12 Questions with Dan Shapiro: The Fever Machine is all the lube you’ll ever need, but for those dryer times…
well, this one was kinda supposed to go up a little while back if y’all couldn’t tell but airports, cheese, wine and a chance to catch Motorhead in Paris kinda got in the way.. The Fever Machine were in Beijing this past weekend and played one hell of a show from what i hear along with Devils at the Crossroad and Never Before.
I figured we were overdue for a good 10 Questions on this damn site and since I had the opportunity to get Dan Shapiro – formerly the best ‘mo in the business- on here, I threw in 2 extra ones for fun
So, here’s what you get… read up, cuz the man got things to say!!
1. Who is Dan Shapiro and what are you up to? this is your chance to plug your stuff
I’m Dan Shapiro; 1/3 of The Fever Machine from Shanghai, along with Fabien Barbet and Miggs Bustamante. I handle lead vocals and guitars.
These weeks have been all about La Chupacabra our vinyl release on Genjing Records.
If you haven’t heard La Chupacabra yet, get on that shit. The songs are available for free download on Bandcamp – http://thefevermachine.bandcamp.com/
There’s also a sweet music video made by Miggs on YouTube and Youku
La Chupacabra is our first vinyl release, with official launch shows at Temple Bar in Beijing on November 24 and Yuyintang in Shanghai on December 1.
2. Last time we saw each other, it was 6 in the morning after ‘dazeFEAST, drinking bourbon out on the 2 Kolegas lawn. Did you make that plane and play the show you had scheduled in Shanghai?
Barely. We had such a blast at ‘dazeFeast we didn’t want to leave; just kept drinking at 2 Kolegas all night. Finally we bailed, stormed back to our hotel to grab a few things and jetted to the airport.
Our tickets said both Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 on them so we went to terminal 3. We guessed wrong and had to make a mad dash through the airport with all our gear.
We did make that show in Shanghai for Fete de la Musique. I think it went pretty well from what I recall.
3. 1 year, 2 records…. how is La Chupacabra different from Living in Oblivion?
It’s been 18 months between releases.
I guess the biggest difference is that Living in Oblivion was a full length and this is a 7” single.
Living in Oblivion really represents the origins of our bands and our evolution from a more riff / garage band into a more stoner / psychedelic band. The songs are a bit all over the place – shit there’s even a power pop track on there.
I like to think of “Don Pedro,” the last song we wrote on the first album, as the moment where we really started to find our true sound. La Chupacabra builds on that. It’s The Fever Machine at our peak.
Additionally, we had La Chupacabra mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side Music in New York.
The dude mastered High on Fire, Mastodon, and Baroness for fuck’s sake, so sonically it’s on another level.
4. It took quite some time to get the first one out, why put out a vinyl with only 2 songs? And why vinyl?
Since our 2011 “Tour of the Americas” to Ecuador and California we’ve been really busy in our personal lives, which made writing a full length a bit too ambitious. Nevin from Genjing approached us about putting out a 7” and we just so happened to have the right amount of material ready.
It’s always been a dream to release something on vinyl since I started collecting records in college, and while there’s only 2 tracks on there, the sound is amazing and the packaging and artwork are killer, which makes the 7” a really nice collectable.
Still, for people who aren’t into vinyl, we’ve made the songs free for download so everyone can throw them on their mp3 players, listen, and share with friends.
5. judging by the title, there’s a lot of South American influence that’s gone into this one. what gives?
Well, our band is 1/3 South American, and there’s been a real attachment to that part of the world.
Both our releases were mixed by Xavi Muller at Graba Estudio in Quito, and last summer we went and played at Quito Fest, the largest music festival in Ecuador.
In preparation for the Ecuador show I tried to learn some Spanish, which didn’t go too well; I just ended up talking all sorts of nonsensical shit. So at one point I was just going around talking about La Chupacabra. Somehow it just evolved into a badass song from there.
6. you’ve been around the music industry in China for a while now. Give me 3 positives and 3 negatives about it
Industry? Not my choice of words, but . . .
