The Shel­ters

Be­ing helped by a ma­jor rock star has brought big ex­pec­ta­tions, but they’re up for the fight.

Classic Rock - - The Dirt - The Shel­ters by The Shel­ters is out now via Warner Bros.

The Shel­ters know a guy named Tommy. Tommy’s an older dude, been around the block a few times. He’s ex­actly the kind of man you want in your corner – had a few hits him­self over the years. He’s helped The Shel­ters out, shown them how to fine-tune their songs, of­fered ad­vice when they’ve asked for it. Cos no one knows the mu­sic biz like him. But then he should. The man The Shel­ters call ‘Tommy’ is Tom Petty.

“I went to school with Tommy’s step­son,” says gui­tarist and some­time singer Chase Simp­son. “I was never re­ally aware of who he was when I was young, he was just my friend’s dad. I’d pick his brains about mu­sic, he’d be su­per sup­port­ive of what I was do­ing. He’d let us use his stu­dio. We knew it bet­ter than he did.”

Petty did more than that – he co-pro­duced The Shel­ters’ self­ti­tled de­but al­bum, a record that cherry picks the best bits of Bri­tish In­va­sion-era 60s pop (The Bea­tles, The Kinks, The Who), fil­ters them through a gauze of sunny 70s Cal­i­for­nian rock and power pop, then up­dates them for to­day.

“A lot of gui­tar bands come from a re­ally heavy, deep-sound­ing place,” says vo­cal­ist and gui­tarist Josh Jove. “The mu­sic we love has a real fun ap­proach. Not so much ‘I wanna cry’ as ‘I wanna dance’.”

Simp­son (26, slacker hair­cut, dress-down T-shirt) met Jove

(28, blond greaser quiff, vin­tage denim) a few years ago when the lat­ter re­lo­cated from his na­tive Florida to Los An­ge­les to try to carve out a ca­reer as a stu­dio mu­si­cian. They soon put to­gether The Shel­ters, bring­ing in drum­mer Se­bas­tian Har­ris and bassist Ja­cob Pilot. Their MO was sim­ple: song power. “You’re only as good as your tunes,” says Jove. It’s an ap­proach that set them apart from the rest of LA’s trend-driven mu­sic scene.”

“All these bands in my eyes chase each other,” says Simp­son. “They’re all try­ing to do the same as the last. None of our he­roes chased tail lights.”

It doesn’t hurt to have one of the great Amer­i­can icons of the last 40 years as your Yoda fig­ure. Petty gave the band free run of his stu­dio, even en­list­ing Simp­son and Jove to work on his last al­bum, Hypnotic Eye (both co-en­gi­neered, while the lat­ter added fuzz gui­tar to one track).

But his most im­por­tant role has been as a sound­ing board.

“He’s a su­per-men­tor,” con­firms Jove. “We run every­thing by him – why wouldn’t you? He knows his shit bet­ter than any­one. He let’s us fig­ure it out on our own, but it’s pretty hard to get a song past Tommy.”

Petty’s pres­ence doesn’t guar­an­tee suc­cess; rather, it adds a layer of ex­pec­ta­tion to the strug­gles that any young band al­ready faces. But The Shel­ters say they’re up for the fight.

“We’re the last gen­er­a­tion that grew up lov­ing clas­sic rock’n’roll,” says Simp­son. “I see it when we play for younger audiences – some of those kids haven’t seen a guy rip on a gui­tar solo. Their elder brother’s mu­sic was rap, and that’s kind of fad­ing out. It’s a good time for rock now. And I think that’s what Tommy’s try­ing to do – hand over the torch to an­other gen­er­a­tion to take it and run with it.” DE

“We’re the last gen­er­a­tion that grew up lov­ing clas­sic rock’n’roll.”

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