An Interview with Shane of Law and Order

All images courtesy of Shane

In an era where hair spray, caked-on makeup, and glitter galore were plentiful, NYC rockers, Law and Order chose a road less traveled.

Led by decidedly singular frontman, Shane, who was flanked by guitarist, Phil Allocco, bassist, Sean Carmody, and drummer, Rob Steele, Law and Order fancied itself a band who wore its influences on its sleeve.

In retrospect, while it’s true that MCA Records’ inexplicable indifference to the band set forth a chain reaction of events that led to its demise, it’s also true that Law and Order’s blending of sounds left them something of an outlier between the colliding 80s hair metal and 90s grunge scenes.

Law and Order’s NYC attitude was coupled with an undying reverence for southern rock, hard rock, heavy metal, and ironically, a little bit of grunge too. The band’s frontman, Shane, was at the forefront of that amalgamation of balls-to-the-wall attitude, and ace-in-the-hole songsmith, which pushed forth a band brimming with musical integrity, and brazen machismo to boot.

Guilty of Innocence, Rites of Passage, and later, The Glass House, stand true as beacons of rock ‘n’ roll perseverance. Should-have-been watershed moments for a genre in its last gasps, while also serving as a proverbial bridge between the flailing metal scene, and burgeoning grunge and alternative scenes.

In hindsight, Law and Order’s three albums will continue to age like fine wine, but still, the band’s discography reads as something akin to unfinished business, by a band laid to rest before its time, but perhaps, as you’ll find out, there could be more.

I recently dug in with Shane for a rare career-spanning interview, where we, among other things, discuss the fortunes and fate of one of rock music’s most intriguing bands, Law and Order.

Andrew:
Shane, thank you for taking the time. As a burgeoning musician, what first gravitated you toward Rock music? Who were some of your early influences which shaped your style early on? How has your style changed as you’ve moved forward?

Shane:
My first exposure to music was my father who was a singer/songwriter, he was a bandleader of a swing-brass band but also played guitar and would sing me, and brother songs from artists like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Elvis, The Beatles.

As I got into my early teens, I gravitated into southern rock, the first record I ever owned was The Allman Brothers’ Brothers and Sisters record, the slide guitar playing blew me away.

I then researched the origin of the delta blues and fell hard for Robert Johnson, which led me to guys like Howlin’ Wolf, who were the original architects for modern rock and blues music. As I moved through styles in my life, some being extreme, I’ve always settled into a cross between Southern/Delta and hard rock.

Andrew:
Before the formation of Law and Order, what were some of your early gigs where you first cut your teeth?

Shane:
I had a few good bands playing original music, before Law and Order. I had written and co-written many songs but didn’t find an avenue to get anyone’s attention. I released a few EP’s through self-funded labels since the age of thirteen and through time, I built a reputation as a songwriter.

Gigging in the tri-state area was plentiful back in the day, playing a combination of original and cover songs at the time was is what all artists settled into, places like Lamour’s, The Factory, Art Stocks Playpen, Mothers, and Hammerheads became the norm for anyone trying to get paying gigs, and a chance to eventually go all original. Bands like Zebra and Twisted Sister were a few that went that route at the time.

Andrew:
Take me through the formation of Law and Order

Shane:
My good friend Robert Steele, drummer for Law and Order, and I were looking to form a band that would be a hard-rocking four-piece band. I knew of a bass player that had a solid rep and lived in the area, Sean Carmody, and we started jamming together. Sean knew a few guitar players and we jammed with a small handful, but it was Phil Allocco who was the perfect fit, he was an amazing songwriter and an edgy, bluesy guitar player. At a time when everyone was tapping and cloning Eddie Van Halen, Phil was the exact opposite — a player who had his own style. We started out with the name of the band being called “Romeo” as a joke until we all agreed on Law and Order.

All images courtesy of Shane

Andrew:
Law And Order was part of a vibrant late 80s and early 90s Hard Rock and Heavy Metal scene along with bands like Spread Eagle. Paint a picture of that scene. What do you recall regarding the band’s first gig?

Shane:
I remember there being a vibrant community of bands from NY and NJ who were all close friends playing their own music trying to get signed. Many nights, all the bands partying ’til the wee hours of the morning and supporting each other’s music. It was a great time for original music in NY.

