B Side Shuffle are one of the most exciting and kinetic up-and-coming bands hailing from Washington, D.C. Currently the band is celebrating the release of their new EP Farmalade, which is the band’s first official release of 2014. Farmalade fuses a multitude of genres, all while staying extremely precise and full of energy. The chemistry between the band reflects through the music and not only their natural talent, but also their exquisite musical taste as well. All of these elements come together to breathe of new fresh side of life to a booming local music scene. We sat down with Geoff Browning (guitar/vocals), Jasper Drisko (percussion), Carter Jones (bass) and Nik Sus (guitar) in a recent interview to discuss the new EP, the direction of the band and the recent accomplishments of a talented band on the rise experiencing a new wave of success.
B Side Shuffle seems to be in a really good place right now, tell me a little bit about the band and how you’ve gained so much local success recently.
Jasper: We’re just having fun. That has been one of our main goals from the beginning and is the driving force behind what we are doing. We try hard to put on fun events that people want to come back to and so far it’s going great.
Nik: What Jasper said – fun is our mantra and goal. We also try to make music that’s accessible and unpretentious, the type of music anyone with an open mind can get into.
Geoff: 2013 surprised, challenged, and inspired all of us in ways we never could have envisioned a year ago. We worked with a lot of amazing people and there were these moments where we all sort of looked at each other, giggled, and said “Wow, this is working.” Those are the moments I live for. And I’m lucky to be doing this with a talented family of my best friends, on stage and off. The B Side team is a serious force to be reckoned with and we always have a ton of ideas in motion. I love it.
Carter: It really is all about having fun. For me, music has always been a way of letting go and a way of relieving stress. It’s kind of therapeutic in that way. I think that the recent success of B Side really hinges upon the fact that we are having a good time on stage. We are pouring ourselves into every note up there (on stage) and trying to bring people on this musical journey with us. The music has soul, a pulse, a solid beat that people seem to crave. They are energized by it and a certain part of them
maybe that they didn’t know just seems to relax into the groove. Relaxation is something that this town definitely needs more of. Also, DC is always in search of a good time. In terms of actual performance from our side, it is hard to not have a great time on stage when people are rocking out and losing themselves in something that you have created.
Carter: One of my biggest creative motives in this project was to make music for a people who wanted to hear it. We play rooms packed with amazing people who are there for the sole reason of wanting to see (and feel) live music. Without them there would be no Shuffle. It is always a huge boost for me when we are up there emoting and creating and playing for a receptive audience. I dig that people are dancing. True fact: Bass players love seeing people dance. I am making the music that speaks from my heart and when I see people getting down to something that I have created it brings me certain happiness. Really, I’m just glad that people like to listen to our tunes.
Geoff: Carter plays a purple bass with gold hardware. At first I was skeptical. I think he’s earned it though.
Tell me a little bit about Farmalade and what this new EP means for the band.
Nik: We’ve really coming into our own with Farmalade. It runs the gamut of our stylistic vocabulary. We try to play everything from rock, to funk, to prog, to EDM, to reggae, all while retaining a distinctly B Side sound. We were definitely more ambitious production-wise on this album too (e.g., there are horns, sitar, synths, random nature sounds, Barney the Dinosaur did some backup vocals, etc.). I think it’s the type of album you could blast a party with your friends and have a great time, but also sit back and enjoy on more introspective level, if you’re so inclined.
Geoff: At a certain point we really just our imaginations run wild. We shot for the moon and held on for the wild ride. The songs took on a life on that exceeded any expectations we may have had. It was an amazing experience. I’ve never been prouder of anything in my life. I guess one of my informal goals as a songwriter has always been to do something people really can really dig into, like all the songs I’ve dug into over my life. Everyone has songs that speak to their soul, that remind them of certain chapters of their life and that will stay with them forever. In this case, that’s what these songs are for me. It’s an expressive emotion that’s hard to put into words. Rob Shaffer slays dragons for a living, and he helped us take on these bold, ambitious, imaginative ideas. He really got on board and pushed us to execute them well. Farmalade is what we came up with at the end of that process. I can’t wait to share this with even more people this summer, playing festivals is one of my favorite things ever and I hope Farmalade will open a lot more of those doors for us.
Carter: This album represents what B Side can generate when we all put our heads together and harness the beast that is our creative process. We have all poured blood, sweat and tears into absolutely every piece of this album and I, for one, am proud of every note, effect, layer, and beat on Farmalade. This album represents the true vision of many of these songs. On stage we are hampered by the fact that we’re only four guys. I would love to have an entire horn section, a Hammond organ, several synth pads, and a zillion drums on stage, but that the operation is still a bit small for a tour bus at this point. Maybe one day we can pull it off live like this, but at this point we will have to leave the huge band thing with George “Dr. Funkenstein” Clinton.
Jasper: This album is huge for us. I think we all had some idea of what we wanted it to be when we started, but it really came together through the whole process and turned out better than we ever imagined. It captures a big step in the development of our sound and I think it shows we are heading in a great direction.
Tell me about the infamous farm where the album recorded?
Geoff: My friend Britteny owns a farm about 90 minutes outside of DC. Last October, she let about eight of us move in and take over her farmhouse to record the album. We showed up with five cars full of gear, a producer, an engineer and some sound baffles. We basically played a very loud, for her two horses that consisted of the same five songs over and over again, with one exception where we drank a bunch of whiskey and stopped trying to be productive. It was probably the most fun thing I’ve ever done. We were all really excited to be there and I think that shines through in how the songs came out. I still sort of relive it a little every time I hear the tracks.
Jasper: About an hour after we got to the farm and started setting up, the power went out and we had a moment where we all looked at each other worried that we might not be able to record anything that weekend. We got on the phone and in 20 minutes we had lined up multiple quotes on renting portable generators as a backup plan in case the power didn’t come back. Luckily, the town we were in only had one power guy and he seemed really excited that he had some work to do.
Carter: The weekend was such a blur. Live tracking is always interesting, but nailing those songs, especially “Gauntlet” was tricky. Not only are we perfectionists, but we write music that challenges us and stretches our ability, so getting a product that we were all happy with after a take left us with many ‘okay, just one more take’ moments. In the end I am glad to see that the hard work paid off with something that I am proud to send to every freaking person that I know.