JamSphere’s Twenty-Question Interview With Rick Shaffer





1. Where did the songs on your eighth solo album, “STOLEN MOMENTS” come from, have you been storing them away and waiting for the right moment, or did inspiration suddenly hit you?

Rick Shaffer: All my albums are written in the moment prior or during the current recording. Although the track “Other One” was a lyrical idea kicking around a while. The musical idea of “Other One” was to wrap Neil Young’s “Cortez The Killer” around Television’s “Marquee Moon” guitar atmospherics. The overall song material is written in a stream of consciousness.

2. You were joined by Teddy Rixon (bass) and Stevie Carlisle (drums) on your new album, how did that affect the writing and recording process, were you in control the whole time, or was it more of a process where everyone left their mark?

Rick Shaffer: The rhythm section rolls with the songs presented, they play what they’re feeling and we take the song and sounds to where the production is realized. Teddy comes from the Bill Wyman / Ronnie Lane school of bass, and Stevie is a Nick Knox / Mo Tucker guy, and both are perfect for this album. We recorded twenty-two tracks and put together the ten that made the most sense continuity wise. Producing the material myself gives me the freedom to get the tracks just how I imagined them in my head. It’ all about groove, vibes and tones. 

3. Okay, so we’ve discussed how the album was made, but for someone who is sitting on the fence, why should they grab themselves a copy of “STOLEN MOMENTS”?

Rick Shaffer: There’s no sitting on the fence. If you want some raw, aggressive, real rock-n-roll then jump on board. If you’re looking for the over produced, over thought out and, to these ears, boring, corporate projects, I’m not your guy.

4. We always like to ask which artist and bands influenced you to pick up the electric guitar in the first place and who is inspiring you today?

Rick Shaffer: A bunch of artists, but early Stones, which led to the blues masters like Muddy Waters, Slim Harpo, Fred Mc Dowell and the great Magic Sam. Later the sixties and seventies rockers Bowie / Ronson, Iggy and the Stooges, Free , Lou Reed , and Mitch Ryder. A guy that I’ve been listening to lately is Bo Carter and the Mississippi Sheiks.  I always focus on what I would call the “long game” artists like Link Wray, Van Morrison, Iggy Pop and Muddy Waters, people that continue to keep working on their sound.  The production sound was a interest also, like the Phil Spector Gold Star recordings, Chess Records, Motown and lots of the indie 60’s garage sounds. 

5. Was there a definitive moment when you knew you wanted to be a guitarist?

Rick Shaffer: I think it was more of a cumulative addiction, always tone, hooks and guitar riffs, hearing Keith Richards “Satisfaction,” B.B. King’s “Live at the Regal,” Peter Green’s “English Rose,” and the wonderfully distorted Link Wray’s “Rumble.” 

6. Do you remember your very first guitar and do you still own it?

Rick Shaffer: My first guitar was purchased from the Sears and Roebuck department store and was an acoustic Silvertone for $25 bucks which led to my first electric “Danelectro Longhorn” like Link Wray played. Unfortunately, I do not own them today.

7. Your first gig: disaster, success, or long forgotten?

Rick Shaffer: I still remember the noise, the beat and crowd. I loved it and thought this is for me. How good the performance was — I don’t remember any negative crowd response, or being hit with anything, and there was a lot of dancing, so it was a success.  

8. What’s your favorite bit of musical gear in your collection, and what’s the latest addition you’ve made, or are wanting to make?

Rick Shaffer: My 1960’s Framus guitars are favorites, along with my 1961 Supro Ozark.  So it comes down to a few to get the colors and character on each song. The Premier Reverberation unit and the Mahoney Cal Tone fuzz pedal are essentials. Two new important additions on this album are a 1971 Framus “Caravelle” and  ‘Embargo” pedal designed by Ant Farm Amplification that’s a take on the original Rangemaster. And I’ve been looking for a Hornby Skewes treble booster.

9. It may seem like an odd question to ask as you’re still very much in the prime of your career, but what do you look back on as your proudest moment so far?

