Ten Questions With Union Shovel

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1. How did the band get started?

Scott: Dustin and myself were playing in Rebel Fuel Tank.  At the same time I was playing with Chris and Darr (who I knew from the Fourskinz) in the Jimtown Rats.  When Rebel Fuel Tank decided to take a break I asked Dustin, Chris & Darr if they would be interested in jamming on some original songs … they were down and the rest is history.  Another interesting fact is that Chris had seen Rebel Fuel Tank play about 2 years earlier at Lanhucks and told his wife “I was born to play with these guys” and that he knew we would jam one day.  It’s all been a very organic and natural process.

2. How many members are in the band, and who are they?

There are 4 members:
Jeff Darr – bass, backing vocals
Chris Ellis – drums, backing vocals
Scott McClure – lead and rhythm guitar
Dustin White – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonica

3. Do you like doing covers, or would you rather do your own thing, and why?

Chris: I like doing covers and kinda making them our own.  Nothing too obvious.

Scott: I like doing covers as long as they are songs we actually like.  I wouldn’t play a cover that I wouldn’t listen to on my own.  However, I prefer playing originals much more.  I think we have four great songwriters in Union Shovel and I get much more emotion and satisfaction out of playing something we created as opposed to just copying what someone else has already done.  I want to create something new … not just rehash what’s been done before us.

4. What is the inspiration for the name Union Shovel?

Scott:  When I moved back to Evansville I started jamming with Dustin and Andy Watkins – my bass player from a previous band.  To pay the rent Andy was digging graves in between playing out.  One day he and I were jamming and writing songs when we just happened to glance over at the shovel he brought home from work that he was digging graves with.  I just spit out Union Shovel and that was that.  When Chris and Darr started jamming with me and Dustin we thought of several different names and ended up going back to Union Shovel.  I think it’s kinda of cool because in a way the name was based in death and to re-name the band with Dustin as Union Shovel it’s almost like a re-birth.  It’s kind of a cool irony I think.

5. How long has the band been together?

Scott:  the current lineup of Union Shovel has been together for about six months, but I have been jamming with Dustin for going on 12 years and Darr and Chris were together for several years in the Fourskinz so in terms of chemistry and tightness it feels and sounds like we’ve been together much longer.

6. What is your favorite song to do, and what song(s) do you get a lot of requests to do?

Darr:  My favorite would be our original “Plows” … I hear a lot of requests for “Snake Farm”

Scott:  My favorites would be two of our originals … “Plows” because it’s such a big song and “Flood Plains” because it’s so intense but at the same time very melodic. (keep an eye out for them on the upcoming CD)

Chris:  “Snake Farm” because it just sounds nasty … and pretty much is

7.  Is it hard to get gigs that let you do only originals?

Chris:  Most places want to hear the same ol’ regurgitated covers that most of the bands are out there playing now so it’s nice to get to be in a band that doesn’t have to rely on such gimmickery.  Is that a word?

Scott:  I agree with Chris 100% … I started playing music to create it … not to mimic it and I love that we have the ability to craft quality songs in this band.  It does make getting gigs harder and you don’t make as much money but there are also positives — when someone likes our band it’s because they like the music we created not just liked our karaoke version of a song they like on the radio.  It has also allowed us to meet a lot of other great original musicians by splitting shows with them as opposed to playing cover songs for 3 hours every night.

8. Who are your musical inspirations?

Darr: Geezer Butler, John Paul Jones, Les Claypool

Chris: Influenced by everything from Hank to Hendrix from the Beatles to Slayer

9. What type of gear do you use?

Darr: Alvarez 4 string, Peavey BW 115

Chris: Mostly broken and scarred

Scott: a 1960 VOS Custom Les Paul, a 1960 Marshall cab (4×12), and a Marshall JCM 100 watt head as well as a rainbow of effect pedals

10. Why do you play music?

Darr: I’ve been playing half my life – I don’t know what I’d do without it

Chris: Because I have to

Scott:  I think Chris and Darr said it best.  I have no choice.  I love music too much … it’s in my soul … it’s not enough to just listen to it.  I have to learn it, create it and live it … and that still doesn’t satisfy my hunger for music.  It’s my food.

Union Shovel Shouts It Out Loud

Scott:  We’ve got a lot of exciting things going on in the Shovel.  We are writing some of the best songs I’ve ever been involved with and I get pumped up like a kid in a candy store every time we get together.  We are recording a CD of our originals now and it will be finished soon.  Keep your eyes on our site and the News4U for upcoming shows, previews of new songs and how you can get your hands and ears on ’em.

Finally, thanks to everyone who comes out and supports us.  We’ve got some diehards (who know who they are) and they are like family to us.  Keep comin’ and we’ll keep playin’.