Diversity, self-expression key to band From The Hip

The Clayton News-Star

All it takes is one listen to From The Hip to realize the band is about diversity and self-expression.

“That’s what this band is based on,” says Shane Gentry, a Clayton resident who plays guitar and electric spoons. “We got lucky enough that four guys came together and can express themselves, and it fits.”

From The Hip group photo
Gentry, 25, is joined in FTH by Clayton resident Curtis Shaw, 42, formerly of Detroit (guitar and lead vocals), 28-year-old Dave Schneider of New York (bass, vocals) and 57-year-old Ernie Pryce from New Jersey (drums, percussion).

The group, which will play Sept. 1 at McKinley’s in Clayton and Sept. 7 at Ribeye Joe’s in Smithfield, formed in March this year. Gentry was looking to put together a project that “was diverse, not your everyday, run-of-the-mill rock and roll band,” he said.

He met Schneider at work (both are employed by Carolina Concrete Pumping of Raleigh), and working together, realized there was chemistry.

Shaw, who had moved from Detriot in June 1999, ran an ad for an open mic night at Kai’s, and Gentry and Schneider walked in.

“We show up, and me, Dave and Curtis were playing together… Our eyes were the size of softballs wondering ‘Where have you been all my life?'” Gentry said.

Pryce, a veteran of the music business (he had his own band before The Beatles came out), approached the trio near near the end of April during their gig at The Berkeley Cafe in Raleigh while they were the house band. They got together within two weeks, and Gentry set up a jam at his house near Wilson’s Mills.

“We played for a couple of hours, and we still had that great chemistry with Ernie,” Gentry said. “We were all absolutely dumbfounded.”

From the beginning, Shaw — who doesn’t hide his disdain for Top 40 music — said the band agreed that they wanted to be original and not perform covers.

“That’s what got me,” Shaw said. “I’ve refused to play Top 40 since I started professionally (10 or 11 years old).”

“That’s what we tell our audience —we won’t play Top 40 requests,” Gentry added. “We want to put From The Hip on the map, and we can’t do it by playing other bands’ music. We pay tribute to our influences in our music, but we don’t rip them off.”

FTH is as diverse in their influences as they are in ages. Gentry’s influences include Robin Trower, Stevie Ray Vaughn and his own bandmate Shaw; Schneider’s influences are the late Metallica bassist Cliff Burton, Slayer’s Tom Araya and Les Claypool of Primus; Shaw borrows from acts as diverse as Steven Tyler (Aerosmith) to Claypool to Pat Boone to Morris Day to The Temptations.

“It’s like putting everything in a blender and then spitting it out on the soundboard,” Shaw said. Added Gentry, “We can’t be pigeonholed. It’s riff-o-matic.”

The key ingredient that makes From The Hip special, according to Shaw and Gentry, is the spontaneity.

“We don’t know what to expect when we play,” Gentry said.

“There are no prima donnas in this band; we don’t step on each other’s toes, which allows each member to create without feeling like there’s some specific formula, which is what I can’t stand about Top 40,” Shaw said.

FTH’s first show as a band was March 31 in Rocky Mount. “We played for three hours and made everything up, hence our name,” Gentry said. “We actually had a name before we had music.”

The group has played twice a week every week since and are booked two to three times a week through October. Audience response is still tepid, Shaw said, but Gentry believes it’s due to a lack of familiarity.

“I think it’s a culture shock to the audience,” Gentry chimes in. “We are full contact rock and roll. But the bar owners love it; they are tickled to death not to have Top 40 bands.”

Shaw, when asked to describe the band’s material, offered, “The only answer I have is, I won’t label our music because it’s very eclectic. The best way is just for people to come out and hear us play.

“It’s like going to Thanksgiving dinner at someone else’s house. It’s not your mama’s cooking, but there is enough there that everyone can find something that’s palatable.”

Article by Jim Green, Staff Writer