Posted by Frank Krolicki
The title of Shaun Hague's debut EP The Time Is Now is telling. After spending years playing guitar for various artists such as Amos Lee and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, the Redondo Beach, CA-based musician is just now about to release material under his own name. "The time is now...to step out from sideman to frontman," reads the site of the Kickstarter campaign that helped fund the EP, out June 7th via iTunes. Though it's a brief three tracks, The Time Is Now is a solid release that shows great promise for Shaun's future as a solo artist; this is confident, soulful, well-written stuff that goes down easy and shouldn't have an issue finding an audience.
Shaun is coming to Chicago soon for a headlining gig at Martyrs on Thursday, June 23 (click here for more info and tickets). In anticipation of the show I asked him a few questions to find out more about the new EP, past projects and future plans--read on to see what he had to say.
WCR: You'll soon headline Martyrs here in Chicago. What can we expect from your live show?
GUITAR SOLOS! No, I’m not that selfish, but there are a lot of solos. That is what I think separates me from the common acoustic singer-songwriter, doing lots of lead guitar work myself. I also have some broken down moments where it’s just me and a piano or an acoustic. My goal is to always give the audience their money’s worth and put on a great show for them.
Speaking of Chicago, one of the tracks on your new EP is titled “Windy City Girl.” What's the story behind that as well as some of the other stuff on the EP?
“Windy City Girl” is inspired by my wife who grew up in the Palos Heights, IL area. The song just tells the story of my everyday life. I’m a lucky guy to be with such an amazing person, she inspires me both in music and outside too. “Rainy Day in L.A.” is written about my amusement of Los Angeles and that it just completely shuts down when it rains. People act as if a hurricane is blowing in. I would hate to see what would happen if it ever snowed on an L.A. freeway. “Make it a Great Day” is a phrase my keyboard player used to say a lot. I always found it to be extremely positive and one day decided to write a song around that phrase. It’s just a tune about making the most out of life and not letting time slip away from you.
How would you describe the sound or style of the EP?
I have been asked this a lot in the past few weeks. My answer has been; If Bruce Springsteen and Eric Clapton had a baby, I’d be the result. The songs are singer-songwriter based but have lots of melody and crafted guitar work. I also play a bit of mandolin on this EP to boot. Overall, The Time Is Now is a small collection of who I am as an artist and is a sneak peek at what fans can expect from a live show. I have about 20 songs written that I really like, just didn’t have the funds to record them all this time around.
Your bio lists you as having worked with some very recognizable names such as Amos Lee, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and John Waite. Tell us some more about those experiences. Any stories that stand out?
They have all been great experiences, some better than others. I am actually sitting in a Southwest terminal, heading to a John Waite gig as I type this. Kenny Wayne was my first BIG gig. I had just turned 21 and had never even been on the road before…I was pretty wet behind the ears. I went from playing for 50 people a night at Hollywood shows with an original band, to opening for Kid Rock in front of 25,000 people--a very quick push into the touring world for sure. Amos was short, mainly for record promo. We did Leno and a few other late night shows and some festivals. Touring with John is fairly new, but has been pretty fun so far. He and the rest of the band are seasoned guys, so there is a lot of knowledge to learn from. About three years ago, I was asked to audition for John Fogerty--that was pretty wild. I had to learn 60 minutes of CCR material and had a private audition with John and his band. 60 minutes flew by and it went well, but they said I was too young. Guess they didn’t check my stats before they called me up!
Having had success working with other artists, how did you decide to venture out on your own with this EP and tour? Do you plan to focus on being a solo artist or continue working with other musicians as well?
I have written some of my best material in the last six to nine months. After many of these shows playing sideman, fans would walk up and ask me where my record was. It got really old saying, "someday, I’ll have something out soon." I decided 2011 was going to be the year to do it and funded my EP with Kickstarter.com. It’s a great website that helps you raise funds for music/art related projects while giving fans special gifts for contributing money to the goal.
My main focus is on my own material and touring when I have the budget to do so. Playing sideman helps support my main vision, gains me new fans and is always keeping my chops sharp. I’ll continue to do the hired gun thing until my own career is just too crazy.
On top of all that, you also have a day job booking bands for a California venue. How do you think that impacts your work as a musician? Does having that experience make it easier or get things done, or is it tougher to fit everything in?
It gets a bit hectic at times, but I try and find a happy medium between everything. I enjoy it all though, and it’s been a great tool as a self-promoting artist. I’ve learned a lot about booking for my own touring purposes and it has opened some doors that would have been closed otherwise. The other great thing is, booking is freelance, so I never really need to actually be there at the venue.
Anything else people should know about you and your music?
I love to perform and I believe that is obvious when you see me perform live, especially my own material. As a hired gun, you cannot go too far outside the box. With my own songs, I can do whatever I want with them every night I play and keep them going as long or short as I like. The plan is to have another disc out sometime early next year with at least another 3-5 songs on it. The Time Is Now is just a little taste of what is going on in my head and who I am as a songwriter. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.
Check out more WCR interviews:
The Island of Misfit Toys
Drawn From Bees