Live On The Bridge


Shy Boys

Surf pop Kansas City band Shy Boys, performs songs off its critically acclaimed album, Bell House, and talk about interesting times spent in that house with Jon Hart here at KCPT.

AIRED: January 19, 2019 | 0:26:46

(upbeat rock music)

("Take the Doggie" by Shy Boys)

♪ I dropped some food on the ground ♪

♪ It's sad how quickly you scarf it down ♪

♪ Hey bud are you getting fed

♪ Eat up before your real owner comes home ♪

♪ And sees someone leaning

♪ Over his back fence with food ♪

♪ He already doesn't even like me ♪

♪ Your best friend needs somebody what are you waiting for ♪

♪ He's thin as can be

♪ One night I'm leaving here for good ♪

♪ And I plan to take the doggie with me ♪

♪ Your best friend needs somebody what are you waiting for ♪

♪ He's thin as can be

♪ One night I'm leaving here for good ♪

♪ And I plan to take the doggie with me ♪

(upbeat rock music)

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- I'm really excited to have the Shy Boys in.

This has been a long time coming.

We should of had you in earlier.

But we got you in now, and I'm really excited

to do this session; thanks for coming in.

- Absolutely, thanks for having us.

- The Shy Boys, the new album is Bell House.

It's out on Polyvinyl, which is really exciting.

You've got national distribution on this thing.

There's a little muscle behind the release.

- Very exciting, it's been kind of a dream come true

to kind of get to play the music out around the country

and have it in record stores all over the place.

- You know, when bands come in, so much of the music

that we play on The Bridge isn't purely one thing.

And so, then you get into that whole thing

of describing music, which is just horrible.

It's a terrible exercise, right?

But you guys have really helped us out

by providing a couple phrases down through the years:

Land-locked surf rock is one, but the one that I really like

is The Beach Boys on Robitussin.

- A friend of our in town coined that phrase.

And I was like, that's it, that's our tag line, forever now.

- [Jon] Yeah, yeah, yeah.

So, this is the second album for the Shy Boys,

but you guys have been playing around town,

all of you in different bands.

And I was really kinda surprised

that you know, Collin, Kyle, you're brothers,

was your first in the TD Pack Band?

- (laughs) How did you know that?

- Basically.

- I started playing at the Chiefs games

when I was 17 years old.

I was way not good enough to be playing those gigs,

but I landed a gig through good old nepotism.

(laughing) Did it for about seven years.

Ever home game, playing in the end zone,

rain, sleet, snow, everything.

- [Jon] Yeah, how about you?

- I started when I was 17 or 18, also.

I did it for a few years but I was

playing sports in college so

I couldn't come back after that.

- Yeah, well, that's you know,

that's to get you used to big crowds.

- Yeah, 77,000 people

is gonna be the biggest crowd I ever play to.

(laughing) - I think it's still

more terrifying to play to 15 engaged people

than 80,000 people who don't really care.

- Yeah, so, you go from,

was it, you know, hearing Gary Glitter at Arrowhead

all those years that led you to the Abra Cadabras.

'Cause you guys were in a glam band, right?

- Yeah.

I never really made that, maybe that seeped in.

Yeah, we were in a glam band

about 10, 12 years ago now, I think we started,

called the Abra Cadabras.

Yeah, we were doing the makeup and the feather boas

and the glitter and-- - We need pictures.

- Oh, we, we have buried those pictures

in a canister out in the middle of the desert somewhere.

- I've talked to a lot of people who just have

great memories and legendary shows of the Abra Cadabras.

- That's awesome. - We've been playing

for a long time, so, hopefully of couple of 'em stuck.

- Kyle, you and Connor were in the ACB's.

- [Kyle] Mm hmm, still are.

- And still are? - Yeah.

Actually, Collin and Ross and Connor and I

are all the ACBs, you know. - Ah, okay, great.

And then, Full Bloods, as well.

There's just a lot of really great musicianship

and a lot of years that have come into this band.

One of the things that I love about this band

aside from the music is the fact that,

you know, the two of you are brothers

but all of you are best friends.

And it comes out, from everybody, all the time.

Not to say that there aren't things that pop up,

you know, 'cause we're all human.

But just a sense that, it's almost like,

friends first, music second.

- Absolutely, I mean, kinda sometimes the highlight

of my week is getting to go over

to Kyle and Ross's place, they live together now.

Just getting to go downstairs and in the dark basement,

just kinda space out with my friends and play music.

I think Shy Boys, especially in the last couple years

has developed and grown simply

because we're just trying to get hangs together

more than anything else.

And to do that we have to have an excuse

to tell our significant others

so we can get out of the house.

So, we went with that, and that's music.

- Yeah, you know,

the first record on High Dive,

I get the sense that that was more conceptually,

you know, you were thinking of it as a document

of the fun you were having and the music you were making,

without really a whole lot of expectations

what it might do for you in terms of career.

- Yeah,

when we started out,

it was more/less a vanity project.

It was just something that,

just to get together as friends, you know?

And at the time, Kyle and Connor and I lived

in a house together, kind of that,

crappy little house on the block

in a pretty okay neighborhood.

There were no expectations; we didn't know

what we were doing, and it's just one of those things

where our friends wanted us to play a live show.

So we played a live show and then,

our friends wanted to hear a record, so we made a record.

Here we are six years later,

on a major indie label, touring the country,

and making a real go of it.

- Yeah, the vanity project gets written up

in Pitchfork, Spin, and Stereogum.

Were you guys going, what?

- Yeah, no,

we've lucked out so much.

We've really just kind of,

there's just always been open doors in front of us

that we've been willing to walk through.

- Let's go back to the house.

Okay, 'cause Bell House is named after

that house that you were referencing.

I just wrote down some things about the house.

'Cause the house seems to be like, a character.

Right, in your story?

Hole in the kitchen floor; the weeds in the back

were six feet tall; it had mice; it had trash; it had rats;

it had opossums.

Is there anything else that you'd like to add? (laughs)

- Unfortunately, that's all true.


- Brown recluse spiders.

- Oh, yeah, spiders. - Lots of spiders.

- It was its own ecosystem, you could say.

That place. - It was bio-diverse.

- Yeah, I mean, but it was pretty cheap

and we paid our rent on time for the most part.

Our landlord never bothered us.

- Clearly. (laughs)

- It was a great situation for him

because he got good money out of a place

that he probably should've fixed a long time ago.

- Yeah, I mean, he was great,

unless you wanted to fix that giant hole in the floor.

- So, you know,

the living room wasn't a living room, it was a stage.

- [Collin] Yeah.

- And the gear never really got taken down

unless you had to cannibalize it to go play a gig, right?

- Pretty much.

Especially the early stages of the band,

we had several shows there.

We started off with a couch and a TV

and the traditional setup, but I think we moved

it all out for one show and then it never came back.

(chuckles) And really, the could just moved

from room to room

through the years, and got little to no use.

Just full of musical equipment and bags of trash

and just belongings of you know,

we didn't throw anything away; we were pack rats.

- (laughs) It's such a pretty picture.

It wasn't just you that was doing shows at the house.

The ACBs, Conquerors, GJon Tea, all those bands.

- Yeah. - A lot of local bands.

Our cousin K.C. Rousch, he's a local artist, all.

Played one of the shows.

Kief Mountain, Blood Shaman, Metatone,

we had a bunch of good shows there for a minute.

Kinda got to the point where there's too many people

showing up for the shows,

and we kinda had to just take it easy a little bit.

- I was gonna say, I'm sure your neighbors

absolutely loved you guys. - Yeah.

Well, our direct neighbors loved us,

but I actually have a piece of paper in my room still,

that I saved 'cause one of our neighbors down the street,

like, printed off a message from his printer

and signed it saying: Please do not park

in front of my house, and put it on peoples' cars.

Like, go around,

he never really like us.

- We did have a really great neighbor, though,

on one side of us, who had lived in that house

all his life so he'd seen the house we were in,

kinda develop over the decades.

He was really excited to tell us,

once he knew we were musicians, that the band WAR

who did Lowrider, whenever they would come into town,

they would crash at that house and jam

and have these late night parties and stuff.

So we thought it was super cool.

- [Jon] They broke in the neighborhood for you.

- He was coming back, yeah.

The house had lots of good stuff.

- The crazy thing to me is that, you know,

so you've got this first record,

and you've got these friends and you've got this,

sort of, organic, wonderful experience going on,

but there was like, no money.

- There's still no money.


- But it was a dark period because you'd gotten written up

in all these magazines, but offers hadn't come.

To follow that up.

And at one point, finally you guys all moved out

of the Bell House.

And at that point,

this is almost like, you were gonna disband?

- Well,

you know, we never really addressed it like,

you know, we're disbanding or anything.

There just came a point where

the hype died down and we were kinda back

where we had started from, only with larger bills

'cause we'd spent all our time on tour

and not really paying those bills.

We just kinda focused on, you know,

working and doing those other things

just to make ends meet for a long time.

It was kind of a dark time, just 'cause we were all living

together and not really wanting to make music

'cause we had larger problems on our brains.

But it was also a good time because we were able

to develop a couple other projects, musically.

- The studio that you've recorded both of your albums in,

about a block away from the old Bell House.

I'm assuming that going in and recording the second record

was a little different than the first time around?

- It wasn't really that different, honestly.

Because we were kinda back at the same place

that we had started, you know,

as far as the trajectory of the band.

We were in the exact same control room,

almost the exact same gear.

We even brought in our good friend Mike Nolty,

who recorded the first record, who lives in Portland.

We brought him in to come back and do this record, too.

It really felt kinda cozy and familiar.

And a lot of our other projects, ACBs and Fullbloods

and a lot of friends have all recorded and tracked

in West End, there around the corner from Bell House.

So it's just like, a really intimate, special,

quiet place for us. - Mike, the engineer

that you referred to, is actually the one

that connected you with Polyvinyl.

- Yeah, yeah.

He's been a live sound engineer for several

of Polyvinyl's acts, and so, you know,

he records this album, and if he's stoked on it,

it's like, he kinda passes it along to his buddies.

Here guys, check this out on the tour bus or whatever.

We had some friends get stoked on it.

Then they passed it on to the managers

and the powers that be at Polyvinyl,

who hit us up one day.

It's like, hey, what are you guys doing?

You got something cooking?

We just happened to have Bell House all ready to go.

It was just kinda serendipitous how everything lined up.

- This record, the offers that didn't come in the first time

around they're here; you all are touring madly, right?

- Yeah, we're trying to.

We spent a good deal of the first part of the summer

on the road and then we'll be going back out in the fall

and doing the West coast and the East coast

and everything in between.

- So, quitting your day jobs?

- (laughs) I was forcibly asked to quit my day job.


I don't know about that.

I think we've all had to take a step back

from those types of commitments, which has put a little bit

of strain on things, but we're not getting any younger.

This is the time to reach out and you know,

do those crazy things like spend a month on the road.

- When you're forcibly asked to step away,

in true artistic fashion, you use that as fodder.

You and your wife and your dog

moved into your mom's basement.

- Great segway, that's absolutely true.

- Yeah.

It's that weird thing, 'cause you had just gotten married,

and it's like that adult thing, but then you go home

and you're confronted with your adolescence.

- Yeah. (chuckles)

It was a really strange time.

I'm super blessed

to have a good family

who was willing to take care of us.

My mom was willing to take us in

and provide a space for us

while we kinda figured out what our long-term plans

as a couple was.

But it was really strange because, you know,

I could take Whitney, my wife, on a tour through the house

and show her like, okay, that's where I spilled a glass

of Pepsi when I was nine.

That's the patch, there's still a patched hole

on the wall in the hallway where my brother and I, Kyle,

in the band, got in a fight, and I shoved him into it.

And it left a big hole, and that's still there.

All these little signs that I was just a child.

In fact, we slept in a room that had like,

a painting of me as a toddler.

- That is a real turn on. (laughs)

- Yes. (laughing)

It was a very quiet year we spent together as a couple.

- Oh, man, so that came out in the song, Basement?

- Yeah, it just,

I think, there's some sort of,

I don't know, I had to express that feeling in some way.

And we just had a little track

that I just had this thought in my head,

just kinda just, this depressing mantra

of I got a wife, I got a dog, but now I'm living

in my mom's basement.

So I just kinda had that in my head and eventually

it got turned into a little song.

- Yeah, Kevin Morby.

You know, it seems like he discovered your band

after he left town.

- Well, I think he was, he liked the first record,

at least we got word that he liked the first record.

We'd like, reached out, he'd reached out a couple times

and we'd talked, especially since he'd moved back

to the area, you know, we've kinda developed more

of a relationship.

He was willing to write a really nice thing

about the band leading up to the record.

Some insight on what we'd been doing

and what the new record.

He's been a really great supporter of us, especially now.

- I also loved the unboxing video,

when the new album arrived. (laughing)

Just look it up, if you're listening or watching,

just look it up, the unboxing video for Shy Boys.

- That was a lot of fun to do.

It was really easy.

All I had to do was act like I was opening up

this box of new records that Polyvinyl had sent us.

- Maybe we should give people a spoiler warning here.


- Spoiler warning, I get blasted in the face

with a water hose whenever I open up that box.

But it's funny 'cause we had a picture

of my brother underneath the shot

with a hose just getting wet, super ready,

to just unleash the force of the water

directly into my nose. (laughing)

- That was actually my wife's comment

when we watched the video last night.

She goes, "He took that right in the nose."

- I did, I was sputtering for sure.

- You have been sort of the principal songwriter

for this project by you've got a lot of songwriters

in this band. - Yeah, it's intimidating.

You know, 'cause I've definitely looked up

to Connor and Ross for years as excellent pop song writers.

