If you feel the Earth start quakin’ it might because you’re listening to the booty shakin’ grooves of Nashville’s (via Los Angeles) own – The Soul Shakers. If you’re not familiar with them yet you’ll be getting to know them very soon. Next year is coming quickly, as is their new album and tour, but first, here’s Mischievous Mel’s “get to know” The Soul Shakers phone interview with lead singer and founding member Brett Hellings.
That is a pretty interesting name (The Soul Shakers). How did you guys come up with it?
We were the Freewheelers before we were the Soul Shakers, but there was some legal situations and we had to change our name. You know it is really hard when you have to get into changing the name and really come up with one on the spot. Our management company kind of came to us and said “let’s do Soul Shakers” and I was like wow. That was the one cool name out of like 100 names. I was like OK, we can kind of go with that. Later I found out one of our management members came up with the name based off Nazareth’s song “Hair of the Dog” which is one of their best songs of all time. And that is kind of how we came up with it. We went with it and we were like… it’s got soul, its got blues rock in it and it is kind of our sound and we went with it… and that is who we are.
I love it. And when I hear you say this it makes me think of Kid Rock. I am a fan of him but I just think at a certain age, Kid Rock just doesn’t work anymore. So you know, he will be rolling around at 190 and we will all be like, hey “Kid” where are you?
So I am glad you guys picked the name you picked.
Yeah exactly. Well I love Kid Rock, he is pretty cool. Actually, I like his recent stuff more than anything so, you got to give it up for Kid Rock. If he is looking for a touring band you know we’re available.
I am a huge fan of Kid Rock. That guy can do a lot of things. But your music, and what I love about it is that it has that spirit of 80‘s rock and roll. It has that sex, drugs, rock and roll vibe and lets you have a good time. But the lyrics have a ton more depth. Who wrote them?
Ahhh… I really appreciate you saying that. We take a lot of pride in what we write. It is not as trite as it might seem. When the album comes out you will see the different sides to us. We wanted to come out with “Here to Have a Good Time”, you know everyone wants to have a good time, that is what rock and roll is about so… but lyrically it is really important to be clever enough and cool enough. I don’t think people spend enough time thinking about the writing and what they are writing. They just want to go into the recordering studio and record real quick. Me and Elli sat in a room for 2 years. We made sure every word and everything was perfect enough to bring out. Even as trite as it may seem “Here to Have a Good Time” has a lot of depth in the song. So thank you for saying that.
I caught it when you had the part about the rising phoenix. Just knowing the music business and what it takes to make it in LA as a band, you know it was there. It is still a fun and awesome song. You know you just want to line up shots and get drunk to it, but it also has more depth than an 80‘s party song. You know they only had 3 words to them.
Oh of course. They really did not have a lot to them. You know we take a lot of time with our lyrics. We really care about music. We really want rock and roll to come back. Once you hear the album, you are getting what we are all about. Lyrically we are not an 80‘s band, we are a 70‘s rock and roll band more than anything. That is what we are all about.
You guys are great. I think you are going to take over. We have been talking about LA and you said you moved to Nashville. What made you guys move?
Well, we got tired of the LA scene a little bit. We wanted something kind of fresh and new. Nashville is the most incredible scene to be in, in my opinion, right now. I have lived in New York, I have been to LA, I have not been overseas. But Nashville has some of the best players in the world. We really wanted to go find a really good band. I love LA, I love their players, and I love everything about it. But we wanted to come to Nashville. The change in the scene here is just so vibrant with music. It is not just about country music or anything like that. It is just that the best players live here, and the best coming music. It really kind of affects your sound a little bit. Getting into that southern rock, old country thing you used to see on Broadway (Nashville, not NY). We really wanted to go into a vibrant scene. We found that in Nashville. It has been me and Elias Paul Reidy mostly the whole time. But we wanted to come to Music City to find ourselves some good players. We are going back home to LA on Jan 18th to play at the Viper Room which is going to be really good. You need to come out. It is right before NAMM. I don’t know if you do NAMM or whatever but if you are come out. We are doing the whole NAMM thing.
