The Shelter People’s quest for rock ‘n’ roll immortality
Adryon Dasilva, Mac Fears, Garon Burch, and Dakota Hurley
Four years ago Dakota Hurley and Garon Burch went down to the crossroads in Glenpool to sell their souls to the devil. It was midnight, and they went to make a deal. Seriously.
“We completely believed in it,” said Hurley, lead singer and guitarist for The Shelter People, as we sat listening to doom metal in the band’s living room. “I brought my guitar. We played the best song we’d written at the time.”
But the devil wasn’t buying.
“I was playing it, and we were like, ‘Alright, dude, when’s the devil gonna show up?’”
Burch, their bassist, chimed in, laughing. “It was past our bedtime.”
“Yeah, dude, your mom was pissed when we got home,” Hurley said.
The average age of their three-person band is 21.3, and they’re obsessed with rock ‘n’ roll mythology. They’ve studied the legends of bluesmen like Robert Johnson and the later masters, and they’ve formulated their own theories about what’s behind the curtain. They’ve created a plan for their band, and it’s working.
“I wanna conquer the damn world,” Hurley said with a straight face. “I wanna live in a castle in Ireland.”
The Shelter People is a power trio, and their command of their craft is scary. The band kills it locally, knocking out diamond-solid sets of spot-on early Led Zeppelin-style candlelit electric blues rock interrupted with lengthy psychedelic Black Sabbath stoner freakout metal interludes. Their take on early ‘70s proto-metal is simple but intuitive, layered, and eerily authentic.
Their original songs have a sonic character evocative of tunes from a long-lost Nuggets comp, rhythmically rooted in elements of Fun House-era Stooges, early The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and the almighty throb of Black Sabbath. Like a leaner version of The Doors, the band and their music is hypnotic, dark, and heady. They toss nods left and right to seminal rock bands going back to the mid ‘60s and earlier: The Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, The Who. They do a cover of “Train Kept A-Rollin’”—as every serious rock ‘n’ roll band since the dawn of man has done and will continue to do.
The band’s four-song self-titled EP, recorded on analog gear by “Cucumber” Mike Gilliland at Auggy Reed Studios in Tulsa, is a raw, distant, trippy listen. Reverb-drenched, ragged, and heavy, it’s a teaser for things to come. The Shelter People plan to record their first full-length album themselves, entirely to cassette. After that, they say they have three more albums to record—each is already written with its own unique theme, vibe, and message.
This April they’ll tour as the opening band for doom metal giants The Sword for approximately 30 dates. (See them before they leave town—Feb. 22 at Soundpony.) How does a relatively new band from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who has never toured before, score such a coveted gig—one that literally hundreds of bands would fight tooth and nail to land?
There are two reasons. The first is that their live show slays. On a typical night The Shelter People are jaw-dropping. The three dudes are locked into each other musically with a tightness the majority of bands never achieve, much less as 21.3-year-olds.
The second reason is Mac Fears.
“Mac’s the fourth Shelter Person,” Burch said. “He does photography … and a whole bunch of secret stuff.”
Fears was the one who first made contact with J.D. Cronise, lead singer of The Sword, on Instagram. Several months later a talent agency from Beverly Hills asked The Shelter People if they’d be interested in doing the tour. And just like that, the tour was a thing. Right now they’re strapping in for a wild ride, and they want to do it right, every ludicrously ambitious step of the way.
Drummer Adryon Dasilva, who joined the band two months ago, is pumped to be onboard.
“It’s super exciting, and it’s kinda nerve-wracking at the same time. This is something that nobody we know in Tulsa has ever gotten to do. I just want to go out there, kick ass, and put on for Tulsa.”
The Shelter People with Psychotic Reaction, Acid Queen, and S. Reidy
Thurs., Feb. 22, 10 p.m. | Soundpony,
409 N. Main St. | Free