Shane Connery VolkAs lead singer and song writer for Canadian rock band One Bad Son, Saskatoon native Shane Connery Volk is known for gritty, soaring vocals on songs like “Scarecrows” and “Raging Bull” and nods to classic Westerns with the songs “True Grit and “The Outlaw Josey Wales”.

“Shiver” is the first official solo release for Shane and it comes with a 20 page comic book that showcases the musician’s other talent, comic book illustrator. It tells the tale of a man who’s lost in life’s rituals but can’t shake the idea that there’s something else he should be doing.

 

It’s a fitting story for the talented artist’s first solo endeavour as well as his foray into the graphic art world. We talked to Shane about the new single, his art, and what’s next for One Bad Son.

You have a solo single “Shiver” out. What made you decide to release a solo song at this time?
I had this song recorded in 2019. The long story is that I’ve accumulated a lot of songs just writing for One Bad Son, that just didn’t work for the band. Songs I really liked. When you’re trimming an album down from 30 songs to 10 or 12, you end up having a lot leftover. So I’ve kind of accumulated a lot of ideas over the years. I recorded this song in 2019. My plans were to record an EP and have it ready for 2020. While OBS wasn’t on the road, I was going to release these and do a little thing and stay busy. Of course, like everybody else, COVID-19 changed all of those plans.

So I’ve been sitting on this song and not sure what to do with it, and finally just decided, in a world where you can’t plan anything, just put it out. I think I was stuck in the head space of having a larger plan. And I’m like, “You can’t plan anyway so just put it out. I had the video recorded and stuff. So I just figured it’s a good time to just put it out, I think people need new music right now as well. I know I do. So I figured just put it out, see how it goes and then just roll with it and kind of figure the rest out on the fly.

You said you were thinking about putting out an EP, but you’re just putting out the single right now. Is part of that because of COVID-19 because you can’t really tour that much and promote it?
Yeah, absolutely. A couple reasons. That’s kind of number one. Not having income. My main source of income is from touring. So not having two years of that really puts a dent in your plans for funding these things. So that, and I landed this gig drawing comic books, which is also another passion and dream of mine. I had put a lot of work into that. All of those things combined just shelve that idea of going to record. Also the logistics of recording, especially when lockdowns were on and heavy. And even now, you just want to be safe about everything. So I just figured why push it? Why stress out trying to get and record more? And just get the one out while I’ve got it, and do more as they come.

The song, it seems kind of autobiographical to me. It seems to basically tell the story of what’s going on right now. Realizing your dreams and like your comic book drawing, you’ve been drawing ever since you’re a kid, haven’t you?
Oh, absolutely. Like a lot of artists, I was always the kid doodling in class and all those things. And when I discovered music and really kind of discovered my voice and my love for music that took center stage. And when One Bad Son was really starting, you have to throw everything at that. It’s not a part-time job.

But I’ve always designed and worked on some of the album artwork and designed merchant, that sort of thing. But you really hit at the nail on the head with the song. It is very much autobiographical after 16 plus years to that point of touring and writing and having such great radio success, just losing the place that my creativity originally came from. And I think it’s a very normal thing for artists who have hit any level of success to start getting lost in the machine. You used to write songs because you love to write and you like to hang with your friends and have fun. Now you’re writing songs because you’re chasing hits, you’re trying to recreate and better the last amount of success.

That doesn’t come from a place of vanity. It just happened so naturally. One day I think I woke up and wondered how I got there. I pick my guitar up and think, “Okay, I’ve got to try to write a hit. I’ve got to try to…” And I think that really started to wear me down. And after the last record, I was just creatively drained, so “Shiver” was my way of getting back to some sense of where my creativity started from, which is just, I love music. I love to write. I love to sing. It works for anybody who has had a dream or had something in their heart or their soul that they just lost track of and trying to get that back. Absolutely autobiographical.

Shiver comicHow does one become a comic book illustrator?
For me it was a bit of an interesting path. Again, I’ve been drawing my whole life and I always knew at some point I was going to push a little harder into my art and especially into comic art. And then my wife said something really great to me. And this was around the time that I was losing track of myself. And she said, “You know what your problem is? You’re not a musician. You’re an artist. Do art. You can do it all. Write music, play it, but you don’t have to focus so hard on that one thing that you forget everything else.” And that really struck a chord with me. So I decided, “Okay, now’s the time to really start to dig into that comic art.” So I spent close to two years, really, really trying to hone my skill and working.

And then randomly online, I found a contest that a company out of Florida runs. This company, Mad Cave Studios that I now work for. They run a contest to find new artists and writers, which is very, very unheard of in comic books. So just on a whim, I tried that, I submitted a five-page story and, very long story short, I won. And then they handed me this comic book series and my world crashed in around me and I realized I don’t know how to draw comic books. The best way to learn anything is to learn on the job. So I went into it head first and really learned a lot through those first five issues. And now I’m doing that as well as music and a bit of acting. I always say I have two and a half careers on the go right now.

That series is actually their best selling series, isn’t it?
It is, yeah. It was really very surprising for all of us, because I’m a realist when it comes to my art. Like “Shiver”, I’m not putting a bunch of radio behind it. The idea is just to get it out and the comic art was the same way. I’ve got to start somewhere.

I know I’m not to the pro level I want to be at yet, but I figured, get it out, it’s a cool story. There’s some good stuff in here and then just start building your career. But somehow, it got a lot of hype coming out of the gates and people really connected with the story and people connected with my art.

So, super fortunate. It broke all of their sales records and went into multiple printings and now I’m actually drawing the second series. It was a huge hit, which I wasn’t expecting it. It’s just very, very cool.

You’ve tied it in with your single, because you have a 20 page comic book that comes with the single. How is that going to be marketed? Are you going to be selling it as a package?
Well, it’s ongoing with my plan. It’s going to be through Amazon. You can get the digital copy. So anybody in the world can get the digital copy of the book. It’s tied in with the video. It’s like a comic adaptation of the video. So when the video comes out a week after “Shiver” drops, you’ll be able to get the comic on Amazon.

But I also have some physical copies that I’m selling at my local comic book store, Red Skull Comics down the street from me, they’re going to sell a few and then I’ll be selling them at shows as well. So it’s incentive to come watch me play if you want a comic book.

What was your comic book that you kind of gravitated to? Who is that superhero or character?
Well it’s an interesting question for me. My history with comics is exactly like my history with music.

I grew up on a farm in Western Saskatchewan and especially at that time, this is pre-internet, that was early 90s when, as everybody is in their formative years, 12, 13, 14, you really start to find the music you love and find the art you love.

So when I was getting interested in comic books and music, there wasn’t much to be had. The closest city was two hours away, where Saskatoon is. So it was only these little windows of time that I could come into town and there was no internet. So you weren’t just discovering stuff on iTunes or Spotify. So I was pretty limited with stuff.

I think when Batman 89, the movie came out just really blew my mind and I thought, “Wow, that’s just the thing.” So I would go in and I didn’t know anything about comics like I didn’t know anything about music. So I would pick up a CD I liked, sometimes just based on the cover art, I’d go to a comic shop and buy Batman books or Superman books. And there was no real rhyme or reason.

I’m an art driven guy, a visual and audio guy. I like the art, I’d pick it up. And the comic shop guys would always be pissed because they’d say, “Well, that’s not part of the series that you’re reading.” I’m like, “I don’t care. I just want the pictures.” (Laughter)

But then of course, as I’ve gotten older now, you get in into classics like Watchmen. And I think when I finally read Dark Night Returns, that sort of stuff totally blew my mind. So just like music.

I got into it, started to discover it. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gone back to my heroes influences and that’s where you really start to open your mind when you see the people that you love, what they were listening to and what art they were looking at. Yeah, totally opens your world.

You were a bit and are a bit of a country fan. The single has been described as kind of a “twangy rock country song”.
I like that.

But the first thing that I heard in my mind was Alice In Chains.
Oh, dude, hey, you’re speaking my language. I love it. That’s a great pickup because obviously I’m a rock guy and growing up in the 90s again, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Nirvana, those bands were my bands.

But yeah, when I discovered Johnny Cash and started getting into especially outlaw country, like Waylon Jennings and that kind of stuff really spoke to me. But the cool thing is I feel like bands like Alice In Chains, not to say that bands don’t do it now, but it was still an era coming out of what bands like Led Zeppelin were doing. Led Zeppelin was a huge influence on all of those 90s bands.

The things Led Zeppelin had that I loved, and I feel like Alice In Chains and Soundgarden and those bands to a degree. Yeah, they’re a rock band, but they have a ton of acoustic songs and not only are they acoustic, but they’re different.

You listen to something and think, “Wow, that’s kind of a… That’s actually a country song that they’re doing, or they’re version of it.” And Alice In Chains’ got great acoustic tunes. I always loved bands that would do both or just experiment with different sounds and not be afraid of like, “Well, that’s not really an Alice In Chains’ song.”

Honestly, One Bad Son has done that. I wrote a song called The Outlaw Josey Wales based on one of my favorite Clint Eastwood Westerns. It’s got the sound of Shiver. I initially wrote it thinking, “Well, I’ll put that on a solo EP at some point,” but the band loved it. Into their credit, Kurt is really good rated at identifying great ideas. And he was like, “Why don’t we do that song?” So it was cool.

One Bad Son has embraced that to a degree as well to try to do different stuff. But for myself, I want to dig even deeper into different acoustic kind of based stuff right now. Who knows where my tastes go from here.

Shane+Connery+VolkYeah, kind of blurring the lines and not sticking to one genre.
Yeah. Well, because one of the things that I think every artist hates this question and I realize that you kind of have to do it, especially with streaming and there’s just so much content out there is like, “Well, what kind of music is it? What are you?”

And you have say like, “Well we’re a rock band.” And even now it’s like, “Well, we’re a rock, but we’re classic rock, or we’re this sub genre of the sub genre, or you have to be its country period.”

