Wow, wow, wow. Liked it instantly. Shawn Beaulieu is a veteran in the Chatham Music scene, and somewhat of a central figure, that ties several people and bands together. Example? Shawn was in Janet Theory and Foster Child, is good friends with local musician and studio owner Bob Hiltz, played his first gig with Po from Square Root, was playing gigs back in the legendary "Aberdeen days", has played at Corn Stock and runs the Official Online Chatham Music Scene Archive. Central figure? Yep.
The CD "Demo Kid" instantly raises the bar for local music. If these are "demo's" then what would you call the music I've been producing over the last 3 years? Answer? "Not-even-demo-quality". Seriously - these songs are produced and recorded extremely well considering they were all put together within the privacy of Shawn's house.
The Last Day of Summer starts the party off strong, and the Foo-fighter-esque "To Die For" keeps things moving along very nicely. Other's don't agree with me, but I think the verse for track 3 sounds Trent Reznor like, and the chorus sounds as if Ric Ocasek took over from there. I can't review the album properly without a mention of track #17 'Would you love me if' - as it's lyrics are the new standard for beautiful poetry in these modern times. lol.
Track 24 takes us out of the album, with a song called "Mom and Pop stores", which is about Chatham's always declining economy, and the "Big Box store" issues in general. Weezer wishes they could still write songs this good.
I was thankfully able to take up some of Shawn's time, (in which he probably would have been writing and recorded MORE SONGS) to interview him about his past, this CD, and the future :
Matt: How long have you been playing music for?
Shawn: Roughly 17 years. But played air guitar for 3 years prior to that.
Matt: What was the first song you learned to play on guitar?
Shawn: Living after midnight by Judas Priest. My neighbour showed me it. It was the first time I discovered the power chord.
Matt: What was the first "show off" riff you learned how to play on guitar? ie: Smoke on the Water.
Shawn: I was not into solos and stuff, but I guess it was the first time I could 'Two hand Tap'. I could play the first 4 riffs of the Eddie Van Halen eruption guitar solo. That was enough to make this 13 year old (at the time) feel pretty good. lol
Matt: Throughout the many bands you've been with, you were always the Demo Kid, and never the front man... are you going to take some of these songs on tour, as the main player?
Shawn: No intentions of that. I was the lead singer/guitar player in my first bands (Foster Child) but it is not for me. I like writing for fun, it's in my blood to deep. I would like to put together a band that totally fits my vision, but being in a small town, there is not many guys to choose from to make or share a common vision. I don't want to be the
main guy stage wise. I don't have the charisma for that.
Matt: Got to ask you some more of the generic questions - What made you get into music?
Shawn: Musicians were all around the family so I fell into it. The real kicker was being 9 or 10 and seeing Quiet Riot/Motley Crue videos, having a blast playing. You just got to do that. Almost everyone would love to, it's too much fun.
Matt: Your mother is rumoured to have been in a touring Country band, can you tell us anything about that?
Shawn: I don't know much about it. I have pictures of her on the road singing in bands and sometimes playing bass. She sang all the time when I was a kid. She rocks.
Matt: Yeah, I always thought it was pretty cool that she used to play bass. I mentioned your new album, cause I figured she might have heard about it, but she hadn't. I told her "Guys don't usualy tell their mom's when the release an album" LOL. What and/or who are your influences?
Shawn: Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, Dayglo Abortions, Early D.R.I., C.O.C., The Police, Ben Folds, 80's metal/punk/ hardcore.
Matt: Why does you CD insert reference "Fruity Loops" but then on the back it references "Acid 2.0" (I am not familiar with these programs)
Shawn: Acid 2.o is what I actually use to record the tracks on to the computer. It is the multi Channel recorder. Fruity Loops is what I use strictly to program drum beats and loops etc, that then get mixed in with the song using Acid 2.0
Matt: Were you around during the hallowed Aberdeen days? (I ask, cause I wasn't - too young).
Shawn: I turned 19 around the year or two before it closed. We played there allot juring that time. We thought it was pretty cool that they would pay us decent money to play covers that we loved to play. That place had no rules so it was cool for bands.
