Chris Shiflett & The Dead Peasants is a side project from Shiflett, known as the lead guitarist for Foo Fighters and the frontman for Jackson United. Steeped in his love for classic country artists (Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings), rockabilly (Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran), and deep-rooted rock bands (The Rolling Stones, The Replacements), this eponymous 2010 effort is packed with soulful pedal steel and twang guitar-accented songs. The album highlights his talent and versatility not only as a skillful guitarist, but also as a songwriter. These infectious Americana-laced rock songs are some of the best he’s penned, from the chiming keys and buoyant, ringing guitars of “Get Along” to the pedal steel- and mandolin-lined heartache of “Bandaged,” and from the spry, Old 97s-ian “Baby, Let It Out” to the rueful country swing of “Death March.”
Shiflett wrote the songs on Chris Shiflett & The Dead Peasants over the course of 2008-09, inspiration first striking when a friend asked him to perform at Orange County’s punk-rockabilly Hootenanny festival in 2008. After re-immersing himself in his Americana and old country music collection to prepare a short set and then playing a brief acoustic tour with friend Joey Cape of Lagwagon, he began writing what eventually became the LP. Recorded at the Foo Fighters’ Studio 606 in Los Angeles, CA, the core band on Chris Shiflett & The Dead Peasants is Shiflett (vocals, guitar), 606 house engineer John Lousteau (drums, in addition to engineering), and Derek Silverman (keyboards).
The album’s additional instrumentation was performed by an array of fine musicians, including Davey Faragher (Elvis Costello and The Imposters, Jenny Lewis, John Hiatt) on bass, Greg Leisz (Wilco, Lucinda Williams, Whiskeytown) on pedal steel, Stevie Blacke (Beck, Weezer, Colbie Caillat) on violin and mandolin, and Audra Mae on backing vocals.