by Alexandra Hall
My father rarely approves of the music I listen to, let alone likes it. To my complete and utter surprise, he began nodding his head ever so slightly to the catchy chorus of The Shakes one day in the car.
“He’s got a young George Michael voice… it’s good,”
I repeated his comment to Sean Perry and Cameron Pearson, the lead singer and guitarist of The Shakes. After a week and a half of scheduling mishaps, the two finally got to sit down on the way home from a gig in San Diego. Through muffled voices and the background wash of telephone fuzz, the two men answered my questions so eagerly I could almost feel their eyes darting around, trying to tell me all that they could without rambling on.
While we were speaking, I felt a tickle in my stomach. Even days after, I couldn’t stop humming their hit song, “Scrumptious” or checking my Instagram to see when their EP, “With Every Moment” was finally dropping. I realized later that something Perry said was undeniably true, “The Shakes are infectious.” A simple, yet ambitious statement.
The formation of The Shakes is a complicated one. Perry and Pearson met in high school, specifically at a Bad Suns show when Pearson asked to stand in front of the six foot five inches Perry. Yeah, readers… he’s one of those guys at concerts.
For the past three or four years, members have cycled in and out of the band, playing for other groups until the five members that currently make up The Shakes bonded. With Tanner Henderson on the bass, Levi Matulis on the drums, Syd Tagle on the piano, Cameron Pearson on guitar, and Sean Perry leading vocals, The Shakes are a modge podge of artists who finally came together to complete a core for a world of creation to be built upon.
In 2017, they released two singles: “Somebody” and “Scrumptious”. “Scrumptious” swept the world by storm, racking up over 100,000 streams on Spotify and carrying “Somebody” right up with it with around 60,000 streams. But all numbers disregarded, the Shakes are a personality of a band rather than a culmination of streams, and their music is a perfect reflection of the genuine passion that goes into their infectious tunes.
Perry, the band’s lyricist and frontman, detailed heartfelt stories of his life that transformed his journey in life as a musician during our thirty minute interview. Having broken his arm right before the first tryouts for the basketball team in high school, Perry details that it was, “the lowest point of my entire life. I felt like I had nothing. And then I looked up and saw my guitar in the corner.” I’d like to imagine this story as the beginning scene in a movie about a great band with an even greater story that all started with a fifteen year old suffering from an accident that was the biggest blessing in disguise. In fact, I think it was.
The Shakes sculpt every song and cultivate their social media presence with cinematic tones that are undeniably captivating.
Leading up to the release of their debut EP “With Every Moment”on July 23, the band’s Instagram released the names of each of the six songs appearing on the release. Accompanying the names was a typewriter page with the lyrics and an iPhone note explaining the story behind every one. In this way, the band displayed their songs as characters appearing in the scenes in which they were written. Slowly, The Shakes are directing their very own film-like artistic experience for audiences everywhere to enjoy.
Listening to The Shakes feels like you’re watching a movie of your own, an odd feeling of “I am watching someone’s life unfold” and “Wait this is my life too”. It is a painfully personal experience, one that is intended to be so. Even before conducting the interview, I could feel something much bigger behind the upcoming songs. Right before we were about to hang up, Perry hurriedly asked for a few minutes to explain the story behind the EP itself
He detailed a story about witnessing a terrible car accident occurring on St. Patrick’s day the year before in which a car raced through an intersection on a whim of a yellow light. The car was T-boned and flipped over in flames, leaving Perry a witness to the disaster that if he had gone seconds before, could have left him in the same position. Only later would Perry realize how close to death he truly was, inspiring him to create “With Every Moment”, “Every day you go out… it is not guaranteed. People need to be in love with every moment because it could all be gone in seconds.”
With a new urgency to live and create, The Shakes are entering the fall of 2018 with a feverish desire to carve out their own voice amidst mediocrity. They strive to not be defined by any associations to other artists, but rather create their own charm that is identifiable from a mile away. Pearson says, “Influence can come from a lot of places within a song. So in that way we’re influenced by The Killers, Tame Impala, Glass Animals, but we have our own sound that’s not really like anything else.” Regardless of the separate influences, The Shakes create music that is inclusive of all the senses and emotions, making their course to success cleanly paved.
So watch out for the camera crew lurking around the corner when you tune in to The Shakes. You very well might become a part of their movie.
Until next time,