Interview: Sick Shift

interview by seep

After stealing the show at Extravaganza, I sat down with Sick Shift’s lead singer and guitar player Jeff Feuerhaken and bassist Gary Braun to discuss contemporary politics and current world events. Our good friend Bud was also there. Bud Weiser, do you know him?

The unit has existed for how long?
Jeff: It’s been about two years with our current setup. Once Gary joined we were all set.
Gary: Yep. I was the missing link.

For those of you not familiar with your work, how would you describe your sound?
Gary: We’re pretty punk, I guess.
Jeff: Yeah, it’s gotten pretty hard to describe just what is and is not punk these days. What with all sorts of bands ending up on MTV and stuff like that, you have to start questioning what punk is. But I’d say we’re influenced by bands like Strung Out, Lagwagon, and Face to Face so we play that style of music.
Gary: Don’t forget Slayer. We like Slayer, too.

What is it like to be in a band?
Jeff: Well, we’re not exactly getting mobbed by fans every time we walk down the street. It’s not easy to be out there all the time marketing yourself, getting shows confirmed, and all that stuff.
Gary: Especially when you’re right out of school and you have to work in order to afford food and beer.
Jeff: But it’s cool, you know? I mean, I don’t think there’s anything we’d rather be doing. Sometimes you’ll show up at a skate park and some kids will come up to you and be like, “Can I have a CD? You guys rock!” So that’s cool.

So you’re in it for the kiddies?
Jeff: Oh, for sure.

You brought it up earlier, so I’m going to ask, what are you feelings on MTV?
Gary: I think it’s tough to mix creativity with marketability a lot of times, so a lot of the stuff you end up seeing on videos is a watered down version of what someone else did better earlier. A lot of times bands will change their music in order to get some airtime and sell more records. It’s lame but it happens.
Jeff: I’m always down to watch a video or something, but why do they have all those game shows and Road Rules and all that stuff? How much can you watch? But you can’t ever say, “Oh, just ’cause a band’s on MTV means they suck” because sometimes in the middle of the day you’ll turn it on and there will be a Slayer video or something. It’s weird.

Other than music, what else has influenced you guys and your music?
Jeff: Skating, for sure. I know hip-hop is more where skating is at right now, but I think punk and skating are a natural mix.

What were you feelings on playing at Extravaganza?
Gary: We were a little disappointed when we found out who else was playing and we were like…so we’re the only punk band?
Jeff: Next year it’ll probably be different, be a little more hard core, you know? It’s always fun for us to play in front of big crowds, though. The more people the better-get everyone stoked on our music.

Is it intimidating playing in front of thousands and thousands of people?
Gary: No, not really. We’ve played some pretty huge stuff before. We played in Mexico last year on the beach. There were all kinds of people there and it was rad. Big, huge stage.
Jeff: We played with these guys from San Diego called Honeybucket. We’ve played with them quite a few times since then. We got to stay in this condo right on the water for the whole week.

What is your dream show? If you could play with whoever, who would it be?
Jeff: I think…The Backstreet Boys would open, we’d play next, and then ‘N Sync would be last.
Gary: Yeah, we’d be the meat in a boy band sandwich.
Jeff: That way we’d introduce all these people to some good music.

MF: So you’re humanitarians?
Jeff and Gary: Yep.

sick shit at: www.sickshift.com.