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Who Is Perry Shall? A Conversation With Philadelphia's Own Musician, Artist, and DIY Activist
  by: SteveKane - Broomall, PA
started: 04/08/13 6:14 pm | updated: 04/08/13 6:14 pm
Serving the local Philadelphia music and arts spectrum for years now, iRadioPhilly's Stephen Kane gets the chance to speak with Perry Shall, a dedicated musician/artist/curator who keeps active promoting and playing shows allowing the thriving music scene of Philadelphia flourish. Shall’s projects vary from locally-made guitar pedals, album artwork, putting together shows, as well as playing in numerous Philly rock bands. An esteemed and established artist, Shall’s work has been featured with bands such as JEFF the Brotherhood, Best Coast, and Bombino. In between helping countless groups both locally and nationally, Shall spends time rocking in a number of Philly bands including Dry Feet, HOUND, and Bad Side. Here we share a conversation on touring, influential music, artwork, the local Philadelphia music scene, TSVG guitar pedals, and a welcome back to Philly.

Who is Bad Side?

Bad Side is a collective of unknown musicians playing punk music based out of Philadelphia.

Bad Side just finished a tour with a sold out show at the First Unitarian Church this past weekend with Philly hardcore heroes Paint It Black, how was the welcoming back?

It was a great show. I've been seeing Paint it Black since their first shows and it was very nostalgic and thrilling to see them killing it in 2013 as much as they did in 2002 or whenever they started.

Any notable highlight moments from the tour?

Tour is always great for one reason or another. Sometimes just sitting in a van with friends for hours at a time is enough enjoyment to make you forget about troubles at home.

How has the city of Philadelphia influenced your artwork, music, and creative process?

Philadelphia has influenced me in so many ways I don't even know if I can pinpoint it. I grew up here so I was always infatuated with all things Philadelphia since I was a kid. R. Crumb was born in Philly as well as countless other artists and musicians that have made an impact on my life. The idea that someone I could look up to so much is from the same place that I'm from is pretty cool enough. The positives and the negatives of the city both seem to fuel my work. From the Toynbee tiles to the murals to the graffiti to the dirt and grime everywhere… it's all something to keep my mind moving I guess.

How long have you been drawing, writing and playing music?

I've been drawing ever since I could hold a crayon. Unfortunately I never found a reason to hold onto them but if you looked through my old school notebooks, you'd find about 95% doodles and 5% work. I graduated High School with about a C- average. I didn't really bother studying, taking many notes or paying much attention. I was too busy drawing. I kind of always had this goal of just doing art and/or music. I never thought I'd actually get anywhere with it but I was pretty determined to not get stuck doing the regular routine. As for music, I took drum lessons in third grade so I could get out of class and I loved the Beatles so I thought I could be like Ringo or something. Eventually I moved from the snare drum to the bass drum, and eventually the full kit. I never practiced because much like school, it seemed like a chore. Then I picked up a guitar and never looked back. I feel like I didn't get good at that until about 2 years ago.

What records, artists, movies, or bands have inspired your work? Any favorite bands you consistently go back and listen to?

Musically my biggest influence is Elvis Costello and Beastie Boys. They've been my favorites since as far back as I can remember. There's probably a million others but those immediately come to mind. As far as artists… R. Crumb, Ed Roth, Coop, Pushead, Frank Frazetta, Frank Kozik, and tons more. I also watch a ton of horror and Troma movies which I've been watching since I was way too young to be. I always go back to Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, Beastie Boys, Bad Brains and a bunch of old Power Pop records.

What do you think of the local do-it-yourself music community that has rapidly developed in Philadelphia over the past few years?

PHILLY DIY IS ALIVE AND WELL. PHILLY SHREDS FOREVER. I cannot stress that enough. It is one of the things that will probably never allow me to leave this filthy city I call home.

You did the cover artwork for Dan Auerbach and Tuareg guitarist Bombino’s new album Nomad, (looks awesome!) featuring a man with a guitar on a motorcycle wearing a cape. How did that come about, was there a preconceived idea for a theme, and how receptive were they to the design?

The man is Bombino (Omar Moctar) himself. Dan and the label had some ideas of Bombino on the motorcycle riding through the dessert. I was the person to make that happen. I don't know if there's much else besides the technique and other ideas I could bring to the table. I'm stoked on it and the record itself is amazing.

