Interview with Sheer Trust
New York based indie band, Sheer Trust, has hit the Internet. With the release of a four song demo, Sheer Trust is ready to blaze the Net. As the leader of Sheer Trust, David Sheer aspires to influence people through his experiences as a NY musician. Sheer Trust's music is fundamentally pop, singable, melodic stuff, with an urban sensibility. Read on and see what they are all about...
[Sounni de Fontenay] How did you get started as a musician? How long have you been one?
[David Sheer] I've always been writing and playing. I wrote my first song when I was 2,
and I've been in at least one band at a time since I was about 13 or 14.
[Sounni] What instruments do you play?
[David] Keyboard mostly, but a little of everything else. On the four recently
posted songs, the keyboard or organ is me, and some other parts are me,
too--a little bass, all the horns, a synth guitar. Fortunately, the other
guys are so amazing--George on drums, Al on guitar, Wilbur on bass--that I
can mostly focus on the keyboards and the vocals.
[Sounni] Was music all you wanted to do growing up?
[David] I'll let you know when I'm done growing up.
[Sounni] What are the goals for your music?
[David] To be in touch, to write in a way that reflects the times, or even
anticipates it. People hear Dylan and say, "1962," or Springsteen, and say
"1984" or Nirvana and say "1991." I want people to hear Sheer Trust and say
[Sounni] What was the inspiration for naming the band Sheer Trust?
[David] All the other
good names were taken--those damn Archies!
[Sounni] What are the inspirations for your songs? Are they based out of personal
[David] Everything builds off the music. I'll write a musical line in my head or on
an instrument and develop it until there is a basis for a "song." Then,
depending upon what story or message the music triggers, the lyrics will
fall into place after that. Sometimes the process happens in half an hour,
sometimes much longer. For example, "Rocking Horse." I wrote the music for that one when I was about 15, but I never
completed the song until a few months ago when I was walking through Union
Square; the music and the picture suddenly came together and I finished the
song in about 45 minutes. I've had people hear it and say, yeah, I know
the place and the scene and the walk through the East Village to the Park,
[Sounni] Tumblin' has a reggae feel to it. Tell me more about how that
song came about?
[David] The "break-out" hit--the first time I played it, another musician asked me
where in the world that toasting stuff came from. And you know, I don't
have a good answer. I just sort of heard it in my head, and then played it
out loud. But it's a really, really weird mix there: me, Roland Richards
toasting in the background, and Lisa singing on the chorus in a way that's
kind of "islandy" and kind of kitschy, like the song "Short Shorts." The
song is about being a musician in New York, at least for me, "with the
friends I found." I really don't have hot water, and I really did have to
eat potatoes and beans. But the toasting part is a nice counterpoint, in a
goofy way, because even though the rain is tumbling down, good things come
tumbling down too, and it usually works out. I think Roland and Lisa really
get it. People hear that song, and they just start dancing.
[Sounni] How would you describe your music? Is Tumblin' typical?
[David] Tumblin' isn't typical and it isn't unusual. Sheer Trust is fundamentally pop,
singable, melodic stuff, with an urban sensibility. So there are reggae and
ska influences, and some funk, but it's mostly about putting a good sound
[Sounni] How is Sheer Trust unique compared to other bands of a similar genre?
[David] The sound is so accessible, people can really relate. It's not just turn
the amp on 10 and wail, it's not just a lot of techno, programmed stuff that
shows you can do loops. I've done all that, and it's great for the
musicians, but people hearing it get real tired real fast. The most
important thing is a good song, one that sticks in your head and speaks to
you and moves you. We've got that, and it's flavored with both an authentic
guitar sound and an honest beat.
[Sounni] Which artists have most influenced your music?
[David] I like musicians who can take a sweet, melodic tune and combine it with a
kind of bite, almost a menace. Everclear, Smashing Pumpkins, and Nirvana;
classically, Tom Petty, Dylan, and even the Beatles.
[Sounni] Who do people compare your music with?
[David] It depends on the song. "Down to You" sounds a little like the Smashing
Pumpkins, I suppose, and "Wasting My Time" is kind of Matchbox 20'ish. People hear
"Rocking Horse" and say Dylan, or Lou Reed. That's a pretty wide range, so
I guess it just goes to show how unique Sheer Trust really is.
[Sounni] Do you feel that there is a lot of opportunity for an indie like yourself to succeed, especially considering the Internet?
[David] Absolutely; the Internet
changes everything. Suddenly, our potential audience is not just a bar in
the East Village, or a club off I-95, or whoever happens to hear a demo
tape we sell after a gig. Now, its the whole world, point and click and
download and go. We can reach people across time zones and age groups and
narrow "demographics" and, because we can save the expenses involved in
pressing CD's, shipping, packaging and marketing, we can get more music out
to more people out more cost effectively.
[Sounni] Are you looking to sign on with a label?
[David] Yes, because even though I am an
idealist about the potentials of the information age, I am also a realist.
Cyber-marketing is a critical component of success, but you can't put all
your eggs in that basket. A label allows you to reach a more traditional
listener base through established channels of distribution. And the right
label allows you to coordinate the two means of distribution to get more
music out to an even broader audience.
[Sounni] What kind of label would you join (major or indie)? What special characteristics would that label have to have?
[David] Well, I think the line
between indie and major is already starting to blur, because so many of the
majors have either been buying controlling stakes in indies or starting
their own. Obviously, a major has more cache, but I'd rather sign with
someone who will support our sound, aggressively market our music, and be a
dynamic partner than be buried deep on some roster behind older, more
[Sounni] Do you plan on doing shows in the NYC area or possibly touring regionally?
[David] I try to play as much as I can in New York, but the way things are falling
we don't expect to really start kicking into high gear again until after the
[Sounni] What can we expect from Sheer Trust in the future?
[David] I really like the idea
of fusing a singable, tuneful guitar-based rock with an urban sensibility
and edge. I also want a sense of humor to show more often in the music; I
wince when I hear that heavy gen-x angst stuff. Other than that, just stay
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» Sheer Trust (1999-11-18)