Davis band Shayna and the Bulldog will celebrate the release of its second album with a show at Sophia’s Thai Kitchen on May 14. But they don’t want to monopolize the spotlight – musicians are invited to submit their own recordings for the chance to open the show. Submissions are due tomorrow.
The band originally had four members: Joel Daniel, the bassist and singer; Charles Castle, the guitarist, keyboard player and singer; Nina Doherty, drums and percussion and Cozy Gazelle, guitarist and backing vocals. They recently gained a new member, Laura Gillies, who plays keyboard and percussion. All members attended UC Davis.
Gazelle and Daniel met as undergrads in winter 2001 in their History of Rock Music course. By 2006, all the members had come together to form Shayna and the Bulldog.
In the beginning the band worked to find a common sound that would incorporate all of its different backgrounds.
“We all have different musical influences which make it interesting and sometimes hard when we want to find music to play,” Castle said.
Daniel started off writing songs that were more pop based while Castle wrote songs that had more of a bluegrass tone. Additionally, Gazelle does most of their mixes and incorporates music styles from the 1950s to present day.
Some favorite bands of the group are REM, The Cure, Oasis, The National and other indie rock bands. For Daniel, an Oasis concert was his motivation to start learning guitar.
“On the band’s tour the rhythm guitar player wrote the songs and he did a part when it was just him performing and playing songs. At the concert there were teenagers and old people and people of all ethnicities and backgrounds, and they are a British band so people were waving British flags the whole time. Every person there could sing along to every song he sang and it was just the coolest experience ever,” Daniel said.
It was difficult in the beginning to combine all their different styles, they said. They released their first album in 2009 along with 2 EPs.
“It’s been a bumpy road. Our first album was really imbalanced, we would hear one song and then hear another and both came from different directions. Over the course of many years of arguing we came closer and found a sound,” Castle said.
In their new album, self titled Shayna and the Bulldog, there is a clear progression toward a more unique sound for the band. It took a while to find this sound and to be able to express it.
“On this new record everybody wrote lyrics, everybody wrote music; it was pretty collaborative which is pretty much the first time that’s happened,” Daniel said.
There is also a distinct theme or tone to the new record. It is reflective of the band’s progress and the changes occurring around them.
“We’ve gone through a lot of changes, friends moving away, long term relationships breaking up, job changes, moving, so the record has that theme of life changing and time progressing,” Doherty said.
In order to create this theme in the album, the band has to choose its songs very carefully. Doherty said they spent six months working on a set of songs for the album and now not a single one of them is on the album. Some of the members would argue that writing and choosing songs is the best part of being in the band.
“When you get to write a song with somebody, [it’s] the best thing for me. On the latest album Joel, Charles and I were able to sit in a room and put three parts together and come up with a song,” Gazelle said.
For Doherty recording the album was one of the most enjoyable parts of the process.
“It was fun hearing the songs come together after working on it for so long,” she said.
Additionally, the band has received support from various people in the local Davis community over the years. Kevin Wan from Sophia’s Thai Kitchen gave them one of their first shows and it allowed them to get noticed by the community. He has definitely noticed a change in the band’s sound with the new record.
“You could definitely see the transition from college band to rock band,” Wan said.
The release party at Sophia’s will not just showcase their new album and their EP, The Youth We Knew, but also will display two other bands. One of the bands, Caught in Motion, is from Oakland and includes a former UC Davis student. The other band has not been chosen yet. Shayna and the Bulldog are looking for a local band/performer to open their show that has just started. They want a band that is reminiscent of them when they just started out.
New member Laura Gillies said Shayna and the Bulldog’s contest will provide a new band with a valuable leg up in the Davis music scene.
“I was in another Davis band for a while and we were three years behind these guys so when there was a scene building at Sophia’s we couldn’t even get our foot in the door,” Gillies said. “So Shayna and the Bulldog giving a new band the chance to play is really cool. It opens that door for them.”
Interested musicians should e-mail submissions by tomorrow to firstname.lastname@example.org.
PAAYAL ZAVERI can be reached at email@example.com.