Edit: Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity y'all there were some amazing questions and im humbled by the support. Ill check back in on it later tonight, if you have any questions toss em my way! xo SG
In light of the support I was lucky enough to receive in The Official ListenToThis 2012 Music Poll, I opted to hop on here and gab with the mighty reddit.
I am a self produced lo-fi musician and one man band from Austin Texas. A huge thanks to everyone at r/listentothis who voted and helped compile this amazing list, Y'all fucking rule.
TOUR DATES: http://tmblr.co/Z0VY5yazFhaR
You might remember me emailing you and tellin' ya how you and your song "Roll the Bones" brought me and my long lost love back together which led to our happy marriage. Just an update for you, we went in for an ultrasound yesterday. We're making a baby :)
EDIT: How it happened...
10 years ago, my girlfriend and I ended our relationship of 5 years. We hadn't spoken a word to each other until one day in March 2012 when I was browsing /r/listentothis and found Roll the Bones, and posted it to my facebook wall. Now it's important to know that at the time, Roll the Bones only had about 1,000 views on youtube, safe to say that not a lot of people had heard it yet. So, imagine my surprise when i stalked my exgf's facebook page (yeah, i creeped) and found she had posted the same exact video about an hour after I had posted it. Now this either meant that this was an amazing coincidence -or- that she was stalking my page too. I emailed her and told her i liked her taste in music. 5 months later, we were married. 3 months after that, we got our first glimpse of our little newb.
I emailed Alejandro and told him our story and his part in it. He replied with very kind words and let us know how happy he was for us. That's the story of the great subreddit and the great artist that put everything back together for my wife and I.
You're the father.
nothing nerdy about starfleet dood
so how did you get started using a suitcase drum? how long did it take you to get used to playing it along with your guitar?
Originally I was doing the one man band with a kick drum and a high hat which was a pain in the ass to carry around and would wear out my legs in no time.
In 2011 A friend of mine got a job working as the official blogger for the Mumford & Sons/Edward Sharpe/Old Crow Railroad revival tour, apparently at every show they would ask a local musician to busk outside of the front gate to set the scene and get the hobo juices flowing and she asked if Id like to fill the position.
I had already been working on the one man band deal and really wanted to be able to do it in a portable way, so I asked my craftiest friend Sir William Wolfe if he could fashion me a device to my specifications. He whipped that thing up in like two hours and it has been in my act ever since
Here is a picture of me outside of the railroad revival tour in 2011: http://imgur.com/CYmQ6
It is designed with a seat and originally I sat down when I played but after a margarita disaster I ended up standing during a show and my energy doubled. Ever since then standing in front of it has been the way to go....its been rather evolutionary. Its amazingly fun and enabling to play, Ive been working on the design ever since, reinforcing it with fiberglass and changing my kick pedals.
But im looking forward to Shakey kick drum 2.0
Hey brother, I just found out about you yesterday through r/listentothis and I can't stop listening. In fact I'm listening right now, haha. You are amazingly talented. Thanks for what you do. Please come up to Canada sometime and I'll be first in line for the show!
Question: What is your greatest musical influence?
I meekly consider myself a disciple of Townes Van Zandt.
Hey man, it's Evan.
The to cure what ails video will be done in the next few days. How about that.
Love your stuff man. Any chance of your stuff getting on Spotify? I'm not sure how that process works, but I know it's the easiest way for me to share music with friends.
Im not sure how the process works either....but I love spotify. If someone can help im all about it...its probably embarrassingly simple.
Do you have any plans to tour the northeast? My friends and I all love your music
Soon enough, June maybe? Im touring the southeast in feb-march with Paper Bird and Hes My Brother Shes My Sister
Hey, So I'm a super poor college student, and I admit I downloaded your bandcamp album for free. What have the returns been like on Roll The Bones, considering you have a "choose your price" model?
Bandcamp has been one of the most crucial elements to me getting my music out, and especially since it has allowed me to do the "choose your price" model.
The way I see it, I really believed in my music, and I trusted that if people had it they would share it. The majority of my "career" as a musician has not involved money in any fashion so I figured that I would rather flood the market than try and fill my bank. People have been really generous, still I probably sell one cd for every 13 downloaded.
