Thursday, April 9, 2015

Band Interview: SHALLOWPOINT

Photo by Toria Lawson
Interview with Heather of SHALLOWPOINT

Since I interviewed you for the print zine of AEA (issue #17), Shallowpoint was on an extensive search for a new drummer. How many drummers did you try out, who is the new drummer and how well does he work with you?
We have unfortunately been through several drummers. There is a lot of time and dedication that goes into doing this; not many people really understand it until they are a part of it. It's not all fun and games; it is a lot of work. So for various similar reasons most of the previous guys did not work out. And I’d like to note several of them were fill-ins until we found someone more permanent, which was super awesome of them to do! We have worked with some excellent drummers and have been very fortunate in that regard! The drummer is the backbone of the band. Somewhere around the end of September of last year Landon Best joined us. He came right in and played all of our songs to perfection. He has an awesome personality and we all get along really well. We are thrilled to have him on board!  We have a few upcoming shows in Knoxville, Tennessee; after those shows we intend to get down to the serious business of writing new material and trying to go on tour. I'm looking forward to seeing what all Landon will bring to the table for our new stuff. He is an outstanding drummer so I have no doubt that it will be killer! So be on the look out!

How much effort did you discover a working band requires? How much resilience have you maintained?
Wow, the hard work and effort we put into this is unimaginable at times! We are solid DIY at this point; we book our own shows, we advertise our own shows, we do almost all of our own graphics, videos and promoting. We have been lucky to have many good friends and fans who offer their help with things from time to time. Several fans run our Facebook street team pages! All of that plus band practice and day jobs, yes, it's hard. You really have to be tough in this business, I know without a doubt we have proven we are!

Has doing the band grassroots helped you forge your own path, so to speak?
Being in a total DIY band I have learned so much: promotion, social media, how some of the music industry works. It is all amazing and a big huge interconnected web. We have no management at the moment so we are pretty much on our own and always have been, other than help from family, friends and fans.

So the band is essentially self-managing at this point? Who in the band is making decisions as to your next show or promotion campaign, or is it more of a collective decision?
I do most all of the social media and Internet work. Most all of the major decisions are made collectively. I always ask the guys if they want to/or can play a show; I don't just take them without asking. I try to always be considerate.

Describe your tryout of Landon Best and how you decided he was the drummer to fill the spot.
I actually met Landon on Facebook. A mutual friend heard we needed a drummer and connected with us. I talked to him quite a bit about the band, our goals and such. He seemed interested and had similar goals. After a week or two he wrote me and told me he had all of our songs down. To be quite honest, I was not sure I believed it! (laughs) We had him come in and try out, and the whole band was quite impressed with him, so needless to say he got the job on the spot.

Did Landon have to relocate to work with Shallowpoint full time? I think you mentioned he traveled from another state?
Landon lives in Maryville, approximately a forty minute drive to where we practice. Which is still quite a drive with gas prices the way they are. But he makes the drive with no complaints. We live kind of far out in the country.

Are Landon’s musical tastes similar to the rest of the band’s? What drummers does he admire and draw influence from?
Landon likes a lot of the same stuff the rest of us like. His biggest influences are the Rev from a7x and John Bonham. Two of his favorite bands are Ghost and Demon Hunter.

Describe how Landon handled your material the day he tried out? On which of your songs did he most shine? Where does the band usually practice and how often?
Landon handled our material like a pro! He shines on everything he does, no complaints with this guy at all! The band practices at my house and we always try to practice once a week. Sometimes more when preparing for a show.

Were any of the drummers who filled in before you settled on Landon contenders for a permanent position?
All of them were worthwhile; they just did not work out for various reasons. One had huge musical differences and liked a totally different genre. But why would anyone come and play with a band of which they did not like the musical genre to begin with? I don't know. (laughs)

From what I have seen the band has had some successful performances over the past year. Cite a few of them here?
The latter part of last year was really good for us!  We got to play a festival with Sevendust and a multitude of awesome bands! We got to play with Fuel and Saliva, both of which were awesome shows! A few of those shows have opened even more doors for us, as we have made new friends and connections.

What was your festival performance with Sevendust like? What festival was this and many bands appeared with you? Did you meet Sevendust or the other bands in person at this fest?
Sadly Sevendust actually got rained out of playing that night. It was a monstrous storm!  We did get to meet LaJohn, and hung out with him and Tantric for quite some time.

