inné responded when I was at work and she was like, something to the effect of, “You don’t know it yet but I’m the singer for the band your starting.” And I was like who is this crazy girl? And then I sent her “Defibrillator” and she turned around and sent it back to me with vocals in less than 24 hours. Then Jon called me a couple days later and asked me if I was looking for a drummer and I happened to be. And we had played in a previous band together. We just started writing a bunch of songs in the middle of summer last year, and we played a couple shows as a three piece. Then we needed more people so we didn’t have to deal with backing tracks and so forth.
O: You went through 30 or 40 people on Craigslist?
Aaron: Maybe more, actually including all the emails. Most of them were: “Hey man you want to play some Skynard?” Did you even read the ad? You know as a musician, you’ve experienced the terrors of Craigslist. It’s horrible. So we’re really lucky.
O: Some of you guys have been in bands around here before right?
Aaron: Yeah, I think everybody. We’re all veterans of the Austin scene.
O: How is this band different than some of the other ones you guys have been in before?
Inné: It’s amazing.
Albert: Yeah, it’s awesome.
Inné: We keep writing stuff that is just awesome. I don’t know if you guys have been in the situation where you’ve been in a band and are like, “Eehhh, this music is ok.” But this one’s like “Fuck. Yes.” Our music is awesome. It’s great everybody here is so talented and brings it.
Jon: Yeah, I think we were careful not to add anybody that might screw up the awesomeness. That’s why we started up as a three piece. We didn’t even know if we wanted to add anybody else. It’s like the mafia; we’re only gonna add certain people in it. It just started working from the beginning and then we met these guys and within a short amount of time we knew each other and it just worked.
O: With the new members of the band how did the sound change?
Aaron: When I was demoing songs, obviously I’m not a drummer and I’m just a half-ass keyboard player and bass player. So, now we have people devoted to that and Albert’s like a near virtuoso level piano player. And I can walk over to the piano and hack away at some horrible chords and he’s like oh you mean like this? (makes crazy virtuoso piano sound)
O: You guys have associated yourselves with a lot of hype-heavy bands like Speak and Fresh Millions. How did you guys do that?
Inné: I don’t know it kind of fell in our lap. I think the universe is conspiring with us and they want us to work with awesome people. It just happened. We meet people and we’re like, “Hey we’re The Shears want to play together?”
Jon: It helps that people are excited about you, excited about what you’re doing.
Aaron: I think we just go out to shows, try to be a part of the scene and that’s a big part of it. You go and support the bands and you get to meet them and they support you and that’s how it happens. They’ll play a show one day and want you to play the show. Just been very lucky I guess.
O: We’ve been noticing some 80’s metal 80’s hard rock being weaved into your guitar solos.
Jon: That’s a taboo topic.
Aaron: Well, my first band in Austin was a cock rock band and yeah I grew up listening to all 80s music. Including the 80s cock rock or metal, whatever you want to call it. Even Billy Idol or whatever. Now that the 80s are back in fashion, we finally get to do those things again and it’s ok. In the 90s: “You can’t play guitar solos.” — alternative and grunge. We really don’t do that. I mean we have one song with a solo but it’s just that we try to refrain from doing that.
Inné: We get that 80s thing a lot, which is true. We’re coming out with 5 songs, but we have so many songs we have written and they’re all different. We’re always trying to do something different — always incorporating different genres. And you’re going to hear that more after this EP. We’re incorporating a little more of each decade: 60s, 70s. There are a lot of things going on in our band like even a lot of jazz undertones and we’re all trying to make it fit together.
O: What is your guys’ writing process?
Inné: Aaron and I are mostly the ones that are doing the melodies and lyrics. He’ll pop out a song or an instrumental and he’s like here’s this and I’ll come out with some ideas…
Albert: Aaron’s got totally awesome ideas that he brings to us. I mean we go through a lot of songs. Some we don’t keep.
