Three Great Things: Shakey Graves

Alejandro Rose-Garcia values sci-fi, bathrobes, and water — which are all related, by the way.

1. Science Fiction

I’ve always been into sci-fi. When I was 6 or so, my dad showed me Predator and Aliens, both of which terrified the living shit out of me. But it made me think about things differently! In general what I’ve loved sci-fi so much for is helping flesh out the weird, confusing world we live in. If you freeze-frame the last year… I saw a news still, and it said, “QAnon shaman tried in Capitol riot.” If you showed that fucking headline to somebody from a few years ago, they’d say, “What do any of these words even mean?” 

Sci-fi has always helped me believe that whatever is coming next, I can’t even imagine it, and that can work both positively and negatively. I still choose to stay optimistic because on the sci-fi spectrum, we’re not at Handmaid’s Tale yet! It can get worse. And I’m also all riled up because I’ve been reading the Three Body Problem books. They’re called the “Dark Forest trilogy,” these hard sci-fi books by Cixin Liu, and they’re absolutely bonkers. The first one is slow and gets things going. It’s like a first-contact story that starts in the 1960s. I’m in the third book now, and we’re in like 2400. Aliens have already tried to take stuff away, and we’ve come up with all these different theories… I can’t even tell you, because I want everybody to go and read these books. The author has a great concept of scale, like in the sense of physics. One of his skills as an author is translating the terrifying, awe-inspiring size of the universe and the depth of physics and all the dimensions that are possible. And he turns that into a writing tool to come up with, “What if we did make contact with aliens, but it was more like… this?” It’s nice to read about fictional Earth getting out of turmoil, going back into turmoil, especially with where we are now, which seems more sci-fi than ever. I find solace in the sci-fi.

It really does seep into the way I live my life. I believe in possibilities, I guess. And an overlapping multiverse of stories, which is maybe the only way to look at the world. We only get to see a certain perspective. Sci-fi usually has a moral; usually sci-fi is like, “You shouldn’t have fucked with that! You shouldn’t have tried to get Alzheimer’s medication out of a shark, because now you’ve made a super-intelligent shark and it’s going to eat everybody!” 

2. Water

Good old-fashioned water! On another sci-fi dystopian note, I recently went through this massive Texas storm, and it helped me realize the fragility of our comforts and our needs, and the difference between the two. According to all non-optimistic outlooks, water is going to become more scarce the more intensely climate change happens. Clean water is already a huge problem for so many people across the globe. You don’t realize how much water you use daily. Still in Austin right now there are thousands of people that don’t have water to go to the bathroom, to shower, to cook their food. Our water treatment facility went down because it froze, so we had to boil all the water that came out of the tap. It made you realize the amount of water in your life that you just toss away when you don’t have a single drop of it. It’s mind-bending. 

I instantly have been more cautious with it. And a friend of mine started doing this thing called Austin Needs Water. When everything shut down the second time — not for the pandemic, but when everything froze — both he and I in separate parts of town were trying to help people. I spent five days handing out pallets of water to low-income families or just people whose pipes had busted. He was running these giant cubes of water out to retirement homes and things like that. Even when the water came back on, we started to hear stories — there was an apartment building up north, low-income housing, and their water had gone out a week before the storm had hit, so it had been two weeks. It just made me grateful for the water in my life, and also made me realize that I want to help focus on figuring out how to keep that from happening again. 

3. Bathrobes

I never knew I was a bathrobesman, then my grandma got me an overly cushy bathrobe for Christmas one year. It took me like another year to finally start wearing it, and now I think I’m up to like four. I have a light summer bathrobe, I have my winter warrior spongy bathrobe, and then I have this super shitty, towel-quality one that I got from IKEA. It isn’t particularly soft, but it’s rough and tumble. It’s bright red, so I kind of look like Santa in it. If you’ve recorded music with me over the years, or if you’ve come to my house, you’d have seen one. I think in my adult life, the outfit that I’ve worn the most is a bathrobe, and I’m grateful for it. It’s utilitarian. You can’t go too far away from your house in it, but outside of that it’s great. It’s flowing, it has a regal vibe to it. It kind of feels like a cape. I love everything about it. My bathrobe is not tied to me taking a bath. It’s just a robe. It’s like a “wake up and know I’m not going outside” thing. Especially this past year, it’s like, “Pants? I don’t need that. What, do I need pockets?” I just need my bathrobe. It’s a blanket, loin covering, comfort. I guess you’ve gotta be careful what you’re wearing in case you have to run away from your house, but if I got stuck with my bathrobe and I was trapped in the wasteland wearing it, I think I would be into it. You could use it as tarp, as a towel, you could sleep on it. It’s got a lot of mileage potential. If someone reads this and markets a survival bathrobe, I think I would purchase it.

(Photo Credit: Magen Buse)

Shakey Graves is the brainchild of Alejandro Rose-Garcia, who released Roll The Bones on Bandcamp in 2011 without any promotion and little information about Shakey Graves. That year, Bandcamp made it a featured album for a month and from there it has stayed among the website’s top-selling records. Rose-Garcia has released a ranging catalog since, but just released a tenth anniversary edition of Roll The Bones complete with 15 additional tracks and a new vinyl pressing.

(Photo Credit: Magen Buse)