The Shakes are a five-piece alternative rock band based out of Huntington Beach, California. They have released three singles so far, with an EP waiting to be released later this month. We had the privilege of interviewing Sean Perry, the lead singer and songwriter, joined by his manager Chris Jiannino before their show at AMPLYFi on Friday, June 15.
ALTANGELES: Okay, let’s get started. Would you like to introduce yourself?
SEAN: Yeah, my name is Sean Perry.
How did you start getting into music?
I’ve been writing music for about five years now, since I was about sixteen. I was huge on basketball when I was growing up. I was on my high school basketball team freshman year and I broke my arm…it had to be put in a full cast for about six months. I showed up to basketball practice the next day, but my coach cut me from the team. I went home, and I remember sitting in my bed and I looked over in the corner, and there was a guitar over in the corner that my dad had bought about a year before. So I realized that [my cast] was in the perfect position to play guitar and learn how to play.
What music did you listen to when you were younger?
My parents were in radio for about 20 years. I was born and raised in Seattle and they were involved in radio stations up there, so I grew up on everything from The Cure to Fleetwood Mac to The Who, Clash, all that good stuff.
When did you meet your band mates?
I actually started the band with Skylar, who is no longer in it anymore. Since then we have been cycling through a lot of members. I’ve always written the music and everything. Cameron has been in it for two years now, he plays guitar. Tanner plays bass. Syd is on keys. Levi is on drums. With this new lineup we have now, I met them at South By [Southwest festival] through a girl named Lexi, who’s project is called Love You Later. She brought a bunch of musicians to play her music and I was invited. When we got back I asked them if they would like to play in The Shakes and they said yeah.
Where does the name “The Shakes” come from?
It is actually from a The Killers song. One of my favorite The Killers songs, off of Hot Fuss is called On Top. The chorus goes, “its just a shimmy and a shake, can’t shake it we’re on top.”
What was the inspiration behind your new single, “Paralyzed (Everything’s Alright)”?
I wrote “Paralyzed” like last February, I think. I was living at a friend’s house, struggling to pay rent, broke, bussing tables, and it’s just a song about myself and learning to cope with anxieties and the struggles of growing up.
How would you describe the new EP that is coming out and what should fans expect?
It’s a vibe. It’s definitely a vibe. It’s full of different sounds. I can’t really describe what’s gonna be on it. We have about five songs including “Scrumptious” and “Paralyzed” that are gonna be on it. We have three others. I might include a bedroom demo on there as well. We have an acoustic song on there and we have one faster song on there, called “Golden State of Mind”. It’s just a mood setter for our album and it’s something I have been working on for the past year and a half. I’m really excited to put it out.
Can you talk about what inspired this EP?
Yes, there’s another very important part of this EP. Last St. Patrick’s Day I was coming home from a friend’s house and there was this street that had two stop lights within 500 feet of each other. So I was going and the light was green and about to turn yellow. I was gonna run it, but then another car came up in front of me and cut me off and went straight through the yellow light and got T-boned, because he didn’t see another car. I pulled on the brakes and stopped the car and saw the other car literally flipped over, did like three flips on the road. I got out of my car to go check on him because I was in shock. But then I started thinking to myself; if he didn’t cut me off at that light, that could have been me. And so this EP is titled With Every Moment because I truly believe that every moment in this life should never be taken for granted. The lyrics [on his shirt] “I want to live a life of happiness in which / I forgive all the mistakes I’ve made / I want to see this life from a perspective / Different than me / And cherish every moment / In love with every moment.” I wrote that when I got home that night, and that has been the idea of this EP. Every song that you hear is like a certain moment. Just being in love, not thinking of the past or the future and just thinking of right now. It’s the most important thing.
When will that be out?
What would be your dream festival lineup? It can be any artist, dead and alive.
I’d love to see The Who, when they were in their prime in the 70’s with Keith Moon, John Entwistle because my dad has seen them like 25 times. I’d love to see Kanye. Fleetwood Mac, The Cure, The Smiths, Michael Jackson, and I love Glass Animals.
What was it like to play a venue as iconic as the Troubadour?
It was insane. We got put on the bill because I went to a networking event with some artists at this place called Crew House in LA and I met this band, The Strike, and I kept in contact with them. They told me they were going to play the Troubadour and I asked if they needed an opener and they said yeah. It didn’t really hit me until I was up on that stage and I looked out and saw all the people in the crowd. Everybody has played the Troubadour.
What do you do when you’re not working on your music?
I hang out with my family and my friends or I’m at work busing tables. I play 2K. I like watching TV and movies and I’m really into New Girl right now.
If The Shakes were a cover band, which band would you be covering and what would you call yourself?
The Cure. Probably Pictures of Me… Or, no! Fascination Street. That’s my favorite song by them.
What can fans expect from you guys in the future?
A lot of shows. We’re working on setting up a west coast tour right now. We’re trying to go play up in San Francisco. Expect good music, that’s one thing I can promise. This music is my life, it’s what I’ve been working hard on and I just hope other people enjoy it as much as we do. We have another EP coming out later as well.
Are there any tour dates set right now?
We’re playing with Miki Ratsula in San Diego on July 13th. Other than that, we have a couple that we’re still working on confirming.
If you were an animal what would you be and why?
I’d be a kangaroo, cause I’ve been told I’m tall like a kangaroo and I would love to have a pouch and keep everything in there because you wouldn’t need a backpack or anything. I think an Eagle would be cool too because it’s a felony to shoot Eagles so you really don’t have any predators and you’re on top of the food chain.
Can you describe each of your bandmates in one word?
Cameron… Persistent. Cameron, he’s in it. He actually quit his job to go to practice the other day. He’s been one of my best friends for three years now and he’s just dedicated. Syd is sweet. Sweet Syd. I can’t name a single bad thing about her. She’s literally the nicest, sweetest girl ever. She’s been classically trained on piano since she was three, so she’s very talented. Levi is very mysterious. He has a mind of his own and he’s a fucking genius. At South by [Southwest Festival], he was working on these beats and he makes the sickest beats ever. He always has these theories about everything, like conspiracy theories he believes in. Tanner… I don’t know if I could put a word on Tanner. Tanner is genuine. Tanner is the man, you can always count on Tanner to be there. He really cares about the people that he’s close with and that’s one of the reasons I brought him in. He’s just a great guy to be around.
How would you describe each other?
CHRIS: Uncanny. There’s a very nostalgic type of aura and persona to [Sean] that resembles things from the past. Things like artists and greats that have the same kind of persona and confidence that he has.
SEAN: Chris would be curious. Always wanting to know what’s going on at all times, and that’s great. Even as a friend foremost, he’s curious to know what’s going on in my life. He’s working his ass off for the band right now. Always asking questions.
How did the two of you meet?
SEAN: Work. He was a server, I was a busser. He was always put in section one because he could always sell the most food. You’re good at selling stuff and as a manager you have to sell the band.
CHRIS: I knew he was in this band and we kinda talked on the side. At the time I was doing music videos on the side, working with bands, doing photography and stuff. We just found ourselves talking about things that were going on. I was trying to get into the film industry and I just saw him as doing the same kind of thing and working at it, even if it was different on paper it was still the same thing. To see somebody try to make it and make moves, I tried to give him the best advice on the things that I messed up on that I never wanted to see him mess up on. It just went from there and now he’s like a brother to me.
What is your writing process like?
I start with a beat usually, I’m super into hip hop so I get a lot of inspiration from that. Then I’ll lay a bass line over that and add a melodic riff. All the time, like when I’m sitting at a stoplight, I’ll think of lyrics and put them down piece by piece. I’ve been doing that for about five years now, I have a vault of random lyrics that I try to piece together to make up a story. I can write a song in a day, a month, six months. We have a song called “Six Feet Below” that I wrote in a day. “Paralyzed” took me like two months, I wanted to piece it together perfectly.
Do you ever go through periods of writer’s block?
All the time. I always look for inspirations. I actually have been without a car for about a year. I’ve been at home everyday wondering what I’m doing with my life because I can’t go out. It’s hard to find inspiration in those situations. Whenever I need some sort of motivation I’ll just take a drive. We live in LA, the most inspiring city in the world. I’ll just go, experience it. When you get in the car what’s the first thing you do? You plug in the AUX cord. That’s where I get my inspiration from: just driving around and listening to good music.
After the Interview, we had the opportunity to see the Shakes perform live. Here’s some photos from the show.
Photos by Tori O’Campo and Donna Borges