Shawnis And The Shimmers were all set to take over the Richmond scene when the pandemic hit in 2020. After a slight delay, they’ve returned with a brand new album and a mission to make the entire city fall in love with their glammed-out punk rock n’ roll.
From a hole in the wall on the Northside emerges a glittery garage-punk five-piece that could become Richmond’s next big hit. Shawnis and the Shimmers has spent the last two years cloistered away, working on making music that captures the quintessential classic punk sound and mixing it with the spirit of every modern gutter punk’s dreams. The result of this has been the release of their first album, Wasteland.
“I feel like we haven’t been stuck waiting through the pandemic because we’ve been working so hard,” said Jerry, the band’s lead guitarist. “Recording sounded too clean, but we wanted our music muddy and fucked up, so it took us months to figure that out.”
“Essentially, how do we make it sound like shit,” said Jamie, the band’s drummer. “Shit should not be digital.”
According to Jerry, Chris, the band’s guitarist, “does most of the work that takes a lot of patience. I don’t have the patience for it. So I do wait, I sit there and wait for him to do it. It’s got to get fuck-i-fied,” said Jerry.
From the creation of the music itself, it’s conception is inherently scattered and “fuck-i-fied.” When Shawnis, the band’s lead singer, comes to the rest of the band with lyrics, or an idea for a new song, often it comes in the form of hints, scattered adjectives, and jumbled emotion. It’s up to the band to move in alongside Shawnis and create the final product that’s been residing in their head with no clear way out.
“Yeah, sometimes we won’t understand it,” said Chris. “Shawnis will have the lyrics and everything already, just in a way we don’t entirely understand.”
“We’ll practice it, play it, then rearrange it. Add some spice. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I bring a lot to the table,” said Jamie.
“You bring the arrangement, Shawnis brings the derangement,” said Jerry. “That’s the fun part, because he’ll just sing it, and it’ll be like three parts that don’t sound like each other. Sometimes he’ll give me an adjective that the song needs to be more like, and I don’t know what the hell it means.”
“It’s like playing musical charades,” said Lila, the band’s bassist.
“For example, ‘It’s a smokey bar, you see your ex and now it’s time to say ‘you motherfucker,’’” said Shawnis.
“We’re the first method-acting band,” said Jamie.
The best part of these musicians all coming together is that, even though the musical creations can appear haphazard, they’ve all been playing for years and have the know-how to put out something amazing from odds and ends.
Before Shawnis and the Shimmers, Shawnis had become a Richmond icon of sorts playing with The You Go Girls and Nightcreature. Meanwhile, Lila was in Chemtrails and Jamie was in Dadmobile. All of the band’s members were well-vetted veterans of the Richmond music scene and knew this band had a real chance to become something greater.
“We’re a supergroup,” said Shawnis. “I wanted to find some people that were not all in 18 other bands. We found out we listen to all the same kind of music, and we were essentially trying to do the same thing. We were about a month away from playing our first gigs together when the pandemic started.”
Luckily, those two years away from the stage only made them stronger together and ultimately put them in the position to release ample new music. They’ll start hitting Richmond’s stages this Monday at Fuzzy Cactus, and are looking to play many more shows from there, all around. It’ll be an event long awaited by both Richmonders and the band.
“The first weekend we had set was the week that everything shut down,” said Lila. “I had a show with another band the Sunday before, and this was supposed to be the week after that.”
“That was the last show I went to, too,” said Shawnis. “Me and my roommate were like, ‘Should we even be here?’ It was a few months before we could really work on anything after that, but we all met back up after vaccinations, and we’ve gotten to a good place.”
“We all needed it really bad. We all had energy we needed to let out,” said Jerry.
“We’re edging, Richmond,” said Jamie.
“I mean, we did write a song about edging,” said Jerry.
“We may or may not have,” replied Shawnis.
Whether they did or not, you’ll have to listen and find out.
Even as a relatively new band, the dedication the fans of this band have is unending; before anyone else even knew Wasteland was out, someone had found the unadvertised version on the band’s bandcamp and reviewed it. The music is sure to make you a convert, too, if you weren’t already one.
“We put our album on bandcamp just so we could hear it and advertise it, and someone reviewed it before we even officially put it out: ‘gritty glam punk rock and roll.’” said Shawnis. “It was really weird.”
“Has to have been someone local. Someone refreshing the Richmond bands hashtags,” said Lila.
“Someone did that to my band in the 90s. They said, ‘these dudes are just mumbling into the mic.’ And we were like, ‘yeah, because the lyrics aren’t written yet,” said Jerry.
As with their other bands and projects, you can expect to find Shawnis and the Shimmers glamming it up as their various alter-egos and diva-licious selves onstage. Having made reference to The Munsters in their previous Halloween gathering, and dreaming of donning Alice Cooper-style Saran Wrap fits, the band promises to excite.
“We’re a sex-positive band, so we always wrap it up,” said Jamie. “Play a show in a body condom.”
Aside from fantastic music, you’ll never know what you’re going to get at a Shawnis and the Shimmers show. After having been cooped up for years, they may have gone just a bit insane, and the anticipation to see that insanity play out will be well worth the wait.
From here on out we, luckily, won’t have to wait too long for even more music from the band, as they already have plans for a second album and more.
“We’re super stoked that the album is out in the world. We’re super proud of it,” said Shawnis. “But also, we’ve got like a whole other album that we’re ready to start working on. We had plenty of COVID setbacks.”
“I hope that when all of this is truly over, like 80 albums will drop. just because everybody’s been working,” said Jerry.
Catch Shawnis and the Shimmers at Fuzzy Cactus on March 21. This will be a rarity for Fuzzy Cactus, which usually doesn’t host shows on Monday. The show starts at 9 pm and also features Californians The Wind-Ups and local band Bummers Eve. Admission is $8 at the door (no advance tickets available).
To find the freshman album from Shawnis And The Shimmers, Wasteland, head over to their bandcamp page. Then take the night off on Monday to come discover your new favorite band: Shawnis and the Shimmers.
Top Photo by Chris Suspect, courtesy Shawnis And The Shimmers