Philadelphia’s own independent guitar effect pedal manufacturers TSVG feature your artwork. Were you a part of the inception of the company? Each individual pedal is hand-wired and point-to-point, how do you think this affects the sound comparing to other mass-produced pedals? What’s your favorite pedal in the impressive TSVG line?

TSVG was the creation of Mike Klein. Mike and I have known each other since we were about 8 years old. Also we've been playing in bands together since we were about 15 years old. Not a single day has passed since then that we haven't. He worked at about 3 serious office jobs sitting behind a desk before he finally got sick enough of it to quit. Then he started selling vintage music equipment to make some extra cash and eventually tried building some guitar pedals. I guess having me do the art on the pedals just made sense to him. It kind of came natural. He had some other people doing some designs too in the beginning and they were cool but I think it was a smart move to have them all look slightly similar so now I just do them all. The hand wired, point to point thing is something that doesn't get done so much in guitar pedals anymore. It's the idea of all of the wires and capacitors and stuff being directly connected instead of wiring up motherboards or something. I don't know a hell of a lot about the details but from my understanding it makes TSVG stand out a little bit and it means Mike has to put a little lovin' in every pedal. My favorite pedal is the HARD STUFF Boost. It's also the first one he started making in the pedal line.

What is your affiliation with Nashville rockers, JEFF the Brotherhood?

I met JEFF the Brotherhood while on tour with Screaming Females a few years ago. I do all of their artwork, used to tour with them a bunch and mostly they are my good good friends. They've made Nashville a second home for me and helped me meet a ton of amazing people and bands.

Your rock and roll band, Hound, features Ted Leo and the Pharmacists drummer Chris Wilson, how did the band originate?

Mike from TSVG and I were in a band for a longgggg time. We had always been into that type of music but could never quite incorporate it into our band. Towards the demise of said band, we started writing some new songs together. We had our friend Brendan Graham playing drums for us for a while kind of just to help us write. He ended up sticking with it for maybe a year or so before he had to call it quits. I had known Chris for a few years and it kind of hit me one day that he might be interested. Turns out he was and it's a perfect fit.

You put together shows in Philadelphia featuring local bands as well as bands coming through on tour under the moniker “Perry Shows.” How does the booking process go for you, what DIY venues/spaces do you usually curate for?
I don't think much of it besides that I have friends in bands who need to play Philly on tour and sometimes I'm able to help them. I only book bands I know personally, people will want to see or bands I really like. I get emails constantly asking to help bands with shows but I don't have enough time and I'm too picky anyway. My favorite venues right now are The Golden Tea house, Nachohouse (my house), The Great Indoors and Glitoria is a rad space. Also I'd like to say RIP Terrordome and RIP Cloud City.

What are some shows you’ve seen, or been a part of, in Philly that stick out as most memorable?

I booked a show for the band Giuda from Italy last year and was blown away by how many people showed up. I think I just hyped it up so much that people thought they had to see it. It was so great to see Philly come together to see a band they never heard of or would never usually see in their hometown. Also Tenement at Golden Tea House last year as well as every time Diarrhea Planet comes through. I could name about 50 others but I'll spare you.

What are some of your favorite Philly venues for rock and roll?

As far as DIY, all of the ones I mentioned above. As far as legit venues, I really like the sound at Kung Fu Necktie and Philamoca is a fun spot. The Church will probably always be my favorite venue in Philadelphia though. It holds a lot of great memories from when I was starting out going to shows when I was younger.

Who is your favorite “The Simpsons” character, and why?

I don't think it's even possible to choose. Poochie?

Being a fan of rock and roll, hardcore, and punk rock who sticks out for you in the Philly music scene right now?

Bad Doctors, Bad Energy, Bad Side

Have you ever considered premiering a showcase for your artwork?

Like an art show? I did one a few years ago but nobody wants to see that.

Your band Dry Feet is known to hail from Philadelphia Beach, where is this and what does it stand for?

Philadelphia Beach is wherever and whatever you want it to be but it DOES exist and we are the only band from there.

Are you currently anticipating any shows for the exciting spring show season in Philly?

April 13th - Tenement, Diarrhea Planet, Ovlov, Swearin, Attitude Era at Glitoria for more info Also Dry Feet opening for Man or Astroman June 22nd.

What future ventures do you have planned, including projects, artwork and music. What happens next?

I pretty much work nonstop on all of the above. Just keep an ear and an eye out for HOUND, Dry Feet, Perry Shall, Crucial Headache, and Perryshows at your local bloggery and coffee shop. Thanks!

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