"......... well, The Shangs knew about Uncle Lou (Reed), too - in 1973,David Byers was in Simply Saucer,doing versions of "Sister Ray" a la Can. The Shangs also knew about the after midnight mystique of your dad's Julie London albums, the sotto voce appeal of Astrud Gilberto,the creepy soundtrack to "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?" et al, and about Martha Carson,a towering,flame-haired, Gospel belter who taught Elvis how to move. Yet, this comes from a place that knows all yet stands alone..... sparse and bone chilling....... this is an absolute expression of the genius of the individual........" Bruce (Mole) Mowat, Canadian Music Journalist, Now Magazine, Toronto
David had met Pat's younger brother Ed but because of an almost 10 year age difference didn't pay too much notice." He was only in his early teens, quirky, and he didn't hang out with us so we didn't really connect at that time in the 70's". He,says.
By the late 70's, Pat and David had drifted apart and after David had spent part of the summer of 1979 in Denmark with members of the beloved Danish art rock band The Savage Rose, the two didn't reconnect until near the end of the following decade. Now Pat's brother Ed had come into his own and travelled a course through a number of punk inspired garage bands. Yet, he too, had a more complex musical fabric with a love for surreal film scores and lounge/torch singers such as Julie London. Ed recalls, "When Dave and I first hooked up, my influences were underground bands out of NYC and LA as well as different soundtracks from the 50's and 60s. I developed in interest in Julie London when running around New York City while on a summer trip looking for her LPs for my brother and instantly fell in love with her soft breezy style".
Rounding out The Shang's debut and all things Feminine Complex were odes; ( " Queen Mindy","Complex Contemplation") and too, references and observations alluding to the girls of Charles Manson's "family". According to Ed, "My brother and I were interested in Sharon Tate, her life and films and subsequently her death. And the Manson Girls were part of that. They became themes in some of our songs mainly for their sheer weirdness and audacity".
Released in April 1991, " A Little Bit Of Semi Heaven", despite its lowfi leanings and homemade persona, garnered significant critical response in North America. Option called it " earnest indie pop taking a stab at the corporate ogre and striking bone..." College radio responded by charting it squarely among the day's alternative heavyweights.David remembers." Well, it surprised us, We weren't really expecting anything, then before long, important distributors and journalists are contacting us. It certainly gave us the incentive to move forward and flourish..".
Unhappy with the sonic outcome of the debut CD, The Shangs looked around and invested in the state-of the- art digital format of the time DAT (digital audio tape) and their next batch of songs were recorded essentually live. Technical limitations prevented them from layering instruments and limiting them to only a smattering of overdubs. " Longet was recorded onto a two track digital deck and there was no room for indecision - each of the song's sound and mix was final. There was no multi-track master to be able to potentially remix the album", Ed remembers.
However, they found they could channel the resulting sound into one sparse, yet ethereal. They began hoaning and re- inventing theme songs from Hollywood's past ("Johnny Guitar") and their originals brought them closer to true torch/lounge music. "The way we were recording at the time didn't lend itself to cluttered arrangements so we filled in the texture by really paying attention to breathing spaces and reverb. We couldn't layer a song in the traditional recording sense -record one track then overdub. Basically, for better of worse, our second CD was recorded live onto DAT" , says David.
New York ambient record company, Cykxincorp, approached the band to loan 4 of Longet's numbers for one of their compilations. The Shang's also made several rare live performances apon the release of the CD. On a local cable access show they performed a selection of songs in a sea of pillared candles. One reviewer observed; "I count myself one of the lucky who attended this gig. The Shangs are a two man guitar-vocals-reverb band who play thoughtful, understated and atmospheric songs that are diffucult to discribe on paper. Combine the intensity of Berlin era Lou Reed with the light touch of The Cowboy Junkies... In the cozy candlelight, Dave Byers' highly reverbed voice took on an ethereal quality. Combined with Ed O'Neill's subtle and tasteful guitar leads, it created an effect that sent shivers down my spine..." Exclaim Magazine.
At the time of "Longet", The Shangs were writing and recording feverishly. New songs such as " No Sweet Man's Worth The Salt Of My Tears" were inspired by the earliest torch and blues from the 1920s. Never -the- less David and Ed were moving into other musical directions and finally felt the limitations of live to DAT recording. Ed recalls,"We needed a new system in which to record, something that would help bridge, "Semi-Heaven" and "Longet",and to bring with it a fuller more complete sound - something that the DAT format we had used could no longer provide us with".
All this creativity and energy was leading to a 3rd long form CD release with the working title, "Motel Darlene".Songs from that era reflect a more realised and popish approach. Numbers such as "The Majik Love Machine" and "Let's Pivot" still imbue the Feminine Complex influence and "Connie Champagne" smacks of the Manson family. A demo cassette of early takes of some of Motel Darlene's proposed songs was circulated in 1998.
Now, after a 9 year hiatis, the original Shangs; (David Byers and Ed O'Neill) are ready to both revisit past musical accomplishments, and create new, exciting ones in the coming months with an eye toward a long awaited 3rd CD release in 2008.