Sarah Shook fuses punk and country as the singer/songwriter in her band, Sarah Shook & the Disarmers. The band is made up of members Eric Peterson (electric guitar), Aaron Oliva (upright bass) and Phil Sullivan (pedal steel). Kevin McClain (drums) will join for the album release at Cat's Cradle on April 6. Staff writer Jessica Abel talked with Sarah about her musical inspiration, upcoming tours and favorite local hangouts.
The Daily Tar Heel: Tell me a bit about how your band formed.
Sarah Shook: My old band, Sarah Shook & the Devil, broke up and my guitarist and I formed a very short-lived band called Sarah Shook and the Dirty Hands. It was a lot of fun, but it wasn’t exactly the direction that we wanted to go in. We had been talking about adding drums for a long time, so we decided that was the next thing on the list: find a drummer and get another upright bassist.
DTH: How would you describe your music?
SS: It’s outlaw country with a pretty strong punk rock undercurrent.
DTH: What was your inspiration for that?
SS: I write all the songs and that’s always been my personality. It just kind of comes out in the music, and it is what it is.
DTH: How does it feel to be back performing in your hometown of Chapel Hill?
SS: It feels great. We haven’t played in the Chapel Hill area since New Year’s Eve. We’ve been hitting the road pretty hard this year. We’ve been down in Texas for South by Southwest, and just kind of played all over the place, so having a home-court show is really exciting. We’re so stoked to be back.
DTH: In the last year, what’s your favorite place you’ve performed?
SS: Wow, so many cool places. Union Pool in Brooklyn is a favorite. The Echo in Los Angeles is also a favorite. We’ll be back there later this year.
DTH: What makes a show a favorite?
SS: It’s a combination of the audience and the venue. It’s always great to roll up to a club and meet the staff and think, "Man, these people are cool and they know how to take care of their artists."
DTH: What are you most looking forward to on your upcoming Scandinavian tour?
SS: I’m just excited to be over there. Starting last year, we got a lot of messages from fans in Sweden and Norway who were trying to figure out how to get us over there. We’ve got an 18-day Northeast and Midwest run, and then we’ve got one day to run home and do laundry and pack. Then we’re in Scandinavia for 32 days. It’s basically a 50-day run, and it’s going to be great.
DTH: Do you get the chance to experience the town you’re playing in when you have a show?
SS: It depends on how late the show is. We just had a great show in New Orleans and met up with some old friends who are living there now. We got to go out on the town and hit all the dive bars, which are our favorites. It’s always great to see a town and know someone who lives there who can take you to the cool spots.
DTH: Do you have a favorite spot in Chapel Hill that you like to go to before a show?
SS: The Cave is my home base. I’ve worked there for a long time, and I’m actually leaving soon. I’m finally at the point where I can quit my day job and just focus on music. I’m excited about it. It’s a weird feeling, but it’s still my number one place to hang out in Chapel Hill.
DTH: Anything else you’d like to mention about the show on Friday?
SS: It’s just going to be a big ol' party and we’re all really looking forward to it.
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