Roll the Bones was THE first album I paid for on bandcamp. At that time I was in University and working a crappy job just to afford food. I read somewhere that you were literally using every cent you could muster to try and make your next album. My thought was "fuck it I can do with out my 'stress relief six pack on Friday night" Played Designated driver that night and you better believe that was the only album played through the stereo all night. Keep it up and thank you for making a proper recording of stereotypes of a blue collared man. It was my favourite but was sick of loading it on youtube!
As a follow up what is the most/least person has paid?
50 cents-400 dollars
Will Good Music Club ever put up the whole show for purchase/download?
Also, obligatory "you need to come to Wisconsin" post.
We are in the process of pressing it to a 7 inch vinyl!
hey shakey youre my favorite artist and todays my 21st birthday, will you drink a beer or 7 with me?
You say when and I will crack a beer in your honor
What do you love most about your job?
The fact that it has become a job
How long have you been playing guitar for and how long did it take you to "find" your style?
I've been playing on and off for a few years and still haven't found my own style. You have a very warm, natural, and genuine sound/feel to your music - something I hope to develop one day.
Love your music. Thanks for sharing!
It feels like I have been playing guitar for a few days, but it has been about 13 years. And as far as finding my "sound" it really came down to letting in the ghost. I believe that there is music in the air, when I hear a good song I usually feel some type of emotion on par with someone domesticating a rare animal and giving it a proper name. I forcibly wrote music for years, imposing my ideals and words on the notes and what would come out was just plain old songs, and some dude singing them. The moment I found my sound was when I could hear something that I recorded and not believe that it is actually me. The live show that I play right now is astonishing to me, I never intended to play dirty bluesy guitar like this. I mean I was a huge deathcab fan in highschool, I went through a huge hardcore/scream phase and listened to lots of Saetia and unheard 90s bands, all of this sort of came together in odd ways but really the sound simply developed. My hands do the talking now, and playing can feel like consciously blacking out, craning my head back, and the "it" sings.
Long story short, find the ghost you like and give it a little party, the sound will find you.
Hi Shakey, I just wanted to say that I really like your sound. It interested me instantly, hoping you can answer something for me.
My boyfriend listened to some of your stuff recently and dislikes it because of who you are in context of the music you're making.
Bluegrass and blues are genres which evolved from very unlucky people who were trying to express the hardships of their living situation. His argument is that you are appropriating that hardship and are therefore dismissing all that has happened within those genres and with those bodies of people.
I feel that music is what you make it, and if it sounds good, it sounds good. This is a huge controversial issue and I was wondering what you would say to someone accusing you of appropriating this life struggle and how do you move forward from that as a musician.
Again, I'm fascinated by your sound and am hoping to be more enlightened on your sound and musicianship, I mean no offense at all.
First and foremost I never set out to make blues or bluegrass music, even folk is a stretch because folk music is mainly traditional storytelling.
But any titles like this come from the listeners mind not from my own intentions.
All of my music is very personal to a certain degree and I use my own hardships as their influence. If style is the question then that is simply a result of what has influenced me as far as guitar picking.
The old style of storytelling appeals to me as an outlet and a way to process the hardships of modern life. But I try very very hard to keep my music relevant to the times, I don't want to tote myself as someone from the past or someone who lives on the dusty trail and I generally loathe traditionalists. Those times are gone, even if you rent a shack and pawn a banjo the modern infrastructure is inherently different and the struggles will never be the same. I have a couple songs (proper fence, and late july) which are traditional throwbacks and are intended to be interpreted as pure fiction and pay homage to an era.
But at times, from my garbage palace, stained in red wine, cussing about the lack of money in my pockets so on and so forth, I feel that many hearts have ached in the same manner. The modern frontier has its own loneliness and I seek the narrative there.
What is your favorite memory from working on Friday Night Lights?
Finding out that all the characters on the show are basically just like exaggerated versions of the actors. Lyla and Riggins really had boned at some point and would have heated arguments off set, saracen was super protective of julie because she had never kissed anyone else on the show, Landry instantly feels like your best friend and is the only person on set that I have still maintained contact with....and Connie Britton must marry me.
The tape that I recorded over to make that on my tascam 4 track was some bizzare sexual spirtuality tape my mother had....and it was too good not to use.
-i've been to a few of your shows, and I really love your stuff. I'm also a guitarist, and I'm mesmerized by your fingerpicking. I'm looking to try to play a bit like that, so I'm wondering what you'd recommend me to do. Would the style be labeled as Travis picking?
