Thursday, November 12, 2015

Moving pictures

I've recently had the pleasure to work with several friends on their film projects.

Drew Mobley just finished up a music video for MOONBASE, and it really couldn't have turned out better.

Although the film did not receive the necessary funding in order to move forward, I did get to record a track for Drew's project "Of These Hills".  Below is a teaser as well as some of the beautiful story boards.

Lastly, I got to work with one of my former band mates Brad Mattocks on his wife Rozalyn Mattocks' short film "Option 3".

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Kool Kat of the Week on ATLRetro

I answered some questions about surf music and this weekend's festivities over at  Find the original article here.

Kool Kat of the Week: Chad Shivers, Guitar Slinger of the Surf-Rock Variety and Founder of Atlanta’s Infamous Southern Surf Stomp!, Catches a Wave and Dishes on the First Ever Southern Surf StompFest!

11990633_10101892377367613_5371082659938104787_nby Melanie Crew
Managing Editor

Chad Shivers, purveyor of that infamous high-energy reverb and maniacal mayhem a.k.a. Surf Rock, will be reviving Atlanta this Saturday, September 19, retro-style with his Southern Surf StompFest! at Little Tree Art Studios (Avondale Estates), from noon until 8 pm! Catch a wave and raise a ruckus with a whole lotta vintage vendors (our swanky retro pals, 2the 9’s Retro and Jezebel Blue [see our Shop Around feature here]; Uncle Daddy’s Woodworks [see our Shop Around feature on Dirk Hays here], Beachcomber Cory’s Tiki Hut; THE SURF King Surfwear, and more!), tasty vittles and of course one helluva rockin’ line-up, featuring El Capitan & the Band with No Name, Ouroboro’s Boys, Kool Kat Caroline & the Ramblers, The Beech Benders, The Surge!, The Gold Dust Lounge, The Mystery Men?, Aqualads, and DJ Dusty Booze spinning surf, rockabilly and ‘50s/’60s rock between sets, and so much more! And why not round out your weekend with Southern Surf Stomp’s surf-tastic bookend events; the official pre-show at Sunbrimmer Records (Avondale Estates) with Chad’s current project, MOONBASE, Genki Genki Panic and Vacations; and the official after-party rockin’ out at Kavarna (Decatur), featuring Kool Kat Jeffrey Butzer’s surf-rock outfit, The Compartmentalizationists (SUTURES CD release); Band, James Band; and Gemini XIII! So, come on down and rock out surf-style at the most rock ‘n’ roll weekend-long beach party around!

Chad is no newbie to Surf Rock, or rock ‘n’ roll in general. His musical journey began at age 14, when he jumped head first into his first band, The Squares, in 1995 (active until 2002), releasing two records and extensively touring the Southeast. After selling his soul to the rock ‘n’ roll devil, he built a revved up repertoire with Sorry No Ferrari (2005-2011); joined Kool Kat Jeffrey Butzer & the Bicycle Eaters (2010); joined The Mystery Men? (2012); founded the Southern SurfStomp! (2014); and currently fronts his own group, MOONBASE [George Asimakos on guitar; Eric Balint on bass; Sonny Harding on drums and Chad Shivers on guitar], debuting, CREATION MYTHS, in August 2014. And if that isn’t enough, Chad has also performed with Jeffrey Butzer’s, The Compartmentalizationists, Sleep Therapy, the Insect Surfers, The Madeira, and his own Surf Rock Christmas outfit, Chad Shivers & The Silent Knights, dishing out The Ventures’ and The Beach Boys’ Xmas albums every season for the past five years.
ATLRetro caught up with Chad Shivers for a quick interview about the Southern Surf StompFest!; Surf Rock’s history and resurgence; and his craft of spreading the infectious rock ‘n’ roll vibes of the Surf Rock subculture far and wide! And while you’re takin’ a peek at our little Q&A with Chad, get an earful of his current surf-rock outfit, MOONBASE’s “The Serpent” from their debut album CREATION MYTHS; and a sneak peek at The Compartmentalizationists’ “Blurry Eyes” from their new album SUTURES!