Being in each other's bands, we've definitely all rubbed off

on each other, and when I bring a song to Shy boys,

it's great to have those resources,

not just Connor and Ross as songwriters,

the other guys, too, as excellent musicians.

It is a collaborative experience.

- It's working; you've gotten a lot of attention

from Kevin Cole over at KEXP in Seattle,

which is a big music discovery station.

And also, Bob Boilyn over at NPR Music, All Songs Considered

they've been big supporters of the band, as well.

- Yeah, I mean, it's been so weird

to see things that we check regularly, you know,

to update about new bands or artists that we might not know.

And to see our name from those people,

you know, making personal Tweets about our band

or whatever, it's been really special.

- Shy Boys in our studio, the new album is Bell House.

It's brand new on Polyvinyl.

We'd love to have one more song if we could.

- Okay. (laughing)

Yeah, Tragic Loss.

This is a song called Tragic Loss, thank you.

Two, three, four:

♪ My childhood was easy

♪ A childhood free from the violence ♪

♪ Just listen to some of my bad dreams ♪

♪ Popples were stuffed toys

♪ That folded into themselves

♪ And rolled into my recurring nightmares ♪

♪ Think of what a tragic loss

(upbeat rock music)

♪ One scary evening

♪ Our hallway lit up with headlights ♪

♪ A car slowly drove past my bedroom ♪

♪ Think of what a tragic loss

♪ Would have done to me

♪ Think of what a tragic loss

♪ Would have done to me

♪ Safe and sound I made it up

♪ When I was asleep

♪ Think of what a tragic loss

♪ Ah

♪ Ah

♪ Ah ah

♪ Ah

- Shy Boys in our studio today here on The Bridge.

That was great; it's really a good record.

You guys, I hope you're really super proud of this one.

- Yeah, we definitely are.

It was a long time coming, and it was worth the wait

for us, definitely. - So there are a bunch

of videos online, there's the video for Take the Doggie,

but also one for Evil Sin that you can find,

really quite easily, that actually was inspired

by Philip K. Dick, the sci fi writer.

- Our favorite, for sure.

- If you wanna follow along, the book that it's sort

of based on: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldridge.

If you want a richer experience.

- Oh yes, dig in, please do.

- [Jon] Read the whole book for the three-minute video.

- Yes, and then send us a message discussing,

'cause we'd love to nerd out with you.

- Alright.

So much is going on right now with the Shy Boys.

We have absolutely loved having you in.

You know, and I can only imagine what it's like

to open for bands like Fleet Foxes.

- Yeah.

We've been lucky to find ourselves on bills

with bands we've been big fans of for a long time.

It's been surreal.

- Well, congratulations.

Get out there and work.

We'll help spread the word in any way we can.

The Shy Boys, the new album, Bell House, on Polyvinyl.

Thanks so much for coming in today.

- [Collin] Thank you so much for having us.

♪ I was born in New York out in some booth ♪

♪ I was falling in love before you ever had to choose ♪

♪ If it true can hear me true let us shake to him ♪

♪ And pray that you feel sorry that all done happening ♪

♪ We make our beds

♪ We sleepin' in with no regrets ♪

♪ Our numbers weren't enough

♪ I'm born again

♪ We're born again

♪ And I'm letting it in

♪ Hey oh

♪ Three's a crowd and two's good company ♪

♪ Yes sing it loud it never was much use to me ♪

♪ To less of cause inside the sedan ♪

♪ Took up with all them all terrain ♪

♪ Said a pair of tunes and food to let us eat ♪

♪ But marching on the Saints go on gonna sound it off ♪

♪ They're marching on off and on off and on ♪

♪ Someone should break that switch off ♪

♪ We make our beds

♪ We're sleeping in with no regrets ♪

♪ Our numbers big must move on

♪ I'm born again

♪ Here he goes again now now now now ♪

♪ I once told you but I'm going ♪

♪ Back it's gotta be

♪ You go that way I'll show us then ♪

♪ From this ship that's sinking ♪

♪ The sun is shining the bulls play dead ♪

♪ The sheep are smiling big until they're wide awake ♪

♪ Beat your heart out it's such a mess ♪

♪ We're doing fine I guess I'm doing fine we guess ♪

♪ 'Cause we make our beds

♪ We're sleeping in with no regrets ♪

♪ While counting sheep

♪ And dreaming of our unweaving ♪

♪ Start reaching for your goal

(upbeat rock music)

♪ We make our beds and we're sleeping in ♪

♪ With no regrets

♪ Our numbers keep marching on

♪ I'm born again

♪ There he goes again now now now now ♪

♪ We are old souls you're what I told ♪

♪ We now start

♪ Believing both end well

♪ I know the sails are only

♪ Ship worth sinking in

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(cheering and applauding)


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