- your sound is very unique, but I can tell its deeply rooted in old blues and country. What are some of your greatest influences?
-when do you plan on recording again?
Thanks! Really excited that you did this.
Dust In The Wind baby....Dust In The Wind. Learn that song and the world of finger picking is yours. There is really no wrong way to do it, but it developed over a long time.
I am deeply in love with Townes Van Zandt....and the spice girls....no joke.
What's your greatest non-musical influence? The lyrics in your songs are often very clever and thoughtful, so I'm wondering if you're a big reader, and if so, what you like.
Planning to drive out to Austin from Baton Rouge sometime this spring, and hopefully see one of your shows while I'm there! Hope things just keep getting better for you.
Good fucking question.
The Sword In The Stone by T.H. White is really the book the made me tremble for unknown reasons. Its that happysad I seek so dearly.
Saw you play with a full band at Antone's last month, is that going to become a normal thing? I thought it was good but I really like your one-man show.
I highly doubt that Shakey Graves will become a static band, instead its more of a blanket name that encompasses any recording project I do. I will continue to experiment with different line ups and different takes on my songs but they will always be handled under a larger title such as Shakey Graves and The Basketball Diaries, or Shakey Graves and The Great Apes, or Shakey Graves and The Get Dead, blah blah blah.
I have always wanted a band, there is nothing like it and Ive spent years longing for a solid group to play with. Oddly enough in that time the one man band thing developed. Originally the one man band was a device to get you to pay attention to the recordings I had made (which were supposed to mimic a full band).
I fucking love you dude. First read about you on SYFFAL. Speaking of which, are you wearing thunderwear?
I just played portland about two months ago and will be back as soon as possible. And no Late July has not been officially released yet.
Who? Are you one of those damn kids on my lawn? Can you get off it?
no (bong noise)
Favorite venue to play at in Austin? I've seen you at Antones, Hole in the Wall and the ND. I liked you best at the ND.
The Parish for sound, Hole In The Wall for legacy, and White Horse for all of the above
Hey, I was introduced to your music by a SXSW video, and I've been wondering something since I heard your album for the first time; why do you sing so differently on your produced material and live material?
(just want to note that I'm a fan of both! I've just been curious)
Time and location. I recorded my album in my home over the course of three years, at that point my voice was still developing and I always sing differently in front of a crowd as opposed to alone stoned in my room or something.
Hey Shakey, two questions.
Firstly, how did you get so damn good at playing the guitar?
Secondly, when's the earliest you'll be coming to Europe?
mushrooms and I have no idea.
I'm tempted to follow that bit of advice, but I think I'll work on Dust in the Wind first like you mentioned to that other guy! Thanks for taking the time to respond to me, I'd just like to say you're freaking awesome at what you do and I'm hoping you'll be hitting Dublin within the next couple of years!
why not both?
exactly! mushrooms+dust in the wind= trip to looney bin (aka badass guitar playing)
You've done a lot of traveling. Could you tell us one of your best road stories?
I know you have answered this a couple time already, but I would appreciate some more explanation than just Van Zandt. I am very curious about your influences, specifically old blues guys, if any. Your sound really reminds me of guys like Mississippi Fred McDowell, Mississippi John Hurt (specifically his fingerpicking technique). Also just want to compliment you deeply. I have told my friends about you with the introduction that if I could actually bring myself to write songs instead of just jam all the time and if I could sing I would basically create exactly the music you make. Oh also what kind of electric hollow-body guitar is that you play in videos like The Water? Thanks!
Im pretty sure that a lot of people assume that I really focused on blues men, but in all honesty I have no specific taste for the 12 bar blues. I consider a good blues song as relevant as a good DEVO song.
Out of that world I have take a bit from John Lee Hooker, in the sense that he just fucking played and if he had a band with him they just had to keep up...his tone is boss as well. I have always been floored by Son House. Im a huge Abner Jay fan. Jesse lone cat fuller. The first George Thorogood and The Destroyers album will fucking melt your eyeballs.
In my development I have always migrated towards Elliott Smith and his specific type of fingerpicking. I really feel that he made that guitar his own. I am also hugely influenced by the Beck album "One Foot In The Grave".
I could also not exist without Roscoe Holcomb, Odetta, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and Micheal Hurley.
oh and i play a pre war Kay guitar that I modified with a Gibson Humbucker.
