Former Strawberry Jacuzzi guitarist-vocalist Shannon Candy has made the best of the pandemic isolation situation while holed up at her home in Chicago by recording a batch of songs for her debut solo record ‘So Long‘ released earlier this month.
‘So Long‘ is comprised of 8 from-the-bedroom tracks of Ramones garage punk, bubblegum, and Phil Spector girl-group pop propelled by fuzzed-out guitars and bass, scruffy drum machine beats, and raw, witty, and often venomous lyrics, with a few grenades lobbed at sexism, ignorance, the current state of America, and rampant misinformation. Pretty much 2020 summed up.
It’s cheeky without sounding too angry, carries a DIY aesthetic and Candy has a flair for irresistible pop hooks that will appeal to fans of Tacocat and Hunx & His Punx. Mixed and mastered by Angel Marcloid.
We chatted with Shannon about the album and what’s she’s reading and listening to.
You’ve played in a number of bands, Strawberry Jacuzzi, Peach Fuzz, and Bash Bang, what was behind the decision to record and release a solo album?
I think at the start of the pandemic, a lot of people- including me- thought this was going to be a couple of months of our lives. Over the summer when it was becoming clear that COVID wasn’t going away, I started thinking about how to adapt. Who knows when we’ll be able to get together again- or what that will look like when it happens- so can I figure out a way to do this thing I’m passionate about while in isolation? I started recording songs just for fun, just to pass the time and see what I could create by myself. After 4 or 5 songs, I thought, “Wow- this sounds pretty good actually. Maybe I’ll keep it up and release an album.”
I do really love collaborating with people though. I love the different dynamics that happen with a group. So this is less of a, “Watch out, world! Shannon Candy’s flying solo from now on!” kinda thing and more like, “Oh good- if we all have to live as hermits forever, I don’t have to give up on music.”
You’ve tagged the album ‘discontent pop’ – how did world events – pandemic, politics, protests affect your lyric writing?
I actually wrote most of these songs pre-pandemic. A lot of the themes about feeling frustrated with ignorance and sexism are just evergreen topics in America, unfortunately. So even the lyrics that were written a year ago or more still feel current because nothing’s changed. ‘Ahh America’ is a song I wrote this year after reading so many bad takes on the protests, the lockdowns, and the election. “Love it or leave it” is a phrase that drives me bonkers. First off, because it only works one way. The people who say, “Love it or leave it!” absolutely have their own things they want to change, things they don’t love about America- whether that’s gay marriage or abortion or whatever- but they’re not leaving so why should we? Protesters want this country to be better, they want the people here to be healthier and safer. If you’re looking at police brutality and kids in cages and people dying of preventable illness and going, “Yup- that’s my country! I love it!” then maybe you’re the one who should leave. These are things that should change, that can change, and fighting for that is the most American shit I can think of.
Can we ask for some background about ‘Read a Book’, it sounds pretty vitriolic?
I wrote ‘Read a Book’ about a year ago and it’s the song that just keeps getting more and more relevant. I wrote it because I was frustrated about the insane amount of misinformation out there and how easily people are manipulated by it. It’s wild to think about how much worse it’s gotten just since I wrote the song- people have literally died because they thought some insane YouTuber crying hoax had the same amount of credence as disease experts studying COVID.
In the song, I ask, “What biased bullshit did you choose?” because no matter how cuckoo bananas your views are, you can pick out resources that cater to them. So many people act like baseless conspiracy theories deserve as much consideration as actual research. Anything that challenges their viewpoint is biased because people don’t want to be challenged, they want to be right. They don’t care if information is true as long as it supports how they feel.
Speaking of reading a book. What are you reading these days?
I just finished Michael Ian Black’s new book. It’s written as a letter to his son about what it means to be a man versus what society says a man is and the challenges that come with that. He’s a comedian so it’s funny but there’s a lot of interesting insight and heartfelt stuff in it too. The last novel I read was “The Immortalists” by Chloe Benjamin. It’s about four siblings who visit a fortune teller and find out the exact dates of when they’re going to die and then each of their lives after that.
What are you listening to lately?
I just bought a reissue of “Frumpie One Piece” by the Frumpies so I’ve been spinning that one at home a lot. As far as current stuff goes, I loved Fiona Apple’s new album from earlier this year and also the new Run the Jewels. And then there’s some local favorites that I’m always bopping around to like Bev Rage and the Drinks, Ovef Ow, and Impulsive Hearts.