Everything Is Energy, by Chris Shinn
Musicincider.com's Barb Fara sat down with Chris Shinn, and JJ Sansone of Everything Is Energy on April 22, 2007, to shoot the shit around concert time at Smith's Old Bar in Atlanta. Previously with the bands Celia Green and Unified Theory, Shinn has his own label, The Nest Records, in addition to Everything Is Energy.
Music Incider Magazine
MI What is your birth date?
CS Uh, August 1st.
MI So you're a Virgo.
CS I'm a Leo
MI You're a Leo.
CS Yes Ma'am.
MI Tell me about how Bruce Springsteen influenced you.
CS My - growing up, I had Bruce Springsteen and I had George Jones.
CS Those are my two. I didn't have a musical family really – at all. So,
MI ((Interrupting)) Exactly.
CS So, my uh, my, my connection I, I had George Jones, the balladeer, and I had Bruce Springsteen, the rock star. So, I listened to those two's music. And, and, and, I only made the association to music when it was party time, because the only time I ever heard music was when there was getting drunk
MI ((Interrupting)) When there was a party.
CS ((Continuing)) Was when they were turning up real loud. That's pretty much it. My first real concert was Bruce Springsteen.
MI Which one was it?
CS Born in the U.S.A. That shows my age. But Born in the U.S.A.
MI You're a baby. You're a baby.
CS The lights went out, I didn't know what was going on, and the lights went out and all I heard was "Are you ready to rock?!" And, they kicked into Born in the U.S.A and the lights came on and I was like, that was it. I was like, 'I wanna do that' ((Laughing))
MI Who did the album cover?
CS Uhm, ah, a friend of mine, Nancy Barry. Used to be president of Virgin Records, Worldwide for years. And she's huge, huge time.
MI 'Cause Jay gave me a copy of the CD. ((Talking over each other))
CS Yeah, and Nancy took those pictures of herself. Those, those, she does photography all of her those like you know – she calls it – she's gonna have a book out called uh, I wanna call it, I think Three, "Three Foot Radius" or something like that. 'Cause it's all shots of herself from different, or she puts together stories or outfits. Some of the pictures you'd never think she'd taken of herself.
MI I've got to see some of her work. I've got to.
CS Well, she doesn't even have it out. She's too chicken to put a lot of it out. So, when I saw a lot of her photos at her house, I said, "Look, let me use some of these photos. And, And, Will you?" She's like, 'Yeah, of course." But I don't think she really thought I would go the full way in doing it.
MI ((Interrupting)) Full blown. And you did it. And you did it.
CS But you know what, she's in Vixar doing a whole other session of photos, which she says I encouraged her to do that because of this. That is, that's what Everything Is Energy is about, it's to get people involved in the not sure a little bit. Because, she can help me tremendously by being on the cover of our record, 'cause she's such a recognized name and people know who she is from business. And, she has an interesting story, just adds to the story. We're old friends.
MI So, have you ever had a paranormal experience?
CS Yeah, sure.
MI What happened?
CS Uhm, ((laughing)) That's a vague awfully huge (question.)
MI I'm asking you for one simple reason. Just answer the question.
CS Uhm, I had a, uh, uh, severe epileptic seizure on acid, and, and uh, uh, uhm, classic near death experience, the whole tunnel, saw my family, the whole nine. Yeah, and I've been in treatment ever since and that's been like 15 years ago. And I've developed all sorts of anxiety issues over it.
MI What about your channeling of Gabriel?
CS Oh, you know who wrote that is James Hall sitting right there. James wrote that. James wrote the bio. Isn't that something. What a sweet amazing comment to make.
MI ((Laughing)) Ok, tell me the story about how Everything Is Energy came together, tell me about how the album came together.
CS Well the album was with other musicians, not the band I'm touring with. 'Cause the record we started was over two years ago.
MI 'Cause you had some new boys doing that album with you.
