A Conversation with The Shift

The Shift

This is a conversation with Arrie Oliver of The Shift by mathmanmrt.

mathmanmrt--I notice that the gig you have up on your artist page is going to be in Georgia. Are you guys originally from Georgia? If not where are you guys from?

Arrie Oliver--Absolutely! We were all born and raised in Atlanta, and have pretty much lived here all of our lives. That being said, we've done I think just about everything there is to do in this wonderful city though, so it's wearing on us a bit, haha. If anyone reading this lives in Atlanta, shoot us some ideas for a great Saturday night, because even an insane pack of guys like us can't find anything fun to do!

How did you get together as a band?

Well, it's actually an epic tale of love, betrayal, loss, fortune, and fame. But in a nutshell, Seyt and I (Arrie) have been best friends since we were 3 years old. We've been practically inseparable our whole lives. We were at Summer camp one year, I think as we were going into 11th grade, and we wrote our first song. It felt really good to create, and everyone we showed (even though it was DEFINITELY a juvenile attempt, haha) really liked our song. To be able to affect and inspire people with just an experience you've had turned audio, is the absolute most amazing feeling in the world. I started learning guitar, and he learned drums, and here we are today. We added Chad and Ben, our amazing guitarist and bass player, respectively, and even though the core of the band really consists of Seyt and myself, we'd love to find really permanent members who are as dedicated as we are.

How did you come up with the name of your band? Does it have significance?

Seyt and I were sitting around one day, and came to the realization that we really needed a name for our musical ventures. We chose "The Shift" for various reasons. First off, pursuing music was quite literally a huge "shift" for us out of a lot of our previously defined comfort zones. This band was in our minds a sure harbinger for greater musical horizons, in addition to new life experiences. It's something we've decided to stick with till the end... and while musical pursuits, and such a long commitment might sound very fickle to some, to us it's everything we love, and what we feel like we're here to do. Not only that, but we've been best friends our whole lives, so I don't think we could even escape being in some sort of musical group if we had to. Second, it was a huge stylistic change for us from what we had previously been playing (the hardcore scene wasn't really our thing, haha) so we just felt it fit. Mainly it's the first part of the answer though :-P

What kind of musical experiences did you guys have before you got together? What kind of music were you listening to when you were growing up?

Well I really was raised on Folk and Country music, so I was naturally a child of the pop scene in every sense of the term. I like powerhouse choruses, vocal harmony, and the songs "Empty Apartment" by Yellowcard and "I'm With You" by Avril Lavigne (I'm prepared to get thrashed about this, haha) totally shaped my mind as far as what an ideal song should sound like, haha. Seyt was raised by wolves (Finnish people) on Speed Metal. He's extremely technical if I don't bash him into a pop mold, but never fails to impress me with his unique blend of stylistic flair. On the recordings, naturally, he has to hold back a bit, but when people see us live, they're really impressed by the raw energy he brings to performance. As far as experiences we had together, we were always in bands together and/or with mutual friends, and about 10 people in our immediate lives sort of all grew as musicians together. We were the only ones that took it to the next level and actually decided to pursue anything musically related though.

How do you go about writing your songs? Is there a collaborative process or is there a member or members more responsible for song writing than others?

It's definitely a little bit of both; let me clarify. Essentially, I end up writing all of the songs, be it music and lyrics, but as far as shaping the song after that skeleton is formed, some of the best hooks in our songs are not even often added by me. Seyt definitely has a huge influence over the sound of the songs, if not just as much as I do in initially shaping them. They're usually my experiences, and he helps me express them accordingly.

What do you think are the biggest influences on your sound? And how long did it take you guys to develop your sound?

Well, it took a very long time to develop our sound. It took 4 years of pretty much just trying every style of music and learning everything we could about music to narrow things down. We spent time in hardcore, metal, rock, country, punk, ska bands and even a jazz group before we really found what we wanted. Our biggest influences I'd have to say would be the bands Blink-182 and Stratovarius. A VERY odd combination indeed, but they really influenced our individual style of playing even though there aren't so many direct stylistic similarities. But yeah, so one day I came to Seyt with an idea (a song now called "Innocence" ) and he loved it. So we ran with what we had; a pop-rock group that was going to forge amazingly melodic, somewhat technical, and extremely moving music.

Your website, heartheshift.net, says you have an album on the way. Is it available for purchase yet?

Although it's not available for purchase, it is DEFINITELY in the works, and it sounds really good so far. I wish there was a preview I could offer you, but unfortunately it would violate some agreements with our producer. Keep checking the website, and you're bound to see something soon. The interesting thing about the website is that it's really only there as a quick reference. See, websites are very impersonal, and they provide little if any actual interactive content. We much prefer websites like T61 just due to the fact that there's so much more opportunity for communication with the people who actually listen to our music rather than just sending them aimlessly to a place on the web.