Spread Eagle were label mates of ours, a good bunch of guys, and even today, we still communicate with each other.

Our first gig was under the name “Romeo” at a place called Park Villa in Staten Island. We had a handful of songs by that point, and one of the songs was in heavy rotation at the local radio station, WSOU. It was then we realized we had something good and were on the way to finding our voice.

Andrew:
Law and Order was signed by MCA Records in the late 80s. What did the courtship look like?

Shane:
Before we inked our record deal, we were all living together in a house above a Chinese Restaurant on Main Street in Staten Island. It was an old house built in 1910 and had a lot of space. We all had our own rooms and had a rehearsal space on the floor above. We would have a day for rehearsal and have a day for writing songs where we would meet in the living room with acoustic guitars, where everyone would present their ideas. We would take the best of the lot and develop them upstairs, and see if it had some life. Since then, I personally never had an experience that, it was a real band that wrote and lived together and had ownership to each song, it was a family coming together to be creative, and it was great fun while it lasted.

Andrew:
Take me through the recording, and reception of Law and Orders’ debut record, Guilty of Innocence.

Shane:
Well, the recording process was a piece of history that was truly magical. Since we had some roots in blues and southern rock, it was decided that we would record this record in Memphis, TN. We were looking at some studios in that area and checked out places like Kiva Studios, which was owned by the Walsh family, we walked into a rare studio recording of Stevie Ray Vaughn, who introduced himself to us. I remember there being chicken wire around his amp, and asking what was that about, he responded, “It’s to keep the RF out.” We had no idea at the time what he was referring to personally until he explained, which was an an “ah-ha moment” In the end, we picked Ardent Studios and producer, Joe Hardy, who had worked with ZZ-Top.

After completing the record, we had a media party in Memphis. Out of our budget, we flew in magazine writers from across the USA to listen to the record in the studio, and write about it. In the interim, we took them on a tour to places like Elvis’s house, and legendary Beale Street for the blues fest, etc. It was a huge success and gave us an instant buzz from the press on the record, which set us up for the next step.

All images courtesy of Shane

Andrew:
Like many other east coast bands, major commercial success eluded Law and Order. Do you feel MCA Records properly supported the band? As the 80s broke way toward the 90s, how big of an effect did the grunge scene have on Law and Order’s fortunes?

Shane:
And there is the $64,000 question. I applaud you for really knowing this part of our history.

As a band, you hope that what you write will at the least be accepted by your peers, and hope you will sell enough records to sustain your career. We never really consciously decided to write hit songs or be a commercial success, we only had what came naturally without trying to be a pop band. That being said, we found our voice in the rock community, but we did have some bad luck on the way that stopped us from becoming I guess for lack of a better term — “the next big thing.”

MCA did have a history of dropping the ball, and that may have had some effect on any success, We did have the legendary Bruce Dickinson — more cowbell — as our A&R guy, who tried to help as much as he could. I believe he really tried his best. It is true that MCA was not so forthcoming with funds to support the tours we wanted, and that too was a factor.

Grunge was a great changeup. Music needed it. It created a new scene, and it did seem to have an adverse effect on all bands that weren’t grunge. This scene was focused on any band coming out of Seattle at the time, but I do believe that there was still room for everyone. At the time when grunge hit, I did believe it was a factor in a lot of bands getting passed on, but looking back, it wasn’t a major factor, it was just more mainstream.

Andrew:
My understanding is that Law and Order were supposed to hit the road with Mother Love Bone, but the death of Andrew Wood derailed the tour. Why didn’t MCA get you locked into another tour to promote the debut?

Shane:
Yes, that is true. As a matter of fact, the tour buses just arrived when we found out the news of Andrew’s death. I believe MCA had a lot of money invested into that tour, money they couldn’t recoup. So, they sent us out with a NY band called Raging Slab for a few weeks. It was a fun tour throughout the upper eastern parts of the US. We were also told at that time that we were up for a tour with Ace Frehley, unfortunately, it never came to fruition, not a lot of good tours that fit us were available that late in the game.

