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The history behind Rusty Shipp

Image Credit: Rusty Shipp

4th Aug 2020
Tags: Music Interview Rusty Shipp Rock

Nashville-based rock band Rusty Shipp earned international recognition in 2017 thanks to their album 'Mortal Ghost’, popularising their unique style which they define as nautical rock n’ roll. We were able to interview the band’s founder, Russ, to find out more about the history behind the band and what inspired their unique style.

Juliette: How long have you been making music?

Russ: I’ve been doing music for about 20 years. I mean, that’s how long I’ve been playing music, playing guitar. I’ve been actively songwriting for probably 15 years. 

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Rusty Shipp has been together for about six years. It’s been a lot of ups and downs. I live in Nashville, which in the US is called Music City.

It’s a challenge to find people who want to be in your band.

It’s very competitive, so it’s a challenge to find people who want to be in your band.

Juliette: How did you find your band members?

Russ: From Craigslist. I have to admit, it was the bottom of the barrel at first as far as the people who responded to the ads. But it was kind of like, "Well, something’s better than nothing." 

I was just trying to get something off the ground, so I got at least some people who were interested in playing music with me even though there was a 50/50 chance of whether they would actually show up and practice. 

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It was kind of like survival of the fittest and band members would come and go, but the fittest would survive and hang on.

The thing that’s interesting is that even still now, band members are still fluctuating and that’s just how it is in Nashville.

Juliette: You have a very specific style, don’t you? Can you explain to me what nautical rock is?

Russ: Part of what this band is all about is doing something that is different, unique, creative, artistic, and interesting. But we’re still figuring out what that means for us.

We record songs in a way that’s underwater sounding.

Nautical rock n’ roll is...We’re kind of being funny with it all. The band is called Rusty Shipp, so we write songs and record songs in a way that’s underwater sounding or related to the ocean, which of course is nautical by definition. 

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I’m drawn to the ocean in a bunch of different ways. In the 60’s there was a kind of music called surf rock, which was really popular. That was actually my favourite kind of music growing up.

It’s interesting because when I moved to Nashville and started the band Rusty Shipp, and we really started honing in on the whole nautical sound to be consistent with the band name, that passion has grown in me more and more. 

Juliette: Did you have any role models growing up which inspired the band’s music?

Russ: Musically, I’m a huge Beatles fan. As far as creative standards, they kind of set the bar high for just a band really pushing the limits of creativity and art, and then also in musicality.

My first favourite band was The Beach Boys.

I was raised listening to a lot of Oldies music from like the 50’s and 60’s, so my first favourite band was The Beach Boys. Those are my roots. My parents were really into classic rock, so I think that was always a part of my foundation growing up. 

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In modern times, probably my biggest role model is the band Thrice. They’re a hard rock band but they’ve got deep and philosophically profound lyrics.

The founder of that band, Dustin Kensrue, is a big CS Lewis fan. So a lot of his music kind of goes in line with the CS Lewis philosophy of doing something creative and artistic on the surface level, but then there are philosophical or spiritual undertones running throughout the whole thing.

I find myself drawn to rock music.

These days, I could make any music I want but I find myself drawn to rock music. I think a lot of it has to do with the energy of it. I love how with rock music, you can get really raw and aggressive and energetic.

In the rock world, I think there’s a lot more room for variation and diversity and telling stories, which I really like.

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