Each time the opportunity arises to interview or review a band from the South, a little CDB ditty pops into my head and I start singing to myself, "The South's Gonna Do It Again". The Shallow Side home boys, Eric Boatright (vocals), Cody Hampton (bass/guitar), Seth Trimble (guitar/keyboard) and Heath Fields (drums) originally hung their hats in the hometown of Cullman, Alabama, which is about 50 miles north of Birmingham. The group began in 2010 as a group of friends that would gather in a shed in the backyard of Fields' home. "We started playing music we enjoyed and playing covers we liked as we didn't play music for anyone but ourselves. We would sit and play for hours, learning how to write songs. The more we would play, the more people heard about us. The word spread quickly and more people would come to hang out with us at the shed, giving the name 'Shed Parties' for our music time", states Boatright. "Some of these parties would get pretty big and the cops would show up to shut them down. They said we had to stop doing the parties and find a place to play. Being fresh out of high school, we didn't have a clue what we were supposed to do."
As the four friends went on a search for places to play, they found a few bars and small venues that would allow them to to do so. Each time they would go into a venue to ask to play, they were asked for the name of their band. At that time they didn't have a name, they just wanted to play their music. "We needed to come up with a name that would best suit us and help us understand where we were in the music industry. Our thoughts were that the music industry was an ocean. If we saw it as an ocean, no matter how far we got into it. there was always more. We found there was more work to do with whatever we were doing; be it writing or anything to do with the music business, there was always more and felt we were in the shallow side of it since there was so much more out there. Shallow Side suited the way we felt."
When they broke into the business they considered themselves lucky, or at least thought they were lucky. Early into their career, they began working with a management and booking company that were extremely persuasive and very silver tongued. "They promised us the world. We were young and didn't know anything about business. The man with the management company promised us we would be touring and selling CD's and tons of merchandise. The booking company would have us booked at festivals and venues that would have us pack up and take off running to get to where we needed to be. When we would arrive to these venues, no one would know who we were, or much less, the fact that we were to be playing there. We learned quickly that we didn't have a management company, it was just one guy. We found out we didn't have a booking company as well. It was just another guy working with the first guy who were both liars and thieves."
After being stranded in the middle of nowhere in the norther part of West Virginia, the foursome decided to take business into their own hands. To put themselves out there physically, in person, they would buy 50 count packs of blank CD's, burn 500 at a time and hit the pavement to sell them. "We would be up at 8:00 every morning doing this day in and day out to further our craft. We would sell them in parking lots, malls, any and everywhere for one dollar each. We realized it not it's not easy for anyone! We learned that we had to bust our ass because it's not going to be handed to us. We did what we needed to do for what we wanted to do", exclaims Boatright.
In that time, they were able to take the story from what they learned which gave them the instinct to write their first song. "Try To Fight It" was released for radio play and charted on the active rock charts. "Here we are! We still don't know how to book a show, but we had been on tour for like six months and played only three shows, if you could call it that...," he laughs along with his band mates. "We were just struggling as homeless kids, traveling around the country in a Suburban, to add insult to injury," all laugh at their past misfortune. "Yes, Try To Fight It" had charted before we knew how to do anything in the music business, that one song alone found itself onto the rock charts and we were amazed. That was our moment! We knew we had something and knew we had to dig a little deeper. Our 10 to 12 hour days turned into 14 and 16 hour days. At this point, we've not slept in four years! We were committed to do and get what we wanted. This was something we took to heart and had to make the choice of, were we going to tuck tail and go running back home or suck it up and work for what has brought us all the way to Vegas today", he smiles.
This day and time of live social media and being known almost overnight, has to be an eye opening experience. "We are children of the internet age. Growing up, there were sites already made available or were in the process of becoming available such as myspace, youtube. When we really began listening to music, Napster had just started. Those were things that we thought were the usual for that time of our life. The world of album sales, we've never known. We've never known of a band that came out of our time that sold 100,000 copies, it just didn't exist. Even more so today, it's a stranglehold. It doesn't matter if you're on the other side of the spectrum on the upper end of the rock world, it's difficult to do those things for them as well. For us, we've had a lot of success being able to reach out to and through the internet to become friends and become knowledgeable of the fans and the other way around before they've even seen the show, just because social media gives us that opportunity. We don't like to judge our popularity on the number of likes or the number of downloads we get. It's all about the response at a show; all about the reaction from the fanbase.
Being on tour since January 13, they have passed through many states and many cities. "Yea, it's been a long time since we've been home, since we showered, since we slept", he grins. "Vegas is looking really good and we could definitely hang out and play here some more! As for other cities and where we enjoy playing, Florida is always good. It's a real easy basket to fill when you go to play a venue where people go to escape. It doesn't matter if you're in Vegas, in New York or in Daytona or "Southern California where the girls are warm", he laughs," when you go to a concert, you're essentially going to escape your regular life and enjoy a piece of entertainment. When you're on vacation and already in a relaxed state of mine, it's a double up winner for the audience and for us."
"We love being on tour, and touring has definitely taken a over a huge part of our lives. Going home can be bittersweet. We think about our days in the shed. The songs we play today, we wrote them all in that shed. I don't know what it was about that shed, but we nearly became deaf in that shed,"Boatright jests. Fields jumps in with, "We put a lot of work in there and just to let you know, we just got out of that shed not long ago." Boatright finishes, "Yes, this business has taken over a huge part of our lives and we don't get to rehearse a lot or sit and jam. We are always working non-stop. When we do get to sit down and be creative, it's typically in a studio or maybe sometimes it's caught on stage. Most things on stage aren't scripted and that's when it happens off the cuff and we're just there to have a good time. It's all about having a good time and the reaction of the fans."
For more on the band, tour dates, merch and their new CD ONE, go to https://www.shallowside.net.
Shallow Side Photos: Harold Mountain/JustAFan Photos