Positives; there’s a nice sense of community between bands around China, China’s a relatively affordable place to live as a starving artist, there are some good opportunities to get on bigger stages at venues like MAO and Yugong Yishan and at festivals that it would take bands much longer to achieve in the US.
Negatives; censorship would have to be number 1; a general lack of understanding or interest from a bigger audience another, and no real infrastructure for distribution.
7. Without delving in the past too much, can we touch on your old band, The Rogue Transmission, for a bit? What caused it to finish and how was it different from the current band?
The Rogue Transmission ended in 2009 when our bass player quit. He’s still a great friend, he just couldn’t commit the time anymore, and it was a very amicable separation.
There was no other bass player in Shanghai that could replace him, and at that time I really wanted to delve into the more epic sounds and landscapes, and odd time signatures we play with The Fever Machine.
Luckily the best bass player I knew in town happened to be the Rogue Transmission’s drummer, Fabien, who’s one of those guys who can really play everything.
We knew Miggs as a friend and The Fever Machine really came together quickly and naturally.
If you listen to our first demo from 2010 and then Living in Oblivion you can definitely hear the seamless evolution from one band into the next.
8. A lot of Foreign bands are making noise in Shanghai but what’s happening with the local bands? I hear from Top Floor Circus quite a bit but nothing else really. Have they all moved elsewhere?
I’m not really sure. Top Floor Circus is like their own phenomenon. When they play it’s a huge deal, but those are rare happenings.
Still Duck Fight Goose, Banana Monkey, Naohai, Chaos Mind and Next Year’s Love are around putting music out.
9. Word association: Write the first word that comes to you mind:
– Chupacabra una cancion para ti
– Mustache Wax
– Polka Dots Joyside
– Aggressive Passive
– Baijiu blackout
– Shanghai ‘nese
– Beijing massive
10. There a wind of change blowing over the music biz in China IMHO. Bands are now being pursued by all kinds of international brands for marketing purposes ( SUBS with Adidas, Da Bang with Converse and even Versace , Zippo with various rock shows and OOC with Ray Ban just to name a few). Is that a good or a bad thing for the integrity of the scene?
For integrity of music and art and purity? It’s definitely gotta be bad, but who am I to tell the SUBS what’s right for them to do, right.
They did everything on their own dime for a decade, with no record label, and probably no cash either. So this is basically them cashing in their stock.
The truth is, this isn’t isolated to China. You go to South By Southwest and they have shows sponsored by all these brands too. Fuck, even Led Zeppelin did a Cadillac commercial a few years ago, and Chris Cornell and Scott Weiland did some stuff for John Varvatos.
Do remember right that the Vans Warped Tour has been supporting independent punk rock in America for more than 15 years, so there’s a long-standing tradition of combining music and product placement.
I think this whole trend really started to go overboard with the death of the record industry, the death of CDs sales and the rise of pirated mp3s.
Suddenly no one’s buying music and bands need new revenue streams to stay afloat.
Some people will be very critical of bands for doing this, but those people probably haven’t been faced with these choices either.
There are tactful ways to combine art and fashion and music. It just seems that lately it’s snowballed, and the use of music and rock and roll “image” for “marketing” purposes has gotten a bit out of hand.
11. Who would you like to get a call from telling you: “Dan, can we use The Fever Machine to promote our brand.”?
Hm…. Maybe Astroglide – ‘The Fever Machine is all the lube you’ll ever need, but for those dryer times . . .” – or some kind of birth control brand – “want to play guitar and not get sued for paternity . . .”
I guess Pfizer would work too, ‘Don’t play in a rock band? Try this cornucopia of pharmaceuticals to handle your dull and shitty life . . .’
12. You’re up at Temple on the 24th. What should people expect from that gig?
Well, that show has passed now, but I think people got what they expected. We’re busting out the long marathon set for the release shows and the Shanghai release at YYT will be more of the same; loud, heavy, spacey rock music.
And free vinyl man! You can’t sleep on the free vinyl.
Beijing, hopefully you enjoyed the gig at Temple and are still enjoying your vinyl… Shanghai, I don’t think I need to tell you what to expect. Thanks to Dan for a cool interview with some funny shit in there!
pics from Fever Machine Facebook and courtesy of Foukographer