Wound deep within the anthemically angular indie punk of Oakland-based two-piece band Shutups is a story of resilience and deep friendship. Singer/songwriter/guitarist Hadley and drummer Mia were college buddies pulled apart due to simple geography, but reunited after Hadley suffered a medical emergency that left him walking with a cane and hiding from the sun for two years. Three years later, Shutups seed the path to its debut, Every Day I'm Less Zen, with the album’s first single, Yellowjacket.
“It didn’t feel like a happy ending movie plot,” Hadley says of his re-emergence from medical exile and personal tumult in light of his accident. “I came out depressed and not wanting to do anything. The band saved me.”
Shutups pools from shared influences such as Fugazi, Paul McCartney and Wings, Elliott Smith, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Diarrhea Planet. "We both also like Abba. We love that large-scale, over-the-top 1970s production," Hadley deadpans. The band’s mix of lush instrumentation and imaginative arrangements stays visceral courtesy of Mia’s drumming which is both caveman and keenly attuned to each track’s jagged twists and turns.
“I'm completely untrained musically, which I think is limiting sometimes, but I'm also kind of this impressionable canvas which offers limitless opportunity,” Mia says, taking a pause. “Quite the paradox. I also hit things really fucking hard which is the only way to move through trauma and mental shit I cannot express.”
To date, Shutups has released four EPs. The pair’s debut long player is a watershed release that benefits from careful reflection and an unrushed studio schedule. Every Day I’m Less Zen was produced by Cody Votolato, the guitarist from the post-hardcore group The Blood Brothers who recently produced Dude York’s 2017 release, Sincerely.
Yellowjacket froths over with grime, knotted up feelings, snotty urgency, and post-punk arty and abrasive riffage. The track is a hermit’s anthem, and unpacks a litany of diurnal frustrations. “It’s about a few things,” Hadley admits. “I address putting art above a social life and seeing the effects of that. In it, I also talk literally about regretting haircuts, as well as being sick for an entire summer. It's lyrically not a very cohesive song, but themes of discontent reign supreme.”
Up next, Shutups will hit the road and likely return soon to the studio as a follow up album has been fully written. Reflecting on the pair’s connection throughout its rollicking journey, Mia says: “We've been through some very real personal highs and lows. It's a friendship that has persisted to a point where we know each other’s idiosyncrasies, favourite things, and we share a sense of humour. You can’t force that - it takes countless hours on the road with someone or in a studio to have that sort of connection.”