Nothing ever sounds quite as good as the music you listened to in your youth. I came to pop-punk through the back door. That is to say I went from death metal to Green Day and My Chemical Romance. Let me explain. In grade school when I first started getting into music I was a bit of a social outcast. Wanting to fit in with the popular kids I decided to try listening to whatever music they were listening to. At the time this was boy bands *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys and pop stars of the 90s like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Spoilers: my brilliant plan to listen to the cool kids music and thus finally be accepted by them didn’t work. And the music kinda sucked anyways. I took all that anger I was feeling in my exile and went in the complete opposite direction listening to the heaviest music I could find. Slayer, Slipknot, and Cannibal Corpse.

I dove head first into metal and the local music scene. Ours was small enough that the bills would be mixed. We could have metal, punk, and screamo bands all playing on the same night. I noticed something about the different groups that kept mostly to themselves. The punks, while not completely above being a bit snobbish, unabashedly listened to whatever the fuck they wanted to. Whereas the metalheads only listened to metal. I’ve never been a purist. If I wanted to listen to Jimmy Eat World one day and As I Lay Dying the next I absolutely would. This was how I started to gravitate away from metal and towards pop-punk and post-hardcore which were extremely popular at the time.

Shooter McGavn cut the sweetness of pop-punk with the hard edge of metalcore. Also known as easycore. Yeah, I was a goner from the start. Stylistically they immediately reminded me of two seminal albums from my own personal musical journey. Homesick by A Day to Remember and Enema of the State by Blink-182. These are two of my favorite records of all time so that’s some high praise.

I was lucky enough to speak with vocalist Carson McJimsey and guitarist Nickohlis Hyatt who pulled double (quadruple?) duty by also producing, mixing, and mastering their debut EP Tee Times which the band self-released on April 24th. Checking in with the band proved I was definitely on the right track nailing down their influences.

Carson: ‘There were a lot of bands that we grew up listening to that definitely influenced how we wanted to go about writing music for Shooter McGavn. We wanted to make everything as catchy as possible, yet still nostalgic for that early-mid 2000’s sound. A Day to Remember, Four Year Strong and many more other easycore bands are big influences on us. In terms of individual albums I would say probably the biggest ones would have to be The Years Ahead by Abandoned by Bears or Yours to Take by These Hearts. Both of which I highly suggest everybody checks out.’

Tee Times opens with a sick bass line backed by wandering drums and guitar that give a solid preview of the varied styles the band is pulling from. If I’m being honest I normally don’t care for intro and interlude tracks, but this one has so much personality. The way it transitions into “Only Birdies” works like a launchpad propelling the listener into the album proper. Shooter McGavn doesn’t beat around the bush or bury the lede. They get right into the heavy business bringing the core sound in early on with the crushing line, ‘It’s hard to say that you had it all together / yeah it was never together / show me what you’ve got / make a stand / just give it your best shot.’ That’s a pretty good overview of Shooter McGavn’s influences and some of the sounds you’ll hear on the EP. But just how did this band come together in the first place?

Nick: ‘It all started with a phone call. Carson, our vocalist, called me and asked if I could write/produce pop-punk. I said, ‘Easy‘. At the time he was just looking to do it as a fun side project. As a matter of fact he simply wanted to make an EP with his pop-punk, easycore influences to have something to listen to with friends. However, we noticed the project started gaining a lot of traction after the first two singles. Then it really started taking off after our EP release. So fast forward to where we are now pursuing it as we continue writing new music! During that process we had Tony, the drummer from my other band Aurelia, write drums on a new song. Tony ended up joining Shooter McGavn along with Sid, our bassist who is also in Aurelia. So we are all in bands together, have toured together, and became close friends over the years!’

Happy Gilmore acts as a kind of behind the scenes north star for the band serving as their main non-musical influence. As evidenced by the clips from the movie on “An Invitation to a Kickback”, the golf references of the EP’s title/cover, and most obviously the band’s name itself. Carson divulges, ‘The name actually started from a joke that was basically about trying to think of the weirdest names for a band. I always thought that it had potential, so I just kept it in the back of my head.’

That’s right, this guy:

Shooter McGavn is split between California and Texas. Tony and Sid, the band’s drummer and bassist, are both native Texans. But in a funny bit of transplanting, Nick who is originally from California is now living in Texas, while Carson who’s from Texas calls Sacramento, CA home. All of this movement, distance, and shared background definitely had an impact on the writing and recording process.

Carson: ‘It’s actually funny that you ask that about the writing process because everything was basically done over Facebook Messenger, due to the fact that most of the band lives in Texas. I don’t play guitar, but I have a lot of guitar riffs in my head. So Nick and I would basically mash ideas together to form a rough draft of a song and then we basically just go from there.’

Nick: ‘From my side of things the writing process was treated as just another paid project at first. But it was also fun. We didn’t overthink anything, we just wrote and had fun during the process. It seems like the best music always comes out when you just have fun with it! We did everything remotely over a Facebook video call.’

Other bands in this genre space tend to be just kinda heavier pop-punk. They have some screams backing up the chorus or a few rogue growls sprinkled in almost as an afterthought. Shooter McGavn on the other hand dual wields the heavy and pop elements feeding off each other. It’s a synthesis. “Nine Iron” starts off straight up metalcore featuring one of the filthiest breakdowns on the entire EP. Whereas “An Invitation to a Kickback” is a pop-punk anthem with a sing along chorus. ‘It might be time to take it slow now / before you go don’t bring all your bros down / you like to think you’d be better off well that’s true / I’d like to think that I’m better with my own crew.’ Tee Times dynamically shifts between styles. Nick brings up some additional influences, ‘When it comes to influences, I did have old pop-punk roots before I got into the heavier genres. Bands like Rufio, New Found Glory, and Sum 41. Carson would help me discover new easycore bands such as Abandoned By Bears and a few others which fueled the process!’

Okay we all keep throwing that word around, but what exactly IS easycore?

Carson: ‘Easycore to us is basically like a mixture. It’s the best of both worlds, when it comes to pop-punk and metalcore. It’s fun to write, it’s catchy, AND it’s heavy. The one thing that probably stands out the most is how versatile the genre is.’

Nick: ‘Although I was familiar with bands like A Day to Remember, Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! back in the day, to be honest I was pretty new to this whole easycore thing. But it started to grow on me as I discovered it’s fun, easy to write, and heavy at the same time.’

Tee Time features some incredibly engaging cover artwork. At first glance I thought it was a gatefold LP being held open, maybe even a specific album. They are are holding up this scrapbook looking magazine-like object like a sacred totem. Gazing at the inside like they can’t look away from the relics contained within. It’s captivating.

Carson:For the cover art there really was no main goal. We definitely wanted something bright with colors that matched the emotions of happiness or joy. But we also liked the idea of having objects from the past that we all grew up with introduced by the artwork. We were very happy with how it turned out. It was done by an artist named Ron Totman, who we highly recommend. Everybody should get work done by him.’

Whether it’s artwork or songwriting creativity is key. Providing space for experimentation and fun when working as a group is also critical. Shooter McGavn have a carefree and joyous attitude giving the impression of friends hanging out coming up with cool ideas. Carson states, ‘I definitely think that we’re all creative, unique, and funny in our own ways. When it comes to the creative process, I think it tends to help having a playful personality or unique people around you when writing music. Because at the end of the day I feel like the music that people make should be unique to themselves.’

This marriage of elements isn’t just in the band’s instrumentation. Which pulls together the power chords, epic pick slides, and high energy drums of pop-punk with the breakdowns, open guitar chug chugs, and cymbal thrashes of metalcore. It’s also felt in the songwriting, word play, and singing styles they exhibit as well. The transitions between toothache sweet pop cleans and nasty growls are well executed.

But it’s in the lyrics that the complementary nature of their dual styles really shines. As we’re taken from one extreme to the other of soft catchy cleans to harsh smashing screams the through line is the positivity of the words themselves. An excellent example of this is on “Sandler’s Last Stand” ‘So set the stage / make it count now / you always get what you put in / just remember all of the times we shared.’ This is uplifting metalcore at its finest. Music to get pumped up to with a life affirming spin. A theme directly lifted from the band’s pop-punk roots where it’s all about overcoming obstacles.

This isn’t about tough guy machismo or wallowing in pain and suffering. The often all consuming focus of typical metal imagery. This is about looking back and saying, ‘Yeah we got hurt, yeah we went through it, but look how far we’ve come.’ This is stoicism dressed up as pop wearing combat boots ready to kick life’s ass right in the face. Shooter McGavn turns the nostalgia dial up to 11 on Tee Times. ‘Don’t you remember asking your friends / are you coming home this summer?’ The band fully captures the youthful glow of summer’s past, but not forgotten. Back when we were a little smaller and the world felt a lot bigger.

Shooter McGavn isn’t just nostalgically looking in the rear view however. They’ve got plenty planned as they focus on what the future holds. Nick says, ‘We have a music video shoot coming up in late July for a new song. We’re currently working on 2-3 singles. Then most likely a full length album after those get released. In addition to all that we also plan on getting show ready and merch throughout this year!’

Tee Times is an incredible debut EP from a band that shows a lot of promise and courage. While not exactly creating anything brand new, Shooter McGavn have managed to present these familiar components in a fresh and captivating way. The whole project oozes with warmth, happiness, and an infectious positivity. These are the perfect feel good jams of the summer.

Nick: ‘The fact that what started out as nothing more than a paid studio project, with a joke band name, just to have something to listen to for ourselves became a serious band. So now to see how fast it’s been moving, it’s kind of awesome.’

Shooter McGavn is:

Carson McJimsey – Vocals
Nickohlis Hyatt – Guitar
Tony Escamilla III -Drums
Sidney Steelhammer – Bass

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Tee Times is streaming now. Be sure to keep an eye peeled for their music video coming in July.

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