Surf rock group Shannon and the Clams headed east on their U.S. tour this year. The four members — singer and bassist Shannon Shaw, singer and guitarist Cody Blanchard, keyboardist Will Sprott and drummer Nate Mahan — traveled from the West Coast through the South and ultimately ended up in New York for the Panorama Music Festival. After their set, they crowded onto a picnic bench on the festival grounds to chat about changes in the band and in their community of California’s Bay Area.
WWD: How do you think Shannon and the Clams has changed since your first record “I Wanna Go Home” in 2009?
Cody Blanchard: It’s less sloppy and less punk.
Shannon Shaw: The more we keep it up, the more confident I become with making suggestions, having ideas, editing myself and each other. I think that makes stronger songwriting, and also, naturally, your mind opens to trying other things. Our original drummer left years ago, and we added keys to the band on “Gone by the Dawn,” which Cody and Nate played at the time. But we needed to get a keyboard player, so we added Will. The way we wrote the last album was with me and Cody as chief songwriters, but we’ve gotten a chance to have Will’s and Nate’s ideas sprinkled into the mix, too. So there are more beautiful minds on the records now.
WWD: Shannon, what was it like to take a pause and make a solo record, “Shannon in Nashville”? Was it always something you wanted to do?
S.S.: Yes, it was, but I never figured I’d have any time. But the invitation came when Cody wanted The Clams to have two months off. I was like, ‘Well, I’ve got nothing to do this fall. I guess I’ll go out to Nashville and record with [The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach], with no idea what it’s going to be like.’
WWD: In 2015, you described San Francisco as too hectic and too expensive. Obviously, a lot has changed there in the past three years. What’s your impression of San Francisco now?
Nate Mahan: It’s even worse.
S.S.: And it’s really sad. I feel for the people who have stuck to the city, those who still say it’s great. Because San Francisco is one of the most amazing cities in the world. But it seems like it’s being stripped of its culture. And did you guys hear that the Hemlock [Tavern in San Francisco] is being shut down?
Will Sprott: I’m from San Jose, and most of my friends who were born and raised there can’t afford to live there anymore. They have good jobs; it’s a crisis.
S.S.: I’ve been in the same place for 12 years. If I ever get evicted, there’s zero chance that I could stay in the Bay Area. I don’t know where I would go. Unless I decided to move into a punk house that has the threat of being shut down at any time.
C.B.: With 10 roommates.
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