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Shadow Show: "What's Yet to Come is Always on the Horizon, and It's So Fulfilling Being Able to Be on This Adventure with Each Other!"

Detroit garage-psych trio Shadow Show returned earlier this year with their much-anticipated sophomore LP Fantasy Now!. Across the new album, the trio wander through otherworldly fuzzed-out guitars and spellbinding group harmonies with a kaleidoscopic explosion that echoes the tonally swagger of The Pandoras. Before the band hits the road in the US and Canada in March, we caught up with them to discuss the transcendental triumph of their new album, how it inspired their next direction, and their roots within the Motor City rock scene.

Photo by Carrigan Drallos

First tell me what you've been up to lately? What have you been listening to, reading, or spending a lot of time doing?


Kate Derringer: To be honest, been listening to lots of outlaw country, reading William T. Vollman's The Rainbow Stories, and spending lots of time preparing for this album release and tour! In between all that, I've been trying to take good care of myself in preparation for the next couple months of touring.


Kerrigan Pearce:  I've been spending my time trying to explore as many creative outlets as possible! Welding/fabricating lamps, sculptures, and jewelry is definitely my main priority outside of music. I also learned how to sew and tattoo and have been experimenting with photography, video editing, and some drawing/painting. I'm listening to songs about fruits and vegetables ONLY and since Wayne Kramer passed away (rip Brother) I picked up his autobiography The Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, the MC5, and My Life of Impossibilities.  


Ava East: Feels like the first few months of the year have flown by! I've spent the majority of my time outside of work playing as much music as possible with all my friends, gearing up for the release of Fantasy Now!, and preparing for the 2.5 months of touring that's about to begin. Really focused on spending as much of my time being with my loved ones and laughing as much as possible. I've been chipping away at The Greatest Living Englishman by Martin Newell, and listening to a lot of Scott Walker and Eno, too.


For our readers who aren't familiar, take us through the origins of Shadow Show. You three met in high school I believe, but how did you three decide that you wanted to make music together?


Kate: The three of us have been playing together since we were 17. Our first band was a punk band called Deadly Vipers, which included a fourth member, Zoe Edwards. We knew each other through mutual friends and one day Kerri invited Ava and I over to her dad's place to play music and see where it went. We all sat down and played "I Wanna Be Your Dog" together and the rest is history!

Photo by Joshua James

How has it been making music since forming Shadow Show? How do you think you've grown together over the years?


Ava: From day one, our thoughts have always been on the future, and the music we imagine existing in it. That's been our main goal since we started Shadow Show, and it's been one hell of a journey learning how to write songs together. We always encourage each other to be our best and most creative selves. Since the first time we jammed back in high school, we knew we were in it for the long run. It's like, after the first 30 seconds, we started cackling like some secret of the universe was just revealed and the only way we could articulate it was through music. I still feel the same way every time we're together. Being in each other's lives has been a true blessing. Through all of the trials and tribulations, we've made countless memories, learned valuable lessons, and given each other the gift of limitless inspiration.


Besides making music, what's something you love to do when you all get together or something that you'd like fans to know about Shadow Show?


Kerrigan: Shadow Show is unique in that we have this inseparable bond. We're best friends first and bandmates second. It makes creating music and touring together such an amazing experience, and the way that we can meld ideas and reflect off of each other results in something so particular that it could not be replicated. We love each other to no end! When we aren't doing music-related things, we are simply enjoying each others presence be that where it may <3.


The Motor City is obviously a legendary city for rock 'n' roll (The Stooges, MC5, Death, Destroy All Monsters, The Gories, etc.). What are your thoughts on Detroit's current rock scene with bands like Sugar Tradition, The Stools, Toeheads, and 208. Also what are some of your favorite venues in the area? 


Kate: The current scene feels like a big family affair everyone is friends with each other and we're always playing on each others songs and gigging together. It's really supportive and wholesome and we've got some really wonderful friends here! For rock 'n' roll, hit up Outer Limits or UFO Factory. The Magic Stick is a bigger venue that is more geared towards electronic music now, but I love seeing shows there. If you want to dance, Tangent Gallery and Spot Lite are the spots. Unfortunately almost all of the DIY venues that existed 10 years ago, are gone now as rent is skyrocketing, but you can still find a rowdy backyard to see a show in when it's warm out. 

