12 Songs, 37 Minutes


About Sarah Shook & the Disarmers

"I’m a vegan, bisexual, atheist, civil rights activist, female in a country band in the South." Given that description of herself, it's obvious that Sarah Shook isn't afraid to speak her mind and ruffle a few feathers if need be. If Shook sounds like a purposeful troublemaker in her life, in her music with the band the Disarmers, she offers up a full-bodied combination of the sound of vintage outlaw country, with lyrics that waver between defiance and honest introspection, and the fire of punk rock.

Shook was born in Rochester, New York in 1985. She was raised in a deeply religious household, homeschooled, and only allowed to listen to classical or Christian praise music as she grew up. Despite these restrictions, Shook taught herself to play guitar in high school and began writing songs. She and her family moved frequently during her childhood, and when she was 19, they settled in Garner, North Carolina, a town Shook openly disliked. A brief marriage left her with a son, and she relocated to Pittsboro, North Carolina, a half-hour drive from Chapel Hill, where she felt much more at home. In 2010, she put together her first band, Sarah Shook & the Devil, who issued an EP in 2013, Seven. By the end of 2013, that band had split, and Shook & the Devil guitarist Eric Peterson started over with the group Sarah Shook & the Dirty Hand, a stopgap project that played live around the Chapel Hill area. Meanwhile, Shook had found a fan in producer and engineer Ian Schreier, who was eager to make a record with her. In 2015, she and Peterson assembled a new band to record with Schreier, which also included Aaron Olivia on bass, Phil Sullivan on pedal steel, and John Howie, Jr. (who is also Shook's partner) on drums. The new combo, dubbed the Disarmers, cut their debut album live in the studio with Schreier at the controls. Sidelong was self-released in late 2015, and the band toured as much as Shook's commitments as a working mother would permit. The album received positive reviews for Shook's hard-edged tales of empty bottles and broken hearts, and she landed a deal with Chicago's well-established "insurgent country" label Bloodshot Records. Bloodshot gave Sidelong a nationwide reissue in 2017, and in April 2018, they dropped the second Disarmers' album, Years. ~ Mark Deming

Pittsboro, NC