Rick Shaffer: The work my partner Bruce Cohen and I did working with director Michael Mann, and playing live the original line-up of The Reds on tour with Blondie, Police, The Ramones, and Joe Jackson. 

10. To get back to the album, “STOLEN MOMENTS,” when you aimed to recreate The Stooges “Fun House” production style in the studio, was it because you wanted to sound authentic, or were you trying to avoid an ultra-clean modern production sound?

Rick Shaffer: I didn’t aim for the “Fun House” production, as much as using it for inspiration to my own sound. It came through a bit in the recording process, because generally my production has a heavy lean on distortion and is consistently anything but clean. I think recording live on a Scully 280 gives that early 70’s sound, and on tracks “Time Stays” and “Call My Name” we switched to a Ampex 4-track for that early Stones / Pretty Things sound. For me, the tracks “All I Want,” “Modern Lie,” “Other One,” “One In Five” and “Danger Awaits” really come the closest to The Stooges “Fun House” sound.

11. In the UK and Europe music magazines and websites they’re incredibly pessimistic. After another year of declining sales of guitar music, everyone seems ready to proclaim the death of rock?

Rick Shaffer: Fuck em, there will always be rockers. What did that old Neil Young say? “Rock and roll can never die.”

12. As a great guitarist in your own right, and as a former member of a highly successful act how do you respond when you hear commentators talking that way about guitar-based music?

Rick Shaffer: They’re morons that need something to write about and just show their intelligence, or lack there of.   

13. Is there an artist whose music you love that might surprise our readers?

Rick Shaffer: Sixties artist Laura Nyro, because her lyrics, imagery and intensity is a beautiful thing.

14. Is there a guitar or bit of equipment you remember being excited about buying in the moment, but now look back and just shake your head?

Rick Shaffer:  That would be a sixties Gibson SG Standard that didn’t have enough bite for me.

15. In your eyes, what makes a great guitarist?

Rick Shaffer: Tone, memorable riffs and songwriting. Jimi Hendrix is one of the few artists that had the whole package.

16. Time to annoy our guitar obsessed readers: the best guitar in the world is?

Rick Shaffer: The all purpose Fender Stratocaster . God bless Leo Fender.

17. What is the best piece of advice regarding the music business that you actually followed so far, and what is the advice you didn’t follow, but now know for sure that you should have?

Rick Shaffer: Play it like you feel it, never give up, block out the noise and write your own material. The worst decision ever was A&M Records insisting The Reds use The William Morris agency to book our live dates. Because it meant firing Ian Copeland, a person we really loved, who was our original booking agent.  A bad moral and business mistake I felt at the time, but didn’t follow through on because of the record label agenda.

18. How would you personally describe your music, in the length of a Tweet, to someone who has never heard your stuff before?   

Rick Shaffer: I don’t tweet, but I am on Facebook (facebook.com/TheRedsMusic).

19. Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites, as fundamental to your career, and indie music in general, or do you think it has only produced a mass of mediocre “copy-and-paste” artists, who flood the web, making it difficult for real talent to emerge?

Rick Shaffer: Yes, they’re good tools to reach a larger audience, especially to connect with fans. Real talent will emerge in the long run, there has always been “short  timers.”

20. What is the one thing you have never ever been willing, or prepared to do, in your quest to sustain a successful musical career?

Rick Shaffer: Sell out the music for the bucks, or for anybody.

Rick Jamm — JamSphere Magazine


Rick Shaffer’s Epic Career Continues With More Raw Garage Blues Music

Staying in  the music game for a long time is a tremendous feat.  There are ups and downs that could defeat any person without a strong resolve to succeed.  Even when things go great there is always another corner to turn that could end it all.  This is the reason we have such high regard to Rick Shaffer.

The singer and guitarist began his musical journey in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s with the Philadelphia band The Reds®.  After a stint with A&M Records that saw some great success, including live performances with such luminaries as The Police, Joe Jackson, Blondie, and The Ramones, the band went independent to release a few more records.  It was a wild ride.  In 2010 Shaffer started a solo career with his debut record Necessary Illusion focusing on his garage and blues guitar style.  His early roots remained in the sound and caught the attention of new fans.

June 2015 Shaffer release his sixth solo venture Jitterbug Shake.  The ten track album sticks with the garage blues sound and also touches on his early R&B/rock n roll influences.  The opener “Got To Know” sets the vibe right away with an indie underground recording style that seems to max out each instrumental track.  “Going Strong” shows off a darker side that grinds along through guttural vocals accompanied with peppy harmonies.  The guitars push ahead with some impressive solo work thrown in.  The blues sound takes the lead on “Confidence Man” bringing back the sounds of influences like Bo Diddley and Slim Harpo.  This song would fit in well in any of the last six decades.  The record closes with “Last Of Me” that seems to blend all of these styles into one big bowl of awesomeness.  The grit of the song is felt down to the bone and I don’t think anyone could resist having their head bopping along to the mass of beautiful beats intertwined within.

  • Indie Band Guru

Download a FREE mp3 of “SO TIRED” on SoundCloudhttps://soundcloud.com/tarockmusic/so-tired-rick-shaffer

Photograph: “The Harmonica” ©2015 Theresa Marchione

“Some artists seem to operate as if they have some kind of dynamo inside them — Rick Shaffer is no exception . . .”

Some artists seem to operate as if they have some kind of dynamo inside them. Rick Shaffer —the guitarist from The Reds® who were active way back when — is no exception, with his energetic music that transcends any particular time.

On the one hand, it could be easily assumed that Jitterbug Shake is a classic album from the past, while on the other hand there is much about it that suggests it is in fact a modern record with one eye over its shoulder to the past. In a way, that is exactly what is going on, as Shaffer certainly has experience that stretches back to a time when music was breaking new ground, and yet here something about it still seems fresh and exciting.

‘Got To Know’ opens the album with real gusto, the roomy echo on the guitar creating a really classic vibe, while Shaffer’s snarling vocal adds bite to the track. ‘Sure Thing’ sways and swaggers like a drunken uncle at a wedding, all clattering bass notes and slurred words, and ‘Going Strong’ really draws on a classic punk sound with its ringing guitars and cheeky tambourine. In the main, Jitterbug Shake is an album that shows little sign of relenting or stepping away from its rambunctious sound – ‘So Tired’ thunders and rolls along with guitars that twang with a gloriously fifties feel, much like ‘Just A Little’ does, although on that particular track there is more of a sing-song feel, as though Shaffer has channeled memories of nursery rhymes into his writing. As such, the album manages to become a kind of audio time machine. At times, it’s as if we’ve been transported to Lou’s Diner from Back to the Future, where we can join in with the other hip teenagers as they tuck in to their milkshakes and put songs on the jukebox. ‘It’s True’ encapsulates this aesthetic perfectly, with vocals that veer towards a more aggressive Elvis Presley and guitars that are drenched in a vintage spring reverb, while ‘Confidence Man’ goes for more of a slower tempo as is slouches along with hints of Americana.JitterbugShake_Front

Throughout Jitterbug Shake, Rick Shaffer is certainly consistent, it’s an album that doesn’t try to reinvent anything, nor does it make the listener have to try too hard by coping with any strange or alternative methods – this is pure rock music perfectly designed for anyone who wants to have an experience where they are given a vintage feel, with some nostalgia thrown in at the same time. Shaffer’s wealth of experience as a rocker really shows, and these songs manage to let the listener know that they are in good hands, that the music has been carefully crafted, and that this has been made by someone who has been through several decades of music taking various twists and turns throughout the development of the genre. As a result, the sheer consistency might mean that for some, it’s just too much of the same thing throughout the album. But on closer inspection, each track manages to have its own distinct tone and feel, all the while staying true to a very specific aesthetic that runs all the way through like words through a stick of rock. And rock would certainly be the operative word here.

  • Chris Marsh • July 25, 2015

Download a FREE mp3 of “SO TIRED” on SoundCloudhttps://soundcloud.com/tarockmusic/so-tired-rick-shaffer




The Faulkner Review: “So Tired is so Stonesy they’ll be disappointed not to have written it themselves . . .”


Rick Shaffer is a singer and songwriter, as well as the founding member of the Philadelphia based band The Reds®. Their eponymous debut album led to live appearances with groups like The Police, Blondie, The Ramones and Public Image, amongst others. On a different label they released several critically acclaimed albums, which led to working with director Michael Mann, who incorporated their songs into the show Miami Vice. This led to writing for films and the song Terror In My Heart featured in Nightmare on Elm Street 2.

Along with session work, playing guitar for artists like Marianne Faithfull and Marc Almond, Rick started releasing solo albums, with Jitterbug Shake being his sixth. It contains ten tracks all written by Shaffer and has been produced to recreate the raw, overdriven sound of the garage rock groups of the Sixties like The Pretty Things and early Rolling Stones. These bands were inspired by the 50’s rockers like Chuck Berry, Slim Harpo and Link Wray, and those influences are manifest throughout this album.

Got to Know starts the album and makes immediate impact, with Shaffer’s swaggering Jagger-esque vocals delivered over the biting guitar twang of the great Chuck Berry and Link Wray records. The following Sure Thing is superb, a swampy blues number in 2/4, driven along by a riff that brought to mind Personal Jesus, one of Depeche Mode‘s rockier moments. Going Strong is another highlight, with a fantastic nah-nah chant on the addictive chorus and some wonderful lead guitar.

So Tired is so Stonesy that they’ll be disappointed not to have written it themselves, carried along by a jangling guitar riff that brought to mind their early classic The Last Time. Sixth track Just A Little is another fine blues rock track, while the fuzzy distortion of It’s True features a wild lead vocal drenched in slapback delay, a hallmark of 50’s rock n roll production.

Confidence Man and Break Of Day carry on the Stones vibe, while throwing harmonica and slide guitar into the musical mix. Can’t Go Back is a great homage to blues artist Jessie Mae Hemphill, while closing track Last Of Me is a perfect finale, with a mean guitar riff. It appropriately parts with the words ‘C’mon baby, do the Jitterbug Shake….’

Overall, this is a fantastic album that takes all the best elements of garage rock and combines them to create an arresting and potent sound. It manages to sidestep what could have become mere pastiche and revitalizes a sub genre of rock for the modern age, in a similar way to bands like The White Stripes and The Black Keys. Fans of those groups will find much to enjoy here.

Alex Faulkner ∎ The Faulkner Review

Verdict: 8.7 out of 10

Download a FREE mp3 of “SO TIRED” on SoundCloudJitterbug_BuyHERE





Photograph: “Incognito” ©2015 Theresa Marchione

Rick Shaffer. . .”one of the last true outlaws of rock”



Considering I was bracing myself for something more akin to The Brian Setzer Orchestra, I’ve been breathing a steady sigh of relief listening to the music of Rick Shaffer’s latest album Jitterbug Shake, thankful that I’ve not been taken into the sounds of swing or anything ‘big-band.’ Something about that word ‘jitterbug’ I suppose…for me it conjures up a different sound altogether from the one I hear from Rick; this guy’s clearly based in rock through and through. Much more close to something along the lines of The Rolling Stones, Joe Jackson or dare I even say The Reverend Horton Heat…there’s a clear love for pure rock’n’roll here and a real commitment to the style & sound of the genre’s past. The result becomes a completely textured experience in recording and Jitterbug Shake is an impressive/unique album in today’s modern world; I have the feeling I could play this for a hundred people in a row and not one of them would be able to tell me this album didn’t come straight from the shelf of the 1960’s & 70’s.

JitterbugShake_FrontTruthfully…opening track “Got To Know” was what drew me to the majestic sounds and comparison to the psychobilly-rock of The Reverend Horton Heat. Like the twisted psychedelic-surf music they made so well, Rick Shaffer starts out Jitterbug in a similar style with far away guitars and a jangly, loose beat. His vocals have incredible character and a charismatic charm that make it endearing like Tom Waits finding his way in a rock song. The guitars are immaculate, as is the recording…with the everything-spiked-up to a classic overdriven sound on Jitterbug Shake, I might be a child of the eighties but I feel like I’m tripping out right into the sixties here.

