March 2004
By Mike Doktorski

In the 80s, bands like the Smithereens, Spy Gods, and Spiral Jetty were making the scene in New Brunswick. The 90s gave rise to classic Hub City acts like Nudeswirl, Buzzkill, Boss Jim Gettys, and Bionic Rhoda. Now, a new generation of bands is making their presence known on the banks of the Raritan…acts like Dibs, Readymade Breakup, and a talented quintet known as Shade.

Formed five years ago when band members Bill Frick (lead vocals), Carlos Valente (lead guitar), Mike Bellfry (rhythm guitar), Tim "Koosh" Cushing (bass), and Dan Bradlau (drums) were attending Phillipsburg High School, Shade has been making waves on the local scene with its arresting live performances and the harmony-laden indie rock of its recently released Panel Sessions EP. Shade graciously took the time to answer some questions for NBU on its songs, shows, and future plans.

NBU: How did Shade come together?

Bill: Shade came together when Carlos and I started writing songs acoustic as a goof. When we realized how much the ladyfolk were enthralled by a man who could sing, we decided to enlist less attractive men than ourselves to form a band. Shade are these men. I've never actually been in another band but Shade used to go by many other monikers, for example, WagonColon, The SpiceBoys, Pepsi and several other copyright infringements that all made us the choice of a new generation.

Carlos: Shade was a vision of Bill and I. It took many forms before it became the band it is today. The beginnings were mainly acoustic, but our intent was to eventually form a rock band, which we did about a year after becoming best of friends and writing many, many songs.

Mike: Shade has been playing together for five years. We all knew each other in high school and decided to form a band with the sole purpose of rocking. We had all been in other bands before but I don't think any of us was truly satisfied. I know I felt like I was being musically held back when I was in other groups. I think what holds Shade together is the musical chemistry between all of the members, allowing us all to fully express and our talents. It is something that I have not experienced in any other group.

Koosh: During history class (high school), Mike asked me to join or at least practice with some guys he knew. I was the last of the original members to sign up.

Dan: Shade was formed by fellow band mates Bill and Carlos. At the time I was an inexperienced percussionist playing in several different competing Phillipsburg H.S. bands throughout my high school career. I was always a huge fan of Shade and made it a point to attend every show possible to get my dose of Bill's crazy on-stage antics. It was not until my sophomore year of college that I was given the opportunity to play with Shade as a last minute fill-in for pre-existing drummer Kevin Hoffman. Without a single practice we took the show to Long Island and came home a success. From that day on I was the new percussionist for the band I followed as a fan for almost four years.

NBU: Shade calls New Brunswick its home. Did you guys goto school here? Do you live here currently?

Bill: We did originally start going to school here, but the good people at Rutgers thought it best that we pursue other ventures, entirely not minding that we pursue them in town or at school functions, which was nice of them. We lived here together for a while but we all went crazy. The only one who still lives here is Carlos who is also still crazy. New Brunswick has a lot of people who enjoy booze and music to accompany it. It gives us a lot of room to grow.

Carlos: I went to Rutgers first, fresh out of high school and after 2 years, decided it would benefit me to do extemely poorly in my classes. Billy and Koosh later joined me and did the same. I personally still live in New Brunswick due to my lack of interest to go anywhere else, but I am the only member of the band who still lives in the Hub City.

Koosh: I attended Rutgers for a year and lived in New Brunswick for 2 years. New Brunswick is a land of happy mediums. It's more urban than I'm used to, but I still don't consider it a "city". It's ghetto and upscale at the same time. It's far away enough from my hometown to feel distant, but close enough to run home and do a load of laundry if need be. The music scene is great. Most of the bands are relative unknowns, but they are all uber-talented. I love it.

Dan: Last year, four of us moved in together in New Brunswick. At the time Carlos, Bill, and Tom had been attending Rutgers University. I myself had been attending class at Raritan Valley Community College. Today, with the five of us spread out all over New Jersey, and into Pennsylvania, New Brunswick remains the central location for us to meet together and do what we do best….rock and roll.

NBU: How does the bands songwriting happen? Do you compose songs individually or as a group?

Bill: Carlos usually sparks the flame of the song with a chord progression(s) and I'll come up with some sort of melody. After a lot of screaming and crying, we end up with bare bones for a song that the rest of the band will decorate with delicious rock and roll meat.

Carlos: I normally introduce the song to Bill, and together we work on melody ideas and arrangements. he writes the bulk of the melodies as well as all the lyrics, and then Mike, Koosh, and Danny work their magic.

Mike: Usually one person will come to the writing session with a single idea. Then the other members will create their parts and new ideas are spawned. It is definitely a dynamic process that takes time and involves everyone.

Koosh: A prominent trend would be building a song, parts at a time. Usually Carlos will write a part, then the rest of us build, add, rewrite, or omit until we dig what we hear. Bill writes 95% of the lyrics.

Dan: Most songs originate within the talent of lead guitarist Carlos Valente. The ideas are then brought up during a full band rehearsal in which each member will add his own style to the mix. A song is never completed by one band member. After everyone has heard the original product, several sessions of revising take place until the final result is agreed upon. Harmonies are usually added to strengthen the melody and to give the song that classic Shade trademark.

NBU: Bill's lyrics seem to deal with a assortment of kinda negative emotions -- loss, abandonment, disillusionment, love lost etc. Is this a result of the music you listen to, or is it what's going in your life?

Bill: It's weird that what moves me to write lyrics for our songs are generally negative feelings. I can write pages and pages on the bane of my existence, but other emotions never seemed to be as powerful to me. Grief and disparity are feelings that can really take you over and move you to a different place.Its not really good for your mental health, but it makes for some great music. They have an important spot in art today and forever will. Everyone's had these feelings and can easily relate to that sort of tone in a song.

NBU: A lot of your songs feature prominent harmony vocals…almost like another instrument. How many singers are in the band? How do you come up with the vocal arrangements?

Bill: We actually have five singers in the band, as we have always tried to make vocal harmony our bread and butter. Believe it or not, we were all in choir together. Our training there has really helped us to arrange our vocal parts. We kind of all come up with our own part and then pick the dynamics as a team.

Carlos: Everyone in the band has a good ear and is capable of singing, and we enjoy making harmony... normally Bill will sing the melody, and we just pick the harmonies according to vocal range. 4 of us sing: me, Bill, Mike, Koosh

Mike: We all sing, and sing well. I hate it when a band has excellent harmonies on an album, but, they have little or no harmonies when playing live. Many other bands struggle for one decent singer, but we have five excellent ones. We all enjoy harmonies and know a good one when we hear it.

Koosh: Well, we all sing like choir boys, but Dan usually can't get a mic behind the drum set. We usually just jam on a song vocally until we find the right harmonies and supporting melodies.

NBU: So what's the long range game plan for Shade?

Carlos: I suppose our intent is to continue writing music and see if we can make something of it. we're confident in what the future holds, and there are talks of weekend tours for now.

Mike: We want to be famous. ASAP. §

This interview originally appeared in the March 2004 issue of Night & Day Magazine.

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