Shannon and the Clams Announce 'Year of the Spider' - Rolling Stone
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Shannon and the Clams Battled a Tornado, a Pandemic & a Peeping Tom to Drop ‘Year of the Spider’

Listen to the first single, “Midnight Wine,” now

Shannon and the Clams finished recording their upcoming album, Year of the Spider, right before Nashville was hit by a tornado and the music world ground to a halt due to Covid-19. The record — produced by Black KeysDan Auerbach — stayed in limbo throughout 2020, but on Wednesday, the band unveiled new single “Midnight Wine” ahead of a planned August 20th release date for the new album.

“I remember texting with Dan about the record shortly after [the pandemic shut the music industry down] and saying, ‘I have no idea when we could possibly release this. I think I just need to take a break from it and kind of forget we even recorded it so I stop being upset that we have to sit on it,'” guitarist Cody Blanchard tells Rolling Stone. “The whole band is always very eager to get a record out once it’s done. It’s crushing to have to wait over a year to release it.”

Year of the Spider, the band’s sixth album, was forged in the fire to be sure — sometimes literally. The songs were written as singer Shannon Shaw bounced between Oakland, Portland, Hawaii, and Napa, where she was helping care for her ailing father, all while battling a local Peeping Tom who was wreaking havoc on the residents of her Oakland apartment complex. “Many essential nuggets of my songs were written during some of the most stressful moments of my life, like driving my dad to radiation with wildfires looming in the distance,” Shaw tells Rolling Stone. “On top of that, I had a Peeping Tom who haunted my roommates and me from November to July and that was the nail in the coffin for ending my time in Oakland.”

As such, some songs, like opener “Do I Wanna Stay,” were written across states. “The verse, melody and some lyrics came to me one of the days in Napa after dropping my dad off; I took the long way home through the thick smoke and contemplated my future,” Shaw says. “The chorus was written in Hawaii; the first half reminds me of floating in the water staring down at coral and fish and the second half is a wave crashing on to me and my body trying to stay afloat. I can feel that sensation when I hear the chorus still.”

Blanchard wrote from a more stable locale: a livestock shed behind his Portland home that he converted into a recording studio. “I got really into this idea of writing other people’s stories as songs,” he says. “For some reason, it was so much easier for me to write this way. I was able to work really fast and get out of my own head and my own experience.”

“Midnight Wine,” premiering Wednesday on Rolling Stone, is one such song. “I was thinking of friends I’ve had that have died from drug addiction and that feeling of desperation that drives you to seek shelter from reality in drugs,” Blanchard says of the fuzzed-out, bluesy track. “The song is me trying to get as deep into that feeling as I can. I didn’t want to be too plain or on-the-nose and write about heroin or booze, so I invented a fictional slang for a fictional drug: ‘Midnight Wine.’ Some kind of poisonous potion that relieves your grief. The song is a fictionalized account of a victim of this fictional drug, based on very real people.” Blanchard also animated and directed the video.

Despite the dark subject matter — and the turmoil Shaw went through during the writing of the songs — the band said it was a joyful recording process. They laid down the record at Auerbach’s Nashville recording studio, Easy Eye, with a bunch of amiable backing musicians in their mid-Seventies. “As for Dan, I’d love to be a fly on the wall in that brain of his,” Shaw says. “He will look all chill and laid-back, Palo Santo clouds floating around [him] and then… suddenly will jerk forward over the board, eyes shining. He heard something he likes and wants to work it out. He’ll direct or encourage his idea to be tested and once we get it to a tasty perfect spot, he does this great little dance in his cowboy boots in front of the board. It’s always my favorite moment in Easy Eye when you get the cowboy dance.”

Shannon and the Clams, Year of The Spider Tracklist

1. Do I Wanna Stay
2. All of My Cryin’
3. Midnight Wine
4. I Need You Bad
5. Year of the Spider
6. In the Hills, in the Pines
7. Godstone
8. Snakes Crawl
9. Mary, Don’t Go
10. Leaves Fall Again
11. Flowers Will Return
12. Crawl
13. Vanishing

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