NYC Band Baby Shakes Has Hit A Stride

Tom Gallo

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Tom Gallo is the host of Look At My Records! on Radio Free Brooklyn.

Back in 2005, Baby Shakes formed over a mutual appreciation for rip-tastic power-pop and bubblegum punk. Their upbeat songs and vintage sound has earned them legions of fans in Brooklyn and beyond.

Baby Shakes is on a roll, releasing three albums over the past four years. Their most recent album, “Cause A Scene,” dropped last week on their own imprint Lil’ Chewy Records. While the quartet continues to shine through their shimmering melodies and punchy hooks, their latest effort is injected with just the right amount of rugged edge to further accentuate their rambunctious style of power-pop.

Now that “Cause A Scene” is out in the world, we sat down with Baby Shakes to talk more about the new album, their process for recording and what’s next.

Congratulations on the new record! You’ve been a band for about 14 years now and your first full-length came out a little more than 10 years ago. How do you think your sound has evolved on this record over the course of time?

A lot of elements have stayed the same, but with this record we tried to draw more on glam influences and go back to our punk rock roots. We grew up listening to punk from the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. We’ve also added a couple of different instruments and we experimented a little bit. We used a Moog organ on a couple songs and we played around with some different tunings. It’s still a Baby Shakes’ album, though, as it has a lot of the same elements.

I feel like I heard some distinctive guitar tones on the track “Wasurenai Wa.” What type of guitars did you use in that song and other songs on the record?

We used a guitar in Nashville tuning on that track, but we turned it way down. It’s almost like it creates a 12-string effect. We used Rickenbackers, a Telecaster and the Gibson SG for more of a thick, glam-rock feel. We were looking for a heavier tone.

This record is a little heavier musically and thematically at times. What inspired that? 

We just tried to capture our live sounds more. People are always saying two things when they see us. They’re usually like, ‘You guys are really small!’ We think they expect us to be really tall or something. The second thing is that people tend to say we sound a lot tougher and heavier live compared to our recordings. For some reason, all of our recordings always come across as more power pop-y and kind of jangly. So, we just wanted more of a live show feel on this record.

Did the band record live together to capture that? What was the process for recording?

We recorded rhythm guitar, bass and drums live together then we kind of went back and did overdubs. Then we recorded lead guitar after that. We just started layering after that — adding more guitars, percussion, synths. So, initially, the skeleton of the recording was just bass tracks, drums and rhythm guitar.

Who’d you work with on this record and where’d you record it?

We recorded at Metropolitan Sound, which was really convenient because it was right around the corner from our practice space. Since we recorded during the winter, it was nice to just go around the corner to a very cozy convenient spot and we made it our home for a couple of weeks. Mitch Rackin mixed the record. He mixed our last album as well.

After about seven years between your first and second records, the band has now released three records in the last four years. Do you feel like you’ve hit a songwriting groove?

Yeah, definitely. Especially now that we have Ryan, our drummer who has been with us for several years. It’s been a lot easier to finish songs because we have a drummer that’s dedicated to the band. For the first album, we had a drummer, and then there was a break between the first and second record because we didn’t have a drummer that we jived with. When you’re in a band, you just want to find the right person. Since Ryan joined, it’s just been much easier to jam out regularly. He gets our sound and fits perfectly with our style.

What does the band have planned for the rest of the year?

We’re touring in Japan during the first few weeks of November. Next year we want to tour Europe. We really want to go back to Scandinavia. One of our goals is to tour in Australia, which would be amazing. We’re also playing “Double Parked A Street Festival” in Jersey City on October 12.

What Brooklyn based bands would you recommend to Bushwick Daily readers?

We really love Dirty Fences and The Josephine Network, who both played at our record release show. Brower, Daddy Long Legs, who are on tour right now. Oh, and Cheap Sneakers.

You can purchase “Cause A Scene” on vinyl via Bandcamp.  Don’t miss Baby Shakes performing at the Double Parked A Street Festival on October 12 in Jersey City, N.J.

All images courtesy of Baby Shakes.  Cover photo by Nathan Frohnhoefer.

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