Andrew:
Law and Order toured with the likes of Blind Melon and Pearl Jam, and the band’s second album, Rites of Passage, definitely seems to reflect some alternative stylings. Would you agree? What was the progression like for the band during the recording of its second record?

Shane:
When I look back at that time, I can honestly say that we were all concerned with the gulf war about to start, I believe it affected us as writers and it did come out in some of our music with songs like “Dawn over Zero.” The carefree fun times of the late 80s were coming to an end fast. Suddenly, we were calling it a day on Guilty of Innocence, and onto record number two.

We teamed up with producer extraordinaire, Mack Reinhold, who produced bands like Queen, The Rolling Stones, and engineered Led Zeppelins Presence. It was a great choice, he got us to another level and our sound reflected more of a 70s style album, but with more modern technology.

We recorded that in Cherokee Studios because we wanted that big room sound similar to Physical Graffiti, which was right up Mack’s alley. We completed most of the ideas in the studio, recorded live to capture the sound of the room, and then overdubbed later on, so the ideas were fresh.

It is true that we did tour with those bands, and it was pretty amazing. Personally, I really liked Shannon [Hoon] from Blind Melon, it was too bad he left us so soon. As for alternative stylings, I never thought about that before, I always associated that record as a retro 70s styled sound with songs like “Open Door,” “Funeral For The Good Mother,” “Mary,” and “Freedom Slavery.”

All images courtesy of Shane

Andrew:
In retrospect, it seems that MCA Records was incapable of properly promoting bands such as yourself and your fellow bands on the NYC scene. What are your thoughts regarding your label support in the early 90s?

Shane:
I don’t know if there is an easy answer to that. There were quotes said to us from MCA, “Don’t bore us get to the chorus,” but at the same time, we heard, “Law and Order was our band that had integrity.” Then there was a change in Admin up there, and it’s possible we were lost in the shuffle. In hindsight, we really should have rode the bad time’s through instead of walking out on our contract.

Andrew:
While Law and Order are often lumped in with the hair and glam scene, in reality, the band crossed over so many genre boundaries. Do you feel the band was pigeonholed, and if yes, was that detrimental to the band’s fortunes?

Shane:
I always considered that band as a hard rock band with roots in blues. It’s true we all had the long hair and it did kind of lump us in with that scene, but our music was very different lyrically, especially the content of the second and third record. I’m not sure if that played a part in anything good or bad at the end of the day. I think our listeners liked us for what we were — a New York rock band, living in New York — and that played a big part in the approach/sound of our songs as well.

Andrew:
Take me through the end of Law and Order. Ultimately, what were the circumstances surrounding the band at the time that led to the fracture?

Shane:
Well, at that time, we weren’t sure whether we were going to stay on MCA, or try and find another home. We felt that it might be possible to have a better shot with a stronger label. We were advised poorly by people within our brain trust that we had another deal on the table, and that it could only happen if we left MCA, and it would be a positive move for the band.

Those same people in our trust were also creating a distrust amongst the band, paranoia, blaming this and that, and that clouded everyone’s judgment. Upon advisement, we filed for bankruptcy to get out of our contract, we then pursued that other deal but it never was really available. At that point, the same people who had been advising us led us to break up the band. People around us were filling us up with lies and half-truths, and since we trusted them, we believed what they said to be true. Valuable lessons were learned, but way too late, unfortunately.

All images courtesy of Shane

Andrew:
What was the sequence of events which led to the release of The Glass House on Z Records?

The Glass House was the demo’s that we recorded for the third MCA record. It was recorded in the attic of our house prior to it burning down. It sat around for a few years on a cassette until it got mastered. It was a strong record, had some very strong messages, and I truly believe was one of our best records. The song “Blind Guides” is just as relevant today as when it was written in 1990, and “Sold” is so in touch with today’s issues. It’s hard to believe that in over twenty years nothing has changed. Those songs scream for accountability from our leaders.

Andrew:
The Glass House was another excellent offering from Law and Order. What do you recall regarding its reception? Why did the band decide to eventually cease operations once again?

Shane:
We were at the peak of our writing, and at the top of our game with that record. That record was never meant to be released until it was recorded in a proper studio. That was supposed to be the record to be released on either MCA or a new label.

After the break-up, we split up into two groups, Phil and Sean continued their partnership and formed a band called “Dogma,” while Myself and Rob Steele formed a band called U235.

Andrew;
In regards to your career, you’ve been a member of two incredible bands, Law And Order, and U235, and it seems that fate always seemed to knock you down. Looking back, what are your thoughts regarding the hardships those two bands faced?

Shane:
Well, U235 had some really good success here and abroad. A little back history on U235 — for five years we’ve toured with many great bands including Motörhead throughout Germany as well as Marilyn Manson, and Type O negative to name a few. The debut record came out on SPV Steam Hammer, and eventually, was released through Warner Records in the states.

I can tell you it was a very hard road personally. After Law and Order broke up, we saw our house burn down from an electrical fire. Personally speaking, I found myself homeless and flat broke for a long while, resorting to living in my van and dining on potato chip Sandwiches. You would never think all of this would happen in such a small span of time. I picked up the pieces one step at a time took time, and with a little bit of luck, I made a life for myself again. Nothing in this world is a given, you are what you make of yourself, and what separates it all is how determined and lucky you are.

All images courtesy of Shane

Andrew:
Where do things stand regarding Law and Order today? Many bands of your ilk have reformed and signed to labels such as Frontiers. Is that potentially in the cards for Law and Order?

Shane:
Myself and Phil recently have spoken about this at great length, and we have decided to send each other new ideas, and see if it sparks anything. I have always treasured my partnership with Phil, and feel as though we are destined one day to do something again — this may be the right time. I think if we can find the time, we might be able to do another record.

Andrew:
One question I’ve always wondered, being a frontman, and the proverbial leader of the band, what led to you only using your first name, and no last? What was the intention behind that?

Shane:
There was not any real intention behind it. I was always just “Shane” to my buds. I didn’t think I needed to be anything more than that.

Andrew:
These days, you’re working with your DuShane band, which in some ways, is a departure from the music of Law and Order. Walk me through the formation.

Shane:
The DuShane band style goes back to my early influences as a kid listening to Southern rock and singers like Hank Williams. I found myself writing in that style, which really wasn’t too far off from Law and Order. The yodeling was natural back then, and now, that style of singing works for me. I will always be a rocker underneath, that part is hard to deny.

The DuShane band was formed from friends who I’ve trusted for a long time, guys who support me and this direction. I am very lucky to have found these guys.

Andrew:
Last one. What’s next for you in all lanes, Shane?

Shane:
Hopefully, stay alive long enough for the second DuShane record to be released. [Laughs]. I had a geographical change of scenery, and am now living an hour west of Pittsburgh. After many years of 500 square feet apartment living, I am now enjoying lots of space and fresh air in PA.

Music-wise, I have released a few singles in the last four years, “Alabama Rain,” “Forever, For Now,” “Top Down,” “Can’t Slow Down,” “Jody,” and “Walk Out.” I’m just starting to play gigs again now that we are seeing the pandemic closing. I recently released a Christmas re-make of one of my Dad’s songs called “Santa Please,” which was originally sung by my older brother when he was five years old.

Currently, I am working on releasing a new song called “Watching The Beers Go By.” Hopefully, a second full album will be ready by mid-summer, and possibly another Law and Order record will be in the works. Stay tuned.

All images courtesy of Shane

Interested in learning more about Law and Order? Hit the link below:

Be sure to check out the full catalog of VWMusic Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

With an immense passion for music, a disposition for writing, and an eagerness to teach and share both, Andrew decided to found VWMusic in 2019 as a freelance column under the column Idle Chatter. Over time, the column grew into a website that now features contributors who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles and interviews. While Andrew enjoys running the website, his real passion lies in teaching and facilitating others to do what they do best, and giving them the opportunity to explore their passions in the process. Some of Andrew’s favorite artists include KISS, Oasis, ACϟDC, Elvis Presley, Ace Frehley, The Rolling Stones, Rush, The Pretenders, Led Zeppelin, The Gaslight Anthem, Iron Maiden, John Lennon, The Melvins, Noel Gallagher, Regina Spektor, Rory Gallagher, The Stone Roses, The Strokes, Thin Lizzy, Elvis Costello, Van Halen, Neil Young, Blur, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, and many more.
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