Establishing a Relationship: Interview with Brian Bell and Nate Shaw

Posted January 20, 2015 in
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Brian Bell and Nate Shaw
The Relationship will be playing Diabolical Records on Jan. 22, The Sundance Film Festival ASCAP Music Cafe on Jan. 23 and the Urban Lounge on Jan. 25. Photo: Teresa Flowers

The Relationship, featuring Brian Bell (Weezer, Space Twins), are coming to the Urban Lounge on Jan. 25 to debut some new material, some of which is about to be released on a 7” from Burger Records. SLUG got the chance to get the word on what’s shaking with founding members Bell and Nate Shaw (Die’ Hunns). This band comprises veterans from some of the most dynamic groups to the hit the stage in the last 30 years. The Relationship’s origins can be said to go back decades to a fateful meeting between Bell and Shaw while they attended music school. Bell says, “I was a cafeteria lady and it was kind of at the height of the hair metal craze,” says Bell. “Everybody was like a ripping, shredding guitarist and had hairspray in their hair—I had long, stringy, greasy hair. Here comes another kid that looks like me. You kind of make connections with people by appearance and also what band shirt are you wearing. I was wearing a Butthole Surfers and [Shaw] was wearing a Chameleons UK shirt.”

After this meeting, the two ended up hanging out later that day at Shaw’s apartment. There, they wrote a song and started collaborating. Bell says, “I was super impressed with how fast and what good chemistry we had from day one–I always remembered that.” This would not be the last time these two artists worked collectively. They remained in contact and even toured together before Bell had joined Weezer. Bell would even sometimes sit in on some of Shaw’s bands during member changes. Shaw says, “I’d pretty much hear from him every month or two. We talked pretty serious songwriting.”

A couple years after this initial meeting of the minds, Bell found himself trying to write more serious songs. “I was taking a course at UCLA and I remembered that chemistry I had with Nate, how easy things came for us—I asked if he wanted to start a more song-writing partnership—more so than a band.” Funnily enough, this partnership would be called “The Relationship,” and eventually the collaboration turned itself into a band. The Relationship formed in 2006 and later released their self-titled debut album on Nov. 30, 2010.

Though it might seem like a little while since that material has been circulated, The Relationship plans to release via a 7” single called Oh Allen through Burger Records in early 2015. “We already started working on our next record. It wasn’t really like ‘make this for Burger Records.’ That just came about while we were already in the process of making our next record and we decided, ‘Well, this is a great opportunity. Let’s release a couple tracks right now to get people back into this band and show the fans that we are doing stuff.’” says Bell.

Unlike with the first album, which The Relationship put out themselves, signing on with Burger Records allows for the release of the new material to possibly reach an even larger, already established fanbase. The Relationship first heard about Burger Records while doing a tour in the Bahamas that had several bands from the label. Back home in LA, The Relationship found that much of what was going on was through label-infused projects that had been created by business interests rather than by musicians searching each other out. Bell says, “A lot of the cooler things that were happening were in Costa Mesa and other places like that, where people [who] are actually from California live.” Through their manager’s and Shaw’s connections, The Relationship got the nod from Burger Records. Bell says “I didn’t think we were cool enough to be on a label like that.”

The Relationship’s new 7” will be featuring the songs “Oh Allen” and “Young Temptations.” Describing the new tunes, Bell says, “Those are high-energy celebration songs—especially ‘Young Temptations.’ [It’s a] celebration of being young. Basically, this is your time to make mistakes, and it really doesn’t matter, ‘cause you have the time to waste.” Speaking further on the number “Oh Allen,” Bell says, “It’s kind of a friendship song about two friends that have grown apart, and you’re kind of waving the flags for the other one. [Me and Shaw] kind of fall in the category of both characters in that song—we could definitely be the person singing or the one being sung about.” It can additionally be described as sticky and catchy, but with a message, according to Bell.

In addition to anticipated release of the Oh Allen 7”, The Relationship are continuing to work on new material for a new album. Speaking of it, Bell says, “We’re pretty much 7/10 of the way recorded for our new record. So we really only have about three more tracks to finish.” When asked if they have a name for the new album, Bell suggests the working title Looks Like We’re Going To Need A Bigger Boat.

The Relationship’s 2015 year is already looking bright. In addition to the release of the 7”, the band is booked to play Salt Lake City during Sundance and, in March, perform at Burgerama Four alongside Weezer. Shaw says, “[we’re] honing a custom set just for Salt Lake.” The set is to include old and new songs from different periods of their illustrious career. Bell says, “What we’re going to play would make the ideal record, the ideal Relationship record. Unfortunately, that’ll never happen. You can only see it live, because a lot of [these songs] have been released already.”

Readers can see The Relationship play on Jan 22 at Diabolical Records for a brief pop-up set, and at the Sundance Film Festival ASCAP Music Café on Jan 23. However, as the pièce de résistance for what will surely be an epic week, readers can catch The Relationship’s full custom set alongside openers Desert Noise and yours truly under the name DJ Nix Beat spinning Burger Records hits at the Urban Lounge on Jan 25. Can you dig it?