Greenhouse Productions Presents:
A Giant Dog, Sharp/Shock
15 W Aspen Ave
Flagstaff, AZ, 86001
Doors 6:30 PM / Show 7:30 PM
This event is all ages
Four years is a measurement of time that America has used for centuries to indicate change. Presidential terms last four years; high school diplomas and college degrees typically take four years apiece, too. It’s not an arbitrary thing, either: It typically takes that much time from the declaration of something changing for it to actually change.
Meet Laura Jane Grace. Four years ago, the Against Me! frontwoman came out as transgender; 18 months later, she released the band’s sixth album, the fiery Transgender Dysphoria Blues, one which she began working on before her transition and helped document the struggles she was facing. It was an intensely personal record that took on a life of its own, connecting with thousands of new listeners drawn to Grace’s honesty and complexity while still pleasing Against Me!’s dedicated fanbase.
Now, four years after Grace’s public reintroduction, Against Me! is ready to release their new album, Shape Shift With Me, September 16 on Total Treble. While much has changed in the lives of Grace and her bandmates—guitarist James Bowman, bassist Inge Johansson and drummer Atom Willard—in that time period, it’s clear that those intervening years have done wonders for creativity.
“Everything with Shape Shift With Me has been really about keeping momentum going,” she says. “In between every tour we did for Transgender Dysphoria Blues, I would have a couple songs I had written and we would demo them. At the end of two years of touring, we had an album ready to record. Usually, you come off of touring for a record and you're back at square one. But this was so fully formed it felt like there was no choice but to go ahead and record the songs.”
Shape Shift With Me has the distinction of the first album Grace has written truly from the heart, with no metaphorical cloaks cast over the lyrics. It’s an album about love, that deceptively complex emotion we all struggle with yet has somehow eluded most of Grace’s songwriting for the past 20 years.
“Tons of people have written about love. But while love is cliché, it’s infinitely relevant. For me, having always been in a punk band that was expected to be political, I never felt like I had that option to write about feelings in that way. That’s what I ended up being drawn to this time. It’s writing in a way I thought I could never write before, and not giving a shit about expectations.”
As such, Shape Shift With Me is a loose concept album about traveling the world and falling in and out of love, with Grace serving as the narrator. But even though she was opening herself up to new songwriting topics, she knew what her mission was from the start.
“Is there a record that is about relationships from a trans perspective?” she asks rhetorically. “There needs to be more records about trans rights and everything like that, but feeling like I already did that, I wanted to move on to write commentary on living from a trans perspective. I wanted to write the transgender response to the Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main St., Liz Phair’s Exile In Guyville and the Streets’ A Grand Don’t Come For Free. All those records are relationship records. There’s been an infinite amount of records talking about what love means from a cisgender perspective. I wanted to present the trans perspective on sex, love and heartbreak.”
With Grace’s new motivation came a new outlook on the band, as well. Previous albums found the songwriting process to be a largely solitary experience, but she embraced the spirit of collaboration for Shape Shift With Me—so much so that when Cody Votolato of the Blood Brothers sent her some demos of songs he was working on for another project, she became inspired and ended up co-writing “Boyfriend” and “Norse Truth,” two of the album’s most memorable tracks, with him.
“It was just about opening up to whatever comes my way karmically,” Grace says. “Whatever everyone in the band is willing to offer, I just wanted to be open to it. I didn’t want it to be like what it was in the past where it may have felt closed. I want it to be different.”
In a career already full of classic punk records, Shape Shift With Me feels like the definitive Against Me! album—it’s poppy and catchy (“Rebecca,” “Suicide Bomber”), aggressive and in-your-face (“ProVision L-3,” “Dead Rats”), sentimental and longing (“Crash,” “All This And More”). Moreover, it’s the culmination of four years of existence as Laura Jane Grace—there’s no going back now, so she might as well embrace it.
“While I’ve always wanted the moon and the stars, I have a certain amount of humbleness,” she admits. “I just want to play shows and make records and write songs. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do. Of course I always want the biggest and best things for those shows and records and songs, but when it comes down to it, I just love doing it. I have no other ambitions or career goals.
“David Bowie put out 27 full-lengths. Prince put out 39 full-lengths,” Grace remarks. “That is so inspiring to me—working, creating art, creating records and let everyone else sort it out. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do and that’s what I will keep on doing.”
A Giant Dog
A Giant Dog were formed in 2008 and hail from Austin, Texas. Sabrina Ellis, Andrew Cashen and Orville Neeley all previously played together during their high school years in Houston. They latterly recruited Andy Bauer (2) and Graham Lowe to become a five piece.
Have you ever heard the inarguable sound of what materializes when you let fate direct the future? What if that sound was influenced by twenty years of British and American punk cultures colliding? For the members of Sharp Shock, growing up with the bands that defined music with an honesty and passion that can be rarely found in modern times, cleared a very obvious path for what they wanted to do with their own lives. Sometimes in music, the storybook tale of determination, sacrifice and despair can be thrown around hastily. To some, those three things describe a reality that very few can truly understand, and for the members of Sharp Shock, they are only a few attributes that make up their unique story.
Having all played in bands from a young age, the work ethic it takes to move your life around the world just isn’t something that most people possess. Playing in garages to arenas and back again, sleeping on floors and in vans for the better part of the last fifteen years, they found their way to Southern California and were pushed only by that dream so many end up letting slip away.
Singer/Guitarist Davey Warsop (Beat Union, Suedehead) and bass player/vocals Dan Smith (The Dear & Departed) are UK exports. Smith by way of New Zealand and also widely known for his achievement in the tattoo world, they both moved to California in the early 2000’s without knowing each other. Korey Kingston (The Aggrolites/Suedehead), a San Diegan drummer raised on a healthy diet of Reggae, Ska and a West Coast view on that same upbringing, would end up completing this trio perfectly. Despite their different geographical beginnings, they quickly realized they were all very much from the same place. “The timing couldn’t have been better” says Smith. “As the story goes, both myself and Korey reached out to Davey by way of text message, coincidentally within a minute of each other, suggesting we start something. We hadn't even met, so i think Davey saw that as some kind of synchronicity, perhaps too much of a coincidence for him to ignore. Then before we knew it, we were already in the studio recording”.
It was only a matter of time before the hiatus they were all experiencing and this coincidence would essentially bring them together. Musically, it is exactly what you might expect kids schooled early on The Jam and Stiff Little Fingers would sound like. Then, submerse that in the sun drenched beach cities of Southern Californian surf,skate and punk culture and the sounds of The Descendents or early Green Day and you will find Sharp Shock. The way the band formed can only be described as organic and after some time away from playing and being rather disheartened with the machine of the music industry and not knowing where they fit in, they all agreed to take much more of a DIY approach this time. Warsop, having produced and engineered countless records over the years at Hurley studios shortly after moving to the US, was a key piece in the productivity of self producing the debut album. “We tracked the majority of this record live, to keep the performances honest and fun. Like our name suggests, we’re trying to keep everything about this band direct and to the point. From the songwriting being short and snappy, to us being a trio…we don’t want to overcomplicate anything.” says Warsop. Sharp Shock had their first record under their belt within a very short amount of time and it would be no surprise if a second wasn’t too far away. “This feels like it did when i was covering my favorite bands in my garage as a kid. We are doing only what we know…and doing it from the heart” say Smith.
Unlearn Everything will be released via Heart & Skull Records this summer.
$20.00 - $22.00