Sean Perry of the Shakes saw death at an intersection and therefore was confronted with two roads he could take: fearing the world or embracing it. He chose to embrace it. That is what the Shakes new song, “With Every Moment “ is about, realizing the temporariness, and fragileness of life, and therefore wanting to embrace it.
I say “wanting” because the singer sings about attempting to rid himself of worries. He is on the road to living in the moment. Complete mindfulness cannot be achieved in a day or even a month, it takes time. The Shakes explain:
I want to live a life of happiness, in which I forgive all the mistakes I made.
After the near-death experience, he realizes he can go out and fully enjoy life, or he can hide from it. The song in itself is a journey, which plays off of the initial roadway incident that inspired the song.
The song has a great and catchy beat with a fresh sound. The instruments blend with the band’s voices, working with them. There is a confidence in his voice but also a dismay. He wants to be free of constraints, of past mistakes.
The song also has some car imagery in it that alludes to the accident directly, the singer sings:
I am drifting left to right, it’s no surprise maybe, losing my mind maybe. You could come and call me down I am feeling left behind.
The image evoked is that of a car cruising down a high way with lights blurring by. There is an impersonal-ness and a beauty to that. Although he resolves to enjoy every moment, the song is still tinged with darkness, since those moments will all be tinged with the shadow of death.
Want to find out more? Check out The Shakes on Twitter below, but be sure to come back to hear more about “With Every Moment”, what inspired it, and how it was made.
How did you get into music and songwriting?
I’ve been surrounded by music my entire life. My mom and dad were in radio for 20+ years, so music was constantly playing throughout the house. I was involved in basketball for most of my childhood, but I broke my arm freshman year of high school and got cut from the team. I went home that night devastated, didn’t know what to do with myself. Then I realized that my cast was in the perfect 90-degree angle to be able to pick up a guitar and play. That’s when I first started writing songs.
Do you remember the first song you ever wrote?
I think it was a song called, “Water”. Wrote it with one of my best friends Jeff Vanags in my back room, we were about 15.
Why do you write songs?
Writing songs gives me a platform to be able to express myself freely. I feel no judgement from people or constantly being worried about what other people are saying about me. When I write a song, it’s to let all of my emotions/feelings escape my mind.
What part of writing comes easiest to you?
Beats. I can make that shit up on the fly.
How did you find your current style?
Like I mentioned earlier, both of my parents raised me every type of genre you can think of. My dad raised me on The Who, U2, The Cure, Rolling Stones, Boz Scaggs and Hendrix. My mom raised me on infectious voices of Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday and all those crooners, to Fleetwood Mac and Michael Jackson. The boiling pot of influences flows deep. I’ve tried my best to tie them all together and create the sound of The Shakes.
What makes a song good?
What makes any song good? Really? Everybody has a different opinion. But my opinion is a song that makes you feel something. A song that makes you feel ANY emotion is a good song.
Which song by another artist does that for you?
Oh gosh, there are countless artists who do that. I don’t want to name a specific song, but Dallas Green of City and Colour hits home for me on every song he writes.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a songwriter?
Stay true to your sound, don’t let anyone get in the way of what you’re trying to accomplish.
Where do you start when you write a song?
In my living room, where I sleep on the couch.
Would you rather write about personal experiences or general themes, and which approach comes more easily?
In my phone, I have more than 500 notes on my day to day experiences. I think it’s a mixture of both, honestly. You can write about a personal experience that becomes general themes over time. When I try to piece together lyrics for a song, I’ve found that my best songs have come naturally to me, not forced.
Do you put more emphasis on lyrics or sound? Which would you consider more important?
Lyrics 100%. Ever since I was a kid I always felt that lyrics were the fastest way to connect with a song. Robert Plant, Morrissey, Bono, Pete Townshend, Bob Dylan, Dallas Green, Matt Healy, Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, Gerard Way, Brendon Urie… All of these poets have affected generations of young people throughout the years with their words. One day I hope to be up there with their names.
What emotions, thoughts, feelings do you want your music to inspire?
Music affects everybody in different ways, I don’t like to think about how others will feel when they hear a Shakes song. I write about situations that everybody can relate to in one way or another, it scares me to get inside the heads of people that are listening. fuck that.
What role does production play in your writing?
Production can turn a terrible song to a good song. Production can turn a good song into a terrible song. There is a tremendous amount of trust that an artist and a producer have to have with one another. Josh Brooks is one of the few producers that I can trust with my music. I bring him demos and shit and he’ll tell me straight up if they’re good or bad. In the music industry, it’s hard to find people that are honest with you, and that’s why I think
Josh and I work well with each other.
Do you tend to start with a goal to write towards, or do you shape the track along the way?
I start with an idea and work from there.
What was the first part of With Every Moment to be written?
It’s actually pretty funny. The first part I wrote for that song was the outro verse.
Can you talk a little bit about the event that inspired the track?
A little over a year ago, I was involved in a near death experience. Coming home from a friends house at 1 in the morning, a driver cut me off going through a yellow light. I immediately slammed on my breaks and I watched the car sail through the yellow light. In the middle of the intersection, another car came and t-boned him, causing the car to flip over multiple times… It was one of the loudest sounds I have ever heard… Police cars, fire trucks, ambulance… filled the intersection minutes later. I was in shock, my hands couldn’t let go of the steering wheel, slowly opening the door, I made my way out to the middle of the intersection. Staring into the chaos of what had just happened. The police asked me questions about the crash, I told them everything I could… then got back in my car and drove home.
What made you want to write about that experience and how it shaped you?
The whole experience was a wake-up call for me. I went home that night and felt thankful to be alive. It made me realize that every day is not guaranteed. People take life for granted, every time you step out your door you never know what life is going to give or take from you. The whole situation inspired me to write the lyric:“I want to see this life from a perspective different from me and cherish every moment.” That shit hit home.
The track is actually pretty mellow considering the theme, was that a conscious choice?
Originally, the track started with a guitar and a faster beat. I wanted this song to stand out from the others on this EP. I added in a melody filled with mellotron, flutes, and even a shitty gospel choir plugin I found on logic. I wanted the overall song to sound like you were at a funeral in 1978, dressed in confetti.
What do you want listeners to take away from this song?
It’s a song with pandora’s box filled with emotions. It can be classified as a depressing yet joyful song. Take what you want from it, I hope it finds its way into peoples hearts the way it did for mine.
What’s next for you in terms of upcoming music/shows?
We’re planning a west coast tour here pretty soon, we also just signed up for SXSW. OH and expect a MUSIC VIDEO to be releasing here within the next month.