Baby Shakes Get Back to Basics

Attention fans of ‘60s pop and ‘70s punk: we’ve found your new favorite band.

Comprised of Mary Blount (lead vox/rhythm guitar), Judy Lindsay (lead guitar/backing vox), Claudia Gonzalez (bass/ backing vocals), and Ryan McHale (drums), Baby Shakes is a bubblegum rock ’n’ roll band that fearlessly embraces their nostalgic side. Their vibe combines colorful mod-era pop songs with the gritty sounds of early punk rock.

Nowadays, it’s rare to come by bands who can say they met at the classic NYC punk venue CBGB, which closed in 2006, but that’s where Baby Shakes was born.

Currently, the band is touring and working on new music. They took a break from their Japanese tour to tell BTRtoday they’ve returned to their CBGB roots for their newest album. They describe their future material to be more of what they originally sounded like when they first started back in 2005–a more “raw, edgy, vintage rock ’n’ roll” sound quality.

Photo courtesy of Jetlag RNR

BTRtoday (BTR): How did you guys meet?

Baby Shakes: Judy and Claudia met at a punk show at CBGB’s when they were teenagers. They both had studded jackets, pink/blue hair and collected UK ‘82 and ‘77 punk singles, so it made sense that they’d become good friends. They used to jam out to Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers songs together in their living rooms.

A friend of ours (artist Avi Spivak) knew that we were looking for bandmates so when Mary moved to New York from Seattle he introduced us to her at his DJ night. She liked the same kind of music and we used to make mix CDs for each other when we first met. We all got along so well and when we heard Mary sing we knew it was the perfect style for the kind of music we all wanted to play and she played guitar too. As for Ryan, we’ve had many drummers in the past, but he was definitely the missing puzzle piece.

BTR: Why the name Baby Shakes?

Baby Shakes: Because we love Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. “Shake Baby Shake.”

BTR: What’s your favorite thing about the band?

The music we write is inspired by the bands we love and a lot of those bands don’t play around anymore. They’re from the 60’s and 70’s. We like to think that we’re trying to keep that type of music alive today.

Of course, it’s our own take on it, but the sentiment and the spirit is still there. Though once in a while we get to play with the bands that we idolize and getting that recognition from them and from our fans is incredibly rewarding. Makes it really worth it.

BTR: If you could describe the band in one word, what would it be?

Baby Shakes: “Pop ’n’ roll.” Our friend from the Japanese band, Gorilla, coined that term and we think it’s appropriate.

BTR: Did you grow up playing music or did you learn more recently?

Baby Shakes: Mary picked up the guitar in fifth grade when she saw her older brothers playing in bands. Judy played piano as a young child and then played trumpet in the school band. Claudia sang in chorus and played upright bass in the string orchestra freshman year of High School. Ryan has been playing drums since he was 12 and has been in a few touring bands since he was a teenager.

BTR: Did you guys have any musicians who inspired you growing up that still inspire you today?

Baby Shakes: Mary’s inspired by Kathleen Hanna, The Ramones, and The Beatles. Claudia is inspired by Bikini Kill, Beki Bondage, Ronnie Spector, and Bowie. Judy is inspired by Chuck Berry, ELO, Johnny Thunders, and The Boys (UK). Ryan is inspired by The Ramones, TV Smith, Thin Lizzy, Replacements, and The Stooges.

BTR: Tell me about this upcoming album Turn It Up, what’s the creative process been like?

Baby Shakes: It’s been fun. This is our third full-length, so by now we’ve really learned how to work together efficiently. We somehow managed to get this album written and recorded in less than a year because we had so much fun in Japan the previous year and we wanted to get back as soon as we could.

We had a short deadline. We lost a couple nights of sleep and drove ourselves crazy (probably our sound engineers as well), but we’re really happy with how the album turned out. We knew how we wanted it to sound and we kept pushing through until it was exactly how we wanted it.

BTR: Are you guys trying anything different with this album that you haven’t done with your previous albums?

Baby Shakes: We really wanted to get back to a similar sound quality as our first two singles. They were recorded on tape so they had more of a raw, edgy, vintage rock ’n’ roll sound quality. That sound is sometimes lost when you record digitally. We wanted this record to sound less polished and more like how we sound when we play a live show.

BTR: What inspired the lyrics?

Baby Shakes: We’ve been told that this album is “tougher” than our previous albums. We don’t think so … Guess we were just inspired by all of our experiences over the years of being in a band. Sometimes people like to undermine you, think you owe them something or take advantage of your kindness. We’re sweet, but we’re not dummies.

Like Ryan always says, “this ain’t our first rodeo.” Of course, there are the usual songs about love, rock n’ roll and having fun. The [title] song “Turn It Up” and the name of our album is directly inspired by hanging out in Japan with our friends at our favorite bar, Poor Cow. At the end of the day it’s all about having fun and doing what you love. That’s what inspires us the most.

BTR: What’s next for Baby Shakes?

Baby Shakes: Our new record will be coming out soon and Burger Records will be releasing the cassette version May 19. We’ve also got a new single coming out on the Italian label Surfin’ Ki and Base Records from Japan. This July we’re playing the Burger Boogaloo in Oakland, CA with some amazing acts (Iggy Pop, Guitar Wolf, Buzzcocks- just to name a few).

We’ve also got a few more projects in the works that we’ll be unveiling soon enough. It’s been a busy year so stay tuned, there’s a lot more on the way.