Shannon McArthur
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Shannon McArthur

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"Shannon McArthur: Guitar Guru"

by Rachel Scall
"You have to do music, man --- if you don’t do music, I don’t know what you’re going to do." That is what Shannon McArthur, a junior business major at UNC-Chapel Hill, is regularly told by his friends. His parents would love for him to be a successful businessman, but business just isn’t McArthur’s passion. What McArthur does feel passionate about, however, is music. In the fifth grade, after things didn’t work out on the roller hockey team, the basketball team or the swim team, McArthur decided to give the school band a try. He quickly mastered the trumpet, taking the position of first chair, and from there moved to guitar. "I was renting a guitar," he said. "It wasn’t even that exciting to me, but I came home one day and it was gone, the rental was up, and I flipped out." So he saved up and, as a fifth-grader, bought himself his very own guitar --- a Fender Squier Strat --- for about $200. He hasn’t put it down since. In khakis, moccasins and a fleece jacket, McArthur is well put together, but not the type to take himself too seriously. Once he begins to talk about his music, it is obvious by his excitement that he is like a little kid trapped in a college student’s body. At 21 years old, McArthur may have managed to retain his boyish excitement about music, but he has definitely grown and learned to perfect his songwriting, a skill that he cherishes. "Emo is my favorite music," McArthur said. "I realize even though I like that style of music, I’m not meant for that style of music. My voice is not nearly high enough. I could never hit the notes." Instead, McArthur has turned to what he calls "acoustic pop." Listening to his soft and approachable acoustic melodies, it is difficult to believe that emo, or emotional pop/rock, is still his favorite type of music. "A lot of times people will come up to me and say ?Oh, so you like John Mayer and Jack Johnson?’ and they look completely surprised when I tell them Blink 182," McArthur said. "They’re like, ?What? You don’t sound anything like Blink 182!’" Instead, McArthur’s laid-back acoustic melodies provide the perfect amount of energy to back lyrics, which serve as a scrapbook of his experiences. "I write about all sorts of things," McArthur said. "Some of my songs are spiritual/Christian songs, a lot of them are about girls, (and) some of them are just about going out and doing frat stuff." What tends to inspire McArthur the most is girls. "I am such a sucker for girls," McArthur said. "If some girl comes and breaks my heart, you’re going to get a damn good song out of it." Lucky for McArthur, his song writing isn’t completely reliant on heartbreak. Even just sitting around and having fun with his frat brothers at the Kappa Alpha house can inspire a new song --- prompting McArthur to get up, leave and record right away. "When you get a song, it just hits you," McArthur said. "You can’t even explain why. I’ll be trying to study or something and all of a sudden this song idea comes in my head and I literally have to write that song right then and there." McArthur will record melodies on his phone if he doesn’t think he will make it home in time to record his latest idea. Another one of his favorite places to play and record is bathrooms. He claims that if he shuts all of the stall doors, he is left with perfect acoustics. When McArthur isn’t hanging around with friends, chasing after girls or locking himself away to record, he can be found performing a circuit of live shows, usually for fraternity or sorority functions. "(I) love some live shows," he said. "You really work off the crowd." Right now, however, live shows do have their drawbacks. "What sucks is people want a song they know, so I have to go up there and play ?Brown Eyed Girl’ over and over again," McArthur said. That may change soon. Over winter break, McArthur decided to take a spontaneous trip out to Nashville, Tenn. There he met with music publisher Dennis Morgan, who has worked with artists including Garth Brooks and Jeff Tweel, the producer behind Leanne Rhyme’s "How Do I Live." McArthur left Nashville with the possibility of signing with either of the two. He hasn’t yet decided which deal he is going to go with, but he does admit that he is extremely excited. "This is it," McArthur said. "This is what all of these years boils down to. I guess now that we’re putting it on paper, it’s going to become something pretty real." Until he actually signs, McArthur is not all that concerned about recording albums. He is happy to record his own mp3s in his room at the frat house. "Right now I’m not really trying to put out and sell music," McArthur said. "I’m just trying to get it out there. I just want to show people my music." And that is what McArthur is doing. His music can be found on MySpace at www.myspace.com/shannonmcarthur. "I just wanted to say your songs are amazing, and I love the lyrics," one fan said. "Keep on doing what you’re doing." McArthur is also always willing to em - Blue and White Magazine


