Eureka Springs is in for a one-of-a-kind musical experience this weekend as Fayetteville-based, internationally acclaimed group Randall Shreve & the Sideshow brings its wine-soaked flavor of indie rock to Squid and Whale Pub on Saturday night. The band's music, which has been described as "Vaudeville Rock," derives its unmistakable sound from influences such as Queen, Muse, The Beatles and Jeff Buckley, but it plays them against the dark and sultry backdrop of cabaret sounds. While the rock is thoroughly modern, it exudes the ambition, grit and glamour of Old Hollywood and manages to transport the listener back in time to an earlier era. Fans have come to expect not only exceptional musicianship from their live shows, but they also get a unique entertainment experience. Audiences never leave disappointed.
Randall Shreve and the Sideshow last year was nominated for two Independent Music Awards: Eclectic Album of the Year and Song of the Year. IMA judges last year included Keith Richards, Tom Waits, Michael Franti, Ozzy Osbourne and Tori Amos.
Shreve and his brother, Benjamin del Shreve, originally became widely known in the music industry during their time playing and singing in the Christian Rock band GS Megaphone, which was nominated for multiple Dove Awards and American Music Awards before it disbanded and the Shreves struck out on their own. Since then, they've continued to make their mark on their respective music scenes.
About a year ago, I visited with Randall Shreve when his newest album debuted. Following is the transcript of my interview with him, followed by additional interview excerpts from IndependentMusicAwards.com, which also features an lengthy visit with the talented musician on its website.
Me: How long have you been working on this new album?
Shreve: All in all about 3 years, but I've been working really hard on it for the last year. It has 13 tracks on the album; it was cut down from 22 -- I always seem to start with a lot of songs and end up cutting it down from there.
Me: What has been your source of inspiration -- your muse, if you will?
Shreve: There have been several, but musically they are Jeff Buckley, Queen, and Muse, and with this album, Tom Waits was also an influence in some areas. (His favorite Queen song? "My Melancholy Blues," he says.)
Me: Compare the sound and style of your new album with the last album?
Shreve: The best way is to say, I guess, that they're similar stylistically, but where the last album was brandy and wine, this one's whiskey and gin -- a little more trouble (he laughs).
Me: What's your favorite song on the new record? Why?
Shreve: It keeps changing, but right now it's a song called "Change"; I like the instrumentation in it, and the honesty -- it's a more obvious part of the album's story (it's a concept album, with a theme or story throughout), where the character is becoming aware that he's not alive anymore.
Me: When did you first know you wanted to be in a band?
Shreve: I always did, there are photos of me from when I was barely able to stand at the microphone -- I was born loving to perform and sing.
Me: Describe the dynamic in your songwriting and recording process -- how does it work for you, and what's it like?
Shreve: I generally start with the melody -- very rarely do I start with lyrics -- and work on it in the car and on my patio, then I'll add acoustic guitar, then additional parts. I'll then take it from there to the studio and do at least a first draft of it, but we will go through three or four recordings of a song before we get to the final version. Sometimes getting to the finished song that's in my head takes a while. For this album, I started working on the lyrics on the patio and ended up finishing them on the very last night in the studio. (It was recorded at Insomniac Studios in Fayetteville, which he owns with Adam Putman.)
IMA: Who are your influences?
Shreve: Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, Tom Waits, Charlie Chaplin and Freddy Mercury.
IMA: Describe your nominated work.
Shreve: "The Jester" is a full-length concept album with a melting pot of rock, 1930s jazz and pop.
IMA: Did you use any unusual effects or instruments in this recording?
Shreve: Accordions (unusual for rock music).
IMA: Were there any happy accidents while in the studio, or did everything go as planned?
Shreve: Many happy accidents. But I was planning on having happy accidents so everything went as planned.
IMA: What artists are you listening to that would surprise your fans?
Shreve: Dwight Yoakam, Mika, Scissor Sisters. I don't know that my fans are ever surprised.
IMA: How do you discover new music?
Shreve: From friends I know who enjoy the same things as I do.
IMA: How will musicians make a living if fans continue to expect music to be free?
Shreve: By creating unique live experiences. The creative process isn't meant to stop when you have your audio creation in your hand.
IMA: What don't fans/audiences understand about the music industry today?
Shreve: They don't understand that they are often being force-fed trends and fads. Fans should tell the industry what is popular. The industry should have no say in what's popular.
Randall Shreve & The Sideshow's performance at Squid and Whale Pub begins about 9 p.m. on Saturday.
Following is the schedule of live entertainment for Eureka Springs venues for the coming weekend:
* Chelsea's, 10 Mountain St., 479-253-6723: Gina Gallina and Her Little Big Band, 9 p.m.
* New Delhi Cafe, 2 N. Main St., 479-253-2525: Skillet Lickers, 6 p.m.
* Squid and Whale, 37 Spring St., 479-253-7147: Open Mic Musical Smackdown featuring Bloody Buddy and Friends, 7:30 p.m.
* Berean Coffee House, 4032 E. Van Buren, 479-244-7495: Live music, 7 p.m.
* Cathouse / Pied Piper, 82 Armstrong St., 479-363-9976: Chooch, 8 p.m.
* Chaser's, 169 E. Van Buren, 479-253-5522: Karaoke contest, 8 p.m.
* Chelsea's: Homewreckers, 9 p.m.
* Eureka Live!, 35 N. Main St., 479-253-7020: DJ & Dancing 9 p.m. to close
* Jack's Place / Centerstage Live, 37 Spring St., 479-253-2219: Karaoke and DJ Goose, 8 p.m. till midnight
* The Lumberyard, 104 E. Van Buren: DJ & Karaoke, 8 p.m.
* New Delhi Cafe, 2 N. Main St., 479-253-2525: Live music after the Christmas parade
* Rowdy Beaver Den, 45 Spring St., 479-363-6444: Eclectones, 7 p.m.
* Rowdy Beaver Tavern, 417 W. Van Buren, 479-253-8544: Rockin' with DJ Mark, 7 p.m.
* Squid & Whale: The Darrell Gleason Band, 8 p.m.
* Voulez-Vous Lounge, 63A Spring St., 479-363-6595: Bella Donna, 9 p.m.
* Cathouse / Pied Piper: Chooch, 8 p.m.
* Chaser's: Bad Jack Wicked, 9 p.m.
* Chelsea's: Loves It, 9 p.m.
* Eureka Live!: DJ & Dancing 9 p.m. to close
* Jack's Place / Centerstage Live: Thundercrow, 9 p.m.
* The Lumberyard: DJ, Karaoke and Dance, 9 p.m.
* New Delhi Cafe: Skinny Gypsies, 6:30 p.m.
* Rowdy Beaver Den: Eclectones, 7 p.m.
* Rowdy Beaver Tavern: The Dead Armadillos, 7 p.m.
* Squid and Whale: Randall Shreve & The Sideshow, 8 p.m.
* Voulez-Vous Lounge: Bella Donna, 7 p.m.
* Chelsea's: Chucky Waggs, 4-8 p.m.
* Eureka Live!: Customer Appreciation Night specials 5 p.m. to close
* New Delhi Cafe: Skillet Lickers, 11:30 a.m.
* Squid and Whale: "Local Kine" Local Musicians Showcase, 6:30 p.m.
* Chelsea's: Springbilly, 9 p.m.