Meet the Shook Twins
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Meet the Shook Twins: Identical twin sisters Laurie and Katelyn Shook. Laurie plays banjo and Katelyn is on guitar, and they both sing. The indie-folk group is rounded out by Barra Brown on drums, Sydney Nash on bass, Niko Slice on guitar and mandolin and an instrument that’s taken on a personality of its own: The Golden Egg. The egg has been on a journey being passed from person to person for several years, and when it found its way to the Shook Twins, Laurie filled it with popcorn kernels to make it a musical egg shaker and slapped the outside to make it a musical egg drum. When the egg is ready to continue on its journey, Laurie says, it will be passed along.
Across The Shook Twins’ four albums and several EPs, their sound is dreamlike, sometimes eerie, sometimes groovy, sometimes psychedelic or disco or funky, always harmonizing.
They’ve played in Steamboat Springs before, most recently at WinterWonderGrass, and on Saturday, they’ll take the stage at Schmiggity’s again. Elephant Revival’s Darren Garvey will be joining the band for the night on drums, and the show doubles as a birthday celebration for a friend of the group.
Explore Steamboat: Was creating a band together always the dream?
Laurie Shook: Not really, actually. It just started happening. We had other dreams — we went to college for radio, TV and digital media production, dreamed of having our own show on the Travel Channel called Travel Twins. We’d just started playing guitar around the end of high school and had put that on the backburner. After college, we moved back home to northern Idaho and lived in the backhouse and started playing a lot more. We started playing more and more gigs and gathering musicians into a band. I think once we moved to Portland in 2009, it was like, “Let’s do this for real — let’s make this our thing.”
ES: How did Niko, Barra and Sydney joining the group change your creative processes compared to when it was just the two twins?
LS: Niko has been in the band the longest; he’s been our main dude. He’s a great multi-instrumentalist, and he adds texture to our sound. Barra and Sydney are amazing musicians, too. For most of the album, Katelyn and I write a song and then bring us all together, and then the other three make their own parts and make it so much groovier. Recently, we had a spontaneous songwriting day, though, when they just started playing, and Katelyn and I just sang with it. Those guys really kick things up a notch.
ES: The band has played shows at Red Rocks, the solar-powered mobile recording studio van at High Sierra Music Festival and all over the country — do you have a favorite place you’ve ever played?
LS: Red Rocks, hands down. Best day of our lives. We got to open for Ani DiFranco and Gregory Alan Isakov. They’re both our idols, and we’re dear friends with Gregory. He was playing with Ani and knew we’ve been fans of hers since we were in seventh grade; she’s the reason we want to write poetry. So, Gregory made it happen. It’s hard to top that.
What: Shook Twins at Schmiggity’s
When: 10 p.m. Saturday, June 15
Where: Schmiggity’s, 821 Lincoln Ave.
Tickets: $10 at schmiggity’s.com
ES: Is there anywhere on the bucket list that could top that?
LS: Maybe The Gorge (Amphitheater), the amphitheater in Eastern Washington. We grew up going to shows there, and it’s amazing. It might be too big to feel intimate, though.
ES: In your most recent album, “Some Good Lives,” you incorporate different voices into some of the songs, including that of your grandfather and Bernie Sanders. How does adding that change the emotional side of a song?
LS: Half of them don’t get to hear it because they’ve passed. Last night, actually, we were recording one of the songs, and I just started crying, thinking of our friend it’s dedicated to. But if I cry, my voice sounds terrible, so I kind of channel it to him in a different way. It brings a lot of emotion, and it feels really nice to honor them in that way.
ES: What do you see as music’s role in the world?
LS: Bringing calmness and joy and a soundtrack to people’s lives and hopefully, helping pain and suffering. Some sort of way to communicate with people that’s not blatant and accusatory, something subtle that communicates more with feeling. Hopefully, healing.
ES: If you could pick one of your songs and/or music videos for everyone in the country to listen to, which one would it be? And what would the song and/or video inspire?
LS: I think, right now, our song “Call Me Out.” It’s a single. Our friend (editor and animator) Willy Witte made it look really cool and funky. The song has a deep groove, and I really like how it came out. The premise — it’s about asking people to call us out, about holding each other accountable and trying to make each other better and finding the best way to do that. It’s about being able to listen when people are calling you out. I think the world needs that right now.
ES: Will the egg be visiting Schmiggity’s?
LS: Yes! Whenever we’re driving the Sprinty, the egg comes with us. She doesn’t have wings, so she doesn’t get to fly — she got dented once flying.
ES: What are some exciting things coming up for the band in the near future?
LS: Festival season is always fun and exciting; we’re stoked to play at High Sierra again and a bunch of west coast festivals that we love so much. There’s Doe Bay festival. It’ll be good to have family vibes at home, too.
Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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