(Note: This interview was originally posted earlier in 2014 at Hard Rock Nights. The EP “Ready To Blow” is now available. Check out the band’s website for more information!)
Aviator Shades is a Vancouver band that should definitely be on your radar if you have an appetite for genuine rock’n’roll. I’ve listened to their (as of yet) unreleased EP, and watched the band blow up the stage at The Cellar in downtown Vancouver on two occasions, and they are most certainly the real deal: able to rock your socks off live, and also armed with serious song-writing skills.
Recently, Aviator Shades’ singer and bassist Dave Gorman, and guitarist Shaun Michael Thackeray were kind enough to answer some questions for Hard Rock Nights.
First up, if you were to describe Aviator Shades’ music to someone who had never listened to it, what would you say? Be as over the top and biased as you like!
Dave: You probably summed it up best when you described us as “hard, fast, genuine Rock and Roll” in a previous article.
What’s the story behind the band-name?
Shaun: Well, since we think of ourselves a real genuine rock and roll band, it’s best to identify with an iconic rock and roll symbol, and over the years various members of the bands that have inspired us have been pictured wearing the iconic aviator shades glasses… AND it’s a pretty original and unique name.
How did you guys get together?
Dave: I moved to Vancouver from Ireland over 3 years ago with a vision and a dream. After countless auditions and many jam sessions, I finally had the good fortune of finding George and Shaun. In addition to their amazing talents, they also shared that same dream and were willing to go as far myself to achieve it… you could say it was meant to be, We added Spencer to the band on drums recently after a long time trying to find the right guy, we met him last summer in Kamloops at show.
What originally inspired you to want to play music, and want to be in a band and get up on stage? What inspired you to pursue that dream?
Shaun: I first saw The Beatles Anthology documentary on TV at the age of 7 years old, and ever since then the only thing I have ever wanted to do is be in a band and play rock music.
Dave: Ever since I got my first guitar at the age of 12, it’s all I have ever wanted to do, it just felt right.
What bands and musicians have shaped the way you guys want to make music? And do you all have similar influences, or are you all channeling different kinds of inspiration?
Shaun: Thin Lizzy, Guns N’ Roses, ACDC, Whitesnake and The Eagles are among some of our main influences, but really, we pick out from everywhere.
Dave: We all share a lot of the same core influences, but definitely branch out in different directions from there, but everyone tends to stay pretty much within the rock spectrum.
I’ve seen Aviator Shades live and I know you really kick things into high gear when you’re on stage. Do you have any especially memorable or embarrassing moments from performing live? And do you have any particular tracks that you love doing live, whether one of your own tunes or a cover. (I know you do a damn fine version of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World”!)
Dave: Well thank you!!! That one is always fun. My personal favourite to do live is Doin Alright, it’s always such a good rockin time, or our cover of Thin Lizzy’s Emerald. As for memorable shows and moments, I have to be honest and say every show we play in Vancouver at the moment is more and more memorable as our fan base grows and you see people are starting to sing along know when to join in.
Shaun: Ha ha! Well, no really embarrassing moments happen too often, but one thing I can think of is one show, I was playing a solo and was trying to look pretty cool. I was tapping my foot and leaning back, but lost control and almost fell backwards into the drums! I regained my balance before then, but it was obvious to everyone. It’s funny, every time I get big on myself or feel cocky, my girlfriend always leans over to me and says, “Aw, remember that time you fell?” Gets me every time!
How does the writing process work in the band: do you write the tunes together, or is it more of an individual process?
Dave: The band is very much an open forum creatively, While I tend to write a lot of material and may bring in a lot of started idea’s, we are great at working together beyond that to finish an idea off, or take it in another direction it might not have gone if we didn’t have creative input from more than just the guy who came up with the idea first.
Shaun: Dave’s definitely better at coming in with full skeletons of songs and the basic idea. George and I definitely try to bring in the more guitar-related stuff, you know, the solos, harmonies, colouring up the riffs, and adding complimenting parts.
You have an as of yet unreleased EP (which just happens to kick ass). What was your experience like recording that, and what are your own thoughts on how it turned out? Also: do you have a release date?
Dave: It was a huge learning experience really, we were lucky enough to work with Danny Craig of Default fame, and he really taught us so much about song writing and performing and just getting the best out of yourself full stop. I personally am thrilled with the EP and the positive experience that was making it. It will hopefully see the light of day in April.
Shaun: We learned SO MUCH. Yea, the new record kicks, but I just can’t wait for the NEXT one!
Do you have any thoughts on being in a band in the brave new world of social media and instant downloads – what do you think a band has to do in order to thrive in today’s music business?
Shaun: It’s important to embrace social media now than ever because it’s a great free way to get your music and ideas out there. However, no marketing expertise and twitter prowess can gloss over the one, true fact: your band has to be GOOD. You have to have a good image, great songs, be well-rehearsed – really, everything that’s ALWAYS made great bands. Yes, everyone needs to get on Facebook, but NOTHING will ever replace perseverance and a little elbow grease.
What’s the biggest payoff of being in the band? What drives you to keep at it?
Shaun: Definitely playing these songs with these guys. I love this band, and even if we were playing to nobody, I’d want to be a part of it. That being said, I’m glad we’re having some success! The reaction you get to people really getting off on your music, that’s totally cool.
Dave: Yup Shaun has summed it up right there.
What’s next for the Aviator Shades? What are your plans for 2014?
Dave: The plan for 2014 in simple, to release our EP, then tour, tour and tour some more, and maybe hit the studio again at the end of the year.
Shaun: Yea, and God-willing, we’ll be coming to YOUR town!
What bands are you listening to a lot these days – including favorite bands or artists, or even favorite tunes or albums?
Dave: Well the Eagles and finding their way on to my playlist a lot lately, along with some Deep Purple and of course Thin Lizzy, I like to stick with my classics. As for newer bands though, I am really digging Monster Truck at the moment, they’re just too BADASS!!!
Shaun: Well, first off, I want to tell everyone who’s reading this, GO OUT AND BUY AIRBOURNE’S “BLACK DOG BARKING”, if you haven’t already! Seriously, one of the best rock albums I’ve ever heard. Also, I got into them super late, but right now, I’m ADDICTED to Steel Panther! As a huge Spinal Tap fan, I appreciate someone making rockin’ tracks with hilarious lyrics!
Finally, a very scientific question: If you were stranded on a deserted island, which 3 albums would you bring with you?
Dave: Thin Lizzy – Live and Dangerous, GNR – Appetite for Destruction and AC/DC Back in Black.
Shaun: AC/DC – Let There Be Rock, KISS – Destroyer, Ozzy Osbourne & Randy Rhoads – Tribute