Photo Provided

What are your thoughts looking back on your past releases, especially 2020's debut LP Silhouettes


Ava: During the songwriting/recording process for Silhouettes, we laid down the fundamentals of who we wanted to be as a band. We were all in our early 20s and on a mission to see how far we could push ideas, how strange we could combine our influences, how mischievous we could be in the studio, and how much fun we could have together. Every release moving forward has been built on that foundation, totally enriching our experience as songwriters, musicians, and producers. As we further descend into the realm of Shadow Show, it's amazing to look back and see how much we've matured since our first release. As famously coined by Warren Defever, "Silhouettes is your Please Please Me and Fantasy Now! is your Sgt. Peppers." What's yet to come is always on the horizon, and it's so fulfilling being able to be on this adventure with each other!


Kerrigan: I think that Fantasy Now! is a major step forward for us as a band. We've come a very long way in terms of how we approach writing and recording since we first began working on our debut album. Silhouettes served a great purpose however. It's a pretty straightforward record that was a good way of introducing listeners to our music and style.  After that, we put out a few interesting singles. "Radiant Hue" was the last single we released prior to our sophomore LP and I think it really shows how far we've come in terms of production and songwriting. There are many magical hidden moments in there, placed carefully and with intention, much like a mise en scéne. Grab some headphones and take a listen :).


How exactly did Fantasy Now! come together in the studio?


Kate: We wrote this album in those dark lockdown days of 2020 and 2021. There were a lot of reasons to feel hopeless but focusing on these songs was the one thing we could do to feel hopeful. We took a lot of time to work out the songs and I think this album shows how we've come leaps and bounds as songwriters and producers since releasing our first record. We recorded this mainly at High Bias Recordings in Detroit where I work as an engineer. The studio owner, Chris Koltay, was gracious enough to let us lock out as much time as we needed to make this record. I worked as the lead engineer on this project alongside Cameron Frank and Evan Michals. At that studio, Koltay has an insane collection of vintage gear, guitars, synths, and everything we could ever want to experiment with. We had a lot of time here to make interesting choices in production. There was a day we went to Chip Flynn's warehouse for some overdubs, a space Kerri used to weld in. He had gongs that we used in "Wizard's Harp," and we recorded the explosive drum overdubs for "Don't Make Sense," along with lots of heavy machinery that we sampled for interludes. All these little details we added really tied the songs together.  

How did the songs progress from their initial demos? Were there any that turned out entirely different than you had expected while experimenting with ideas?


Kerrigan: Oh yes, there was much evolution. A few songs remained similar, while others transformed completely.  "The Madrigal" was one that took its final form while we were tracking the record. Originally, the demo had a full band and one melody line.  We decided to scrap the instruments and each separately do 3 different vocal lines with the intent to layer them as an acapella song.  So essentially it's something like a 9 part harmony. We were trying to emulate "Our Prayer" by The Beach Boys and "Under The Tree Of Love And Laughter" by The Cake (not to be confused with CAKE haha.. The Cake .. THE). The track "Don't Make Sense" also turned out completely different, in the best way.  To be honest it was quite boring when we demoed it.  But now with all our changes it's one of the more interesting songs on the record.


My favorite out of the twelve tracks here is "Mystic Spiral." What inspired it and what can you say about the making of that song? 


Ava: "Mystic Spiral" was one of the earlier songs to come together for Fantasy Now! The concept was directly influenced by two pieces of text that appeared in my life at the right time. The first being Uzumaki by Junji Ito, lent to me by one of my dearest friends Will Lorenz (The Stools). Once I got my hands on it, I was absolutely mesmerized. Without giving the plot away… let's just say… everything is spiral… The second being The Mystic Spiral: Journey of the Soul, lent by Warren Defever upon returning his magical gongs, bells, and whistles after the "What Again Is Real?" b/w "Is This A Dream?" 45 session. The text is absolutely fascinating, going deep into the symbolism and mysticism behind "the spiral" as a concept and belief. I've looked at life a bit differently since then. The music for "Mystic Spiral" came together naturally. One of those rare circumstances where the band just flows into each other and voilà! Out from the sea of consciousness comes a finished song! Some of my favorite memories while recording were during the overdub sessions. Picture this: three little shadows surrounding one lonely mic in the middle of a warehouse full of heavy machinery holding back tears from laughing so hard trying to nail the ending clap track. Another precious moment has us at the wheels of (Jah) Koltay's Mellotron. We have Kate laying it down on the keys, Kerrigan intuitively twisting knobs for different tones, and myself going insane on a Rainbow Machine for added psychedelia. Last thing I famously add a plastic plumbing tube whenever I can on a track. Don't ask me to elaborate. There's definitely a photo of me laughing my ass off at Destroy Compound looking like a helicopter while spinning a tube to match the chord progression live. You can hear it at the beginning of the song, for all the avid listeners out there. You can see that photo and many more on the gatefold of Fantasy Now!, for all the vinyl enthusiasts out there. Basically, we were always laughing. Even when it started to hurt, we kept laughing through the pain. AND that's how you make a record, folks!


