[caption id="attachment_22554" align="aligncenter" width="445" caption="The Walking Shadows"]
“Take Five” focuses on Chicago’s ever-growing music scene by giving you insight to the city’s best local acts via the best source possible: the artists themselves. Here is the latest installment featuring The Walking Shadows.
The Chicago music scene can surprise you. Tucked away on the show fliers bills you see posted in places like Myopic Books
, a litany of bands-you've-never-heard-of are reaching out for the attention of the average concert-goer, who is usually only interested in the latest Pitchfork sensation or getting drunk to garage rock. There are few in the middle ground, actively seeking rare gems like The Walking Shadows, who are goth, glam, metal, and Shakespeare all rolled into one black package.
We caught up with mythic front man Craig Winston, who with an Elizabethan wit, 6-foot-plus stature, and jet-black hair is the obviously lead of this gloomy outfit. Winston writes the music and is joined by his equally imposing twin brother Mark Winston on keys (Craig also plays in Mark's project Dead Superheroes Orchestra
), Adam Hubbell on bass, and John Sturm on drums.
LLP: Tell us how the band formed and a bit about its history.
I moved to Chicago in 2008, the refugee of a failed relationship and the economic downturn in Portland, OR. I brought with me some songs, a guitar, and a laptop and from there started writing new music. I enlisted the help of Mark and Adam. We played our first show, under the name “Fire at Endsville,” on Metal Night at the Elbo Room. Our first release was “The Muse the Mute,” which Adam and I produced. We've gigged in Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Minneapolis, and Boston. Zim Zum, former Marilyn Manson guitarist, invited us to play the second gig at his club in West Chicago.
LLP: Why did you change the band name?
: I changed the name of the band just before we became a four-piece. “Fire at Endsville” just wasn’t sticking, so I alluded to Macbeth, kind of ironically, possibly because I love Shakespeare, and partially because “The Walking Shadows” sounds really cryptic.
LLP: What is the band like live? Where is it headed?
: (Former guitarist) Renee Serritella parted ways with us in May 2011 and as a result I’ve been playing both guitar parts simultaneously while singing at our shows. At first this was all a huge challenge, but we decided the four-piece sounds less cluttered and gave up the search for a replacement. All in all, we are drums, bass, synth (analog synth, piano, and electric piano), guitar (the only effect being a high gain tube amp), and my lead vocals with Mark’s backing vocals. We get a lot of sound with a very simple setup.
Over all this time, the band has been evolving; my songs have taken on a much darker, more aggressive sound, and a have become more technical. I kept using words like “pop” to describe us, as opposed to “hard rock,” “goth,” or “metal.” But at some point my roots started to show and we’ve gotten this sound that people now compare to Marilyn Manson, Danzig, and VAST. If I could describe just the sound, it’s melodic, doomy, and, very rhythmically driven. "Melancholic" is a good word for it, tragic, irrational, revolution, as well.
LLP: How did you get into music and what do you write about?
: I pretty much learned to play guitar from listening to Megadeth, and I learned to write poetry from Marilyn Manson and Ovid. I think we’re different because of our lyrics. I’m kind of obsessively poetic, and I use allusion more like T.S. Elliot does than Bruce Dickinson; if I make reference to Helen of Troy it’s not to sing about the Trojan war, but to tell my own, more fucked up version of the whole thing and let it function metaphorically, rather than just flexing my nerd muscles.
It’s very in for this kind of music to be tongue in cheek these days, but I kind of revel in the gross seriousness of these words. I intend to make people uncomfortable with what I say because I believe a lot of these ideas expressed are not unique to me. In the grand, rock star sense of things it might seem like shock rock, and that would be a desired outcome, but if you want to get academic about it the poetry should make you freak yourself out, you should find some of these monsters familiar.
LLP: What are you guys working on now?
: We are self-producing an EP called “The is not poetry…” We tracked the project in our rehearsal space in Chinatown and Adam and I are mixing it on our home computers. We did only a few vocal layers in post and a guitar layer here and there, but really tried to treat the computer like a tape machine. It is going to be a five songs. We hope to release this fall.
Catch The Walking Shadows at the Red Line Tap this Sunday, Sept. 18.
The Walking Shadows - "The Muse, The Mute"