Thursday, January 24, 2008

Eric Shea Talks Parchman Farm, The Jizz, and Hot Lunch

Birdman recently caught up with San Francisco-based ex-Parchman Farm vocalist, skate enthusiast, and local punk 'n' roll icon Eric Shea to find out what havoc he's been reaping with his newest projects The Jizz, Hot Lunch, and his cat, Penguin. To get your hand's on Parchman Farm's The Lost Tapes get to clicking right here.

Bands you’re currently in or were in?

I sang and played guitar for Mover and The High Deserters. Then I sang for Parchman Farm and now I sing for Hot Lunch and The Jizz.

What do you dig playing? (vox, guitar, etc…)

I like playing guitar and harmonica, but I'm not too good at guitar and got worse after snapping my wrist a few years ago. So I mostly sing now.

What’s on your record player, CD player and digital player (computer, iPod, whatever)?

Lately I've been digging Coloured Balls, Stray, that first Blue Ash record, Roky Erickson, City Boy, Dennis Dragon's soundtracks for Hal Jepson's old surf movies, Poodle Boys, Roy Harper, The Arrows, Bruce Langhorne's soundtrack for The Hired Hand, Barracudas, Honeybus, Allen Toussaint's Life, Love and Faith, and Pugh Rogefeldt's Ja, Da A Da!

Where do you call home these days? Live alone?

I live in the Mission with my girlfriend Juliette and our cat Penguin.

The ever famous question of what do you do for a living…or better put, what puts food and beer on the table?

Funny you should ask…for nine years I was a producer and music reviewer/editor for Rhapsody. but just two days ago I was laid off with 24 other people. It was my dream job interviewing legends like Buck Dharma or Porter Wagoner. One of my first interviews on the job was with Spinal Tap. So I had a pretty good run there. Hopefully I’ll end up with another rad job where I can do work that relates to what I love.

So, tell me about Parchman Farm. How did it all start?

A mutual friend introduced me to Allyson who had been jamming with Carson and Chris for a while. One day she called me to ask if I knew of any singers into bands like Blue Cheer and Grand Funk Railroad. This was in 2002 or 2003. Mover had just broken up and so I told her that I'd be into giving it a shot. We met and jammed on a cover of "Babylon" and it felt good. Then they asked me to join, I got a van and it was on.

There are a couple of new things going on with Parchman Farm. One is the Birdmanaphone release of Lost Tapes. Care to share a little about the songs?

Hmm…yeah let's see…these were demos that we did over a year after our first EP came out. We tracked these songs in 2005 and 2006 with Josh Schwartz and then Phil Manley from The Fucking Champs. We were on a U.S. tour with them and when we got home Phil said that we should record with him, so we did. At the time we were listening to a lot of hard funk from the late '60s and early '70s, and I think some of that seeped through on the arrangements, phrasings and rhythms. Allyson sent the demos out to a handful of select labels, but nothing came from that. A few months later the band told me that they wanted to break up. I was bummed because I thought we were finally finding our own sound and I was more into these songs than any of the ones we recorded before. I wasn’t really too hung up on getting on any of those labels. But it’s all good in the end. All in all I think of Parchman Farm as being a lot of truly awesome times. I’m happy where things are at now, and I’m having fun playing new music. I still think those guys are amazing musicians, and I’m super stoked for Chris’s new musical project…that dude rules.

What’s it like having releases come out after the band has dismembered?

Honestly, listening to these songs reminds me of the fun times we had playing live, touring and hanging out. I'm mostly proud of what Parchman Farm did and it was a good experience in many ways. I totally like all of these recordings way better than the ones that came out on our self-titled EP. They're just better songs culling from more honest and diverse influences than what we first started with.

What are you currently working on?

I'm singing for two bands, Hot Lunch and The Jizz. Hot Lunch is a heavy punk 'n' roll thing with Aaron from Mensclub, Rob from Cheetah Speed and Charlie from Harold Ray…three friends that I’ve wanted to play music with for a long time. The Jizz is with Mark from Apache and Barrett from Nightling playing dueling guitar leads over a heavy rhythm section and it’s more like an onslaught of dirty, heavy songs that will make you puke your brain out of your nose. Those guys kill it.

What’s going on/upcoming for these?

The Jizz just recorded two songs for a single that I'm really stoked on. We’re all just into making heavy songs and having a good time doing it. All the dudes I’m playing with have really good taste in music and it’s inspiring to still get turned on to stuff I’ve never heard before. We started Hot Lunch just wanting to play parties and shows with our friends. Musically, we’re all pretty much on the same page and are having a lot of fun with it. I totally lucked out by hooking up with a bunch of guys who are such naturally killer musicians.

I noticed that the “Hoot” is back. Care to elaborate?

Oh, that was just a one-off reunion. I actually posted a little thing about it here for work here and here. Doing the Monday Night Hoot at Café DuNord taught me so much about songwriting and introduced me to a lot of the music community at large. But right now I just want to focus on my bands and my work. Running something like the Hoot takes a lot of time and energy that I'd rather put into rock 'n' roll, writing and production.

Many might not know you are one hell of a skateboard enthusiast. What’s the new hot spot in SF? Any big bails to report lately?

Yeah, I’ve been skateboarding since I was a little kid. The song "Declaration" on Lost Tapes is kind of about my love for it. And there’s another one there that’s about bailing hard on the banks at Montclair Elementary School in Oakland on an old Alva board. "Pacific" is another song that sort of touches on barging a secret spot and getting served but knowing it was well worth it. There’s nothing like grinding across pool coping. But as far as spots go, my favorite one in the city is Parker's basement. I probably shouldn't say what he built down there…but that bowl they're pouring at Potrero Del Sol is looking really good too.

What album blew you away this year?

I guess it would have to be a tie between The Go's Howl On That Haunted Beat You Ride and the new Danava record also rules it.

Any departing words?

I've already said too much. But thanks for taking the time to ask about these songs and stuff. And mega super thanks to Dave and Birdman for putting out Parchman Farm's Lost Tapes.

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