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Band Crush: The Sheila Divine

September 24, 2010

The Sheila Divine should have been superstars, plain and simple. Aaron Perrino, Jim Gilbert and Shawn Sears perform powerful and intelligent anthem rock; “sensitive rock for dudes,” it has been called. Their exceptional songwriting, together with lofty vocals and driving hooks, helped them win the 1999 WBCN Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble and earned them a rabid local following. They disbanded in 2002 and haven’t collaborated on new material since. Now, a few years older and wiser, they’re heading into the studio to begin work on a fan-funded new album. First though, they’ll be headlining the final night of WFNX’s Disorientation series at the Landsdowne Pub on 9/30.

Boston Band Crush: So how was the decision to get back together made? You guys have been out of it since, what, 2003?
Aaron Perrino: Yeah, 2002. We just got a bunch of calls; Keith Dakin was like “Want to do this FNX thing?” and then our booking agent called and said that there were offers for The Sheila Divine coming in and then about two weeks later we were contacted to put a song on a compilation. It was really bizarre, three things all of a sudden. So we decided to do these shows and then went out for beers. I’d been already sort of thinking about the next thing because I just felt like Dear Leader [Perrino’s other band] had put out a bunch of records very fast, and I wanted to do something different. So it was just like, “Hey, we should record something again.” Then we had to think of how to do it in a spectacular way.

BBC: So the other guys jumped right on board?
AP: Yeah. We’re all still friends, and we had always planned to do it again so it was just a matter of when. We had actually tried to bring it back when I moved back from Belgium, but it just didn’t feel right at the time.

BBC: Were there songs over the years that you wanted to do that didn’t work as well with Dear Leader, that maybe work better with The Sheila Divine, that you’ve been holding on to, or is it all brand new?
AP: Well, the concept of the new thing is that we’re going into the studio and we’re gonna stream it live on UStream and people are gonna see as we write a lot of it live. I have a few songs, but it’s almost all new. It’s kind of scary, I don’t know if it’ll work, but I like it. I’ve been refining the project as I go along, so now the plan is every Thursday night to get together and UStream it. The goal is to track one song every night and leave it more loose. We’re also going to bring in some people on different nights to play with us and collaborate. Bill Janovitz said he’s gonna come down, so one night it’ll be The Sheila Divine and Bill Janovitz. I think it’s gonna be awesome.

BBC: So, let’s talk about Kickstarter. Lots bands are using it to fund records and/or tours now and you guys had success with it – is that something you see as becoming more common?
AP: Well, we decided we were gonna make a record, but we’re not gonna go after a record label, and my wife’s not gonna let me mortgage the house. Plus, it was a tool to gauge how much interest there still was in the band – I had no idea, so I figured we’d set it at a lower price so we could make an entire record. We knew there was a good core of fans that would want it to happen, but then it just kept going. I was surprised at the number of fans who contributed, it’s over 200 people now, so that’s pretty amazing.

BBC: So do you see that as the new paradigm for funding music going forward?
AP: I do – I mean if you would buy the record as it is, then why not? There is a weird line of begging people for money and it does feel dirty in a way, but I see it as letting people be part of the process, and my own vision for this project is that I want people to be as involved with the making of this thing as they want to be. That’s why we’re going to broadcast it and they can watch it if they want. Ustream is connected with Twitter and Facebook, so I envision asking people “Hey, what do you think of this organ sound? Oh, you hate it?” So it could be something where people help influence the outcome of the music, which I think is something interesting. And I want to be open about how much stuff costs. Even when we were successful before, people thought we were making tons of money and they couldn’t believe that even when we were at our biggest we were making like, $500 each a month. It’s definitely cheaper to make a record now, and I could just make it on my laptop at home, but there is something about doing it in a nice studio with producers and everything. It makes it more special.

BBC: Recording now compared to when you were recording New Parade and Countrymen must be different.
AP: I’ve been pretty open – New Parade cost $80,000 to make. Now you can pretty much make a record, like a serious record, for $5,000, so that’s a big change.

BBC: Beyond the record and the FNX show, is there anything you’re looking forward to?
AP: The record is gonna take a while, and that to me is something that’s really big. I was trying to find something that I can fit into my dad schedule, so even recording once a week at a given time like it’s my poker night is kind of a fun concept. We are getting lots of emails to play different places, but I kind of want to make a great record and then figure out what to do.

BBC: Lastly, what Boston bands are you crushing on right now?
AP: I’m so far behind. I heard the demo for Night Fruit, and I really liked that. I’ve been hearing a lot about Mystery Roar, that’s one that Jim [Gilbert] told me to check out. I always like Hallelujah the Hills and Faces on Film, I think that Mike Fiore is my favorite singer in town.

Check out this track, “Like A Criminal” performed live in Boston: The Sheila Divine – Like A Criminal by

and this video of “Opportune Moment” from the Funeral DVD (featuring Colin Decker on guitar):

One Comment
  1. Great post and cannot wait to hear what comes of new project. Really missed these guys and still give props to Dear Leader too!

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