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Seattle, Washington, United States | SELF

Seattle, Washington, United States | SELF
Band Rock


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"The brotherhood, friendship and lightshow of SHIM"

It’s fitting the somewhat imposing presence of Soundgarden’s Ben Shepard loomed over my interview with Ragan and Jeremy Crowe of SHIM at a Georgetown bar.

Soundgarden is a band that can almost pass for classic rock nowadays and SHIM is band that puts its own spin on a classic rock sound. Throw in the tendency for both bands to deliver a visceral big rock show experience every time they step on stage and it’s only natural that they wet their whistles at the same watering hole. This is why I wasn’t too surprised to not only see Shepard in the building, but to also find out he and the men of SHIM are friends.

Halfway through our interview, Jeremy Crowe, SHIM’s drummer, points Shepard out to me in the crowd and says that when the Soundgarden bassist found out the SHIM was being interviewed he was planning on dropping by our table uninvited and playfully causing a scene. I will admit that I secretly wanted this to happen, because let’s face it, it would’ve made for a fun little anecdote, but Shepard kept his distance. And while I didn’t leave the bar able to tell the story about the time a Seattle rock legend crashed one of my interviews, I did walk away able to tell the story of SHIM, which is quite a tale.

Despite having rock star friends and quite an impressive family tree – SHIM’s guitarist and co-vocalist Mike Notter are in up-and-coming groups Hannah Lee and Motopony and the band’s bassist Micah Simler plays in better-known local bands Moondoggies and The Maldives – the story of SHIM isn’t the story of a band getting by on its connections, or of a group getting by because it’s packing its music to fit into the musical genre du jour. SHIM’s story is one of friendship and brotherhood.

Mike Notter, left, and Ragan Crowe
To properly this story you have to go back in time about 25 years and head about 150 miles east of Seattle. While SHIM technically got its start in the Emerald City, the band’s roots are in Wenatchee, a rural city in the shadows of Cascade Mountains with a population hovering around 20,000. Notter and the brothers Crowe grew up in the Wenatchee Valley, an area that calls itself the “apple capitol of the world,” and back in the mid 1980s the Crowes moved one house away from the Notter family. Notter was a plucky first-grade kid and Ragan was one year his senior carrying all the sage wisdom of a second-grader.

Notter and Ragan bonded and grew up together one house apart on the same street in the agricultural lands of Wenatchee Valley and Jeremy, who is five years older than Ragan, was around to give that always important, big-brother influence.

Notter and Ragan picked up guitars around the same time and while in high school they formed their first band together called Scary Spiders. And while the formation of their first band was an important benchmark, it wasn’t nearly as important to the SHIM story as a fateful trip to a garage sale.

It was 1996 and a 16-year-old Ragan Crowe came across the perfect accessory for Scary Spider’s live show. That accessory was two sets of 10 headlights that were wired together in triangular formation.

“The guy who had the garage sale was in a band in the ‘70s called Red Wulf and he had these lights. It was like ‘What are these?’ and then we just had to own them,” Ragan said.

Ragan Crowe
Those manually triggered, triangular headlights would go on to become SHIM’s calling card. They may not be big-time rock stars like their pal Ben Shepard but they pack a big-time rock show experience every time they perform. SHIM’s live show comes complete with foggy effects from a smoke machine, cranked up amps, shout-along choruses and a flashy, 20-headlights strong light show.

“When we started SHIM it just seemed obvious to us that we needed to use those lights. I mean, things just got riffy and we wanted to step up our game a bit.”

Things got riffy indeed.

When you listen to, or talk about, SHIM it’s actually tough not to use riffy as a descriptor. The band plays the type of music you’d expect to find in the jukebox of bars across America. It’s the kind of balls-out, riff-driven, American rock ‘n’ roll that sounds stellar cranked up on your stereo and is the perfect accompaniment for a six-pack of tallboys and a thick, juicy steak.

“It’s our goal to put on a show every time we are on stage,” Ragan said. “We want to be exciting and we want people to have an experience where they can have a drink, pump their fists and enjoy the visceral magnetism of loud rock music performed well.”