That being said, I think the opening tune “Got To Know” also might slightly throw you as to what to typically expect from Shaffer in the vocal department. Throughout “Sure Thing” and the songs to follow he’ll tap into a much more purified strain of rock and damn near channel the young soul of Mick Jagger. Garage-blues-rock are words I see describing Rick’s sound…moments like “Sure Thing” go a long way to support that, whereas tracks like “Going Strong” leave behind the blues aspect completely, bring out the tambourines and large-anthem choruses to light up the rock-side of his music fully. I can’t quite put my finger on what it IS that I feel towards the album’s completely fresh sound & free-wheeling atmosphere when I know the sound itself is based so far back in our timeline. I’m sure Rick himself would tell you he’s far from re-inventing the wheel here…but I could make one hell of an argument that he’s patched one hell of a tire to get a classic vehicle rolling smoothly back on the road.

If anything, I honestly think there are times that come so close to old-school Stones music that he’s truly going to run the risk of people under thirty years old just ASSUMING they’re listening to The Rolling Stones! Listen to the roll through “So Tired” – if it wasn’t for Shaffer’s signature style of guitar-work, there would almost be no way to tell; the vocals, energy, performance…it’s all a real nod towards the classic Mick at his frantic-rock best. At the end of the day…those listening with some rock-history behind them will be able to discern the differences between what Shaffer’s doing, but that younger crowd is at the risk of not being able to make that distinction. “Just A Little” would be another perfect example…but man does Rick ever NAIL this sound through and through; with some added harmonica blending into this straight-ahead rock-rhythm, the build becomes a classic one – this is REAL rock.

“It’s True” has some of my favorite guitars on this record. Happily sliding around like a derby-car in the mud, Rick shreds through this song into a distorted glory all the way through to the finish. If anything…this might actually be the closest to my original expectation of what I might have been in for in listening to Jitterbug Shake, but still far enough away for me to be completely happy with what I’m hearing here. Just try and tell me that a track like “Confidence Man” doesn’t hold your interest! When you listen to it…and break it all down it becomes one of the strangest entities in straight-ahead combinations you’re likely to hear this year. It’s like the rolling bass of a song like “Roadhouse Blues” by The Doors, then you’ve got this harmonica with a melody line that sounds like someone singing The Beach Boys “Help Me Rhonda, Help, Help Me Rhonda” – it’s in a different key yeah…but I can’t shake why that’s popped into my head and now it lives there permanently in my brain. Then you take all that, combine it with a Mick Jagger sound and a Bob Dylan-esque song-structure and voila – here you are with “Confidence Man.” What I love aside from the combination, assembly and structure of this track…is that the guitars continually stand out on this record…Shaffer always takes a moment to really let it loose and take a solo moment or three, brilliantly flashing some incredible timing, precision, tone and skill each time.

While I didn’t feel too strongly one way or the other for “Break Of Day” I suppose I felt like this was one track that might have benefitted from a little more low-end to thicken up the recording and bust out of the overdriven tin of the overall sound…but in the interests of cohesion I understand the choice he’s made. It’s very interesting to my ears to hear an album with as much evenness in the amount of intensity of the sound; there are still plenty of dynamics, but the result of the method of recording it all way up like that also leaves little room for anywhere for the music itself to go in terms of versatility in the overall mix. A slight change may have worked here and driven Jitterbug Shake to a larger, expanded or more amped-up sound to the album’s ending…but perhaps not; at this point we know what to expect from Rick and he plays it out like a pro time after time, song after song. Nothing wrong with that and if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it, right? He understands his sound with the intense focus of a studious-pupil of the school of music and knows exactly where his strengths are within his talents; Rick makes the most out of his music by translating his pure desire to ROCK right into his amplifiers.

“Can’t Go Back” finds a real groove and becomes a hypnotic-rock song that’s laidback with a gentle stomping beat that drives the music. Rhythm and performance are all there once again, bending & sliding guitars, solid steady drums and some excellent moments from the harmonica adding to the mix. It’s songs like “Can’t Go Back” in which you can really hear how much an artist like Rick Shaffer wears his style and owns it with confidence. Just because the amplifiers get turned off at the end of the day does not mean that the pure rock’n’roll soul of this man goes to sleep – I’d be willing to bet you could find this guy fully rocking even in a grocery-store or a line-up at the bank.

