Action Attack Helicopter Zine - December 1999
Interview with S. Cinca
Frodus is a funny band. I must admit that my time spent interviewing Shelby and Nate involved me laughing quite a bit. They're also good musicians, though. Their new album, "and we washed our weapons in the sea" should be out later this year on a record label yet to be announced. Regardless of who puts it out, it should sound great. Hearing some of it live reinforced not only Frodus' impressive live sound, but their creative abilities as a band. So definitely be on the lookout for that. As far as this interview is concerned, while it follows a "Stream of Consciousness" format (as Shelby called it), I hope that you'll find it as interesting as I did. And if not, well, there's just not much I can do about that.
Okay you're Shelby and you do what in Frodus?
Shelby: I play guitar and sing.
How old are you?
What do you do besides Frodus?
Shelby: I work for a graphic design agency and I play in another band called The Cassettes.
Are you currently intoxicated?
So explain the deal with Frodus and Tooth and Nail.
Shelby: Well basically we kinda noticed that we were going a different direction than Tooth and Nail. James Morelos signed us and they were just becoming a regular label just putting out whatever and not necessarily a Christian label. And over that time that didn't really work out for them so this year when we started recording our album we realized that and we said "we're going a different direction than you guys" and they said, "yeah you are" and we talked to them for a long time and they just let us go.
Like a different direction meaning what?
Shelby: They'd definitely have to spend more money and do more with our records than they do with their other records just because they kinda have that niche market already. They're not really focusing on breaking bands into regular markets anymore and that kind of left us in a weird place. They understood and they're very supportive. I was surprised. They weren't very record label about the whole thing, they were more like just people who like our music and happen to be putting it out. So we don't owe anything and there's nothing weird
Do you think that's partially because they're scared of you guys and they're afraid of what would happen if they did get "record label" with you?
Shelby: No, because in all reality they'd have more of an advantage than we would. We could have a long manifesto and sound scary but they have more money.
So what's going to happen with "...and we washed our weapons in the sea"?
Shelby: We're looking for a new label, so...
Would it by chance come out on Lovitt?
Shelby: Probably not because I think I generally like to focus on full-lengths on Lovitt for other bands. It's kinda nice to not have my own band doing a full-length on Lovitt. We'll do like one off things on Lovitt like seven inches or whatever but it just makes it a little more easy. Somebody else is handling my own band rather than Lovitt. Unless it got a lot bigger and Lovitt had all these people working there or something. It's a small set up.
So have you talked to any labels about doing the record?
Shelby: Just a few, but we aren't going to jinx anything...
Shelby: I can't do that at this moment...
Shelby: We can't do that at this moment.
Damnation. So have you been playing many shows lately?
Shelby: Not really. We recorded our record for a month and then quite a few shows like in Philly, and then some local shows and then like today in Muncie, Indiana and last night we played Pittsburgh but other than that, no. We're not really going to play out much until the new record comes out and then we'll tour behind it.
So Frodus is taking some time off now?
Shelby: Somewhat as far as we're not playing very many shows. I mean we have some shows. I'd like to write more songs. It's kinda premature to write more songs but that's just what I like about being in a band is making music. To be honest with you I'd like to just record and not play many shows.
Do you feel like you're getting old and tired and your back hurts the next morning and you're just like, "I wish I had installed that new hot tub in the apartment"?
Shelby: Well not necessarily that...well maybe sometimes. I consider myself a creative person. I mean everyone in Frodus is creative but I'm just kind of manic about it. With everything I do, I mean at my job I make things, I write songs and I do all kinds of stuff and that's kinda like what keeps me going. But on tour you don't have as much time to do that and you're just playing the same set which is cool and I'm fine with doing it but '98 we toured like crazy and it kind of wore thin on me. I mean we were in Europe for 2 1/2 months which is great but it's still shows... it's great I mean it's the best thing that could happen but still I'd rather be creating. Like I'd sit there before the show and I'd write songs by myself but it's nothing like when everyone's writing. We didn't have much time for soundchecks because we were opening for other bands.
So if no one has ever seen Frodus live, what should they expect?
Shelby: I don't know because now our live show is different from in the past.
It better not be boring. It better still be exciting.