Crowe and Notter continued to develop their riff-mastery throughout their high school years while big brother Jeremy left the Valley to attend college. Crowe would periodically check-in with his big brother often times excitedly talking about bands and sharing his music.

SHIM in action
“When I went away to college Ragan would leave messages on my answering machine and it would be him playing whatever new song he learned. He would just play until the tape ran out on my machine” Jeremy said. “It really amazed me at how good of a guitar player he was becoming.”

When Notter and Ragan headed west to attend college and later formed SHIM, Ragan once again dialed up his older brother except this time it was to ask him to be SHIM’s drummer.

“I told Jer he had to be our drummer. I’d jammed with Jer for years and knew he could be filthy,” Ragan said.

Fast forward to present day and Ragan and Notter are now both in their 30s. The ups and downs of their lifelong friendship is the backbone of SHIM.

“There’s always been a bit of philosophical sparring going on between Mike and I and I think that really helps us as a band,” Ragan said. “We both have this sort of dedication to the truth with a capital T, whatever that may be, and it’s been a real defining part of our friendship.”

That search for truth is nearly inescapable on the band’s latest record, Medicine Show; it’s third and most ambitious in its catalog. The record has a cast of recurring characters such as the street preacher, the truth-seeking narrator and the house band and it carries broad themes like religion (the Crowes were raised by a pastor), mysticism, nature and the aforementioned search for the truth with a capital T.

Even the record’s title plays into the loose somewhat conceptual theme. Medicine Show is a nod to the snake oil salesmen who would travel from town to town at the turn of the century selling their wares. The snake oil salesmen would bring bands with them to attract crowds and create an almost party-like environment to encourage sales and in a sort of Meta turn of events, SHIM somewhat acts as that band throughout Medicine Show. But Medicine Show is not as much a concept album as it is a record filled with stories told from different perspectives.

SHIM with the lights off
“A lot of the songs are about me and Mike and how we’re working to try to figure out how to navigate through this world. They’re all just told through different lenses outside of ourselves,” Ragan explained.

On the surface the music sounds like your typical hard-rocking stuff produced by a group of good ol’ boys. But if you dig a bit deeper there are messages planted in almost every track. Material with substance and depth isn’t exactly the stuff you’d expect to take away from a band whose music when simplified can be classified as 1970s classic rock throwback material, but it’s there.

“Party People Eater,” a song fueled by a barn-burning boogie that serves as the record’s opening cut, is about believing in the party line before thinking for yourself. “Rock and Roll,” which carries the simple-yet-effective hook of “Rock and roll will save your soul,” is about finding salvation wherever you please be it in music or a sleazy dive bar. “Man From the Mountain” is a story of exploring nature and mysticism.

Almost every song on Medicine Show is filled with big riffs and catchy choruses wrapped up in a classic rock shell that delivers something that’s familiar and comforting while also telling an interesting tale.

“The smoke. The lights. The loud guitars. The beers. It’s fun. Who doesn’t want to be in a band? We are definitely about having a good time and if we can throw in some meaning and get our thoughts out in the form of a song it’s a bonus,” Ragan said.

SHIM celebrates the release of Medicine Show tonight at the Columbia City Theatre. Tickets cost $8. - Guerilla Candy


"I am drinking beer and I am cooking up my steak," sings SHIM on the opening track "Satisfied," and as mundane as that sounds, Aries, the tight riffing your life depends on is as tricky with the imagery as this band's lyrics can be ("I am climbing ladders, corporate they are not"). January should be a month to party in spite of the end of the holidays, and this is Martin Feveyear-recorded party rock with an atomic brain. The noted producer (Slender Means, The Hope) is rumored to have been interested in the band after hearing them after a live broadcast on KEXP's "Audioasis." You just never know where the body of one of these eleven songs is going to throw a punch or a kick next, even though all the limbs and joints are fairly well worked out already. The in-yer-face but melodic chorus of "Country Music" (which sounds like anything but) and the great shouted line "I ain't scared of country music, WHOAH!" is awesome. You're good at loosening up when you want to, Aries, and this is the sort of music you want to have around when planning to. (And plan to see SHIM January 14 at the High Dive!) - AstroPop Album Review

"THE INLANDER (Spokane, WA)"

Seattle, the land of a million voices, is filled with people who don't want to hear yours. That's how it seems, at least, to Ragan Crowe, arguably the front man for Seattle heavyweight rock outfit Shim.

