THE SH-BOOMS // INTERVIEW
INTERVIEW BY: Emily May
Orlando-based garage soul band The Sh-Booms having been creating a steady buzz over the years with their blend of soul, garage rock and punk sounds and their dynamic live performances. The band has shared the stage with national acts such as The Roots, Of Montreal, Big Freedia and The B-52’s (with whom the band toured in 2017 and 2018) and performed at festivals such as Austin City Limits and Okeechobee. They have also been featured on NPR and have had their music used in the CW’s TV show Supergirl. In 2015, Brenda Radney joined the band on vocals and changed the direction of their sound. Radney had previously been signed to Justin Timberlake’s Tennman label. but while recording separately in the same studio, she met and clicked with The Sh-Booms band leader Al Ruiz. She had been looking for a change in her musical career and decided to part ways with the Tennman label and join the Sh-Booms. The band released their Usage Fee EP in 2016 and performed countless shows across the Southeast. They will be releasing their upcoming debut full-length album The Blurred Odyssey on March 22nd, a 10 song album they recorded with Grammy-nominated producer Alan Armitage (AA Villian) over an 18-month period that strengthened the bond between the members. The band has released two singles from the album, “Audible” and the more recent “Leon The Hustler”, which premiered on February 17th as that weeks “Coolest Song In The World” on Little Steven’s Underground Garage. The band will be doing a series of record release shows later this month throughout Florida to celebrate their new album. You can follow the band and stay up-to-date with all upcoming band news, music and tour dates via the following links. Check out their video for “Audible” below.
Prior to 2013, you were a different band, so to speak. Al- You’ve described the band's early music as “nicer sounding” and more inspired by Motown. After your original vocalist left the band, the band began it’s change in sound to where you are now. Was the change in sound something you had previously thought about pursuing or do you feel that the addition of Brenda Radney on vocals in 2015 is what steered the band towards the “garage soul sound” you have now?
Yeah, it was always something in the back of the musicians mind. We are rock and rollers at heart....but once Brenda joined, constraints dropped and we were able write more vividly . That was the trigger to want to play with different sounds and styles. Brenda coming on board definitely fed that fire, as we brought the best out in each other. We all played more intensely almost immediately. I had never heard anyone sing like that in front of me - she shook the fucking rafters.
Although the band has a soulful sound, your influences are also steeped in punk and garbage bands. Who have some of the most influential bands been for you? Who are some current bands that you are really loving right now?
13th Elevators/Roky Erickson
Lee Fields & The Expressions
King Khan & The Shrines
Shannon & The Clams
Sharon Jones & The Dap King’s
A Giant Dog
Brenda- In 2015, you met and clicked with Al while recording separately in the same studio. What was it that made the two of you click so quickly?
Al and I got along pretty much right away because he understood that music is a hustle for some people, and it didn’t have to be that way for us. Although we have different musical journeys, it just made sense without any effort. Sometimes it just happens like that.
Your debut album ‘The Blurred Odyssey’ will be released this month. I read that it cemented the band as a tight-knit unit. What was the writing and recording process like for the album and how do you feel that it helped you to bond as a band?
Writing has blossomed as we’ve grown. It typically starts with me and I’ll build simple chords & arrangements. Melodies follow, with lyrics after. I bring a skelton to the band and they form the body around it. Brenda takes the melodies and reminds us all of how talented she is and recreates them as she see’s fit.
Recording was unique this time. We tracked to tape with Simon Palombi of The Woolly Bushmen. The tracks were then sent to Alan Armitage who mixed and produced everything after. A bit of old meets modern.
For the new album, you worked with producer Alan Armitage. Al-I read that you have known Alan for several years. Did you know prior to recording that you wanted him to produce your album? What do you feel he added to the album and recording process?
Alan and I played in a band together a long time ago. He is an immensely talented engineer with whom I’ve always sought advice. Originally we wanted to go straight 60’s in the vain of The Sonics, taking a minimalist approach. In time, ideas change, and that’s how Alan came back into the mix. Simon did a fantastic job tracking, as did Alan producing. He (Alan) is like another band member. He added this crazy atmospheric vibe to the record and definitely took it to another realm.
Brenda- Having previously worked/recorded in crazy, million dollar facilities and with big name artists, The Sh-booms recorded ‘Blurred Odyssey’ in a no-frills, DIY environment. You embraced this approach to recording, though, and thrived. What did you like/appreciate about the recording process? Do you feel that you had more creative control/freedom then in your previous experiences?
The straight answer is that I feel like I’ve been DIY most of my life. I started working with the most bare bones of setups - from the little recording app on our Gateway 2000 with Windows 95, and recording songs with that tiny mic. That’s what it started as, and I utilized whatever I could get my hands on and in any space I could create in. I appreciate the DIY aspect of what we’re doing, and the fact that we’re completely in control of what we do proves to me that we have a shot to do this seriously and we can all reach our goals.
You recently released “Audible”, your first single from the album, as well as an accompanying video. What made you decide to release this as your first single? What was the idea behind the video and what was the filming process like?
We’ve always had a huge response to Audible. That was the reason that was chosen as the first single. John Taylor ( director ) and myself were out one night to hang while a friend DJ’d. He did imagery/video projections to the music. We saw an Aretha Franklin vid where she was walking the streets and it just clicked. The first lyrics to the song are “I’ve been walking and talking”... The process was really fun. We filmed around all of our favorite spots here in Orlando.
Your second single “Leon The Hustler” premiered on February 17th as the week’s “Coolest Song In The World” on Little Steven’s Underground Garage! How did that opportunity come about and what has the response been to the single?
Our publicist helped with that. We are all super stoked to have such a rad outlet be excited about that jam. Seems to be going really well!
You all have become friends with and tour mates of The B-52’s over the past couple of years. What has touring with them been like?
We are immensely thankful and humbled to have been a part of their party. They’ve been a huge influence on us. Quirky, party, welcoming all, and never following the rules, which is what we’re all about, too.
You will be doing a series of record release shows in a Florida in mid to late March. What can your fans expect from the shows? Do you have anything special planned? What made you decide to do a series of record release shows raster then just one?
Bring bail money; this’ll be a wild ride. We’re bringing the projectionist Troy Durrett from the band Man or Astroman? along for the ride, so live show is gonna be rad. We love our Florida folk! It’s not fair to share just in Orlando.
Aside from your album release shows, what’s next for the band?
Extensive travel, more writing, and horrible sleeping arrangements.