Interview with Luke Webb, singer, guitarist and songwriter from the Shiner Miners

The Shiner Miners are a local band, whose members have recently relocated to other cities. Occasionally, however, we can be lucky enough to see them reunite at the Guadalupe Café in Sylva. What can be observed at this point is an authentic musical experience, something slightly reminiscent of Bright Eyes or a resurrected folk band implemented with drums and electrical capabilities. The Shiner Miners are fun, whimsical, enthusiastic and serious all at once. Don’t miss their next show at the Guadalupe Café on main street in Sylva on the fourth of July where they’ll be reuniting to release their debut EP!

Interview with Luke Webb, singer, guitarist and songwriter from the Shiner Miners.

Jennifer Toledo: When you speak with people who have never heard your music, how do you describe it to them?

Luke Webb: It’s folk rock.

JT: Your lyrics seem very important to the meaning and structure of the song. They are poetry. When you are writing a song, which comes first, the lyrics or the music?

LW: The lyrics always come first. The meter of the lyrics determines the groove of the song. The syllables of the words are the units of the music. There is something really mystical about music and the way words and sounds fit together, so I try to tap into that. One line of phrase will come into my brain and I try to develop that.

JT: What is your process for writing lyrics? What inspires them and for whom have they been written?

LW: When I write a song, I do take into account my own subjectivity; I think, if I was the audience, what do I want to hear? I write the songs in my head, line by line, while I’m playing my guitar. I write down phrases as I think of them and try to create a melody as I go. Jay-Z never writes anything down, he just writes everything in his head. I think that’s awesome because that’s the oral tradition. I think back to the ancient, the African Griotes, the story tellers. Memory as culture, like in ancient Greece. Before the printing press, people memorized epics. Sometimes I just want to write it on paper to get it in my mind and then throw the paper away. I memorize to get closer to the oral tradition. Maybe eventually I can be like Jay-Z.

JT: What is the story behind the formation of the Shiner Miners?

LW: Shiner Miners, to me, is not a set entity; it is an ongoing process, an environment, a shared intention. There have been multiple incarnations of the Shiner Miners. When I had the first concept of what a Shiner Miner was, I lived in China Grove, NC. It was 1985, and I was three, and the Shiner Miners was this game I invented with a neighbor. In my mind I can remember the feeling of it but not the specifics of what it was. When you were little did you ever play those games where anywhere you looked there would be whole worlds? It’s a matter of creativity and play. My mom even talked about the Shiner Miners. It was me and the neighbor, this girl, we would just run around this tree in the yard, and that was Shiner Miners. My brother, Asher, was five or six. About 5. I would talk to him about Shiner Miners. Shiner Miners were small invisible fairies, or small coins. I would call pennies Shiner Miners. But it has grown to me, Isaac and Jason, the other members of the band, to this rock-and-roll music, which is really just the adult application of this kind of play, but who knows what it will come to be. That I don’t know.

JT: How do you think of your music in relation to others? Are you trying to tell us something, or are you expressing for the sake of expression, whether or not people are listening?

LW: That’s a hard question, but a good question. It would be both, but I don’t know what the message is. I do think there is a message. For me its just a way to process my life and my relationship with everybody. I don’t believe in an independent self. Everything is interdependent. I am just trying to describe my internal life through the songs. Why would anyone care about my internal life anyway? I don’t know. It is very relational, though, really. If there was no audience, no one there to share it with, I wouldn’t even make music. I would like to devise some sort of method of liberation, for all beings, that’s what I’d like to do; to devise a message of compassion and love. I don’t think I’m there yet and I don’t think that’s what people are getting from the music. I don’t know what I’m doing. I just have faith.

JT: You are playing at the Guadalupe Café in Sylva on the fourth of July. Are you excited? Do you plan on returning in the future?

LW: Yes, and yes.

JT: Your first EP has just been recorded. Tell me a little something about it.

LW: The EP was produced by Matt Williams, who is a very proficient producer. He’s great. He has the training to really paint a large sonic picture. He got us and he understood what we were trying to do. I wish it was full-length, but we didn’t have time for getting that together. I did the artwork and the packaging. They are hand made, I make each one by hand. I am burning the CDs myself, and printing out the thing for the really cheesy jewel piece that goes in the front square. I did a multimedia drawing, and I did some editing on the computer. I used power point to make the formatting for the CDs. The new edition of Power Point is amazing, its not just about making presentations. It might be kind of unfortunate that our new EP is going to leave people wanting more, though. It is seventeen minutes long, but it has a lot of depth. There is a diversity of different vibes going on, the images and the places it will take you. It is deceptively short.

JT: When and where will it be available?

LW: It will be available on the fourth of July. It can be found exclusively at In Your Ear Music Emporium on Main Street in downtown Sylva. I am trying to get a website going for the band and my brother Asher is going to help with that. I was liberated from my MySpace page recently, a lock-out. I kind of hate MySpace, because I like to interact with people, actually be around them, talk to them, smell them. There is something kind of repulsive about MySpace and Facebook. I know there are a lot of benefits, but I’m not putting my time in, because I could be spending that time with real people.