"There's kind of an established scene here, and we don't really fit into it," he says, adding that, though he feels no pressure to change his band's sound and has "complete and utter confidence" in the music, he nonetheless feels extreme pressure to "suck up to [KEXP] and the powers that be." It is a mystery to him why Shim's entire press presence is limited to a Three Imaginary Girls post and the article you are reading right now.

"We have a small but loyal fan base, and our last six shows have been really enthusiastic, but we haven't been able to break into press or radio yet. Maybe we're not passive and depressed enough."

Shim rocks completely out of synch with the Death Cab/Belle and Sebastian imitators that run rampant in the Emerald City. Their muscular, manly guitar riffs have a lot in common with Queens of the Stone Age, but without the careless, lazy-eyed stonedness so endearing to the indier-than-thou. Their songs are about as fun as shooting an old car with a shotgun (while, adds bassist Mikah Simler, "standing on it and smashing the windows with a sledgehammer") and Seattle is not yet ready to come to get that honest — it reminds them of an Eastern Washington childhood that years of therapy is rapidly erasing. More frustratingly, Shim's lyrics are poetic and pure, a million years from what normally passes for existential insight in the heavy rock scene. Worst, the members sound like they are having fun, maybe even capable of surviving without the hipster vote.

However, all that rocks is not dead in Sea-town. There are still enough ruffians to pack a Big Business show and keep the Hell's Belles up and yelling. There is another wave of heaviness that is a little more difficult to define, a small but loud vanguard Shim find themselves on the cusp of. Bands like Skullbot and Ice Age Cobra have also dropped out of the popularity contest and faced the music: for a band to be really good, they need to play music they themselves want to get down to. Crowe says, "The songs that I actually want to listen to are so simple, and so visceral ... we were trying to close the divide from what we were playing and what we listen to on a Saturday night, and 'Satisfied' was the start of that."

The song, "Satisfied," is the sound of complicated people enjoying simple things. Its vibe is 12:45 bar time, knee-deep in High Life, and the lyrics are nothing short of revelatory. Never has it sounded more radical to hear a man sing, nay declare, "I am drinking beer / I am cooking up a steak [...] I'm SATISFIED." The song is about going to the grocery store, grinding coffee beans, loving your friends, washing windows for a living, and shredding some goddamn licks. The moral? Joe jobs and simple pleasures are enough. The rub? "I am reading books / I am growing wings / I am thinking hard / about the nature of things / I am living life / I'll take it as it comes / I will make my stand / To the beating of the drums / I'M SATISFIED." These boys don't love the simple because they can't handle the complex. They're beyond mere grandeur or despair; they are the now. It's an anthem that was waiting to be written.

Both Crowe and Simler agree that Shim's genre — heavy rock — is a difficult space to occupy. Says Mikah, "You're either ripping off other bands or basically doing a parody." Succinct but true: All serious rocking these days either sounds like a tribute band or a parody. You won't find any trace of Wolfmother's sock-in-the-crotchiness or The Emergency's Detroit garage wholesaling in Shim's sound. They're on their own shit entirely and are trying to keep it that way. They know that to build a real rock scene, bands have to get over their predecessors and add their own legitimate voice. Mikah adds, surprisingly, "Seattle doesn't really have a rock scene. I mean there is pretty music by pretty people, and I guess there's a thriving hardcore scene, but straight-up rock is almost completely absent. This town used to have a lot of love for that kind of thing."

When you see Shim play the Spread with Ice Age Cobra (which you will do), you'll get it. The triangular light displays, 10 car headlights each, and nonstop BRMC-style fog will alert you that a beast is in the room, but their songs will immediately impress upon you that posture is for posers and this is the real thing. As your little brother's next favorite Jet band reincarnates previous platinum, Shim serves to remind us all that rock exists for other reasons than saying, "Ooh, look at us, we're rocking." Get with them now and let Seattle know that fey rock has sighed its last sigh.

