Words by Tommy Johnson
So much has been said about how individuals have explored new passions throughout the pandemic. You couldn’t scroll on social media platforms for some time without seeing friends and family showcase their novice attempts at making sourdough bread or beautifying their lawns. TikTok emerged from the shadows and capitulated into one of the most visited sites today.
Within the ambiguous times of the lockdown, brothers Parker and Caden Shea were shaping where they wanted to push their sound for their project Olive Vox.
Utilizing their perspective as being Gen Z’ers, Olive Vox drives their influences of psychedelic indie rock, garage rock, and 90s grunge to soaring heights. The duo’s self-titled EP (out now) crashes down with jarring distortion pedals, explosive drums, and surging vocals.
Off Shelf: What were some of your influences that sparked you to want to play music?
Caden Shea: The first kind of rock band that I listened to was Cage the Elephant, but what really sparked me to play was Nirvana because seeing how easy the songs were, yet so impactful…I thought I could do that too.
Parker Shea: Some of my major influences that drove me to want to get into what I do now are bands such as Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, and Cage the Elephant.
OS: What was the most significant factor in moving from California to Texas?
PS: Our Dad’s job moved us to Texas. It was unexpected; we didn’t plan on that happening, but it was the right time to move.
OS: What are some of the takeaways you’ve learned since the move?
PS: We had to leave our entire family in California, which was hard. We didn’t know anyone in Texas, so Caden & I poured ourselves into music at a young age…we always knew we would start a band.
CS: We didn’t know much about Texas so I started playing guitar. That’s when we started to write songs.
OS: The biggest takeaway from your music is the heavy blow of the 70s and 90s rock. What was about these decades that have spoken to you so much?
CS: Well, it just started with our parents introducing us to the music, and we sort of fell in love with it and branched out into our world where we started listening to artists like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Who, etc..and onto the 90’s acts like Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Stone Temple Pilots and so on..music back then seemed so real and not so put on. You didn’t have to have the perfect technique or a perfect voice. You could make good music, and that’s all people cared about.
PS: In the 70s, the fashion was amazing. It had a massive inspiration on the music as well. The fuzz tones on Black Sabbath are excellent as well. As for the 90s, It started a dingy grunge movement that revolutionized rock as we know it.
OS: You released a resonating single from Ty Segall. Have you heard anything from him about his feelings about it?
PS: I know we sent it to his manager, but I have no idea what he thinks of it.
CS: We haven’t heard anything as of now, but we hope he’s heard it at least (laughs).
OS: I’m guessing one of the solid moments of this project was having the ability to open up for Puddle of Mudd. What was the experience like?
PS: The experience was amazing. Getting put in front of a crowd that we normally wouldn’t play for was really refreshing—tons of new faces and new listeners. I’m just thrilled that they connected with our music.
CS: It was great; it wasn’t like playing in a bar or a club… It was the real deal [laughs]! We got to meet many of the band members from Puddle of Mudd, and we got our own little green room, this big house. The crowd loved it, so we think it went pretty well.
OS: I have been seeing all around the social media outlets that the work on promoting their music has been rather daunting. Having established a decent following on TikTok, do you feel that it has been helpful in some way to get ears on the music?
PS: In some ways yes and in some ways no. It’s really a hit-or-miss situation. Their algorithm can be very confusing and complex. You have to think of creative ways to get your songs trending. I think it’s a fantastic platform to build your reputation and an opportunity to be seen and heard.
CS: It has been helpful, but no matter what your following size is, you must keep working hard to create content that will get your music out there. Every time we post, we hope the algorithm pushes us out there!
OS: When did the work on the entitled EP begin to take shape?
PS: Honestly, those songs have been in the works for years. We just recently put them on tape, though. I keep finding videos of Caden when he was younger playing our songs. It’s nice to see that something you’ve had bouncing around in your head and talking about for years finally take shape.
CS: Well, I wrote the first riff to Bury Me Low when I was 11 years old, and soon after, I wrote the riffs to Sunflower, Middle Name, Denial, and lastly, This is My Home. Parker wrote all the lyrics and vocals.
OS: One of the critical components of creating great work is having the chemistry locked in. How effortless was it to get things locked down on tape when writing the EP?
PS: It was really easy. Before we went into the studio, we made sure everything was dialed perfectly. And yes, I’m not going to lie; even though we thought we had everything perfect, we did run into confusion and change. That just made the whole experience worthwhile. Every time you go into that studio, you don’t know what you’re going to come out with. A song might sound completely different than what you originally intended it to sound like.
CS: I’d say it was pretty effortless to get the tracks taped. We practiced months beforehand and did the same thing when going into the studio.
OS: How much did the pandemic factor in putting together the EP?
CS: I’d say the pandemic took a little bit of a toll on the release. We couldn’t play anywhere live and when we did record, we still had to be careful and wear masks.
PS: Although the pandemic was horrible and an absolute nightmare to even think about, we took that time and focused on what we were putting down on paper. We worked on those songs day in and out and made sure they were perfect. It helped me solidify the lyrics and it helped Caden to solidify the music.
OS: Were the tracks presented on the EP already demoed out, or did you go into the recording process with a clean slate?
PS: We didn’t demo our EP. As for our new songs that are unreleased, we just recorded them as demos to get a feel for what we can do to help better the sound we’re trying to produce.
CS: For the EP, we went into the studio blindly and gave it our all. Before going to The Echo Lab, we had never been to a professional studio.
OS: What is the creative process like in terms of lyrics? Do you look towards being influenced by personal experience or do you find other avenues to find ideas?
PS: As for my creative processes, I like to go straight from personal experiences. There’s nothing more relatable than being human. So I might as well share the experiences I’m going through with other people who are probably going through the same thing I am. Yes, we have a few songs that are just for fun, about random topics, but the songs that have the strongest meaning are from real-life experiences.
OS: What songs are you the proudest of on the EP?
CS: We’re honestly proud of all the songs…I don’t think we can pick. It’s like picking your favorite child. Each song has deep meaning to us.
OS: Should we look towards seeing an LP or another EP coming around soon?
PS: Absolutely. There is so much more to come, so keep your eyes peeled.
CS: A lot of new ideas and songs are already in the works…there is more to come this year!