Where was the show you played with Fuel and Saliva? Are these local Tennessee bands or did they come from elsewhere?
We played with Fuel at The Warehouse in Clarksville, Tennessee. I don't believe they are from here. And we played with Saliva in Jackson, Tennessee at the Emporium. They are, or at least some of them are from Tennessee. I am friends with their guitar player Wayne Sweeney on Facebook.

How many new connections and friends have you made from the performances discussed above?
The guy who booked us for the Saliva show also booked us for the Wayland show we played recently. He is a super awesome guy and I am glad to have met him.

Are there any new bands from the Knoxville scene you consider worth mentioning?
Knoxville has a multitude of up and coming bands! The scene is interesting to say the least; way more bands than there are venues to play. That has always seemed to be the biggest concern within the scene. But new venues are opening here and doing well. All are happy about that.

Name some of the new bands coming from Knoxville and the older bands that are gaining more popularity. Do you have the same amount of venues you did five years ago? Any new places to play these days?
Really and truly, there are mostly the same bands around here as there were five years ago. There are Divided We Stand, Vankale, Deconbrio, Imprint, Tears To Embers and Omega Down. There is only a small amount of new bands to the scene, at least so few that I am unfamiliar with their names as of yet, or they are a different style of music that I don't listen to much. The venue numbers seem to stay about the same; some come and go, and come and go again.

What new venues have opened in Knoxville of late? How are the turnouts at your recent shows?
There is a new venue called Whiskey River Wild. We played there with the band Dope; it is a nice establishment run by nice people. There is another new venue called Open Chord, another excellent establishment with superior sound and sound guys and lighting. It is a neat venue because it is also all ages. I've always thought it important that the younger generation is able to be exposed to live music. We also have the Bowery back! They are starting to do once a month rock shows there! We only played there once when it was open the first time.

How long have Whiskey River Wild and Open Chord been open now? Do these clubs draw when bands appear?
Both of those clubs opened real close to the same time. I want to say both of them have been open approximately six months now. We played at both of them and both nights had good crowds. They are both located in a little different area than the other two venues here, they are located more of what I would call West Knoxville. Near the mall, the more traveled area. Some of the others are a little more off the beaten path.

Did the Bowery close down for a while? How excited was the band upon hearing the venue was reopening?
They did stop doing live rock shows at the Bowery for a while. We were excited to hear they were going to start doing rock shows again! That venue just has a lot of charm, a really good vibe there. Also they have a courtyard which is nice to hang out in the summertime.

I’ve heard a couple of songs by Dope and have seen their videos and live clips; from what I saw they seem like down to earth people. How was your experience playing with them?
Dope was awesome! They were one of the best live shows I have seen in quite some time! They played at Whiskey River Wild, which is a new venue in Knoxville. The venue used to be a Japanese restaurant and we used to eat there all the time, so it was so strange to be standing there watching Dope in the place that we used to eat at for years! (laughs) The members of Dope all had great personalities. There was a lit sign of us and them; they changed the wording around, switched lettering to say something like Nope and Shallowpointed. I have a picture of that somewhere! (laughs)

I think it was you who introduced me to Twisted Hillbilly’s online zine and record label. Their interview with me can be viewed at their official site (http://www.thmag.us). Do you know if they are still active today? When you first heard of Twisted Hillbilly, were they the first major label/fanzine/webzine to come from your area, or were there others?
From what I can tell of them these days they seem to be more into modeling and photography with models. I rarely see much music stuff coming from them anymore. I am not in contact with any of them, so I truly have no idea to what extent they are still involved/or not involved in music. As far as I know they are the only one located locally.

The band has filmed promotional videos for a few songs. Discuss each of them for those who don’t yet know about them?
All of our music videos were filmed and produced by the band itself! To us this allows for more creativity, which we love! Our first one we did was for the song "Nothing Left." It was our first time filming and producing a music video; so much trial and error was made. Even had to go out and buy a whole new computer with huge storage capabilities because we were working with such large files. After a few small learning curves we came about with a very satisfying and quality product, most especially for the first one ever. Our second music video was for the song "Self Inflicted." At that time we had a whole lot of super creative friends hanging around with us, and we were bored, so a whole lot of time was spent contemplating ideas for this video. There is a story behind that video as well, which includes actually running from the police! (laughs) NONE of us will ever forget the making of that video, ever. There were about thirteen people involved, whereas the first video was band members only. We are currently in filming for our third self-filmed and self-produced video. This one will be for the song "Broken Life." We are about halfway through filming. We hope to have it out in the next few months.

