Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ Von Shakes

Von Shakes
Photo by Ashly Covington

Irish, Brooklyn-based indie rockers Von Shakes released their latest album Bohemia on November 19th. In a recent interview, we asked Von Shakes’ Paddy Brazel about the story behind their name, a song they wish they wrote, and secrets. Here’s what he had to say:

AMBY: Hey Von Shakes, thanks for speaking with AMBY today. Please introduce yourselves to our readers!

Von Shakes: What’s the craic? Paddy Brazel here from Von Shakes. I try to sing and attempt a little guitar.

AMBY: What’s the band been up to lately?

Von Shakes: Well, we have just released Bohemiaour new album. Happy with it too. We’re looking forward to Christmas though as we head home to Ireland and see our family and mates. Other than that we’ve been writing, gigging and trying to keep our heads above water. NYC is an expensive place to live haha.

AMBY: Your new record Bohemia is out now. What’s the significance behind the title?

Von Shakes: Why did we call the album Bohemia? Hmm… Good question. It was an idea that came of the subconscious I guess. I mean I believe Hugh suggested it and we all just went “Yup!”. It was on the tip of our tongues. The album contains songs about us and our experiences. We’ve had a bizarre couple of years as Von Shakes that has lead us to live in Bushwick, Brooklyn (which is a very Bohemian place in itself).  Bohemia describes the songs on the album. It’s an album about journeys, experiences, happy moments, funny moments and sad moments.

AMBY: Which songs off Bohemia are your favourite?

Von Shakes: I really like a lot of them if I’m honest. We had 16 to choose from, of which we picked 12. If I had to though, I’d say “Headaches” as it’s about I friend I lost.

AMBY: Pale off the LP is such a good alternative-pop song. What’s the story behind the track?

Von Shakes: Yea people seem to like that one. Especially live. “Pale” is a metaphor to not being significant, substantial or good enough in the eyes of someone or some group. I was down when writing it and it just came to me.

AMBY: Where did the name Von Shakes come from? And what other names had you considered for the band?

Von Shakes: It’s a long one but I’ll summarize. Our mate got in a fight with a stray dog and got bitten. He came in to us in the pub and was shaking. His name was Tom. So we were like “Tom Shakes”. Then light bulb. Von Shakes is a good name for a band.

AMBY: Where do you usually gather songwriting inspiration?

Von Shakes: If I told you I’d have to kill you. Nah, I really don’t know. I never sit down and go “I must write or play”. But sometimes when I do the stuff just pours on to the page and makes sense. It comes from the back of the brain, the sub-conscious so I really don’t know. Sometimes I’ve gone to write and had the idea of what to write but then it becomes forced and simply sucks haha.

AMBY: Has there ever been a song you wish you wrote? And if so, which song?

Von Shakes: 1979 by Smashing Pumpkins. I think it could be my favorite song of all time. Incredible mix. Gorgeous words and great riff.

AMBY: What would the fortune teller predict about Von Shakes down the road?

Von Shakes: Ha you’ll have to tell me. But I guarantee the road won’t end.

AMBY: What’s the best release of the year?

Von Shakes: Foals – Holy Fire

AMBY: And lastly, what’s something about Von Shakes that nobody knows yet?

Von Shakes: I write with my left hand but play guitar right which they call ambidextrous. Sometimes I use my right and sometimes I use my left ;).


Thank you Von Shakes, for giving us your answers!

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Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout

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