CS Well, Krish (Sharma), the producer is –uh, well, part of the reason it took so long, one of the many reasons, is he took a break to go record the last Rolling Stones record with Don Was. He and Don Was are a team. And, uh, so he was gone for like 2 months doing that, and then, then uh, the bass player lives in Australia. He had to go to Australia, then he got stuck there with Visa problems, so he was gone for like 2 months or 3 months until. So, all this time adding up for things start happening. I started drinking a lot just nothing to do waiting on guys. And then it just took to long. And then the bass player took a gig with She Wants Revenge. And now they're all huge. And, it's all good. We're still very good friends. I mean he's, he's still very much one of my best friends. And uh.
MI And you're still good buddies?
CS Oh, yeah, I mean he's hanging out with us helping the new bass player with bass lines. You know, it's like a family. We're, there's no hard feelings. We just know the timing didn't work out.
MI So, who's in the new band now?
CS Tall guy there now, David Brotherton is the drummer; to his right is Joey (Clement), he's the bass player; and then uh Noah (Lebenzon) plays guitar. Noah and I have been friends for 12 years at least.
MI So, when are you planning to do your video for the album?
CS That's a good question. We uh, we were hoping to get something done for one of the songs before the tour, but uh, that should be something we should plan uh, as soon as we get off the road.
MI Well, when do you plan to get off the road?
CS May 12th. Our last show is May 12th in L.A. And that's the
CS And that's just the end of this tour. Then we have 2 more to do in the next year here, during this next year.
MI And no time to do a video. No time to do a video at all. Take my word on it. What about Jeff Buckley influence on you.
CS His range, his choice of songs.
MI He's beautiful.
CS He was the only artist as growing up, let's see, when he came out in 1992, or something, I was I guess 19 or 18 years old when he came out. And, uh, up to that point being a cocky little son-of-a-bitch, you know, I just I thought I was gonna rule the world, and that's all there was to it. And then seeing Jeff Buckley come along was the only artist that scared the living crap out of me 'cause he was doing everything I hoped to do at some point, but he was already there doing these incredible vocal things I always imagined doing down the road. But, I wasn't there yet and he was doing it. Scared the hell out of me. So, when he passed away, I got this overwhelming sense of like responsibility to uphold to keep
MI ((Interrupting)) the torch going.
CS To keep it going and not, not to, not in a self-righteous way, like I mean I just know that there's not many guys that can pull off Jeff Buckley type of stuff. And, Jimmy Gnecco is one of them from Ours and he's a good buddy of mine, and he feels the same way. Jeff's mother had spoken to him (Jimmy Gnecco) and said, "We're passing the torch to you. You gotta keep going."
And it's not James Hall, who wrote the bio; he's one of the few guys who can pull that stuff off. And uh, I think it's important that people hear that. There aren't rock guys who do that. Freddie Mercury was doing that but it was a whole different thing to do that rock thing with operatic style voice.
MI Right, because I saw that Rockstar MSN last year. And, when they picked Lukas Rossi and compared him to Jeff Buckley and Freddie Mercury, I'm like, what drugs are they on? ((laughing)) I want some. What the fuck are they on? The kid can't sing.
CS Who are they? What (is the show)?
MI They compare their new lead singer, Lukas Rossi.
CS Who's lead singer?
(Band's Manager) Rockstar Supernova, on TV. I don't think you saw it.
MI You didn't even see it. It's like
(Band's Manager) ((Interrupting)) With Tommy Lee now
MI Yeah, and supposedly Jason Newsted backed out and they brought in Gilby Clarke , was in there, and Tommy Lee and they brought in the ex-bass player from The Black Crowes. I was amazed when they picked him and they said he was a combination of Freddie Mercury and Jeff Buckley. I thought, they must be turning in their fucking graves. They must be. So, what do you think about the politics of what's going on in the world today, with Bush and everything and the war?
CS I don't have a – I – I think it's dangerous to get into that kind of stuff. I'm a news junky. I watch the news all day, every day. It's like on in my house, probably right now. I think I left the TV on CNN when I left. ((laughing)).
