A Spoonful of Glitter
Shoulder Voices on Shoulder Voices
By Captain America
Shoulder Voices is just that. An angel on one side, a devil on the other, murmuring in your ear. And it’s difficult to tell which is offering temptation and which is advising caution.
Band members come and go (and come again) but there’s a solid base. Little Bobby is on vox, keys, sax, percussion and makeup. Brian (formerly The Musk) handles untamed guitars and bass. Zac Actually Does mans vocals and guitars. Ms. Marie strums a pretty purple acoustic guitar while singing beatifically. Mr. Mick swaps between synth and guitar. Sciarrotimus Prime and master drummer Chris Newman trade off on the sticks.
What can be said about a band self-described as “rock, freak out, country, metal, pop, a little bit of space, shuffling of feet, cracking of whips, and neat pockets of beeps”? With trips to Bobby’s day job at a grocer’s wine and cheese section, emailed Q-and-A, and murky conversations over the din of bars, I’ve assembled the lowdown. Or, at least, as it appears in this particular slice of time. Anything can—and will—happen in the Shoulder Voices continuum.
The band’s new CD Oil And Glitter (the best recorded representation of their dynamic yet) will be available at shows. During the set, watch out for the band’s signature stuffed animal / pillow fight melee. Bloody bunnies will fly which-way. Here’s what Little Bobby had to say about it all.
Let’s start at the beginning. How’d you get into music?
At 14 I picked up my dad Big Bobby’s guitar, took three lessons and hated playing scales for some guy. For the next 12 years I made music for myself, a little jealous of my friends in college bands. I met Brian in 2000 and played him my tapes. His friend Zac was also making music at home. We all loved each other’s stuff and became a three-piece. I took up keyboard because guitar frustrated me [and] took about two lessons from Chris. Bought a saxophone, took one lesson, then another a year later. I mostly learned from Brian, who is very knowledgeable about music theory—which always frustrated me, maybe because I studied science in college.
Do members come and go as they’re available, or are they gathered for certain shows and recordings?
All of the above. We’ve had a person play for a while then discovered they were freaked out by the stage show. A couple have quit because they were only temporary to begin with. Or people like Chris have helped us out so much that they are in the band, but not full-time. Zac moved but returns to tour and record in the summer.
How much of SV is your vision and how much is the group?
It was the three of us until Zac moved. Then [it was] Brian and I for many years with a rotating cast of characters, as you called them. It’s now a group effort. Marie has helped out so much in the last year with flyers, online promo and tour booking—which is all new to her, her first band. She now writes songs, which is a first outside of the original trio. Mick has stuck around for almost two years despite being very shy, so we have him writing more and more parts. I want everyone to enjoy themselves and feel like it is their band, not “they are in my band.” I just pay for the stuff (of which we have a lot).
I used to think SV was just crazy spontaneous improv ... but now I realize it isn’t really.
It is very limited true improv, sometimes just a passage of a song, but the rest is fairly defined. It differs between live and recorded. A member may play quite a lot of instruments on a particular studio track or hardly at all. Then comes show time and we ask ourselves, How shall we pull this off ... this time? Who wants to play what?
We want people to feel they are actually experiencing something rather than just listening or watching. There are a lot of good bands playing out, but many are just so fucking boring. Halfway through the set I want to change the channel or switch the instruments between members or have another person take a lead vocal or at least dress them up like they give a fuck. I mean, why else even be up on a stage?
Shoulder Voices album release
with Ya Ya Boom and Mrdrbrd
Friday, May 13, 10 p.m.
Burt’s Tiki Lounge
313 Gold SW
Shoulder Voices all-ages album release
with Phantom Lake and Midday Veil
Saturday, May 14, 9 p.m.
1715 Fifth Street NW
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