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Rickenbackers and Punk Rock: Baby Shakes release new album before this weekend’s Hampdenfest

For fans of The Ramones, The Go-Go’s and The Runaways: Grunge-rockers Baby Shakes will launch their new LP, “Cause a Scene,” on Sept. 20. On Sept. 21, listeners can catch the four-piece band at the 2019 Hampdenfest, the free festival in the Baltimore neighborhood of Hampden.

The group’s dynamic power-punk songs are sure to rouse the same care-free attitude that graces their music. Check out Baby Shakes at 5 p.m. on the Hidden Volume Records stage (36th and Chestnut).

For a preview of what’s to come this weekend, here’s “Nowhere Fast” by Baby Shakes.

What song from your latest album “Cause a Scene” would you most encourage new listeners to hear?

We hope listeners want to hear all of them, but if they had to choose one, the title track “Cause a Scene” would be a good representation of the overall vibe of the album and what we stand for.

What is the inspiration behind “Cause a Scene?”

We’re always motivated by fun and doing what you want to do, whatever that is. We’ve always been a very DIY band and although that’s been a struggle at times, it’s never set us back. We love playing music, recording new songs and performing around the world. It’s our passion and, collectively, our ultimate goal.

The album is inspired by that relentless spirit that’s kept us going ever since we first started our band. We don’t always follow the rules or do things in the most conventional way, we do it the Baby Shakes way. So that’s what we write about, just being free and doing what you love, not caring what people think and not letting anything or anyone hold you back.

What’s the band’s recording process like? Was it different for this album?

We usually do a live take of drums, bass and rhythm guitar all together to get that raw live feel. Then guitar leads are recorded separately and vocals are layered on during and in between. After that, we sprinkle in the extras … percussion and all the other stuff.

Mixing is a different beast. Since we produce our own music, we drive ourselves crazy listening to the songs over and over until we think we’ve got the right idea of how the levels and layers should sound. This time the only difference was we tried out a couple of new guitars, added a lot of different percussive instruments (even used an empty tequila bottle on one song) and played around with some synth and Moog. It was fun experimenting with new instruments.

Is everyone in the band a fan of Rickenbacker guitars? Would you consider a collaboration with Rickenbacker in the future?

Oh my, yes! We love Rickenbacker tones and some of our biggest influences played Rics (including Tom Petty, The Bangles and The Beatles, of course). It would be a dream to work with Rickenbacker someday!

What’s a piece of gear the band couldn’t tour without?

Ryan always has to bring his own breakables on tour. He won’t travel without his own cymbals snare and kick pedal. Actually, we all always travel with our own instruments.

Does the band prefer to hear their albums on vinyl or digital?

Vinyl is preferred since we all collect records and it’s really cool to have something that you created in a tangible format. But everything is going digital so it’s pretty cool to be a part of that wave of streaming music.

What has been your favorite country or city to play in?

We can’t pick just one. We love Japan, Italy, Sweden and England because we have lots of friends living there and there’s so many good bands that we like from those places, but we really have special memories in every city that we’ve played.

We’re really excited to play at Hampdenfest on Sept. 21 because it’ll be our first time playing Baltimore. We’ll be playing the Hidden Volume Records stage on Saturday. Can’t wait to hit the Baltimore scene!!! We’ve got high hopes!!!


Photo Credit: Punk Quartet Baby Shakes hails from NYC. This will be the group’s first performance in Baltimore. Photo by Alexander Thompson.