Houston Music

Radar Eyes: Peeking Under Shakes Gown


Chris Rolls is the mastermind behind the high-energy San Francisco music machine known as Shakes Gown.

Radar Eyes: Name, social security no., purpose for living, etc.

Shakes Gown: Chris Rolls, and my purpose is to procreate... or so I have been told...

RE: And you also record music, am I right?

SG: Yes, I record, produce, compose, perform and release music which I have been doing since junior high... but not in earnest since I moved to San Francisco in 1998.

RE: What do you call your current project, and what's it all about?

SG: I call it Shakes Gown. The project started after I left le Flange du Mal, and Fuckwolf. I rented a flat in Berlin for a month... I took an SK1, effects, 4-track and microphone and just started recording. My goal was to record three albums in 2008, which I did along with my writing partner Simon Phillips, who was also in Fuckwolf.

RE: Nice! You wanna guide us through each record?

SG: Sure. I will hold your hand.

RE: This ain't for me, Jack!

SG: Ha ha! Ok... so the first record is called Words Without Works. It was very inspired by Berlin. I recorded almost all the material in Berlin. Then I did a lot of overdubs upon my return to San Francisco. Erin Olivia Weber was there (of Garbaj Kaetz fame). She inspired one of my songs.

RE: I only have your first release, I can't wait to hear the others!

SG: The second is another 4-track project, an EP. It's just me fucking around with noise gear and synths... trying to write pop songs.

RE: That's the kind of sound I like!

SG: Then the third one is a giant studio album, Psychic Driver. It is done.

RE: Nice!

SG: Yes. I am very excited. It's very pop... very Gary Numan meets Dennis Wilson.

RE: Are you planning on releasing these albums?

SG: Well, the two 4-track albums I will release through KimoSciotic. Psychic Driver I want on a label... a big label that will get me sex and cocaine... or sex with cocaine... whichever.

RE: Will you be touring with Motley Crue?

SG: Fuck the Crue. I am not into the titty-cam thing. I mean, I like breasts... but you know... I have no idea how I will tour with this band.

RE: Hahahah... I was gonna say... too virtual for ya?

SG: I am just starting to rehearse a live band. Which has been interesting because of the way the songs are written. This has been a studio project so far. So now I have to transpose for a live situation... and reimagine the songs.

RE: It's not as easy as 1,2,3, let's rock... is it?

SG: Fuck no... not at all.

RE: Tell me about it...

SG: It has been difficult... plus I wanted to work with people outside the SF music scene...

RE: Do you have your band members in line or are you still forming?

SG: Still forming, but Simon is drumming, and we have Kevin from LSD and the Search for God on keys... and we may have another synth player. We need one. I am stupid... cannot sing and play at the same time... ha ha!

RE: Well, you are going to concentrate on vocals, right?

SG: Exactly. I mean that is what I did in le Flange du Mal.


SG: I like singing. It is fun...

RE: Whatever happened to the last La Flange Du Mal record?

SG: Fantastic question.

RE: I was really looking forward to that one!

SG: I just got a hard drive with all the original mixes, and so I am going to master it and release it... recording that album was hell... but that is a long, long story

RE: Your live shows were amazing.

SG: Yes, I was really upset when I had to disband le Flange. It started as just me and Chris Cones... and became something wonderful. Working with Liz Allbee and Jason changed my life...

RE: Yeah, they're ULTRA for sure...

SG: It taught me so much and provides much needed confidence.

RE: Yeah - important skills for swimmng upstream!

SG: So yeah, I have not performed live since 11/07 when Fuckwolf opened for Black Dice here in SF... so, I am really looking forward to it.

RE: When do ya think this will happen?

SG: The first show is with Bronze on Feb. 26... here in SF.

RE: Oh wow... that's right around the corner!

SG: Yeah man... and we are still missing members. Ha.

RE: I'll be right over...

SG: Maybe you could play tambourine? Or mouth harp...

RE: I've got my mouth full right now... Fried bananas. Do you guys plan on coming to Texas anytime soon?

SG: Well, let's see how the first show goes... then we'll talk about touring

RE: Uh huh...

SG: I really wanted Rob Spector from Bronze to play in Shakes Gown... he is my brother and the best... but he is busy with Bronze...

RE: San Francisco is for sure a hotbed of talent... I was glad to fuck it up over there for a little bit... Do you plan on making any videos for the Shakes Gown material?

SG: Oh yes, brother, it's on our MySpace page. It was directed by Kurt Keppler... who is amazing. The song is called "Pigeon's Flight."

RE: Ha! Crosshairs on human heads!

SG: But yes, I am very into video and would like to do as much as possible.

RE: Same here. Indian Jewelry is in the process of putting together a compilation of videos as we speak...

SG: Awesome! Man, I love Erika and Tex... great people.

RE: Yeah, for sure!

SG: But yes, the video is very "pro," but I love it. I am really into pushing my low-budget ideas into professional recording and video just to see where it goes... I mean, for the Psychic Driver album there were no songs written just a couple basslines and drums... so everything was written in studio almost by accident.

We took perhaps seven months to record it, and often I would just scrap what had been considered finished and redo everything. I knew in my head what I wanted even though there were no songs...

RE: Yeah... I hear ya on that one...

SG: Does that make sense?

RE: New tracks get old fast...

SG: Right, and I wanted tracks that would not get old. Tracks that sounded out of time... also, I do not want to sound like anything else happening in SF.

RE: Come to Houston and lick bayou dirt for awhile!

SG: Ha ha... well, I was actually just talking my friend Dave Wright about recording the next one in my home town, Tucson.

RE: So is there a release date for any of your albums yet?

SG: All three albums will be slowly released over the next three months.

RE: Excellent! Any final words?

SG: Make sure to sit in your orgone accumlator for two hours everyday... and never masturbate.


[See also www.futureblondes.blogspot.com]

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.