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KC’s Shiner celebrates vinyl release of ‘Lula Divinia’ with reunion show

Shiner is Allen Epley (clockwise from upper left), Paul Malinowski, Tim Dow, Josh Newton and Jason Gerken.
Shiner is Allen Epley (clockwise from upper left), Paul Malinowski, Tim Dow, Josh Newton and Jason Gerken.

Though it wasn’t one of the most popular bands to come out of Kansas City, Shiner was one of the most acclaimed, a band beloved by a cult of fans who loved their rock music loud, hard and adventurous.

Shiner formally broke up after a farewell show in Kansas City in January 2003, nearly nine years after it started. Since then, the band has reunited several times for short tours that included stops in Kansas City and Lawrence.

Friday night, Shiner will perform at RecordBar, 1520 Grand Blvd., to celebrate the vinyl release of “Lula Divinia,” its second full-length album, released in 1997. On Monday, Allen Epley, the band’s lead singer and songwriter (and now a Chicago resident), answered questions by email about “Lula Divinia” and the tour, which also stops in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. Shiner’s other members are: Paul Malinowski, Tim Dow, Josh Newton and Jason Gerken.

Q: What do you remember about recording “Lula Divinia”?

A: This was our second record but first with Paul Malinowski on bass, and that kind of changed the game all the way around.

It was a split release (mistake) between Hit It Recordings and DeSoto Records, and we recorded it at CRC in Chicago in about five days, which was by far the nicest and most pro studio we’d all worked in. Chris Shephard tracked it like a pro and then started the mix process, but after just one song we fired him for some reason and tried to mix with our old buddy Dave Lulek. That was also a mistake.

So we took the tracks back to Kansas City at Westend Studios, and then Paul and Ken Waagner, who owned Hit It Recordings, really mixed it in about nine days. It was a weird group event. The whole thing was difficult but turned out well, we think.

Q: How did it differ from the previous release?

A: “Lula” was a record that was not only more polished than “Splay,” but the songwriting had taken a confident turn. It was like we knew exactly what it was supposed to be. “Splay” was raw and urgent and young but with kind of bad acne. “Lula” showed more finesse and patience.

Q: What do you like most about it?

A: I feel like it’s just a great representation of three minds really connecting. I’m not sure we knew it back then, but we were just really tight. We would fight a lot. Our tempers were quick, but we were all on the same page, I think, even if we weren’t cognizant of it at the time. We knew we had done good work but were still surprised when it got such critical love.

Q: Where does it stand among other Shiner albums?

A: For me, it’s the pinnacle work of that three-piece version of the band. “Splay” was a starter thing. “Starless” was a transition record trying to find our new place, and I feel like “The Egg” is the best thing we did as a four piece.

Q: What do you remember about touring on the album?

A: The first big tour we did for this record was a six-week tour with Jawbox, south out to the West Coast and back East. We had all kinds of van problems as soon as we hit Wichita. We ended up leaving (soundman) Mark Davis with the van and we rented a car to get on tour and he was going to meet us in Dallas or something. Then heading across Texas (the van) died again somewhere near Fort Stockton. We all rode in the front of the tow truck to a Motel 6. I think we only missed one show, in San Diego, maybe. Overall, a really great tour for us in front of big crowds that were hip to what we were doing.

Q: What will Friday’s show be like? Will you play the album in full?

A: I don’t think we’ll do the whole record. As you can tell, we haven’t quite decided how to do this.

My first instinct was to have Tim Dow play with Paul, myself and Josh, which never really occurred officially. And then Jason Gerken will also come out and play some four-piece era jams. If the stage size permits, we’re throwing around the idea of a two-drummer jamboree for the encore. We’ll have to see how that plays out. We’ve got to get to the encore first.

Timothy Finn: 816-234-4781, @phinnagain


Shiner will perform Friday at RecordBar, 1520 Grand Blvd. Milemarker and Drop a Grand are also on the bill. 8 p.m. Admission to the 18-and-older show is $17 to $20.