Los Angeles-based rock band The Shelters are serious about polishing their sound and perfecting their showmanship. The electrifying foursome consisting of guitarists and vocalists Chase Simpson and Josh Jove, drummer Sebastian Harris, and bassist Jacob Pillot know nothing other than to sequester themselves in the recording studio around the clock to make their refreshing hybrid of rock and roll.
The musicians came under great tutelage, learning the ins and outs of recording, production, and the craft of songwriting from veteran rocker Tom Petty. As a matter of fact, the legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Famer co-produced the band’s self-titled, four-track EP released this past October via Warner Bros. Records.
“It’s been a complete blessing and the most amazing experience I think in all of our lives,” says a long-haired Simpson, the band’s most vocal member, relaxing in the band’s tour bus before opening for label mates The Wild Feathers at Terminal West in Atlanta. “He’s not gonna shoot down an idea completely. He’ll tell you straight up what’s wrong with something. It’s a really special thing.”
Petty voluntarily gave The Shelters the keys to his home studio after catching one of the quartet’s earliest performances. The Shelters’ bouncy debut single “Rebel Heart,” written by Simpson and Jove, the band’s main songwriters, is a raw ode to rockabilly birthed out of the initial demos The Shelters recorded autonomously.
The remainder of the EP consists of the garage rock-styled “Birdwatching,” Petty and the Heartbreakers-like “Fortune Teller,” and The Doors-sounding “The Ghost is Gone.” “That was the beginning of Tommy turning us loose in the studio,” Simpson continues, taking a few sips of coffee.
“It got everyone excited about the whole project. That was the beginning of us learning how to use the studio. We didn’t really know anything besides what our ears were telling us.”
The Shelters came together in 2014 after Simpson, Jove, and Harris played in another band, Automatik Slim. Pillot rounded out the group soon after. The Shelters have already opened for or shared stages with The Kooks, Gary Clark, Jr., and Broncho. For a short stint, the band actually didn’t have a name.
“It’s the kind of music that could only be made right now,” says Simpson, coining the band’s sound as “California.” “We have deep roots in surf rock, psychedelic music, British Invasion and the blues, so it’s that culmination of sounds. It’s fuzzy but melodic.” Family and friends chimed in with their suggestions about band names, too, but it was Simpson who ultimately decided on The Shelters.
The casual musician thinks The Shelters sounds cool and accurately reflects the band’s focus. “We were sheltered from the world during that time, and everyone seemed to like it,” recalls a leisurely Simpson still sipping coffee. “We just focused on songwriting. We hadn’t started playing shows. It was always in the back of our minds, so it seemed very fitting.”
The Shelters’ self-titled debut studio album is slated for a June 10th release. Simpson believes signing with Warner Bros. in an era of YouTube and subscription streaming could still expose them to a wider and broader audience.
“[Warner Bros.] is about developing careers with us and developing us as a band,” proclaims Simpson. “They don’t expect us to sell a million records out the gate. It’s the best option that we had.” The EP is The Shelters’ primary bait in the meantime, along with touring, for connecting with listeners.
The Shelters are confident that its sound will fully catch on and garner a loyal following for them. “We came out of the studio, so we needed a way to share our music with people so we could build that,” says Simpson.
“We try to pick songs that are very versatile. The EP is a good sampling of what’s to come on the record. We can’t wait to keep making music and sharing it with everybody.”
SEE The Shelters on tour
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