Some of the best friendships bloom from an initial dislike for one another. For indie garage punk band Shannon and the Clams, this led to not only a great friendship but a successful musical project, as well.
Originally from Oakland, Calif., Shannon Shaw was attending the California College of the Arts when she met Cody Blanchard. The pair had classes together, but Shannon saw Cody as the boy who was always rolling his eyes at their teacher, and she wasn’t too fond of him. At the time, Shannon was performing solo but still under the name Shannon and the Clams. People kept suggesting that she let Cody play guitar in her band because she was about to play her first house party show and she admitted, “I was too afraid to perform by myself.”
But at first she declined people’s suggestions and got “some dudes” to play guitar and drums. Shannon didn’t really get along with the guitar player and eventually had a practice at Cody’s house, where they ended up playing a Shannon and the Clams song together.
“It was so perfect,” Shannon said. “It was the exact sound I was looking for but didn’t have the vocabulary to describe it to the other guitar player. As soon as I heard it, I was like, ‘Um, how can I fire the guy I already have and get Cody?”
And that’s where it began.
Shannon believes the biggest challenge they faced when putting out their first record was figuring out the entire process. She never thought that someone would want to release their music so they weren’t sure what they were doing at all. Recording was especially challenging, Shannon said, because she wasn’t sure how to describe what she wanted sonically, nor did she have the confidence to try and explain. But with that came a lesson from which to learn.
“When I listen to the first album now, all I hear are the parts of the record where I couldn’t articulate a change I wished we could make or back-ups I wanted to add, or percussion, et cetera,” Shannon said. “It was such a cool learning device, though. Now when we record, I feel really articulate or at least willing to work really hard to capture whatever idea is in my head. “
Learning from mistakes is the key to success. Aside from Shannon and the Clams, Shannon performs with Hunx & his Punx. Her association with that band helped her newest project get their foot in the door with Hardly Art Records. Ruben Mendez and Lacey Swain, a married couple that work for sister record companies Hardly Art and Sub Pop, are old friends of Shannon and Cody. They used to play with Ruben and Lacey’s old band, the Coconut Coolouts. Shannon said that they began their relationship with Hardly Art after the record company put out the Hunx record that she helped write songs for. Since then, it has been an adventure.
When Shannon and the Clams came through Austin for their performance at Mohawk, they were just finishing up their tour with Mikal Cronin and only four short days from home. While they didn’t get to spend that much time in Austin this time, they reminisced about their time spent in Texas during South by Southwest. Shannon and Cody both expressed that they couldn’t get enough of Austin. Shannon even went as far as to say that she could live here if their band ever broke up. Once arriving home to California, they would take a two-week break before heading to France for a two-week long tour. Shannon says they hope to tour Australia this winter and get some recording done.
Listen to “Rip Van Winkle” and “Into A Dream” from Shannon and the Clams below.