Credit: JJ Sansone
“I was sitting between my mom and dad on the front seat on our way to dinner. The eight track was playing Bruce Springsteen and at one point, I laid into this massive air guitar solo. Seeing my enthusiasm, mom turned down the radio and asked me if I wanted to be a rock star. I didn’t know that I could choose anything besides being a policeman or fireman. I was five.”
Everything Is Energy is a band that was born from a man that has been through hell. Which is odd, because they sound like the ocean, flecked with gold dust straight from the angel’s afros. The band is at once rhythmic and churning with a dynamic that supports Chris Shinn’s channeling of Gabriel... the angel, not Peter.
An artist formed in the basement bands of Charlotte, Chris realized early that the only way he was going to be heard over the 7seconds, Descendents or Dead Kennedys covers was to sing up high. “Most of my influences as a singer have been women, you know...PJ Harvey, Sinead, Bjork...Curve.” He also cites Perry Farrell, Jeff Buckley and Deftones for their dedication to beauty over commerce.
“My dad is an entrepreneur on a national scale, so he has pretty consistently black and white ideas about creativity; ‘Does this generate or lose capital?’ While we may have our similarities in many areas, I’ve felt compelled to make records that placed originality and beauty over the bottom line, and it’s kicked my ass some.”
“I moved to LA in 1995 and started my first original band, Celia Green. We had a publishing deal within a few months and I thought, ’this is easy.’ We recorded our first record and were getting ready for release when our house in Beachwood caught fire and burned. We lost all of our instruments...and the masters for our record.”
Chris moved to Seattle in 1998 where he formed his most recognized band to date, Unified Theory, with former members of Blind Melon and Pearl Jam. Tours and releases followed, but none of the labels knew what to do with the band. “The guys at the various major labels loved us, but were fearing for their jobs in the melee surrounding the digital reconstruction. Most of the ‘artists’ selling records at the time had Mickey Mouse Club pedigrees. I’m a skater, for chrissake!”
After Unified Theory broke up, Chris moved back to LA, but continued working with Dave Krusen (Pearl Jam, Unified Theory) in a project called ‘Move As A Verb.’ “We flew three of my friends in to town and booked three days at Paramount Studios to write, experiment and record. Writing spontaneously in the studio prevented us from overthinking what we were doing or how we were going about it. I still stand by that stuff. The song ‘Want and Need’ even made it onto our record out now.”
Everything Is Energy formed in 2003 with Kirke Jan (Ours) and Thomas Froggatt (She Wants Revenge). “I’d known and played with Krish Sharma (Perry Farrell, The Rolling Stones) since the Celia Green days, so having him produce this record was really an obvious choice for me.”
“Back in 2002, my dad moved himself and his business from Charlotte to New Orleans. I don’t know if it was out of a need for connectivity during such a geographic change or what, but he asked that I make the move with him. I still trusted what we were working on with Everything Is Energy, so I kept my place in LA.”
Eventually, wearing two hats and keeping up two residences took their toll on Chris. “In New Orleans I was trying to be a devoted son, and in LA I was trying to break the mold the way my dad showed me.” Chris and his girlfriend of four years broke up and Thomas Froggatt joined She Wants Revenge. “Thomas and I had become close friends over the course of this record, so I took his leaving pretty hard.” These events brought some unexpected issues to the surface. “I felt I had lost my voice, like a hole had been blown in me and I’d lost feeling from my knees to my nose...terrifying. I had been self-medicating with alcohol for the last few years, hiding it from everyone and now even that wasn’t working to alleviate the anxiety and feelings of inadequacy.”
Chris checked himself into treatment in August ‘05 and didn’t look back. “All I hoped was to never again feel the way I did going into rehab. I wanted my voice back.” Chris spent the better part of the next year coming to terms with his addiction to alcohol and putting his emotional well being first. “Just like most things with me, putting these things first in my life had to be learned.”
“The Everything Is Energy record was mostly written and finished before treatment, so after concentrating on my well being for so long, I wasn’t sure what we had.” Krish Sharma and Chris were soon at work finishing and mixing the record. “Around that time I began talking to David Brotherton, who I’d known from Seattle. He and I were going through similar issues, so we became friends over the next year.” Chris mentioned the record he was working on and let him hear it. “I was blown away by the dynamic of the songs,” says David. “I’d spent the last year trying to get my life in order, too. I’d stopped playing drums for the last year, and wasn’t sure I was gonna love it when I picked it back up.” Fortunately, he did and the two began rehearsing together. Chris then called up longtime friend and Celia Green guitarist, Noah Lebenzon who’d just finished up a stint with “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” at the Roxy Theatre. “I met Chris around ‘93 and was immediately struck by his genuine nature. We stayed friends in the years after Celia Green, so I was glad that we’d have a chance to work together. I’d been busy the last couple of years producing and assisting on records, so I’d grown a bit, too.” After a few weeks of rehearsing and playing the songs on the record, Noah felt the the spirit, if not the sound, could be represented.
The trio was in need of a bassist. Joey Clement had heard the record through Dave Krusen. “I immediately felt it was something I wanted to be a part of.” In the interest of giving themselves the scope of talent, the band auditioned 15 bassists, with Joey Clement last. “As soon as we started playing I saw Joey smiling, and I knew he was our guy,” says Chris. “He shares the same curiosity and wonder surrounding music. A ‘been there, done that’ sort of musician wasn’t going to be right for us.”
This year, Chris Shinn started The Nest Records with his father and business partner JJ Sansone, budgeting three 20-city tours through the U.S.
“Being able to play music with people I love and make the sort of records we want is success. That is the truth! Before recovery, I felt owed. Living in the sickness prevented me from living honestly. Now, living in the truth prevents me from that sickness.”
--James Hall (The Pleasure Club), 2007
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