Matt: How do you feel about Chatham Kent's music scene right now? People tend to have mixed feelings about it.
Shawn: It is fine. I support the bands so I am happy. The scene is the same as it was when I was playing every weekend a few years back. It is really up to the bands to make it good. People want to be entertained. If your band is boring, no one is gonna go see ya. Thats the reality. If your not willing to entertain, than stay in your basement and be the elitist "too cool for anybody' band and don't complain about the scene. If your gonna play live, entertain the folks.lol Put your ego in a bag and realize your playing for people, not just to feed your ego ideals.
Matt: What could be better about Chatham Kent's music scene?
Shawn: I don't think much about it. I think it is fine. It is all relative to population. If we had more people, we would have a bigger pot of good musicians, and musicians that could find people to form a band that is fitting to their styles & interests. We are a small city, but people will come see you.
Matt: At what point did you decided the many demo's you had saved over the years would make for a good release ?
Shawn: I decided the same day to release the demo kid CD the same day I started printing them up. lol My plan was simple. Unlike the band demos I have done, this release was not a promoted release other than to friends in my home town. I have about 100 songs I never released before. I felt I should just pick 80 minutes worth and put it out there for friends to hopefully enjoy. I have been putting out CDs every 2 years since I was 16. This was a year with no band release, so I said fuck it, I will just release home demos. I like the songs, just with a new family on the go, there was no time for jamming with buds.
Matt: These songs are great! How is it that you are not signed yet? Are you going to send this CD out to labels?
Shawn: I am not looking to get signed. I am raising my family & write songs because I love too do that. Other than word of mouth, I don't promote my music outside of Chatham. Getting signed is not a goal. I don't know what to say other than I love to write songs and if people like them than that’s great. I don't care about making MONEY OR TOURING, etc. I just write & love it.
Matt: You get some great sounds and production from the privacy of your own home. Care to share some of your secrets with other home recording enthusiasts?
Shawn: Keep it simple. My studio is the simplest & cheapest set up ever. Avoid all the toys. If you have an idea, you should be able to turn on and record all the instruments and vocals in less than 10 minutes.
Vocals - direct to computer - I just add compression using Cool Edit
Guitars - this demo was recorded using a pocket size Marshall amp that hooks onto your belt loop and uses a 9volt
battery. Newer tracks sounds created using my GT-6 effects processor plugged into a mixer head (for a little extra
treble) then into the computer.
Bass - direct into computer. Some tracks run through my GT6 Boss processor for compression.
Drums - older tracks are just programmed with fruity loops/
new tracks are recorded with the Alesis DM5 electronic Kit which every drummer should own as a practice kit!!!!
Matt: I've used the Alesis DM5. (My brother Kyle has that kit right now) Do you use the preset kits?
Shawn: I don't use any preset kits. I combined my fav sounds into 1 kit and stick with that.
Matt: Are you a fan of MP3? What's your take on the whole i-tunes, buy 1 song at a time, situation?
Shawn: I am an Mp3 whore. I have yet to buy music from the internet though. I am for it. There are too many good bands to buy everyones CDs, so buying a song at a time seems fair. A world without Mp3's is simply a world where I would only get to listen to what the radio plays & never discover allot of music.
Matt: Ever get writers block? If so - what's the cure?
Shawn: Writers block happens all the time, there is no cure. It just comes & goes. Last year I didn't write a single song till the Christmas Holidays, where I wrote 14 songs in 2 weeks. Going to a good inspiring concert is a good motive for writing though.
Matt: What was your first on-stage live experience like?
Shawn: You heard about the butterflies in the stomach... fucking true. lol It was a high. It was a grade 8 talent show performing Strutter (KISS) with Bryan Caddotte, (Po from Square Root Of Margaret as the drummer) scary but so cool.
Matt: How do you write songs?
Shawn: Usually I write a guitar melody first, then throw some chords over it. Then record me mumbling words to create a melody. Then I go back and write real lyrics mimicking the melody I pre recorded.
Matt: What are your plans now that you've sort of cleared out your collection of demo's. Write more demo's ?
