Sherman, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Hey thanks so much!! Things are really good. As long as I don’t turn on the news, I’m pretty content these days.
I understand you are an Ivy leaguer – what eventually drew you into music?
Like any kid I was always into music. I kind of walked into being in my first band. I think it was my sophomore year at Columbia and I walked into a smoke-filled room and asked my friends what they were up to. My buddy Zuck, who played the guitar, looked up and said they were forming a band. I asked him who’s going to be in it and he said that he was playing guitar, Jojo (from Widespread Panic fame) was going to be playing drums, his music professor Jimbo would be the bass player, our friend Mark would also play guitar, and I was going to be the lead singer. I was like, “that’s cool … what’s the name?” and they offered up “Sherman and The Bureaucrats” – and that was that.
We started out playing early Beatles and Rolling Stones covers, songs like Poison Ivy (originally recorded by The Coasters), Honey Don’t (Carl Perkins), Off My Cloud… played em fast and loud. Our girlfriends put on their skirts and sang backups and hit the tambourine – so, early on, we were Sherman and The Bureaucrats featuring The Bureaucrettes. It was super fun and a cool time. Then there came the sad day when we had to cut the Bureaucrettes loose… it’s a cold world …
How has living in NYC in particular influenced your sound?
I’m not exactly sure it’s affected my particular sound other than the fact the guys I play with are so damn good, I’m not sure I would’ve found them were I not New York.
However, living in New York has very much influenced how I see the world, and therefore what I write about. When you live in New York City everything is just flying at you a 1,000,000 miles a second. It’s a cultural mecca with the miracle of so many different worlds all coming in and mixing in together. It’s as amazing as it is intense. My life in this crazy city informs my creative side, for sure. I think that’s probably the best way to answer the question.
When and how did the whole dog-walking scenario come into place?
When I was a kid my parents got two puppies Oscar and Felix. Their names were taken from the Neil Simon play The Odd Couple. Around this time, most late morning/ early afternoons I could be found crashed on my folks’ sofa. So, mom basically said, these dogs need to get trained and you need to get some semblance off a life and so off to the local dog trainer I went. Hammhaussen Kennels in Hopewell, New Jersey.
It would seem that I did a good job training Oscar and Felix because after I finished I was hired to become the trainers’ assistant. That was my after school job for the next four years.
Once at Columbia, I dipped my toe in the corporate world for a few summers. That just wasn’t a good fit for me. I truly can’t imagine spending my life in an office.
Shortly after graduating from College, I started working with underprivileged kids a place called Covenant House, New York (which is a great organization for homeless youth.) I ended up as an assistant to the Executive Director and part of that job required going to graduate school. I was actually enrolled to get a Masters in Public Administration from Columbia when a neighbor of mine broke her ankle and needed help first thing in the morning and last thing at night walking her dog. I needed the money and I loved dogs so I was more than happy to help out. It’s funny how things work out because while I was walking her dog I met a dog walker who was a wonderful person from Ireland, name Beth. Beth said she was moving back to Ireland and offered to have her clients give me a call if I wanted to take over her business – and that was that. I withdrew from graduate school, left my job, and started spending my days with dogs.
How did these two very unlikely dreams end up blending together?
I really didn’t plan for things to go the way that they have gone – there was no grand vision, and that’s probably a good thing. I doubt it would have worked out if I had mapped it out.
Early on I would walk dogs all day and play in whatever band I happen to be in at the time. At one point, I left a band and decided to go back to acting. I originally came to New York because I was interested in acting.
At some point, I decided to write a screenplay that included a creating a part for myself and writing the soundtrack. I finished the screenplay and started looking for a music producer to help me record a demo for the songs for the would be soundtrack. As luck would have it, I met an amazing producer named Godfrey Diamond who was the perfect person for me to meet at that time.
I spent a summer getting my songs together with him and my buddy Jimbo from the Bureaucrats. As we were getting ready to record, Godfrey called me one day and said that the stars were aligning in my favor – he had arranged for an incredible drummer named George Recile to play on my record. George had been playing with a certain fellow named Bob Dylan and another guy named Keith Richards. George brought along Anthony Krizan to play guitar – Anthony had been playing with the Spin Doctors. (Anthony and I have actually continued to do a lot of writing together – he’s actually producing the record I’m currently working on.)
After the first two days of recording, Godfrey pulled me aside and suggested that I blow off acting – including the screenplay and all that craziness – and I gladly left the acting world and we recorded Blue Moon. Since then it’s been pretty much music and dogs. I feel really very fortunate .. I love dogs, I love writing songs and I love playing gigs.
I understand you are working on a new record – is it a direct follow up to your previous material or a total departure?