Interview With Shovelbelt

What was the beginning point for your music career? How did it all start?

(Russ) I was 7 years old and I found a book of guitar chords. After that I picked up a snare drum. Both took hold and I never looked at playing music as being a hobby. I new deep down in my soul that I was a musician through and through. I believe this is what I was meant to do. Now it’s as fun as it’s ever been.

(Rich) It really started when I was 12 years old. I really wanted to play drums, but they were to loud and expensive. My dad always had the guitar laying around and I would jam out with him in the living room. I started jamming with a couple guys from High School (Camas Papermakers). We always had a great wrestling team. The coach had our band play every Friday night home matches, during the warm ups and introduction. We would play song requests from the team, that usually included bands like Whitesnake, Montrose, AC/DC, Deep Purple and more. Since we were playing for the school function they let us have an empty classroom to jam in after school everyday to get ready for the big Friday night gig. The stands were packed every time. We were spoiled right off the bat, with playing in front of 5 to 600 people. It was up from there. I started buying gear and recording original music. Then playing the clubs in Portland, Oregon.  

Were there any bumps on the road?

(Rich and Russ) Yes. For us getting into the clubs in Portland during the 90’s meant playing as much as we could on nights that were not the best. We finally got a Thursday night at the infamous Satyricon in Portland, Oregon. Back then the weekends were always being taken by Everclear, The Dandy Warhols, Neros Rome, Nirvana, Sound Garden, 90 Proof etc. As soon as we could we started traveling to Seattle and conquering that region for the next 7 years. Overall we had the normal bumps like, members getting arrested after gigs, expired tags on the gig vans, alcoholism, strip clubs. Well strip clubs were good bumps on the road.  

Whats the most fulfilling and satisfying moment so far?

(Russ and Rich) So far, we can both say to each other, look how far we have come. We started this adventure 27 years ago. A lot of memories, clubs, tours, people, good and bad. Overcoming life struggles, we are still writing music, and its streaming all over the world. Right now at this moment it’s the most satisfying. We are very thankful! 

How would you describe the music that you typically create?

The music that we typically create, is stuff that automatically gives the human body the headbobs (uncontrollable nodding of the cranium back and forth to the beat of the music). Then after that we create a melody ear worm that dances inside your mind long after you recover from the headbobs.

What is your creative process like?

Taking off to the mountains and get closer to the music gods. Leave reality of the hardcore working environment we live in. Let the soul breathe is what we like to say. Then after that, its about writing the tune to certain lyrics that explain how we think and feel. We keep it very honest with nothing left out. Russ also is playing drums on our latest tracks bringing it to a very close to the originality of Shovelbelt.

If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?

If you would have asked us this question 10 years ago, I would have been here talking for days. Now the only problem is, the radio stations that are controlled and our limited on what they can play. Hearing the same song over and over from a band that has many, is monotonous. 

If you were asked to give a piece of advice to upcoming bands, what would that be?

Play as much as you can. Always realize there is always somebody better. Egos will never get the band anywhere. Don’t hesitate to turn down gigs if they don’t feel right for the direction of the entire band. Finally, don’t sugar coat your popularity. Be honest.

What has been the best performance of your career so far?

The best performance of our career took place in the studio last year during the covid lockdown. We were able to get after it and record these latest tunes at a comfortable pace without cutting corners. 

What is new with the band at the moment?

We just finished building the website. It should be live this Friday 2/4/2022. We are going to be streaming our next studio sessions live so people can see us in action. There is a shovel load of new merchandise in the Shovelbelt store.

We just released “Memories In Stone”, its making its way around the world as we speak. Check it out!

 What are you currently working on and would like to share with the world?

We are going back into Soundsmith Studios in Bend, Oregon USA. Record 3 more tunes off our backlog of tunes we had for the past few years, but never made it to the studio. Now we can’t wait to show the world how Shovelbelt records in the high desert.