Shellac Go Greyhound
Albini remains one of the most respected audio engineers in the world, operating the Electrical Audio recording facility in Chicago. A punk pioneer to boot, Albini’s work in Big Black and support for fellow Touch & Go artists has had an immeasurable effect on underground music. A member of the reconstituted Mission of Burma, Weston is also a sought-after recording technician who recently launched a lab called Chicago Mastering Service. The mysterious Trainer has worked in the hair care industry for some time and offers drum lessons as well.
"As flattering as it is to have people interested in what you’re doing, we’re not doing the band for them; we’re doing it for ourselves,” Albini explains. "Not only is it not possible for us to do things any quicker, we don’t feel any internal pressure to do so. External considerations really don’t enter into our thinking.”
But make no mistake — Shellac aren’t indifferent to their audience. The band’s songs may be daunting, blending dark humour and blunt commentary with an unprecedented, minimalist mix of corrosive guitar, thundering drums, and slyly utilitarian bass, but there’s an undercurrent of fun to all things Shellac. Aside from some comically difficult arrangements and an entertaining array of subject matter, Shellac has an open rapport with fans. From hilarious banter and audience Q&A sessions to their presence on message boards, for a near-nihilistic punk band, Shellac is eager to engage with people.
"It would be ridiculous to isolate ourselves from the fans,” Trainer says. "If we’re going to travel around the world and people are going to pay to see us, the absolute least we can do is say ‘hello,’ ‘bonjour,’ or ‘ciao.’”
Without intention, Shellac has influenced legions of bands with a malleable yet idiosyncratic sound, lately exemplified by Excellent Italian Greyhound. The band’s earliest songs were relatively concise blasts of beautiful, post-hardcore muscle but, as Shellac progressed, their surreal take on riff-based, verse/chorus dynamics gave way to longer, more abstract pieces. In many ways, Excellent Italian Greyhound is the most coherent reflection of Shellac’s explorative nature.
"I guess I never really thought about it like that,” Weston admits. "We didn’t talk about songwriting or a ‘direction’ or change or anything. We just write songs that occur to us and interest us at the time. There’s no talk about it; we just do what sounds good to us all.”
Operating on their terms give Shellac a unique foothold. Making art for art’s sake, they do limited press, don’t issue any advance copies of their records, and are more thoughtful than flippant about avoiding the music industry’s "business as usual” practices. "A lot of the promotional world is about trying to convince people who don’t like your band to buy the record, or trying to convince people who don’t like your band that they’re somehow wrong,” Albini says. "We have no interest in that kind of coercion; it’s just not part of our perception of the band. We would prefer if people who came to our shows were people who wanted to be there and people that bought our records bought them because they liked them.”
FeaturesSep 02, 2015
FIDLARFast, Cheap and Back In Control
Beer. Cigarettes. Weed. Speed. Meth. Heroin. "Eight-balls of blow." Crack. These were just some of the substances Zac Carper mentioned on FI...
FeaturesAug 26, 2015
Beach HouseAll Natural
When Beach House announced their fifth album, Depression Cherry, back in May, Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand described it — in their...
FeaturesAug 21, 2015
Fred PennerAll My Children
It's been a good while since Fred Penner was on television, but these days, he's having a bit of a moment. He plays festivals regularly; he'...
FeaturesAug 20, 2015
The Exclaim! QuestionnaireCarly Rae Jepsen
Carly Rae Jepsen could have been a one-hit wonder. When the British Columbian singer/songwriter released a single titled "Call Me Maybe" ...
FeaturesAug 19, 2015
Coeur de pirateMap of the Heart
"All my fears and anxieties and all that crap that humans go through — I didn't face them because I was so busy putting my energy into...
FeaturesAug 10, 2015
Steam Whistle Unsigned presents Exclaim!'s Time Festival Preview
Steam Whistle Unsigned — the Canada-wide concert series promoting up-and-coming artists from across our nation — will return lat...
FeaturesJul 29, 2015
Titus AndronicusAmbition In Five Acts
Since Patrick Stickles rose up with fists held high in July 2005 as frontman for Titus Andronicus, he and the band have done nothing half-as...
FeaturesJul 06, 2015
BullyYouth and the Old School
Ask any musician who grew up listening to Nirvana, the Breeders or PJ Harvey what studio they'd love to record their debut album in, and cha...