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Shank

This is a sampling of Infection issue number one when we interviewed Glasgows Shank. This is just a sampling, so if you like what you see you should cough up your money and buy the first issue. Read on for an edited version of the really long interview with these nutty bastards.

Iím  not even close to joking, if you donít seek out at least one Shank record after reading this, you are insane. This band was something I discovered sort of by mistake, and when the needle hit the record, my jaw literally dropped. I was fucking FLOORED by them. Shank gave me something to look forward to in hardcore. Andy and Jamie were kind enough to answer my questions

Infection Fanzine: How did the band form and how would you describe your "sound" to the uninitiated?

Andy: We all used to drink in the same pub, could play the requisite instruments, liked each other and the usual blah. I presume by "the uninitiated" you don't mean my father, but basically we just rip off old Boston and Japanese bands, drop tune to B, speed shit up, slow shit down, chuck in a few cheesy breakdowns that we get away with because we're not Battery and there you have it. Other people's (usually bizarre and banal) descriptions of our sound include: jazzed up aggressive punk, according to a scene report in MRR, "Hellnation meets Los Crudos" (nonsense), "Left For Dead" (and there used to be some similarities cuz we were updating eighties hardcore with speed and drop tuning), power violence (yuck) and Grindcore (even worse...).

Jamie: Funny how things work out, me and Wurzel had been wanting to do a band for about...ooh 12- 13 years, but general apathy, a death of people who liked the same music as us and the fact that I lived away from Glasgow for the last five years kind of restricted our plans. I came back to Glasgow after living in Australia, met Andy. Wurzel knew Jason and talked him into it.... and there you have it....

IF: How many demos did you put out before you put a record out?

Andy: What's a demo? I didn't think people did them anymore, now that DIY's killed all quality control. We played about five weeks after our first practice and Nick who runs Enslaved and sings in the band I used to be in, Ebola, offered to put out a split 7", we also recorded the split with Scalplock at the same time. Last time we recorded we had some songs left over, so we're going to re-record them for the LP, maybe that counts as a demo? And we did some rough, live, home studio recordings in Sydney which we gave to some friends which will eventually make up half of our LP.

IF: In the MM split you talked about over population. Talk a bit about overpopulation and why you dedicated a whole EP cover to the subject?

Andy: That's not about overpopulation per se, it's more about the expectation society has on women to breed, whether it's the 'right' thing or not. True, we refer to breeding to an outdated economic model, from a time when society needed more children to stick up chimneys, shove down coal mines or just work incredibly dangerous factory environments, it's not like we need to keep procreating to fill up call centres (the shit factory job of the new millennium). Society places so much emphasis on breeding and so much incongruent emphasis on 'selfish mothers' who go back to work and 'lazy selfish undesirables' who dare to spawn without so much the help of a strong male hand in rearing the bundle of joy that I'm continually reassured children simply all are (now that I'm in my mid-twenties and really should start thinking about settling down and stopping all this punk rock nonsense), what's the message here? Breed as if your life depended on it, but only if you're from the right economic background? There's a quote in the essay from Alastair Gray and to build upon it, who do you think they'd get to work in McDonalds if we stopped providing them with our offspring? They'd be forced to raise wages to entice members of their own economic elite into the jobs only the poverty stricken and migrant work population would consider. Go and look at how many images of happiness through having demanding bags of puke, shit and piss we're being bombarded with on a daily basis, it's not something you always notice till it's pointed out.
The cover itself was more a flippant and exagerated comment on our attitude to children, hence why we decided to include an essay.

Jamie: There's not much to add to that other than to say that breeding, meaning the continuation of the world's population, is the momentum that keeps the human race stumbling forward. If you remove that dynamic from the human experience, people might become slightly more aware of what they are being forced into in order to 'provide' for future generations. Projecting your hopes and dreams onto your children is much the same as looking to a deity to make up for your fears and shortcomings - it's all part of denying incontravertible truths ie: We are ultimately alone and we are going to die that way.  I don't think you make many friends when you point this out - we did and we've been suitably chastised for doing so.