All of your songs are currently downloadble for free. That's a great way to treat your fans. What went into that decision?

It was literally not much of a decision. In fact, it was just a no-brainer for us. We want people to hear and be inspired by our music. And if it means them downloading them for free, then so be it. Plus if it weren't for people spreading music, then we wouldn't be anywhere. Fans are just as crucial in the process as we are. We don't look at it as a way to treat them, as much as we look at it as something they deserve.

I believe you are going to college. Are any of the other band members? And what are you all studying?

We are all in school at the time of this interview. Seyt is studying to be a chef, Chad is studying to be an engineer, Ben is studying to be a teacher, and I'm studying to be an English major. We don't really know what we want to do with any of that other than support the music we make. Music, music, music. After we graduate from school, well, more music. College is great for spreading the musical word though, for sure. It's opened a lot of doors for us.

What do you mean by that last bit about opening doors for you?

School opened a lot of doors, and was a great move. We met TONS of new people, which gave us more honest feedback on our music, and caused us to be even more critical of ourselves. It also opened doors for us socially, which increased our networking and communication skills with not only individuals but also more massive audiences. We also met a lot of very wise people in the music program that taught us a lot about the actual musical side of things, and even though neither Seyt or I are classically trained, it was definitely a great learning experience.

Over on your myspace page you have a cool song called "Springtime." Any plans to put that up on the sixtyone?

We might, it's definitely a bit of a stylistic deviation from our usual sound, but who knows. It's definitely a good song, and I encourage everyone to go check it out. It was one of the first songs we actually ever recorded, and it's definitely more upbeat. Although we've moved away from that sound a bit, it's still a great and energetic song to play, and the absolute best sound-check song ever, haha.

Are there any songs you like to cover? If so, what?

Well, we all have our personal favorites. And even though we don t usually throw in covers, a couple songs we've played in the past couple months include: "Crazy for This Girl" by Evan and Jaron, "Hemorrhage" by Fuel, "Kokomo" by The Beach Boys, "Enlightened by The Cold" by Shadows Fall (that was a one time thing, haha), and "7 Things I Hate About You" by Miley Cyrus. Yes, a very diverse group of covers, but we like to throw it up a bit. It's always fun to do stuff like that, and if anyone has any suggestions, we ll play whatever you can throw at us. ;-)

Of course no interview for maxbumps would be complete without this question, so let me ask you how you heard about the sixtyone and what you think about it so far?

Well, to be honest, I heard about it completely by fluke. I was literally really bored one night when I started clicking random links off of a couple of music-related websites, and I don't really know how, but I ended up at the T61 homepage. I created a profile, uploaded a song, and people really gave us a positive response, so I stuck around. T61 is an AMAZING community of listeners and artists, and it 's constantly growing into an even better environment for everything music. It's built off of a very unique system and a very fun idea. Props to the creators!

Your drummer is listed as Seyt, son of Jorg. What's up with that?

Well, his real name is Tzvi Weinreich . Try pronouncing that :-) So we gave him a stage name after his favorite drummer, Jorg Michaels of Stratovarius, and it just sorta stuck. The name Seyt honestly came from someone slurring his real name, and for some reason that stuck too. Kind of an odd background, but that s exactly what happened.

Have you been putting together any songs for another album?

Absolutely! In fact, we never stop writing, and it sometimes turns into a problem. We keep writing better and better music, and can't ever decide what to actually track on the record. I have nearly 200 songs written on my computer, some of which I have demos of, but when we went into the studio we had a list of about 50 songs that we had to narrow down to 12. Talk about your all-time hard decisions.

With respect to the last questions, what are your plans for The Shift for future?

We want to pursue music. We're currently looking for a manager/management team so we can take the next necessary steps in our musical career, but that proves to be hard. Any fingers in the right direction would be great. Long term though, we love music. It's absolutely everything in the world to us, and it's everything we want to do for the rest of our lives. So what the future has in store, we have no clue, but what we will be doing is taking this as far as we can for as long as we have the will within us. We have such a drive and passion for all of this, that nothing ever stops us from taking the next step, and we can't be slowed down. I don't mean to sound conceited, honestly, but we just love what we do so much, that we can't afford to let anything get in the way.

What have I missed? Tell me anything you think we need to know about you that I haven't thought to cover.

Well, we pretty much summed up everything that has needed to be said. Thanks so much for the interview, and I really hope that I didn't leave anything out, haha. All I really want is for people to listen to our music and try to take it for what it is. We've put so much into this and it's what we love doing more than anything else in the world. Tell your friends, family, loved ones, or whoever, so that maybe just one other person can get what we do from these songs and all that we do. And if you live in the Atlanta area, come see us live. We promise not to disappoint. And talk to us if you'd like! We're goofy, fun loving guys, and we're gonna throw our contact information up on our profile page in a couple days.

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