Shelby: I think it's exciting, it's just more exciting as far as the mood we create. It's not as full on and screaming at people in Japanese and all. I mean there was a time for that but if we kept on doing the same thing we'd get really bored and then we'd break up so we don't want to do that. Musically, that song we sung in Japanese, Cha-Chi, I always dreamed that we were gonna do that song for the last time in Japan. And then it's going to end that song because we've been doing that for years. Anyway, we went to Japan and our last show in Tokyo and it was perfect and so I don't ever want to play it again because that memory we had was perfect because I was singing and this guy Kato-Man, who runs this record store in Japan, he was singing and this guy Itaru was playing guitar so it was like the Boredoms. And he knew all the lyrics surprisingly. So it was us both singing and we were freaking out and it was great, it was brilliant. Like after that it was like if you play it in America it won't be the same. The only way I could ever see us playing it again in this country is if we got some crazy Japanese guys to play it with us and I didn't have to play guitar. If we had another Japanese vocalist and another Japanese guy on guitar, we'd play it again in America.
What happened to your glasses? I miss them.
Shelby: They moved closer to my eyeballs.
Shelby: Yes. Peripheral vision is something I've always wanted. Do you wear contacts?
Shelby: Well there you go.
Do you think you fit in with the genre that's playing here tonight?
Shelby: In a lot of ways I kind of think we don't but in a lot of ways I think we do. It seems like sometimes hardcore can be musically limiting. People only see it going one way. I've never personally looked at things that way. I don't think all of hardcore goes one way but in the direction we've got I think there are elements I think people would like who just listen to hardcore but there's elements where if you just listen to music, you'll like. I don't know if it will go by people or not because we don't do the same set we used to. We're not freaking out and doing as much. The new songs...we have singing in it. So it's a new thing for Frodus here.
Now who's singing? Are you singing or is Nathan singing?
Shelby: We're both singing. I think people will get it. I have a hard time being able to tell that. And in a lot of ways I don't know if people within a certain scene like hardcore which is what we've fit into the past couple of years will really get where we're coming from until the new record is released. Live, you can get into it but you'll either be "this is kinda weird and kinda stinky" or "this is really interesting, this is really cool". Then you get the record and you're like "wow I remember this, this is really neat". So in a lot of ways I don't know where we'll fit in as far as that concerns. But you look at it in many different ways. A lot of independent bands are doing different things anyway these days. I guess a hardcore scene is different in every town.
Where do you guys reside currently?
Shelby: I live in Arlington right outside of DC and Nate lives in DC and then Jason lives in Fairfax, Virginia which is a little farther out.
That's a good area. I was just there this summer and this fall. I drove through Manassas and drove through DC.
Shelby: What were you doing there?
Civil War sightseeing.
Shelby: Why? Do you like the Civil War?
I'm a history major and that kind of stuff really interests me a lot so that's my specialty area. I like DC a lot. What do you guys think of it? Like as far as music scene and just living there in general.
Shelby: It's cool. I like all the free museums and all that stuff because it's very exciting. I like going to museums. The Air & Space Museum is a good time. The Planetarium there too. The music scene is good. Like anywhere it goes in fluxes. Sometimes there's a lot going on and sometimes there's not. Right now it's like there has been kind of a lull, but it's getting exciting again. Sometimes it's a weird scene because I'm not sure how much room there is for a band to go out of the regular "indie" bounds in DC.
Have you ever seen Fugazi?
Shelby: Yeah, I've seen them a bunch of times. I think they're great and everything they do for DC is awesome. They support all the bands. And even local bands if they like the band they'll help pay for stuff. They're a really helpful label. They helped us in the past.
Do you think you'd ever sign with them since they only sign DC bands?
Shelby: I dunno. I don't know what they're doing exactly. They haven't been that active recently. I don't know if it's something where they're focusing on back catalog and the circle of friends they put out because it's totally understandable. It'd be cool and stuff but I don't know.
Is Ian MacKaye moving into his mid life crises or something? That'd be kind of weird.
Shelby: He's a wise guy, so he's probably figured it all out anyway.
Who's the girl that books for you guys? Amanda? How is she related to him?
Shelby: She's his sister.
Everyone's trying to tell me that's his wife and I was thinking that he wasn't married.
Shelby: No, he's not married.
What's the first CD you ever bought?
Shelby: I think I might have bought Queensryche "Operation Mindcrime" or Guns 'n' Roses "Appetite For Destruction".
Which are both fine quality albums so I salute you.
