Rusty Shipp is a Nautical Rock’n’Roll band that got its start in Nashville, TN in 2014. Characterized by its dark, underwater sound, unconventional riffs, and haunting vocals, the music is a perfect fusion of grunge and surf rock; though it is most memorable for the Beatlesque chord progressions and vocal melodies at the core of every song.
At the forefront is the singer, songwriter, guitarist Russ T. Shipp (literally his birth name), followed by Elijah Apperson on lead guitar, Michael Craft on bass, and AJ Newton on drums. Russ T. has his own signature sound, weaving his raspy voice in and out of falsetto and vibrato; at times sounding like a “higher-pitched Kurt Cobain,” as one music critic put it, and other times like a ghost. He was once asked in an interview why Rusty Shipp was worth listening to in an industry already so crowded with bands. He responded, “I really think they’re the best songs on the market, because I’m convinced that I out-work and out-think the average songwriter. I’ve put over 10,000 hours into song-writing, and now I have this vast arsenal of interesting music fragments to choose from when assembling songs. So you’ll never, ever hear any filler on a Rusty Shipp recording. Every single part of every single song is meticulously plotted out with the best bits of music and ideas I’ve accumulated for more than a decade.”
He cites The Beatles as his biggest influence for their emphasis on peculiar, but catchy, chords, riffs, and melodies. “Though we’re noticeably darker and more aggressive than The Beatles,” Russ T. explains, “their form of songwriting resonates with the largest number of human beings, and we try to tap into that same magic. Bands like Nirvana and Muse did the same thing, but we’re taking it in a more philosophical direction, while still having fun by incorporating the nautical theme.”
The band’s debut album Mortal Ghost, produced by J. Hall (Delta Saints, As Cities Burn, House of Heroes), was released on June 9th. The first single Devil Jonah (released on May 12th with an accompanying music video) is a fiery, rock song with an unforgettable hook and catchy, grunge riffs relentlessly driving the song from beginning to end.
How would you describe your music?
It sounds like if Muse and Nirvana were pulled down to Davy Jones Locker.
Tell us about how the history of the band?
I moved down to Nashville, Music City USA from the D.C. area, after unsuccessfully trying to get a band started up there for years. After going through Craigslist and other means I formed a band and we decided to name the group “Rusty Shipp” after my name, since we thought it was a funny hook that would stick in people’s minds. We decided to make music that sounded grungy and nautical like a rusty ship would. It’s our hope that a band like ours will stand out to people in the midst of a vast ocean of bands in Nashville.
What are you influences/ musical heroes?
My favorite songwriters are the Beatles for the catchy chords and melodies, as well as Thrice and Muse for the peculiar, rocking guitar riffs, and Dustin Kensrue of Thrice is my favorite lyricist for his philosophical lyrics. Also JS Bach is a huge inspiration for me in how he lived a life that completely revolved around music.
What inspires you?
Ever since I was born I’ve lived in a world of creativity, forming pieces of art and stories and music, I think it’s my number one greatest strength in life and the most fulfilling use of my time on Earth, and so I want to do it to the absolute best of my ability and impact the greatest number of people through it.
Do you write on the road? or do you prefer to write in the studio?
I prefer to write in my bedroom with no one around and no distractions. Just me and my guitar or recording program and the freedom to let my mind wander wherever it wants to go and work on the same chord progressions over and over for hours, fine-tuning the best melodies possible.
What is your favourite song to perform live?
“Helter Skelter” is probably our most energetic song live, but I also really like opening up the shows with “Sea Sentinels” and “Treading Water” which are the perfect openers I think.
What would be your dream tour to be a part of?
I’d love to tour with my heroes Thrice and Muse, because I know that they’re fanbase would be on the same wavelength as us and really connect to our music and lyrics as well.
What are you current thoughts on the music industry?
I think the music industry is very exciting because the hardest-working band out there can really have success on their own without having to “make it” first, and everyone has equal access to interacting with fans and making new followers across the globe. It’s pretty phenomenal how open everything has become. The possibilities are now endless!
What is the funniest/weirdest experience you have had on tour?
This one time our bass player Michael got locked in a cage (it was actually a stage prop), and it was hilarious because it just so happened that a banana was in the cage with him when he got locked in it, so we thought he resembled a monkey in the zoo or something. That was a good one that will always stand out!
What are your future plans?
We’ve got some new singles that we’re releasing in sequence this year as well as some cool new music videos from our album “Mortal Ghost,” such as our SS Naronic music video coming out soon, which I honestly think is the best music video we’ve ever made. It’s the definitive “nautical rock ‘n’ roll” experience being comprised of illustrated animation from Hein Zaayman who actually illustrated our album cover also, so everything is coming full circle, artistically-speaking.