What kind of man is a rock star, golf nut, and a father? That man is the all-too down-to-earth sports fan that is Allen Shellenberger, the drummer for Orange County hometown rockers, Lit.
Shellenberger, a native of Long Beach, CA, is like most Orange County natives: He loves to hit the outdoors, loves sports, and loves to rock out with his friends. His best friends are his band mates – Kevin Baldes and A. Jay and Jeremy Popoff, who round out the foursome that is Lit.
Lit has been smashing radios and CD players for several years with billboard chart-toppers like “Miserable,’ “Ziplock,’ and “My Own Worst Enemy.’ When Allen isn’t hitting the drums with Lit or hanging out with his band mates, he’s either hitting the links with a four-iron in hand or he’s sitting back watching sports on the tube. Either way, Allen Shellenberger is always in motion and I had a chance to talk to the golfing drummer while he was in Tennessee with the band.
Allen talked about sports – from his love for the Anaheim Angels, his first foray into sports, his thoughts on the Lakers and the 2004 U.S. Basketball Olympic team and their performance, to his life growing up in Orange County and how it compares to TV’s Orange County-inspired dramas. In this interview, it becomes quite obvious what keeps the drummer of Lit lit.
The Exclusive Interview
Kyle Jackson: Where did you and the guys of Lit (Jeremy, A.Jay, and Kevin) meet up?
Allen Shellenberger: Well, Jeremy and A. Jay are brothers – and A. Jay met Kevin in senior high school, and they were hanging out since high school. Jeremy is the older brother. I met them through mutual friends in Anaheim right when I was out of high school.
KJ: You played any sports in high school?
AS: I played sports probably up until I was in high school. I just kind of got sick of it. I was having fun anymore. It was like the parents started getting way competitive about it. My dad was really more like the dad who sat back and watched while the other parents tried to live through their kid. I just wasn’t having fun with that anymore and music was like, my next love, so I just picked that up instead.
KJ: You just did a tour with the band Hoobastank – how was it?
AS : We just did a few tours with Hoobastank. We’re not on the tour with them right now. We did like four or five shows with them and we know those guys from back in the day when we both like, you know, struggling little bands. They’re really good guys.
KJ: What do you think of the Los Angeles Lakers this year?
AS: I’m a Lakers fan and it’s kind of weird: I turned on the TV and the pre-season game was on and I didn’t recognize half the guys on the damn team. But I don’t know, after last year, with all the drama, I think they [the Lakers] needed the change, to kind of rebuild the team, to kind of start from scratch. They have a good foundation with Kobe [Bryant] and I like their new coach as well.
KJ: What are your favorite sports?
AS: I was born and raised in Anaheim, so I was born and raised an Angels fan. My favorite pitcher was Nolan Ryan – he was my hero growing up as a kid.
KJ: Since you’re from Orange County, do you play water sports & surf?
AS: I’d go to the beach and go body surfing, but I had a couple of bad experiences with the surfboard when I was younger, so I just kind of strayed away from surfing. I’m not scared of the water, but I love to go body surfing and just get pounded by the waves and not by the board.
KJ: What happened when you were younger when you went surfing?
AS: I went with some friends of mine, they were like avid surfers, and I went with them on a really big day and I just got pounded [by the waves] and I thought I was gonna drown, I got hit in the head by the surfboard. It was all pretty bad. I was like nine-years-old – when you’re nine, you don’t have that much fear until you think you’re going to die.
KJ: So who’s got the most sports talent in Lit?
AS: Oh when it comes to sports, that’s definitely me. A. Jay used to be a pretty athletic guy, he just doesn’t get into that much anymore, because when you see him perform he’s jumping all over the place – he’s got a really good vertical leap. I would say me and A. Jay are probably the most athletic in the band.
KJ: What’d you think of the Olympics last year?
AS: I thought there was way too much swimming [laughter]. Like, the first week [of the Olympics], that’s all it was, all swimming, and I was over it. It’s really boring to watch.
