Featured Music: Wednesday, October 3, 2002
Once Upon a Metalhead

Joel Bailey turns in his Spandex for a ride with alt-poppy Shiloh.


One thing’s for sure: Joel Bailey is probably too nice a guy to play heavy metal. About playing bass for the hardcore metal band Society’s Finest, he said, “We’d try to be real good and technical, but onstage, we’d just kinda be like, ‘How you doing? Are you having a good time?’ We didn’t cuss a lot or anything. And people didn’t really respond to that. Then another band would come on and say, ‘Everybody punch the guy next to you in the face,’ and the crowds would eat it up.”

And it’s true. Watching Bailey onstage with his current band, Shiloh, you can see that he just smiles too much to make it in metal. Somebody send this guy back to Faces and Attitudes of Rock ’n’ Roll 101. “You have to smile sometimes, looking out at your crowd,” said Bailey. “In my other band, you’d look out at the crowd and see a bunch of burly, tattooed biker guys waiting for you to mess up so they could throw something at you. This crowd is like a hundred times prettier.”

Bailey’s tastes are eclectic. “I like Eurotrash disco as much as I like real aggressive metal. One of my ambitions is to have a label that records both kinds of music and puts ’em out with artwork where you can’t tell which is which.” When Society’s Finest folded the tent, Bailey signed on to play “chick rock” with Sixpence None the Richer, then riding the success of “Kiss Me” and their cover of the La’s “There She Goes.”

Now, with Shiloh, he’s attempting to answer the proverbial musical question, “Can a metal bassist find happiness with a ska guitarist-singer in a poppy alt-rock band?”

The ska guitarist-singer in question is Monty McCune, who fronted Dallas-based ska-sters the Graduates. McCune has unusual tastes for a 24-year-old, running the gamut from Jerry Lee Lewis and Texas blues through classic rockers like AC/DC and Journey. With the Graduates, McCune said, “We’d keep the recorded sound kinda light, then surprise the club owners by going in and being a lot more aggressive — almost punk-rock.”

Indeed, Shiloh’s live attack is a lot more in-your-face than you’d expect from hearing their five-song c.d., The Generated EP. Part of that is due to the fact that most of the basic tracks for the disc were recorded by Bailey and McCune alone, with McCune playing drums and the two taking turns behind the board at the band’s Forbidden Planet Studios (located in a secluded spot south of Fort Worth). With the recent addition of drummer Rob Schumacher (who also pounds skins for Lucy Loves Schroeder and recently left garage rockers Dead Sexy), their live show has taken on a crackling energy that’s not as evident on the record.

The band is rounded out by guitarist-keyboardist Eli Bowser. The others jokingly refer to him as “the baby of the group” and he spent most of the interview quietly taking things in. Recently relocated from San Diego, Calif., he’s been in the band for about seven months and performs yeoman service onstage, handling most of the “finesse” guitar parts and playing the distinctive monophonic keyboard sounds (any Cars fans out there?) that highlight several of the songs.(“If this doesn’t work out,” Bailey said, “he’s going back to mow Blink-182’s lawns.”)

Bailey and McCune formed Shiloh in early 2001 with guitarist Kane Kelly and drummer Jared Bledsoe and released the full-length c.d., King, on local indie Accidental Sirens Records in February 2002. Since then, Kelly and Bledsoe have departed, and most of the old material has been dropped from the band’s live set. So far, The Generated EP material has received some positive response, helping the band earn a slot on the Edge Sessions at Club Indigo in Deep Ellum and an appearance on the KDGE-FM/102.1 morning show. The song “Rock and Roll Radio” has received airplay on more than 50 stations nationwide, including Fort Worth’s KTCU-FM/88.1.

The band is always writing new material. So far, McCune has been the main writer, but the process is becoming more collaborative. “I’ve had problems in the past collaborating with band members,” McCune explained. “Our ideas clashed. In this band, we feed off each other more. It’s the first time I’ve had this experience. We bounce ideas off each other. Eli has some digital recording equipment at home, and he’ll bring ideas to practice.” Bailey said: “When we write songs, we don’t care about how hard they are. Then we have to figure out how to play them live. We’ll trick Rob by writing stuff with the drum machine that’s impossible to play unless your drummer has four arms. But because he’s a real drummer, he’ll always come up with something cooler than kick-snare-kick.”

Everyone in the band works hard to get the word out about shows. “You can’t rely on club owners to do the promotion,” said Bailey. “We hang up flyers and talk to people constantly. I read a book that said you need to talk to every single person you meet about your band, because the worst thing they can do is walk away and not pay attention to you. And they may check it out. There’s a guy here tonight I met at Best Buy! We’re all really enthusiastic about it.

“A year from now,” he continued, “it’d be nice to have a record out on a good label — a Dallas label, a good-sized regional label, or an indie — and to be doing some regional touring.” Said McCune: “Increasing our draw. Getting on top of the game and making a statement in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.”

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