What’s the story with the band running from the police during the filming of Self Inflicted?
Self Inflicted was filmed at an old abandoned water treatment plant; the place was not even fenced in. We went down there during the night to film the video; to make a long story short and without much further detail, the police got called on us! (laughs)

Did you have to explain to the police you were filming a promotional video, or did you have to avoid them completely?
They eventually caught up with us; we explained what we were doing and no harm or damage was done. They really could not say too much to us because there were no "no trespassing" signs anywhere on the property and it was only partially fenced. But they had to investigate.

Is the band producing the video for Broken Life independently or with a professional company? Why did you choose this song as the basis?
We are producing and filming our new video independently; Chuck Shallowpoint is the producer. He always has a vision in mind and knows how he wants it. Lots of thought and creativity go into the making of our videos; we obviously do not have the most top quality cameras available but we make the most of what we have to work with. Some of the shots in the videos are extremely thought out while others just happen spontaneously; we will see a perfect shot and take it!  We are selective of the shots and scenes in the videos, and many do not make the cut. It is amazing how much time it takes to do a music video. Sometimes there are a hundred clips of what would appear to be virtually the same thing, but there will be ONE take that is better than all of the rest. It is why it takes us so long to make them; the filming for the money shot takes time, and then editing takes a lot of time. We wanted to do a video for one of our older songs, and Broken Life is an older song. We just happened to think of the perfect theme for the video and just started shooting it. I would say that is why we chose that particular song. We just roll with things as ideas come to us.

What ideas does Chuck have in mind for the Broken Life video? Is there anything you can reveal in advance?
Not much I can reveal at the moment, we kind of keep our ideas on lock down. So it will be a "wait and see".

Without revealing ideas thought up for it, is the video for Broken Life going to reflect the lyrics in some way?
It will somewhat. Broken Life can have many meanings. All sorts of things can cause a Broken Life, but we do have a good idea in mind for it. Hoping to complete this video in the next month or two.

What filming equipment is Chuck using to produce your next promotional video? Has he gotten any new equipment lately?
We have several different video cameras. One is a Nikon Camera, the other one is a Zoom, and we have even used clips from cell phones. Most all video cameras these days are good enough quality to shoot your own video; it's not really so much about the cameras as it is being creative.

How has the band learned to be creative with the equipment they currently have?
I guess I have learned through life to make the most with what I have been given. Sure you can always wish for more, but when it comes right down to it sometimes things would never get done if you sat waiting for everything to be "right”. Sometimes you just have to go with it.

Has social media had a hand in bands independently producing promotional videos? How much have you noticed this happening and how are most of the videos you’ve seen quality-wise?
I think the digital age has helped bands to be able to do a lot of things on their own that in the past they were not able to do. Ten years ago we would never have known how to even begin to make our own music video. But there is so much information on the web these days, you can pretty much learn to do anything you want to do. It is amazing really. I have seen several bands produce their own videos, but not very many, and this is surprising to me because it is really not that hard nor that expensive. Cell phone videos are even amazing quality these days.

Which of the videos currently on your Youtube channel best represent the band live at this point?
I think the answer to this one would most likely be Self Inflicted. We all love that song and love playing it, it's a fun song.

A few people I have interviewed have commented on the feud between Metallica and Napster over the free downloading issue. What are your thoughts on this and which side had more valid points in that feud?
I am not really sure how I feel about this. I grew up on and loved Metallica. I believe they had enough foresight to see the harm and damage the digital world could cause musicians and bands. I don't believe anything could have changed what was to come with the digital world. It was just meant to be.

Do you think more bands should produce their records and videos independently to have more creative control over their material?
I think a lot more bands and musicians are producing their own music these days. Obviously it is something to feel good about if you produce your own music and/or videos. It is not easy to do, so if it comes out good you have an added talent!

Many independent labels are releasing their band’s recordings on their own sites to halt illegal streaming, which seems to be helping the bands a little. Are there copyright issues you will have to consider so your material is not pirated in the future?
We copyright all of our own songs, so we own our material. No issues there. The onset of streaming has definitely hurt record sales even more. First it was illegal downloading and now no one even bothers to illegally download when you can pretty much listen to anything on any digital device anywhere. To me this brings back the desire for the CD. Because it is still something "physical" in hand for your money and a lot of people really like to have them signed and put them up on their walls.

