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Q&A: Chasing Shade

BY DI STAFF | JULY 11, 2013 5:00 AM

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As local Iowa City band Chasing Shade grows in numbers, so do the players’ ambitions. Seen by many local observers as one of the hardest working bands, Chasing Shade lived up to this title in recent months with the addition of three band members — Jonathan Birdsall on tenor saxophone, Trent Harrison on trumpet, and Blake Shaw on bass — as well as playing gigs in and around Iowa and making plans to record a new EP in the fall. The Daily Iowan sat down with founding members Griffen Harris and Elliot Beenk and new members Birdsall and Harrison to talk about new members, new music, and their plans to record in Los Angeles.

DI: Chasing Shade recently added new members. Why did you choose to bring in new instruments? What was the process of adding the new members?

Harris: We added new members because of our Mission Creek appearance, where we opened for a band called Future Rock. We were a two-piece band with no bass, no keys, no horns, no nothing — just guitar, drums, and two vocals. When we got asked to do [Mission Creek], we were like, “How are we going to fit in there?” I sort of got this idea to add horns, and I had been to a show at the Mill and saw Jonathan. I asked him to join, and then we found Trent and added a bass. We all think it ended up in the best lineup we could have imagined.

DI: How did you go about writing new parts for the new instruments?

Harris: A lot of the horn stuff wasn’t previously written. [We] had vague ideas of what we wanted the sound like.

Beenk: Trent has perfect pitch, which helped a lot of things.

Harrison: [Griffen] would sing something, and we would play it back. If it was nice, we’d write it down. We’d come up with some cool harmonies, and then we worked on memorizing it. We’ve done that for 10 or 11 songs now, with hopes to do a few more before the next clump of performances.

DI: As new members, what do you enjoy most about performing with this group?

Birdsall: It’s a genre of music that I really enjoy listening to. When I was first asked to join, I checked out [Chasing Shade’s] stuff on Spotify. The fact that I liked it so much really got me excited to join. They’re good musicians. They’ve got good things going for them.

Harrison: I’m not really used to playing rock-genre music. I come from a classical background, so this is an entirely new experience for me. It’s a totally different style to play, and it’s been really fun trying to figure out what sounds good.

DI: The band has talked a little bit about recording this fall. How are you getting ready to record?

Beenk: We’re going to do our next EP in LA with Paul Fox, who did some albums with Phish, Björk, and the Wallflowers. We’re working on raising money right now, through Kickstarter and performances. We’re hoping to come out with a bangin’ EP that is going to excite people and that we can stand behind.


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