Shim with Ice Age Cobra at the Spread on Saturday, Aug. 26, at 9 pm. Tickets: TBA. Call 456-4515. - "The Shimple Life"


Good backup vocals (or any backup vocals for that matter) are something that has been lost in popular rock for some time, “the dark time” if you will, but I feel like lately that has been changing. Quite a bit of the music I have had the pleasure to review recently has featured some standout singing by more than just one member of the band, and Shim’s In The Veins is another great example of this, with each member being listed as a vocalist in the liner notes. Lead singer Ragan Crowe’s crisp, clean vocals have more flavor and fire than alot of rock singers coming out today and his vocal range seems to be just as comfortable and in-control belting the loud as singing the quiet. The other voices in the band also seem to be ever present, often providing a softer counter-harmonies at one moment, and reinforcing the lead line at the next.

Another element sorely missing from popular music these days is intros. I’m talking about intros that slowly ease you into the song, build anticipation, and explore the soundscape. ”Confessions of the Sweeper” (fourth in the play order) on the other hand, has a great intro, a slow burn and buildup straight out of some 80’s movie love scene or a Pink Floyd album, giving the drummer a chance to stretch his legs and start something. The big scream a la Robert Plant at the culmination of the intro seals the deal and makes me love this song before I’ve even heard a word. And If I didn’t already love it enough, this verse at the end makes me love it even more: “So gather round people let me speak some truth\A little confession from me to you\I’m sweepin’ all this shit with my big broom\But I’m the biggest piece of it in this little room\And everytime I point my finger I’m pointin’ it at myself\At myself.” A little bit of self deprecation will definitely get you some credibility in my book.

“Epistemologee,” an 80’s-era Talking Heads styled synth-rock song that is decidedly more rock than synth, is definitely my favorite track off this album. The round singing of the key line and multi-syllable word ”Epistemologee” gives this song something special I can’t quite put my finger on. “Hailstorm” is strongly evocative of Cursive, with the metered Kasher-esque singing, the distorted guitar play, and the complex range of moody textures all on display within a single song. The lead track “Satisfied,” despite having goofy lyrics about working menial jobs and being okay with that, has great instrumentation and guitar play that makes any lyrical transgressions completely forgivable. I have to give mad props for leading into the guitar solo with a half verse of ”and I don’t need a new car/I don’t need to be a dirty rockstar/I’M A WINDOW NINJA,” a short set of lines that manages to pull the song together quite nicely (and only slightly ironically).

In the previous few months, Shim has definitely fit into the category of “hardest working band in town” playing gigs seemingly every week. These guys are unsigned and don’t have a distribution deal, so their albums are only available in local shops Easy Street and Sonic Boom, but with the exciting live shows I’m told they have (and have been sadly unable to attend up to this point), I suspect that won’t last too long. With fresh guitar hooks, 80’s style synth organ textures, and multi-layered backup vocals, this record adds up to an effort by not your average local bar band. Shim’s sound was made for an Arena, and given that chance, being “dirty rockstar” instead of a “window ninja” at least for a little while, probably won’t sound that bad. - Album Review


In the Veins is an apt title for Seattle rock band Shim’s new album. That’s because this music is so raw and full of energy that it may get your blood pumping. It also will get your feet stomping and your musical hunger fed. Shim takes rock back to its roots, with two guitars, bass, drums and the testosterone-driven lead vocals of Ragan Crowe. It’s not quite the grunge of Nirvana or Pearl Jam that defines the band’s hometown, but more like the arena rock of yesterday – think Led Zeppelin meets the Black Crowes with just a sprinkling of Alice in Chains. In the Veins is full of riff-driven rock music that will grow on you like a fungus, and if enough people hear about these guys, the (gray) sky is certainly the limit. The best tracks are the ballsy lead-off, “Satisfied,” and the hooky “Country Music,” the latter which is in fact not country, but all R-O-C-K. ~Mike Farley (02/22/07) - Album Review


SHIM has a big sound. In fact it’s huge for four people. They combine bluesy guitars, a soulful organ, melodic raspy vocals (on the edge of screaming), all over the top of some great rock ‘n’ roll with roots seeped in 70’s music. Plus how many bands show up with fog machine and blinding stage lights, and then put on a good live show?

