Punk rock trio Shehehe has made its presence known in Athens through performances at 40 Watt Club, The Foundry, Caledonia Lounge and other local bars and clubs. The band’s new album, “Pet Songs,” was released on July 31.
The Red & Black reached out to guitarist Noelle Shuck of Shehehe to discuss the album’s production, inspiration and cross-genre sound.
The Red & Black: How would you describe the sound of the new album?
Noelle Shuck: The new album is the culmination of years of chemistry and evolution of our makeup and sound. It's pretty much one big barn-burner that doesn't lose its energy from track one all the way to track 14. We really wanted to embrace the individual sound of our three voices and use them in a way that was original and served the music in the best way. You'll hear more screaming and alternating of vocals, but we still maintain the use of harmonies that has become a bread and butter element in our sound.
R&B: In an interview with the Red & Black five years ago, you mentioned that Shehehe has a sound that extends beyond punk. Does "Pet Songs" serve as proof of this?
NS: Absolutely. Anything we write is the result of a multitude of influences, be it 70s punk, 60s garage, 80s grunge, blues or surf, we don't shy away from trying anything, but it still ends up sounding like...well, us. I think the result is that our appeal can cross genres. We have plated indie fests, punk fests, even a few metal fests. Our sound seems to appeal to a lot of different people, depending on which influence they pick out, and it has helped us reach a much wider audience.
R&B: What inspired you during the songwriting process?
NS: We tend to write from personal experience. If you listen to our catalog of songs you'll hear that a lot of our early songs are party-centric, there are some love songs, and the members of the band have grown and life has changed, the lyrical content addresses those concerns and addresses how to navigate the landscape of growing up, or a changing perspective and hopefully becoming a little wiser.
R&B: Do you think releasing an album in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic will positively or negatively affect how said album will be received?
NS: I really have no idea. We're of course hoping everyone loves it. I think in some ways people are hungry for things to consume to pass the time or as an outlet for stress since live shows have been put on hold. I know several people have said it was a refreshing breath of fresh air in a time where everything felt very stagnant and stale. On the other hand, I can't help but feel like we'd be able to get it into more people's hands and ears if we were able to tour and expose people to it that would never have heard of Shehehe otherwise.
R&B: "...But I'm Tryin Hard" is the first track on the album. In what way does this song set the mood for the rest of "Pet Songs"?
NS: It's a fast-paced song, which sets the tone for the rest of the album which is also, well, fast-paced. There is push and pull with the tempo and rhythm, it's definitely in our wheelhouse of fun and energetic, which I think you could definitely say describes the album as a whole. It's bouncy, anthemic, and speaks to trying to escape change, even though ultimately we know there's no escaping it.
R&B: What message do you want this album to send to listeners?
NS: Our music has always been an expression of where we are as a band and as people. Of course the name of the album is “Pet Songs,” which was a nod to “Pet Sounds,” the album that Nicole and Jason's daughter Ramona (the band baby) was born to, but also because several songs speak to the idea of pets; what they mean to us, what they do when they're alone, what life would be like once they're gone. Jason and Nicole lost their dog, Chicken, during the period of time between recording the album and the premiere, and I remember hardly being able to play “Pet Song” in the weeks after she passed.
I think people struggle to find meaning so much in life, but for us it's always been about love. Love of each other, love of music, love of traveling and love of the people we've met along the way. We wouldn't be the same without any and all of that. Ultimately we just want to leave people with the feeling that they're not alone, and that change is inevitable but not always a bad thing, and that it's important to hang onto memories that you treasure as your life changes and evolves onto the next chapter.
Q&A has been edited for length and clarity