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Allen Epley Joel Hamilton and Jason Gerkin have been added and Tim Dow decided it was time to leave. Somewhere in the writing for this record with Tim we began to want to hear more textures and layers in our sound, not louder, just thicker. Joel, from Boston Mass. and of Glazed Baby Fame, had been around KC for a few years doing recording and playing in Iron Rite Mangle, but was looking for something more steady. He was available, willing, very guitar able, cute, and hung like a bunny...so he was a shoe-in. He was there for a lot of the writing of this record. He does things on guitar I just don't know how to do; lots of linear parts and noises. Jason and Shiner have known each other for years and we've always loved the way he rocked, and he does rock. So when Tim told us he was going to move to L.A. we knew that he could be the perfect fit. Molly McGuire had done two farewell shows and as far as we knew he was somewhat available. We asked, he said yes, and that was that. We never asked that he quit anything to do this with us, just that he record and tour if available. Tim is living with his girl in L.A. and is trying out for other bands out there. All is well between us and him and he and Gerkin. As a KC native, it was just time for him to exit. He really needed to be closer to his girl and get a fresh perspective on his career, I think.
Has the change affected the sound or songwriting of Shiner at all?
There are still odd times and weird chords, it's just maybe a little more hook and melody friendly. The songwriting is generally the same but the process is getting a little more refined and doesn't fight against itself so much. We tend to not agonize over minutia anymore. Not that there's not attention to detail, we just know it will work itself out later. Maybe its funner now, I don't know.
What does Gerkin bring into the fold?
The first thing that struck me as different about Gerkin is how much he plays along with the guitar and vocal line. He insists on having my guitar and voice in his monitor so he can make his parts fit the song better. It may sound like a given for a drummer to play to the riff and/or song, but that's not what Tim Dow did. He always countered the line I had written, and I loved it. But sometimes it doesn't work and it just sounds too cluttered or disjointed or both, when sometimes it just needs to groove.
I know it's spelled a bit different but Gurken is the German word for pickles.
This is true. Rumor has it that he has been cultivating quite an image for himself as the Pickleman. In every sense of the word.
Please outline the cabinet of the ruling party of the People's Republic of Shiner and your associated policies for bettering the state of rock in the 21st century.
We aim to please, anger, enthrall, incite, overcome, underwhelm, procreate, exacerbate, expel all untruthitudes and falsities, and carry out this agenda till the ramparts are bursting in air all over our dumb asses.
You recently hit the road for a few weeks of touring, continuing the epic saga of Shiner on the big Log. How did the shows go?
The shows tend to get bigger and better almost everywhere we go. With no album out for the last two years it's kind of a strange phenomenon. I think the legend has grown since we put out Lula.
I've recently become enthralled with tour stories and anecdotes. What would be the inscription on your page in the book of mishaps and strange scenarios?
We've got several possible titles, one might be "Always make [sure] there is a chain between your van and the trailer." On our way to do the drum tracks for the new record in Champaign (Illinois) in the middle of the night, I-70 east, our trailer went it's own way very, very silently. So silently in fact, we didn't realize it was gone till we reached Champaign. In retrospect, this event is quite funny. In retrospect, mind you. All the equipment had spilled in the median of the highway, but miraculously, nothing was broken. Oh yeah, the trailer was trashed.
A short tour is sometimes (wink, wink) the precursor to recording or releasing an album, is it not?
It is indeed often a precursor to recording an album, however, since ours is already recorded, this tour was more like just about letting people know we're still alive.
I've heard the songs from the new single and they're solid, and it is cool that you guys decided to put out a single on vinyl. These days it seems that any bands who achieve any kind of stature stop putting out vinyl singles, and on the rare occasion that they do it's two songs that are going to be released again on a full-length anyhow. What prompted you to put out the single?
Pretty much the same reason for the tour; to let folks know we are still a band and are putting out a new album. After everybody got wind that Tim was leaving, I think folks also thought the band was over. Which it ain't. Tim was never a songwriter, per se, and we wanted to continue, so we let everyone hear what we've been up to.
The songs on the single are "Semper Fi" and "Sailor's Fate" - have any of you been in the Marines or Navy?
Never, those titles seemed to fit the lyrics I had been wrestling with for those tunes, and they fit the mood of the tunes too.
Shiner has really been sleeping around when it comes to the labels; Hit It!, deSoto, even a single with the venerable indie Sub Pop. I read or heard somewhere that you were waving your wares under the noses of some majors in hopes of cashing in. What are the plans for the next album? Is a major label an option or the goal?
Cashing in was never the purpose, although I've slept on about as many hardwood floors with my head on some cat's litter box and the party still going on at 8:30 the next morning as I will ever want to. We just want to make sure the record is heard and sold in every store in every town in every state. We did a few shows for some of the big labels but none seemed like it was something they could sell, "too heavy" was generally the case. We also solicited many indie labels too, some responded with offers that didn't really help the situation. So we finally did land a deal with ZeroHour Records, who are big enough to get us to another level and yet still an indie label, where we could talk to the president or whomever. A little bit of tour support and good distribution was about the extent of it. But of course, their sugar daddy pulled the plug on the operation soon after we were aboard. We thought the search was over.
I'm surprised you haven't stuck with deSoto for a full-length. Why is that?
Kim Coletta is going back to graduate school to get her Master's and is effectively shutting down operations at deSoto Central when school starts in the fall. We did definitely consider that as a real option.
I know there are at least 10 or so post-Lula Divina Shiner tunes in your repertoire; how many new, as yet unrleased songs do you already have written?
The entire record is written and recorded with even more songs since its completion. We may also do a live disc and maybe a video documentation kind of thing. We had a camcorder going through the entire recording process and this last tour also. So, the footage is pretty frucking [sic] great.
Was Paul behind the panel this time? I think it safe to say that the Malinowski sound is one that is very beneficial to even the best bands; the way the second Castor record blew things open is a prime example.
Paul and Joel both recorded the new album. Each is a badass engineer in his own rite, but they worked well together on this one while keeping the heading to a minimum. Paul did kick ass on the second Castor disc.
How do the members of the band spend their days when they're not rocking people?
Joel drinks coffee, Paul watches Jerry Springer and Andy Griffith reruns, I work on my house that always needs work, and Jason makes $7,000 a week serving drinks to frat dickheads, no offense to any Greek folks reading this... yeah right.
A few years ago I saw you play a set in a record store in Saint Louis. What's the most cramped space you've ever played?
We rocked a "bar" in Wilmington Delaware called Barn Door. If it had been as big as a barn, it would have been great. This was a broom closet and I sang through a peavey bass amp. We each cut our rigs in half to fit on stage, and we were a three piece then too.
Just past the intermission of the year, what's your pick for the top record for 1999 thus far?
No Knife's Fire in the City of the Automatons. Rocking, inventive pop without being goofy like all the shite on the radio these days.
Any parting words of wisdom or last comments?
Malum labor est, inna gotta davida, semper fi, and nee vife. Amen. SEE ALSO: www.shiner.net
SEE ALSO: www.desotorecords.com
Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.
See other articles by Eric J Herboth.
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