People aren’t to blame, but I think there’s just so much stuff out there that when you’re trying to market your music, radio and everybody else wants to know like, “Okay, well this new Shane Connery Volk single is country.” And I’ll say, “Well, it’s not.” And like, “Well, it’s rock.” And you’re like, “Well, it’s kind of in this gray area.” And I think that’s a bit harder to do now because people want these really hard definitions of what you sound like.

It’s really worked out for you guys too, for your touring as a band One Bad Son because of Def Leppard, Judas Priest, Shinedown, The Rolling Stones. You can’t really compare those bands, can you? Other than they’re all rock bands.
Yeah. That’s the great thing with rock is you have a common thread. And one really great thing I love about Rock and Roll now in 2021 is I feel like you can be what you are without having to really chase a sound.

I know when we started out in 2004, 2005, it was like, you had to be, say Three Days Grace, or you had to be whatever, I think new metal was still a thing back then.

You had to be a thing to be successful in that moment. Otherwise, you were, “Wow, you guys sound a little too classic and that’s not the thing anymore.” Whereas I think nowadays it’s great because there’s so much music out there.

When I grew up in the 90s, if you said, “I love Pearl Jam, I also love Waylon Jennings, or Shania Twain, people would be like, “No, no, no, you can’t like those things together.”
Nowadays, I think people are just so exposed to so much great music that they’re like, “Well, yeah, I listen to country, I listen to rock. I listen to metal. And even in the rock genre, you can say, “Yeah, I love Shinedown. I also love Def Leppard.”

You could listen to Warrant and listen to System of a Down and people don’t really bat an eye because it’s like, well, yeah, everyone’s into everything kind of. So it’s a cool time because it allows us bands like One Bad Son to tour with Judas Priest and Def Leppard. So we can tour with modern bands, and we can tour with classic rock bands.

What a freeing thing that is to just open your world that way.

Well Kurt’s got a lot going on the side as well, by being an entertainment lawyer, right?
Oh, absolutely.

Has that really helped the two of you to keep this thing going, is that your lives are so diversified. You have so much going on outside of the band because I noticed recently Adam just left the band, right
Yeah, yeah.

Is it part of that whole dynamic where you guys have so much going on that he just needs something that’s more steady and ongoing?
Well, no. It’s hard to know. I know that COVID has been very difficult on a lot of people and I can’t exactly speak to Hicks’s motivations except for that, it’s a lot of personal stuff for a lot of people going through COVID and I think it’s opened a lot of people’s eyes to a very new world and not knowing what that world is.

We’re still tight with Adam. We’re always going to be friends. I was in a band with a guy for 15 years. He’s a bro, but everybody’s got their path in life, and he’s going down a new path and we wish him well. You really just want people to be happy.

But with Kurt and I, I think it’s been very difficult and it is more and more difficult for bands to just make their bread and butter on just music.

And you see so many artists now that are like me and like Kurt, where they’re like, “Yeah, I play music, but I’ve also got this and I’ve got this,” and they’re really grinding harder than ever to just make a life in the arts.

It’s helped 100% having an entertainment lawyer in the band. He’s an anomaly, he’s an incredibly good lawyer, absolutely, but he’s also creative and a great writer and an amazing performer.

He’s my favorite drummer ever. So very cool, and for me, I was inspired by his work ethic going on tour and he’s drafting up agreements and doing work and then we’re sound checking and playing. And I realized I can do that too. He set a great example for me to be able to do more than just one thing.

The last thing I’ll say is that it’s a really freeing time for Kurt and I, because we have other successful things and we are very open with each other about how to integrate all those things now, because the last thing him and I want to do is lose music.

I think playing big rock shows is our passion. That’s always what’s fueled us. It brings out the 15 year old rock fan in us every time we play.

So I think him and I are definitely going to be doing One Bad Son as long as we can because we love it, we love the fans.

But the cool thing now is that we don’t have to do it in this near obsessive way, where if you’re not touring every day of the year and saying yes to everything and really wearing yourself down, then you’re not doing it right.

We’ve moved beyond that. So we have our successes outside of One Bad Son, which also helps generate money and all those things.

So that the band can be far more enjoyable now, in this way of like, “It’s our love and our passion to play rock and roll and play it together.” So we can actually enjoy and go on tour and not be stressed out and all of those things, and then come back and do our other stuff and kind of have, as I’ve tried to articulate in the past, have a life that is art and is everything as opposed to this one very difficult obsessive thing that you’re grinding at all the time. So just having a whole life in art and music.

Have you been writing songs for another album with One Bad Son as well?
Yeah, absolutely. So we’ve got a new guitar player and we’ve got a bass player and we’ve had our first jam as a four piece since, I think our last show was early 2020.

Man, what a feeling that was to have four people in a room playing One Bad Son songs. I can’t even describe it. It was like Christmas times 1,000. Kurt and I have been writing together, doing some writing with some other members of the band here too.

The plan is, we’re not sure if we’re doing full album next year or singles, but definitely new music and playing some shows in 2022.

Check out ShaneConneryVolk.com or OneBadSon.com for tour dates, music and more.

 

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