Discography

Side To Side
Chuck Taylor
Your Number and A Guy Like Me

Photos

Bio

So I spent the past half hour trying to find someone who could write a bio for me before the midnight deadline and had absolutely no luck so you’re gonna get the “auto-bio” from the man himself. I, Shannon McArthur, grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina in a family of four brothers. I spent the first half of my life following in the shadow of my older brother, in hope that one day I might find a sport that I was good at. After trying absolutely every sport, including even the most obscure one such as roller-hockey and mountain biking, I finally decided that sports might not be my forte. It wasn’t till the Spring of my fifth grade year that I decided “Maybe I’m not cut out to be a football player” (football was my focus of the time, it changed about every week) and it was time to try something else.
At lunch I found out who the band teacher was and then spent the longest two hours ever waiting for the bell to ring. Upon hearing it, I ran to the band room and begged Mr. Humphries to let me play trumpet (my dad had one I could borrow) in the Junior High Band. He told me I would be behind considering that everyone else had been playing all year, but I convinced him to give me afterschool lessons so that I could catch up. Agreeing to it, he soon found it to have been a good decision; for by the end of the year, I had earned first chair in trumpet. Though I was so excited to finally find something that I was actually good at, my trumpet career was soon destroyed by every Junior High boy’s worst nightmare: braces.
Fortunately, I had picked up the guitar by that time so it naturally took the lead in instruments. I remember my mom had rented me a Peavey guitar, but then I came home one day from school and it was gone. At this point there was only one thing to do: I broke open my piggy bank and took out $200, and begged my mom to drive me to Reliable Music. I bought the Squire Strat Pack, which was great because it had everything all in one box. I loved the Squire and used to spend every afternoon jumping on my bed and looking at myself in the mirror while I played by favorite Greenday song for that week. This paved the way for an exciting Junior High and High School career of punk and emotional rock bands.
I probably had about four of five different bands total that I played in throughout high school. Each time I played a show I thought “This is it. I’m gonna be big. TRL!” It never really happed and I was getting a bit frustrated with my “rocker” career by the time I had graduated, but the one day I was messing around on my acoustic guitar and things started to fall into place. I didn’t really like my acoustic and hardly ever played it because I thought it made me look like a “wussie”, but that day, it took on a whole new meaning. My mom and I were about to go eat at Brixx Pizza and I was working on some song that had straight rock chords, but then I decided to change it up. In addition to straying from my usual rock strumming pattern, I strayed from my usual yelling and started actually singing. I was so excited that I could hardly engage in any conversation with my mom, even though we were at my favorite restaurant. Right when we got home, I went straight to my basement and recorded “Don’t Say” the first acoustic song I ever released.
Coming to college, music got even more exciting. I lived in Ehringhaus dorm, which was divided into suites of four rooms with one bathroom and a main hall. I’m sure all my suitemates hated me because every day after class, I would close every door in the suite and play in the hall so that I could benefit from the best acoustics. People from the study lounges weren’t huge on me either because I used to find an empty lounge and then load all my recording stuff into so that I could get my newest song “on wax”. Apparently those rooms were not open to musicians.
My sophomore year, I was sad to leave the “personal auditorium” I had in my suite, but I was able to replace it with the bathroom at the frat house, which I soon came to find even better. It was the summer after when I started to realize that I might want to pursue music seriously. I had just gotten into the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, but despite its prestige, business simply could not compare to music. Over Christmas break of my junior year at UNC, my parents had been getting on my case about finding a job and I was having no luck. Then I finally decided to take action. I was walking to my car after sitting at some office listening to some guy tell me about why I wasn’t good enough to be an intern and then I decided, “screw this, I don’t wanna be an intern anyway”. The next day, I woke up and drove eight hours to Nashville, where I received two contract offers regarding my music. Upon arriving home, I’m not sure what my parents found more surprising: the hype of my music in Nashville or simply the fact that I actually made it there and back with my bad driving skills. I finished out the year “throwing down” reco