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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Shake Some Action! - "Crash Through or Crash"

For a decade, James Hall has brought us under the moniker Shake Some Action! some brilliant Rickenbacker driven Power Pop / Jangle Pop. "Crash Through or Crash" is probably one of SSA's best outings, featuring reverb-soaked harmonies and powerful guitar work (my personal favorite track: "It goes like this"). All the songs on this latest recording,  are performed and produced by James Hall at Studio 88 Seattle. Once again, it is released on James' very own label Satellite 451 Records.

So it was time for this blog to have a very interesting chat with the man himself. Here is what he told us:

1) James, it's a decade now since the release of your first solo record under the moniker Shake Some Action! in 2007. By the time of "Sunny days ahead", you put together an actual band. In 2017, it seems that you are back on your own. Please, tell the viewers of this blog your full story. We want to hear it all from you!

Yeah, the actual band started as the first album was coming out. That was with David Bos, Gary Miller and Chris Campbell and we played live throughout 2007. During that year, we started writing songs together and then "Sunny Days Ahead" was recorded by that lineup at the end of that year.

Gary and Chris both moved out of town and on the Fire And Ice record, I was pretty much solo again, although gary played on one song and David played on a couple of others by recording themselves remotely. For Full Fathom Five, I recorded every note myself and really enjoyed it. Then I put together another lineup and we played a handful of shows in 2013. And then during the last year while I was working on the latest album, I put together another lineup and we’ll hopefully be playing some Seattle shows before the end of 2017.

2)      What is your favorite topic/topic that comes easily when you write a new song?

Usually I improvise lyrics over the top of the backing until I hit on something interesting. So the lyrics can be a bit stream-of-consciousness and not necessarily make sense at first. What usually comes out is some sort of subconscious attempt to process whatever is going on in my life. Sometimes it can be about things from years before, or about a dream, or something somebody said. But often it’s just the first thing that comes out when I stick a mic in front of my face.

3)      Putting a Black Rickenbacker 330 on the cover of your latest full length, "Crash Through or Crash" feels like a statement to me. This means : "Look out, this is power pop you are going to listen to" Do you agree with this assumption and furthermore what can you tell about the recording process of this new release? 

Yeah, that shot was actually from our first show back in 2006 and as they say, a picture tells a thousand words. I think it was to say, yeah, this is the music inside and also just to convey a bit of energy, a bit of swagger. I think this album has a few songs that rock a bit harder than I’ve done for a while.

The recording process for this album started back in 2015 when I was initially working on music for TV and film, which I do on the side. After a little while it became clear that some of the songs could be Shake Some Action songs and so I started to re-focus on making a new album.

I record songs in my home studio as I write, so my process has been the same for a few years now. I start out with some drums, then plug in a guitar and jam on it until something interesting happens. Then often I’ll edit some of those ideas into a song structure and improvise a vocal on it. Usually by then I can tell if it’s worth working on more or leaving it alone. By the end of 2016 I had about 30 finished songs.

4)      To what kind of music did you listen to as a teenager and does it still influence your today work? What was your favorite band as a teenager? Name 3 bands that you consider still have a influence on your own work today.

When I was a teenager I listened to a lot of Beatles music. I was a bit of a fanatic, actually. They are still a major influence even though I don’t listen to them as much as I used to. When I first heard their music it was like being struck by lightning and nothing was ever the same again.

The other main influences are probably the Stone Roses and a couple of Australian bands -  Hoodoo Gurus and You Am I. They were my favorites as a teenager that still resonate with me today and were very influential when I first started writing songs.

5)      Are you more comfortable in working alone or with an actual band?  

When I record, I like to do it alone. Mostly because I record as I write and when I get in that zone, it’s hard to stop. Usually I get ideas for bass lines or guitar parts early on and I like to get them recorded while they’re fresh. Before I know it, the work is all done.

But playing live, I much prefer playing with a band. I like to give my bandmates freedom to play the songs however they like and I think that makes it interesting when the songs become living, breathing things that are different every time we play them.

6)      Do you have a video on youtube featuring a track from the latest release?

Not yet . . .

No new video, so here is an older one instead!

7)      What can concert goers expect at a Shake Some Action! gig? Are you playing any famous cover songs? 

Hopefully they’ll see energetic performances of the new songs, alongside new versions of some older favorites. We haven’t rehearsed any cover songs yet but I recorded Lady Friend by the Byrds during sessions for the album so that might appear at some point. We also used to do White Light White Heat by the Velvet Underground, so that might make an appearance as well.

8)      Is Satellite 451 Records your very own record label? 

Yes it is.

9)      What are the plans for the rest of 2017 as far as Shake Some Action! is concerned? Are you planning to tour Europe soon? 

No touring plans at this stage, although we’ll see what happens. We’re looking into recording a live performance towards the end of the year and if we like it, possibly releasing a live DVD. We also have a 10th anniversary re-release of our first album coming out on October 1st, and that has a bunch of extra tracks that nobody’s heard before so we’re looking forward to that.

10) Anything you would like to say to the viewers of this blog?

Yeah, thank you all for your support and we hope you like the new record!

Purchase this goodie here:

Physical copies of the CD can be bought at CD BABY:

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