Shelby: "Mindcrime" I think is one of the best albums ever. I mean it's Queensryche and it's kinda geeky. You know the stuff they did post of that is really bad but that album is a true concept album and I think it's genius. It has a great story line and I saw them in 1990. And I have yet to see a band that could put on a performance that could rival David Copperfield since. So I give them props for that. First CD, I still don't know what the first CD I bought was. (at this point Nate comes up to us)
Oh word up Nate.
Nate: You guys look extremely suspicious.
We're doing drugs here. Would you care to comment?
Are you intoxicated?
Shelby: Yes he is.
Nate: I don't know man, with riddles.
Shelby: What's that from?
Uh, right on. So what was the first CD you bought?
Nate: The first CD?
Shelby: Yeah, I had a hard time remembering.
Nate: REM "Green". I mean it's not the first thing I ever bought but it's the first compact disc I ever bought. *Nate coughs*
Nate: I've got something going on.
Shelby: I think I bought Jesus Jones or something.
Nate: I like that one (starts singing) "international bright young thing..." The first tape I ever bought was Duran Duran "Arena".
Can either of you breakdance?
Nate: Shelby can actually.
Shelby: I know some moves.
Will you breakdance tonight on stage?
Shelby: Not on stage.
Nate: It doesn't really seem appropriate.
Shelby: It's not appropriate.
Nate: We're no fun anymore.
I'm gonna entitle this article "Frodus Grew Up" or something like that. Or "Frodus, the Older Years".
Nate: "Frodus Threw Up". "Growing Pains". Or some stupid show like that.
That show was funny.
Nate: Oh man...was that with Cameron? Was that the dude's name?
Shelby: Call it, "Frodus Silver Spoons".
Nate: "Diff'rent Strokes To Rule The World"
Shelby: How about "Frodus Benson"? "Frodus: Benson"
Nate: How about "The Price Is Wrong, Bitch". So many possibilities. What's that other show? Yeah, just call it "Webster".
Should I find a picture of Webster somewhere? And I'll make every single guy in Frodus Webster. Like, "This is Shelby" and show a picture of Webster. "This is Nate" and show a picture of Webster.
Nate: Did Webster ever get arrested for anything?
Shelby: He was the only one that didn't get in trouble.
Nate: Man, I've got a sore throat, I don't know what's going on. Are we going home tonight or are we gonna stay here? What do you think?
Shelby: *inaudible* says we have to stay here because the hotel is grand. I guess he hasn't been in many hotels. There's a gap in the door to the hallway of like four inches. I mean, it's a nice hotel but it's not anything worth staying over.
Nate: We have seen nice hotels.
Note to you guys that this is Muncie, Indiana.
Shelby: It is Muncie.
Nate: I think we're gonna have to stay. I think it might be safer to stay.
Nate, how did you join Frodus?
I didn't hear what you just said. What did you just say?
Nate: It was like "AAAAHHHH...SIX HOURS...NEED COFFEE...WASHINGTON DC...SLEEPYTIME TRIO!" I don't know. Something like that.
Did you just say Sleepytime Trio?
Nate: They're playing tomorrow with Hose.Got.Cable.
I thought Hose.Got.Cable broke up.
Nate: So did Sleepytime. It's the reunion, reunion, reunion.
Shelby: It's Sleepytime's second reunion and Hose.Got.Cable's first.
It'll be like ghosts floating around on stage.
Nate: Yeah, I don't know.
Shelby: I think our next tour is going to be a reunion tour, too. That seems to be the strategy. Bands get bigger after they break up.
Nate: You break up and you get huge.
Shelby: I actually sent a mass email out to everybody on the Frodus mailing list and usually we have some people who follow us and our different manifestos and I told them to spread the word that we're dead. And we're alive.
That'd be really funny if I never heard of you guys again after tonight.
Shelby: Or if you heard we broke up and there was controversy.
Do you guys want me to kill Jason?
Shelby: I dunno.
Nate: I dunno. If it meant that Shelby could go home tonight...it might be a good idea. Well, the uh...what was the question?
I was asking you how you joined Frodus.
Nate: I've just known them for a long time. I've known them since '93 or '94. '94 is when I think I met them and they had been playing and they had different bass players. I think they asked me in '94 and I was going to school so I couldn't. Eventually they asked me again in August of '97 and I was like, "alright". What the hell? Screw school man.
Where did you go to school?
Nate: I went to three different schools. I went to University of William & Mary which is in Virginia, and GMU (George Mason University) which is around where we live and I went for a year to University of Glasgow in Scotland.
