Sunday, June 21, 2020

Interview: Shi (死)

Formed in 2015, Louisville's Shi (死) has been playing their particular brand of depressive suicidal stoner doom for 5 years, culminating in 5 EPs and a new full length, aptly titled "Depressive Suicidal Stoner Doom." We spoke band members Bob Lowrey, Tyler Lewis, and Jayce Wraley about their style, new album, and what is next  for SHI.

37-What is the meaning behind the band's name, 死?

Bob Lowrey- That kanji represents death in Japanese (shi, pronounced like “she”). I’d been mulling around various names, trying to find something simple but not too derivative. Being a nerd, Japanese culture is super interesting to me; utilizing such a direct and simple concept and character in the band name made sense.

37-The title of your new album, "Depressive Suicidal Stoner Doom" practically says it all in terms of sound. What gave you the idea for that title?

Bob- I think we’d been talking about black metal (Jayce and Tyler started a project, Crown ov Serpents, which I play bass for) and we were talking about how best to describe the Shi sound - depressive suicidal black metal came up during a chat and I’d jokingly said that Shi basically is that, but about getting high before offing yourself - Depressive Suicidal Stoner Doom

Tyler Lewis- Yeah what Bob said, it was just the funniest/easiest way to describe our mix of stoner doom songwriting with hefty sad boi aesthetic.

37- Besides getting super high and dying, the lyrical content of DSSD takes on a sci-fi angle, such as soothsayers and hags with tendrils. What's your inspiration for writing lyrics?

Bob- When I’m writing lyrics, I usually end up going either introspective and cathartic, or I just try to tell stories. I enjoy most nerdy/”weirdo” stuff like horror movies, fantasy, sci-fi, etc. A lot of times I find it easier to create a narrative scenario to describe in lyrics than it is to open up and write about myself or my experiences without sounding cliche. Those final three songs (Swamp Hag, Mudman, Danksquatch) incorporate a narrative arc that runs through all three, while still maintaining a lyrical undertone that matches the overall Depressive Suicidal Stoner Doom idiom.

37- The lone holdout stylistically is Interlude.  It's an impressive track all on its own, but what was the idea of having a traditional sounding track on an album titled "Depressive Suicidal Stoner Doom"?

Bob- I try to keep varied musical inspiration in my rotations, and one genre I’ve really grown to enjoy in recent years has been bluegrass and older country/honky-tonk. I’ve got an upright bass and a banjo, and figured why not try and bring those instruments into the mix somehow. We’d used them very briefly during a part on the song “No Holy Men” off our Cellar 1 EP, and a few friends had mentioned really digging that bit. It felt natural to bring that back in as an interlude and introduction/transition into that final 3-song run on the album.

37- Bob, your vocal style has altered on recordings from fairly unaffected to full on doom. DSSD has abandoned the straight forward vocal style for a very unique doom style. How is this layered vocal technique accomplished?

Bob- Figuring out how I wanted to do vocals was definitely a big part of finding “our sound”, while also acknowledging the heavy influence of bands like Weedeater and Bongzilla in there. On the album, the vocals are two separate takes of me yelling, which then got blended together by Devin (Harper, Nocturnal Media) during post-production. We’d tried clean singing on earlier releases, and may reincorporate that a bit in the future, but the shout/yell/scream has definitely been the style I’m most comfortable with when it comes to writing and feeling OK with the performance.

37- Jayce Wraley, you joined in 2017 and added a new layer to the SHI sound. What is your background and what do you see as your role in the writing process of the band?

Jayce- Well, I used to jam with Tyler and Zach years ago, nothing serious, just covers and improvisation. Then they formed SHI and I would go see them live. One thing led to another, they wanted a second guitarist and asked me to join. I don't write much of the music in SHI. Bob will just show me the riff and I follow. I'll add a little dank to the riff if it sounds right.

Bob- Usually Tyler and I will flesh out an initial idea, bring it to Zach who adds his two cents, then we bring it to Jayce and he adds that final bit of special something - often times it’s a harmonized guitar lick, or maybe adjusting the arrangement of when each of us come in on a riff.

37- What is next for SHI?

Bob- We are currently self-recording a covers EP that we hope to have out in the coming months. As venues and bars start to re-open for live performance and we can safely enjoy those spaces together we definitely look forward to the opportunity to play live again - Ideally we’d like to try and do a weekend run into a few regional cities we’ve not played yet (looking at a run starting up in Pittsburgh and working our way back down via Columbus, Cincinnati, etc). Other than that, we’re working on writing new material for our 2nd album.

Tyler- Yeah I just can’t wait to move through this pandemic and get back out playing again when the time is right. Like Bob said we’re trying to get out of Kentucky more often so if you want to see us in your area shoot us a message and we’ll make it happen!

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