KJ: What’d you think of the U.S. basketball team, the Dream Team?
AS: They were a joke. I think we need to put the college kids back in there.
KJ: What’s your favorite sports movie?
AS: Caddyshack. It’s got everything. It’s friggin’ hilarious – I love it.
KJ: Lit was recently profiled on CNN – what was that like?
AS: It was pretty flattering – especially when your family sees it all around the country, it kind of makes you feel good, like playing music wasn’t just a hobby, it was something serious that we wanted to do.
KJ: A lot of bands break up – Smashing Pumpkins, Creed – how’d you guys stay together so long? Have you guys ever come close to breaking up?
AS: It’s weird… we’re definitely an exception out there. We’ve been together for almost like, sixteen years and we didn’t really get our first big break until we were ten years into it. We’re like family – we’re friends. As soon as we get off tour, we don’t go our separate ways, we’re on the phone the next day sayin’, “hey, what do you want to do tonight?’ We’re just really good friends – It’s like a brotherly bond.
KJ: What’s the last good sports game you saw, either on TV or in person?
AS: The last good game I saw in person was an Angels game. The last good game I saw on TV was actually I watched the end of the Louisville – Miami game. After we got off stage, I went back to the hotel, took a shower, and watched the rest of the game.
KJ: I’m guessing you’re a big baseball fan.
AS: Yeah, that’s one of the sports I played.
KJ: Any favorite teams – baseball, basketball, football?
AS: I watch football too… I love the Seattle Seahawks… the Angels – baseball. The Lakers – basketball. I don’t really follow hockey all that much. I follow it a little bit during the playoffs, but I don’t know. I grew up in Southern California and we didn’t have a whole lot of ice.
KJ: If Lit were a professional sports team – baseball, football, basketball – which would they be, based on solidarity and all the other values that you guys share?
AS: I would say we’re kind of like the Angels that won the World Series. They were a team, y’know what I mean? They did it together, they had a good coach – I would compare us to that. We were the underdog, we weren’t favored to win, but we came out on top.
KJ: So do you guys horse around a lot?
AS: Oh yeah – we’re constantly laughing. I wouldn’t want to be a person on the other side of the room looking in on us, because our sense of humor is really silly.
KJ: You guys did ESPN’s morning show, Cold Pizza. What was it like?
AS: It’s cool, but it’s really weird though, playing that early in the morning. It’s kind of weird, because there’s like, no audience. You’re just playing your songs that early in the morning, and you kinda want to get into it, jump around and stuff, but it was just a little too early for us.
KJ: Was it hard to perform then, without an audience?
AS: Well, it’s not hard to do, it’s just different, because when we play live, we like to feed off the crowd.
KJ: So you and guys from Lit are from Orange County – the O.C. You’ve heard of the Fox series, The O.C. – is living in the actually O.C. anything like Fox’s televised version of the O.C.?
AS: No, no. There are parts that are probably similar to it, but not where I come from. People would definitely be shocked at the differences. It’s nothing like TV.
KJ: A few years back, you and guys of Lit worked with Pam Anderson on the video for your hit song, “Miserable.’ What was that like?
AS: It definitely did not suck. She was there for twelve hours and she was in a bikini of course, pretty much the whole time. I definitely noticed a difference in the number of crew members who were there when she did her parts and when we did our parts. Those guys showed up just holding cords.
KJ: Do you guys still keep in touch with Pam?
AS: We don’t like, call each other on the phone or anything, but when she was going out with Kid Rock and she’d come out and visit him, the first thing she would do when she got to the venue is come to our dressing room and hang out with us. She’s a really cool chick.
KJ: So I heard you play golf – How good are you?
AS: I’m a twelve handicap.
KJ: What tournaments have you played in?
AS: One of them I did, it was a tournament for Modern Drummer magazine. The editor got all these different drummers that golf, got everybody together and we all played a round of golf, and the guy went from group to group interviewing people, and at the end of the round, everybody ended up back at Tommy Lee’s house in Malibu.