ATLRetro: Who doesn’t love surf rock?! And of course the Southern Surf StompFest! is right down ATLRetro’s alley! Can you fill our readers in on the history or your monthly Southern Surf Stomp! events? And how did you put together that righteous rockin’ line-up you’ve got waiting for our eager readers/listeners?

Chad Shivers: Southern Surf Stomp‘s inception was inspired by multiple factors including Greg Germani‘s incredible Ameripolitan shows; festivals such as Crispy BessInstro Summit held in North Carolina; and the desire to showcase the vast amount of talent within the Southeastern surf music community. Our first show was in April of 2014, and has been going strong ever since, featuring some truly great artists such as Eddie Angel (Los Straitjackets), Ivan Pongracic (The Madeira), Daikaiju, Kill, Baby…Kill!, Aqualads, and even a The Penetrators tribute. For the festival, I wanted to include Atlanta staples (El Capitan and the Band With No Name, The Surge!, The Mystery Men?), groups that have previously performed at our monthly event (Aqualads), and some fresh new faces (Ouroboros Boys, The Beech Benders, Gold Dust Lounge). I’m particularly excited to see Gold Dust Lounge from Miami, as I’ve been practically begging them to come up for the past year or so.
You’ve been devoted to the genre for quite some time, beginning in 1995 with your first band, The Squares, at the ripe old age of fourteen. Can you tell our readers how you became aware of surf-guitar and what drew you to the genre?

As a freshman in high school, I attended a house party where a cover band played a number by The Ventures and was completely enamored. Upon seeing my excitement, my friend Jeff, with whom I attended said party, later introduced me to Dick Dale (see ATLRetro’s feature on Dick here) and Man or Astro-man? and that was it. We started The Squares very shortly thereafter. Surf for me just has the energy of punk, the technical prowess of heavy metal, and the melodicism of pop music but (mostly) without lyrics; allowing the listener to create their own narrative.

You’ve been a member and have performed with surf rock and semi-surf rock outfits galore over the years [The Squares; Jeffrey Butzer & the Bicycle Eaters; The Mystery Men?; Sleep Therapy; The Insect Surfers; The Madeira; Chad Shivers & the Silent Knights, etc.]! What exactly is it about surf rock that keeps you coming back for more, even when you’ve stepped away for a bit?

I think it’s just that it’s so much fun to play and there’s an unbelievable amount of variation within the genre from lo-fi garage to highly technical, almost progressive rock and everything in between.  Not to mention, the people involved within the surf scene are among the friendliest, supportive, talented and interesting people you could ever meet.

Although the genre and its subculture hails from Southern California and has even been dubbed “SoCal folk music,” who or what would you say brought that particular sound to the Southeastern US?
Surf music in the South actually dates back to the ‘60s, and of course there was a later resurgence in the ‘90s with bands like Man or Astro-man? But any ‘scene’, I believe, can be attributed to The Penetrators. They were the jumping-off point for many including myself, aligned themselves with like-minded groups, and were absolutely instrumental – pun intended –in the development of the global surf rock community. What a bunch of incredible songwriters, instrumentalists, and just downright fun guys to be around. Their influence can still be seen, heard and felt greatly even today, and one cannot attend a surf music festival in the US without at the very least a mention of them.

Who would you say are your top three musical influences and why?

That’s quite a difficult question, as the answer will most likely change day to day.  But as of right now, in the most general sense: While not necessarily the greatest influence on me as a musician, hearing Social Distortion for the first time was really a game changer. They brought guitar music to the forefront of my mind and introduced me to punk rock, with which I still greatly identify and has led me down so many wonderful new avenues. Man or Astro-man? was the band that made me want to play surf. Yes, and more specifically, Steve Howe‘s playing has been a huge influence on me in more recent years.  They’re all just such masterful players, yet lyrical and serve the song.

Are there any noticeable differences between current surf rock and the sounds that were spilling out of the ‘50s and ‘60s?

Most definitely! I mean, there are guys out there still trying to recreate the sounds of the ‘60s, but I think for most of us it’s quite difficult to ignore the music of the past 50 years and avoid its influence.
(L-R) Stick Stechkin (of The Penetrators), Chad Shivers, Richard Whig (The Fringe Factory), Eddie Angel (of Los Stratjackets), Richard Hawes (of The Mystery Men?), Trace Luger (of The Penetrators), and Bob Walk (of The Surf King Surfwear) – Photo by Jamie Galatas

How cool is it that your band, MOONBASE, shared a stage with the granddaddy of surf-guitar, Dick Dale, as well as Man or Astro-Man? at the Surf Guitar 101 Convention in California. Can you tell our readers a little bit about that experience?

