BBB has spent the last few posts on West Coast bands, so it’s time to take it back to the East Coast for a band who brings back the classic rock n roll sound and throws in their own creative kick in the pants to rev it up. The Shake, not to be confused with earlier BB The Shakers (though both will make you shake your ass), is a band I dare you not to love.
After hearing about The Shake a few months back, I embarked on my usual journey to get some of their tunes. Most can be found on the band’s Bandcamp page to listen to for free. So that’s what I have been doing when I get the urge to ‘shake’. The Shake consists of four NYC guys: Jon Merkin-Vocals, Mike Serman-Guitar, Jeremy Stein-Bass and Dan Kirschen-Drums. These guys are strikingly talented and they just keep the tunes simple and fun. Simple can many times be deemed as a bad thing in music, but not in this case. These guys take simple, kick ass rock and roll and just do it damn well; sometimes that is all you need. A few songs that really stand out, in my opinion, are ‘Debutante’, ‘Color Wars’, ‘Kill My Name’ and ‘Metaphor’. I really dig this bands lyricism as well, it generally leans a little more toward the intellectual side which is a welcome change from some of the basic vocabulary recurrently used by many other bands out there.
The Shake released their first album in 2006 and have released a few subsequently. Every single one of them is good. To be honest, there hasn’t been one song I haven’t liked on any of their albums. More recently, they have taken to releasing volumes of songs dubbed ‘Sweet & Sour’, opting to release two songs every couple months on each new volume. They are up to three volumes, all with a bit of a different twist, all with killer tunes and excellent hooks. They are up for purchase at CDBaby.com.
For all you New Yorkers out there, The Shake has a residency coming up at Bowery Electric, and it would do your body good to go rock out to these guys!
Jon was kind enough to take some time to answer some questions for BBB so check it out below to find out what they’ve got coming up, why they are no- nonsense rock n roll and what advice they have for other bands.
When and why did each of you start playing?
We each started playing at a very young age. It probably started because our parents nagged us to pick up an instrument, thinking it would broaden our grade-school interests. But we all stuck with it because it was clearly more than an activity. Playing music became a central part of each of our lives.
Which musicians/bands do you admire? Why?
We admire groups that speak to us. There’s a saying that you can’t dance about architecture – with music, a song either does it for you or it doesn’t, and it can be difficult to put into words. We love the classic rock greats, like Zeppelin and the Stones, but also modern groups like Arctic Monkeys, Raconteurs and Queens of the Stone Age.
How often and for how long do you practice?
We rehearse twice a week usually, for a few hours each time.
Do you get nervous before a performance?
Maybe we have a few butterflies in the moments before we hit the stage, but once that first note is out, and the train’s running, there’s no place for nerves.
Any rituals before a show?
Drink in moderation.
Describe your show visually & musically for those who have never been.
We’re a live band first and foremost. It’s riff-based hard rock with the best light show you’ve seen. If you want more details, come to a show (or check our Facebook page for audio and visuals).
How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
Forget about them, and move on. If you don’t let on that something is off, no one will know.
How does your creative process typically work?
Jeremy or I will bring in a song to rehearsal, in some state of completion. We’ll play through it a few hundred times until we’re satisfied with it. We keep things as democratic as possible – we don’t play a song unless every band member is behind it.
If you had the opportunity to change something about the music industry, what would it be?
Once upon a time, a label’s A&R department was a significant branch of the business. That mentality should return. It’s all about talent discovery.
What are you working on now, and what can we expect from you in the coming year?
We’ve just released 3 EPs, as part of the Sweet N Sour series. So I think we’ve out output has been pretty high recently. We’re always looking towards the next album, and we’re currently working on our best new batch of songs we’ve ever written. In 2012, you can expect another music video, and hopefully another EP or two.
Why should people listen to your band? What makes you unique?
With The Shake, what you see if what you get. We don’t have any gimmicks. It’s straightforward rock n roll. We’re unique in that we can’t be pinned down – we don’t ‘sound like’ any particular band. Each song will remind you of someone else.
What advice would you give to fellow bands?
Rehearse as much as you can, and market the shit out of your band.
How do you define “success”?
Success means different things for different musicians. For us, success is reaching new fans every day. As long as keep doing that, we’re successful.
What’s been your most memorable fan encounter so far?
Last night, after our sold out gig at Mercury Lounge, a guy who was head banging all set in the front row, wouldn’t let us leave the venue. He insisted we were the second coming of rock n roll, and wanted to take us home with him. We were flattered, but there was drinking to be done.
One song you never get tired of.
Got No Soul, by The Shake.
What is the best live show you have ever gone to?
This summer I went to the T in the Park festival in Scotland. Saw The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, Weezer, Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Beady Eye, and about 20 other bands. Best weekend of my life.
Favorite things to do NOT musically related.
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be?
What is something no one knows about you but you wish more people did know?
We’re the best band in New York.
Bad music, covered up by synths.
Find The Shake at: