Local rock artist Shane Tripp is the kind of musician who creates simply because he’s got songs trapped inside his head, eager to escape out into the world.
And he’s been that way for almost as long as he can remember.
“I think I wanted to rock ‘n’ roll ever since I was a little kid,” Tripp told Revue. “I discovered this Yamaha keytar that my grandparents kept in their closet when I was maybe eight years old. I messed around with it so much that they just gave it to me.”
Growing up in the suburban outreaches of Wyoming and Grandville, Tripp took his early influences from alternative rock radio, listening to the likes of Bush, Oasis, Smashing Pumpkins and Soundgarden. He soon asked for a guitar and started taking lessons as a reward for good grades. By the time he was 13, he had begun writing some of his own songs and he hasn’t stopped since.
“I have played in like nine different bands since high school,” Tripp said. “Some of them had a good run, some of them not so much, but I enjoy getting to play different styles and switching instruments. I can kind of influence my own songwriting by being in these multiple projects.”
Now 30, Tripp has become something of a figurehead in Grand Rapids’ psych-rock scene. From first moving to GR at 19 to his current solo work and involvement with garage rockers Suzies, his unique sounds, self-taught approach and signature touch have become a ringing element in West Michigan’s ever-expanding local music scene.
“Since I moved here, I feel like the music scene has gotten way better,” Tripp said. “As a teenager, my friends and I were playing our indie space rock music in like a sea of hardcore metal bands. Now, there are a shit-ton of talented bands popping up all over the place.”
For his solo work, Tripp has played with the same live band for the past three years, enlisting guitarist Dan Fisher, drummer Ben Weissenborn and bassist Jonny Bruha to bring his sounds to life onstage. He has released three records under his own name, leading up to his most recent, Brain Drip.
“I think my songwriting has matured a lot over the years,” Tripp said. “My newest record is the most eclectic album I’ve done so far. I think it makes for a more interesting and hopefully engaging listening experience. The last thing I want to do is bore my audience.”
An avid vinyl fan, Tripp said he welcomes the challenge of creating an album that listeners in the digital age will still listen to from start to finish.
“I’ve always just wanted to make albums that make people feel like (Radiohead’s) OK Computer or (Bob Dylan’s) Blonde on Blonde made me feel when I discovered them,” he said.
For the Jan. 6 release of Brain Drip, Tripp will share the event with his close friends in Grand Rapids band The Howlers, also releasing a new LP, Bone Dry.
“The release show is probably going to be the happiest night of my life thus far,” Tripp said. “Maybe I’ll be crying tears of joy. The Pyramid Scheme is such a great venue, it feels like home to me. It’s just gonna be perfect.”
Looking ahead, Tripp has a tour planned in support of Brain Drip, with a two-and-a-half week excursion lined up for the East Coast and Midwest later this year.
But even that won’t stop the new songs from dripping out of his brain.
“After that, I suppose I’ll have to write another record,” he said.
Shane Tripp: Brain Drip Album Release wsg. The Howlers (Bone Dry Album Release)
The Pyramid Scheme, 68 Commerce Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
Jan. 6, 8 p.m., $8 advance
pyramidschemebar.com, (616) 272-3758