“Qu’est-ceque c’est Shplang?”
Shplang is an alternapop band offering an eclectic mix of psychedelia, pop and folk with an emphasis on melody, inventive arrangements and a wry sense of humor. The sound clips will help you figure that out, so while you’re listening, here’s the story so far . . . .
In 1994, singer-songwriter Peter Marston, a veteran of the LA pop scene with the Phlaix, the Onlys and the Corsairs, met up with John Krause, a visual artist and designer best-known for his work on The Simpsons. John also dabbled in music, so the two got together to see what would happen and what happened was Shplang’s first CD release Journey to the Center of Mirth, described by Improvijazzation as “a shining example of what can be done with rock when it’s played from the heart and not from the format.” To bring the music to the stage, drummers Brian Cannizzaro and Paul Angers were enlisted and two more CDs followed: Self Made Monk and American Cream (see below for reviews).
Like all their albums, Shplang’s current release, My Big Three Wheeler, features a number of different musical styles and approaches, all delivered with the band’s trademark humor and unpredictable arrangements. “Tokyo Go-Go” is a soundtrack for a monster movie that never was, while “That Word is Love” is an homage to both Tin Pan Alley and the talking soul of O.C. Smith. Cream meets Leonard Cohen on the ridiculous “Pound Cake,” while “No One Knows” presents what might have happened if Sopwith Camel or Herman’s Hermits had tackled the subject matter of “Lola” rather than the Kinks. “Right On Time” recalls the Rutles’ “Living in Hope,” but with more whimsical backing and a more heartfelt lyric. “Glitter” and “Last Match in the Tinderbox” are rock and roll instrumentals the likes of which have not been heard since Edgar Winter and Mike Post were on your AM dial. “When Jesus Looked in the Eyes of God” and “Let’s Get High (and I Could Be Your Man)” are more straightforward, except for their subject matter, the former presenting an imagined but frank conversation between Father and Son and the latter providing a more romantic take on Jimmy Buffett’s “Let’s Get Drunk and . . .,” well, you know the rest. One thing’s for sure, if you happen not to like one track, you’ll find something different coming right up.
What does “Shplang” mean?
What would you like it to mean? It is perhaps the sound a guitar makes when you drop it or the sound your brain makes when you have an epiphany. It has all the attributes of both mystical speech and the product names from IKEA: difficult to pronounce and impossible to spell.
How can I purchase the first three CDs?
If you like My Big Three Wheeler, your can get the first three CDs through mail order from Shplang’s current distributor, JAM Records.
Who plays what on the album?
See the full credits below. Julie Ragins, Brendan McMullin and Paul Lewolt are friends of the band who pitched in on a few of the tracks. Julie tours with the Moody Blues and has sung with Sergio Mendes; Brendan has his own big band; and Paul Lewolt is currently the lead guitarist with Shplang for live shows (and also has toured as the bassist for Steve Wariner).
Do you offer novelty underwear or meals-on-wheels?
Currently, Shplang’s commercial endeavors are limited to making music, though those suggestions are certainly worth investigating.
My Big Three Wheeler Credits:
Peter Marston: vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards.
John Krause: bass, lead vocal on “Right on Time.”
Paul Angers: drums, percussion.
Paul Lewolt: lead guitar on “Right on Time” and “That Word is Love.”
Brendan McMullin: trombone on “No One Knows.”
Julie Ragins: harmony vocal on “Spanish Galleons.”
Recorded by Peter at Big Smash
Mixed by Michael Woodrum for Michael Woodrum Productions
Mastered by David Donnelly at DNA Mastering
Produced by Shplang
All songs written by Peter and John and published by Disgusted Runts (BMI)
(C) and (P) 2009
Early Reviews for My Big Three Wheeler:
Most bands have one sound or style...and they drill it into the ground over the course of a 45-minute CD. On My Big Three Wheeler, the folks in Los Angeles, California's Shplang present a variety of sounds and styles...and no matter what genre they're delving into, they always manage to come across sounding real. The band is the trio consisting of Peter Marston (vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards), John Krause (bass, vocals), and Paul Angers (drums percussion). What makes this album an interesting spin is that these guys sound like they're mainly in it to have a good time. Although these tracks are accessible and have some commercial appeal, by no means do they sound calculated or canned. These recordings are upbeat and warm...with just enough spontaneity to keep things interesting. But the best thing about this album is the fact that it sounds better the more you spin it (the true mark of a good, solid disc). Really nice understated vocals. Eleven smart cuts here including "Spanish Galleons," "Let's Get High (And I Could Be Your Man)," and "Last Match In The Tinderbox." Good, real, sincere stuff... (Rating: 5+) [babysue]
Some Reviews of Previous Shplang CDs:
“A mix of old time music, lounge jazz, British-styled pop, and mod rock, there`s no doubt as to the variety and a ‘something for everyone’ appeal, but what really startles is just how well Shplang does it all.” [Shake It Up].
“Using a plethora of instruments including the melodica, banjo and ukulele, Shplang is stylistically all over the map—psychedelic, folk and even punk—but it’s All-American power pop, honey. Fun music for mind loss, Shplang wield their influences like craftsman, making new and entertaining things out of these found objects.” [Worldly Remains]
“The White Album of indie pop: every song evokes a different genre and a different time, but never strays out of the range of Shplang’s gift for incredibly catchy tunes and always surprising arrangements. A real gem.” [Seattle Weekly]
Self Made Monk
“Shplang blends a cool mix of power pop and subdued psychedelia. Wonderfully simple songs with bizarre but cool mixtures of the Beatles (psychedelic pop), the Velvet Underground (their pop side) Steeleye Span (folk) and Zappa (controlled zaniness). While defying any specific definition, the album works as a cohesive whole and is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.” [Bruce Brodeen, Not Lame]
“Not unlike the pop sounds of past bands like Jellyfish, Shplang has a good focus and a very tasty sense of melody. Ear candy, yes, but very well-done.” [Music Connection]
“One of my favorites at the moment is Shplang’s new album, Self Made Monk. Fans of the Wondermints and Eric Matthews will definitely want to hunt this one down.” [Gerard Girard, Pop Dreams]
Journey to the Center of Mirth
“A shining example of just what can be done with rock when it’s played from the heart and not the format. Highly recommended for those with an ear for exploratory rock with a twist of original folk!” [Improvijazzation]
“Shplang takes the listener on a journey through various musical genres that range from power pop to a Middle Eastern romp. On the standout ‘Sway,’ we hear what the Beatles might have sounded like if they had gone through their psychedelic period in the ‘80s instead of the ‘60s. This is an album that must be heard to be appreciated as it defies almost any label that would describe it.” [The Harbinger]
“Every once and a while a record comes across my desk that is so out there, so interesting that there is no resisting it. That is Shplang. On Journey to the Center of Mirth, swirling psychedelics meet with solid pop sensibilities. One minute they’re sounding like the Strawberry Alarm clock, then the Stranglers. Wait. . . now I hear the Velvet Underground. A wild ride and an exciting debut.” [Alternative Press]