Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Henry French

Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Henry French & The ShamelessThe band that I am sitting with today truly understands what it takes to put on a rock show. The first time I saw these guys perform was at a battle of the bands put on by the Hard Rock Cafe. They did not win the battle, but they left a lasting impression. Their lyrics are honest, stemming from real life experiences. You can even see it on his face as he sings. Matching that with good old fashioned rock and roll music makes for a perfect combination to melting faces. On top of all of that these guys are true gentlemen and can spark up a conversation and share a beer with you without provocation. Sit with me today as I am about to introduce an incredible band to you. These guys come from Indianapolis, Indiana and it is my pleasure to introduce you to Henry French and the Shameless.

Where did you come up with that name?

The Shameless was my doing. It just happened to fit the conversations the band tended to have mid-practice. To say there is a very DARK sense of humor between the members would be an understatement. 99% percent is unfit to print…just saying.

How long have you guys all known each other?

I’ve known KC the longest. He and I worked together at Guitar Center for a while, and that’s also how I met Derek. Derek was in Pro Audio, and KC in guitar…funny enough, no one even knew Derek played drums til he showed at an open mic I used to host…that’s where Derek started this road to the band as it is now.

How long have you been playing together?

As this band its been about two years.

Any tattoos in the band?

KC, and myself. Derek wants one, but he can’t decide whether to get a tramp stamp, or barbed wire around his bicep surrounding the StarFleet logo.

Who has the most?

KC I think…mine’s bigger though…the tattoo as well.

What is your favorite venue to play?

Too close to call…has a lot to do with the crowd. I’d say favorite crowd was the Vogue playing with Cracker. They weren’t there to see us, but a LOT of people left as new fans. That makes it a good gig, and place to play.

What is the largest crowd that you have ever played for?

We’ve all played with other bands in the past that had pretty good sized gigs at one point. Mine would actually be in South America…had the chance to play in front of about 15,oo people at an all day festival…brought the rock, scared the shit out of them with pyro…very Spinal Tap.

The smallest?

I played a gig at a coffeehouse once for the employees only…two left halfway through the gig. You know you’re killing when the venue downsizes mid-set.

Who writes all your lyrics?

I do.

Where do you get inspiration for a new song?

I write about people but I love twisting the words present duality and juxtaposition. The crux of the lyrics and most of the songs is simple…the music has too feel good and be accessible (generally the same thing), but I try for depth in the lyrics; too many people have forgotten that in current songwriting.

Have you ever co-written with anyone?

Lots…different perspectives make me a better songwriter, and reassure me I DON’T know everything.

What was it like being featured in the Ambassadors of Rock this year?

Cool. It seems like it would’ve been a good opportunity had the promotion done more for the bands that didn’t advance to the national elimination. Last Good Year certainly deserved the win.

Who designed your EP cover?

Marshall Jones. He does a lot of the artwork for The Elms and Indy Uprising…just a truly gifted, AMAZING artist. The collage vibe he did for us was pretty much the perfect vibe for what we do.

Do you guys have any thoughts on a nation wide tour next year?

Money. Touring nationwide would be awesome, but money is always hinders. Time to start stripping on the weekends again. My stripper name? 

Do you guys have jobs outside of music?

We do, but they all relate to music. The music biz is a lot like the mafia; once you’re in, you’re in for life, and everything you do is related to music somehow. It’s an affliction and a passion all at once.

What is like working with Spatula City Records?

(Laughs) That’s our own label shall we say. We recorded at my neighbor’s house (John Madden by the way…real name), after discovering he had a great room with beautiful reverb. It was perfect for he open, older-rock-school record we wanted. Spatula City was the name he chose, and after taking over his house for too long, his call goes. UHF reference for the uninitiated…

What are your thoughts on MySpace?

I had thoughts on it, but I posted them on Facebook right before it crashed while  I was in a text window.

Are you guys on Twitter?

Yup, but I can’t get a word in edge-wise.

So how do you know Davey?

He owes me money. And I remember the fact that he used to have hair that made him look like Carrot-Top. (kidding, but not really) I’ve known him for around ten years now, and somehow, he keeps showing up on my couch some mornings. He’s my “guy-on-the-couch”. Okay, I’m done. Davey is one hell of an entertainer. If he gets the opportunity, he’s gonna surprise a lot of people. Just not me…cuz I’m smart…and an inspired dancer.

If you could live anywhere other than Indianapolis where would you go?

I’ve lived everywhere…Spain, Peru, Panama, Argentina, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, East Coast and more. I live here by choice, not necessity. As much as people complain about he state, city, or midwest in general, this is a great town, and I’m proud to say I’m Indy.

Who designed your logo?

Me again. The things you can do with Photoshop.

Who are some of your biggest influences?

Music…The Damnwells, Will Hoge, Foo Fighters, The Replacements, and anything that is transparently HONEST. Lyrics…Jeff Buckley, Leonard Cohen, Alex Dezen (the Damnwells) Nick Hornsby (writer), Dylan Thomas, W.H. Auden, and anyone who strives to be transparently HONEST. There is a dearth of honesty at every turn nowadays. Honesty, albeit brutal sometimes is the most precious natural resource we’ve used up as a coomunity.

Let’s say that you are offered a $250,000 record deal but it someone else’s lyrics and it is a rap album. Do you do it?

NO. Not without a 1981 Caprice rollin 26” chrome in the deal. Oh, and snitches get stitches.

What is your association with Mardelay?

Great friends, great musicians, and bandmates. I’ve been playing with them for about 6 months now, and we’re working on the next recording now. Like any musician, I play with the people I want to, until I have to choose a specific project. For now, I split my time between Mardelay and the Shameless. With Mardelay, it’s a great relief just being a member of the band, and not the leader…whole different role that I get to relish at different points. Playing makes any musician better, and I enjoy improving every day with Mardelads.

Where do you see yourselves in the next five years?

Regretting the answer to this question…and content with the caliber of my art, as opposed to the general acceptance of it. Granted, I’m not trying to push the bounds of conventional songwriting and music production in general, but I am trying to keep true to what affected me in the music I love…reverence and respect for those that came before, and unfettered honesty in the ways that I speak. Five years, ten or 50 years later…THAT DOESN’T GO AWAY.

I always let the artist get the last word. Go.

Strategery…maybe Lock box.