Nashville-based husband and wife pop/ rock band Shirock are beginning to make waves in the UK, with debut album Everything Burns to have a UK release on October 21st 2013. Chuck Shirock gave us the lowdown on his collaboration with his wife, Pap.
How long have the two of you been making music together – since you met back in high school?
After we first met, Pap left for a year-long exchange programme in Ecuador. When she came back to the US the following summer, I drove from Detroit, Michigan to Columbus, Ohio to see her the first weekend she was home! We started dating shortly after that, and it wasn’t long before she started singing background vocals with me in the studio. Soon she started working on songs with me, adding to the arrangements and so on. Since our first show together, we have never played a show without one another.
How would you describe the music that Shirock makes?
The kind of music that we love is often more about the emotion that’s being communicated than the music itself. It’s the feeling that we get, and where it takes us that keeps us listening to a song over and over again. We aim for that in our music – we tell our stories and put our lives into our songs…we want to be moved by our music when we’re playing it, and we hope that our music moves people when they hear it. Sonically, we have a delicate balance between the two lead vocals – our voices are very different, but together we feel they can compliment each other well. We also put equal weight on the keyboards as we do the guitars – sometimes the keyboard acts as a lead guitar might, and sometimes the guitar is lead, and the keys play more of a background role. The keys and guitar often lay on top of a driving rhythm section – we love dance music with a loud bass and big kick drums.
Who are your key musical influences?
Having grown up playing music and studying music in university, we have a massive range of influences. Some main ones are Peter Gabriel, Radiohead, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, U2, The Cranberries, Depeche Mode, New Order, Brian Eno… There are so many more artists – both new and old, that inspire us. Whether it’s a simple pop melody, or a beautifully said idea, or a new perspective to look at something we’ve seen forever – we’re constantly listening, and constantly being influenced. There are also various pieces of theory and classical music that have found their way into our writing and arranging as well…I often think of the play between our guitar and piano melodies as ‘counterpoint’ – a method classical composers used when two individual melodies would weave in and out of one another, each playing separate parts, but working together to reinforce a key melody or motif.
We’ve featured your latest single Still Young. It’s feels like an uplifting and optimistic song, was that what you intended?
Thank you for your support! In many ways that is what we hoped it would communicate. Interestingly, the song came out of a place of uncertainty – about being overwhelmed by big aspirations and passing time. But in the midst of that doubt, “Still Young” is about learning to be hopeful, and looking to the people beside you (for me, that was Pap), and realising that with them, the beauty of life is more in the journey than any kind of destination.
Your debut album Everything Burns has its UK release in October, what can we expect to hear?
We are so excited to have Everything Burns being released in the UK! There is a wide variety of songs on this album – there are two tracks that Pap sings lead on (one of which will be the next single), a closing track that’s stripped down to just myself and a heavily ‘reverbed’ guitar – which we tracked live late one night in an old church, which is now Ocean Way Studios Nashville…and of course there’s the title track, “Everything Burns” – which to date is possibly my favorite of our recordings. The track, “Everything Burns” had been bouncing around for ages before we recorded it in a way that we felt it captured what it was meant to be. “Drag You Down” and “Calm” are also both favourites of ours – especially to play live.
Will you be touring over here to promote the album?
We will – we can’t wait to head over for a proper tour! We’ve been over for some promotional radio tours, but we are eager to put on a full show in the UK. We’re planning on heading over later this summer in support of the album release.
I believe you lived in Scotland for a while as a child?
I did – I moved from Baguio, Philippines to Aberdeen, Scotland when I was about 8 or 9 years old. I lived in Aberdeen until I was 13. From there, my family moved to Detroit, MI in the States. I loved Aberdeen….as I’ve gotten older I’ve grown to miss the quiet and peace that I knew in Aberdeen. In America everything seems to be a race, but in Scotland people take their time and move a bit more slowly. I loved the grey and the fog – living in Nashville where it is often very hot, I even miss the Scottish weather at times. Though it was when I was much younger, my memory of Aberdeen is very strong, and very fond.
As well as music you also have a clothing range and run a not-for-profit organisation, Everything Burns, Tell us a bit about those activities.
The clothing brand is called Irock Clothing. We actually didn’t intend to start a clothing range – it started because we simply wanted to make band merchandise that we would actually want to wear. As we manufactured shirts, bags, hats, etc., some local clothing stores asked if they could sell our band merchandise. Very quickly they began selling out of it, and asking if we had other designs and items. Soon we were making accessories, shirts, jackets and bags! As of now, we have sold out of past Irock Clothing items, and we plan on designing a new line later this year.
The non-profit organisation, Everything Burns, was launched in 2010 in an effort to get more young people involved in social issues. As we toured in the States, we met so many students in High School and University that wanted to get involved in social issues, but they didn’t know how to start. Through Everything Burns, we aim to provide ways for young people to get plugged in to various social causes both nationally and internationally. We have partnered with various organisations and efforts in order to provide school supplies to under-privileged students in the US, to provide mosquito nets for protection from Malaria in Africa, to supply clothing for the homeless in Los Angeles, etc. It has been amazing for us to see what young people can do to help address massive issues.
And what does the future hold for Shirock?
As Everything Burns is being released in the UK, we’re currently working on new music in our Nashville studio. We plan on releasing new music later this year, and to tour both in the UK and the US. While doing this, Pap has also become increasingly involved in the fashion and modeling world. As of late, she has been modeling for many different brands (in and out of Nashville), and has been in GQ and Esquire magazines! She has also launched a lifestyle blog, Thread, Fork & Lute – which focuses on Fashion, Food and Music (http://threadforkandlute.tumblr.com).