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Music: Without Burnout

With three full-length albums and a flammable sound, The Sheds are fired up for their one-year anniversary party

By C.A. MacConnell · November 21st, 2006 · Music
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  The Sheds (Chris Haubner, right, and Paul Bunyan) can't quit.
The Sheds

The Sheds (Chris Haubner, right, and Paul Bunyan) can't quit.



You can't help it. When a song gets you, it gets you. Maybe the words describe your father's eyes, your closest friend, the addiction you cannot shake. Perhaps it's the shy interlude, the shocking chorus. Maybe it's the steamy beat, as hot as makeup sex. After 18 years, your parents split. Your friend overdosed. You're so tired, lost in love. Sometimes songs capture the essence of familiarity, sucking it in, then exhaling. Such is the case with The Sheds.

The duo -- Chris Haubner and Paul Bunyan -- both sing and play multiple instruments including piano, guitar, banjo, drums, keys, violin, xylophone, banjar and kalimba. Both guys are thinkers, mulling things over before offering any juice. Even with The Comet's jukebox charging, this near-winter afternoon with The Sheds is gentle, full of subtle gestures, shifts and pauses.

Home base is Kentucky, but both are touched by wanderlust. Haubner's hometown is called "All Over." Reserved in speech and motion, Haubner remains still. Quietly, he speaks. But his singing voice leaves a less guarded impression, revealing what might not otherwise leak out. Slightly throaty and borderline breathy, he sings in clear, inviting whispers.

Like his mythic namesake, Bunyan stands tall, and a large ax would fit well in one of his hands. His knit, hippie-style hat droops over long, dark hair that blends into a scruffy mustache and beard. Atop his left ear, an uncapped pen rests. Bunyan's voice is deep, definite, a low tone hinting at sarcasm. In "Smoke Me Tonight," he sings, "You look so tired, baby/Your eyes look so bloodshot." A nicotine-rich love song, it's strangely funny and urgent.

Haubner's family is full of music talent. "We get called The von Trapps a lot," he says. His family Folk band, The Roanoke Ramblers, will play The Sheds' upcoming anniversary bash.

"I'm opening for myself," Haubner says, smiling from the eyes, rather than the mouth. Haubner's first piano teacher called him "unteachable."

Instead, Haubner learned by ear on a broken, five-string guitar. Later, after serving time on banjo, he switched to four-string, his present style. His motto: No lessons. If he can't figure it out, he doesn't want to do it. He focuses his time on recording.

Bunyan announces, "You're really fucking good. That's what got me hip to the power of Chris Haubner -- his home recording."

From 15 to18, Bunyan played with many Punk bands, later gravitating toward acoustic songwriting, co-writing with Jeremy Pinnel (of The Light Wires). His solo recordings were distributed through Paste Magazine, but Bunyan grew frustrated with time spent on promotion. So he stopped playing, diving into an affair with vinyl. Bunyan explains, "One thing not every musician realizes -- how important listening is to the writing process."

In 2005, Bunyan helped organize the Indiana arts/music festival, The Gratis Fest. Here, he and Haubner "camped around a fire and brainstormed," Bunyan says. Both were enthralled with the idea of theme albums, and Bunyan suggested focusing on songs about their fathers, resulting in The Sheds' first album, Dadcommunication.

In 2006, The Sheds wrote Two, a layered, more variant Folk project containing a parallel-friendship theme and a Pop undercurrent.

"We started utilizing friends and family when we recorded Two," Bunyan says. "My brother and wife sang and rapped. Our friend Matt Shelton (musician/visual artist from Me or the Moon) played finger organs and sang beautifully. Chris's Uncle Jim played dulcimer over the phone."

The Sheds' raw sound burns on the latest album, The Sheds Quit Smoking, which ventures back into the straightforward nature of Dadcommunication, blending in the best oddity of Two.

The opener, "One Smoke," punches out with craving, sounding as desperate as an addict. Pressing vocals echo; the melody hammers in repetitive urges. Haubner sings, "I must resolve to quit/I'm no good at moderate/An ember, the forest fire/We burn up in the end." Poetic and Punk with intensity and hooks, the concrete lyrics stick, bringing the energy and struggle of withdrawal to life. The modern ballads circle back to the smoking theme, hitting on stolen smokes, fidgety, smoky love and burns. Nobody's quitting here.

"We were going to write about the experience of quitting, but it didn't happen," Haubner says. He shrugs, smoking.

Bunyan agrees, nodding and lighting up.

The Sheds lean toward songwriting that blends Pop structure, smart melody and rich lyrics. Bunyan mentions Indie hero Stephin Merritt and The Magnetic Fields: "He challenges me to be straightforward." Crediting the restless, broad style of Yo La Tengo, he says, "They're able to create soundscapes and still remain a Pop band."

Haubner adds artist/musician Laurie Anderson and Robert Pollard (of Guided by Voices) to the list. "We're focused on lyrics. Everything we listen to is pretty lyrical."

Another album's in the works, but they're keeping secrets on the subject matter. Even with prodding, nothing but wry smiles. "We have good momentum," Haubner says. "No slow down or writer's block. We both play by ear. Really, we operate as one person. There's a lot of positive, creative energy, the drive to perform and make new songs. I'm very grateful."

In one year, The Sheds have recorded three albums (all available for free download on their Web site) and played locally and out of town, although they've had no CD release parties.

"This year was the proverbial packing the car up," Bunyan says. "We've done three albums we're really proud of. Now we're ready to hit the road."



