Shrimp Boat was formed in 1986 at a woodshop in Chicago. They went public in 1988 playing to the bewildered Chicago music scene. The release of the Some Biscuit and Daylight Savings cassettes chronicled this period. Their debut album, Speckly, was recorded and released on their own Specimen Products imrint in 1989. Following repeated trips to New York City, the band recorded their second album, Duende, in Chicago in the summer of 1990. Shrimp Boat Volume 1 was released in 1991. This limited edition CD contains 70 minutes of music culled from the last six years.
In lieu of a hyped, extended non-sensical biography or history of Chicago's Shrimp Boat, here is an interview conducted via trans-Atlantic mail between Quentin Legrand of Hyacinth Magazine, France and Shrimp Boat's Ian Schneller.
1. Your music is difficult to describe because it is very rich. Where do all these influences, this wealth, come from?
By osmosis we absorb as we hear and cannot help but include into our repertoire the sounds and devices of other music. It is not our intention to create a cryptic or elusive musical form, but perhaps this is an incidental side effect of trying to remain objective throughout our creative process. To us it is more important to respond naturally to the world around us than to pigeon hole ourselves into an accepted format. Ours, hopefully, is the format of objectivity.
2. Your music makes me think about a feast in a village. Do you play for marriages, barbecues or other kind of feasts?
We like to play for any event. Village feasts are among our favorites...They are the essence of true celebration, which is perhaps the most compelling of all musical motives.
3. What about your new album? It is more melodic, more pop as the Small Wonder EP? What is the musical evolution of the band?
Correct. Pop melody is occasionally a focus, sometimes obsessively so. On DUENDE and CAVALE it is our prevalent vocation. There is something so beautiful about the impact of a pop song on a modern culture. The phenomenon of an enduring ephemera is quite the opposite of traditionally evolving folklore. Much like a species that eat their young, our culture now will grovel towards the impulsive at any cost. The opportunity to try and inject some semblance of timelessness into that which is inherently fleeting is irresistible.
As to the evolution of the band musically, it is radial as opposed to linear. I choose to think that we collect as we go, expanding outward as opposed to actually changing verbatim, supplanting one thing for another and thus leaving things behind. Loss is painful
4. I read that during your gigs you improvise a lot. Why not on an album? Is it right sometimes you played 4 hours?
It is crazy!
Why not on an album?
Absolutely. Many of the songs contained on the "studio" albums are "improvised" quite off the "cuff" in one unprecedented rendition. Given the expense of time in the studio a more calculated approach is often warranted. Creativity-I am not bashful.
Four hours spent playing at gigs is not unusual for us.. It is perhaps crazy. Tribal celebration, when it may occur must necessarily embody such stamina. The selected portion of our repertoire on a given evening may include some 40 or 50 songs. We are driven as long as people continue their dervish.
5. Could you talk about Chicago? What kind of music can we hear here? Are people interested by your music?
Chicago. I will show you Chicago. Come to our house on Skid Row. We shall hear many urban noise bands and then I will show you the beautiful industrial remnants which once made this a very interesting place. Particularly the drawbridges crossing the Chicago River and the old factories where the world's finest guitars were once made. Yes, many people do seem to be interested in our music, they come and dance with abandon.
6. Today, urban noise bands seem to have more success than rustic pop folk bands. Why according to you? Are you not disappointed by that?
The momentum of that which is conveniently definable will always take superficial precedence over various forms of isolated passion. It is sad that the singular may not be more celebrated, but disparate efforts, if serious, will always leech into the foundations of the collective and reap their influence regardless of public predilection. A designation such as "rustic pop-folk" is as daunting a classification to me as "urban noise" simply because it seems so specifically limiting, but I suppose such designations must be drawn just as an arrow may try to hit a moving target.
7. Something to add...For the french people who are going to read your interview...
I hope that we may visit your land soon and bring our music with us. If you can dance, and if you smile when you dance, I will leave an enormous aluminum electric guitar stabbed head first, as an ostrich, into the ground as an antithetical testimony to our own grand feast. Liberty.
Line-up on Cavale:
Sam Prekop - Vocals, Guitar
Ian Schneller - Guitar, Vocals
Eric Claridge - Bass
Joe Vajarsky - Sax
Brad Wood - Drums, Sax
David Kroll - Bass, Sax
1988 - Some Biscuit
1988 - Daylight Savings (two limited cassettes for the first burs)
1989 - Speckly (Specimen Products LP)
1991 - Shrimp Boat Volume 1 (Specimen Products CD)
1992 - Duende (Bar/None CD/LP/CS) (Rough Trade CD/LP/CS)
1993 - Cavale (Bar/None CD/CS) (Rough Trade CD/LP/CS)
Spouting only the facts, "Shrimp Boat are just four musicians who've stumbled upon something special, seemingly quite by accident, and have already placed themselves in a league that very few ever attain. Don't miss the Boat." - CMJ. This band began with a love for the freedom of jazz, the highest enthusiasm for a groove, and a healthy appreciation for the beauty of songs. Over the years their singular swing evolved into a stronger and wider hybrid; the fruits of this evolution being especially enjoyed by the loose-limbed members of their Chicago audience. Shrimp Boat: swingin-ass dance band on a bed of melody. Alright then, a little history...
Shrimp Boat was formed in 1986 when members Sam, David and Ian met at a woodshop in Chicago. They went public in 1988 with the addition of Ian's brother Eric Schneller on drums, playing to the bewildered Chicago music scene. The release of the Some Biscuit and Daylight Savings cassettes chronicled this period. Their debut album, Speckly, was recorded and released on their own Specimen Products imprint in 1989. Shortly after its release, Eric resumed his travels and was replaced on drums by sax-man Brad Wood. The live shows continued; bewilderment giving way to gyrating bodies and wide-eyed smiles. Following repeated trips to New York City, the band recorded their second album, Duende, in Chicago in the summer of 1990. Shrimp Boat Volume 1 was released in 1991. This limited edition CD contains 70 minutes of music culled from the last six years. This same year Shrimp Boat and Bar/None joined forces, and the widespread release of Duende was deemed inevitable.
So finally and with great pleasure... Duende ! A fine-tuned balance between previously crafted songs and improvised compositions developed wholly in the studio. Spin it up and toss your bones around the room! Shrimp Boat will embark on their first U.S. tour near the bottom half of March -- swinging through the Midwest and the Northeast. I'll be sure to let you know if you're in the pathway. Oh, and shortly after that, look also for a new 7" ep on utmostly respectable Ajax records. No slowing down now no. (My only hope is that they rock your world even just half as much as they do mine.)
DAVID KROLL - Bass, Banjo, Saxophone
SAM PREKOP - Vocals, Guitar
IAN SCHNELLER - Guitar, Vocals, Trumpet, Drums
BRAD WOOD - Drums, Saxophone