Star Scene: Cody Blanchard & Will Sprott ~ SHANNON and The CLAMS

Cody Blanchard & Will Sprott of Shannon & The Clams spoke to Mary Boukouvalas about their latest release, Year of the Spider, and about their upcoming Australian tour …

Love Police Touring Presents

Love Police Touring is a-buzz to announce the return of Oakland’s Shannon & The Clams for appearances on the Love Police Stage at Splendour in the Grass and headline shows in Melbourne, Sydney and Wollongong.  After six albums – the latest Year of the Spider was released towards the end of last year – and nearly as many tours of Oz, Shannon & The Clams have a huge repertoire of killer tunes and the unflagging spirit that makes for the greatest of live bands.

“Shannon Shaw and Cody Blanchard trick out warped Fifties-Sixties rock driven by space-age thrift-shop keyboards, shimmy-shake dance grooves and sexy moonlit vocals—Shaw’s woozy Amy Winehouse-isms are backlit by Blanchard’s shrieky falsetto.” -Rolling Stone

“Year of the Spider is anything but stuck in the past. Its novel sonic alloys & punk rock spirit ring of right now.” – Uncut

“How … does an album such as Year of The Spider, one that feels resilient, jubilant, and carefree, emerge in the midst of such a difficult time? It might be a mystery, but it’s the distillation of these experiences that translate into this uniquely vibrant album.” – Rolling Stone Australia




Thu 28 –  MARY’S UNDERGROUND, SYDNEY (w/ Jeff The Brotherhood) – TIX

For further information


“Garage-rock” and “Retro-rock” are two terms they’re often tagged with, but neither does justice to Shannon & The Clams. With their rich and varied aesthetic, great songs and a colourfully textured sound that takes in classic ‘60s girl-group and doo wop, Shannon & The Clams play souped-up, keyboard and guitar-driven ‘60s-inspired soulful pop rock’n’roll. With a penchant for minor-key moods and swinging grooves, the group has an emotional authenticity that belies their fun name and a lively spirit that confirms it, and in Shannon Shaw they have a voice and a presence for the ages. The band has developed notoriety for lively and genuine stage performances, and a zealous following that craves their particular authenticity and innovation on classic sounds.

Shannon & The Clams’ sixth studio album, Year Of The Spider, is out now via Easy Eye Sound. For the album, the band, fronted by bass player Shannon Shaw and guitarist Cody Blanchard on lead vocals with Will Sprott on keyboards and Nate Mahan on drums, returned to Dan Auerbach’s Nashville Easy Eye Sound Studio to craft a mature, reflective and ebullient album built for the current times, on which they have perfected their signature blend of garage psych, doo-wop, classic R&B, and surf rock. 
Year Of The Spider, rages against death, darkness, and disease with the power of a thousand angry Ronettes. 
“It felt like the end of an era,” Shaw said about a writing period that began with the tragic death of The Clams’ former drummer Mick. In 2016, The Clams’ DIY community suffered the devastating Ghost Ship warehouse fire. In 2018, the California wildfires came unnervingly close to her parents’ homes. In 2019, a lurking intruder drove Shaw to move out of her beloved Oakland apartment she’d lived in for 14 years. And then, right as her band was getting invited on big tours with bands like Greta Van Fleet and The Black Keys, her father was diagnosed with cancer (he has since, thankfully recovered). 
The resulting album is a reflection and intimate portrait of overcoming seemingly overwhelming odds, and not only surviving but thriving in the process.The opening track “Do I Wanna Stay” is a slow tango between Shaw and an alluring piano line (Will Sprott). When Shaw rasps, “I dream at night,” she sounds like Brenda Lee whittled into a shiv. “All Of My Cryin’,” “Godstone,” and “Year Of The Spider,” pulse with elegance and punk ferocity. On a Clams record, you always get both. 
That duality comes from the decade-long creative partnership between Shaw and The Clams’ guitarist Cody Blanchard. In “I Need You Bad,” their voices lock into a bewitching minor chord. “It’s like a zipper when we sing together,” Shaw said, “I think we have a blood harmony, though we’re not related.” Bands that do have blood harmonies — the Everly Brothers, the Bee Gees — are major musical touchstones for Shaw and Blanchard.
Blanchard mixed Spider at Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound Studio the week tornadoes devastated parts of Nashville right before the COVID-19 shutdowns in early 2020. He also wrote and sings lead on roughly half the songs on Spider. His songs, like “Flowers Will Return” and “In The Hills, In The Pines,” have swelling pop arrangements and a mysteriously sparse falsetto, reminiscent of bands like The Hollies and The Zombies. 
Ultimately Year Of The Spider, despite being written the summer before the world came to a stop, is a prescient album and a reflection on love, loss, and community, and how what we fear can ultimately serve to protect us. “I am terrified of spiders, but my mom always told me that they are drawn to me,” says Shannon Shaw. The turbulent period following the release of the band’s previous album, Onion, allowed Shannon to consider arachnids in a different light. “The symbolism of the spider made a full turn in an interesting way,” she said. “I was getting protection from the thing I feared the most.” Plus, she said, “Spiders destroy the bullshit bugs. Like mosquitoes. Who needs ‘em?”
“Year of the Spider is not only the most musically diverse Shannon and the Clams record, but it’s also the most lyrically affecting…  By incorporating a wider array of subgenres without losing their core identity, Shannon and the Clams create music that’s familiar without feeling redundant… Year of the Spider’s centerpiece is its deceptively chipper title track, which summarizes the traumatic period Shaw experienced prior to writing the album: “I know that change is good/But it hurts, and it is frightful,” she bellows over an instrumental that weaves early R&B with a surf-rock riff. For all the struggle that inspired the record, Shannon and the Clams embrace the change with grace.” – Pitchfork

About Mary Boukouvalas 1614 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos,,,, She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.