THE SHEDS' (
  The Sheds (Chris Haubner, right, and Paul Bunyan) can't quit.
The Sheds

The Sheds (Chris Haubner, right, and Paul Bunyan) can't quit.



You can't help it. When a song gets you, it gets you. Maybe the words describe your father's eyes, your closest friend, the addiction you cannot shake. Perhaps it's the shy interlude, the shocking chorus. Maybe it's the steamy beat, as hot as makeup sex. After 18 years, your parents split. Your friend overdosed. You're so tired, lost in love. Sometimes songs capture the essence of familiarity, sucking it in, then exhaling. Such is the case with The Sheds.

The duo -- Chris Haubner and Paul Bunyan -- both sing and play multiple instruments including piano, guitar, banjo, drums, keys, violin, xylophone, banjar and kalimba. Both guys are thinkers, mulling things over before offering any juice. Even with The Comet's jukebox charging, this near-winter afternoon with The Sheds is gentle, full of subtle gestures, shifts and pauses.

Home base is Kentucky, but both are touched by wanderlust. Haubner's hometown is called "All Over." Reserved in speech and motion, Haubner remains still. Quietly, he speaks. But his singing voice leaves a less guarded impression, revealing what might not otherwise leak out. Slightly throaty and borderline breathy, he sings in clear, inviting whispers.

Like his mythic namesake, Bunyan stands tall, and a large ax would fit well in one of his hands. His knit, hippie-style hat droops over long, dark hair that blends into a scruffy mustache and beard. Atop his left ear, an uncapped pen rests. Bunyan's voice is deep, definite, a low tone hinting at sarcasm. In "Smoke Me Tonight," he sings, "You look so tired, baby/Your eyes look so bloodshot." A nicotine-rich love song, it's strangely funny and urgent.

Haubner's family is full of music talent. "We get called The von Trapps a lot," he says. His family Folk band, The Roanoke Ramblers, will play The Sheds' upcoming anniversary bash.

"I'm opening for myself," Haubner says, smiling from the eyes, rather than the mouth. Haubner's first piano teacher called him "unteachable."

Instead, Haubner learned by ear on a broken, five-string guitar. Later, after serving time on banjo, he switched to four-string, his present style. His motto: No lessons. If he can't figure it out, he doesn't want to do it. He focuses his time on recording.

Bunyan announces, "You're really fucking good. That's what got me hip to the power of Chris Haubner -- his home recording."

From 15 to18, Bunyan played with many Punk bands, later gravitating toward acoustic songwriting, co-writing with Jeremy Pinnel (of The Light Wires). His solo recordings were distributed through Paste Magazine, but Bunyan grew frustrated with time spent on promotion. So he stopped playing, diving into an affair with vinyl. Bunyan explains, "One thing not every musician realizes -- how important listening is to the writing process."

In 2005, Bunyan helped organize the Indiana arts/music festival, The Gratis Fest. Here, he and Haubner "camped around a fire and brainstormed," Bunyan says. Both were enthralled with the idea of theme albums, and Bunyan suggested focusing on songs about their fathers, resulting in The Sheds' first album, Dadcommunication.

In 2006, The Sheds wrote Two, a layered, more variant Folk project containing a parallel-friendship theme and a Pop undercurrent.

"We started utilizing friends and family when we recorded Two," Bunyan says. "My brother and wife sang and rapped. Our friend Matt Shelton (musician/visual artist from Me or the Moon) played finger organs and sang beautifully. Chris's Uncle Jim played dulcimer over the phone."

The Sheds' raw sound burns on the latest album, The Sheds Quit Smoking, which ventures back into the straightforward nature of Dadcommunication, blending in the best oddity of Two. The opener, "One Smoke," punches out with craving, sounding as desperate as an addict. Pressing vocals echo; the melody hammers in repetitive urges. Haubner sings, "I must resolve to quit/I'm no good at moderate/An ember, the forest fire/We burn up in the end." Poetic and Punk with intensity and hooks, the concrete lyrics stick, bringing the energy and struggle of withdrawal to life. The modern ballads circle back to the smoking theme, hitting on stolen smokes, fidgety, smoky love and burns. Nobody's quitting here.

"We were going to write about the experience of quitting, but it didn't happen," Haubner says. He shrugs, smoking.

Bunyan agrees, nodding and lighting up.

The Sheds lean toward songwriting that blends Pop structure, smart melody and rich lyrics. Bunyan mentions Indie hero Stephin Merritt and The Magnetic Fields: "He challenges me to be straightforward." Crediting the restless, broad style of Yo La Tengo, he says, "They're able to create soundscapes and still remain a Pop band."

Haubner adds artist/musician Laurie Anderson and Robert Pollard (of Guided by Voices) to the list. "We're focused on lyrics. Everything we listen to is pretty lyrical."

Another album's in the works, but they're keeping secrets on the subject matter. Even with prodding, nothing but wry smiles. "We have good momentum," Haubner says. "No slow down or writer's block. We both play by ear. Really, we operate as one person. There's a lot of positive, creative energy, the drive to perform and make new songs. I'm very grateful."

In one year, The Sheds have recorded three albums (all available for free download on their Web site) and played locally and out of town, although they've had no CD release parties.

"This year was the proverbial packing the car up," Bunyan says. "We've done three albums we're really proud of. Now we're ready to hit the road."



THE SHEDS' (theshedsmusic.com) one-year anniversary party is Saturday at the Southgate House with The Roanoke Ramblers, The Chocolate Horse, The Lions Rampant and Matt Shelton.
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
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