The buzz surrounding Cullman, Alabama’s Shallow Side has been building for several years now. With the release of the quartet’s new EP, One, that buzz is becoming a boom. The six-song extended play showcases the immense raw talent of these rowdy up-and-comers, and includes their signature song, “Rebel,” and their rabble-rousing rendition of the Styx classic, “Renegade.” The latter has even been given the Tommy Shaw seal of approval. The Styx guitarist, a native of Alabama himself, hailed it as the best cover of the song he’s yet to hear.
Shallow Side is fronted by vocalist Eric Boatright and guitarist Seth Trimble, and anchored by the dynamic rhythm section of bassist Cody Hampton and drummer Heath Fields. The band’s sound recalls modern hard rockers like Shinedown, Red Sun Rising, and Pop Evil, while also resonating with the Southern roots of artists like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Black Stone Cherry and Shaman’s Harvest. Last week, Metalholic caught up with the silver-tongued rebels on their way to the Radio Contraband Rock Radio Awards in Las Vegas, for a chat with Eric Boatright about the band’s new album, One.
Shallow Side is huge down south, and you’ve been playing about 200 shows a year, but for those who have yet to experience the band, give us a little backstory.
“We first started playing music together like any other band would, in a garage type area. We actually played in an old run-down shed in the backwoods of North Alabama. We would play songs that we liked, songs that we enjoyed. That party grew to a couple hundred people that would come and hang out, and we had to take that party to venues because the cops would show up, the neighbors would complain, and it started getting a little wild. So we took it to venues, and those venues went to cities, and we went from Birmingham to Huntsville, from Huntsville to Atlanta, from Atlanta to Nashville, from Nashville to Memphis, and then it started growing. Now we travel, 200 dates out of the year, and rock and roll has really revived itself in the North Alabama area, through us—with us; and our fan base, people that we call our family, they’re strong. It’s been a good thing for us.”
Your journey has not been without some bumps in the road on your journey.
“It hasn’t been easy, and no one ever said it was going to be easy doing what you love. But when you love what you do, you bear through it and fight through the trials and tribulations that you go through. Heath, our drummer, actually had two career-ending injuries, which he bounced back from luckily. I’m not sure if it’s his super-human genetics or if he’s just that crazy to step back behind the drum set. He actually had his thumb bitten off by a snapping turtle one time, and then in an alcohol-related skateboarding incident, he broke his collarbone in three different places. Fast-forward a little bit and Cody, our bass player, he actually had his finger ripped open while we were fishing on tour: his knuckle got ripped open. While we were in Florida, I was running, I imagine it was after food because that’s the only thing I ever run after, I tripped and fell and I landed on my face. I wound up in the hospital for about three or four days. It’s been tough on our bodies. Not to mention, this week you caught us on one of those weeks where it’s happening again; our head gasket in our bus blew up or died, or whatever head gaskets do. So now we’re finishing these dates, working our way to Las Vegas, and we’re doing it in Alabama fashion: in a huge pick-up truck.”
One, has a lot of attitude and rebel soul. Do you feel this album is a continuation or evolution from your first two EPs, Home Today and Stand Alone?
“It’s definitely an evolution. We’re continuing to grow within ourselves. We’re all in our mid-20s. We’re all young musicians, and we started playing music together six years ago. So we’re still developing and honing our craft: Understanding how to write a song and convey our story through music. With every release that comes out, you’re going to see a progression, a change, a development, an evolution in the band and our music.”
The first single from the new EP, One, is a cover of the Styx classic, “Renegade.” I understand you guys didn’t realize Tommy Shaw was an Alabama boy when you chose to cover this.
“Had no clue. I didn’t do my extensive research that I probably should have, but I thought that everyone in Styx was from Chicago. That’s what I’ve always known. In talking with their camp about the song, how the song was written, and what was going on with Styx, they broke the news: They were like, ‘Yeah, Tommy Shaw really likes it, and he’s really proud some fellow Alabama guys remade the song.’ I was like, wait, what, hello; so he’s from there too? Yeah, he’s from Montgomery–South Alabama. We’re from North Alabama, but the soul state stays true. I’d like to say that that song almost chose us to lay it down and do a remake for it. It turned out well. Tommy Shaw actually sent a message to us that he completely approves it, with a tip of the hat and a thumbs up.”
The song “Fight or Flight” seems to be about perseverance; never giving up no matter the odds. That’s sort of the story of Shallow Side.
“That is exactly what that song is about, and it’s something that we say every night; if you don’t take anything else away from the show, we just try to make everyone else understand that you always have those two choices– to fight for what you believe in or you can turn around and run away from it like it never happened. Our mission has always been to stand up and fight for the things that we love and the things that we want out of life, and it’s proven successful, so there’s no need to turn back.”
The song “Rebel” seems to be something of a calling card for Shallow Side.
“That is exactly what that song is about, and it’s something that we say every night; if you don’t take anything else away from the show, we just try to make everyone else understand that you always have those two choices– to fight for what you believe in or you can turn around and run away from it like it never happened. Our mission has always been to stand up and fight for the things that we love and the things that we want out of life, and it’s proven successful, so there’s no need to turn back. “
You can check out the full interview with Eric Boatright of Shallow Side below, and catch them on tour this spring and summer.