Coyote Shivers is so many things rolled up into one: a punk rocker, a songwriter, a guitarist, a producer, an actor.
He “Gives It to Ya. Twice.” on his self-produced, two-disc Foodchain album, released Sept. 14. The first disc, titled “One Sick Pup,” finds the Canadian native plugged in for such electrified-rock tracks as “Secretly Jealous,” “Plus One” and “I Wanna Remember Tonite.” On the second disc, “From My Bedroom, To Yours,” he’s in acoustic mode, revisiting such cuts as “Sugarhigh,” which he performed as Berko in the film “Empire Records.”
Before he made a name for himself on the rock-club scene and in Hollywood (he also appeared in “Johnny Mnemonic”), Shivers produced two albums for Shadowy Men On a Shadowy Planet – including “Having an Average Weekend,” the group’s theme song for the classic TV series “The Kids in the Hall.”
In a recent e-mail interview, Shivers touches on his new album, his influences – namely Joey Ramone – and his feelings on always being on the brink of stardom.
Pause & Play – What was your manifesto for this album, a goal you wanted to achieve?
Shivers – “Manifesto is a pretty heavy word. I just wanted to put some more songs out really.”
P&P – “Gives It to Ya. Twice.” revisits a few past tracks; do you have plans for an album of new material?
Shivers – “Well, I’ll probably always have plans to put out new material. Most everything on this new CD is new material, with the exception of a couple of songs that were on ‘1/2 A Rock & Roll Record,’ which was a five-song EP meant to be the preclusion to this CD anyway, because it was taking too long for this CD to be put together and I wanted something out in the meantime. There’s also two songs on the acoustic disc which have been released before, but I included them because they’ve never been recorded acoustically and I thought some fans would get a kick out of them. I did anyway.”
P&P – It’s 1976, and there’s a kid sitting at home in Toronto when a friend stops by with a Ramones album. Did that kid change overnight? … and what was it like for that kid to eventually meet the Ramones?
Shivers – “Did you make that up, or did you actually read me saying that somewhere? Cuz that’s exactly what happened. Yes, the kid changed overnight. Or more specifically in about three minutes. I didn’t have any older brothers or sisters so I didn’t really know there was anything out there that wasn’t on AM radio. It blew my mind just to know it existed! Later that night, I remember lying in bed thinking, being fully aware that my life had just changed. Actually a little afraid, telling myself that even if I wanted to, there’s no going back. I can’t pretend I didn’t hear that.”
P&P – For several years, you were a producer and a guitarist for others. What convinced you to strike out on your own?
Shivers – “This may sound strange, but I only wanted to play guitar in a great rock ‘n’ roll band. I always thought I’d find the perfect singer to start the perfect band with, and it didn’t happen, and then eventually one day I was like ‘Damn, am I gonna have to do it MYSELF??’ ”
P&P – Is it frustrating that for years people have been saying, “He’s going to be huge,” and yet the big splash hasn’t arrived.
Shivers – “I don’t really know. I’m actually not a big fan of being super famous, so I kind of prefer just doing things a bit below the radar. But sometimes something will come up that I’d like to do and someone with a ‘bigger’ name will end up doing it. So it could come in handy. But generally speaking I prefer doing things at my own pace.”
P&P – What keeps you going, what keeps you inspired after all these years?
Shivers – “God, I don’t know. I’m typical of artists in that no matter how happy things are, I’m always a bit tortured, so that kind of keeps me going I guess.”
P&P – Tell us about your next movie, “Girl in 3D.”
Shivers – “It’s a very strange film. I play the lead role, and when they found me they said ‘Perfect!’ which I’m still not sure is a compliment or not, because the film is about a very twisted guy. Very psycho-sexual withdark humor. A bit edgy for even art-house crowds, but then kids seem to love it. It just won ‘Best Thriller’ at the Los Angeles International Film & Video Festival, and I believe it was picked up for Japanese distribution. Waiting to see who in America will have the balls to pick it up.”
P&P – What’s the first record you ever bought?
Shivers – “The first record was a single, when I was about like 6 years old. It was ‘Surfin Bird’ by the Trashmen. And at some point I also got ‘Leader of the Pack’ by the Shangri-Las, and ‘Saturday Night’ by the Bay City Rollers. But they were just things that I got the way a child gets things, they weren’t really the same as when I first understood rock ‘n’ roll. I didn’t buy an actual album until 1976 when I got the Ramones first, and a KISS album at the same time. That’s when things changed.”
P&P – What’s the first concert you ever went to?
Shivers – “Ramones. remember being way too young but convincing my parents that I was going with ‘a friend’s father,’ which was a lie. All my mother knew is that they all had the same last name so I think she thought they were like the Jackson 5 or something. I came home way late, and the next morning the paper arrived at our front door with news about the ‘Punk Rock Concert’ on the front page. She wasn’t happy.”
P&P – What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Shivers – “Musician.”
ON THE WEB: www.coyoteshivers.com.
BWF (before we forget): The Coyote Shivers album discography – “Coyote Shivers” (Mutiny, 1996); “Just Be Friends” EP (1999); “1/2 A Rock & Roll Record” EP (The Orchard, 1999); “Gives It To Ya. Twice.” (Foodchain, 2004).