A Conversation With The Arts of Life Band
Arts of Life Band is a creative collaborative project between disabled and non-disabled artists in the Chicago area, based out of the Arts of Life community of artists. Guided by Artistic Director Ryan Shuquem, the band makes call-and-response, energetic rock music that combines the eccentricity of Wesley Willis and the community aspect of School of Rock.
Housed in the Arts of Life space in West Town, Chicago, the band has been keeping busy with recording, performing and over-all good vibes. They found time to record a session at Coach House Sounds, capturing the spirit of their live show and energy of the band – here the session on CHIRPradio.org and stream it over at coachhousesounds.com.
What the dumbest thing you’ve ever done in a basement?
Matt – I threw a chair at my brother. I was watching TV and he changed the channel in the middle of the show. I was only 12, so I didn’t know what I was doing. Ha.
Mike – I pushed my cousin and locked him in the tool closet.
Ryan – I was playing with a broken light bulb and shocking myself in a basement.
David – We used to have a basement, but I don’t live in there any more.
Arts of Life Band seems to have a humanitarian mission, can you talk about that aspect of the project and how you’ve accomplished those goals?
Matt – I think we show people with disabilities that they have lots of options in life
Ryan- I agree, and I think we introduce people to each other who might have never met otherwise, help bridge the gaps between disabled rockers and non-disabled rockers.
Describe a scenario where Arts of Life Band could be someone’s life coach and the top 2 life lessons you’d teach them.
David – We’d say “You can have a band too. You can play music too. Don’t be afraid.”
What do you like about Chicago, and what makes it special to you?
Matt – I like the hot dogs, I like the meat, I like the White Sox
David – I like the police, they rescue lives
Ryan – I like the friendly people. Coach House Sounds, Mucca Pazza, CPE Sound where we rehearse. We get to meet lots of nice people that are interested in supporting our hard work.
Mike – I like my housing association and my staff.
Kelly – Hamburgers. I just do.
Tell me about your CHS session—what did you like about it? Was there anything that surprised you or was spontaneous that came out in the recording?
Ryan – I think they made us feel comfortable and really showcased our fabulous energy!
David – I liked the spotlights and the peoples
Andrew – Yeah, Matt was great. He sat in while we were waiting for our drummer and helped us warm up. He played well!
What’s happening? What are your current/upcoming shows or releases?
Ryan- We’re excited about our release show on March 10th at the Hide Out of course and we’re doing a couple high schools this month. Should be fun to rock a high school.
Also, we’ve got a great art studio with lots of beautiful art work to look at and the best tour guide in the business (David). Come check us out in West Town at 2010 W. Carroll Ave. or in the virtual world at artsoflife.org.