We opened for Man or Astro-man? last year and Dick Dale earlier this year, both at The Earl. It’s a bit hard to believe and feels like everything has come full circle; from idolizing
those guys as a kid to sharing the stage with them, it’s quite the dream come true. When we were approached about performing at the Surf Guitar 101 Convention this year, I was absolutely shocked!  I had no idea we were even on anyone’s radar out there and with our being more on the progressive side, wasn’t even sure how we’d fit in. The response was overwhelmingly positive however, and the opportunity to play with the likes of Davie Allan and The Arrows at the convention for their 50th anniversary and then the following day at the Huntington Beach Pier while people surfed behind us just miles from where it all began was truly a magical experience, never to be forgotten.

Can you tell our readers a little about your collaboration with our Kool Kat Jeffrey Butzer and his new surf-rock project, The Compartmentalizationists?

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Jeffrey Bützer and his music. He has always been so supportive and highly influential on me. He had performed with his trio The Compartmentalizationalists several years back, so of course I had asked him about resurrecting the project to perform at a Stomp. Other members being unavailable, I offered to back him and enlisted fellow Bicycle Eater (as well as Silent Knight, Small Reactions, and Gold Bears member) Sean Zearfoss on drums. After that initial show in June, we all had such a great time we decided to keep going which has led to Jeffrey to finally The Compartmentalizationalists ‘ debut album SUTURES, which we’ll be celebrating at the Southern Surf StompFest! after-party at Kavarna along with Gemini 13 and Band, James Band.

If you could put together a dream line-up of musicians to play with [still around or not], who would it be and why?

I stepped away from surf music for about 10 years in the early 2000s and regret missing many of the great shows that happened during that time. The biggest regret of them all is never getting to meet Eddie Bertrand (of Eddie & the Showmen and The Bel-Airs) or to see him perform.  Although Dick Dale holds the title of “King of the Surf Guitar,” Eddie is my favorite from that first wave in the 1960s. So I would have to say backing him either with his band, The Showmen, or quite possibly with Ivan Pongracic (The Madeira) also on guitar, Dane Carter (The Madeira) on drums, and Carol Kaye on bass.
pre stomp flyer 
 What can ATLReaders expect to experience when they catch a wave and rock out at the Southern Surf StompFest? this Saturday? Anything special planned?

They can quite certainly expect to hear some of the finest surf music in the country and possibly even the world, performed by astounding musicians.  While there, grab some tasty food, enjoy your favorite beverage from The Beer Growler, and shop with our fine vendors. Of course, this is a free event, so please bring some cash to donate toward raffle tickets. We have some amazing prizes and contributions go toward helping us to pay the bands.

What’s next for Chad Shivers?

Hopefully after the festival I’ll be able to spend some much needed time with my family. The Spooky Surf Stomp! with Fiend Without A Face, The KBK and Bad Friend will be October 10. I’ll be doing my annual performance of The Beach Boys and The Ventures Christmas albums with my group the Silent Knights at Kavarna on December 12. I know it may be a tall order, but in 2016 I’d like to see the reach of the Southern Surf Stomp! expand beyond Atlanta, to include other cities in the Southeast and the monthly podcast to become a weekly affair, with revolving hosts. Also next year, be on the lookout for new releases from The Mystery Men? and Jeffrey Bützer and the Bicycle Eaters!

Anything else you’d like to tell ATLRetro readers about yourself, surf rock, etc.?

Nothing other than to ask them to please come out to the Southern Surf StompFest! or one of our monthly shows and bring plenty of friends and family! If you’d like to learn more about what’s happening in this wonderful community please visit our Southern Surf Stomp! website, ‘like’ us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter (@SouthSurfStomp)!

What question do you wish somebody would ask you and what’s the answer?

I’m not sure the question exactly, but it would most definitely involve a wealthy benefactor!

