Dedicated to Women Guitarists and Bassists

Shannon Shaw of Shannon and the Clams Goes to Beverly Hills

December 20, 2014
Written by
Alxis Ratkevich
Video by
Alxis Ratkevich
Photos by
Lauren Baker

We got to spend a day cruising down the streets of Beverly Hills with the wonderful and lovable Shannon Shaw––bass player of Hunx and His Punx and Shannon and the Clams. We could spoil it for you and tell you about how, according to our map, Lindsey Lohan lives in a hotel or you can see it all for yourself.

Just for the hell of it, and because Shannon is an incredibly inspiring person, we included a few photos and questions from our featured interview with Shannon in issue 6 (you gotta buy the mag to read the whole thing!).

Who gave you your first bass?

My high school boyfriend. I got it when I was fifteen from this guitar store in Napa. It’s the same bass I play with now, it’s a Dan Electro. He taught me how to play, one bass line from a Nine Inch Nails song and that was the only thing I could play for years and years. I didn’t really try, so it just sat in the corner of my room.

Then when I was twenty-five, I’d had it up to here with a bunch of things going on in my life, and that [bass] was an outlet. I was super depressed, I had lost my job, I’d got cheated on by my boyfriend, and I was alone in this horrible apartment in Oakland. I had no friends and no money, and just felt like I was going insane and everything was totally dark. I got this melody in my head. I had nothing to do and was miserable in my house and pulled the bass out, and I slowly built one little song, it’s called “Heartbreak”, I think we have it on a 7”.

How do you achieve your specific sound?

I want the vocals to be dreamy and sound distant. I don’t want you to always know what I’m singing. I want things ghosty and misty, like chiffon. Cody made us a box called the “barf blaster” that has all these pedals, and when you turn it on the right way it’s the perfect vocal sound. Bass, I make it sound warm and bass-y. I hate when I accidentally get a new metal amp, and I have a hard time making it sound old or warm. I think that you can play anything, and tweak it and get it to sound how you want.

What inspires you?

I don’t even know how to write a song that’s not about something that I’m living inside of. I think it’s like shedding. If something is super painful, removing it and changing what it looks like is a way of scooting it away. It’s not even super conscience, it just naturally happens.

Sometimes I think performing is about the sharing. I don’t think I would want to play anymore if I didn’t feel like I was connecting with the audience. That’s a major aspect of performing, what’s happening together, the exchange.

What is your songwriting process?

I have to say 95% of my songs come while I am driving. I’ll suddenly feel almost like I drove over a bump, but it will be like a [melody]. I’ll just sing alone in the car, exploring whatever music comes to me. I’ll record into my phone and later I’ll sit down and try and build a song. Another place where I write songs is swimming. I love jumping into a pool or a river and going down to the bottom, floating in there just makes me come up with ideas. But then it’s hard to capture them because I’m soaking wet, and in a body of water. Or waking up from a dream. “Baby Don’t Do It”, was something I was able to trap from a dream and “Sleep Talk”.

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