Audio Visual is a series exploring the fashion choices of local musicians. The Bay Area music scene is nothing if not diverse and this nonconformity is as evident in clothing as it is in music. With this in mind, Audio Visual strives to analyze the connection between sartorial choices of musicians and their work.
Shannon and the Clams’ undone doo-wop sound showcases at once deconstructs and idealizes the honey-smooth sound of songsters like Del Shannon and the era that they represent. Their look – crisp uniforms of bygone days – evoke the formal dress of their influences while remaining a little raw at the edges. Shannon and the Clams recently embarked on a month long national tour to support their recent release, Sleep Talk.
What inspires your look as a band?
I feel like we’re playing dress up. We’re kids in the weirdest way. We’re still so obsessed with things from when we were young and we’re very nostalgic people. I think that’s why we get along so well. And we have really good memories and are incredibly inspired by moments that we cherished when we were kids.
We all wanted to do a camouflage look because all of us played army. Dug little holes and put black out on our faces. And wore our dead grandpa’s camo clothes and stuff.
I think my fashion is kind of like an idealized mom mixed with an idealized version of my oldest brother in the 80’s. Not that I look like I’m from the 80’s but he was definitely a surfer, skateboarder, metal dude that I thought was so cool. And I wanted to dress like him so bad.
What goes into putting together a look for shows?
Me and Cody usually come up with the outfits. The outfits we’re wearing tonight, I fell asleep at work and I dreamed that we were playing in these outfits. So I drew them up and I sent them to my friend that’s a designer. And I have no idea where they came from. It’s like a big bow and black capes with black shirts and then black shorts with black knee socks, black dress shoes and a tiny black cone hat.
Where did the In ‘N Out idea come from?
We love uniforms. And I think the In ‘N Out has going for it, visually, is that it’s still so close to something that could be around in the 50’s or 60’s. I really love uniforms from back then because people pressed their clothing and had a lot of pride. There’s something about a pointy hat and a shirt that’s tucked in that’s so cool. I wish that I could have been around in that time to be served by people like that.
Where do you find new clothes to wear on stage? Do you go out and shop for outfits?
I make tons of clothes from other clothes. None of us really shop. Ian is wearing the same clothes he wore in middle school. He definitely doesn’t go shopping unless he needs a costume. And Cody collects little bits of everything from everybody. So he gets lots of really cute shirts and sweaters from girls and they fit him perfectly. Because he’s so tiny. And me, I piece things together out of garbage. This skirt was once a pair of functioning pants. So I think we’re all really economical and resourceful with our fashion. We don’t do a lot of fresh shopping. I don’t think any of us buy anything brand new unless it’s shoes.
How do your work clothes differ from your stage clothes?
Cody is a programmer. He does coding for computers. And Cody is just Cody all the time. He goes to sleep in hilarious pajamas that are stripes and polka dots. And he has the craziest colors and fabrics, always. And they always look so good together. He sleeps that way. He wakes up. He goes out. If he’s getting spiffed up he will wax his mustache. But otherwise his clothing is always the same.
My job is indoors all day. I work for a jeweler. I’m a personal assistant. But I’m also an illustrator, painter and a nanny. And so I don’t really put a lot of effort into my look. Also, I know if I put effort into my look, my boss is so funny – she’ll notice. She’ll notice if I put lip gloss on. Or she’ll notice if I brush my hair extra thoroughly that day. So if I’m wearing something fancy she gets so excited and wants me to do a bunch of turns. She was a famous tap dancer so she loves fashion and loves neat clothing. So once a year when I come in in something interesting, she gets really excited.
Ian is a barista. His look is always the same. But he’s also a painter and a puppeteer. He makes amazing pull-string puppets. We met at art school. So we’re all kind of trying to do our own projects on the side.
How do you pack for a tour?
We have really limited space. We’re really good about packing light. We have one costume box, a suitcase. And we bring two or three costumes. So we had a gold sparkle look. And we have these rust colored satin capes that were really cool. So we bring the cape and wear whatever we want underneath it. Now we have these awesome black child witch outfits.
Has your style changed over time since forming Shannon & the Clams?
Cody’s fashion has improved. He’s always dressed crazy and really cool but now he’s more like a dapper cartoon character. Did you ever see the really old Mickey Mouse cartoon where there’s this other really tall, skinny rat who’s trying to court Minnie? He’s really sleazy and he wore his pants really high