We usually do NAMM, but this year we are missing. We are going to be doing ShipRocked.
Oh cool. So you will not be able to make it.
Yeah sorry. For people who don’t understand what NAMM is, if you want to see the revival of the music scene in LA come to the NAMM shows. Everybody is playing. There is no shortage of music. Not that there isn’t now, but what we see in the LA music scene, and what we kind of talked about, there is tons and tons of music. But there is not as much support, and people are not coming out… and the pay to play…
Absolutely. It is like a whole different game. You know I went out to LA. I really wanted to be part of the scene of 80‘s rock revival. You like when Guns ‘n Roses played or even in the 60‘s you know when real rock and roll was happening. When you go out to LA it is disappointing. It is changing, there are a lot of clubs on Sunset that are changing… even the whole rock and roll club (the Key Club turning) into the One Oak thing. That was kind of a mess. But we wanted to still go back to Sunset Strip especially during NAMM. I mean that is where I cut my teeth so you know I can’t say enough about the Sunset Strip. I wish it was like it was back in the day, but you know it is not what it was. That is a little bit of why we came to Nashville.
We always tell people it is good to be a band from LA but you have to get out you can’t stay in LA. You have to get out and get on the road. If you are from Cali you play here to get started. But you have not made it as a band until you leave because everybody is a band here.
Of course. Yup.
You know, when we were on the road we stopped in Nashville on a Tuesday. I was thinking, what the hell is going to be going on on a Tuesday in the afternoon? But there was music in every single bar we went into.
Yes, even if you’re just walking down the street. I am living right outside of downtown right now and I can hear the music playing right now. That is amazing. There is something about this city. It is Music City for a reason. I just love being here. I love LA though. It is really good for song writing. It is good to get inspired, there are a lot of parties, lots of beautiful women and great weather. But when you really get down to the nitty gritty Nashville is a better spot, at least for us for now.
Yeah we really noticed that. We fell in love with that too. I also fell in love with Another Broken Egg. If you love omelets it’s the best restaurant you guys have.
Now I am asking about tattoos. Do you have any?
I do not have any… not a one. I do not know what I would get. I have not found anything to really tattoo up my body with. But if I found a good tattoo artist that really convinced me on a really drunken night, I might do it. I don’t know.
There is a tattoo shop that you guys have out your way call Hart & Huntington Tattoo. They have awesome ink and great people. We popped in there while we were just walking through and wow!
Do you have any tattoos?
I actually do. I have a chest piece, a half sleeve on one arm, and a tattoo on the other arm, on my back, and working on getting my hands…
Nice. I have never found anything that I have really wanted on my body that much. I just have not found that right thing. Tattoos are beautiful art, it is body art and I love anything art.
Yeah, mine tell a story. Mine are about my daughter on the sleeve, the chest piece is my hubby and daughter and an angel. It is not like I just got drunk and said hey needle me. I appreciate the people that take the time to think about it. Doing what we do we have heard some of the best and some of the worse tattoo stories. Some of them start out with “I was drunk and high and I passed out and woke up with…”
(laughs) Yeah right. That is funny!
Well I appreciate you talking with us. I can’t wait to see you guys live. I really think, after traveling a-lot and hearing a ton of bands here and in other local scenes that you guys have that something different. And what I mean by a little bit different is A LOT DIFFERENT, you have that thing that will make people say wow, I want to stay and watch this show. I don’t want to head outside to smoke or whatever.
We are trying to keep rock and roll alive. We are not trying to bring it back or anything like that. There are a lot of people who are keeping rock alive and have been for a long time and we just want to be on the forefront of that. Just keeping good music out there. I think music needs that right now. There is not a lot of what we are doing. We are going to keep doing what we do no matter what.
Well said. Right now I am going to ask you to shout yourself out. Where can people find you and your music?