Aaron: I was going through it the other day we actually have 945 songs demoed out on one hard drive. Not all of them are complete but probably at least 600 of them are. Just try to write as much as you possibly can and hopefully good songs will come out. I feel like if you write a hundred songs, two or three really good ones will come out of it. Rather than try to spend a lot on one or two just try to write as much as you can.
O: When you have that kind of volume how do you determine which ones to go with?
Albert: Aaron either emails us or puts the song in a dropbox and we’ll listen to it and try to practice it and play. If we like it, we’ll develop it.
Jon: There are like several stages. You get the original demo and feel like “Ah yeah that’s cool.” and then I’ll put drums and she’ll put vocals on it and be like, “Oh this is still cool.” So we’ll try to practice it and if it works that’s cool. And if it works in a show and fits in a set we go from there.
Tommy: Sort of like a continued evolution.
O: Are you guys consciously steering towards a particular sound?
Albert: It’s more like a feel. If there’s a song that kind of brings the energy down, at the wrong time we’ll want to take it out of the set, move it somewhere else or take it out and keep building the energy. We don’t want a dull moment.
Aaron: I sent those two new demos to a friend of mine. And his response was: “They’re both great songs but ‘Shotgun’ is really like raw indie sounding and ‘Waiting’ is more refined pop. So I guess it just depends on what you want to do.” For me, I guess I don’t really care. I’m not thinking about which one it is. If it’s a good song and it fits the context of the set and the show let’s play it. People want to label you. I know it’s cliche to say, “Don’t label me.” but at the same time it’s not really a concern.
Tommy: I think we just try to limit ourselves to songs that are awesome.
Inné: It’s true that’s one of the things I love about The Shears. Every band before this that I have been in are like we have to go for this; this is the sound we have to do; we can’t do anything else. So with the Shears it’s like, yeah, we’re dancing. Let’s do it. If it makes us move let’s do it.
Jon: I think it just has to have some kind of energy that makes you want to move whether it’s dancing or running or whatever.
Inné: Something that creates some sort of emotion. Every song has a different emotion that makes me so excited…
O: We noticed a lot of the song titles are objects like “Air Balloon” “Defibrillator” “Shotgun.” When you’re trying to go for emotion do you think in terms of metaphors?
Inné: I was upset at the time and we used “Air Balloon” something as a metaphor. How is it like living up there in that hot air you know, your head is so full you think you’re above everybody else. That’s why the song chorus is: “Up you go my little air balloon.” because it’s like how far can you go like how much are you going to try to prove that you’re better than everybody else. We’ve had a lot of experiences in this band. But I try to use that … well I don’t try but it happens. Every lyrics means something or another; how you take it is up to you.
O: With your stage show you clearly have a lot of energy. Do you guys think about all the other aspects to it? Like what you’re going to wear or what you’re going to do during the show.
Inné: Clothes for sure. I’m very big on that. I love big flashy shiny shit.
Jon: Yeah, she wouldn’t let us go on stage looking frumpy.
Inné: I’d be like, “No, turn back around!” I think it’s very important to put on a wonderful visual show. Obviously if the music is good you’re going to come anyways, but it’s fun to be visually stimulated as well and I love fashion. So I think it’s obviously a very big part of it.
Albert: We’re all about making it a show visually and everything.
Aaron: I think eventually we just want to make this show a big event. Albert and I were just talking about having little pieces of music in between the songs and having the set just be one big long thing so that it’s consistent and there’s never really any dead time. So it’s really kind of theatrical and just so that the people who paid money actually get entertainment and a big show. That’s kind of the end goal; we’re still working towards it. So it’s not just people staring at their feet or it’s not just something you can see everyday. We want to do something that’s big and memorable.
The Shears are releasing an EP mixed by Troupe Gammage from Speak. It was great talking to these guys and finding out a little bit more about where they came from and where we’ll see them going. We’re definitely looking forward to the EP and the release show on May 20th at the Parish with Fresh Millions, Zlam Dunk, Hank & Cupcakes, Sphynx and of course The Shears. Be sure to check it out! Also, The Shears have been releasing a new song off their EP every week on their Facebook Page so go there for some more sweet tunes.
-Carter and Dan