- How cool was it to have a day proclaimed in your honor?
- What's your one guilty musical pleasure?
COME TO LOS ANGELES
1.psychotic 2.spice girls
I WILL COME TO LOS ANGELES
How do you stay grounded in all of the hype as your popularity and fan base soars? You're a pretty stellar musician, can't imagine the momentum slowing anytime soon.
I have no idea, its getting pretty fucking stressful, but this is something that I will do until the day I die whether people are excited about it or not. I feel that working in the acting industry for a while gave me a gross test run on trying to handle peoples attention, and I have always watched musicians I adore very closely when they start to pick up speed.
So Im hoping that my choices will stay grounded, and I am actively trying to avoid the pitfalls.
Luckily I got here the way I wanted to, so many people will tell you the way to do it and I always took that with a grain of salt. So Ill just stick to my guns and keep my eyes on the ground.
hey, i love your music! when are you going to make it up to play in tennessee?
Nashville March 8th!
So, where can I buy your music? Or any chance that you'll be on Spotify anytime soon? You're awesome.
what kinda guitars you prefer?
yo shakey, killer tunes, on your bandcamp the date for roll the bones album says june 1987 are these tracks from back in the day? and also when u dropping some vinyl son
Thats my birthday. The album came out 1/1/11. Vinyl will be out this year.
Is acting something that you will continue to do in the future or are you a full-time musician now?
I have always acted, I used to persue it a lot more but ended up throwing in the towel to a certain degree. It takes so much focus and let down and there is a very impersonal aspect to the professional acting world. That said, it has taught me everything I need to know about high stakes, management, and professionalism.
I will continue to act until the day I die. I just got to work on Sin City 2 for a few days and will be murdered in a grisly fashion by Marv!
Hey, I found your music through r/listentothis and I'm really enjoying it, keep making great sounds. Two questions:
Are there any little-known artists that you listen to that you'd like to share with the rest of us?
Any chance you'll venture up to Tulsa this summer?
- Check out Crooked Cowboy And The Freshwater Indians.....
- No Tulsa this year but soon!
Do you expect to play at the Mohawk anytime soon? I've seen you twice now, wouldn't mind catching you again.
Im doing a residency at The Parish every Wed this month...its free..come on by
Do you feel that having Austin as a home base has been beneficial to the development of your career? I've spoken with bands from Austin who have told me that it helps being surrounded by such a rich music culture and others who complain about it being hard to stand out in such a saturated market.
Good question. Austin is the velvet rut.
On one hand its an awful place to be a musician, because honestly we are simply haunted by the publicity and the ghost of Stevie Ray Vaughn. There are a lot of guitar heroes out here trying to make a name for themselves playing a rehashed version of modern blues, and in certain cases (Gary Clark Jr. for instance who I went to high school with) it can pan out if you really really can play (which that motherfucker can). But still, hes got a hard road to fight and he is truly in the belly of the industry. Im really curious if he can hold the power that the nation is throwing in his hands and if he can stand out as a songwriter and not just an exceptional pair of hands attached to some vocal chords.
That said, Austin is my home and its the sheer adversity that has made me long to leave my name scarred on it. I have always dreamed and planned for this city to be beach that my army lands on.
I really truly want to represent my corner of what I think makes Austin musicians so worth your time (Wild child, Not In The Face, Whiskey Shivers, Hello Wheels, Mike And The Moonpies, Ume, The Baker Family, The Sour Notes, etc.).
There are so many good bands down here that are writing cutting edge music and taking outdated styles into their own young hands.
But the fact stands that outside of superstars like Willie Nelson, Austin's big time musicians dont stay in Austin. Spoon? Explosions In The Sky? as soon as the music hits the charts they hit the road seemingly for good and we are left with shitty old Bob Schnieder making a kings wage playing to the same packed room of the same old people for the last 12 years.
I believe Austin has a lot to learn about what it actually means to be the "live music capitol of the world"....there are a lot of amazing things going on here but not many of them are truly embraced by greater Austin. For instance Austin is redesigning itself to be a cute town full of youth and kitchy boutiques by knocking down priceless old buildings and warehouses to make warehouse style condos and chain stores. But in reality, that's what Austin already was.
Austin has the heart, its just as uncomfortable in its own skin. This place often feels like a girl who gets breast implants before she hits puberty.