CS My cat likes to watch it too, so. It's awful and I don't see how something as bad as it is can get better without getting worse. You know, and I – I, that's what scares me about all of it and I – I, uh I just try to uh, you know, all anyone can do is focus on their own personal lives and do the best they can on their own way. And, there are bigger machines at work that were put into place hundreds of years ago that were put into place, and I don't mean to be uh, a defeatist, but there are plenty of things you can do, but I just sort of live by example and make the most out of life that I can because there's gonna always be some kind of fucked up shit – the turmoil in the war ((interrupting))
MI Yeah, it's just like that shooting at Virginia Tech. If you had a message for the family members, what would it be? The ones with the 33 kids
CS I would listen and just be a shoulder, there's nothing to say, nothing to say. It's just terrible, absolutely terrible. And those things you can't prepare for. You can't, no matter how many police you put on the campus, if someone wants to do something like that, they're gonna do it. They're gonna find a way to do it. Because, no one is prepared for that sort of an awful thing – same with September 11th. I mean, you just, if someone's going to do something that fucking stupid.
MI I'm from there, and I'm looking at that new building they're building up there and I go up there every 3, 4 months, and I go up there and I'm like it's gonna go again. It's gonna go.
CS Don't make sure that one. They'll protect that one like it's the damn ((trails off)).
MI So, do you believe in psychics? What's your experience with that?
CS Uh, I believe that everybody has an ability to read situations to I think that a lot of times when you think someone feeling a certain way, you're probably right. But, I think that's how we read each other. We do it without even thinking about it. I think by the time people sit down and try to analyze it, that's a whole other thing that I think is tricky. I think we're a whole lot more connected than we think we are.
MI Do you believe in reincarnation?
CS That's a tough one. That's a tough one.
MI Oh, come on.
CS Uhm, that would involve some sort of a concept of time. And, I don't believe in time, really, so if I don't believe in time then I can't really believe in reincarnation 'cause that would involve a line that constantly moves forward, and I don't really believe in that so much.
MI Alright, exactly, I know where you're coming from. Where do you see the band in the next 5 years?
CS No idea.
(Band's Manager) ((Singing)) On the cover of a Rolling Stone.
CS ((laughing)) Yeah, count on the manager to come in with the good page.
MI Ok, describe, wait, I can't read my own fucking handwriting here, uh, ok, Describe your average Energy Is Everything Fan. Describe your average fan.
CS Uhm, I'm really close with the fans, the hardcore fans. I'm very easy to reach, and I keep it that way. Especially at this level of the game, it's absolutely crucial to our success and future. I mean, last night, we played in Nashville, and 6 people that were there were hardcore fans. Had they not been there, the room would have been totally dead. But, they brought the room to life. It's very important to me, and I don't look at them as fans so much as friends. You know, because they appreciate the music. I was talking to a couple girls last night that had a really good – we were just talking a lot about this same thing, and it's just very important to me, I'll put it that way – it's that simple. ((laughing)) I'll get on a tangent, and I don't want to get on a tangent.
MI You got lucky last night, huh?
CS No, no, no, no, no ((laughing))
MI I'm just teasing you. I'm just teasing you. I'm just teasing you. So, if you could send a message out to your fans, what would it be?
CS To just hang in there, you know, and be patient with us because we're doing everything we can to get out I mean, it's taken years to get back on the road for me to get back out on the road. And there's fans from Unified Theory that, that uh, which was my last band
MI Yeah, what happened with Unified Theory?
CS Uhm, I like to think that the state, uh, of the industry created a black hole that was impossible to trip and avoid and we eventually - 'cause we're too good of friends, and when you're a good band and you work as hard as we did, and you don't see any return it's the most frustrating thing, and then you start pulling hair, and looking around pointing fingers. And uh, 'cause we knew we had good product. We were playing showcases for the biggest heads of industry that there are, and they're telling us we were the best live band they've seen since Zeppelin in 1970-whatever, just most blowing us up but none of them had the balls to get behind it because there was development involved with us and labels don't develop bands.
MI They don't do it anymore?
CS They don't develop bands. Nope.
MI They don't send out the scouts anymore?
CS Now, we wait, if we sell 10,000 records on our own, they'll be beating the doors down, wanting a piece of it, saying "How are you doing this on your own? Now we'll give you a deal," and those fuckers have to throw up a few extra zeroes.
MI So, what happened with Celia Green?
CS That was before Unified Theory
MI Yeah, I know.
CS That was a long time ago. Noah actually played in Celia Green with me. That's how much history he's got.
MI You guys go way back.
