Michael Shuman is a name that has become synonymous with rock and roll, having made his mark as the bassist for the iconic band Queens of the Stone Age. However, this versatile musician has been branching out in recent years, exploring new avenues of creativity and pushing the boundaries of his musical talents. One of his latest projects is GLU, a new musical venture that showcases his impressive skills as a songwriter and frontman. As the lead singer of Mini Mansions and now the mastermind behind GLU, Michael has been making waves in the music industry with his innovative and exciting approach to rock music. His debut EP, My Demons, has been receiving critical acclaim and has cemented his status as a rising star in the world of alternative music. I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael for Top Shelf Music recently, and he shared some insights into his creative process, influences and what fans can expect from GLU in the future.
Can you tell us a little bit about how this project began?
- Michael Shuman: It started about a year ago, during lockdown. Just had a need to do something brand new and I sure had the time. And the space to be able to try something different for myself and fall flat on my face, with no one watching. I felt like I had done all the guitar-based songs I could do for now. Been doing that my whole life and it’s what people may know me for. GLU was an answer to that.
How does the development and creational flow of music differ when working on a project like GLU as opposed to your other projects? Is it easier to have almost full creative control over something? Or does the addition of other musicians in a project allow for things to develop quicker?
- With GLU, the writing and recording process is basically happening all at once, which is different than a band/group working out songs together in a room and then when they’re finally ready, going into a studio to memorialize them. I think having a group of collaborators definitely helps things move quicker, as I can get stuck in my own thoughts or writer’s block. But I have to remind myself that I’m just in the writing process and allow myself the time to have things come as they should.
How do you know when a song is finished and how often do you second guess yourself?
- A song isn’t finished until it’s mastered and sent to be made into a physical copy. I think a lot of things can even change in the mixing process, in how the song can be viewed from its delivery. I second guess things a lot, but I never let something out into the world that I’m not proud of. Whether or not I might make the right moves. But there really are no right or wrongs, just what makes you happy when you’re listening back.
How did the collaboration with Sarah Barthel of Phantogram come about? Was this something you two had been talking about for a while? Or did you write the song with her vocals in mind?
- I already had the song close to done, but yes, we had been discussing doing something together and I always wanted another voice on that bridge. I thought she would be a perfect fit as the opposing voice on My Demons, and I’m sure lucky that she was into it.
Do you get nervous before you perform? If so, are the anxiety levels more intense when you are by yourself? Or have you become acclimated to it all after years of being on stage?
- To be honest, I don’t really get nervous going out on stage anymore. I think there’s always excitement, but I’m not nervous. And not any more nervous being out there by myself. There are of course those cases when nerves kick in. Like, my first show with GLU, I was definitely nervous. Because it was something I’d never done before. So many what ifs going on in your mind. What if this doesn’t work? What if people hate it? What if it’s a train wreck? The only other time I get nervous is when you’re recording for tv, like a late-night talk show or something. Something about knowing you only get one chance and it’s filmed and shared with the world forever.
When I first heard “Cold Sweat”, my girlfriend and I cranked the volume and began dancing together in our kitchen. It’s one of the sexiest songs I have heard in a while. Are there any songs out there that have that effect on you?
- Ahhh, that makes me happy. That’s the intention. Baby making music. There’s something about Depeche Mode’s “Violator” that I find super sexy. Especially the song “Policy of Truth.” I don’t know what it is, but it works for me.
If you were given a box with all the things you have ever lost, what would you look for first?
- Probably this Gretsch guitar my dad bought for me when I was 14. My house was robbed a few years ago and lots of things were stolen, but that’s something you can’t get back.
What does the rest of 2023 hold for GLU? Can we expect more music? Tour?
- I’m trying to figure that out one day at a time. If it were up to me, I’d be on tour right now with a new record on its way. But I’m trying to do it right this time, be patient, and not rush things.