Tom Shannon

photo by: Classy Craig D

I was a teenager in the 90’s and I used to hang out at a place called Bernies Bagel’s & Distillery. Lot’s of stuff was happening at that place in those days. It was super cool times in Columbus. I was a bit young at that point but I saw it all unfold. That was the era that Columbus is famous for. High Street was insane back then. It was like the East Village or something. Total party town and tons of great music everyday of the week. I saw so many good shows there back in those days. I loved going to shows and record shops. Used Kids Records is probably where I first met today’s Featured Artist, Tom Shannon. It was an awesome subterranean record store in the heart of it all, in the heyday of High Street. I frequented the store as often as possible but can’t really say that I became good friends with Tom (and his band, the Cheater Slicks) until about 15 years later, when we released “Bat’s in the Dead Trees” together on Lost Treasures of the Underworld. The Cheater Slicks became one of my favorite bands over the years. Tom Shannon and brother Dave both play guitar and Dana Hatch plays the drums. Dana and Tom share the vocal duties. Their records and live shows are fantastic. It’s nothing fancy, they didn’t re-invent the wheel, it’s just rock n roll …the way it was supposed to sound. And that’s what I love about them. However, the “Bat’s in the Dead Tree’s” LP departed from any pre-conceived idea that anyone may have had about the band and suggested that they are not wired like just any old rock roll band. There is is more to their sound than just words and chords and standard songwriting. Something happens when these three guys get together in a room with some instruments. I’m not sure if it can really be explained. It’s a finely tuned and precise mixture of elements that can be found no other place in the world, that come together to create this band we know as the Cheater Slicks!

LT: We are now two month’s into this crazy pandemic that has taken over the world. How have been and what have you been up to?

TS: Hi Tom- Things are fine here, considering the circumstances. My wife has auto immune issues so we have been on very strict lock down for two months. I have been listing on Ebay from home, for Used Kids, but that’s bound to change soon, and then I’m not sure what I’m going to do because I can’t be exposed to the virus, and obviously retail is not a good place to be in that circumstance. It’s terrible that we have to make these decisions. 

LT: Have you ever been in in other bands or participated in any other projects besides the Cheater Slicks?

TS: I was in a band in college for about two months, I had literally just picked up guitar and was just learning really basic things. It was a garage band called the Fishers. We had a black female lead singer and a Japanese female drummer. It was pretty cool for a first band. I did start writing songs at that point and realized I might have some abilities in that direction, so it was a very enlightening experience, It got me hooked on making music, for sure.

LT: Is there a certain person in the band that is responsible for writing all the great songs you have? Is there a method to your madness?

TS: I come up with the basic chord progressions for all of the songs, but I don’t consider this to be actually “writing the songs” because they change so much as we work on them. The initial ideas are certainly the inspirations and foundations of what we do and I come up with those. Dana did write one of the songs that we are currently working on.We jam instrumentally for long periods of time before putting lyrics to the songs. Sometimes this can take years. We’ve easily had songs we’ve worked on for 5 or 6 years before recording. At some point Dana or I right lyrics and “claim” the song and start singing. We’ve had to shorten this process lately because we are older and don’t have 5 years to work on a record anymore.

LT: I know you’ve been working at one of the best record stores around for a long time and you’ve got an amazing record collection. What is some of your favorite stuff of all time to listen to (and collect) and is there anything you’ve been digging recently?

TS: Rock-wise my taste was well established by the time I reached Used Kids. In fact I kind of had to de-establish it to open my horizons. I was quite a purist in my early days. As I grow older I find that I don’t go by genre much anymore, but I still seek out the original voices and the emotion in whatever I listen to. For the past 15 years I’ve collected modern jazz vinyl. But I have a large collection of exotica and strange easy listening. All the rock records are the typical great bands that everyone knows already are good. I archive all the strange 45s that come through Used Kids, especially the ones from Ohio. Ron House and I kind of work together finding each other stuff. Its fun. Ohio music is amazing. I have a tube stereo system with mono blocks, so I’m really into 50s stereo recordings right now. Yeah. I’m a geek. 

