Experience seems to have put a fine burnish on Finnegan Bell’s Shane Williams and Warren Bazemore, both musically and personally.
Wives, children, the loss of a record deal have all served to crystallize a very mature, philosophical approach to a tough business.
“Perspective is your friend in all things. I don’t think we’re owed anything,” Bazemore said. “We work with really hard with people we enjoy ... and just produce the best thing we can put out.”
What can people expect from a Finnegan Bell performance?
We really focus on the songs and try our best to make each song matter. We are big fans of the “storytellers” approach and hope that our shows feel like we’ve invited people into our living room.
How did you become Finnegan Bell?
Shane and I have been playing music together since we were freshmen in college at the University of South Carolina in the mid 90s. We started a band called Silers Bald that was on Sony/BMG/Essential Records out of Nashville and we played over 200 shows a year during that time. After the record deal ended, Shane moved to Charlotte and began playing under the name Finnegan Bell. When we moved our families to the coast in 2009, we started playing again and the name stuck.
Where did the name Finnegan Bell come from?
The main character in the movie adaptation of “Great Expectations” is named Finnegan Bell (played by Ethan Hawke). Great depiction in that movie of art coming from unlikely places and inspiration, and that no matter how deep it is hidden, we were made to make beautiful things.
What audience does your music typically appeal to?
Our music generally appeals to people that like the Americana/folk/rock genres. The people we listen to are artists like Ryan Adams, Amos Lee, Ray LaMontagne, Brandi Carlisle, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen … the list goes on and on but that’s a good place to start!
Who might not enjoy a Finnegan Bell show?
We work hard to have something in our sets for everyone to enjoy, but we are not really the big dance band type thing. People looking for “Brick House” might be disappointed.
What inspires Finnegan Bell to write a song? What is your process?
Having a story worth telling is what inspires us to write songs. They can come from anywhere, really. It’s generally been our experience that the best ones kind of pop out when you’re not looking for them. Our process generally revolves around finding the melody first. If we have a strong melody to go off of, it seems to give us a direction to run with and the rest kind of works it self out.
What television show would you love to have feature a Finnegan Bell song and why? Which song?
“Parenthood.” I’ve just watched that series on Netflix and like it. No deeper reason than that. Or … “Arrested Development.” Because that show was THE BEST OF ALL TIME.
How do you stay connected to the music with all of the ambient distractions you sometimes experience at a gig?
Ha! That’s not always an easy thing to do, for sure. I think that it helps to know that you have an obligation to the songs and to the craft of performing to be excellent each time you play.
Do either of you have day jobs to support your music careers? If so, what are they?
I help run Sunbelt Business Brokers here in Myrtle Beach. Shane is the musical director at Grace Church Waccamaw.
How do you feel when you play music?
Like it is something that I was made to do.
What advice would you offer aspiring musicians?
Get out and play! If you keep getting booked and audiences respond to what you do, then that is confirmation that you have something worth pursuing. It really is the best way to get better and to figure out who you are musically.
What are some of your biggest musical influences?
Great question! That’s a long list but let’s give it a shot: Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, Marc Cohn, Ryan Adams, Bill Withers, Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller, Indigo Girls, Jackopierce, Martin Sexton, et al. We both grew up in very musical households so that list runs deep and wide.
What is your favorite place to a play a gig in?
Locally we have some great places to catch live music, and we’ve been blessed with opportunities to play at most of them. I would say we always love to play on the inlet in Murrells Inlet and at The PIT or Nosh in Pawleys Island. Great people and great places!
Two unique places in Myrtle Beach that we really like are Fresh Brewed Coffee House (Kevin Turner is the man!) and the old train depot. We played a SXSE show last month at the train depot and really loved the whole set up. Seth Funderburk and all the people involved do a tremendous job in creating something really great for original music in Myrtle Beach.
If you could have anyone, living or dead, join your band who would it be?
Probably Buddy Miller or David Lindley. Those guys are very versatile, can play a lot of instruments and they make everyone they have ever played with better.
What is each band member’s unique contribution to the band?
Shane sings most of the lead vocals and I focus on a little more of the lead guitar parts. In songwriting, Shane generally has a melody and then we work the structure of the songs and lyrics out together. It’s a shared process across the board.
What would people be surprised to learn about Finnegan Bell, individually or collectively?
When I was 12 years old I was the kid that sang the Slinky Commercial. True story!
Do you have a song that you play at every gig?
We generally close every show with “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen and made famous by Jeff Buckley
How is recording different from playing live?
It is a much more deliberate process and everything is much more structured. Songs evolve over time for us and generally we record them better if they have had a life at our live shows first. We get to involve a lot of friends in the recording process, which is always gratifying.
Do you listen to your own music?
From time to time…but it is kind of like looking at high school yearbook photos.
What is your favorite Finnegan Bell song and why?
“The Ending of It All” has always been a favorite of mine. It documents the time when we lost our record deal, and in a strange way it reminds me of how grateful I am for the whole experience.
What is your favorite local band?
So many local musicians have been kind to us since we moved here and we really owe them all for showing us the ropes locally. The guys from Ten Toes Up, Jonathon Roberts, Josh Brannon, Chris Acrey, Doc Simmons, Kid Drew and Dave Gillease have all been super good to us.