If you could give yourself one piece of musicianly advice just as you were startin down the musical road you're on what would it be?
Dont believe anyone about the proper way to do things and its important to always believe you are good, even if good is being able to switch from a C chord to an A minor. That is good. Be humble and be a fan. I idolize musicians and continue to develop my career based on steps and missteps that my peers and allies have made and will continue to make.
If you could be any character from Metal Gear Solid would you choose Snake? And why wouldn't you choose Snake?
Because I am more of a grey fox guy myself. or vulcan raven....because hes a shaman(bong noise)
when did you know you hit it big? that car commercial?
what car commercial?
Heya Shakey! I'm a big fan of your music. You seem like a real cool guy, too. Is that story you tell at the beginning of the "Late July" music video about your name true? Doesn't matter much to me, just kinda curious, I love your stuff either way.
course its true!
I will be releasing a live album real soon!
I don't buy a lot of music anymore because, well, we don't have to anymore. I don't feel good about it, but I'm poor and i love music. All that aside, i saw the live video of The Waters and i was moved. Bought your album on the spot, probably the first one I've bought in 3 years. Keep doing what you're doing and i hope to see you on tour when you make your way near me. You've got a least one fan here.
As for a question, you have a really unique guitar sound that i cannot believe is simple standard tuning? So is it? And if not what are some of your most used alternate tunings?
open D baby
Shakey how'd you get the simple, yet intricate percussion on the studio version of Roll the Bones? It seems like some crazy patty-cake pattern
thats pretty much it, again no studios were used in the making of roll the bones. Its all hand percussion and finger snaps.
I bought two copies of your album when I saw you the first time. You didn't have change for a $10, so I just decided to get both of them and give one to my friend who was also there.
What's up with those brown paper bag CD cases? I guess my copy of the CD was glued to the bag itself, so now I have all this brown crud on it. It still plays well enough, but kinda unsightly.
ahahhaa...gross. Sorry at that time i was hand spray painting all the cds. Things are always evolving.
Thanks for doing this, man! I really love your music and bought your cd from bandcamp. One thing I've noticed is I greatly prefer your sound from live shows as oppose to your record. I think you play and sing a Lou more powerfully live, at least from what I've seen from YouTube videos. At any rate, do you think there's a discrepancy between how your live and recorded songs sound? And if so, what are your reasons for it? Let me be clear, I'm not necessarily talking about "quality," more along "aesthetics of sound."
It is both intentional and accidental. On one hand it always fascinates me when a band interprets its music differently every time they play and as far as I am concerned it is only one person. So basically when I made the album, I was never able to play any of the songs live in a manner which would do them justice. It used to be the opposite, people liked my album but my live performance was shittttty...just me and an acoustic guitar. Only recently has that dynamic shifted and I have become a career live musician....it blows my mind. But basically I cover my album. And I am so proud of my album, I am a huge fan of the elliott smith self title and one foot in the grave by beck, and really longed to make a debut album that fit somewhere inbetween them....I think it does a decent job of that.
On top of that...I LOVE recording....I love manipulating sound and weaving noise, so expect that gap to continue in future shakey graves releases. My live show will be my live show and my albums will be my albums.
Alejandro! I saw you at Stubb's after a friend turned me on to your stuff. The show was great!
Congratulations on the weekly you've got at The Parish this month.
Are you working on new songs, or working towards a new album?
Ive been working on my first studio album for a little over a year, I raised money from a kickstarter campaign and have been working on it ever since. Its a ton of work and will be out later this year.
When will you be playin in atlanta ga? if you havent looked into it yet, might i recommend 'the earl', '529', or 'the star bar' as venues.
if you come through, ill be there.
playing the earl march 7th
Yo, I'm up in Dallas and I would watch the hell out of you if you played here.
What did you think you'd do with your life, if anything, before you began professionally pursuing music? Were you disappointed or liberated when you set aside those ambitions?
I have always been involved in the arts in some professional way, but before taking music head on I worked as a professional actor. Which was grueling and demeaning. I stranded myself in california and vowed to make ends meet. But in that time, my lonesome ache and vast desert of free time allowed me to make all the music that you hear on my album. When I decided to leave and play music full time it was the most terrifying thing Ive done in a long time, but lord I love it so fucking much. So putting in time wasnt an issue, the hard work was worth every second, learning equipment, learning my range, finding my style and developing a show worth seeing.