Lawrence Band Shoebox Money: A Band to Watch in 2018

On a table in the corner of the Bourgeoisie Pig, empty cans of IPA are piling up. Four boys sit there, yelling over the deafening music and getting lost in conversation about their band, Shoebox Money.

“Shoebox Money is an economics term. You take money out of circulation so the government can’t see it to be taxed, but it also causes a bunch of other economic effects. There’s less cash in circulation so demand goes up and supply goes down, “ explained bassist and manager Patrick Spanier.

“But it’s also a term for storing money for drugs,” he added with a laugh.

Spanier is notorious for his hard-working dedication to the band, his outgoing personality and his inability to say no when a drink is offered up. He’s a founding member of the band, along with Ben Wellwood who plays guitar, harmonica and a strange instrument called a bouzouki.

“I had met Ben one time at Naismith,” Ben Schenberg, lead singer and guitarist said of his first encounter with Wellwood. “Ben was just ripping on the bouzouki the one time I met him and I was like ‘Oh shit, this dude’s super good.’ […] I was little intimidated.”

Since 2015, Shoebox Money has been working on perfecting its sound. When Her Campus KU first featured Shoebox Money, the members were different and the music was rougher. The band went through a series of musicians before finally settling on their current group.

“When [our drummer] Dylan [McCune] messaged me, we had just finished an open mic night at The Bottleneck and there was no percussion in it,” Wellwood said. “It was just two guitars, vocal and bass. We knew we needed a drummer and I was like, ‘Wait. I know a guy’. I swear, the moment I said ‘I know a guy’ I got a message from Dylan.”

McCune and Wellwood met on a musician’s networking website. McCune had been working in a few other genres before he settled into Shoebox Money, but he was genuinely excited to start this new project.

“They said, ‘We’re thinking of doing some blues rock, some real roots-y stuff’. My face lit up. […] It was really great when I walked in with these guys. I thought, ‘Yes. This is the band that I have to get into.’”

Finding the perfect band was only part of the battle. Creating a sound worthy of showcasing live and recording for a professional release was the next step.

“When Ben and I started the band back in 2015, one of the things we said was that we wanted our songs and lyrics to matter and we want people to be affected by the music that we write,” Spanier said. “I think for the most part we’re upbeat, positive people, but we are aware of those darker emotional feelings. We want people to relate to them from that aspect. A lot of our personal experiences and struggles go into our writing.”

Spanier himself wrote Ocean’s Tide nearly in its entirety about feeling lost between two homes. Schenberg pours out his doubts about stability and hope in America in both Shakedown and Lifeline. Bring It Back and Make Me Feel Crazy were written about lady troubles, and Schenberg admits that he found a lot of the meaning in What She’s Got only after its completion.

“The more I looked at the lyrics, the more I looked at the way I sing the song and the kind of ferocity I try to put into some of the lyrics. I was like ‘Wow. This is just my life.’ I just poured it out, didn’t think anything of it at the time,” Schenberg said.

Once an idea is settled on, the rest of the band chips in parts that they think will build the song up. It’s then that Wellwood gets to work with his music theory knowledge, something he picked up in high school, to complete the sound.

 “The more that I can tie my guitar part to Ben’s guitar part to Dylan’s rhythm and then to Patrick’s bass lines, that’s what’s going to tie all these things together,” Wellwood said. “The more the bass echoes the guitar, the more the drums echo on vocal or bass… that’s what’s going to make the sound really tight. That comes from years of playing music. A lot of people will do it on a subconscious level, but doing it consciously makes writing really fast.”

In the last few months, the band has been promoting itself, building an audience, and playing as many shows as possible. Shoebox Money recently released a few in-studio recordings with KKFI 90.1 and they’re planning on releasing their debut EP in early 2018. The EP, Reason and Rhyme (formerly Chasing The Moon) was home-recorded, mixed by McCune and ready for release when Emac Productions, McCune’s father’s production company, called to stall the process.

“They said ‘You guys are good enough, you should do a professional release. This is your first thing, it’s going to affect your booking, your image and everything you do, so you want to make sure that your debut is something that you’re so comfortable with.’ So the next day, we signed with them and we pushed our release,” Spanier said.

“It’s difficult because we are working on building the songs from the ground up from a recording standpoint,” said Schenberg. “Things are changing as we work with [Emac] and we look more into how the songs are written, the consistencies and the inconsistencies between our different types of music and the different songs. It’s really nice to work with them and it’s going to take a while to get that right.”

While the band and their growing audience feel impatient about the release, the guys agree it will be well worth the wait. In the meantime, they’re playing shows in Kansas City, Chicago, St. Louis and a few other major cities in the Midwest.

“We’re starting to play with bands that we really look up to,” Spanier said. “One of my favorite bands, Evening Glow from Chicago, we got to play with them, and we totally held our own.”

Spanier says he’s surprised by how quickly they’ve gotten to the level that they’re at now and is excited for what the future may hold. Shoebox Money has secured a full-time band, found its sound, and nervously awaits its future.

“We’re taking it one step at a time. The growth that we’ve had even in just the last eight months or so that we’ve been playing together has been insane,” Schenberg said.

“The other thing is that we’re all very privileged with the fact that we have other options too. If we decide we don’t want to do music, we can afford not to do music and take a less risky and safer career path,” Spanier said. “The fact that we’re able to do this at this level is a little scary, but it’s pretty cool at the same time. “

At the end of the day, the band credits its success to its support network. Friends, family, fellow bands and locals in the Lawrence and KC music scene have consistently showed their dedication to supporting Shoebox Money in all their endeavors. As they prepare to release their EP, move forward in booking larger shows and continue to grow their audience, Shoebox Money certainly appears to be gaining momentum.

Catch them performing locally in the spring and keep an eye out for their EP by following their social media channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram