Job description: Songwriter, Satirist, Bullshitter, Producer
Bio: I’ve been kicking the same bag of bullshit around this soon to be no-horse town for longer than I can believe. I write, record, and perform songs, monologues, and poems with others and alone.
I’ll be performing at DiPinto Guitars on Friday, September 2nd. Right now, I am working on Hotel Ginsu, the follow up to my most recent collection, All Pinocchio’s Men. I am also currently in production of a number of music videos of tunes from the last record.
Select links: https://shawnkilroy1.bandcamp.com
You’ve recently parted ways with your band, Weird Hot. Would you like to talk about this?
Sure. Weird Hot got together in 2011 and it had run it’s course creatively. Nothing new was happening, and I thought I’d be happier writing and recording alone than in a group. Having a live band is exhilarating. Though inevitably, it falls into the same rut of creating songs that will “really get them movin” in medium sized bars. I want to do something different than that.
What lead to you starting this solo project?
I was trying to get a new batch of songs going with the band, and it was difficult instead of easy, so I finished the songs on my own and with the help of a few friends. Some of the more exciting ones were the long distance collabs with Art DiFuria (Photon Band) and Doug Anson (Aleister X, Hevvy Leeves).
You recently released a new album, All Pinocchio’s Men. Tell us about it.
All Pinocchio’s Men is the sound of somebody putting one foot in front of the other musically until something felt right/good/done. It is a collection of songs, rants, mantras, lectures, monologues, and poems from the last few years. It’s kind of nasty in places. It’s smug, judgemental and shitty sometimes. It glamorizes a type of street level degradation that I’ve never experienced firsthand. It reveals me to be a petty putz in a lot of ways. It’s also the best work I’ve ever done in my life. It’s sonically satisfying, texturally, and musically, and it’s pretty goddamned funny (to me anyway). And it has saxophone.
Can you discuss the theme or lyrics of a few of the songs on the album?
Saint John Neumann, the album opener is about the “uncorrupt” body of St. John Neumann at 5th and Girard in Philadelphia. His waxy shellacky remains are under the altar at the church on the Northern Liberties/North Philly border. The song discusses his popularity with the locals, then suggests that he’s very well behaved, polite, and domesticated. The whole song rests on the notion that our consciousness remains trapped in the body, even after “life” has departed; that the reason we bury or burn our loved ones is that that total devastation and eradication of the corpse speeds the dead soul on its journey to wherever’s next. So poor St. John Neumann is trapped in that preserved corpse. The second verse suggests that he might rather be either rotting away into oblivion, or out on the street, pimping, gambling, and playin the saxophone instead of being stuck as a tourist attraction. Then his ghost picks up the saxophone and sends us into the night.
Hippy With A Knife makes fun of some of the Charlie Manson types I’ve encountered growing up and as an adult. The bullshit way that misogynist dickhead friends of my parents with long hair would talk shit. The way bikers and junkies and jailhouse types all have that same kind of asshole personality and way of talking. That sort of, “I just wanna be free to do my thing in my time” type of rap, which is fine! It’s just often another smoke screen for white male dominator culture. Real lowlife pimp shit.
Children Of The Valley Of Ashes has a lot of shit thrown in there. “What do you do when your biographer shoots himself?” That’s a question for Kurt from the Lilys. A friend of ours was in the middle of making a documentary about him, and then committed suicide. So I felt sad. For everybody involved, but especially for Kurt. Like, this guy asks for your life story, then right in the middle of it he shoots himself. Way to leave ya hangin. There’s a little bit of DaMone’s rap to Ratner in Fast Times. There’s a little bit of Betsy Ross in a whorehouse in there. The whole thing centers around the idea of the old neighborhood being gone. Not just that your people aren’t there anymore, but that the whole thing that sustained life in that place has been annihilated fully. Also, there’s some Great Gatsby in there. Like a Great Gatsby sequel. Everybody’s lookin at the billboard so they think they live in an ice cream house with an egg sandwich sunshine, but the reality is a poverty that can’t be measured. A less than dirt poor existence. Your entire heritage has been reduced to the ash on your face.
Describe your current work.
Right now I’m completing another album that is along the same stylistic plane as
All Pinocchio’s Men. A little more beat poetry and humor, a little less “day in the life of a depressed junkie” bullshit. I’m also working on the one to follow that. It’s a little more complex musically. I’m trying to write a decent song. That’s the long term goal.
What instruments do you prefer?
I like the fender electric bass, ampeg amplifiers, drums, drum machine, tambourine, triangle, maracas, egg shakers, casaba, vibra slap, electric vibes, castanets, fender rhodes, hammond b3, crumar tocatta, korg electribe, moog sub 37, fender telecasters, martone amps, boss pedals, hand claps, finger snaps, human voices and martin acoustic guitars.
You’ve recently published poetry. Tell us more about this.
Well, I feel that to say I’ve published poetry would mean that it got printed in a book somewhere. If you include the internet, well then Yeah! I had 3 poems published recently. All on the website, Philebrity. The editor in chief over there recently re-tooled the sight to be more arts focused, and he asked me for some work. I sent him about 10 poems and he loved them and has been running them over the last few months. This resulted in me doing a show at Brickbat Books which was a mixed poetry reading and folksong set.
