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INTERVIEW: theSHIFT

Answered by Singer/Guitarist, John Shannon

 

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

All is good! Staying busy on the road and working on new songs.

Can you talk to us more about your single “Consecrate”?

Sure. Lyrically it’s written out of the mysterious truth that nobody remembers being born, leading to the question – whoa – was I even born? From this leading into the idea that if I wasn’t born then who am I? Then deciding yo I’m coming from the moon and stars and sun! Which leads to an overall earth awareness trip, to consecrate the ground – meaning the earth. Not trying to be super heavy just hoping to reveal some good old fashioned mind altering thought.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

For me it’s all tied into the vision quest practice I have out in the desert. Those experiences tend to expand into further awareness of what it means to be human or a spirit in a body. I find all of those realities very inspiring for music. I’ll still write a love song here and there don’t get me wrong, but I like the weight of these matters – or lack of weight! It helps the music cruise.

The single is off your new album 7th Direction – what’s the story behind the title?

It’s a Native American philosophy I’ve adopted. Directions are very important in marking where you are in time and space not only in a physical way but in a cosmic way as well, where you are in the universe. You have the 4 directions that we all know. Then the 5th is the sky. The 6th is the earth. The 7th is within. We all felt it was a good title for the album and relative to the music.

How was the writing and recording process?

The process of writing and recording was pretty swift. We spent a few days up in New Hampshire starting the process and then a few more days down in NYC before we went into the studio. For me a lot of the lyrics become solidified in the studio where I am seeing and hearing the image of the music as it’s going to be presented.

What was it like to work with Jamie Siegel and how did that relationship develop?

It was very smooth and easy to work with Jamie. He immediately gets everything sounding great and captures the energy of the band no problem. Working on vocals with Jamie is particularly a great experience. For me as a singer it’s important to get that constant and quick reflection of if the takes are sounding good enough and are carrying the meaning of the lyrics. For me it can be hard to fully know that from the other side of the glass. I know when something is feeling good or not but in the studio it’s a whole different ballgame than singing your heart out live. There’s more of a balance needed and Jamie made that process very easy especially for some of these tunes that were close to brand new when we went in to record.

How much did he influence the material?

Jamie definitely influenced the sound and forms of the material more than the material itself. He helped us to shape and present where we were at musically and where the songs were at. Being our first album, this was key guidance.

How has NYC influenced your writing?

There is a certain fire that enters your performance when you live in NYC just from the daily grind. That would be the biggest influence – in the actual playing. Writing wise there is a lot to draw on from our peers and musician friends who are having a similar experience of living in NYC but filtering it in a different way.

What aspect of nature did you get to explore on this record? And what led you to explore these particular themes?

I’m always drawing from my experiences such as the vision quest mentioned above. Nature has this mysterious way of representing the endless universe in a single leaf or rock or wind. It can be a real doorway for personal expansion, peace and inspiration. I can get really out there with it, that’s easy for me. Making sound involves moving air much like the wind so the wind has a lot to teach if you know how to listen. I have a friend in NYC, a brilliant lyricist, and we were sitting on our stoop in Brooklyn and he pointed to a tree growing out of the cement and said “You see the shadow just under the upper leaves there? I still can’t figure out how to put that into words.” Nature presents something to strive for in many ways which tends to serve the writer. The song “Everything Falls Away” on 7th Direction was written about a personal experience I was going through with an elderly person in my life at the time, not a super cosmic subject matter at all (well depending how you look at it) but one I needed to express. I originally titled it “Cardinal” after the bird which was very present in my life at the time of this experience. In the end I changed it to “Everything Falls Away” to minimize over-abstraction for the listener – but that seed is still there in the song. The tie in of nature to human.

Any plans to hit the road?

We’re always on the road! Stay in touch on our website! theshiftofficial.com We have some cool gigs coming up this summer!

What else is happening next in theSHIFT’s world?

Working on the next album! We’ve been in the studio with the legendary Artie Kornfeld who co-created Woodstock ‘69 and wrote a ton of hits back in the Brill Building era. He has been very supportive of us and it’s been cool to be around him and hear his incredible stories. We are also hoping to get back to South America sometime soon where our song “Dreams” from 7th Direction made many Top 10 Songs of the Year lists particularly in Peru, which is cool for us. Besides that, we are non-stop touring, creating and hopefully helping people to Shift through music, cosmic connotation intended. – John Shannon

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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