CS Yeah, you know, with The Nest Records that we're putting together, we're gonna put together a catalog of stuff live music, which at some point, we'll have available online and, with the and, as well, the new Unified Theory record comes out May 15th.
MI So, you're the owner of Nest Records now?
CS Yes. It's our own little thing we put together so that we could release it on our own.
MI So, how's that going for ya?
CS Well, right now, we're just getting the name out and doing our own thing. (To JJ Sansone, Road Manager): Would you say that's a correct assumption?
MI No cover of the Rolling Stones
JJ The Nest is essentially established based on what Chris said about the state of the industry, and the fact that they don't do development anymore and so we're developing this project ourselves and putting it out ourselves. Everything's changing.
MI It's like crazy because I've been in the industry going on 10 years, and I'm watching it and every 2 to 5 years the rugs get shaken and everybody is forgotten and put in that black hole that you're talking about. I've got tons of bands on my myspace account that think I own a label. I don't own a label, I'm gonna be sending them to you, baby. But do you think the industry is getting better or getting worse for the average band just getting into the business?
CS Well, with stuff like myspace, which I think is great, it's a wonderful tool if you use it the right way. I predict, I just got a feeling that myspace, that there's just no way that it can be free and so much easier to use for so long. I just don't believe it that it's such a huge thing that they're gonna have to change the roles up – for age reasons, credit reasons, for all sorts of – they're gonna find ways to make it not as easy to sign up and have a free page, and uh,
MI I heard somebody's account was deleted because they had too many friends on their account. They had over 17,000 people on their account. I'm like, why would you do that? You're killing your own advertising. You stupid assholes.
CS Yeah, I mean, with that the record industry is terrible with the major labels. The days of the old record deal are way gone, and uhm, but, the good thing is that for the fraction of what it used to cost to make a record, you can have your own studio, even with a garage band and a Mac Book, you can make a record in your bedroom that sounds good.
CS So, given that, it's amazing the artist's have a lot of tools, but uh, for someone like me with the idea of the old record deal, and the way that whole model was put together and that's how I learned the music industry was through that model. So, I blossomed at an age when all that was tearing down. That was difficult. Had I had myspace at 15, you know post music up and tell people in high school, "Check out my new jams," I mean, man.
MI So, what would you tell a young band that was going to be signed by a label. What would you warn them about?
CS Not worry about that. Have as much fun as you possibly can. And, enjoy every minute of it. Don't argue over the fucking percentages and all that kind of shit, just you know, if there's any argument at all, just make it an even split down the middle, no matter if the drummer didn't write shit, just keep everyone happy 'cause it don't last long and the more you start trying to be business men, you know. Just have fun, that's all I can say.
MI So, what are your, what is your main site and myspace site?
CS Well, if you go to everythingisenergy.com, that will take you directly to our myspace page, and then right there in the top four (Friends) is my personal myspace, The Nest Records is in there,
MI The whole nine yards.
CS Yeah, it's all there. And if you google "Chris Shinn" that'll come up as well.
MI Exactly. Ok, so I will do that, but it was a great honor meeting you.
CS Oh, it was so sweet.
JJ Before you stop, I was just being cheeky with the cover of Rolling Stone. And, I heard you answer this where do you see the band in 5 years, and I think it's pretty critical that you actually say where you see it.
MI Yeah, where do you see it in 5 years?
CS Well, if you notice on the record, it says "Everything Is Energy a band by Chris Shinn."
CS Everything Is Energy is, has been a number of different players. There have been a number of different band names because I like to keep every band I'm in excited, refreshed, and new, and.
MI It's like a perfect circle.
CS Well, I know the realistic side of music, and the guys have their own lives, so it's hard sometimes keeping a band together. And even if they want to be in the band, children get in the picture, marriages happen, things happen, people move, things just – it's hard. So, the realistic thing, without me calling it "Chris Shinn," and just say "Everything Is Energy a band by Chris Shinn," so for in the future, it gets changed up a bit, it can still be a band by Chris Shinn. But, it could be a different band name by Chris Shinn. And, if I release "Celia Green", "Celia Green, a band by Chris Shinn." We're trying to create sort of a brand name.
JJ As you as producer and a writer.
