Are You Ready to Nautical Rock n’ Roll?!
Music is a definitive part of our lives. From eating to exercising, it is the soundtrack that plays in the background…the anthem….the theme. If say, I’ve had a bad day and need to blow off some steam, I put my running shoes on, plug in my head phones and work up a sweat to the roaring ballads of Def Leppard or Motley Crue. A calm, soothing mandolin melody via Punch Brothers puts me in a frame of mind for either drawing or writing. You can find the right kind of music for almost anything…it’s that simple.
But move aside punk rock and bluegrass…a new genre of music has rolled into town and it’s making headway; both here in the South and abroad. Its roots can be found in the raw lyrics of 90’s grunge and melodic electric guitar of 60’s surf rock. Provocative, upbeat, raw and catchy, it reaches the depths of music-loving souls everywhere. I introduce to you Nautical Rock n’ Roll; the music of Rusty Shipp.
Meet your captain on this rockin’ voyage; Russ T. Shipp-lead singer and founder of the band Rusty Shipp. Born and raised in Virginia close to Washington D. C., Russ T. Shipp was always strongly influenced by music and began playing guitar at the age of 12. His dream of becoming a full-time musician and starting a band became a reality when he moved to Nashville, TN less than five years ago. After exhaustively searching for other musicians, Russ T. Shipp gathered together enough crew members to make his dream a reality and the band began writing music in the fall of 2013. Now into their third year of being a band, the Rusty Shipp crew includes front-man and lead singer, Rusty Shipp, second-mate and bass player, Dustin Herres and third-mate/drummer, Andrew Royer.
The first time I heard Rusty Shipp was at a small, music venue called The Basement in South Nashville last fall. The Basement is tucked away beneath a record store on 8th Ave. South close to Belmont University (the only entrance to the Basement is in the back of a brick building down a dark alley). The staging area is small and intimate; a perfect setting to really absorb music one has never heard before. It was the perfect opportunity to hear the band for the first time. Being a huge fan of rock n’ roll, I was struck by the raw energy of the guitar and bass that blended so well with the deep, spiritual undertones tucked away in the lyrics. I had to hear more. After following the band closely for the past six months, I wanted to gain a clearer understanding as to what makes the band Rusty Shipp tick and what defines the burgeoning genre of Nautical Rock n’ Roll. Russ T. Shipp gave me the honor in allowing me to ask him some personal questions about his music and the band.
Hoist up the anchor! It’s time to set sail with Rusty Shipp!
Me: “How do you define Nautical Rock n’ Roll?”
Russ T. Shipp: “Nautical Rock n’ Roll is a phrase we’ve adopted because “rock n’ roll” has become a very broad term that has come to span different decades and genres of rock music, and, while having strong influences of various genres, the most notable one is the influence of surf rock and lyrics containing oceanic imagery.”
Me: “Which artists inspire you for the music you write? Do you have any musician role models?”
Russ T. Shipp: “The Beatles are my (Russ) biggest songwriting influence because of their unparalleled quantity and quality of catchy melodies, eclectic genres they draw from and artistic creativity–their art and wit always pushed the standards of their music culture higher. MxPx was the band that made me want to start a band–I really connect to the raw energy of their early music. DC Talk was my favorite band growing up, which undoubtedly is an integral foundation of my song-writing. Thrice is my favorite modern band; like a modern-day heavy version of the Beatles, they explore various genres and have incredible melodies and riffs along with very creative, experimental instrumentation. Their front-man, Dustin Kensrue, is my musical role-model. He is the best lyricist I know of who writes about philosophical and spiritual topics that challenge people to find the meaning of life. He is a solid man of integrity in a world of rock music typically characterized by low moral standards and self-destructive habits.”
Me: “Who or what is the main focus/theme of the lyrics you write?”
Russ T. Shipp: “I’m a very, VERY deep thinker, sometimes too much so, and my songwriting is what captures snapshots of the most intense thoughts and concepts I have. I’ve chosen a handful of topics that I think are the most interesting or important that I wish to communicate to the world. The songs I write are usually philosophically or spiritually-themed and deal with my experiences or my perceptions of culture. For example, “Davy Jones Ain’t Got Nothing On Me” is about being spiritually secure in the face of death and “F-Words” is about the battle between the innocence of childhood verses the lusts of adulthood.
Me: “Have you had any personal life experiences that have been an inspiration for your music?”
Russ T. Shipp: “I wrote Davy Jones sitting on Virginia Beach while going through a crisis of faith–that week, as I wrote the song, I came back to my Christian faith stronger than before. So that song will always have a very special place in my life.”
Me: “What has been your inspiration for the nautical-theme that plays such a big part in the lyrics of your songs?”
Russ T. Shipp: “Growing up, I instantly connected to surf rock the first time I heard it (The Beach Boys were my first favorite band). Most surf rock songs have lyrics about the ocean and so I wanted to follow the tradition. But also I feel a strong connection to nautical things and find the imagery of mariners, sea creatures, the beach life and oceanic things very intriguing. It captures my imagination and I want to use it to capture the audience’s imagination as well…But maybe it’s just a subconscious connection to my seafaring English ancestors who gained the surname, “Shipp”!
Me: “What is your favorite song that you have written or performed so far?”
Russ T. Shipp: “My favorite song is probably, “Davy Jones Ain’t Got Nothing On Me.” because it’s very catchy, has a lot of raw rock energy and also is our most creative and artistic song.”
Me: “Are you hoping to start touring nationally?”
Russ T. Shipp: “We are hoping to do several mini-tours this year around Washington D.C., Ohio and Georgia.”
Me: “What is your favorite venue or show you have played in so far?”
Russ T. Shipp: “We were blessed with an opportunity to play at the Hard Rock Café in Memphis, TN the day after BB King died. Therefore, it was particularly cool to be playing on a street named after him in his home city while people were coming there to pay their respects. Plus it’s a really cool-looking place to play!”
Me: “What is your next big goal for your music and direction for the band?”
Russ T. Shipp: “It is our band’s hope to record a full-length album by the end of this year, possibly titled “Nautical Rock n’ Roll”. Our songs in the past have been an assortment of styles and topics, but on this album I am specifically trying to hone in on the oceanic/surf theme, which I think is particularly intriguing to everyone.”
Calling all Shipp-mates!
Intriguing, indeed (not to mention, awesome)! Hopefully, within a year’s time, we will get another interview with the Captain of Nautical Rock n’Roll following up the release of their full-length album. But for now, you can download and listen to their music on both iTunes and Spotify.
If you wish to become a fellow shippmate and receive updates and news on where the band is playing or touring, hear more of their music, watch videos plus more, like their Facebook page (Rusty Shipp) or sign up to receive updates on their website www.rustyshipp.com
In addition, check out this amazing music video of their latest single, “Sinking Scarabs.”
So there you have it! Mash up the surf-rock riffs of Dick Dale with raw emotion and high energy, add a dash of Beatle-esque creativity, overlay it all with deep, spiritual lyrics nautically-themed and you have Rusty Shipp! Hope you all have enjoyed your journey sailing aboard the Shipp as they navigate the turbulent waters of rock n’ roll. As they continue to move forward, I have no doubt that everyone, from surfers to artists, will find something their music-driven souls can connect with when they listen to the pioneers of Nautical Rock n’ Roll.
- Twitter: @RustyShipp