By Kelley Simms
Listen up kiddies, the circus is in town ... STREETLIGHT CIRCUS that is.
NYC-based street rockers Streetlight Circus’ full-length self-titled debut is an eclectic mix of styles with influences all over the map; including bands such as AEROSMITH, NEW YORK DOLLS, ROLLING STONES, GUNS N’ ROSES and KISS.
Vocalist/bassist David Shaw has been around the musical block a few times, beginning with some regional success in the early ’90s with glam band SHOTGUN ANNIE. Streetlight Circus started out in 2006 as Shaw’s solo project with Walkin' On A Wire CD, then morphed into a full band.
Streetlight Circus is a meat and potatoes kind of band. On its debut album, the band struts and shouts its way through your speakers with a sleazy swagger and a tough exterior. The phrase ‘Making rock ‘n’ roll filthy again’ is advertised on the band’s website and press releases, and it’s what Shaw and the band live by; creating songs with good, street-wise, accessible riffs with a combination of old-school rock influences.
“I think there are some bands today that are making attempts to get back to that sound and you hear it in bands like BUCK CHERRY, THE LAST VEGAS and CRASHDIET,” Shaw says. “A lot of it is bubbling under the surface and giving some life to this kind of stuff and hopefully give it some kind of resurgence. There’s a few bands that are carrying that torch, and I hope we can be one of them.”
Even though Shaw’s voice is a dead-ringer for Paul Stanley, it isn’t something he consciously tries to do. KISS weren’t even a big influence on him as surprisingly, power pop rock bands such as THE KNACK, THE CARS and CHEAP TRICK were.
“Get the Knack was the first album I ever owned in 1979 and it made me want to play music,” Shaw says. “For the music that we write, my influences come from as much power pop stuff as it does hard rock, bluesy, metal stuff. It’s a mishmash of sounds. Both my guitar players, George and Fabio are both enormous Kiss and VAN HALEN fans, so that kind of bleeds into the influence a little bit. I can see why people say our influences are all over the map ... because they are!” Shaw says with a chuckle.
“If you’re into music, you’ll find cool things in every genre. When you write, your head is just full of all that stuff and little bits and pieces of all that stuff can find its way in. For some bands, and maybe even for us to a certain extent, sometimes that’s a problem because people can’t pin you down. If you hear all those influences, I think it’s a great thing to hear that in some bands. Some people get put off by that because they want you to be more of one thing.”
Given the current state that today’s record industry is in, the best thing for a band to do is to get out on the road and play as much as it can. And that’s exactly what Streetlight Circus did in 2012.
“We had a great year,” Shaw concludes. “We got invited to play the M3 rock festival. We were the only independent band asked to play this year. It was all these huge national acts, and us. We were humbled and we gained a whole bunch of new fans. We’re stretching out to Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Florida. We played out in L.A. a few times; we played the Whiskey. We’re just trying to grow organically. You’re not going to do it the same way bands used to do it in the ’70s, ’80s and even the early ’90s where the record companies were supporting album after album waiting for something to hit. You have to go out there and do it yourself. So far it’s been going really well. People seem to be digging what they hear and seem to be liking the band live. Where it goes, we’ll see. But right now we’re pretty happy with the way things are heading.”