Screaming At Demons’ Shim Moore + Chris Clemence Talk Homeless Rock Stars Project + More
Get ready for Screaming At Demons, the new band featuring former Sick Puppies vocalist Shim Moore, playing alongside guitarist Russell Ali and bassist Chris Clemence. The band is launching their career by tying in with a charitable effort, Homeless Rock Stars, founded by rock photographer Nigel Skeet. Skeet has seen an idea in which he provided homeless people with a makeover, a rock and roll photo shoot and interview and assisted in helping them find their way back from being homeless become a well-received program. He contacted Shim Moore and Screaming At Demons are releasing a theme song called "Rockstar" in association with the Homeless Rock Stars program.
Loudwire had a chance to speak with Shim Moore and Chris Clemence about their new band Screaming At Demons and also talked in depth about getting involved in the Homeless Rock Stars project. Check out the chat below:
Shim, Screaming At Demons is your follow up after your time with Sick Puppies. Can you tell me a little bit about where the band started from?
Shim Moore: Well I met Russell [Ali] at the very beginning of my time in L.A., like within the first week and we hung out after a show and he said to me, "We're going to do something one day." We hadn't heard each other play or write, but he said, "We're going to do something one day. Let's do it." We've been friends ever since, for the last 10 years and I went off with the Puppies and did a bunch of stuff and he's been with a bunch of different acts -- pop stuff and rock stuff and heavy stuff -- and we basically reconnected last year and started writing songs. And when the Puppies split, it just sort of made sense that we should try to churn out a new project. But it wasn't until Chris [Clemence] joined, and the Homeless Rock Stars video was being made around that time that it all sort of fell into place.
After Sick Puppies, it's gotta be kind of cool to start with a blank slate. This project could be whatever you wanted it to be.
SM: Well I think we're only just starting to crack the direction musically since Chris joined only recently, but the way that it sort of got started was really the Homeless Rock Stars song and video and everything. That sort of hit the gas for the band. When you're sort of writing songs for an album, you can sort of take your time and you don't have a record label. We're sort of our own record label at the moment and there's no deadline. But when Nigel Skeet [the creator of the Homeless Rock Stars project] called me and said, "Can you write this song?," and then we had a video all of a sudden cause I went up and shot video, then it was like, "Okay, let's put it out" and then these deadlines start to happen. So that sort of became how we started to drop this thing. The first song is a really good beginning to the band, but it's not the full sound of the band. It's the first step in the history of the band and what we're working on now is the next two songs and they're gonna be gradually released after "Rockstar" is out there. That's gonna help define the sound. We're still playing around with it a little bit, but it's definitely gonna be a big, big sound."
So the Homeless Rock Stars project is what helped jumpstart the band in a sense. What is the relationship with photographer Nigel Skeet? How long have you known him and what drew you to the project?
SM: Nigel and I have known each other for a long time, almost as long as Russell and I have known each other. Russell and Nigel go back as well. We all sort of kicked around with the same people in L.A. So Nigel called me and he by accident kind of created Homeless Rock Stars. He had this idea of giving homeless people in the community a new look with hair and makeup and a photo shoot just to kind of break down the stigma that appeared in Redding, because everyone said it was a problem. You've got to be careful of the homeless problem. But Nigel had worked on Skid Row so he didn't really buy any of that. And he really didn't like the bullying effect that was going on in the community. So he just was doing an interview with the local paper about it in the studio and the guy asked if there was anything else he should know and Nigel told him, "Yeah, I'm thinking about giving homeless people hair and make-up and a rock and roll photo shoot. I was just thinking about that." The next day it was on the front of the paper: "Rock and Roll Celebrity Photographer Changes Homeless People" and suddenly it's on the front of the newspaper and Nigel's got to ante up and do it. He was just kind of thinking about it at the time.
So he got a bunch of people from the local mission, more than he could handle, and suddenly the community exploded with enthusiasm and they wanted to do a gallery showing of it and it blew up online and the newspapers and TV called again, so he called me and said, "I think I found something. Do you think you could write a rock and roll theme song for this Homeless Rock Stars thing I've created?" I said, "Of course." So we talked about it and I basically just took a lot of what our first conversation was and threw it in the song.
And once that was done, he told me about the events and how the events are very good vibes and possibly change people's perspective and possibly change their lives and I asked if I could come up and film it and turn it into a video like I did with the "Free Hugs" video [for "All the Same"]. And once I got up there, it all just sort of changed. I got involved with the charity, I got involved with people that were there and the video was done pretty quickly and we started showing it around and everyone wanted to hear these stories.
Then it became how do we release the song. And we could do the usual thing, but putting it on iTunes and Amazon, there is a little bit of red tape that I wasn't really well versed in. And we want to be donating part of this to the charity anyway, so why don't we just sell this our own way through the charity. So basically we give the song away to people who donate to the charity and we partnered up with Mobile Cause, which will be the distribution platform. So people will watch the video and at the end of the video they'll receive instructions on how to text to a donation to a specific phone number and then when they donate to the charity, we back an MP3 of the song directly to their phone. At that point, Chris was in the band and he really helped get it all in line and the ducks in a row to help get it out there.
Chris Clemence: We've also partnered up with VEVO for the release, so they're going to promote and help to get it out there.
Chris, Shim went down and shot some of the photo shoots and helped craft the video. I'm sure you've seen it at this point. What was your reaction to what Shim had filmed?