Point being – you don’t end up this authentic overnight. Rick Shaffer’s Jitterbug Shake is his sixth solo release and it strongly indicates the hand of a seasoned veteran…a person that is out there representing rock’n’roll twenty-four hours a day. “Last Of Me” ends off the album with one final blast of excellence as he blasts through hook-laden riffs in the guitars and vocals. With kind of that wild-desperado feel to “Last Of Me,” you can’t help but feel like you’re listening to one of the last true outlaws of rock…his solos shred and the entire soul of this track is deep, darker than more of the tunes on Jitterbug Shake and a completely satisfying ending to a wicked experience in authentic & energetic throwback rock. Very cool stuff on this album from Rick Shaffer and definitely an artist with a massive amount of talent.

  • Jeremy Gladstone — Sleeping Bag Studios

You can read the Jitterbug Shake liner-notes & download a FREE mp3 of “So Tired” at this link ► http://www.tarockmusic.com/jitterbugshake.html






Photograph: “Saturn63” ©2015 Theresa Marchione

“Jitterbug Shake” ► The songwriting is snark, lean and mean!

Independent Music News“Jitterbug Shake”  is the sixth solo recording by The Reds® guitarist, Rick Shaffer.  The album was recorded with almost every song and instrument pushing the needle into the red. Normally, that would be a problem, except for the fact that the repertory was written and conceived by Shaffer – who lives and dies for his vision of garage blues  – with the likes of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Slim Harpo, and early British Pretty Things and Rolling Stones in mind.  The album features Shaffer on vocals and guitars backed by the solid rhythm section of bassist Leon Wingfield, drummer Les Chisholm, and Boo Boo Spencer on percussion.

Let me get this out of the way quickly. If you truly love what is base and uncontrollable in garage blues and rock n’ roll, and if you understand that all which is organically driven, raucous and loud is still truly alive, then just get this!

They say there’s really only so much you can do, when you play garage blues-rock; you can turn it up; you can make it messier; you can rip off another garage blues-rock band that sounds slightly different to the one you were ripping off before, or you can simply die young. Rick Shaffer hasn’t done any one of those things yet!

Just when you think that after all these years Rick Shaffer had run out of corners in his garage, he stretches to continue to do new, interesting things within the confines of his musical palate. “Jitterbug Shake,” Shaffer’s sixth solo album, is a rebirth of sorts. Produced by hotshot Shaffer himself and engineered by Charlie Crawford, the sound here mixes a cleaned-up vibe with overdriven, rough-around-the-edges tones, working to brilliant results.

Boasting a production value and sound that at once resembles both The Stooges and early-era Rolling Stones, the 10 songs on “Jitterbug Shake” pass quickly and with variety. The songwriting is snarkier, leaner, and meaner than it has been in a while. At his best, on cuts like opener “Got To Know,” “Going Strong,” “So Tired,” “Just A Little,” “Confidence Man”  and “Break Of Day,” Shaffer digs his way through the best sounds of the 60s right until yesterday, never hiding behind production choices or the usual rock n’ roll clichés. Once again in his already lengthy — and incredibly busy career — Shaffer has put up a complete work to be taken seriously by all rock n’ roll and garage blues fans.

There’s variety and cohesion here that no one probably expects from an artist known more as a hell-bound, garage-blues rock n’ roller. Make no mistake, with “Jitterbug Shake,” Rick Shaffer proves once and for all that he’s the real deal. Rather than hide behind a kitschy style and rock poseur moves, he has whipped up a highly satisfying batch of songs that pays tribute to his own authentic instrumental artistry, and that of his backing band.

Moreover, here Shaffer shows considerable range while his ear for melodies has simply matured with his musical phrases turning into unexpected earworms. If you’re a Rick Shaffer fan, or simply a garage blues aficionado, this is the album you’ve been waiting for!

Read the album Liner Notes and download a FREE mp3 of track 4, “So Tired” at this link ► http://www.tarockmusic.com/jitterbugshake.html