Attendees of Savannah’s Punk Mess Festival, held last October in the Starland District, will most likely remember Shouldies.
The Atlanta-based synth pop trio are bursting onto many radars at the moment. They will showcase for the Savannah Stopover Music Festival Friday, March 8 at Congress Street Social Club.
As is the intent of Savannah’s quickly growing Stopover Festival, the Shouldies will travel to the famed South by Southwest Festival after their stop in the Lowcountry. The tour is in support of their debut record to be released the same day as their Stopover performance.
Shouldies first album is also the first release for the new Graveface Records subsidiary NEVERNOTGOTH records. The new project from Savannah’s Graveface plans to rerelease obscure and classic goth music, in addition to promoting new bands. Vocalist Yancey Ballard says their performance at Punk Mess was a treasure trove of good fortune for the band.
“We played Punk Mess back in October at Graveface records and Ryan (Graveface Records founder) approached us after,” Ballard says. “The agreement to team up was all pretty direct and quick.”
The no frills attitude is a theme for the band and it is one that is undoubtedly working.
“We recorded the full length around this time last year with Graham Tavel in the span of 7 hours,” Ballard explains. “We had been sitting on the recordings for a while, trying to come up with the funds to self release, so when Ryan approached us it was perfect. We’re still all pretty in awe of what happened.”
The synthscape dance party that is the trio’s debut album should appeal to fans of electronic and gothic music. Ballard is a newer addition to the team of John Pierce and Daniel Eberlein who collaborated on several projects in Atlanta before forming Shouldies.
Ballard’s ability to create and deliver relatable, meaningful lyrics appealed to the two Atlanta scene veterans. While the band is intent on making you dance, their goal is also to create accessible lyrics with direct messages. The band says the openness of the album's lyrics come from a process that is not wrought with too much editing or the desire to make something overly vague for the sake of an enigmatic aesthetic.
“Our writing process is pretty stream of conscious,” Ballard says. “I consistently write down little things that mean things to me, and Daniel and John are wizards at what they do. We all get together, I put the words in and it meshes. We don’t really think too hard about anything or edit anything for the most part.”
Heavily influenced by classic synth pop duo Suicide, and 1980s noise pop band Beat Happening, Shouldies employ a few drum machines and synthesizers to create their burgeoning sound. Ballard describes the band’s set up as relatively stripped down for the genre.
“For an electronic band our sounds are pretty raw,” Ballard explains. We use a vocal beats drum machine, vocal bass synth, a Microkorg, and the Arturia DrumBrute drum machine. Our producer Graham Tavel added a lot of special cute little touches to the album.”
The band uses essentially the same set up in live settings in shows that are garnering attention in the Atlanta scene. Ballard seems grateful for the community in Atlanta, and see it growing with the band.
“The Atlanta music scene is really cute,” Ballard says. “The queer music scene is growing so much bigger and stronger by the day and it’s really heartwarming to see and be apart of.”
With their Savannah based label, fans should expect to see more of the band as their music continues to draw more ears. Goth music fans should be prepared to dance at the Stopover showcase, while taking a home a lyrically satisfying record to savor.