You might not have heard of GLU – yet – but you definitely know the person behind the moniker.
GLU is the new solo project of Michael Shuman, the bassist in iconic U.S. rockers Queens of the Stone Age. Not content with having one side project – he also fronts indie pop trio Mini Mansions – Shuman sounds like he’s properly cutting loose as GLU.
The project’s debut EP, MY DEMONS (all caps feels necessary for such a fearsome title), dropped last week, and it’s “about being on my own terms; having my own momentum,” as Shuman puts it himself.
And it really couldn’t sound further away from the raucous rock of QOTSA, which is, really, the main point of a solo project. Dabbling in rap rock, hip hop, lo-fi, even funk, the songs on MY DEMONS are impressively varied in sound. Sarah Barthel of genre-hopping band Phantogram also offers key contributions on the opening and closing songs.
“This is something that is different because I do come from punk rock, but I’m doing this… so it’s not going to sound like your typical DJ or hip hop producer. I want it to feel fresh, and that’s the most exciting thing for me,” Shuman explains.
As GLU, he ponders on existential matters under the overwhelming darkness of late nights; it’s an introspective dissection of these major themes, certainly, but Shuman is always forthright and headstrong in discussing them in the five songs.
To celebrate the EP’s release, Tone Deaf got Shuman to break down every song on MY DEMONS in more detail, which you can check out below.
GLU’s MY DEMONS EP is out now.
My Demons EP track by track:
This is the first song I wrote for GLU. It came together very quickly, which is surprising as I was experimenting with something very different for myself. But I believe the reason it came together so quickly is because it was the most vulnerable I’ve ever been, which allowed me to just spew everything out without overthinking.
Once it was done, I definitely market researched it to friends, peers, and people who would be ready to hate on it. Afraid that I may not have hit the mark, I was reassured with positivity about the direction and delivery I was taking.
Having Sarah add vocals to the track really took it over the edge for me. Her voice fit the song like a glove. It needed her voice to give that lyrical perspective. Another voice looking down and giving perspective on all the shit that piled up in your life.
I started with that simple groove and chord progression, almost wanting it to be an instrumental track. The first draft was actually just one big long guitar solo, hoping to send it down a Funkadelic ‘Maggot Brain’ path. But then that chorus melody popped in my head and changed the trajectory.
I think it met in the middle somewhere, trying to keep it simple with just two verses, two choruses, and the rest guitar. I miss good guitar solos. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with guitar solos, but because they have grown to be taken too seriously, focusing on skill and speed rather than hooks, they have been shit on. Let’s bring ‘em back.
The writing began with that vocal hook, so I thought it should tee off the song. Let it just sit for a second, focus on the lyrics and recognise what I’m about to tell you before it begins. Hopefully the lyrics are pretty obvious with that display. This EP was made on late nights, and this song is no different. Everyone has their vices and I’d let mine outta the bag.
Although this is track four on the record, it’s the song I’ve been opening my live shows with. I feel that everything in the track encompasses what GLU is, or least what I want it to be. I wanted it to be a song I’d be a fan of. That’s important to me. To really love the tunes you’re making, as you’re gonna have to listen to them a thousand times before they go out into the world.
The sound also feels like the last 15 years of me, but seen through a new lens. ‘Moonlight Sonata’ was a big influence on this song, believe it or not. I was really into piano at the time and trying my best to learn ‘Moonlight Sonata’. Whether or not I figured it all out is irrelevant, as it was the soundtrack to making this song. ‘Moonwalkin” was also an inside joke I had with a friend of mine. Gonna keep the joke inside though.
‘Fucked With My Demons’
Since MY DEMONS was the heart of this EP, I wanted to do a remix of it. But rather than have someone else do it, my mixing partner in crime, Adam Thein, and I decided to mash it up with the previously released ‘Cold Sweat’. I liked the idea of mashing up your own songs, so it felt strictly GLU.
I also thought Sarah’s vocals never got enough time to shine. And that hook Sarah does in the bridge just happens to work perfectly as a brand new ‘Cold Sweat’ chorus. So I basically took the best parts of both tunes, and…. voila!