When Tommy Stinson played on The Replacements’ 1980 album, Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash, at the age of 13, he was considered freakishly young to be in a band signed to a record label.
Now, as 50-year-old Stinson prepares for a Friday “Cowboys in the Campfire” tour performance at Barno’s Backyard Ballroom in Eugene, the performance veteran will be joined by relatable trendsetting openers: Vivian and Midge Ramone, sisters who recently moved from Kent, Ohio, to Eugene. They are currently 19 and 16 years old, respectively, and together they are ShiSho, a self-described comedy-folk-punk band.
Armed with an acoustic guitar and an accordion, the duo already have 12 years of experience to draw from. ShiSho’s first record label offer came from Filthy Little Angels Records when Midge was 5. Needless to say, she didn’t know what a record label was.
ShiSho has always had to be a team onstage. The sisters’ first concert together was in a cornfield at the Cornerstone Music Festival in Bushnell, Illinois. Bands tossed their names into a hat, and performance slots were raffled. When 5-year-old Midge found out they would be performing, her initial reaction was not one of excitement:
“Oh my gosh. I’m 5 and she’s 9,” Midge recalled. “So we got sunglasses to wear, so if we forgot the lyrics we could close our eyes and try to remember them. It was in the shade so it looked kinda dumb.”
“There’s also that panic of ‘Oh my gosh. Am I allowed to be up here?’” Vivian said. “It’s weird. Mostly just a mental block of panic. But it was super fun, obviously. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be up here 12 years later.”
Midge admits that she struggled to feel comfortable on stage for years. Now that she has learned how to separate reality from her stage persona, her confidence has grown.
“Stage presence definitely makes or breaks a show,” Midge said. “When Midge is on the stage, she can do whatever she wants. You have to separate yourself from how you are in real life.”
“She honestly has become a beast onstage,” Vivian said. Midge shyly laughed and smiled back at her older sister, a far different response than she may have given onstage.
ShiSho’s songs incorporate a bit of twisted imagery into seemingly innocent sounding songs. For example, “The Dead Milkmen Song” (feat. The Dead Milkmen) begins with a standard commute to work, but after hitting a punk rock girl, Vivian is warned “My friend, you’re screwed for all eternity.” The day grows continually strange as Vivian colors outside the lines of a Methodist coloring book (“Oh well I hope God wasn’t watching that time,” they sing) and their house burns down. For the climax, they go on an arson streak at a shopping mall.
ShiSho was almost forced to leave a Girl Scouts of America convention after performing “America Will Punch You,” a song about America freaking punching people.
Notably, ShiSho’s “It’s Coming To Get You — The Evil Clown Song” details the saga of fighting an evil clown doll that came to life and tried to kill them. After living in fear of the dreaded Christmas gift for years, the song details the night the clown came to life and tried to kill the sisters. Though written in 2011, the song may be altering society today:
“ShiSho unintentionally inspired a clown movement,” Vivian said about the song’s relation to the current “creepy clown” trend sweeping the nation. The sisters both agree that if they saw a clown in real life, they probably would just run.
In 2007, when Midge and Vivian were 7 and 10 years old, they began Magnetic Bunny Records, a record label for musicians under age 18. The goal of the label is to spread awareness for talented young artists making music.
“There are so many kids who are in authentic bands who are making really, really good music, and you just don’t hear about them,” Vivian said.
ShiSho is a project that set on having fun and making music. The sisters admit that they are close and rarely have quarrels that aren’t settled by the day’s end. Together on stage, they form a united front that aims to entertain as much as possible.
“I’m not in a band because I want to see myself on billboards or anything like that,” Vivian said. “I’m not in it for the money. Anyone who’s in the music industry for the money is absolutely crazy. I’m really in it to make friends, meet people and have fun doing something that I really enjoy doing.”
“I’m in it for the money,” Midge joked. “Gotta pay for college.”
Tickets for ShiSho’s performance with Tommy Stinson are available from Ticketfly.
Watch ShiSho perform “The Dead Milkmen Song” below: