It's not just the discount beer and fountains of fondue that Mike Shumaker has had to adjust to since his spring move to Milwaukee. "I'm not used to having fans," laughs the former Clevelander, who fronted the underrated local band Sheilbound before skipping town to join fast-rising post-emo rockers Hey Mercedes.
He's joking, of course. Over the last six years, Sheilbound managed to develop a small but loyal following for its bracing, whip-smart emo. But the band's hard-won fan base paled in comparison to that of Hey Mercedes. Composed primarily of former members of the superb Champaign, Illinois emo forerunner Braid, Hey Mercedes is having a breakout year. And thanks to Hey Mercedes's success, Shumaker, who has known his new bandmates for years, has finally been able to quit his day job. "That was always such a bummer," he says. "Who feels like writing music after they worked in a hot, sweaty building all day? You come home, and the last thing you want to do is pick up a guitar and think about anything productive. You just want to sit around, drink beer, and watch TV."
Joining Hey Mercedes has been liberating for Shumaker in other ways as well. "The biggest difference is the fact that I'm not the singer of this band, which is kind of a relief to me, actually. I was never really happy being the singer. I had fun when we played shows and stuff, but I never felt like I was 100 percent cut out for the job. I can just think more about writing interesting guitar lines."
And all that gloriously cheap brew . . .