With recent political events inspiring people around the world to believe that change is on the way, there’s no better time for SHIROCK, an earnest young band with an uplifting message, to make their mark on the music scene. “The reason we make music is because we want to be a catalyst for change, and we feel like that begins with being honest about who we are and where we’re at…the dirt and the glory, the big ideas and the problems, all of the dreams and uncertainties…” says the band’s founder, frontman, and namesake Chuck Shirock. “Our hope is by doing that, we’ll be part of a shift in our generation to live for the things that matter and not get caught up in the things that don’t.”
To that end, SHIROCK make music that capitalizes on the transformative power of rock and roll and its ability to move and inspire people. Their dynamic debut album, Everything Burns, is filled with bold, anthemic songs that bristle with restless urgency and passionate optimism. You can hear it not only in the sonics — the sweeping melodies, the textured layers of gritty guitars and plaintive keyboards, and Chuck’s fervent wailing vocals — but also in the lyrics, which are rooted in the personal, the political, and the spiritual. Produced by Jay Ruston, who has also worked with The Donnas, Everclear, Matisyahu, and Cold War Kids, Everything Burns may sound grand and expansive, but underneath the soaring arrangements is a singer/songwriter album at heart, creating an interesting tension that allows the songs to feel both personal and universal.
Though SHIROCK is a five-piece, at its core are songwriters Chuck Shirock and Pap. The two met in 1999 and discovered that they had both spent time living overseas with missionary parents. Chuck grew up in the Philippines and Scotland before his family returned to the States, while Pennsylvania-born Pap’s Greek family settled in Ohio after a year spent in Turkey. Both Vocal Performance majors, they began playing music together in college, with Pap contributing harmonies and keyboard parts to Chuck’s early demos. Eventually she joined Chuck onstage. Over the years, both the musical relationships and friendships within the band have grown and deepened, something that feels palpable upon listening to Everything Burns.
“The songs on the album — they’re our lives, our relationships, our friendships, our questions and doubts…our constant pursuit to make some sense of it all…who we are and who God is,” Chuck says. “It’s all of that put to music.”
Indeed the songs on Everything Burns wrestle with the big questions. “New Solution” is about hoping for change and “a different way of doing things because how things are now just doesn’t work,” Chuck says. “Time Goes By” reflects a sense of restlessness. “We all go through those times when we wish we were in a different place or that life looked a bit different — ‘Time Goes By’ is reaching out for help in the midst of these feelings,” Pap says. “Still Young” insists that as long as we’re alive, we have a chance to make a difference, Pap says. Finally, there’s “Everything Burns,” which is the album’s title track and sums up SHIROCK’s mission statement. “It’s this idea that our time is so valuable and limited…we want to use is wisely,” Chuck says. “So much around us is temporary. We want to live for the things that really matter…at the end of the day what matters most are the peoples lives we impact. Everything is here today and gone tomorrow…everything else just burns.”
SHIROCK don’t just sing about making a difference, they are actually making it happen. They recently launched the non-profit organization, ‘Everything Burns,’ built on the idea “Living For Things That Matter.” Its main purpose is to encourage and equip people to make a change in lifestyle, and provide practical ways to act out that change – In short, to live beyond the mundane and get involved in making a difference in our communities and around the world. “People today have a hunger to do something, to act rather than sit,” Pap says, “but many times we don’t know where to start, and it’s hard to believe one person can actually make a difference. Through Everything Burns, we are working to create practical opportunities to put this idea – “Living For Things That Matter” into practice, and encouraging people in this lifestyle.”
SHIROCK’s other plans for 2009 include expanding their fashion line, Irock Clothing, which Chuck and Pap launched in 2008 as a creative outlet and means to develop their brand. “So much of the band merchandise we see doesn’t really have the right fit or feel,” Chuck says. “We started just wanting to make band T-shirts that you would want to wear…even if you didn’t know the music. We’ve always been interested in fashion and wearing clothing that represent a person’s individuality and uniqueness.” The line, which features shirts, jackets, bags, accessories, and more, has been carried in stores regionally, and has sold out at every boutique that carried it.
The first full-length release from SHIROCK, Everything Burns, was recorded at Nashville’s Ocean Way studios with Jay Ruston. Five songs have been available since March 2008, when the EP 5 was released digitally on iTunes. In addition, the band sold more than 3,000 copies over seven months on the road, due in no small part to the strong fanbase SHIROCK has built through grassroots touring (over 150 shows in the eastern U.S. in 2008) and marketing. Five songs from the full-length, Everything Burns have been featured on MTV’s The Hills among other placements on Television – including NBC’s ER.
Getting their songs heard is all part of SHIROCK’s grand plan to make a difference. “So much music these days is just noise,” Chuck says. “It might sound good, but it’s still noise. It’s not communicating something real and honest. For us it’s about so much more than entertainment… It’s about sharing our lives and connecting with people through this music.”
written by: Tracey Pepper