Really? I know a guy that's there right now. That's kind of weird.
Well, he's just doing a semester there.
Nate: That's just by far the best college experience I've ever had. I mean three schools in three years.
It's like saying Community College 1, Community College 2, Harvard. In comparison to Scotland...
Nate: Even just seeing American universities the way they're set up. Maybe it makes a difference if you're in a city, too, but there's no such thing as a fraternity over there.
And he was so dissapointed, too.
Nate: Yeah. And nobody knows who the hell Hootie & The Blowfish is so that's quite a relief. They all have the first Stone Roses record.
They're all just Belle & Sebastian crazy.
Nate: Well they're from Glasgow. That was the other thing: the music scene over there is incredible. I saw Mogwai before they had a record out. It was just phenomenal. Who else was there? Mogwai, Belle & Sebastian, *inaudible*, Teenage Fanclub. There's a lot of good bands from there.
So what are you guys gonna do on Monday?
Nate: Hopefully I won't have to work. I'm supposed to work.
Nate: I work at a record store which is actually where we all met and where we practice. And it's going out of business at the end of this month.
Which record store?
Nate: It's called the Record Convergence. It's just an independent store.
So where are you gonna work then?
Nate: That's a good question.
I was telling Shelby I've been to Washington DC like twice in the past couple months. You could be one of those homeless people that stands outside the Washington Monument or somewhere around there.
Nate: I might do that. I might just sell Frodus stickers in front of the Washington Monument. Get a couple buds together. I mean I love downtown.
Do you really?
You and the President are good friends?
Nate: Yeah we saw...actually you know this is a fact...
You're the new intern.
Nate: Jimmy Carter originally bought the house I lived in. It's not a house it's like a townhouse. It's a three level connected deal. And Jimmy Carter bought it years ago for somebody and then it traded hands or something.
So are you gonna go to work on Monday then? *Nate coughs* Nate coughs once again.
Nate: I'm trying to find a way to get out of it.
You want me to come take your place?
Nate: That would be a relief. I work all the bleepin time.
Please note that Nate said fuckin. Note to self, Nate swore profusely throughout the interview. I edited it for your convenience.
Shelby: This is going to be a difficult interview to edit. It's done really stream of consciousness. You're going to have to make it cohesive because whenever I read stuff like that I'm just like, "What the heck?"
I'll just write: "Shelby says the new record will be out sometime on a label yet to be determined. The End."
Shelby: You could make an article. I would think that's interesting.
Nate: I like the fact that I say the bleepin and the f-in and all that stuff. What was it, Bill one time...have you heard of Shoutbus?
I've heard of them. They sound like the Minutemen and all that kind of stuff. They're on Art Monk.
Nate: I live with a guy from that band and one time he said "I F-in hate that motherfucker." Doesn't that just kind of defeat the purpose?
What the F?
Nate: I guess that just sounds funnier. So I don't know. What have you guys been talking about?
Nothing. I think it'd be funny if we killed Shelby and just left him in a lump up against the wall and people would just walk by and look down the alley and be like, "Well there's a dead guy."
Shelby: Frodus...Film Noir.
Nate: It'd sell records man.
Our singer just died, buy all our records!
Nate: I think touring is bullshit. I'm starting to realize that touring is probably the least effective way to sell records. Look at Refused. They friggin broke up and they've got a video.
I always heard about the last show that they played...
Nate: In Harrisonburg?
Was that pretty funny? I heard that as they played "Rather Be Dead" the cops were dragging them out.
Nate: They didn't drag them out, but the cops came in and unplugged everything. It was an intense moment because it was a very small space and it was very, very, very packed and the cops made their way through to the front and they unplugged everything rather violently with their big flashlights and they were all like, "Everybody get the fuck out of here!" And the kids started chanting "Rather be alive!" and they kept saying it. There was a really tense moment. It was almost scary. It was sublime.
How many cops were there?
Nate: A lot. When I came outside there were at least 20 cop cars.
Shelby: There was not.
Nate: There was.
Shelby: There was twenty?
Nate: There was like fifteen or twenty. The dudes who lived at the house got arrested. Then these kids went down to the police station to protest them getting arrested and then they got arrested. They let us and Refused go and at first they wouldn't let us get our equipment and eventually we got it.
Note to self: find something to do in Harrisonburg to piss off the cops.
