INTERVIEW BY JOE FITZPATRICK
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY THE SHACK BAND
Formed in 2009 as “an organic, impromptu and free-flowing collection of musicians,” THE SHACK BAND began jamming together in a renovated shack in Blacksburg, Va. The following year, the band members relocated to Richmond to focus on their music and build a career around the band. Once a lineup was solidified, which includes vocalist and keyboard player Andrew Gillespie, bassist/vocalist Mason Owen, guitarist/vocalist Hunter Pease, saxophonist Josh Crowley, and drummer Bobby Hudson, the band began an ambitious touring schedule. Since 2012, they have been playing upwards of 250 shows or more each year both up and down the east coast, and as far west as Chicago. Currently they are on tour promoting the release of their new album America and the new musical direction they have decided to pursue.
How is your current tour going?
It’s going great. We’re currently in the green room at The Fillmore in Silver Spring, Md., and we’re opening for MOON TAXI tonight. Then we will be heading on to Wilmington and Greenville, N.C., and Clinton, S.C. this week. We just put out a new album in September so we’re touring in support of that album, which has been really great. We’ve had a couple cool things fall in line with getting a new booking agency and putting out the CD, and having a good PR agency to work with. We’re running on all cylinders right now.
What booking agency are you working with?
Our booking agency is Nimblestick [Entertainment] out of Athens, Ga., and our PR agency is Serge [Media Group] out of Atlanta. We have a lot of folks working with us in the Georgia area.
Your most recent album is titled America. Why did you decide to name it that?
“America” is the name of the title track on that CD, and it kind of marks a different direction for us as a song-driven band, which is a departure from what we used to do with our roots being in the jam rock scene. This CD is driven entirely by songs so you aren’t going to hear a lot of guitar solos or saxophone solos on it, but you’re gonna hear some really good songs with some jam band elements.
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE SHACK BAND’S NEW ALBUM
With your new musical direction, how did the writing process for America compare to your previous EP Born & Raised?
First of all, we’re really lucky to have a great songwriter that fronts our band. He is very prolific, so we had basically two and a half albums of material going into the studio, and we narrowed that down to our favorite 13 tracks, which is a great spot to be in when you are narrowing down tracks. This record is kind of about the state of America and how we’re treating our world around us, and it is also kind of about wading through life in your 20s.
I was browsing your band’s Instagram page, and I saw one of your more recent posts about the Ebola hot tub at the Howard Johnson in Charlotte, N.C., and personally, I think “Tourbola” should be the name of your next tour. What do you think?
Sometimes it feels like we have Ebola on tour (laughs). It’s kind of rough on the body.
What is one of your personal favorite memories from a previous tour?
A year or so we were playing a frat party down in South Carolina, and me and our guitarist were interviewing all the drunk frat boys with a microphone that wasn’t plugged in. We ran around campus for about an hour interviewing all of these drunk frat boys for a fake TV show (laughs). That was pretty good because they thought there were going to be interviewed but didn’t realize we weren’t pointing a real camera at them.
Did you have a name for your fake TV show?
We didn’t even need to come up with a name (laughs). We were just shouting questions in their face and putting the microphone in their mouth.
As the year is winding down, which festivals did you enjoy playing the most this year?
We did a great run of festivals this summer. All of them were great including Mad Tea Party and Camp Barefoot, and FloydFest was a big standout for us. We had great crowds, and it is in Floyd, Va., which is not too far from our home base. That was great because we got a to see a lot of great acts like THE THIEVERY CORPORATION, THE SOUTHERN BELLES, and TALK. So that was exciting for us, and we got to meet and interact with a lot of new people that were into the band and people that we’ve seen out at shows subsequently.
I saw on your website that one of your goals for 2014 was playing over 200 shows. Do you know if you hit your goal this year?
We have a spreadsheet with all of our show info, but I haven’t looked at it lately. I think we’re on track for maybe the 150-160 range as we wind up the year, which is a great year. That translates to us traveling with 150 shows maybe 170 or 180 days this year, which Is a lot. We’re really lucky to be able to play that many shows in support of our original music. It’s not something that a lot of people can do, and we’re real happy to be able to do that and support ourselves playing our original music.
What are your goals as a band for 2015?
We’re gonna start making our new record, and we also have some plans in the pipeline for doing a YouTube series and some more videos, and I’m gonna be doing some more blogging for the band so people can get a little insight into the process it takes in writing songs and what it’s like being out on the road. Not every tour is like a MOTLEY CRUE tour. Most of the time it’s you trying to keep yourself healthy and trying to not eat as much McDonald’s as your last run.
So are you going to provide some health tips for touring?
Potentially (laughs). I’ve been doing yoga trying to keep my body right on the road because if you don’t feel good, you don’t play good. So less McDonald’s, more yoga, and better living this year.
For more updates on THE SHACK BAND, be sure to visit their website, “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, Instagram, and Reverbnation, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and check out their music on Bandcamp.