Shelby Tate (Cheshires) on their self-titled record

Cheshires are a new collaboration from the original musical visionary of Alternative Rock band Remy Zero, Shelby Tate (aka Remy Zero, his legal name since 1990), along with original Remy Zero drummer and additional singer-composer Louis Schefano, and sometime RZ touring guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Leslie Van Trease.
Shelby was the primary composer of Remy Zero, along with younger Brother Cinjun Tate and the other musicians in the band, and he was also the occasional lead singer. Here he is the singer and composer of nine of the 12 songs on this natural maturation from that band’s sound and style, at once more comfortable, colorful and confident.
Louis soon joined in with fellow young Birmingham artists Little Red Rocket, which quickly built a buzz, and later morphed into dreamy duo Azure Ray. Their Maria Taylor would eventually cover Louis’ haunting “Nature Song” (11:11, 2005, Saddle Creek). Incidentally, the rock band Verbena was also borne out of this same fertile Birmingham scene.
Louis then created his own debut album, under the moniker Regia, much of it in collaboration with Shelby as Producer, (The Art of Navigation, 1999, SpinART). More recently, he was winning fans in home base New York City and Brooklyn, with his work as Suspicious Light.
Meanwhile, Shelby and Remy Zero went on to release two more strong albums, Villa Elaine (1998, Geffen/DGC) that featured Cinjun’s tender song “Fair”, which would be featured in the highly successful film Garden State (Fox Searchlight), and its Grammy-winning, million-selling soundtrack album (2004, Epic).
Their final album (The Golden Hum, 2001, Elektra) yielded the song that became the perennial theme for the 10-season-running TV show “Smallville” (the WB, the CW), fittingly titled “Save Me.”
Cut to 2015, some 15 years after the last Remy Zero album, and Shelby reacquaints with original A&R person and first band manager, Amiel Morris, and a near-instant pact is made to make a new album, to feature not the reunited group, but primarily the work of original exclusive composer Shelby Tate. Louis is invited to drum and strum, along with sometime Remy Zero touring member, Leslie van Trease, on additional guitars, bass, and also drumming on half the record.
As for Shelby’s songs, they run the style spectrum, far ranging both in terms of color, tempo and texture, and are pulled together from his earliest creative rushes, to songs written just months before the recording began. They move from the Smiths-like, guitar pop glory of “You’ve Turned (To Gold)”, the cinematic and hypnotic R.E.M.-feel of “Your Bad Dreams”, and the Glam-Rock thrill of “Elixir,” to the emotionally vulnerable album closer, subtly and accidentally echoing the late great Prince, Kry–War Out There.
So from this unity of sound, and integrity of purpose, Cheshires was born and the band self-released their self-titled album in mid-September.
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Tate to discuss the album.
When did you first begin writing the material for Cheshires?  
I started writing some songs as soon as I returned to the USA from Cambodia…All of a sudden I was in a very alien situation – I really felt like Cambodia was really my eternal home, that I would be there forever – so when I found myself back in the States, I started just playing guitar again to try and re-acclimate – I hardly had even thought of the guitar in many years. I really just became just a `listener` but it gave me some sense of familiar things, to be writing songs again…But a few of the songs on this record are from the years before Remy Zero really was a band. We have hundreds of pre-Remy Zero songs still around, so we found a few that seemed to fit with what we were trying to do together…I hope someday we can re-master and put out some of the oldest songs, stuff I did before we ever thought of making Remy Zero, songs I hadn’t even heard in so many years, all in a bag of old cassettes 😉 (Well, maybe they got transferred to something better by now… but Amiel, our producer, still had copies of them and it was really inspiring to listen to that stuff. Just full of so many memories…It really re-awakened my desire to make music again…
The video for “Love This Feelin’“ looks very psychedelic. Was that the inspiration behind the song? Does the protagonist love the feeling of psychedelia? Psychedelics, perhaps?
`Drugz – I Love This Feeling` is definitely about some psychedelic experiences…It sounds kind of prosaic, I guess, unless the reality of the song is clear…We just got shy about making it too obvious, which is why we changed the title for the single. But it’s really the Only feeling I have ‘Loved’ since I got back to the USA.
Are these a collection of songs? Or is there a running thread throughout the album? 
I guess we gathered a handful of new songs and some older ones, so it isn’t really a `concept` or anything. But they all make sense together when we recorded them together. They might as well have all been brand new.
Surely fans of Remy Zero are going to pay close attention to what you’re up to. Does that bring with it some kind of pressure to appease RZ fans? Or do you feel comfortable going in whatever direction you want to go? On a related note, is that why you chose to go with a different name? To give you that freedom?
I do hope these songs will be cool for the people who loved Remy Zero. Even though my brother, the main singer in Remy Zero, is not on this – he just had a son in NYC and is taking a little respite from the madness of making records and touring…I always sang a few songs on Remy Zero records, and Remy Zero is my legal name, so I guess I see this as really the same thing. And, man, I really miss my brother a lot; I am trying to convince him to at least come and sing with us live sometime. But there were always so many people and issues to consider in Remy Zero, so it’s pretty nice to be able to make decisions as fast and easily as we are able to do with ‘Cheshires’. I wrote a song at the very start of RZ, called ‘Cheshire’s Nostalgia` which we recorded for Capitol Records ( ) but it was never released so we just used ‘Cheshires’ as a name for this group, Louis was RZ’s first drummer, and Leslie played with RZ a lot, so this is just a little different assemblage, not a whole different Thing…But I hope people who like RZ will be interested in these songs, too, even though it is a bit different…Ya, and that is mostly why we gave it a different name Even if it makes it a bit harder to get it heard at first .
Do you have any plans for a fall tour?
Oh yes, we can’t wait to play these songs live this year! We’re still figuring out exactly how we will play them, since there are just three of us. But it might make them more interesting. It definitely requires playing better when you aren’t able to just blend in with a lot of other people; you just gotta play the ‘right’ stuff . I love playing bass, but it’s not so easy to sing when you play bass, and Louis and Leslie both are amazing drummers…Maybe it will be feally stripped down live. Just a ton of adrenalin.
(Visit Cheshires here: