Shannon & The Clams
All Of My Cryin'
Year Of The Spider
About Shannon & The Clams
“I am terrified of spiders,” says Shannon Shaw. “My mom always told me that they’re drawn to me. Like, they would drop down and dangle in my face as a baby, or they’d get in my bed.”
But the powerhouse singer-bassist of retro-rock band Shannon & The Clams had bigger fears when she went to an astrologer two years ago. Shaw was at an emotional tipping point — willing to try anything — because everything she loved was falling apart.
“It felt like the end of an era,” Shaw says, which began to unravel in 2016 with the tragic Ghost Ship warehouse fire in the Clams’ DIY community in Oakland. In 2018, the California wildfires in Napa almost caused her parents to evacuate their homes. In 2019, a lurking intruder drove Shaw out of the beloved apartment she’d lived in for 14 years. And then, right as her band was getting invited on big tours with bands like Greta Van Fleet and The Black Keys, her father was diagnosed with cancer. “The idea of leaving my family was agonizing — it was torture,” Shaw says.
The astrologer told her to summon Durga when she felt powerless, a Hindu goddess who holds a weapon in each of her eight arms. Shaw saw the connection. “The symbolism of the spider made a full turn in an interesting way,” she says. “I was getting protection from the thing I feared the most.” Plus, she says with a laugh, “Spiders destroy the bullshit bugs. Like mosquitoes. Who needs ‘em?”
Year Of The Spider, the band’s sixth studio album, rages against death and disease with the power of a thousand angry Ronettes. Songs like “All Of My Cryin’,” “Mary, Don’t Go,” and “Year Of The Spider,” pulse with girl-group elegance and punk ferocity. On a Clams record, you always get both.
That harsh/soft balance often comes down to Clams keyboardist Will Sprott. “Different keyboards lend themselves to different tones,” Sprott says, “a Rhodes [piano] is more soft and bell-like, whereas a Wurlitzer has these chunky, abrasive bites. So when I’m deciding which instrument to play on a song, I’m thinking, what does the song make you feel? What do you want it to communicate? It’s like, do you want this organ to scream at you or soothe you?”
On the album opener, it was a little bit of both. “Do I Wanna Stay” is a slow tango between Shaw’s voice and Sprott’s piano that builds to a break point when Shaw rasps, “I dream at night…” sounding like someone whittled Brenda Lee into a shiv.
“We went line by line with a fine-toothed comb to make sure the instrumentation matched each scene, almost like a movie,” Sprott says, adding, “That’s one thing about having Dan [Auerbach] as your producer — he is really good at seeing an overall vision of the sound — knowing when and where to add or remove certain layers.”
Drummer Nate Mahan agreed, saying “Stay” was a true collaboration. “Shannon had a very unique idea about the tempo of that song that we had to work out with Dan … The timing took us quite a while to get right, but I’m really proud of how it came out.”
When Mahan moved to Oakland in 2007, he was a fan of the band before he joined. “I was in a lot of improvisational and noise bands in a city that has every micro-genre you can imagine floating around … Shannon and the Clams stuck out to me because they had great songs with great singers, which I thought that really lacking in Oakland at the time.”
Mahan’s intuitive approach shines through on songs with dense imagery like, “Mary Don’t Go” — one of Shaw and Auerbach’s favorites. “I wanted to leave space for the words and pull back [on the drums],” Mahan says. “When you slow the pace, the words can feel more powerful.”
On “Godstone,” which tells the story of a surreal underwater encounter Shaw had in Hawaii, Mahan ditched the drums completely and played a halting, horn-like piano line while Sprott added the eerie arpeggiated synths.
The other source of the Clams’ signature sound comes from the decade-long creative partnership between Shaw and Clams’ guitarist Cody Blanchard. In “I Need You Bad,” their voices lock into bewitching minor chords. “It’s like a zipper when we sing together,” Shaw said, “I think we have a blood harmony, though we’re not related.” Bands that do have blood harmonies — the Everly Brothers, the BeeGees — are major musical touchstones for them. But unlike those groups, Shaw, Blanchard are close friends. They live 15 minutes away from each other and when both are in town, will rehearse in the goat shed turned recording studio that Blanchard built in his yard.
Blanchard mixed Spider at Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound Studios the same week tornadoes devastated parts of Nashville right before the COVID-19 shutdowns in early 2020. He also wrote and sings lead on roughly half the songs on Spider. His songs, like “Flowers Will Return” and “In The Hills, In The Pines,” have swelling pop arrangements and a mysteriously sparse falsetto, reminiscent of bands like The Hollies and The Association.
As a songwriter, Blanchard said he can get neurotic, so he tried Dolly Parton’s trick: writing songs from another person’s point of view. It worked, yielding some of Spider’s darkest songs: the howling “Crawl,” which has a roiling hard-rock guitar (“that was really fun — just a classic, rippin’ ’70s guitar solo”) and the album’s first single, “Midnight Wine,” a thundering baroque-pop number that was inspired by friends and people in the Oakland arts community who died of drug overdoses over the last few years.
“I was thinking specifically of the feeling of alienation,” said Blanchard. “Where it feels like nothing in society works for you. The only thing that makes sense is to get fucked up to the point where you don’t care if you die or not because life is too difficult and bleak.”
Spider ends with the slinky Motown-esque, “Vanishing.” Shaw dons her spiritual spider armor once more, singing directly and poignantly to her father (who is doing well, she said.) At first, Shaw wondered if the lyrics were too personal to put on the record.
“It’s very emotional, very tender,” she said. “I also had these ideas that made no sense, like having the weird call-and-response, but we made it work so it was one of those songs that gave me the chance to grow.”
“Shannon Shaw and Cody Blanchard trick out warped Fifties-Sixties rock driven by space-age thrift-shop keyboards, shimmy-shake dance grooves and sexy moonlit vocals—Shaw’s woozy Amy Winehouse-isms are backlit by Blanchard’s shrieky falsetto.” —Rolling Stone “Deftly blends a joyful escape musically with the weighty emotional journey of the lyrics…” —Paste Shannon & the Clams’ fifth studio album, Onion, is […]
Shannon & the Clams‘ new album, Onion, is due Friday, February 16, on Easy Eye Sound, but you don’t need to wait to hear it. The album is streaming in full via Noisey. Hear the album and read what Shannon Shaw and Cody Blanchard of the band had to say about the influences behind the album and […]
For Immediate Release August 20, 2021
SHANNON & THE CLAMS’ 6th STUDIO ALBUM, YEAR OF THE SPIDER,
OUT NOW ON EASY EYE SOUND
READ TRACK-BY-TRACK VIA CONSEQUENCE
HOST INSTAGRAM KARAOKE PARTY ON MONDAY, AUGUST 23RD AT 8PM ET
17-DATE HEADLINING TOUR CONFIRMED
“…this is a gem you’ve just unearthed from a forgotten shelf in a secondhand shop… they’re Shannon and The f*cking Clams.”
“Shannon and The Clams’ latest record is a rip-roaring listen.”
“Year Of The Spider brings bad vibes in the best way possible, through a psychedelic blues sound that’s served raw by producer Dan Auerbach.”
-The AV Club
“Shannon Shaw and Cody Blanchard trick out warped Fifties-Sixties rock driven by space-age thrift-shop keyboards, shimmy-shake dance grooves and sexy moonlit vocals—Shaw’s woozy Amy Winehouse-isms are backlit by Blanchard’s shrieky falsetto.”
“Year of the Spider is anything but stuck in the past. Its novel sonic alloys & punk rock spirit ring of right now.”
Shannon & The Clams’ sixth studio album, Year Of The Spider, is out now via Easy Eye Sound. For the album, the band, fronted by bass player Shannon Shaw and guitarist Cody Blanchard on lead vocals with Will Sprott on keyboards and Nate Mahan on drums, returned to Dan Auerbach’s Nashville Easy Eye Sound Studio to craft a mature, reflective and ebullient album built for the current times, on which they have perfected their signature blend of garage psych, doo-wop, classic R&B, and surf rock. Year Of The Spider is available on all formats here.
Today, the band share their track-by-track guide to the album via Consequence, who say of the album, “Year of the Spider is all about not just persevering through adversity but thriving. With the material split between Shaw and Blanchard on lead, early singles like “Midnight Wine” and the title track have shown the band has come out the other end stronger than ever.” Read the full track-by-track guide here.
To commemorate the release of their new album, Shannon & The Clams will host an Instagram karaoke party on Monday, August 23rd at 8pm ET. Shannon and Cody will host the event, with guests including Will and Nat of course, as well as friends of the band. Tune into the event here.
Shannon & The Clams recently shared “All Of My Cryin’” the third single from Year Of The Spider. The video, directed Ryan Daniel Browne, echoes themes from of the album including finding joy and connection from loss and tragedy. Watch the music video for “All Of My Cryin’” here.
The band also confirmed their 17-date headlining tour of the U.S. in cities including Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Nashville, and Las Vegas (full dates below). Tickets for these dates are on sale now here.