The internet program Deviants Underground Radio was a major voice for independent and unsigned bands. Do you miss it since it folded?
I do miss Deviants and will always be thankful for the time they spent helping bands. I used to visit the chat room quite frequently and enjoyed chatting with everyone there. I rarely have time to chat these days. There is a new radio show that is locally owned here. In fact I just recently sent them our music. They are called 2 Loco Radio. We have also been fortunate to hook up with Rock Rage Radio! Check them out!

One song Deviants aired frequently was DJ Clay’s Fuck The Radio, in response to radio stations that overplay the same songs as part of their program. Do you think it was time for people to break the mold of what people could listen to on air?
I have personally never heard that song. But radio needs to let up more and play new music and music from all bands not just signed bands. As of now it is the only power there is over unsigned bands. We cannot compete with FM radio at all. Don't get me wrong, we are very fortunate and receive some fb airplay. We have our local station 95.7 the X "Local X" with Oz! It's a two hour block of local music along with who is playing where!

How many new contacts did you meet through Deviants? Where can 2 Loco Radio and Rock Rage Radio be found on the internet? Discuss the exposure Shallowpoint has gotten from those programs?
There are a few contacts I made through Deviants that are still with us. I don't know exactly how many, but a few. 2 Loco Radio can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/stripclubchoppersradio.show.2loco and on the web at www.2locoradio.com. Rock Rage can be found online at www.rockrageradio.com.

If I recall, Deviants was the first online program to promote Knoxville bands. How much did it open doors for other net programs to follow suit?
I do believe Deviants was paving the way for what was to come. I see digital radio getting more and more popular now. Many of them are even making some money off of advertisements and ad space on their websites.

How often are your songs aired on 2 Loco Radio and Rock Rage Radio since you hooked up with them?
I just in fact sent our songs to 2 Loco Radio recently, so I’m not exactly certain we have even been aired yet. On Rock Rage Radio I would say it is safe to say we are played at least once a day. They have many different shows and show hosts. Each hour is a different DJ. A friend of ours also has a station called echo Asylum Radio. http://www.echo-asylum.com/radio

Do you still keep in touch with the DJs and staff of Deviants? Has the band submitted material to Asylum Radio?
I do still talk to Pryj, but not as much these days. Her life has changed so much; she seems so much happier and I am glad for her. Asylum Radio does rock our music from time to time. He is getting interviews with big bands and stuff, so I am happy for him.

As there are more independent radio stations surfacing on the net, will more unsigned bands have opportunities to be heard in the U.S. and other countries?
There are a few I think, but I cannot recall them right off. We are played on several college FM stations one of them being Flint Michigan. There are many Internet radio stations; to many to mention. But my favorite at the moment is Rock Rage Radio. They are becoming huge fast!

Are any of your live performances broadcasted on the internet? How do you see the idea of live streaming performances so people in neighboring states and other countries can watch them?
We have several live videos on Youtube, but we have not to date done a streaming performance. So much involved with doing that and getting it to sound right. We have talked about doing it; it's just finding the right venue and the time to really set up for it.

Does Shallowpoint have an official Youtube channel where your live videos can be viewed? How many of your shows have your live clips been collected from? Are most of them amateur or professional quality?
We do have an offiicial channel. We video almost every single show we do, so we can see how we are progressing with our live performances. Most of them we keep private. I am usually more interested in how the band "sounds" but we actually take notes on our movement and our stage presence.

Which of the videos on your Youtube channel best represent the band live at this point?
I would still say the Self Inflicted video does. We are very into theatrics and that one was our first experimentation with theatrics and makeup. We really like the dark creepy stuff! (laughs)

How soon does Shallowpoint plan to compose new material and how do you suspect it will sound? Do you plan to record and release a full length in the future?
We do have a current new album concept in the works. The first song is already written. It is very melodic and heavy to, very much the Shallowpoint sound which makes me happy because we want to still sound like Shallowpoint and bring people the same style of music they are liking from us currently. So far the new song is awesome! I can hardly wait for everyone to hear it! We will most likely be playing it live soon enough, as far as recording goes we still need more songs to make an entire album. So it will be awhile on that. But it's in the works. Thanks for taking the time to interview us!  You have been a longtime friend and we sincerely appreciate you!


-Dave Wolff