What else are you currently working on?
Videos! Making videos for some of the songs!
What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
I wait till my wife is out of the house, then I do all of the dishes, then I do all of the laundry, then I eat a sandwich, then I look at what netflix I have, then I take all of my bills out and look at them, then I write a bunch of checks, then I go buy a cup of coffee, then I buy some stamps to mail my bills. SHIT! It’s Memorial day, the post office isn’t open right now..then I stare at facebook and see if anyone liked that funny thing I said as soon as I woke up and was extra angry, but felt kind of surreal, then I say “Hey wait! Why am I giving all these handfuls of gold to the Philistines on social media, surely this is the title/theme of my next masterpiece, let me run home and get it recorded.” Somehow, about every year and a half, that results in a new album.
What’s your art/ music background?
I started playing the alto saxophone in junior band when I was in 7th grade. I hated it.
Then my grandma gave me an acoustic guitar and I learned how to play Black Sabbath bass lines and the opening riff to Day Tripper on it. Then I took guitar lessons from a man who loved Clapton with his whole being and I sounded like a slow handed hacker for about 5 years. Then I discovered that Bauhaus and Love & Rockets were the same band and that none of them could play any better than me as they made all of the most beautiful music I’ve ever enjoyed in my life.
Then I was in a bunch of bands. Then I discovered multitrack recording. Then computers happened and I was able to have total creative freedom, hi fidelity sound, and no limits as I made album after album to sell to no one.
What’s been happening in your life?
My step dad and my father both died about 6 months apart from one another about a year ago, so I’ve been sad a lot. My life is good, but grieving is grieving.
What’s next for you?
Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?
I would like to act more. I have a tough time remembering dialogue, though.
Describe your current state of mind.
I’m artistically satisfied. My life is good. I think society is a fuckin disaster, but that’s not my problem. I’m going to do the next right thing, contribute what I can, and not worry about it. I’m not the one who fucked it all up, so I’m gonna try not to want to fix the world. I’ll just do my part when/where I can.
What’s inspiring you?
Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1, 2, and 3. I’m gonna watch 4 this week. The VVitch. Holy Shit is this movie terrifying! Norman Mailer, It Follows, Donald Fagan’s Eminent Hipsters, young people who make art, 2 day upcoming John Carpenter movie fest at the Mahoning Drive In, old people who make art, women in not a lot of clothing because Philadelphia summers are fuckin disgusting, cash money in my fuckin hand, the grand canyon, Pacific Beach, California when I have a beach cruiser, Six Flags Great Adventure with Flash Passes, The gentrification of dickhead Kensington by even bigger dickheads from donthavaclue. Viggo Mortensen, Psycho and Psycho 2, Haylie Pomroy, my orthodontist, Emails from ghosts…
Do you have any shows coming up?
Yes. I will be at Dipinto Guitars on September 2nd.
Is any of your work (music / writing) political?
Eh, kinda. I think it’s probably more personal than political. I am a capitalist, but I want to smash the corporatist system that we’ve devolved into. Those are my politics. I don’t know how much they show up in my work. I’m conservative. I want to conserve money, natural resources, quality education, the middle class, the lives of citizens, the lives of people in oil rich countries. Waste is the only crime.
What is one of the biggest challenges you face as a musician?
It used to be the thought that nobody cares. Now I don’t care if anyone cares.
The work alone is complete satisfaction.
How has the meaning of your work changed over time?
Early on, I felt it was all self defining. As in, I am my work. I’ve come to think that that’s all bullshit. The work is whatever it is, and I’m whoever I want to be.
What do you dislike about your music / writing?
I don’t love the sound of my voice (although I am pretty opinionated and arrogant, and anyone who’s tried to work with me will laugh at that answer).
What is your dream project?
I would love to drive around America and Europe playing small, well attended shows and not have to think about much other than that night’s performance. I’d also like somebody to release all of my albums on vinyl and to give me some money for both of those things.
Are you involved with any organizations or groups?
I like Books Through Bars.
Do you collaborate with other artists / musicians / performers?
Yes! I have lots of musical friends and they’re always joining me on stage or in the studio.
I understand your wife Heather is a singer and dancer, as well? Have you collaborated with her?
Heather was a singer in the early edition of Weird Hot. She sings on my new album a little bit. We collaborate from time to time on art. Mostly we collaborate in life.
What are a few of your favorite spots in Philly?
I like any old buildings.
What are you reading?
The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer.
Favorite authors, fiction:
Robert Anton Wilson
Favorite authors, nonfiction:
Robert Anton Wilson
What are you listening to these days?
Lou Reed, Vincent Gallo, Ariel Pink, David Byrne, Ween, Suicide, The Cure, GBV, The Gap Band, Dennis Wilson, Nick Cave, Jandek, St. James & The Apostles, Cameo, Eurythmics, John Lurie, The Fall, Pet Shop Boys, Andre 3K, Bauhaus, Gun Club, King Tubby, The Blue Nile, Far Out Fangtooth, Sebastian Tellier, and Tough Shits
What was the last show you attended?
Paul Simon at The Mann
Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Yes, Thanks for having me. Your continued interest helps keep me going.
Your website: https://shawnkilroy1.bandcamp.com