Editor’s Note: I think I conversed with the Benjamin Franklin of today’s music industry. Hopefully Shawn Perry makes it that far where he is on currency after his time on Earth has come to pass. This man is a little bit of everything. Shawn teaches at a music school, makes music, makes amps, and he even worked in the mental health field, and darn tooten he’s good at it too. In this not exclusive interview, Madness To Creation conversed with Shawn Perry on his stint in MTV Made and the importance of mental health. Shawn Perry has also released a music video for “Lawnchair”, which we want it to go viral, so tell your friends and your grandma. Fans can find Shawn Perry at the following locations:
Madness To Creation: Hey Shawn, how’s it going today
Shawn: Good how are you?
Madness To Creation: What’s the crazy thing you did this weekend?
Shawn: Well I finished up my kitchen.
Madness To Creation: You going to show it off on DIY or HGTV?
Shawn: No, it’s not that cool! *laughs* I wish it was that cool, the crazy thing was that I started last summer.
Madness To Creation: So I read that your wife played bass with you in a metal band, what was that like balancing the band and keeping the marriage going? You obviously didn’t take the Fleetwood Mac route! *laughs*
Shawn: *laughs* Noooo!!! That was actually miserable for them. We actually went to high school together and that sort of thing, we actually got married a few years later, it’s pretty cool.
Madness To Creation: You’ve transition from metal to this laidback a little bit of country a little bit of rock vibe with “Lawnchair” take us into the song and video. It looks like you’re having a blast in the video by the way.
Shawn: There is also another video out, we were talking to labels and if you look up the other one it’s pretty fun as well. I’m one of those that almost went to film school because I love the art behind making music videos. I’m one of those when I write a song I’m visualizing what the video is going to look like as I have the video in my head, so the whole Corvette concept was a part of that song, in terms of writing the video, I’ll actually storyboard it out and our friend Adam Hunter helps out with the videography part of it. They did the whole treatment, they gave me a budget. Especially with a redneck video, I’m really good at showing off Ohio at its finest and it looks like its shot in Florida or somewhere much more exotic, like it was shot in Naples. It was shot miles from my house. We’ve been very fortunate and everybody thinks the “Redneck” video was shot in Georgia or something, no it was shot in Ohio before Halloween, but the running joke of Ohio is “we’ll do it today but we can wait for tomorrow for the weather to change”, but for the “Redneck” video we had an outdoor concert vibe for it, but it got rained out, so we were kind of sweating it out a little bit, but it turned out to be great that day. But the song is talking about how I work 60 hours a week, I run a music school, and I do a bunch of garage work, so basically I wrote the song about how I need time off, that’s what the song is about, taking the time off and enjoying that time off.
Madness To Creation: What advice would you give for those that aspire to make a music video for a song?
Shawn: If I’m able to do that, I would. We couldn’t just set the cameras, I’m not particularly excited about that, we did for a different video, but the reason we did that is so we can plan out other bigger videos, that way we could be like, “hey do you want to shoot the music video”, “sure” *laughs* I’m like the going through some of the older videos that other artists did, but if you do really well and make a great impression on the video, people are going to be interested in the product. That’s my two cents, and one day I hope to be able to do the Puff Daddy video with the billion dollar yacht, it won’t belong to me but I’ll borrow it.
Madness To Creation: You can talk about how “you ain’t going nowhere, cause you’re a bad boy for life”
Madness To Creation: Since you brought up Puff Daddy, if you could cover any rap artist or song with your country/rock vibe, what would you cover?
Shawn: We have a new song that’s called “Long Haired Country”, and it’s very much my homage to “Walk This Way”, it’s not a ripoff, but there’s definitely some vibe there, it’s that song that definitely caught my eyes and attention, I don’t know if I heard too much of that that others did, so that would be a good one for us to do. My favorite in rap is Naughty By Nature though, it would be fun to do “O.P.P.”, but on that note I got a few songs that I’m doing a sample on with Snoop Dogg, so I’ll let you know how that goes.
Madness To Creation: You own a Valkyrie Amp company, how can an aspiring artist get endorse by this amp company?
Shawn: My path to starting my own instrument company is basically my two favorite guitar players are Eddie Van Halen and Bryan Eddy. Anybody familiar with those two, Eddie Van Halen is famous for his Stratocaster and for putting it together with parts that he built out of, the boogie bodies, he might have found one in the dumpster and just took one, and put together is own guitar, and Bryan hand-built his out of his old mantle in the living room, so basically both of those guys started out that way. Over the years, I’ve had endorsements with every popular brand except for Fender, I’ve worked with KRS, Gibson, and Music Man, Schecter and all the big wigs, but most of the greats I’ve worked with.
Through that process, I really got to know how things work, in Ohio, I actually worked under a pretty famous company. I took that position not because I wanted to, but because I ordered two kinds of instruments from a guy, so just imagine, I volunteered myself to help him with artist relations and marketing just so he can get my instruments done, and a year later he finally finished one of them, so during that whole process I was making instruments with him, and so long story short, this guy made a really good guitar, but he also really liked to smoke, so my thought was if he can put out instruments this quality although he’s so blitzed and can still function *laughs*, so that this is how it really started.
I always played and used my instruments growing up, the Paul Reed Smith guitar I wasn’t really happy with the pick up so I swapped that, the Les Paul guitar, the holy grail of guitars, my mom got me when I was 11. Started building them back in 2011, started building them in my friend’s garage, started making totally handmade new stuff, and in 2016, we had our first Epiphone line, we’ve been calling that our Masters Series, a little homage to “Game of Thrones”, you and your readers/listeners should check us out!
Madness To Creation: Would you say it’s easier nowadays to get into this by knowing somebody or just getting your foot in the door somehow?
Shawn: If you just get a hold of somebody that’s under Fender or Gibson, as long as you’re out playing pretty regularly, they’ll usually give you a decent endorsement, usually, they’re all really cool, they want to see people playing their stuff. You’re not going to get the pie-in-the-sky endorsement where they’re giving you ten guitars unless you’re doing arena shows, but as far as getting the stuff discounted, as long as you’re a musician and you’re out there playing, they’re usually pretty good about it. Some of them, not so much, like Gibson(God Bless ‘Em), famously threw Mark Tremonti out of their office when he tried to get endorsed by them back in 1997 or something.
But Paul was easy, got my first endorsement from them. I ran into Paul at a music store in Cleveland through a music clinic, he heard me play and offered the endorsement that was one of the most raddest things that have ever happened to me. I would say go for it, if there is a company that you like, hit ‘em up, if it’s Fender or Gibson, you’re going to have a heck of a time getting a hold of them, but if you’re out there gigging, I’m sure they’ll at least hear you out.
Madness To Creation: I am sure my readers and listeners will appreciate the advice! Let’s transition into your stint as an on-air personality for MTV’s “Made”. What is the craziest story that you have from that experience?
Shawn: Doing the show itself wasn’t really bad, because the kids were great. Anyone that wants to watch that show, the kids were really cool and shit. Natalie and I are still friends. The craziest thing was dealing with the people that were running the show. It got to the point where they were really trying to script it, the lady that was running it also did the show “Teen Mom”, and she was hell bent on getting Natalie to cry more. I’m not into that man, I’ve been into music since I was 21, I bought a guitar when I was a kid. Before I did that, I was into a bunch of indie movies, and I was like, “listen guys, I signed on to do reality TV, and you’re paying me to do reality TV, if you want to make this scripted, that’s fine, but you need to let the kids know, and this is my agent’s number, and you’re going to start paying me at a different scale”. So that basically shut that conversation down, so they didn’t want to pay me or anybody else anything besides reality TV. The whole process took a lot longer than people were thinking. Between that season of “Made” and “Jersey Shore”, there was about 160 to 200 hours of footage, so they had to cut that down. The really cool thing was that I was getting talked about taking over “Headbanger’s Ball”, that would’ve been really cool, but they just decided that they were no longer going to do the show because they kind of longer play music, but it was rad and I got to have the conversation of taking over that show, that would’ve been another dream come true, but I possibly got something else cooking, but I’m actually talking with a very popular guitar driven heavy metal magazine about a TV show, not going to say what it is, but if we announce it, people will be stoked about it.
Madness To Creation: I’m just sitting here wondering what’s the point of reality television if there is a script.
Shawn: I’m not going to say that it was script per say, that’s a bridge that’s a little too far, but they were trying to script teens in situations to manipulate the reactions out of the girl on the show. I’m not doing that, it’s like, it still ended up being one of the top five episodes that show had ever had, but I’m not trying to have ‘em look like that. I just don’t see a need to do that to kids. Other than the original three or four seasons of “Real World”, that was the best show that we have ever had.
Madness To Creation: It definitely beats “The Apprentice” with Donald Trump, but that’s for another discussion.
Shawn: Speaking of that, I met John Rich though. It was pretty cool! Only in Nashville where you can be like “hey John Rich, what’s up!”. I didn’t really get to talk to him, it was just hilarious, I’ve seen Kid Rock in a bar and I’ve seen John Rich in a bar.
Madness To Creation: Part of Madness To Creation is geared towards mental health awareness and stuff like that, what advice do you have for anyone that’s listening or maybe struggling or what have you done to help with your mental health?
Shawn: I don’t know if you know this or not, but I used to work in a mental health facility. For three years, my day gig was that I worked a facility that was primarily a MRC facility, but it was more on the mental health side as well, where I dealt with all kinds of issues. I will tell you this, that anybody that wants to learn how to be compassionate, I encourage you to work or volunteer at a facility like that, it will change your outlook, I can’t see how anybody who has worked in a facility like that and took care of folks that needed help that bad can still be calloused. I think it gives you a whole different outlook on compassion if you choose to do that job.
As far as people that are struggling, I think that it’s really important to reach out to folks, but that can be the hardest thing. I have family members that struggle with mental health, and it’s difficult to watch them not reach out and trying to fight through and pretend like nothing is going on, even having someone to talk to if they bring it up, it’s a lot easier. That was my first suggestion with the problem by itself.
As far as me personally, I teach jiu-jitsu and karate in order to keep my mental health in check. I think also the important thing is not to isolate yourself. I am benefitting personally from having an outlet, whether it’s music or martial arts stuff, or having a dog that’s sitting on lap waiting for me to take him on walks. I think also having a pet or a therapy animal really helps with a person’s mental health issues, helping out at a shelter could be an idea as well.
Madness To Creation: I think even the workplace and schools need therapy pets.
Shawn: I do want to give a shoutout to this software company called Sunflower Girl, they’re an up and coming software company, I couldn’t tell you what they do, but I know they’re involved in online sales, but they have taken that workplace and made it into this Willy Wonka, they allow people to have pets there, there’s slides that go from one floor to another, there’s an on-site daycare and onsite hair salon. If I had to work a desk job, I would choose them because they go the extra mile to make sure their workers keep their mental health in check.
Madness To Creation: It’s absolutely critical that we address this, and thank you for sharing, we really want to show that music is a community. What are your plans for the rest of the summer?
Shawn: We usually play a lot of gigs, we have a lot of irons in the fire. We’re working on labels and it’s cool I’ve been playing with the same guys for a long time, some of the members rotate in and out. Hopefully we’re playing a bunch of festivals, and trying to play outside as much as we can in the summertime, but we’re hoping when the fall or spring starts, we’re playing, we have a record and a half that we are just sitting on. Just playing the waiting game and hopefully we come to a town near you.
Madness To Creation: What can fans expect from a Shawn Perry show?
Shawn: Going to a KISS show but with no makeup, but with Marshall stacks and lasers, we haven’t graduated from pyro yet. Part of the reason why I shifted gears from doing harder rock to doing more the pop scene and country, there’s a whole lot of what’s called “active rock”, which drives me bananas, I think it’s terrible, it’s a vanilla as far as I’m concerned. We’re just trying something different. Check out the music video for “Lawnchair” and find us on our socials.
And there you have it! Stay on top of the latest news and happenings in regards to Shawn Perry by checking out his website and liking his Facebook page!