CC: It's amazing. Everyone's gonna get a better perspective and take on the homeless community and really relate to them as individuals through their story, as it should be. A lot of times people walk by homeless people on the street and they don't really pay much attention or care. But this brings out the truth that everyone does have a story that deserves to be heard. But it's important to give these people a voice and help them get back to where they need to be.
And Shim, throughout your career, we've seen the humanity, whether it be the "Free Hugs" campaign or the outreach to fans to now this. Can you speak about what you personally got out of seeing this campaign come together?
SM: Well, I'll tell you man. What it really does is it humbles you. Above all else, it humbles you. We live in a crazy world, but we live in L.A. and no matter where you live [in the U.S.], you're in a first world country. You're living with rent and a house and food and electricity and all that stuff and we still find stuff to complain about. Sometimes you find your things to bitch about, but you still have a roof and a fridge and food and all that stuff.
The thing I find amazing is the transition that occurs. At these Homeless Rock Stars events, most people walk in and they get their hair and make-up and sit down and have some food and they get their rock and roll interview, exactly like what a rock and roll photo shoot for a rock band would be. But what they do after is bring in members of the community like the mayor, the fire chief and they come in expecting to see a bunch of homeless people and they see these good looking, civilized people sitting down and having a meal and they say, "Where are the homeless people?" That immediately starts to break down the barriers with these people. You're looking at someone who is completely realized now. They feel good about themselves, they've been validated and someone has taken the time to give them hair and make-up and someone's taking their photo. That s--t never happens to them. And you hear their story about how after they're leaving here, they're going back under the bridge.
That's why this process is getting such results because once you meet these people and you extract their humanity, you just want to see them continue their journey and realize themselves. The humble part of it is realizing it doesn't take much to be happy. The makeover is great, but just the meal and a conversation is more than these people are getting most of the time. Just sit down and talk with them and you actually realize who they are.
CC: And I think too a big part of that is that the hair and the make-up really gives them confidence to feel like they can do what they've always aspired to. You're going to see in the video, this first Homeless Rock Star is this girl Jessie Valley and she was living in a tent in the woods addicted to meth and had a really tough time. But after speaking with Nigel and doing her interview, they found out she had an interest in cooking and they set her up with a 5-Star sous chef and she now has an apprenticeship and she's the official caterer of Homeless Rock Stars. She's well on her way back to being a full member of society and not being homeless.
It's a very, very good thing you're doing guys. I want to transition a bit and ask about "Rockstar," the song. From what snippet I heard, it sounds like a great rock stomp of a song…
SM: Well the process was pretty quick. I took what we had and re-worked the lyrics so that it would fit for Homeless Rock Stars, but I remember thinking when we were coming into it, I didn't have a verse, a melody or any lyrics for it. But when the studio came free it was like, "Okay, let's go write the song." I just wrote it that morning and it was the same way when I shot the video. I didn't know what I was going to do. I just knew that I was going to shoot everything and figure it out and it was going to work. Just like the "Free Hugs" thing, I just knew it was going to work. I just knew it was going to happen and I basically got up that morning and wrote the verses and wrote the bridge that Russell was going to do. So the song came together in this very holistic, organic sort of way.
I knew what the song needed to say because of my conversations with Nigel and we threw it together very quick. You know we still don't have a drummer yet, so we just threw down some drums real quick and Chris came in and laid down the bass and it came together really quick. That's the thing about rock and roll, when it's just happening you just play it out and it doesn't have to be perfect. But it happens to sound fantastic, but we weren't trying to make it perfect. It just ended up being this little perfect moment in time.
I know as musicians you're always studying and having a chance to play with Russell and Chris, Shim what have you picked up along the way?
SM: Well Chris doesn't know how to play bass. I'm kind of covering up for him. [laughs]
CC: I'm actually an excellent trumpet and skin flute player. [laughs]
SM: Yeah, really good at that skin flute. But Chris is a really amazing addition to the band because he's trained. I'm not trained, I just sort of do what I do. I wish I was cause it would probably make me a lot better, but he's able to pick up the bass and things come out of his frickin' bass … We were just sitting around the other day and he played something awesome and I was asking if it was another band's song and he's like, "No I just made it up." He just plays amazing s--t, the things that come out of him.
And the same thing with Russell. He's an alien, a f--king alien. I mean he plays every instrument and produces the s--t and he's been doing it since he was born. I think he came out of the womb with a guitar strap on.
CC: Russell's a genius man.
SM: He really is. I've been lucky to know that about Russell for some time, but things really came together once I came back into town after the deal with the Puppies because I'd learned a lot. I sort of had to catch up to Russell cause he was already that good … and then once we came together not quite equals, but more as equals, then the band really started to flow. So basically Chris is awesome and Russell's an alien.
I know you're working on music. Can you give us an update on where things stand? Will there be an album or singles?
CC: Right now we're focusing on singles. Right now we have "Rockstar" coming out as our first single and then we have a couple of other singles lined up that will hopefully lead up to an EP, but right now the band is just focusing on songs and putting out a song at a time.
Our thanks to Screaming At Demons' Shim Moore and Chris Clemence for the interview. There will be a Screaming At Demons release party for "Rockstar" and the Homeless Rock Stars charity taking place at The Attic in Hollywood, Calif. this Tuesday (Oct. 6). Keep up with Screaming At Demons via their website and learn more about Homeless Rock Stars here.