All photographs are courtesy of Chad Shivers and used with permission.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

MOONBASE at the 2015 Surf Guitar convention

The 2015 Surf Guitar 101 convention is now just one month away!  This event showcases the best surf and instrumental groups in the world and I'm pleased to announce that MOONBASE are part of this fantastic lineup.  Fans from all over the globe (Mexico, Italy, Japan, etc.) regularly attend and it should surely not be missed.  If you're unable to attend, you'll be able to stream via
The Surf Guitar 101 convention Facebook event page can be found here.

But the action doesn't just stop there as there are many fantastic surrounding shows as well.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Madeira live audio

This audio is taken from my performance with The Madeira aboard the "Vista King" in Milwaukee for a surf cruise with The Revomatics August 2, 2014.

Insect Surfers "Tiger Shark"

There's a backlog of entries I've been meaning to post.  First up, video from my performance with the Insect Surfers at last year's (2014) Instro Summit.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Creative Loafing article on the Southern Surf Stomp

Original source may be found here.

Chad Shivers' Southern Surf Stomp channels the past, present, and future of Atlanta's Surf Scene

Jamie Galatas
Chad Shivers has his finger of the pulse of the Atlanta surf scene. Outside of Southern California, the Atlanta surf scene might be one of the strongest in the nation, despite the majority of residents remaining unaware of its existence. It’s slightly off the beaten path and out of sight from even the most discerning music fan, but there’s a community of people here who are wildly devoted to music that was left for dead. The resurrection is somewhat slow, but surf is on the rise again in Atlanta.

Getting into surf music 20 years ago after hearing a Ventures song at a house party, Shivers formed his first surf group, the Squares, almost immediately thereafter. From there, he founded Sorry No Ferrari — not surf, but instrumental nonetheless — and most recently progressive surf band Moonbase. He’s also a member of the Mystery Men?, who are a staple of the Atlanta surf scene. In early 2014, he started the Southern Surf Stomp, a monthly surf showcase at Kavarna in Oakhurst. In the surf community, both in Atlanta and nationally, Shivers is helping to usher in a resurgence of the genre.

Shivers invited me into his home to talk about the music while he made BBQ, something he’s also quite good at.

Surf music feels like something that its fans keep in their back pocket. Surf fans have a deeply personal relationship with the genre, its bands, and the scene at large. What is it that resonates 
with you?

Just as much as the music, I think it's community. It has that punk rock idealism, but without a lot of the pretense. You don't have to be or look a certain way. It's fun music and you can choose to push it or not. So many variables, but they're all legitimate.


After being killed by the British Invasion in 1964, surf music made a resurgence in the '90s with bands such as Los Straitjackets and Man or Astro-man? and has maintained an underground status. Why such a devoted yet small following?

I think it's small and devoted, and I'm not trying to sound pitiful, because we're all each other has. We don’t have a big following except each other and it’s very insular. It’s not by our own device, but it’s just an outlier in most people’s tastes.

There's also a lot of cool stuff you can grasp onto with surf music; there's a lot of history and, I hate to say it, but gear is a big component. By its nature, the music has to be more technical because you're playing all of your melodies on guitars or another melodic that's not voice. I think people can grasp on to whatever they want to with surf. I was having a discussion with Eddie Angel of Los Straitjackets for the podcast and brought up the fact that they wear Mexican wrestling masks when they play. He mentioned that that helps because people don't want to see middle-aged guys play surf music. I think that's why people like it, because anyone can play it — it's not a young man's game or an old man's game, it's everybody's game.

I also think there's a great parallel in heavy metal. Surf might not have the same youth appeal, but it’s technically proficient, very gear based, very community based. A lot of surf players come from metal.

To me, Dick Dale sounds like metal much of the time. And Metallica, specifically Kirk Hammett, is clearly indebted to Dick Dale.

And Dick Dale will tell you he's responsible for metal (laughs).

The Southeast seems to have a growing, if not flourishing surf scene centered around Atlanta with the Drive-Invasion, the Clarkston Surf Fest, and other regular events. Can you talk some about Atlanta’s relationship with surf?

The South in general, not just Atlanta, has a great scene. Austin, Texas has a great surf scene with a monthly surf show that they do. Tons of bands, great bands. North Carolina has a great scene.