Year Of The Spider, rages against death, darkness, and disease with the power of a thousand angry Ronettes. “It felt like the end of an era,” Shaw said about a writing period that began with the tragic death of The Clams’ former drummer Mick. In 2016, The Clams’ DIY community suffered the devastating Ghost Ship warehouse fire. In 2018, the California wildfires came unnervingly close to her parents’ homes. In 2019, a lurking intruder drove Shaw to move out of her beloved Oakland apartment she’d lived in for 14 years. And then, right as her band was getting invited on big tours with bands like Greta Van Fleet and The Black Keys, her father was diagnosed with cancer (he has since, thankfully recovered). The resulting album is a reflection and intimate portrait of overcoming seemingly overwhelming odds, and not only surviving but thriving in the process.
The opening track “Do I Wanna Stay” is a slow tango between Shaw and an alluring piano line (Will Sprott). When Shaw rasps, “I dream at night,” she sounds like Brenda Lee whittled into a shiv. “All Of My Cryin’,” “Godstone,” and “Year Of The Spider,” pulse with elegance and punk ferocity. On a Clams record, you always get both. That duality comes from the decade-long creative partnership between Shaw and The Clams’ guitarist Cody Blanchard. In “I Need You Bad,” their voices lock into a bewitching minor chord. “It’s like a zipper when we sing together,” Shaw said, “I think we have a blood harmony, though we’re not related.” Bands that do have blood harmonies — the Everly Brothers, the BeeGees — are major musical touchstones for Shaw and Blanchard.
Blanchard mixed Spider at Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound Studio the week tornadoes devastated parts of Nashville right before the COVID-19 shutdowns in early 2020. He also wrote and sings lead on roughly half the songs on Spider. His songs, like “Flowers Will Return” and “In The Hills, In The Pines,” have swelling pop arrangements and a mysteriously sparse falsetto, reminiscent of bands like The Hollies and The Zombies.
Ultimately Year Of The Spider, despite being written the summer before the world came to a stop, is a prescient album and a reflection on love, loss, and community, and how what we fear can ultimately serve to protect us. “I am terrified of spiders, but my mom always told me that they are drawn to me,” says Shannon Shaw. The turbulent period following the release of the band’s previous album, Onion, allowed Shannon to consider arachnids in a different light. “The symbolism of the spider made a full turn in an interesting way,” she said. “I was getting protection from the thing I feared the most.” Plus, she said, “Spiders destroy the bullshit bugs. Like mosquitoes. Who needs ‘em?”
Shannon & The Clams is Shannon Shaw on bass and vocals, Cody Blanchard on guitar and vocals, Nate Mahan on drums, and Will Sprott on keyboards. The band has developed notoriety for lively and genuine stage performances, including on recent tours opening for The Black Keys and Greta Van Fleet, and a zealous following that craves their particular authenticity and innovation on classic sounds.
Shannon & The Clams 2021 Tour Dates
- Fri-Sep-03 Seattle, WA The Neptune Theatre
- Sat-Sep-04 Portland, OR Crystal Ballroom
- Thu-Sep-30 Tucson, AZ Club Congress Plaza
- Fri-Oct-01 Los Angeles, CA Belasco Theater
- Tue-Oct-19 Washington, DC Black Cat
- Wed-Oct-20 New York, NY Webster Hall
- Thu-Oct-21 Hamden, CT Space Ballroom
- Fri-Oct-22 Boston, MA Royale
- Sat-Oct-23 Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer
- Sun-Oct-24 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop
- Tue-Oct-26 Chicago, IL Thalia Hall
- Wed-Oct-27 Louisville, KY Headliners Music Hall
- Thu-Oct-28 Nashville, TN Basement East
- Fri-Jan-07 San Francisco, CA The Fillmore
- Sat-Jan-08 Visalia, CA The Cellar Door
- Sun-Jan-09 Solana Beach, CA Belly Up Tavern
- Tue-Jan-11 Las Vegas, NV Backstage Bar
Year Of The Spider Track Listing
- Do I Wanna Stay (04:28)
- All Of My Cryin’ (02:29)
- Midnight Wine (03:18)
- I Need You Bad (03:03)
- Year Of The Spider (02:30)
- In The Hills, In The Pines (02:34)
- Godstone (02:30)
- Snakes Crawl (03:17)
- Mary, Don’t Go (02:53)
- Leaves Fall Again (02:39)
- Flowers Will Return (03:21)
- Crawl (02:19)
- Vanishing (03:06)
For more information, please contact Emilio Herce (email@example.com) or Mary Moyer (firstname.lastname@example.org) at Q Prime, 212.302.9790.
Photo: Kristen Cofer
Photo: Kristen Cofer
Photo: Perry Shall
Photo: Perry Shall
Photo: Perry Shall