“Tomorrow is New Years Day” by Shurman
Shurman Finds Inspiration in Unusual Suspects
A Turnstyled Junkpiled Interview
By Gerry Gomez, Staff Writer
When the Sin City’s Sweethearts of the Rodeo series used to house themselves at Molly Malone’s once a week some years back, the band Shurman used to be a regular fixture, providing high octane roots rock-n-roll with serious twang and attitude to match. But alas, the blue collar, almost constantly touring roots rockers moved to Austin and have been calling the Texas epicenter of music home for the later half of their history.
Fronted by the charismatic Aaron Beavers (guitar/ vocals) and joined by Harley Husbands (lead guitar), Mike Therieau (bass) Craig Bagby (drums), Shurman has just released their fifth full length album and eighth release overall on Teletone Records. The album, Inspiration, is nothing short of inspiring with heavy guitar drenched melodies and an intoxicating roots rock vibe. A shining example of what classic American rock is supposed to sound like. Beavers sings on the title track, “Let Me Be Your Inspiration Tonight” and it is a welcome invitation that should garner many RSVPs.
This Saturday night (2/25), Shurman will be returning to where it all began for them in L.A. with a record release show at Molly Malone’s that has an early start time set for 8:30.
Two years ago, Beavers was on the cusp. He had kept Shurman going for about 10 years, been touring constantly, but was expecting the birth of his first son, Lennon with wife Annette. Beavers is a patient person. He seeded the idea for being a musician with his first band mate as a high school kid with his best friend and waited until college to get the band going with him in L.A. years after the two had met in Georgia. Beavers stayed in L.A. for 10 years to the week before moving to his home state of Texas again to continue the growth of Shurman. And he nearly waited too long to be “born again” into the church of music.
After a couple frustrating experiences with label releases, Beavers and company were disillusioned enough by others handling of the band and their marketing of them, that he was left asking himself and God, “What do you want me to do? I’ve tried this music thing long enough. Give me a sign and tell me.”
He and “Team Shurman,” would eventually create Teletone Records, but not until fate played a hand in his decision. That hand came in the rather large one of Blues Traveler harmonica virtuoso, John Popper who did happen to call Beavers the very next day after he had asked for a sign. Beavers had talked with his pregnant wife and asked what he should do. Some months prior, Shurman had opened for Blues Traveler at San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium. Popper had told Beavers that he wanted to work with him and Beavers, perhaps jaded by 10 years of Los Angeles living took the comment and filed it in his memory banks. But as in a Hollywood story, the album happened and tour dates followed. This was the first kick of inspiration Beavers needed to recommit himself to music.
“Oh my God, I totally lost my head for (music) before the last record. It (the Popper project) was a big kick in the balls for me. I took it on the chin for so long. I’d been so let down by what was promised and what was delivered, it totally took the wind out of my sails. It’s something that I questioned when I went out with John, ‘is this something that I’m gonna continue to do.’”
Luckily he did the tour and came out with a good part of the inspiration he needed.
“I needed to find a kind of inspiration, something that made me feel like this isn’t about any big business thing. It was about wanting to make really great records. You know? And not for anything else than the love for it.”
Returning back to his band mates in Austin, who graciously told Beavers to take the Popper gig, work continued on making music. With the help of some of the money made on the Popper tour, the four guys completed their home studio, and the band continued work in earnest on what would become Inspiration.
“Shurman had the best combination of players it ever had, we were busting our asses,” remarks Beavers.
That combination of players includes guys who had been in bands who had gigged with Shurman at some time. Beavers recalls the best singer he’s ever worked with and that he’s now in the band. “Mike, he’s my favorite singer. Plain and simple, if I say my harmony singer is my favorite singer, then you’re probably doing something right,” laughs the affable front man.
And it’s easy to see why. The Mike that Beavers is talking about, is Mike Therieau. Therieau is a musician’s musician. A solid, creative bass player, a great vocalist, tasty songwriter and a great boon in the world of Shurman. He sings a soulful falsetto, contributes songs on the record and clearly rounds out an already solid line-up.
“I’ve been co-writing with Mike a lot. There’s one song on the record that he wrote himself. He co-wrote half the songs on the record and sings lead on three of the songs on the record. The songs he sings lead on were originally songs I was singing lead on, but I thought that he just sang them better. After playing with Jono (Manson of the Popper band who also mixed Inspiration), I really enjoyed hearing harmony vocals,” says Beavers of Therieau.
As to the harmonies present on Inspiration, he adds, “And our drummer Craig also can hold a note really well, which is hard to do and play drums. So we’re working on that harmony thing and I can’t imagine ever not doing it.”
As for guitarist Husbands, he plays guitar, banjo and lap steel and is known in his circles for the taste he crafts in his parts that he creates, perfectly for the song ala the master, Mike Campbell. Lauds Beavers of him, “He’s a subtle, great lead guitar player. He kinda holds back in this band, but if he were in a room of 10 blues guitar players he’d throw it down.”
Inspired by a collective of great players, the band happened to capture some magic in the no pressure situation of a home studio. Beavers reflects on the process of recording when they got together.
“The whole time in making the record, we were saying things like, ‘You know, if we don’t like this in the end, if we don’t like where it’s going, it’s a demo. Like, we don’t have to spend a bunch of money to be here. We’re here and everything is here and ready to roll.’”
The last bit of inspiration to Beavers came at home. By now the Popper tour was wrapping up, great sounds in the studio were happening, the road provided lots of material and the band was clicking. But somewhat surprisingly, some of the best lyrics on the album and a sense of purpose came from the new life in Beavers world: his son Lennon.
“This album was me finding a new way to get in touch with the love of music and no question, having kids, I started seeing the world through my son’s eyes, you know? I was starting to see that this (the album) is something that he’s gonna one day look back and think, ‘Is this my legacy?’ This is his dad’s band and this is his dad’s records. These songs are the ones written right about the time he was born and he’s going to know that this song was written about him,” said Beavers.
He talks of the love he has for his 1-year old son, Lennon. He certainly found a different kind of inspiration in him. One not for the “want” of making music, but one for the “need” to make music. If Beavers is to be an artist, to live the life, experience its ups and downs, his muse now is the drive to have being an artist mean something in his son’s eyes. Now all the parts of a great album were in place: need, want, talent, skill, desire and something to sing about. Songs, in part risen from the need to capture the moment and to live up to someone’s expectation who isn’t even aware of that expectation yet. Beavers happily divulges, “He’s going to see that ‘For Lennon’ is scratched on each record. It’s all a winter globe for him. This is epic!”
Yeah, a good record can document a period of time as well a perfumed letter, a fond snapshot or a tattoo. And it can also inspire. Today, Shurman – a band with roots across the country including a legacy left on L.A. – find themselves owning their record label, managing themselves and busting their asses off. If the music gods are listening, Inspiration is one record they’ll be paying a lot of attention to. Beavers says that the expectation now is that, “We just want to be able to continue to go out and make albums. I don’t want to take away from the experience of actually playing. It’s good to be in a spot where we have our own studio and we can go and just create art.”
He takes a moment and adds, “People are really taking a shine to the band. I couldn’t have scripted it better.”
For more information on Shurman visit: http://www.shurmanville.com