The Shivas

Portland, OR

Every working musician has had their life turned upside down by Covid-19. For The Shivas, who had recently released a new LP and normally keep a rigorous touring schedule, it was a particularly screeching halt. “We were about to go to SXSW, the following weekend Treefort, and then we were going to open for our friends’ band on a US tour before going to Europe,” Jared Molyneux remembers. Then everything just stopped. “It forced us to adapt or just quit,” Molyneux says. “The reality is that shows are our job.” In truth, live shows aren’t just The Shivas job: they are the band’s greatest love. Shivas shows are bombastic, explosive and thoroughly communal live rock & roll experiences and in 15 years as a band, The Shivas have grown tight-knit. Guitarist/singer Jared Molyneux, bassist Eric Shanafelt and drummer/singer Kristin Leonard have been with the band since its earliest days; guitarist Jeff City joined in 2017. In 2020 after a settling realization that live music would be grounded for the foreseeable future, The Shivas booked significant studio time with Cameron Spies, who also produced the 2019 Dark Thoughts LP. They also transformed their lives: three of the band’s four members found work with a local nonprofit serving unhoused Portland residents. They became engaged in protests and fundraisers for social justice. They spent a whole summer actually living in Portland, settling into the city they had always called home, but that sometimes felt like a temporary stop between tours. “We got into a more community-minded headspace,” Leonard says. “And that did give us some purpose. It felt cool to see everybody come together to stick up for what they believe in. It feels like an incredibly formative last twelve months.” The album that emerged from this new moment finds The Shivas reborn as a band seasoned and perfectly at home with itself. The Shivas didn’t write or record the album with a particular theme in mind, but one seems to have emerged: where Dark Thoughts was about confronting your demons with fearless self-examination, much of Feels So Good / Feels So Bad is about what happens once you find that peace: how being honest with yourself changes your relationships and your priorities. “I do think it’s about acceptance,” Leonard says. “There’s a weird relaxation that comes with being at peace with things you can’t control or have regrets about.” Whatever growth led the band to Feels So Good / Feels So Bad, plenty of their fascinations remain. They’re still turning love songs into psychedelic, transcendent epics. “Tell Me That You Love Me” subverts doo-wop extravegence and dabbles in Flamenco rhythms. “Rock Me Baby” is a bubblegum anthem soaked in so much reverb that we might just be hearing it from stadium nosebleeds. On the towering and mournful “You Wanna Be My Man,” a slow-burning six-minute shoegaze prayer for a higher sort of love, there is a level of emotional nuance that feels altogether revolutionary. Yes, Feels So Good / Feels So Bad is an album about acceptance. Sometimes that acceptance feels enlightened and sometimes it feels like the end result of a lot of kicking and screaming. The Shivas have adapted in both of those ways. The lessons they learned from having their normal upended, though, have only helped them grow.
The Shivas