"I think our society is really fucked up so I play by my own rules" We chat with Sarah Shook
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Hey Sarah, how’re you doing today?
Feelin aces today, just stopped at a grocery store and stocked the cooler with a ton of fresh produce. Fresh AF.
Where are you right now?
Currently in row 1 in the van watching beautiful Utah roll by my window. Absolutely gorgeous.
What have you been up to today?
This morning I needed to make coffee in the hotel but we were outta cups so I cut an empty water bottle in half and had the weirdest cup of Joe ever. Had a 10.30am van time and yeah, hit the store for supplies and now we're enroute to Las Vegas.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I like fun shit. I think our society is really fucked up so I play by my own rules. I don't believe humans are biologically wired to be monogamous and it's a bummer that the sexual revolution fell on its face. People need to be more open-minded more empathetic, less jealous, and practice kindness better than we do. I think friendships can be just as fulfilling, if not more so, than romantic relationships. Consensual sex rules. Cuddling with friends also rules. We need to buy less shit and spend more time outdoors. We need to read more books and watch less TV. We need to get off our phones and fucking talk to each other. Sorry I went off on a tangent there. I think about this shit a lot.
Who are the Disarmers?
Eric Peterson on electric guitar, Phil Sullivan on pedal steel, Aaron Oliva on upright bass, Kevin McClain on drums. I write all the songs, do all the singin', and play a mean rhythm guitar.
What can you tell us about your new record, Years, in two sentences?
Years is about finally being honest with yourself about the shitty ass relationship you're in. And putting the first foot out the door.
How did you go about writing and choosing which songs to record?
My brain is scattered AF about pretty much everything else but when it comes to writing/choosing songs it's incredibly strategic. I've always trusted my instincts and they've never steered me wrong.
How did you go about recording the record?
We track live, four days in the studio. The full band plays at the same time with scratch vocals and the fourth day is master vocals day. It's a very intense way to make a record but I think there's this super special energy that shines through on our records because of it.
What was your studio space like? And did that have an effect on the finished record?
Oh absolutely. We record at Manifold Studios in Chatham County, NC. Killer facility, absolutely beautiful.
Obviously ‘Good As Gold’ is a really cracking track, what can you tell us about it?
My ex was, for the millionth time, being dramatic talking about how things would be if we broke up. He was basically mad that I would be okay (better off really, let's be honest here) and he would be miserable. He furiously sputtered, "Yeah well you'll be good as gold!" As if it were a bad thing. The song is a mash-up of our respective perspectives.
‘The Bottle Never Lets Me Down’ is a favourite of mine, what’s the story with it?
I mean as with 99% of my tunes it's based on the actual true story of my life and those in my periphery. Whiskey is not a gimmick or an act for me. I drink... a shit ton of whiskey. Been trying to rein it in but goddamn it's really tough to not party on tour.
You get a really traditional kind of vibe on songs like ‘Parting Words’ (another song I love), how do you describe your sound?
It's country but it's punk. Idk. It stands on it's own. Very few of my songs have traditional country chord progressions. I use a lot of minors and weird changes.
Where’s your natural state, in the studio or on the road?
On the road. No fucking doubt about it. I love being on the road. I love the chaos and the unknown quantities and the fact that I get to experience it all with my band. These dudes are family to me.
Obviously there’s a lot of talk about equality in general life at the moment, what experience of being treated differently as a woman have you had in your industry?
Oh you know, people can be pretty stupid. "Why doesn't she wear makeup?" is one of my fav questions hahaha. Why should I, motherfucker? Because society says women should wear makeup? Fuck that. Anyone asking that question clearly does not "get" my music even kinda. People talking about the way I look/dress instead of my songwriting and guitar chops is bullshit. I'm not a professional model. I'm a professional musician.
I’m in the UK, tell me about North Carolina. Why should I visit?
We have beautiful beaches and beautiful mountains, though I strongly prefer the latter. We have some outstanding music venues and talented artists.
If you could recommend one song to hear this week, what would it be?
Listen to Black Grease by the Black Angels.
What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
Do I think racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, and ageism are bullshit? Why yes, yes I do. Let's work on these things, humans.
Finally, how do you take your coffee?
Strong and black. Saves my life every day.
Sarah's latest record Years is awesome, buy it from a decent music selling place or stream it from anywhere. Tidal link below.
To find out more about Sarah and the band visit their website, follow them on Twitter, or like them on Facebook.