LT: Do you any certain favorite Cheater Slicks moments and/or recordings that stand out in your mind?

TS: First time I really ever thought we nailed a song was when we recorded “Possession” at a studio in Boston. We had just become a three piece and were trying to find our sound without a bass and with that song it just came together. We still play it to this day.As far as touring goes the tour we did with Andre Williams will always be my favorite thing we did. It was a short tour down the west coast and out to Vegas, but man it was filled to the brim with fun stuff. Andre was just amazing to be around. A true legend and a wonderful person under his gruff exterior. 

LT: Do you have any upcoming albums, events or things online that you’d like to tell our readers to keep an eye out for?

TS: We have a record coming out on In The Red any day now. It is a collaboration with a special friend of ours Named Bill Gage. Bill has Down Syndrome. He’s a total rocker, we’ve known him for 30 years or more. His brother has a band with Bill called “Bill” and he called us wanting us to do a record with Bill. We wrote the songs and practiced it here on our own, then Bill came out to Columbus with his brother John and we did the record live at Musicol. Bill did a fantastic job improvising over the songs. He’s an incredibly creative person with a pure love for just rocking out. It came out really well, I think. It’s a benefit record to support art resources for people with learning disabilities. 

We were three weeks away from recording our own new record when the pandemic hit and we had to cancel the recording session. We had James Arthur coming up from Texas to play bass with us. It was coming along very well. I hope we can get back to it at some point, but we are not even able to practice right now. When it does come out it will be on In The Red.

Press Release for the New Album:

Bat’s in the Dead Tree’s ~LIVE~

Discography

• Cheater Slicks “On Your Knees” LP • Gawdawful Records (1989)

• Cheater Slicks ” You Don’t Satisfy” 7″ • Sympathy For The Record Industry (1990)

• Cheater Slicks ” If Heaven Is Your Home/ Go Go Gorilla” 7″ • Dog Meat (1990)

• Cheater Slicks “Destination Lonely” LP • Dog Meat (1991)

• Cheater Slicks ” I’m Grounded” 7″ • In The Red Recordings (1991)

• Cheater Slicks “Chaos” 7″ • Gift of Life (1991)

• Cheater Slicks “Rum Drunk” 7″ • Dog Meat (1991)

• Cheater Slicks “84 Ford 79” • Estrus Records(1992)

• Cheater Slicks “Golddigger” 7″ • Rekkids (1992)

• Cheater Slicks “Whiskey” LP • In The Red Recordings (1993)

• Cheater Slicks ” Walk Up The Street/ Wedding Song” 7″ • In The Red Recordings (1994)

• Cheater Slicks “Don’t Like You” LP • In The Red Recordings (1995)

• Cheater Slicks “Trouble Man / Hook or Crook” 7″ • Crypt Records (1995)

• Cheater Slicks “Forgive Thee” 2xCD • In The Red Recordings (1997)

• Cheater Slicks “Untitled” 7″ • Mind Of A Child (1997)

• Cheater Slicks “Skidmarks” LP • Crypt Records (1998)

• Cheater Slicks “Refried Dreams” LP • In The Red Recordings (1999)

• Cheater Slicks “Yer Last Record” LP • Secret Keeper (2002)

• Cheater Slicks “Walk Into The Sea” LP • Dead Canary (2007)

• Cheater Slicks “Bats In The Dead Trees” • Lost Treasures of the Underworld (2009)

• Cheater Slicks “Erotic Woman” 7″ • Columbus Discount Records (2009)

• Cheater Slicks/2050’s “LYVE” split cassette • Stochastic Releases

• Cheater Slicks “Guttural” (Live Vol.1 2010) LP • Columbus Discount Records (2011)

• Cheater Slicks “Reality Is A Grape” LP • Columbus Discount Records (2012)

• Cheater Slicks “Live Vol.2 2010” LP • Columbus Discount Records (2012)

• Cheater Slicks “Live Vol.3” LP • Columbus Discount Records (2014)