I’m sitting in front of Fido in Hillsboro Village reading my copy of East of Eden, waiting for my interview with Shane Piasecki, when a hand lightly slaps the table and a guy in sunglasses and a V-neck sits down to greet me.
He’s a little fashionably late, but I’ll let that one slide. Shane Piasecki’s got a warm smile that will ease any would-be stiff conversation, and we immediately start talking about literature as if we’d been meeting up at Fido for weeks.
“That is an amazing book,” He points at my reading pick, and later asks, “Do you like Hemingway?”
As if Set You Free (his latest album that dropped this past Tuesday) didn’t do it already, I’m instantly a fan. After musing a little on books and Charles Bukowski, and talking of his hometown of Toledo, Ohio, we jump to the topic of Piasecki’s youth, which had its fair share of sports. “I grew up [with that] competition,” he confides. Music is so much the opposite—it’s simply you.” I’m thinking of the primal, often war-like competition of football and its contrast to the act of creating music (I mean, c’mon), and my interest is piqued.
“I started doing music (he picked up the guitar at age five) and I’ve been doing it ever since,” says Piasecki, whose influences include legendary rock gods Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. But his style draws in a pop and bluesy vibe, too. “[Set You Free] was originally more of a blues record, but it ended up having a ‘pop’ vibe—that’s been a challenge.” Title track ‘Set You Free’ draws back on a classic rock n’ roll feel, but fuses alternative and pop to sound at times like Matchbox 20’s Someone Like You. Vocals range from deep, bluesy drawls on ‘Roller Gone’ to more southern, mellow lyrics on ‘This Thing We Have,’ giving Set You Free a variation that fully grasps that nostalgic, summery ambiance. Despite traces of heartbreak in tracks such as ‘Mannequin Head,’ and ‘New To Town,’ Piasecki brings Set You Free back to a centered happiness in the solid track ‘Night Like This,’ putting a finishing touch of the fluid feel of summer weather in its finale.
Featured twice on the 615 on Lightning 100, and now making their Artist of the Week, Shane Piasecki has had some grounding experience as an up and coming young musician. It hasn’t come without a struggle, but you could never guess—he comes off as the most laid-back guy ever, and continues to talk throughout our conversation about the love he has for the people in his life (He dedicated "Set You Free" to his 16-month-old son).
He’s also got a pretty big heart that I predict is somewhat hard to hide: our rambling conversation even led to a mutual reminiscence of Pound Puppies—“I had Pound Puppies on my bed when I was a kid. Every time I’d get sad that they [weren’t eating when I was], I’d comfort myself and say ‘They’re magical. They can feed themselves.’” Piasecki’s pit bull, Jack travels along on most of his tours, too—who would’ve guessed?
The struggle of growing up and becoming independent through his art is a key component in Piasecki’s present, “[The struggle] made me realize what was real and true. It taught me about love and the universe… and self-love, all that.” He later adds, “Good parents showed me the way, and that’s when I knew I’d be a good dad.”
As we’re wrapping up, and continuing to bounce from topic to topic (the guy’s got way too much interesting stuff to muse upon), a fly lands on Piasecki’s shoulder. I motion that it’s there, and he simply replies, “Want me to lick it? Protein.”
What does Shane Piasecki, breezy personality with a big heart and adventuresome soul, have to say about his future? “Things are yellow,” he says dreamily. “Brick by brick we’re building something.”
When asked about his versatile style, he says he doesn’t worry about running out of songs. Why? “Authenticity,” he remarks, drawing back to our earlier discussions of writers John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway, “You don’t question authenticity in their work, because their styles are so [unique]. It’s who they are.” And I can’t help but agree. He concludes, “If you’re a little different, that’s how you’re always gonna be, if you embrace it.”
As we end our session, I walk away feeling that contagious, breezy vibe that Set You Free embraces. Shane Piasecki is radiant, laid-back, and viewing the future through yellow-tinted shades. And he’s ‘Roller Gone.’