Shaunt Avakian: Rock and Roll Intensity!
Shaunt Avakian is an 18 year old singer / songwriter from Los Angeles who is ready to break it out into the big leagues! Intensity is the name of his debut EP, a classic rock/punk hybrid that certainly lives up to its name. Shaunt has played The Roxy and The Viper Room – and has worked with the likes of Mike Hansen of Hurricane in his live band! Here is recent chat Highwire Daze had with this super-talent artist on the rise…
What was the name of the very first song you ever wrote, how old were you, and what was that song about?
Frankly, I always had little ideas, doodles and catchphrases that I would sing to myself but just never thought were good enough to put to paper. The first song I genuinely appreciated the process of writing was Love to Love You which ultimately came out as a Frankenstein of various melodies and lyrics that had been compiled in the back of my head. At one point I just went, “to be an artist I must ultimately come through on the most important part, which is eventually releasing and standing by your work, chasing perfection gets boring at one point too.” I was 15 at the time, and it took a while for that song to reach the studio.
Where are you based out of and what is your local music scene like?
I am based in Los Angeles. To be more specific the San Fernando Valley area. The live music scene tends to be on a downward trend right now. Getting people to come out to shows is frustrating at times, but I love to perform so I do what I have to do to get better at it. Rock music in specific, whether it be in the form of Hard Rock, Punk, Metal or Alternative has become less and less popular lately, but I don’t find that to be bad at all. Instead of people writing music to chase success or fame, people are finally starting to take the music more seriously as an art form, releasing music that they genuinely love to write and play, rather than having it please the built-in audience of the genre, which is slowly diminishing.
Is there any overall story or concept behind the EP title Intensity?
I chose the project title Intensity because it fit my state of mind at that period in my life. It touched upon the aggressive and passionate nature of the songs and the entire delivery of them on the album. People also seem to comment on my intense nature quite a lot, so it just seemed like a no brainer!
Select two songs from Intensity and what inspired the lyrics.
So it seems like the song that garnered the most attention lyrically is Rats in the Attic. That song really takes a very cynical approach to modern life from the perspective of a restless mind that’s constantly racing at a thousand miles an hour. Many people like to write off the obsessed as insane or deranged, rather the philistine simply cannot comprehend the sheer passion and drive that the obsessed are both gifted with and cursed with. The song is about not caring about what those around you have to say about your drive and how you come to terms with it.
The Runaway is your typical cheesy, corny, teenie-weenie, running-away-with-your-high-school-sweetie tune. The only problem is, it kind of isn’t. Most of young romance is mired with disappointment in the end, and is based off of a series of let-downs an old pal of mine had in an experience quite similar to one in the song.
What could one expect from a live Shaunt Avakian show?
I always go hard every single time I perform, whether it’s a backyard, a small bar or a landmark venue, I always give it all I got. I’ve enjoyed performing in front of people since a young age and I feed off of a good, responsive crowd which I’d honestly like to have more of. Getting people to shows can be hard as a developing artist with a following that definitely needs a lot of growing, but I feel like my live shows definitely are a selling point. There’s nothing more fun than being able to have a career in entertainment and there’s nothing more satisfying than a happy crowd.
What has it been like to play legendary places such as The Viper Room and The Roxy?
It’s always nice to play a historic venue and grace the stage that many rock giants of the past performed on. But frankly, if the crowd’s not into it, it’s not worth it for me. As long as I have a responsive crowd, I’m a happy camper. That being said, there definitely is an energy in those kinds of rooms that you do feed off of, so it does push me harder to give a better show!
You have worked with Mike Hansen of Hurricane in your live band. How did he become involved and what was it like working with him?
By trade, I am a guitarist and a vocalist. But I’ve always had a thing for the drums, I love researching about vintage drum gear (I’ve been going through a Rogers phase recently) and am very particular about the type of player I’ve always wanted behind me. I always loved the greats of jazz drumming and like an approach that’s fast, aggressive, yet flowing and complementary to the music. Although I have a lot of young drummer friends, Mike was introduced to me by an acquaintance and when I heard he was interested in the project, of course I dove in! He definitely brings a lot of experience to the table. A great mentor and an even better human being!
If you could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Nirvana, that one’s a no-brainer. I definitely appreciate their humility and artistically virtuous approach to their music. They didn’t care about their music’s audience, they were just three guys who did what they did best.
If your music was a donut, what kind would it be and why?
Krispy-Kreme glazed. It’s hot and fresh and ready to be consumed by all. Nothing too fancy, no gimmicks, true simplicity at its finest. A freshly glazed donut beats all the rainbow sprinkles in the world. Now how abouts we get me a sponsorship going??
What’s up next for you?
I have to work on creating more content for my YouTube and social media links! I’ve been studying jazz guitar at a local college and am trying to improve my fundamentals every day. Obviously the goal is to open for bigger acts and get my name established. I don’t have time to play games with my career anymore, I’m charging full-force and doing what I have to do to get out there more.
Any final words of wisdom?
I’m only eighteen, what wisdom are we talking about? I mean, don’t eat the yellow snow…
(Interview by Ken Morton – Photo by Alex Solca)
Shaunt Avakian on Facebook