Small Band, Big Sound
February 23, 2017
Ian Skeans and Kiah Gerig are the two members of Shade, a local "grumble rock" band who you can find playing frequently at the Brass Rail, Skeletunes Lounge, CS3 and a variety of house shows.
When Gerig started posting on social media shortly after his band Wickerwolves went on indefinite hiatus, Skeans responded, not even knowing if Gerig would be interested. After writing a song during their first practice, the two decided it sounded good enough as it was.
"At first we didn't even want it to be a two-piece," said Gerig. "We talked about the project with a couple of other people, and they wanted it to be more or less a stoner metal band." After the songs started sounding catchier and a little less doomy, Skeans and Gerig decided they didn't really need anyone else.
"The songs didn't feel lacking; they felt finished," said Skeans, so they stuck with it.
Skeans and Gerig met while playing in their respective bands: Gerig in the aforementioned Wickerwolves and Skeans in Pink Balloon Band. Mere acquaintances before teaming up and forming forming Shade, a short while later they were pumping out an impressive amount of sound. Skeans, who plays guitar and sings, splits his baritone guitar, an instrument that packs the low end of a bass into a mostly regular-sized guitar, through both a guitar amp and a bass amp. This essentially covers two instruments at once. And you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who hits their drums harder than Gerig. It is unclear whether he's getting out aggression or if he's just trying to match the energy and sound output of Skeans. Either way, it fits right in.
Sometimes described as Windhand-meetsWeezer, Shade could be considered the poppiest of the doom metal bands, though they aren't really metal at all.
"We either wind up being the heaviest band on a light billing or the lightest band on a heavy billing," said Skeans. Think of heavy rhythmic guitars with vocals that get stuck in your head. Like most pop elements, they come mostly from the melody.
"I like big guitar hooks that are easy to hum along to," said Skeans.
Shade's loud and emotional songs make you look twice to see that there are just two people on stage. When you've only got two people in the band, there's not a lot of room for excess.
"I play a lot of drum parts that aren't very technical but complement what's being played on guitar," said Gerig. "I think it lends itself to how the band sounds as a whole. In a two-piece you have to play what's right for the part."
Lyrically, Skeans sticks to introspective lyrics, dealing with one's own shortcomings and faults, how those effect other people and vice-versa.
"It's mostly negative whining," laughed Skeans, who doesn't consider himself a vocalist per se, but nonetheless covers that element of the music.
When Shade play onstage, they face each other, limiting how much they have to look at the audience, assuring the awkwardness is kept to a minimum. It doesn't feel standoffish, however, like some bands who stand with their back to the audience.
Gerig and Skeans are adamant about keeping their sets short as well. They usually pack five or six songs into 20 minutes and leave the crowd happy - wanting more rather than wishing it was over.
"In the underground music scene, I don't think any band should play longer than 30 minutes," said Gerig. When there are five or six bands playing in one night, the obligation to stay for all of them wanes and the crowd tends to lessen as the show goes on, especially on a weeknight. This is why Gerig urges anyone booking bands to book four bands or less in most cases, keeping nights early and the shows short.
When asked what the best idea the other member of Shade has had, Skeans replied, "In songs, he'll throw a dynamic shift in there or a structure idea and then it feels like a song instead of just an idea."
"The way he's added the bass cab and fills everything out, making it sound like there's four people instead of just us two is by far the best idea either of us has had," said Gerig.
Together the two are a formidable force and almost every show someone comes up to them questioning their output and wanting to scope out Skeans' rig.
Shade like to shoot for short-term goals like traveling and writing more. They'd like to play more out-of-state shows, something like a short, three-day tour, and they plan to put out either an EP or a full-length album sometime this year. They have a split with Hogarth, an alternative band from Montpelier, coming out in the coming months as well. They appreciate everyone's support and love how those who come to see them time after time seem just as excited for their music as they are.
You can hear Shade at shadeindiana.bandcamp.com or at their shows on March 13 at the Brass Rail, on March 18 at The Fortress and on April 21 at Hebrews in Leo.
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