How did that track "Aunt Maizy" come together? Also, what do you remember most from making its music video? It's very Monkees! 


Kate: "Aunt Maizy" was inspired by a friend's actual Aunt Maizy. "Crazy Aunt Maizy" was too good of a line and we had to use it in a song. We started with those lyrics and built around that. It's our homage to our British Invasion influences. The music video was really fun. I will admit it came together pretty last minute, but the most fun part about it was dressing up as our alter egos and running around downtown Detroit. The Monkees and The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night were our references for this video!

"Vertigo" is another really good one that I especially love hearing you perform at your shows. What can you say about this one? 


Ava: "Vertigo" is primal energy incarnate. The live track was cut in the thick of a late night session, sponsored by Wild Turkey and the thrill of it all… hear our screams! The lyrics, in their simplicity, are about wanting to know what's on someone's mind, and guess what? You're never going to find out. Frustration equals desire for what you can't have, but oh so deeply need. At that point, your imagination starts to get the best of you. You get so caught up in the back-and-forth game you play in your head, you start feeling dizzy. The end is the same as the beginning, and the only thing you're really sure about is the madness. "What you know? Vertigo!" The song is also a nod to one of my favorite Hitchcock films, and our worship of The Mystic Spiral. Special thanks to 208, who have a song from their first EP with the same title. Thanks Kyle and Shelby for (to my knowledge) not placing a curse on me over it!! xoxo


Which song from the record means the most to you (and why)?


Kerrigan: "On A Cloud," without question. It has the most significance in regards to everything we've been through together. To me, it represents the journey we've been on the good, the bad, and everything in between. At the end of the day, we always try to lean towards optimism and hope no matter how difficult it can be at times. When we were demoing the song it was still fairly new to us and we had a hard time getting a good take.  But when we got it we felt so much joy we all started cheering. That ended up being the take we used on the album because we just couldn't replicate the feel. If you listen closely, you can actually hear our hoots and hollers right when the trumpet comes in due to the bleed in the room mics. 


How excited are you for the release of this album and what can fans expect?


Kate: We're really excited for everyone to hear what we've been working so hard on for the past several years! Expect the unexpected – a lot of these songs are works that I never thought we were capable of before the making of them. We're really proud of this one.

Photo by McKenzie Pearce

You mentioned last year's single "Radiant Hue" in a previous question. Was that just a standalone cut or is that hinting at what the third album might sound like? 


Ava: So, "Radiant Hue" came from an early demo that was ultimately cut from the record. Even though it was released almost a year prior to Fantasy Now!, it was actually the last track we recorded out of that batch of songs. The original demo sounds VASTLY different and incomplete. We needed the experience of making the record to have better insight on how to re-approach the song. Cam Frank was a huge part in making that recording come alive, much like how they were a quintessential part of Fantasy Now!. Long story longer, to answer your question: although it is technically a standalone single, the energy and will-to-be-weird that was employed for "Radiant Hue" echoes the trajectory of where we are headed next. Where we land, however, is a different story. Stay tuned~


Aside from the new album, what else is on the horizon for Shadow Show? I hear you're planning a tour, but are there any other projects you're working on at the moment?


Kerrigan: We're currently gearing up for a two and a half month long tour of the US, Canada, UK, and Europe. Over the past several months, we've also been gathering material for LP3, along with planning the release of our next 45 which will be coming out over the summer.  We're actively trying to plan ahead and stay on top of releases, creating as much as possible together.


Lastly, I want to ask what was it like opening for The 5.6.7.8's in 2019? Were you able to meet and hang out with them?


Kerrigan: It's sort of hard to explain what it was like to play with them and see them in real life. It wasn't the same as opening up for any other band that you love because growing up my dad loved Kill Bill and I have probably seen both movies about 30 times. So not only am I into their music, I've seen them in the movies… it was surreal to see them play! They were/are insanely talented musicians and very kind human beings. We got a cute photo of all of us together and I definitely had them all sign my snare head which I still have.


Fantasy Now! is out now on Little Cloud Records (US/CAN) / Stolen Body Records (UK/EU).


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