Nate: It's not hard man. It's not hard.
I was there, too, a month ago or so. University of Virginia, right?
Nate: No, that's Charlottesville.
Oh, that's right! Harrisonburg is uh...
That's right, James Madison.
Nate: Where do you live?
I live here in Indiana. Like I go to school like half an hour north of here.
Nate: What were you doing over there?
I was telling Shelby that I'm interested in Civil War history. I'm a history major so we made our way up the Shenandoah Valley.
Nate: That's my jam, dude.
You're big into that?
Nate: Yeah I've got that whole Civil War PBS series on tape.
Nate: I got it for Christmas. You know what I want now? The one on baseball. It's awesome. The Civil War is amazing.
Yeah and you live in the right spot too. We went to Battle of Manassas...
What did you say? Manasshole?
Nate: Everyone calls it Manasshole. Well not everyone...
I'll be sure and tell my parents that's what they call it. "Mom, Dad, remember that time we went to Manasshole. That was great!"
Nate: That area is cool it's just the city itself is totally redneck.
Shelby: It breeds bizarre culture.
Shelby: They're very suspicious of people like us. I was down there once at a stoplight and a guy just spit on my car.
At least he wasn't urinating on it.
Shelby: I was like, "Okay..."
Nate: I have a friend who lives there and calls it Molasses. He can't seem to get out of there.
I went to Battle of New Market and Lee's grave and Jackson's grave and around to Charlottesville and all that kind of stuff but we drove through Harrisonburg. I know we went someplace else but it's all blurry now because of those flashbacks when I was in the Civil War. It's a rad area. My cousins live out in Maryland so I enjoy it.
Nate: It's an intense war, man.
As opposed to the other wars which were like, "Well, what do you want to do today? Should we kill some people?"
Nate: There's some crazy stuff though like there was one battle where...I can't remember if it was Shiloh or...you might remember. There was one battle where within like 15 minutes as many men were killed as the entire D-Day invasion.
I think that was Cold Harbor.
Nate: It might have been.
Because at Cold Harbor within like 20 minutes like 7,000 people died.
Nate: It was something ridiculous. It was something obscene.
Have you ever seen the tree that was at Spotsylvania Court House that was just splintered from all the bullets that went through it?
I think it's at the Smithsonian. (to Shelby) What are you gonna do on Monday?
Shelby: I think I'm gonna go to work.
You're gonna do the web thing?
Shelby: I don't know what I'm gonna have on my plate on Monday. I might have some logos or...
Nate: I just wanna have a day of just watching crappy movies. I like playing shows but these three days are all my days off and then I gotta go back to work.
Shelby: Which is precisely why I want to get back tomorrow and not be here and not be driving.
Nate: But I'll just end up sleeping all day tomorrow.
*burps into tape recorder*
Nate: YEAH! Exactly. Note he burps. Thank you.
So do you guys want to go out and cause trouble now with me?
Nate: It's funny because I don't think we're much of troublemakers on tour.
Damnation. Please note I said damnation.
Nate: Usually playing a show is enough in a day for me. I don't really have anything to prove after that.
Cause you came hard or you didn't come at all?
Cause you ain't got time to bleed?
Nate: I ain't got time to F around with all these...
Please note he said "Fuckin bad ass motherfucker".
Nate: I ain't got time to F around with these Mf-ers. You know what I'm saying? I'm just here to rock and then I'm gonna chill. Cause I got to get ready to rock who knows when next.
Cause Nate rocks.
Nate: You just got to get ready.
I'd also like to make a note that you guys have the funniest pictures at your website I've ever seen.
Shelby: Which ones?
All of them. Like the one where Jason's riding the pony, the one with the male prostitute...
Nate: Did you see the one of me with the metal dude?
Silent Rage or whatever they're called?
Nate: Oh boy.
Shelby: We played some weird shows that would make the regular man question why they were playing in said band. But that goes with the territory.
Nate: Did you see the one of me with the boa and in the drag and all that?
I don't think so.
Nate: Oh, okay. That's fine.
When's the website gonna be back up? I'm impatient.
Shelby: When it should, it'll be back. We changed it recently.
Yeah, I saw that but I still want more. I demand more.
Shelby: First we need to convince people that we broke up or something and then we'll bring it all back. When we find a label we'll probably bring it back.
Well now I'm done because I ran out of things to say.
Shelby: You did well. Good luck on editing.