INTERVIEW: The Shelters on Working with Tom Petty, Living in California, Keeping a Classic Sound
  • MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

  • Posted by: Kirsten Spruch

Los Angeles-based rock band The Shelters released their self-titled album earlier this summer and we had the opportunity to talk to guitarist Josh Jove about it. Due to an almost lifelong friendship, the entire record was produced in legend Tom Petty's studio, who also acted as a songwriting mentor. In addition to that, we talked to Jove about how living in LA has influenced the band's sound, "California's been critical, a lot of our songs are bright-sounding. We try to not have a whole lot of heavy, dark songs," and not giving into the growingly excessive hype of electronic music in today's industry, "We can play a rhythm and we can play some guitars and we can make a song. For a lot of people that might be a worrisome environment." The band is also embarking on a mini tour in California and some states in the south. Read the full interview below.



KIRSTEN SPRUCH: You worked with Tom Petty on your debut album. What was that like?

JOSH JOVE: We were able to work with Tom pretty early in the process, once we had developed a handful of songs that we felt were worthy for him to hear. Chase had a bit of a relationship with him growing up because he was friends with Tom's stepson. We used to actually play in a band with his stepson for a while, but once that fizzled out we put this band together which was more along the influence we wanted to do. And once we had some songs we felt confident enough to show him, he got really excited about it. He decided that he wanted us to do a full record, so we ended up recording the record at his studio in Malibu. We made 13 songs - we actually made way more songs than that, but 12 of them made the cut. We were very particular about which ones were good enough to be on the record. Working with him was a total dream, I mean, he's such a legend in the business. So he has lots of good pointers to give and everything from musical advice, you know lyrical advice, song structure advice, to the business side of things, he's constantly just pouring out wisdom. It's wonderful to be around him.

KS: Were you nervous when you first showed him your music?

JJ: I certainly was. I've been a guitar player my whole life, writing songs. I was definitely nervous putting myself out there through a song to someone who is known as being one of the best songwriters of all time. It was definitely kind of intimidating, but Tom's such a welcoming person even if something was no good he always has a good read and a nice way to describe it. Like, you either take it and try to improve on it or you just put it on the shelf and save it for later, you know?

KS: Yeah, definitely. And what was his studio like?

JJ: The studio's amazing. It's a very comfortable environment. It's not the biggest studio, but it has really cool pieces of equipment and things like that that make it a real honor to record there. And the fact that he is able to be there all the time makes it even better for us because were constantly getting advice from him. So it's wonderful.

KS: When I was listening to the album it had a very classic, organic kind of rock 'n' roll sound, as if you recorded right to tape. There are so many bands right now that are coming out with heavy electronic-based music. Do you think it's important to stick to the roots of music?

JJ: I don't think there's any right or wrong way to make music at the end of the day, but I just know what I enjoy is making music with people in a room enjoying the way that everyone's different personalities and their playing interact and contribute to a greater good, you know? Most people in a band are people that, if you took one member out of a band, that band wouldn't be the same. And I think that that's how I feel about Shelters, and I think that when we play together we can play a rhythm and we can play some guitars and we can make a song. For a lot of people that might be a worrisome environment. Maybe they want some more synthesizers, or electronic instruments, or drum machines or whatever it could be, but everyone has their own way of doing it. So like I said, we just enjoy doing it with loud guitars and trying to work off of each other musically. It's good that we're able to do it in this day and age, because I think people are more drawn to the electronic side of things right now, which is what it is.

KS: Which song were you most excited for people to hear when the album came out?

JJ: Oh, man, I don't know. I just see the record as this giant scope so for me I'm never content pulling just one song from the record because I feel like there's so many different sounds on there. But overall, I think we were all really excited about "Rebel Heart" because it was the first song we did completely together as a band, and it ended up being the one that throughout the whole process, no matter what else we wrote, we thought it just sounded the most like us. It involved most of our influences into one quick, nice little song. So I think that that's like our prototype song, our showcase, and everything else is like different paths around that.

KS: How has California affected your music, if at all?

JJ: I'd say positively. You know, a lot of my favorite music is from California. I grew up in Florida but I moved here eight years ago now, specifically because the music in California is really what I loved and I wanted to be closer to it and envelop myself in it. I definitely figured out the best way to do it with these other guys who grew up here and who have their own different influences from California in their own ways. So that's just a cool combination of influences in the way that we all work together. California's been critical, a lot of our songs are kind of bright-sounding. We try to not have a whole lot of heavy, dark songs or anything. Even if the lyrical content is dark, we try to keep the songs sounding kind of upbeat and danceable. I think that that's what California is most of the time, it's always sunny here and the weather's great and everything feels good here, so that's what we try to do with our music.

KS: Is there a certain place in California that, if you need to write a song and just need to "get away," there's that one place that always inspires you?

JJ: I would say just the coastline in general. We all exist on the beach here, which highly influences our sound as well. A lot of surf guitar music and things like that - you just look out there on the ocean and it looks like what the music sounds like. I think that for me just sitting anywhere near the ocean is definitely where I've written the most songs and I know the other guys would agree.

KS: I saw a video of you guys "creaming" Chase on his birthday on the tour bus which was hilarious. I love hearing about bands and their funny tour stories. Were there any other weird pranks you pulled on each other? Is that a normal thing for you guys?

JJ: I think we give each other a hard time, just verbally, a lot more than we prank each other. I will say there's a lot of adventures on the road, and one of the last ones was on that same trip. I think we were headed to a festival, and we went over a railroad crossing too fast and the trailer fell off the bus and it was sparking everywhere and it was like this huge thing and all four of us had to get out there and lift the trailer on our own. It was a big hassle. So there wasn't a lot of goofing off on this trip, there wasn't time for it 'cause we were all stressed about the realities of life. But it's all adventures either way, and we definitely have a lot of them together, there are ups and downs.

KS: How important do you think it is to have a camaraderie in the band?

JJ: I'd say it's completely essential. There are good bands with people in them that never got along, and that's part of their story or part of the romanticism of their band. But I think that at the end of the day even if they didn't get along, they still probably love each other because you have to to make music with people. It's a really intimate thing to make music with people, and to share that with others, and to mix it up with people. So I think that in order to get to that point with somebody, you have to feel like you're close to them in some way. And if you're not, then you just pretend you are close with them. That's how we approach it.

Check out The Shelters' upcoming tour dates HERE.
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