Alabama has historically had a great scene, which leads me to Atlanta. We've had some heavy hitters in Atlanta, but by proxy of Alabama. Originally, Man, or Astro-man? was based in Alabama and kind of moved to Atlanta. And also, the Penetrators — that’s what we all rally around in Atlanta. I don't think there would be an Atlanta surf scene without those guys. They started in the early '90s and carried the torch for Atlanta.

Where do you see Atlanta’s surf scene right now?

I'm very happy with the Atlanta surf scene. I think it's great, I think it's growing, and I think it has a lot of potential. But I have realistic expectations; I don't think it's going to be the next big thing, but I think if people get in on the secret, they're going to want to be a part of it. We have amazing bands. We have The Surge, El Capitan is now active again, Gemini XIII, my bands MOONBASE and the Mystery Men?. Not to toot my own horn too much, but I think the Mystery Men? have kind of picked up where the Penetrators left off with The Stomp and touring California. That's why I wanted to start this, to showcase the talent.

Clarkston Surf Fest, which turned into Douglasville Surf Fest, drew a bunch of bands from out of town to Atlanta. That definitely helps put bands on the map. Drive-Invasion maybe a little less so, because we always get the side stage. But, historically, it has been good; Los Straitjackets have played, Man, or Astro-man? played. There was a whole surf stage [there] in 2013. Having a central focus to these festivals is really helpful to the scene because we all meet each other and become friends. Again, there’s a lot of patting each other on the back, but I think that’s great because we’re all encouraging each other. It’s like a family reunion every time we have fests.

Festivals are a good opportunity for a general audience to get an introduction to something as specific as surf because people can find something they identify with. They can jump around between stages. These types of festivals build community and raise the music's profile.


Let’s talk about the Southern Surf Stomps. They’ve existed for a little over a year now and are fully booked for the next several months. What are they? What prompted you to start doing them?

It’s a monthly surf show. My goal is to get one local, one regional or national surf group, and one non surf group to bring in different audiences. Most people don’t want to listen to three surf bands play all night, sometimes even myself. I think it creates a different environment and a different experience. We try to do little things each show to make it more than just a show, such as booking a DJ, doing a podcast to promote it, and keeping a blog. We do highlight videos after the shows that get a lot of compliments. It brings attention to our little scene and to what we’re doing.

I started doing these because we have some many great bands here and I thought this was the next logical step to bring different acts here, showcase all of that, and show people how cool Atlanta’s surf scene is, even historically.

Kavarna is an interesting choice for a venue for the Stomps since most of our “rock” music in the city feels rooted in the East Atlanta, Little 5, and Poncey-Highland neighborhoods. Why Kavarna?

The reason we chose Kavarna is because my friend Greg Germani used to put on these great country shows. He used to bring great bands from Nashville. I went to see Chris Scruggs play and it was a really great vibe, a really great experience. I had played Kavarna, but not in an ideal setting. When we were looking for places to do the Stomps, it would have been a difficult sell to clubs, so we went with Kavarna because they’re more open to different ideas and something that they can book monthly as long as they have patrons. I’ve been surprised with the turnouts because at our Crazy Aces show [in February] we had over 100 people.

People have responded really well. I think people like the atmosphere. We talked earlier about surf being an Everyman’s game. Anyone is welcome, they can bring kids, and it’s not just people at a bar. People are there to see the music and have a good time, which everyone gets and responds well to. It’s a different kind of vibe. Is it for everyone? Probably not, but I enjoy it, even going to shows there I enjoy.

Where do you see it going in the future?

I have a lot of ideas. From the start, my goal has been to set the bar high, but the expectations low. Aim for the stars, but don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t work out. It’s funny, many people in the surf community, and maybe even myself, didn’t think we could do this, we didn’t think it would happen, we didn’t think people would come, and we didn’t think we could get all the bands. We’re pretty surprised and encouraged.

As far as big goals, I’d like to get some more national names in, I’d like to get a West Coast group to play, we’d like to build a festival centered around the Stomp, which we’re working on. I’d like to do little things like a webcast of the show, so people can watch from home around the country. We’ve had people come from Kentucky, we regularly have people come from Athens and Augusta, people have come from Florida, Nashville, Alabama, all over the place.

