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An Interview With Shane O'Neill

The latest album release from Shane O'Neil, brings out a refreshing and nostalgic classic rock tonality that takes you on some high energy and honest rock journeys with thick cut guitar riffs, and vocals that really belt out when they need to, and it all creates a wonderfully full-bodied rock soundscape that feels like an arena show in the late 80's.

The 11th Hour Arrival album post some real authentic shine and energy that it becomes quickly addicting only a few songs in. The next thing you know you're in it for the long haul. You've been pulled into the album, and you find yourself singing along to that last chorus of the song without even paying attention to it.

And that's what great rock albums do. They grab at you and become something you turn louder and louder as the album plays on.

One of the great things about this release in particular is just the amount of heart that you can hear bursting through these songs. You can clearly tell that O'Neill has a true love for his craft and that the players have such a connection that it feels like a live performance. As if the players were feeding off of each other's energies from start to end and you can feel the songs grow bigger and bigger.

And because of this you find yourself wanting to see it all live. You can tell that this would definitely be just as fun live than it is on the album itself. Hell, maybe even more fun live.

O'Neill has all the bells and whistles that hit that classic rock sweet spot all across the landscape of this record.

Songs come through impactful and powerful. Anthemic or inspirational. Either way it's going to be a damn good time.

It's quite a great experience to listen to a real deal genuine hard classic rock record like this one. You just don't come across them that often anymore.

That actual rock soul is alive and well with Shane O'Neill.

With the release of such a well woven and brilliantly performed rock album we wanted to have a sit down with O'Neill to find out where this came from and what might be next for the artist.

Here's what went down.

Buzz Slayers: Let's kick things off with the 11th Hour Arrival album. This record has a great classic rock feel to it. Where did this album come from?

Thanks for saying that! “11th Hour Arrival” is my third album. The first two albums were done in a very grassroots way. They were recorded in my friend’s basement. I relied on talented musician friends to help out for little or no pay. But “11th Hour Arrival” was recorded in a professional studio [Plaid Dog Recording in Waltham, MA] with session musicians and experienced producers and engineers. And you can hear that in the album’s polished sound and production. I was going for a “classic rock meets ‘90s alt rock” vibe and I think we captured the energy of those two eras. I crowdfunded the album and thanks to generous donations from friends and family, I raised $14,000.

Even though the album was released in the summer of 2022, the songs were written between 2018 – 2020. I think they reflect my mindset at the time: feeling isolated, looking for purpose and identity, worried about the state of the world. Pretty typical concerns during the Trump era and early pandemic.

Buzz Slayers: When did this all start for you?

I’m a late bloomer. I’ve been a serious music fan since childhood but didn’t start playing the guitar until I was 40! But it didn’t take me long to get just good enough to be dangerous. I learned as many cover songs as I could in a short time and then the original songs started coming to me quickly.

Buzz Slayers: What inspires you to write a song?

Most of the time it starts with music, not words or ideas. I’ll be strumming the guitar and a lightbulb will go off and I’ll suddenly get extremely focused. I’ll work on a chord progression, song structure and melodies made up of nonsense words. And it can stay like that for months until I get around to writing lyrics. So, I guess the hooks and melodies are what inspire me. If the structure of it feels right, I get very excited about what the song could be with lyrics and a full band.

Buzz Slayers: This album has some great styles! Can you give us some of your top musical influences?

I’d say my main influence is The Replacements. Occasionally, people tell me I sound like Paul Westerberg, and I always enjoy hearing that! My grounding is also in the melodic rock bands of the ‘90s, which were my coming-of-age years. So, I would put The Afghan Whigs, Buffalo Tom, Cracker and The Lemonheads on the list. Wilco and Steve Earle are my alt-country heroes. Some post ‘90s influences would include Modest Mouse, Ryan Adams and a Canadian band I love called Broken Social Scene.

My songwriting staples would be Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Bruce Springsteen ... but everybody says that.

Buzz Slayers: What are you doing when you're NOT working on music?

I’m a content marketer and freelance writer, so I spend my days doing that. But I’m usually thinking about music! I like to spend time with family and friends. Playing with my cat is fun -- he may be the only one who really understands me. Ha ha.

Buzz Slayers: Who's in your headphones right now?

I’ve been listening to a young synth-rock band called Night Moves from Minneapolis. They give me hope that bands still matter. I have a lot of playlists on Spotify that jump in and out of. I listen to relaxing ambient music more than I’d like to admit. It’s not very rock ‘n’ roll -- but we all need to chill sometime.

Buzz Slayers: Are you doing any live performances right now?

I’ve been playing solo gigs around Boston at breweries, pubs and lounges. Sometimes I do private parties. I’ve been bringing along musician friends for lead guitar and keys. I’m starting to play more original songs at shows. It’s always fun when the crowd reacts positively to a song they’ve probably never heard before.

Buzz Slayers: This record feels like a big undertaking, is there any advice you'd give to other up and coming artists out there?

Be patient. Albums take a long time to finish, but it’s worth it. Also, surround yourself with other talented musicians, producers and engineers. You can’t do everything yourself. However, don’t forget that the songs are yours. Let other people help fulfill your vision but stay true to YOUR vision. You’re the songwriter -- the buck stops with you.

Buzz Slayers: What can your fans expect from you in the near future?

I’m not sure at this time when I’ll record another EP. I’ve written enough new songs for two albums but making them is another story. My focus for the next year is to improve my guitar chops and gig as much as possible in the Boston area, and beyond if possible.

Buzz Slayers: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?

Thank you! I was so humbled by how many people donated to the crowdfunding campaign for the album. A musician is nothing without fans, so I hope people keep giving my music a chance and that it resonates with them. And hey, if you like it, tell your friends!

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