The Shivas set up their gear in the practice space referred to as The Moon Base. Their playful banter ranges from Dirty Dancing references and jokes about the blow-up doll by the ceiling and its deflated male companion, to speculations on where missing equipment has ended up.
Large Christmas lights are strung up inside, crisscrossing the ceiling in all their festive glory — one gets the impression the lights will still be there long after the winter snow has melted. Various instruments decorate the walls. Amps, hand drums and cables are strewn throughout the room, and the concrete floor is covered by worn out rugs.
The Moon Base, a disconnected garage repurposed by the owner of the home next door, looks like a house from the outside, but is really a communal practice space. The three-piece psychedelic rock group The Shivas were the first band to use this space, which they now share with two other bands. They’ve been practicing here for more than two years.
The Shivas formed in 2006. Eric Shanafelt played percussion in high school band, and Jared Molyneux started playing guitar at age five. Their first tour took place up and down the west coast in 2008, the summer before Molyneux’s senior year in high school. His parents drove the boys and also let them practice in their living room during the band’s early years.
“We’re really fortunate to have parents that believe in what we’re doing, and they’re really supportive of it,” said Kirsten Leonard, the band’s drummer.
Leonard started out as a friend who would occasionally provide background vocals for The Shivas. After the band’s previous drummer, Molyneux’s brother, Colby, left the band, Molyneux and Shanafelt taught Leonard drums to fill the vacant seat. She’s been the band’s drummer since 2009.
The three members have known each other since middle school in Vancouver, Washington. As The Shivas, they have put out a total of six albums and two 7” EPs. Their albums feature guest musicians which creates a more complex and layered sound than their live performances. Except for occasional performances with extra members, the band plays as a three piece.
“Logistically, we like to do a lot of stuff and stay busy,” Molyneux said. “It’s a lot harder to get seven people to Europe than it is to get three … and so we just prefer to keep it stripped down, and I think that fits the aesthetic too; we just play simple rock and roll music. We don’t need an orchestra for it.”
When not touring or recording albums, The Shivas spend their time in Portland practicing and planning upcoming shows, as well as working on material for the members’ additional music groups.
Now that The Shivas have started playing primarily outside of Portland, these side projects provide a way for the members to continue performing in their home city. Shanafelt and Molyneux are in Homies, a darker shoegaze-esque band, where Molyneux plays drums and Shanafelt bass. Shanafelt is in another, groovier, psychedelic rock band called Headband and Leonard is starting a new group called Tall Boys.
“The Shivas used to play three shows every week in Portland,” Leonard said. “Now we’re at the point where we’re kind of scaling it back a bit and going out of town a lot more, and just working on bigger stuff. If you want to play a show, got to find a way to do it.”
The Shivas just finished recording and are getting ready to release their seventh album, which is not yet titled, and are working on another for release in 2018.