Saturday, June 28, 2008

Shot Baker 'Takes Control' on new album

In July of 1946, shot Baker was a shallow-water nuclear test conducted by the United States Navy to determine the effects of atomic detonations on ships. The test sunk eight ships. And because shot Baker kicked so much ass, the deep water test was canceled. Little did anyone know, the Baker blast would be reincarnated in the 21st century and its energy distributed among four musicians hailing from Chicago, who would keep the name and the effect alive.
Shot Baker was born from the ashes of lead singer, Tony Kovacs’s former band, The Poonanies and drummer, Chris Gach’s former band, The Dorks.
“Chris was the main promotion guy in his band and I was the main promotion guy in my band,” Kovacs said. “When our respective bands broke up, Chris and I decided to get together and start a band and the goal was to be a real working band, not to completely half-ass it and try to take the music thing as far as we could.”
Since then, Shot Baker has released an EP titled “Time To Panic” and two full-lengths. The most recent of which, “Take Control,” was just released on Tuesday, June 24.
“It’s a lot like everything else we’ve put out in a sense that it’s a lot of harder-type punk rock with kind of a mix between faster songs and mid-tempo type songs,” Kovacs said. “I’m pretty happy as far as lyrics, because that’s what I do. And not to sound totally boring, but it’s a lot of the same stuff, I mean it’s a similar style. We don’t experiment that much. We know what we like and go with it.”
Gach thinks the lyrics in the album are a lot more personal than in “Awake” and “Time To Panic.”
While the new music has stayed true to its roots, “Take Control” shows growth for the individual musicians as well as their interaction with each other.
We went to the studio to record “Awake” and Tony didn’t have final lyrics for some of the songs and so we were doing backups and not even knowing the lyrics for the songs, Gach said.
But for “Take Control,” Shot Baker has a few years worth of shows under its tough, worn belt and the band members have gotten to know each other a lot better.
They figured out the hard way that they can be stuck in a van for 32 hours together and not want to kill each other. They drove from Phoenix to Chicago in one drive, taking shifts. Right outside of St. Louis, their van broke down, a mere six hours from Chicago.
“We were on the road for 24 hours straight and then the van breaks down. With all the touring so far, we’ve all gotten along really well, which is a really good thing,” Gach said.
Just as they fit nicely together outside and on the road, they work well with each other inside the studio.
“We’ve really become a lot more comfortable with each other as far as writing goes and we have a better idea of what works and what doesn’t. We bounce off of each other better than in the past and I think it shows in the music,” Kovacs said. “Well, hopefully it does.”
But when making “Take Control,” the band focused on quality and not just getting the record out. When they had enough material and were ready, they went in and recorded it.
The themes in the songs off "Awake" and "Time To Panic" range from confusion, anger and frustration to sincerely introspective lyrics concerning life and even love.
“The album title is kind of the general undertone of the whole album,” Gach said. “That’s my take. If you listen to every song, it’s more about live in the now. Take control. Do what you want to do and don’t just settle and let shit fly by (because) when you look back, shit’s gone.”
“Awake” was a bit more scattered and some of the songs weren’t so personal, he said.
“Take Control” features 11 songs, short and sweet.
Shot Baker has a philosophy based on that “short and sweet” feel. It applies to their albums and live shows.
It’s definitely better to see to a band for about 30 minutes or less and find yourself wanting more than to sit through them for longer than you’d like and never want to see or hear them again, Gach explained.
“We figure that less is more in a sense,” he said.
Shot Baker is signed to Riot Fest Records, an up and coming Chicago label. “Take Control” will be the label’s second release. “What Poor Gods We Do Make: The Story and Music Behind Naked Raygun” was its first.
They like the fact that their band is the only one signed thus far because Riot Fest puts all its effort into them and what they want to do.
“Us and Riot Fest, we’ve actually grown to have a really strong personal work relationship with them,” Gach said. “It’s not just business. They really believe in what we’re doing. They believe in us and we believe in their label as well, so it’s on a really cool level like that.”
The “Take Control” record release show will be held at 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 26 at the Beat Kitchen (2100 W. Belmont) in Chicago. Admission will be $8 and the show is 17+. This will be the last show on a string of tour dates and will act as a sort of “homecoming” for the band.
“Normally at the end of a tour, you’re like a machine, so we wanted to be as good as we possibly can,” Kovacs said.
Shot Baker will kick off its tour Monday.
Check them out at here and be sure to catch them live if they pull through your neck of the woods.

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