Shiner sprouted from the fertile, black-dirt underground rock scene of the Midwest. Cofounded by guitarist/vocalist Allen Epley in 1992, the band toured with contemporaries Sunny Day Real Estate, Chore, Jawbox, Season to Risk, the Jesus Lizard, and Girls Against Boys, recorded with Shellac’s Steve Albini, and released four albums between 1996 and 2001. Injections of new blood for 1997’s Lula Divina (bassist Paul Malinowski) and 2000’s Starless (Josh Newton on keyboards/guitars and Jason Gerken on drums) helped carve fresh ground and broaden their sound.
Shiner’s sweet spot lives among the smoldering soundscapes that brood, blossom, and bolster their cannonball core. The Egg, from 2001, was a crowning achievement—the early career apex of the band’s evolution from noisy dissonance and powder-keg rock to mosaic, prog-like orchestrations that were equally brutal and beautiful. And after nearly two years of touring behind The Egg, the quartet split up in 2003.
Over the next 15 years, Shiner reunited for special one-off appearances and very short tours. And with the help of the internet and streaming services, their low-key, dormant profile was elevated. Finally, in 2020, Shiner came back to the table with Schadenfreude–a shockingly logical evolution from and continuation of The Egg’s sonic flavor. The album has the lyrical earworms, head-nodding rhythms, gut-punch oomph, and palette-cleansing space travel you’d expect from a band that said goodbye with the jewel “The Simple Truth.”
Ahead of Shiner’s show at Nashville’s DIY arts collective, Drkmttr, PG hopped onstage to dissect the current setups of Epley and Malinowski. Epley details how a lunch-break pawnshop visit landed a remarkable Hohner T for under $100. Malinowski reveals the unique tuning (and demonstrates the monkey-grip it requires to play) that allows his setup to charge like a rhino. And both walk us through their practical-but-powerful pedalboards.
(Unfortunately, renowned gearhead, resident of Pudgemont County, and a regular at the Chug Suckle, Josh Newton, was not on this run as he was tech’ing for Kings of Leon. Spotlights’ Mario Quintero played the role of Newton for this batch of shows, and we featured his setup—along with wife/Spotlights bassist Sarah Quintero’s rig—back in 2021.)