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SHAKEY GRAVES No Expectations

Shakey Graves

When American actor, Alejandro Rose-Garcia, steps out from behind the camera and onto the stage he takes the name Shakey Graves. CHRIS HAVERCROFT speaks to the dynamic Americana storyteller as he gears up for his first Australian tour. Shakey Graves performs with Shovels And Rope and Ruby Boots at the Astor Theatre this Sunday, March 8.

When out with a group of friends Alejandro Rose-Garcia was given the ‘campfire name’ of Shakey Graves.

Whilst he didn’t make a fuss at the time, Garcia decided to keep the moniker as his stage name and as an easy way to separate his music from his acting career.

“As a kid I wished that I had any other name than Alejandro,” says Rose-Garcia of the choice to keep the Shakey Graves title. “I wanted a name like Jack that anyone could spell – including myself. I wanted to keep my music and acting separate because I am not trying to run a big campaign on my personal life. I figured those two things – acting and music – are different forms of expression that don’t have anything to do with each other and I wanted the music to stand on its own, and I hope that I have succeeded so far.”

Music isn’t a profession that Garcia has turned to because he couldn’t cut it as an actor. He has had regular roles thrown his way, from movies such as Sky Kids 3 and Sin City: A Dame To KillFor, as well as the smooth operating ‘The Swede’ in the hit TV series, Friday Night Lights. It must take some stones to be able to turn your back on a resume such as that to focus on music.

“Acting is really only a full-time job if you get hired. That is pretty much more than half of the battle. With the music, I would have been pretty content with just playing essentially for myself but at a certain point I had to make a decision. On one side I had to wake up and pretend I was something that I’m not, and on the other hand with music I would be personally responsible for my own creative output and I could take it places that I wanted to go. It’s a different approach to each thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love acting but it really takes a lot of discipline and focus that I am not really willing to give it right now.”

After a couple of releases that were essentially Garcia and his guitar that would focus mainly on the more roots side of rock, the latest Shakey Graves album is quite the departure. And The War Came was recorded in a studio, has more instruments and contains a few well-placed duets. It is a big step for the artist who came up with the term anti-marketing when pushing his first two releases. It was a decision that wasn’t a push for a more commercial placing.

“I was curious about it,” offers Garcia of the rationale behind the change of approach. “I have never really done anything by the book. Not out of lack of interest, it just wasn’t the way that I approached it. I thought it was time to put out an album that was new for me too. I always feel that I can retreat into my strengths no matter what, so stepping outside of my comfort zone was a good way to attract people who may not have heard of me and to hopefully not scare off those that were already along for the ride. I was really looking for a happy medium between the two and I think I got pretty close.”