atjf interview :: the shackletons

After the Jump presents The Shackletons, this Saturday June 21st, for After the Jump Fest in Williamsburg, Brooklyn NY, performing on the free day Main Stage at 5:30pm.

Listen to :: Tremble

MIA: Musically, how did the band form, what past experiences do you carry with you?

SHACKLETONS: We come from a relatively small town (pop: 25,000) call Chambersburg, PA (across the mountain from Gettysburg). If you are hungry to do music, your pool of talent is smaller, so you grab onto a kindred musician and hold on for dear life. Since there was no scene in our town, we came together and started working on music in Mark’s apartment (an old 1800’s brick loft with tall ceilings and huge windows). Eric specializes in classical guitar, Dick Dale, the Clash, and Nirvana. Dan specializes in quirky guitar lines that come from outer space, or just out of his cartoon like mystery-like qualities. Justin loves bands that are pure experimental bliss, and always lends his bass to lines that are not usually drawn. Sean has been drumming since he was 3 years old, so by the time he joined the band (age 14), we had a veteran. Mark grew up listening to BJ Thomas, Black Gospel, and Al Green. His writing comes from years of venting the frustrations of loosing loved ones to either death or mental illness.

MIA: Describe living and making music in Pennsylvania, feel free to share a memory or a certain place (bar, restaurant, record store) that feels like home.

SHACKLETONS: Mark’s dad died when he was 16. A year later his mom, Theresa, was working at a local thrift shop that had a rescue mission above it. Bob, a jazz musician from NYC, was living there and working in the used book section of the thrift store. Bob and Theresa were soon married. Years later the Shackeltons were playing all their local shows at a warehouse that provided shelter, food, and clothing for the homeless. Brooklyn’s Skeletonbreath and upstate NY’s Kiss Kiss would come down for many a sweat drenched show over the past few years.

MIA: How does the band like to get ready for a live show? Is there a favorite song that you enjoy to perform live?

SHACKLETONS: We travel with a double-decker British tourist style bus. The second floor has no roof. We take a team of professional cheerleaders with us. They prove their commitment to the band by cheering the whole drive in any weather (ice storms, hail, rain, heat waves, and tornadoes). When we arrive at the venues the cheerleaders are pretty much wiped out due to the constant cheering and the wind burn. They usually fall asleep till after the show. Mark usually goes outside and finds tree branches for the stage decoration. Then the show begins, and nobody in the venue knows that there is 30 cheerleaders asleep on the 2nd floor of our bus.

Mark likes to perform Umbrella- a song about the fire of Chicago. Eric likes The Blood- a song about lost love. Dan likes Kindest Words- a song about being young and kind. Sean likes Tiger- a song we never play, but is about a heart hunting love like a tiger trapped in a corner. Justin likes The Breaks- a song about sleepless nights. Most all our songs are about the most lovely and most terror-filled moments of our sleepless nights and waking hours.

MIA: What are your recommended records so far of ’08?

SHACKLETONS: The Shackeltons – The Shackeltons. Why? Because this record will be known as a vital part of music history. Al Green’s new CD. Why? Al Green. FM Belfast. Why? Iceland knows how to dance and make music as if Revenge of the Nerds met Arcade fire and decided to smile for real.

MIA: Name a visual artist or piece of work that inspires you.

SHACKLETONS: Mark is inspired by his Mom’s paintings. She could only paint when she was loosing her mind. But for the most part- any good artist is an inspiration. Oil paints tells a story vibrantly within our heart strings. With everyone kicking it real fast with the internet, we love it when folks slow down and lock in with a painting, a person, a conversation, a prayer, a tear, a story, a book, a pet, an ape.

MIA: Please share a mixtape with a theme of your choice.


I’ve Been Loving You for Too Long
by Otis Redding [Dock of the Bay, 1991]

by Grizzly Bear [Live on KEXP, 2007]

I Never Knew You from the Sun
by Innocence Mission [Befriended, 2003]

Help Me
by Johnny Cash [American V, 2006]

I’ll Come Running Back to You
by Sam Cooke [the Man and the Music, 1986]

The Young and The Free
by Tom Brosseau [self-titled, 2003]

image credits & thankyou to the shackletons.

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