The Shuvs are a Toronto-based band comprised of four members: UW grad Rob Nicholls, vocals and guitar, Richard Verdin, drums, Laura Anderson, vocals and percussion, and current UW mechanical engineering student Jack Gunn, bass guitar. Their self-titled debut album is due for release Nov. 18, 2016, with a show taking place the same day at The Burdock Music Hall in Toronto.
The band was formed when Nicholls, upon graduating from the University of Waterloo’s fine arts master’s program, was looking for a studio space in downtown Toronto. A friend connected him with Verdin, who had a studio available. Upon learning about their musical commonalities, Verdin and Nicholls began to play together. Soon Nicholls asked Anderson, a fine arts student at the University of Guelph, and fellow musician, to join on vocals. Finally, Gunn, Verdin’s nephew, was asked to join on bass, as well as to provide production assistance. Thus, The Shuvs was formed.
They decided on their band name after Nicholls returned from a trip to Mexico. He wanted a name that embodied them as a group. He also wanted it to epitomize a certain feeling: hustle, struggle, and turmoil. Upon brainstorming, The Shuvs came to mind. His fine arts background also came into play, as he liked how the word looked as a piece of type. The band has operated under this moniker since.
The Shuvs describe their sound as folk-soul. Their songs are primarily acoustically recorded, with a focus on folk jigs and storytelling combined with the danceable vibe of soul and motown. The band is very inspired by musicians of the ‘60s and ‘70s such as Van Morrison, Al Green, and Curtis Mayfield.
This unique sound is explored on their debut album, The Shuvs. In order to channel the acoustic sounds of the musicians that inspired them, they recorded the album on an old tape machine that took Nicholls months to find. Once it was in their possession, they recorded the entire album live, pressing record, and playing each song individually. This gave them the ability to go back and track each song.
When they were satisfied with the live recording, Gunn moved onto post-production. Gunn took a low key approach towards the post-production, wanting to make things sit together more smoothly, without losing the analog characteristics. He described the process as “ironing the album out, like a nice shirt.”
Both Nicholls and Gunn discussed their time at the University of Waterloo, and how it influenced their musical practices.
For Nicholls, the fine arts program acted as a catalyst for his musical creativity. After spending long hours in the studio, he would pick up his guitar and play.
“It made me realize that I have songs in me again,” he said.
Venturing into Waterloo’s music community also encouraged him to play, through open mic nights and connecting with fellow musicians.
Gunn credits the University of Waterloo with bringing him to the band. His co-op rotation encouraged him to get closer to his uncle, who initiated him into The Shuvs. He also credits his technical education as having a huge influence on his production methods, as he uses many engineering concepts in his mixing.
The album itself is sentimental and honest. The Shuvs’ song writing process relies heavily on intuition. Nicholls, who writes most of the band’s songs, described his ritual: “I play guitar everyday … I’ll often play chords, finding a riff, going through several until I land on one that feels ‘right’ — I’ll then play with it for a few hours, and allow it to become a vehicle that tells a story. The lyrics naturally come afterwards.” This process is reflected in many of the album’s lyrics, which weave rich narratives and emotional scenarios together seamlessly.
Nicholls and Anderson’s lilting voices act as the perfect vehicles for telling these stories. The instrumentals create an appropriate soundscape for the vocals — they are melodic, intuitive, and tactfully blended. They don’t overpower the vocals, but definitely make their presence known. The Shuvs are successful in evoking a folk-soul sound.
In terms of the band’s next steps, they are excited to perform their debut show for the album and to celebrate its release. Recording this album acted as a great learning experience, as well as a solid foundation on how to record an album all by themselves. They are confident that they can continue to be self-sufficient moving forward, and are excited to continue creating.
To listen to their LP, visit www.theshuvs.com.
This article has been corrected to indicate that The Shuvs is releasing an LP (a full length album) rather than an EP (a short length album) and to add the band’s website.