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🎧 Local Music Lowdown: BEARAXE

This week’s profile is another one recommended to me by a reader and boy I’m sure glad they reached out (thanks Sarah M.

BEARAXE is another rock ‘n’ roll-type band whose sound clearly draws from local grunge predecessors like Soundgarden. Lead singer Shaina Shepherd’s impressive range is thanks to growing up listening to gospel and studying classical music in college. So even though BEARAXE tends toward the grunge side of things, Shepherd can do it all, which she does in the new singles she released solo. Check out our full interview with the band here.

Name: BEARAXE
Socials: Instagram, Facebook
Neighborhood: South Seattle — White Center
Song to know: Brown Liquor

Who are the members of your band?
Shaina Shepherd – vocals, Matt Williams – guitar, Jon Lemmon – bass, and Oz La’brae – drums

Can you give the story of how BEARAXE came to be? Also, what’s the story behind the name BEARAXE?
Matt and Jon had been playing in a band that needed a new singer. At the same time, Shaina and Matt happened to do a cover-band gig for a Microsoft picnic and that’s how they met. They hit it off, so Matt invited me to come jam with him and Jon and BEARAXE was born.

The name came from a camping trip for Jon’s birthday. We were around the campfire feeling spooky and someone commented on how scary it would be if a bear with an axe came out of the woods. The next morning we all agreed it was kind of the perfect name for us.

Seattle is known as a ‘music city.’ Why do you think Seattle’s music scene has always been so vibrant?
There have always been so many creative artists of all types in Seattle, it’s very inspiring. Plus, with the lack of sun, the only option is to pack a venue and rock out.

The city has changed so much over the years, some say Seattle has lost its soul…why have you remained in Seattle?
No matter where we end up or what happens to Seattle, it will always be our home. It has changed a lot, but the art community still exists and is going strong and it’s really important to keep fighting for it.

Favorite venue to play a show and then to see a show at?
There are so many amazing venues to play at here. But if I had to pick one, we’d go with Tim’s Tavern in Greenwood. It’s essentially where we got our start as a band playing live and it’s such a cool spot with great people.

Shaina—Seattle is well known for its grunge and rock scene but, like the music industry as a whole, it’s very white. Do you feel like there has been progress in the city’s music scene over the years in terms of diversity?
Yes and no. There’s a lot of separation in the scene regarding cultural identity. This often means large pools of Black artists are creating one type of music in one creative infrastructure and that often doesn’t touch a lot of white audiences. 

To be honest and in my opinion, Seattle likes what it likes regardless of the color of your skin — and they’re comfortable with rock-and-roll. But as music has changed nationally and kids who are used to more diversity in facets of their lives start putting out records that don’t sound like traditional rock music. There has been a lot of progress in the past couple of years. I think in Seattle music you can hear the references and a lot of our favorite artists have been people of color. It’s awesome that we can contribute to having more voices that represent those sounds in the city. We have a long way to go, though, a long way indeed.

Shaina—as the lead vocals and frontwoman for the band I did want to touch on the fact that Seattle is so known for its grunge and rock scene but like the industry as a whole, it’s very white even though great artists like Jimi Hendrix are from here. Do you feel like there has been progress in the city’s music scene over the years in terms of diversity? 

Yes and no. There’s a lot of separation in the scene regarding cultural identity. This often means large pools of black artists are creating one type of music in one creative infrastructure and that often doesn’t touch a lot of white audiences. To be honest and in my opinion, Seattle likes what it likes regardless of the color of your skin — and they’re comfortable with rock and roll. But as music has changed nationally and kids who are used to more diversity in facets of their lives start putting out records that don’t sound like traditional rock music, there has been a lot of progress in the past couple of years. I think in Seattle music you can hear the references and a lot of our favorite artists have been people of color. It’s awesome that we can contribute to having more voices that represent those sounds in the city. We have a long way to go though, a long way indeed.

You guys recently did a cover of Soundgarden’s Blackhole Sun and it was so awesome. Do you guys plan to do any more covers or fun things like that?Covers are always fun! We’ve recently been playing Inside Looking Out by The Animals because it’s a good reflection of our current COVID lockdown times.

How would you describe your sound? Who are some of your influences?
Our sound is a loud mix of grunge and soul with a little of everything else thrown in. We’re really four people who listen to a ton of different stuff that decided to rock out together. Our biggest sound influences are bands like Soundgarden and Black Sabbath, but we’re always fitting a bunch of different styles in.

What has it been like as a band to perform on these live-stream events?We’re thankful we can still at least play music in some capacity. The talented sound and video people we’ve been able to work with have made all the difference. Nothing will replace a live show, but it’s a fun option for the time being.

What does live music mean to you? Or why is it important to support artists and venues?
Live music is one of the purest ways to share music with people. Nothing will ever come close to feeding off the energy of an audience and delivering it right back to them

Favorite song from a Seattle-area artist OR about Seattle/the PNW?
We’ve really been into the new album by our frequent collaborator Terry Monstrosity.

Anything else you’d like to add/promote?
We have a live stream coming up on October 6th. Check our social media pages for more info.