The Black Shades move forward with new bassist

Aaron Clark performs with the Black Shades at the Twisted Tap in Bowling Green Feb. 1.

Chris Rutledge

When Michael Dean was offered a new job at Hawthorn Pharmaceuticals, he knew his days playing bass with The Black Shades were numbered.

The decision didn’t come out of nowhere. The idea of leaving home to tour regularly had soured with the birth of his daughter. But after his first interview went particularly well, it began to sink in that life as a professional musician had taken him as far as it was going to.

“I sat at my house crying like a baby, as bad as that sounds,” he said. “I knew the changes it was going to bring to my life, and I knew what it meant for me and my career as a musician.”

Dean was one of the founding members of The Shades, starting the band with lead singer Aaron Clark in 2009 when their former band, Sleeper Agent, temporarily split up. Clark and Dean would never rejoin Sleeper Agent, but what they started became one of the most successful Bowling Green bands outside of the Cage the Elephant family.

Quitting the band he started was no easy decision for Dean, but to him, it was the only logical choice.

“I live a completely different life than the rest of the guys do,” he said. “They’re all fresh out of college, and they don’t have much that they have to worry about right now; but me, I have a family, a house, tons of debt, bills that have got to be paid…”

The decision was a shock for Clark and the rest of the band, but only proved to be a minor setback.

“We didn’t think once ‘okay that’s the end of the band,’” Clark said. “It’s kind of like you’re building a building and you’re using a certain kind of bricks, and then you find out that you don’t have that same kind of bricks anymore but you have to figure out a way to keep building your building.”

So The Shades set out to find a replacement for their longtime friend.
Clark said The Shades didn’t want to rush in to any decisions, so they held tryouts and played with some bassists more than once before making their decision.

Finally they settled on Dylan Adams, who tried out for the band on a whim.

“I stopped over here one night to see a roommate of theirs, and I just walked in the room at the right time,“ Adams said. “They were talking about having to replace Dean and I said, ‘Well, I’m not doing anything. I’ll try out.’”

Clark said Adams was an easy decision. He was the first bassist to audition, and none of the others could compare.

Adams’ background is in hardcore and metal, but he said he enjoys all types of music, and relishes the chance to try out some different techniques.

“One of the biggest selling points on Dylan is not only is he a great bass player, he’s also super flexible,” Clark said. “It’s so hard to find people who can actually dedicate themselves. You can’t just stick around your town. You have to go out to make it happen.”

The band have big plans for 2012. They are preparing to release their new EP “Told Ya So,” and gearing up to play SXSW for a second year.

“Told Ya So,” produced by Duane Lundy of Lexington, features Dean on every track. Adams said when playing those songs live he will do his best to recreate Dean’s playing, but will add his own twist to the sound.

Clark said the band members have already been writing and working on material for another EP.

As for his relationship with Dean, Clark said he will always consider him a part of The Shades family.

“If we were going to just be a cover band or a local band, then Dean would be perfect,” he said.

Whether Dean outgrew The Black Shades or The Black Shades outgrew Dean isn’t clear, but Dean said he will continue to support the band and hopes Adams is a good fit.

“I want him to fall in place because everything we worked for as a band would be all for not if they didn’t have somebody in there that could really take my place,” he said. “I really want them to succeed because we put in every single piece of our blood, sweat and tears into that project, and having all the pieces in place is important.

“It was something I lived and breathed for a long time. I would like to see them keep going with the foundation I helped set in place, and take it forward.”