The recording project of Brisbane-based Shannon Rogers, Cubs In Coves aren’t your average pop ensemble. Skirting around the topics of shallow romance, meaningless partying or pointless acts of celebrity, this is an act that seeks to dive a little deeper on the questions of the world.
Inviting listeners to hold a mirror up to society as we know it, Cubs In Coves’ upcoming Thinkpop EP will mark a philosophical study realised through pristine indie rock. In light of its release next week, we caught up with Rogers for the latest.
Who are Cubs In Coves and what is Thinkpop? We chat to Shannon Rogers, Brisbane’s pop renegade in the business of asking questions.
HAPPY: What inspired the formation of Cubs and Coves?
SHANNON: Initially, it was my frustration and outrage at the treatment of asylum seekers by the Australian Government, which led to They’ll Come for You and the creation of Cubs In Coves. Previously, I’d been in a lot of alternative rock bands and was taking a break from the scene to explore composition and guitar. From then on I’ve tried to be more active in not only voicing my opinion, but asking others to challenge what they believe to be right.
How do we know what we truly believe when we haven’t questioned or challenged that belief with other trusted sources? Having said that, how can we trust the source of our information? It’s a bit of a minefield, no wonder people stop searching for information as it’s very difficult to find the credible sources. I suppose that’s one of the big driving factors and inspiration for Cubs In Coves, to keep people searching for more and questioning everything.
HAPPY: Has both the music and songwriting process always been a solo job?
SHANNON: Not entirely, as I mentioned before, I was in a lot of bands and in most of those we would jam out a lot of our music, which was a fairly collaborative process. I’ve always composed from a very young age, which is a self-directed ‘solo’ thing; predominantly percussion ensemble repertoire and classical contemporary pieces for various instruments. Apart from this, the last band I was in, Teapots, was probably the best example of me writing the bulk of the music, melody, lyrics, harmony and instrumental parts. Nowadays it’s definitely a solo job, but that doesn’t mean it will always be a solo job. I love interacting, performing and writing with other musicians; so I hope to collaborate in the future.
HAPPY: I previously read that your songs are designed to get the listener thinking, questioning the subject matter presented within each song. Can you tell us a bit about the concepts and ideas behind Thinkpop, and what drives the new record thematically?
SHANNON: The premise of Thinkpop is to give the listener a foundation in which to explore and question their own beliefs about the concept or subject. It’s important to note that every song on this EP is written from my opinion, my thoughts and my beliefs, so the listener has to take it with a grain of salt. The hope is that it might get people questioning and talking in a way they may not have previously done before.
An example is the song They Said ‘You’ve Got Cancer’. It is only fairly recently that I have had any contact with cancer affecting close friends and family. Before then, it was this huge devastating thing that I knew about, but never really knew about. For me it was watching what the disease did to those closest to the diagnosed, how sick everyone felt without being the one who was sick. It made me think if my child was diagnosed with cancer, what would it do to me?
HAPPY: How would you describe the evolution of Cubs In Coves sound?
HAPPY: What influenced your decision to craft politically charged songs?
SHANNON: Honestly, I went the way I went because the majority of the songs I was hearing on the radio were about young love, relationships, getting drunk and partying. Life is so much broader than that and audiences need to hear why.
HAPPY: Who are some of your influences musically, and how have impacted your two most recent singles They’ll Come For You and Bring The Top Down?
SHANNON: My top three influences are Elbow, Rage Against the Machine and Claude Debussy. Bit of a mix there, but all very effective in what they set out to achieve. I honestly find it really hard to be explicit about what and where I’ve drawn my sounds from as I love so much music from so many different genres and eras, which have all shaped me as a musician. Knowing how they have impacted my most recent singles is something I can’t answer in less than 1000 words, so I’ll have to leave that up to everyone else.
HAPPY: Who are you referring to in They’ll Come For You and what reaction were you hoping to receive from your audience?
SHANNON: I’m referring to those in power. If we take for granted our right to vote and have a say in who leads us, we have to know that the wrong people in power can have devastating effects for us all. I think we all can feel so detached from politics and from the decisions that shape our country and our communities, this can leave us complacent and thinking that it doesn’t matter, or it won’t affect me. Things always trickle down in the end.
HAPPY: Tell us about one of the strangest, or most interesting experiences you’ve had as a musician and producer?
SHANNON: Probably the strangest experience I’ve had was when performing a gig with an old band called They Are Spies at The Zoo in Brisbane many years ago. We were pretty adventurous when it came to the on stage antics and for this gig I had chosen to wear an adult nappy and a strong, thick mullet. It wasn’t until after we finished that we noticed that Lady Gaga had popped in after finishing a gig of hers nearby and had watched our set. Glad I chose to wear a nappy for the gig. We all hung out with her and her crew afterwards, it was a really bizarre experience.
HAPPY: Do Cubs In Coves have any Aussie gigs or festivals planned for 2018?
SHANNON: Cubs In Coves has been a purely recording project which gave me the freedom to do whatever I wanted. Having said this, I’m happy to announce that I’m planning to do some live shows in 2018, just don’t know exactly how yet. No dates have been set but have started working on the show.
HAPPY: And last but not least, if you could describe your sound as a picture, what visuals come to mind?
SHANNON: A silhouette kaleidoscope.
Cubs In Coves’ EP Thinkpop will be released on November 13th.