Everything is all smiles for Brisbane-based band Shag Rock. Ever since the release of their debut full-length album Barefoot (2017), the indie surf-pop group has embarked on multiple headlining tours in Australia and New Zealand, and have garnered a loyal and passionate fan base. Their most popular tune Sunbleached Girl has amassed over 14.5 million Spotify streams, and a slew of new singles like Creaky Minds and Flicker demonstrate immense lyrical maturity and depth that will no doubt span generations.
The Shaggers played sold-out performances at the Tivoli in Brisbane and Burleigh Heads throughout February 2021. They also recently dropped a frothy music video for their latest single Golden Lungs. If you like what you hear, you can catch them at their upcoming performance at the Youturn It Up! charity concert 11 April 2021 on the Sunshine Coast.
We caught up with lead singer Al for our Savvy Seven, who gave us insight into the band’s groovy career.
What inspired you to pursue music as a career?
We started jamming together in grade 11 after school every Friday for fun. A year in we decided to put on a tennis court party. We were pretty average but it turned out to be a hoot. After that we carried on and got a request to play The Zoo (in Brisbane) as 17 year-olds supporting Jinja Safari, who were our favourite band at the time, so we were seriously stoked. Things sort of just kept getting better gig after gig and we were (are) always having so much fun so we never really saw a reason to stop.
Besides making music, what have you done to get to where you are?
Admin is a deeply necessary evil in a band or as an artist, as with anything I suspect. Making engaging content, being on top of social media and ensuring your campaigns are as pro as they can be takes effort. We often look/looked at how other bands present themselves and what brainy marketing moves/content they’re making to get some inspiration. We’ve also done a fat stack of touring over the years. Initially funding it ourselves and then when ticket sales got good enough breaking even. We’ve found making mates anywhere and everywhere always pays off somehow down the track.
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How do you approach developing timelines for your career?
Loosely We’ve generally followed two paths: Keep recording and making better music each year, and try to play bigger and better shows. We’ve always aimed to develop our fanbase on our own rather than bank on the holy grail of national radio or mass playlisting. After a while we figured if that stuff comes then that’s super fantastic but we shouldn’t bank on it. Of course we still aim to get it in front of the eyes of industry people, curators etc.
What will musicians discover from touring and how should they prepare for it?
That you don’t get a lot of sleep and for the 1 hour you play the show there is 12 hours of travelling and waiting around. To tour economically you’re playing a show Friday/Saturday/Sunday and maybe even Thursday. It’s different depending on the size of your band but we’d do Brisbane/Sydney/Melbourne on a weekend and come Monday you’re pretty distraught with exhaustion. We used to drive those distances as well rather than fly, which would teach you the meaning of patience. I think appreciating the moment and how lucky you are to be able to tour helps keep perspective. Maintaining a positive attitude and being patient with your bandmates can go a long way. Also planning ahead and checking the details on all bookings can be a lifesaver. A couple of times we’ve gotten to the rental car place and it’s closed or checked the night before to find it opens an hour after our flight leaves. Lastly, don’t forget anything. Write a list.
What’s your advice on staying professionally active during COVID times?
Socials and streaming platforms! It’s the best time ever to dream up new content and get active in working out what content works best for yourself as an artist. The social media platforms provide so much data on your posts and, if you’ve got the time, you could do some comparisons and see what people are engaging with the most. We’ve been trying to up our game a bit and do some live streams, record some acoustic versions of our tunes as well as curate our posts a little better to have maximum effect. We’ve also been chatting to a few industry pros around the joint to get some ideas on planning for the future. It’s generally not a hard task to reach out to these types of individuals on Instagram and set up a chat. These people could be managers, agents, bloggers and other media outlet types. Aside from that just chatting to other artists and finding out how their experience has been. At the time of this interview, Brisbane has had gigs for a while and the rest of the country is opening up so we’re seemingly over the hump. Hopefully things get back to full swing in the next 6-12 months, nationally speaking.
How should people educate themselves on current industry issues?
I would reckon following just about every music industry person on socials would be a good start. There’s also a great publication called Music Industry Inside Out that publishes issues more related to the business side of things. Those two things and talking to a lot of people will, imho, get one in the know.
How have you integrated modern technology into your content process?
We’ve picked up a few things along the way. Digital advertising is a massively powerful tool, namely Google and Facebook’s ad platforms. Really useful for advertising gigs as well as promotional content for singles etc. Also linkinbio is massively helpful in having multiple links in your insta bio.
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Check out the upcoming Youturn It Up! event:
Listen to Shag Rock’s latest tunes below: