Content Warning: This article contains references to alcohol and drugs

I sat down with The Shelves, Wellington’s newest dorm-core sound. Having known these boys for most of the year, we chatted about their latest gig, their new single, and what their band name really means.

Having finished their first gig at Wellington’s infamous San Fran, The Shelves have deemed their first foot in the door “a pretty decent success”. With their EP recorded a month prior in Auckland for the price of a slab of beers, they’re hitting the ground running in Wellington’s music scene.

“The Shelves are a reaction to a lack of music we find in the local scene”, says Jacob, guitarist for the band. “It’s music you want to go see live because that’s what it’s for. It’s energetic, it’s exciting and it’s just rock ‘n’ roll.”

Having formed within the walls of B Floor of Victoria University’s Weir House, it all began when Hugo and Jacob “decided to write a two-minute punk song”. Soon after, they were pumping out songs quicker than they could write them. “It’s dorm-core; the sound of compressed youth in dorms,” says bassist Will. Lead singer Hugo jumps in, saying “it’s the sort of tunes you’d hear coming out of your kitchen sink…kitchen sink rock ‘n’ roll”. 

The first song they wrote was what is now their latest single; Through the City. With the opening line being “how many drinks ‘til you look pretty”, their sound is nothing short of their own slice of a student experience. Their first single Moreish describes the lack of confidence to get women and “the effects of amphetamine drugs”, telling the tale of a guy who takes a girl back to his place but “obviously couldn’t get her”.  “We wrote it in one day – Jacob had the riff already, I slapped together a beat, and we pretty much made it in twenty minutes,” Francesco said, having been the drummer for the band when they were still playing with the old title ‘Guns’.

‘The Shelves’ sound is influenced by music such as the first two albums of The Arctic Monkeys, Alice in Chains and The Strokes. Their process of creating music involves a lot of yelling and the occasional arguing. Hugo writes the lyrics, Jacob comes up with riffs, Francesco provides drumbeats and structural ideas, and Will plays the bass.

Will describes the music scene in Wellington as “very welcoming”. “Yeah, shout out to the Wizard of Wellington, Logan and Ethan,” Francesco adds. With all agreeing that there is definitely a Wellington sound, Jacob thinks they deter from that.

“I don’t want it to be clever or arty,” Hugo says. “I just want it to be danceable and for people to have a good time”. As for their name? “The Shelves doesn’t mean a shelf that you put a book on,” says Francesco.

When asked what their ethos was, Hugo replied “what’s an ethos? Is that like space or something” (with a discussion then beginning on how their next song will be titled Ethos: Is that Space?), talk then turned to 2020 and what’s next for The Shelves.

For the future, their EP ‘Shelf Life’ will be coming out soon. Francesco says “we just want to establish ourselves in the Wellington scene a bit more, and maybe a date or two somewhere else in New Zealand. We wanna keep growing, wanna keep making music, and having fun”. Their EP ‘Shelf Life’ will be coming out soon.

Like what you see? Give ’em a follow, or check out their latest single Through the City on Spotify.

For anyone with questions/concerns about their own alcohol and drug usage, contact Youthline

HANNAH POWELL is Tearaway’s Music Editor and your local film and theatre gal. Complete with bangs and at least one pair of Docs, she’s a music festival enthusiast, green tea drinker and avid horoscope reader. Will most likely be found at the next gig. 

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