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INTERVIEW: Austin Shaw

Hi Austin, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

I’m doing great! Appreciate you talking to me. Thanks.

Can you talk to us more about your single “Citrine”? Did any event inspired you to write this song?

My father passed away when I was in my 20’s. This song essentially tells the story of what my sister and I went through dealing with his passing. It was very cathartic for me to write that song.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Yeah, I’m hoping to have something out in the coming months.

The single comes off your new album Felt – what’s the story behind the title?

The idea for the title of the album came during the recording sessions. At one point, we were using a felt pick for one of the songs and we got to talking about how much emotion we were all feeling with these songs. I would tell the guys where some of the stories came from and you could just feel it during the recordings. Everyone listens to music, I just hope that when they listen to Felt they feel it.

How was the recording and writing process?

It was an amazing creative process. I have been writing these songs for over a year now. When I finally had them to where I thought they needed to be, I laid down all my ideas in my home studio and came up with some scratch tracks. I shared those tracks with the other musicians and Robert L. Smith (the producer, engineer) and over several weeks we shared different ideas back and forth until we decided we were ready to get together and record. We spent a week in Brooklyn at Grand Street Recording Studios. We started in the morning and worked to late every night. And it never felt like work. Everyone was so engaged and thoughtful and talented and I think everyone was genuinely enjoying the process. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Most of the songs we did on the first take. We just started playing and it all came together.

What was it like to work with Robert L. Smith and how did that relationship develop?

I was introduced a few years ago, to Robert by a mutual friend who had worked with him before. Robert is the man. He’s got an insane amount of experience and has worked with all the biggest artist. Yet he’s down to earth and a super sweet guy. He would just “get” the songs from listening to a scratch tracks. He would give great guidance and advice through the process and often just sit back and let the magic happen with the team we assembled. No matter the situation he was always positive and able to move things along. He’s one of the few people you meet who’s doing what he was put on this earth to do and that comes through in his work. I look forward to doing more work with him in the future.

How much did he influence the song?

We always seemed to be on the same page about my songs. I think his biggest influence came during the mixing process.

You also brought a special group people to back you up – did you handpick them or how did they come on board?

Robert helped me pull these guys together. I have to tell you I was pretty nervous jumping in the studio with these pro’s. But Robert told me the reason they were doing it was because they loved my songs. They were obviously super talented and experience and that definitely made for a more seamless recording process. Each one of them added their personal touch and they were super supportive the entire time. I learned so much playing with those guys and that’s what it’s all about.

What aspect of your life did you get to explore on this record?

That’s a tough question. It’s such an eclectic group of songs. They span many different aspects and personal experiences in my life. From heartache to high flying love, break ups and just being able to lean on someone for help when you need it. I love to hear others interpretations of the stories and songs. I hesitate to tell the story behind the songs sometimes, because I feel that if someone is drawn to a song it’s often because they can somehow relate the song to an experience they’ve had in their lives.

How has the road been treating you so far?

It’s been amazing. We’ve been playing sold out shows in iconic venues. All the theaters have been great “listening” spaces and the crowds have been hugely supportive. I’ve been having a blast with my band and so far, everything has gone off without a hitch.

Any highlight?

For whatever reason, everywhere we’ve gone we’ve hit snow storms where it normally doesn’t snow. Portland for instance.

What’s been like to share the stage with David Bromberg?

I’ve been honored to share the stage with David. He and his band have been hugely supportive and given us some great guidance and advice along the way. They are all super talented down to earth guys and I’ve learned something every night watching David and his band work the crowd. He puts on one hell of a show and every night he’s had a different set list. Sometimes his bandmates don’t know what he’s going to play until he plays it.

What else is happening next in Austin Shaw’s world?

I’m getting ready to go back on the road for an east coast leg with David Bromberg. We’ve got a bunch of radio shows lined up to play on and I’m looking forward to releasing my album later this summer. I’m hoping to continue to hon my chops on the road and keep writhing, enjoying the journey and not taking myself too seriously.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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