One could say the band’s roots sound like T-Rex mixed with Mountain. If you don’t know them, Let’s say Wolfmother and Jet go on a date to a karaoke bar and sing Led Zeppelin songs. It’s kind of like that.

SHIM is guitarist Regan Crowe, bassist Micah Simler, guitarist and keyboardist Mike Notter, and drummer Jeremy Crowe. Mike and Regan share equal duty on guitar and vocals adding dueling guitar solos and good harmonies. Jeremy and Regan are also brothers, making the beautiful relationship between a guitar player and a drummer even better by adding the brother factor. All in all, the band members perform exceptionally with one another.

Photo Courtesy Jose L Riesco

When SHIM came into the Chicken Shack, it seem like the members had two items on their list: Play some music and give each other shit. It didn’t matter if they were right, they were funny though. For the record, the pirate flag that Micah hangs on his amp is indeed Blackbeard’s flag, even though it looks like a skeleton holding a shovel and a martini. Also, Panino is the singular form of the Italian sandwich, panini is plural, and Jeremy likes them a lot.

Like always, the five songs SHIM performed were recorded in one take and very little was done to the music to preserve the feel of the live set. In fact if you listen to the beginning of B, the first song the band played, you can hear the snare drum rattling as sound waves hit it from the driving bass line. On a studio album, the drum would have been muted, but the rattle in the background is exactly how it happened so we wanted to preserve the feel. - Review

"THE INLANDER (Spokane, WA)"

Shim is Seattle-based heavy rock, and usually performs with a triangle-shaped bank of floodlights and a fog machine. The lights and fog help to, you know, put out the vibe, but Shim's muscular rock is far from nebulous mystery. Immediate and clever, they pound out riffy rock just this side of the metal divide, while whip-smart storytelling and odes to not climbing corporate ladders make up the lyrics. Shim's Elkfest set is the right time to switch to Pabst. - Show Preview


Amidst all the tired, too-trendy butthead bands in the Seattle music scene, Shim exists as a quartet of fresh-faced fellas who play real rock music. It’s not dance. It’s not folk. It’s just rock. And rock it does indeed. On this, their debut full-length, Shim makes themselves, their philosophy of all things rock, and the aesthetic of their absolutely phenomenal live show, known. It ain’t pretty, it ain’t cute. It’s loud, it’s gritty and grimey, and it’s Seattle rock like it’s meant to be played. - Album Review


Later that night at Shim's record release party at the Tractor (also sold out), the 21-plus audience was equally amped up, fighting for center-stage viewpoints in a disorienting haze of smoke-machine fog and a relentless, arena-ready light show. Shim have been recommended to me for months now, often with the caveat that their live shows are better than their recorded output. I can see why many make that assertion: They've got a gripping, Aerosmith-emulating energy onstage, and the riffs fly at you like machetes. Presence like that isn't easy to bottle, though engineer Brian Brown did a solid job of doing just that on their sophomore release, Feel Like a King. The next chance to catch Shim will be at King Cobra on Friday, March 7, with the Valley and Thor.
- Hannah Levin, Seattle Weekly, 2/08 - Album/Show Review


I've been listening to an advanced copy of Shim's second album Feel Like a King for a month. It's a burned copy, just the name of the band and the title in black marker on it.

And I love it.

Really. It has that local indie feel to the lyrics, but is sonically appropriate for an arena. It's loud but I can hear every word. They sing about beer drinking, hard loving, walking down burning highways, and zombie girls at the mall. it is not what I expected.

If anything, Shim sound like a more mature Fall of Troy with all the angst and volume but a better vocabulary. They have a song called "Epistomologee" for cryin' out loud.

If you're lucky, you've heard "The Highway" on KEXP. If so, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, best just go to the show on Saturday.