KJ: All these cool drummers end up at Tommy Lee’s house after golf – any cool stories?
AS: Actually, it was – I don’t know. Golf, drummers and drinking, it was actually pretty tame. Surprisingly tame. It was fun – Stuart Copeland was in the living room, like, wailing on this gigantic drum kit that Tommy Lee had set up – it was pretty screwed up.
KJ: Any other noteworthy drummers show up?
AS: Adrian from No Doubt, Stan from Sugar Ray, Tommy Lee, Mick Fleetwood, Eric from a band called No FX, a punk rock band. It was a pretty diverse group of people.
KJ: Did you play in a foursome at the tournament?
AS: Me and my buddy Stan from Sugar Ray were in a group with two guys we’d never met before. One guy was in a band called the Eels that I met that day.
KJ: How’d you start playing golf?
AS: I started at a young age. My dad would ask me if I wanted to go to the range and go and hit balls, and he’d start taking me to the public courses, and once I got to high school I just quit sports all together and I wish I wouldn’t have stopped golfing.
KJ: Any other sports you play aside from golf?
AS: I shoot baskets when I go to the gym, but nothing league oriented.
KJ: So did you come from a sports-oriented family?
AS: No, actually I was an only child. My parents really kind of pushed for me to be involved in something, and sports just happened to come kind of natural to me. My dad wasn’t the guy who made me do it and he wasn’t the coach or anything like that. He just said, “If you want to do it, cool and I’m behind it, and I’ll play catch with you and help you out.’ He wasn’t trying to live his sports dream through me.
KJ: If it came down to sports or music, which would you choose?
AS: Um, well, music. It’s really funny – when I was a kid, I dreamed of playing for the Anaheim Angels when they were the California Angels. But my favorite position was centerfield, and I always wanted to play centerfield for the Angels, and it was kind of ironic, because we did this big radio festival show and it was at Anaheim stadium and the stage was set up in centerfield. I wasn’t playing for the Angels, but I was playing in drums in the centerfield instead of baseball. It was pretty crazy.
KJ: So how’d you start playing drums?
AS: I think I was naturally drawn to drums, because it’s pretty much the most physical thing you could do musically, so that’s probably one of reasons one of the reasons I was naturally attracted to drums. It’s the most physical thing you can do and I was just drawn to it. Whenever a concert or a video came on TV, that was like my favorite thing to watch, was the drummer. My parents always wanted me to be involved in something, so I just took the drums on.
KJ: Which is more of a physical endurance test – playing a long drum solo or playing a round of golf?
AS: Definitely drums. Once you get going, you don’t even really think about getting tired or anything like that. You just do it.
KJ: What kind of music do you listen to?
AS: I listen to everything. It doesn’t really matter what kind of music it is, as long as it’s a good song. I predominantly listen to rock music, but I listen to everything – it doesn’t matter to me. A lot of people say “I like everything except country,’ but y’know what? Johnny Cash was straight-up country, and he’s awesome.
KJ: Ever met any famous athletes?
AS: I’ve met a couple… a couple weeks ago I met Scott Spezio, and went and hung out with him. He was pretty cool. On the Kid Rock tour, when we played at Madison Square Garden, I wish I could’ve taken a picture of this, it was pretty cool. On one side of stage, there was Jeremy our guitar player, Pamela Anderson, one of the main guys for the Hell’s Angels, and John McEnroe. It was the funniest thing – I wish I would’ve taken a picture of that.
KJ: Do you have a list of hot female athletes or anything like that?
AS: Anna Kournikova’s pretty hot. I think it was in Maxim or in Stuff, where they did some of the Olympic athletes – some of those softball players were pretty cute too. I don’t know their names since I was looking at them in their bikinis.
KJ: If you weren’t with Lit or playing music right now, what would you be doing instead?
AS: What would I be doing? Playing drums for somebody else, I hope. Trying to live the dream.
KJ: Are you living the dream now?