“Every community is bound to bare some sort of sound and champion that, but it’s not as definite as it used to be.”
And today's interview is with a Huntington alt-rock band inspired by the glamour, grit and guitars of the New York music scene. This... is Shenanagram.
How did the band/act start playing music (when, where, why, etc.)?
We started this band in 2012. We all had been in varying bands together prior to forming this group, but as none of those ended up panning out, this project came together. We're all from the Huntington/Barboursville area and have been friends with each other for some time, so it was a pretty natural formation.
What bands have the Shenanagram-ers been in previously?
Orchard Avenue, Lights Out Lucy, Blank Pages and Huntington’s Scroungehound.
And where does the name Shenanagram come from?
A few of us were having drinks when one of us just blurted out the word, and I can't even remember the context specifically. We liked it a lot more than our old name, so we were pretty eager to suggest the name change. It's also nice having a name that's not really a word. We're easy to search on the internet and brand ourselves, so that's convenient when trying to spread the word.
How has the band’s sound changed over time (if at all)?
It's changed pretty drastically over the years. When we first started, we were much more in the vein of bands like Foo Fighters and The Black Keys. We sound incredibly different now. We are very influenced by a lot of New York bands like The Strokes, Television and other CBGB's stuff. We're also considering experimenting with electronic instruments in some of the newer material we've been working on, which is something we would've swore off when we started. I think the changes are exciting, and we've become a lot more open to the possibility of change as we've expanded our tastes.
Where has the band played in and around West Virginia?
We play mostly in Huntington, as two of us are in school and don't really have the time to go out and venture much. We've played The V-Club, Press Club, Huntington Ale House, Bittersweet Coffeehouse, Blue Parrot, Empty Glass, Muncheez and a local house venue called the Cricket Cave.
What’s been the highlight of the band’s musical journey?
I think just having our first official release last year was a big step for us. Actually going into a studio and going through a more legitimate process than just recording stuff at our houses felt like we were doing something more than what we had been doing prior. I think it’s put us into the mindset that we can do something more with this.
Any advice for musicians just starting out?
Write constantly, be prepared to be fluid with changes and don't fight them. Just get out there and enjoy yourselves.
What’s it like making music in West Virginia?
I don't feel it has as big of an impact as in the pre-internet era. I think every community is bound to bare some sort of sound and champion that, but it’s not as definite as it used to be. Everyone has access to whatever music they're keen on, so you're not bound to the sound of your area. As far as the community itself goes, I think there are plenty of people who support the arts in the area, and I think that community is slowly growing as well, which is exciting.
Do you feel held back by being in West Virginia? Or does it feel like a musically-supportive place?
I think the area is bound to foster certain sounds and really support the acts the fall within that. I don't feel that we are necessarily aligned with that sound locally, but I don't think it hinders us in any sort of major way as well. But we might fare a little better in the Morgantown/Pittsburgh area, where the alternative scene is a little more prominent.
What, in your opinion, needs to happen in the West Virginia music scene for it to move forward?
I think breaking down the barriers of localized scenes would help a lot. When I think of Morgantown, I think of alternative music. When I think of Huntington, I think of Americana/folk. So on and so forth. We live in the digital age where boundaries no longer exist in the fashion that they used to, so making the changes to reflect that would be beneficial to all varieties of arts across the state.
Shenanagram’s latest release is “Mayor of Where/I Got Nuthin”. Keep an eye (and ear) on the band’s social media for tour dates and new releases. Hear more #WVmusic on A Change of Tune, airing Saturday nights at 10 on West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Connect with A Change of Tune on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And for more #WVmusic chats, make sure to go to wvpublic.org/wvmusic and subscribe to our RSS / podcast feeds.
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