You lucky Seattle people. I have to wait until LATE MARCH to see Shim in Spokane. Until then, I have my CD with no track titles to keep me company. - Album Review


Yes. It is true. At the party to celebrate the release of their second full length album, appropriately titled Feel Like A King, SHIM removed all doubt as to whether 2008 would be their year. By 9 o’clock the Tractor was sold out and local bars were eagerly collecting the droves of disappointed show goers being turned away at the door. When the gentlemen of SHIM stepped on stage, to a wall of cheers, they truly must’ve been feeling like kings.

After a multi-month break from performing it was truly SHIM’s night though, and I could sense the excitement building as the night went on. SHIM has a truly elaborate stage setup with two smoke machines, two triangle strobe light frames facing the crowd (which could be seizure inducing to some), and four strobe lights on the front edge of the stage pointed back at the band for effect. It’s an arena ready light show to go with the arena sized rock of SHIM’s new album.

Playing essentially the entire new album, SHIM not only exhibited the confidence and chops of their stadium rock forbearer’s, but also the perfectly coiffed hair prized so highly by those spandex-clad performers. (SHIM, thankfully, was not spandex clad.) I sensed a swagger in their demeanor that I hadn’t seen before, and they played with an practiced intention and grit that I thought was missing in my last encounter. “Animal” is one helluva song. This is how a slow rock song should be. “Love me like an animal, purring in the cool moon light!” lead singer Ragan Crowe intones, “Want me like a cannibal, cause it’s feeling like a full moon night!” It’s meant to appeal to our basest human urges, with it’s slow thumping rhythm and thinly-veiled erotic screaming in the background at times. And it does. All I can think about when listening to this song is hot, sweaty sex.

Jordan of Ice Age Cobra said it first, and I have to agree with him about it: if SHIM can’t get signed by someone for this record (and their act!), there is something very wrong going on this side of the Mississippi. - Show Review


Albums released:
1. Medicine Show, released 8/11
2. Feel Like A King, released 2/08.
3. In the Veins, released 12/06.
Available on iTunes, Amazon & at Sonic Boom Records and Easy Street Records in Seattle.

Singles getting airplay on KEXP:
Party People Eater (Medicine Show)
You People (Medicine Show)
Burn it Down (Medicine Show)
I Get Down (Medicine Show)
Man from the Mountain (Medicine Show)
The Highway (Feel Like A King): featured on KEXP's Music That Matters podcast
Made For the World (Feel Like A King)
You Walked In ... (Feel Like A King)
Something to Hide (Feel Like A King): live performance, Podcast of the Day
Satisfied (In the Veins)
Monster (In the Veins)

Live radio performances
107.7 The End
KEXP Audioasis



SHIM, a Seattle-based band comprised of brothers and boys from the block, takes its rock and roll seriously. With their elaborate live performances complete with huge lights, smoke and sing-along riffery, SHIM manages to make any sized show feel like it's in an arena. If passive, anemic rock was the disease, SHIM would be the B-12 shot. They inject their unique cocktail of musical punches and kicks into 70s-influenced, testosterone-ridden, goddamn rock and roll.

Praise for SHIM

"There’s a reason why SHIM capitalizes all the letters in its name. It’s not because the band is trying to stand out, nor is it a clever acronym. No, you type SHIM with the caps-lock key pressed down because lower case letters can’t do justice to the amount of rock hammered out by this bombastic beast of a band. The band’s stage show is filled with smoke machines, strobes and two massive triangular flood lights, making SHIM a refreshing rock ‘n’ roll kick in the pants in a music universe filled with intellectual indie rockers and snarky hipster kids."
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“They’ve got a gripping, Aerosmith-emulating energy onstage, and the riffs fly at you like machetes.”
- Seattle Weekly

“Seattle’s own red-blooded, riff-heavy arena rock band SHIM pounds out classic rock-tinged anthems replete with blistering metal solos, thunderous rhythms and call-and-response choruses.”
- Seattle Sound Magazine

“Immediate and clever, they pound out riffy rock just this side of the metal divide, while whip-smart storytelling and odes to not climbing corporate ladders make up the lyrics.”
- The Inlander

“They rock like some sort of mad, out-of-control rocking machine that was set on high and left outside in the rain.”
- Seattle Powerpop Blog

“This is party rock with an atomic brain…You just never know where the body of one of these songs is going to throw a punch or a kick next.”