CS And in the future on The Nest Records, if I bring on an artist, if I bring on an artist and record their record, and put out their record, it will say...
MI ((Interrupting)) 'Cause you do all your own writing. What influences your writing?
CS Melody. Meldoy and tempo. I mean, is it really if I got a good groove, lyrics are the hardest thing, because I'm more of a melody guy with singing, and the creative use of vowels and consonants to make the singing prettier to fit the dips and tones, so it's very tonal thing for me. So, when lyrics come to me, I feel like I've done such a good job with the tonal and melodic part when expressing the - what the song feels like, to put lyrics behind it is tough, because then you're cornered into exactly that what it has to mean, and I kinda like it to be open, let the people decide for themselves. Sugar Ros does that. You know, he doesn't sing, he just makes up stuff. All the lyrics are made up. I don't even know if you knew that. At first I thought he was just singing some Icelandic, but it's not. He completely makes it all up. They're not real words at all.
MI It's all bullshit.
CS He just sings what he thinks goes there. And I was so pissed when I found that out because I'm like, "That mother f'er that's exactly what I've done forever." And I, that's how I keep all my songs until we've tracked everything and they're like, "Ok, dude, we need vocals, we need lyrics."
"Ok, now, I've got to write words?"
MI If you could meet anyone, living or dead for lunch – three people, who would it be?
CS Oh, God. My grandfather, uhm, God, that's a tough one.
MI It's not a tough one.
JJ I know one of 'em for you – Walt?
CS No, Maybe Howard Hughes.
MI OCD guy?
CS Alistair Crowley. With my grandfather, he'd love that, ((laughter)).
MI Yeah, I could see that now. ((laughter)) Yes, yes, yes. What do you feel about the legalization of marijuana, even though you're sober.
CS It should be. I mean, I think it's ridiculous that it's not. But, I also, as strongly as I am about that being legal, I also, uh think that it's ridiculous that people who smoke pot don't refer to it as a drug. That's fucking ridiculous, you get totally high on weed, especially the stuff they have out now. It's good like good Lord. It's engineered somewhere on the moon, and they bring it down, and yeah
MI It's dangerous shit out there, yeah, it's dangerous shit. So, do you think Clinton, do you think Clinton, or who do you think's gonna win the next Presidency? Do you think it's gonna be Clinton?
CS It's just a big P.R. fest about the girl and the black guy (Barak Obama). I don't know. I really don't know. It's gonna happen. It'll be better. It'll be better. This is one of those situations I said earlier, it's gotten worse as it's gonna get. There's no way they're putting another Republican in office.
MI Things should get better. Looking at the situation over Middle East, is like another Vietnam.
CS Yeah, this kind of stuff makes the whole Clinton scandal look completely ridiculous, which it was ridiculous. You know we look at him getting a fucking blow job I mean, and look at what's happened now with our current president over the past so many years.
MI 8 years.
CS It's, it's a nightmare. I mean, Clinton got his dick sucked. It's terrible.
MI It is, because I know this 62-year old colonel I can't say his name on the record, and he found out he was re-deployed into the service just as he was going into retirement, and he couldn't fucking believe it. Thank God he's in Utah. They thought they were going to send him overseas, and I had said to him, "Why are they re-deploying you?" He said, "There aren't enough colonels, because too many people are dying." I said, "Ok, got the hint, just stay stateside." And then when I saw his daughter, she told me he was back in the States, I thank God for that. I mean, this thing is just so crazy with all that's going on, though. So, where's you r next stop after this?
CS Charlotte. That's where I'm from.
MI I know.
CS That's my hometown. So, we got a day off too. So, we get to see my mom's house and stay with her. I think she's gonna be there.
MI Oh, mommy's not gonna leave there. She's head of the street team.
CS Yeah, exactly. My mom came out to Vegas to see the second show of the tour.
MI Did she? What'd dad think?
CS There were strippers dancin' while we were playin'. It was awesome.
MI What did dad think?
CS Uh, well, he's uh, my dad is remarried and out with someone else right now. He might make it out to the last L.A. show. My mom just loved it. It's all on the blog.
MI I will check it all out. I promise you. Well, I wanted to thank you again.
CS Thank you, thank you.
MI Bye bye.
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