A really crazy goal I have is to expand it to other cities. I’m in discussions with someone now about doing a Southern Surf Stomp somewhere else. One reason I want to do that is that you look at '50s and '60s music, and they had a circuit. Now, if you’re a band, you go on tour and just hope for the best. I think if you have an established thing once a month that’s not overcrowding, you have more incentive for bands to come out from further, potentially make a little more money, and play to bigger audiences.

What defines surf music? On the surface it seems clear: surf beat, reverby guitar, single note leads, generally instrumental, often space themed. But the genre feels more nuanced than that. You have argued that the Ventures aren’t actually a surf band, but, instead, an instrumental band. If this is the case, what makes a surf band?

I think you got it. The defining factor is reverb. I’m sure there are surf bands that don’t play with reverb, but I just don’t know any. Again, I’ll draw a parallel to heavy metal. It’s like a metal band that doesn’t play with distortion. It can happen — I think it does happen, but it doesn’t really fit the character of the music.

What are the three most essential surf albums? How about the most quintessential album from an Atlanta surf band, if those categories don’t overlap.

Hands down, the Penetrators Locked and Loaded is the quintessential, defining Atlanta surf album. You could argue Man, or Astro-man in there, too. [Nationally] Space Cossacks Tsar Wars, from the first wave, Eddie and the Showmen's Squad Car, and, most recently, it’s between Crazy Aces' Surfadelic Spy-a-Go-Go or Barbwires' Sea Rider.

There are waves to surf music?


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Looking forward to 2015, reflections on 2014

Personally, the first half of 2014 was difficult for my family with the loss of my father.  I believe he would have been proud of my accomplishments within the past year.  My father was integral to my musical development starting a young age.  Recognizing my ear early on along with my elementary school music teacher, my parents were supportive of my joining the Atlanta Boys Choir even sending me abroad to perform, about which my dad bragged even into my adulthood.  When I was in college, I was having a tough time of it not knowing exactly what path I should take when he suggested music.  I went on to study classical guitar and was engaged and enthralled by the study of the guitar and music.  My dad was quite a musician himself with a beautiful voice and knowledge of the keyboard and music theory.  Singing of course with the family at Sandy Springs Baptist church where my grandfather was minister, he would later go on to study voice in college and sing barbershop, which he loved, with the Marietta Big Chicken Chorus.

At the beginning of 2014 I thought there to be no way it could exceed the previous year, but was happily mistaken.  Last year was the point in time where my heroes became my peers.  When I was in high school one of my best friends Morgan, drummer of the Squares, purchased Rhino's Cowabunga surf compilation box set and I remember hearing a certain tune in particular.  It started with ambient bells and was slow, moody, and thoughtful and has resonated with me ever since.  That piece was Insect Surfers' "Polaris" and last year I had the opportunity to play the song as a part of the band for Instro Summit.  Still reeling from the experience, shortly after I got home I received an email from Ivan Pongracic of the Madeira asking if I would be willing to fill in for their rhythm guitarist, Patrick, on a river cruise in Milwaukee which of course I couldn't refuse.  Ivan is one of my favorite guitarists of all time and Madeira is one of the top surf groups in the world.  Both were experiences I will cherish for the rest of my life and am grateful for the opportunities.  As if that weren't enough, MOONBASE were finally able to record and release our debut album "Creation Myths". 

2013 found me serving a different role for me as producer for the very first time.  2014 found me serving yet an even more different role as promoter.  What started as a simple question asking friends if they would be interested in attending or playing a monthly surf show here in Atlanta has grown into quite a success, pulling in what I believe to be an excellent number of patrons and some of the best bands not just that the South, but the entire country has to offer.  Out of the show, the Southern Surf Stomp, has also emanated a blog, twitter feed, Facebook page, and podcast.

Honestly I don't know what this year will hold but have high hopes and expectations.  I already have some excellent shows and plans for the Southern Surf Stomp.  MOONBASE wishes to perform more out of town shows.  Both The Mystery Men? and Jeffrey Bützer and the Bicycle Eaters expect to record.  Of course I'd love to produce and fill in for more groups but will have to see just where the year takes me.