Shawn: Exactly. Releasing these demos allows me to clear my head and begin a fresh session of new ideas, It kind of breaks the rut now that all these mixed up ideas are released. record record record
Matt: Didn't you tour in some pretty major events when you were in Janet Theory? Care to share any stories from that?
Shawn: Ya, we did allot of big things but we were all amazingly good friends. We were never about ego or saying we did this & that. It was the real deal. Real people doing something too fun & we thanked everyone all the time for making our band life incredible. A few nods were,Doing Warped Tour a few years in a row, Budweiser commercial auditions in TO (that was strange), clothing companies giving you free clothes, just everything was great. Allot of the stories just can't be told.... sorry... I pledged the silence. LOL
Matt: Is there a Janet Theory re-union on the horizon?
Shawn: No plans. We had a blast & then it comes to an end. No regrets. If in the future we are all interested in doing the same things again, then why not, but right now, we are all doing what we like. I love all the guys, but we as musicians, it is very friggin rare you can get 5 guys to enjoy making a certain music for a very long time, it is not normal. Maybe ACDC, or the Rolling Stones, but that is 1 in a million.
Matt: For our technical readers, care to describe your studio setup?
Acid 2.o for actual recording. ( Early version but more than does it's job)
Fruity Loops - for all loops and click tracks.
Boss GT-6 effects processor - guitar sound.
Peavey 6 channel head - mixer head for extra equalizers.
DM5 electronic drum kit - record without any volume while the kids sleep. lol
Bass & vocals direct to computer. use cool edit program for compression.
Matt: Was this album mastered in any way?
Shawn: No. This is a demo how demos should be... A demonstration means the idea captured before the band fine tunes the song or even gets to produce it into a prefect idea!
Matt: Can you remember any particular piece of gear, or guitar that you've sold or lost, and now hate yourself because of it?
Shawn: Our band room was broken into before & a 12 string my Dad gave me was taken. I miss that thing.
Matt: Sorry, but I gotta do another generic question... What one sentence best describes your outlook on life.
Shawn: If you're raised with a good set of morals & explore what you are meant to become, then shit will all fall together, don't worry.
Matt: Got any good Corn-stock stories?
Shawn: Ha ha ha!!!
We played so many events like that it just blows my mind how lucky we were. I remember that girl climbing the lighting rig & stripping. I remember girls getting naked for the band all over. I remember girls chasing us around trying to get different band members in the corn fields to do the ditty. It sounds funny, but it was pretty crazy when I think back. I am not saying that all the guys did crazy shit all the time, but crazy shit was always there waiting for ya if you wanted it. I remember walking around Cornstalk & signing peoples bodies, It was nuts. I got sick juring the KISS cover band. Acid was a drug used by many.lol
Matt: How many Kilometers and/or Miles would you say you've put on touring? (How far away have you gone?)
Shawn: We never did too much. It was always weekends. Montreal, to Mid west USA
Matt: In many of the Janet Theory touring pictures, there are always many wild and crazy female fan's present, climbing all over yourself and the band members. This must have been very annoying - what should be done to control this problem ?
Shawn: Funny Mathew. No comment. lol. It is a moment. Seeing bands live is fun, & it is always when people are drinking & having fun. There is no problem unless you are married or dating... I always had a girlfriend & I never cheated ever. It was fun to hang out. It's rock & roll, nothing more. Those who cheat, they do get caught.. & well.. it's their fault for being stupid.
Matt: Do your kids know that Dad is a local rock icon?
Shawn: My Kids love music. I spend allot of my time with my children musically getting them to sing & improvise lyrics while I play a riff. They love it. Icon is pretty steep, thanks man, but the kids do get the connection that Music is just something they feel. it is cool to see something like that naturally in them. My goal is for my kids to become
great people that peeople want to insprie to be. To love life for what life is really about... family, sharing, fun & just being nice... god dammit... lol
Matt: Well I don't think "local rock icon" says quite enough. Thanks for the great album, and the great interview.
You can pick the Demo Kid CD up from Frank's Music (Downtown Chatham) for $5.