Monday, 19 February 2018

Tom Shear (Assemblage 23) Interview

Photo by: Bob Libby.


Assemblage 23 is an electronic music act, based in Seattle. The act was founded in 1988 by Tom Shear. He writes the music and lyrics and records the music himself. Studio albums: Contempt (1999), Failure (2001), Defiance (2002), Storm (2004), Meta (2007), Compass (2009).


Q: When did you first get into music?

A: I had an interest in music from a very young age and used to ask for toy instruments for Christmas all the time.  It wasn't until I was in about the 7th grade that I actually started to teach myself to play an instrument, and I've never looked back since then.

Q: What type of equipment and software do you use to create your music?

A: Too much to list here, but you can find full equipment listings for each album on my website. Basically, everything revolves around a Mac running Logic 9, and I use a variety of hardware and software synthesizers and samplers within that framework.

Q: Which album has been the most difficult to produce?

A: In a sense, each new album is the most challenging, because I always feel like I have to improve on the last one. But production is something I find genuinely fun, so on the other hand, it's not something I've ever really looked at as difficult in the traditional sense.


Photo by: Bob Libby.

Q: Is there a song that is more personal to you than the others?

A: I think "Disappoint" is the obvious one there.


Q: Do you prefer making music or playing live?

A: I much prefer being in the studio.  Playing live has let me see the world and meet a lot of fantastic people, but I'm not necessarily a person who likes being the center of attention, so being on stage feels very unnatural to me.

Q: How do you approach live shows?

A: Well, for me the most important thing is that there is actually stuff happening live. There are an appalling number of bands in this scene that just get onstage and pretend to play, which I think is pretty insulting to the audience. Obviously with music as complex as this, you can't do everything live, but we do what we can so that the people who paid to see a live show are actually seeing a live show.


Photo by: Bob Libby.


Q: How does the city of Seattle inspire your music?

A: I don't know that it does particularly.  Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love this city and there's no place in the world I'd rather live, but that aspect of my life isn't especially influential to me on a musical level.

Q: What are you listening to musically right now?

A: I've been really busy in the studio lately, so I haven't had much time to listen to much music, but I've recently really been digging Maps (late to the game, I know), the new Skream album is really interesting... Also discovered an electronic dub band called 2562 that I've been digging a lot.

Q: What are you most proud of at this point in your career?

A: To be honest, I'm just proud to HAVE a career. I never expected to be able to make my living making music, it always just seemed like a pipe dream, but the fact that enough people out there enjoy what I'm doing that I can make a living doing what I love is pretty awesome.


Photo by: Bob Libby.

Q: What should your fans know about you?

A: I'm not the mopey, depressed guy my song lyrics might lead them to believe I am. Being able to express myself musically is the best kind of therapy there is.
Q: What is next for, Tom Shear?

A: We've got a number of live dates coming up, and if all goes according to plan, I'd like to have a new album out by the end of the year...


Photo by: Bob Libby.

Official Assemblage 23 Facebook Pages -!/pages/Official-Assemblage-23/138651156153800?v=info

- Danny Stygion
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