IF: If you could kill people would you?

Andy: That's not a question that's easy to answer, I've only ever truly hated twice in my life and they weren't pleasant emotions to have to deal with, I'm not talking about being merely pissed off at someone, I'm talking real, all encompassing, burning hatred. I have hit people before and will hit people again if the situation warrants it, but I'm not much of a tough guy, violence scares me, I had too much of I had to deal with in Newcastle before I moved to Glasgow. But kill? I don't know, severely maim? Yes, I've tried before.

Jamie: I don't think I can answer that question even hypothetically, if I had been brought up in a environment where I COULD kill people - where it was morally acceptable, I would have a very different outlook than I do now. As to whether I am capable of killing - well, given a couple of fairly traumatic experiences in my life, in particular, seeing my parents being beaten by a gang of pick-axe handle-wielding robbers at age 10, I would say I would take any lengths to defend myself and family. I just hope any judge would take a "justifiable force" plea as I've already mentioned my reluctance to visit the old grey bar hotel.. As for general malevolence to my fellow man, I'd rather leave that in the hands of fate. As former poet laureate John Betjeman said: "Come friendly bombs.."

IF: You have a full length on Slap a Ham planned. How did you hook up with Chris Dodge?

Andy: Played with Hellnation in Germany last year, Chris liked our stylish wit, whimsy and general panache and offered us an LP after we got back and sent him copies of all our unreleased recordings. All the music's finished, we just need to sort out the vocals, it should be recorded fairly soon

IF: Did Bagge sell out by going to colour?

Jamie: No, all my favourite comics as a kid were in colour and I imagine it would be the same for Mr P. Bagge. Also, I though some of the later Hate stuff was some of his funniest work yet - particularly the stuff about setting up the collector scum store which was very well observed. Christ, if you compare it to his Neat Stuff era material it's fucking light years ahead

Andy: His artwork was certainly less interesting, but by that point his storylines were really dull too, Jamie would disagree with me here I know. I still really like early Bagge stuff, I wouldn't say he'd sold out though just because I no longer find it appealing. I always preferred Dan Clowes' work, I liked the surreal, timeless quality to it and I thought the characters in Ghost World were amazing.

IF: You wrote a song about Patrick Bateman, what did you think of the movie adaptation?

Andy: Not as terrible as it could have been, the audience were exasperatingly unintelligent throughout though and listening to other movie-goers comments when leaving made me seriously doubt the intellect of my fellow man, "I thought he'd get caught" said almost sadly, "at one point it looked as if it was going to turn into a pornographic film" and best of all, the girl behind me that felt it necessary to remark "sick bastard" with righteous indignation during the silent aftermath of one particularly messy death. The film was good, the script and scenes were from the book, the choice of actor for Bateman was well suited and the camera work was really good. BUT. The descent into madness was over far too quickly, certain scenes seemed out of sequence, the violence started too soon, the momentum was lost towards the end and my favourite scenes weren't in it: The feeding of the chocolate covered urinal mint, the Christmas midget scene and Jamie's favourite "de nigger is de debil" rant. Some of the better monologues were missing too, but at least it wasn't Less Than Zero eh? Here's hoping no one does Glamorama. I went to see Spawn when that came out and was embarrassed.

IF: What was your second favorite Planet of the Apes movie, after the original?

Jamie: The one where a bunch of chimpanzee children get their hands on a cache of semi-automatic weapons and then shoot up their local monkey acadamy. Charlton Heston then blames the massacre on poor-quality locks installed by fly-by-night gorilla locksmiths and then hands out "Control Apes Not Guns" stickers to grieving families - I think its called "Planet of the Apes versus the NRA loonbags" or something.

IF: Has anyone ever thought of overdubbing British accents over whole sitcoms to make you feel included in North American pop culture?

Andy: We get enough of your shit programs as it is, to prove my point: When I was but a young boy, my brother and I used to play cops and robbers and we played it with affected North American accents, we were all of four and seven for fucks sake. Sometimes we have American programs redone with British people in them, they are a waste of time, the UK Married With Children was an absolute disaster.

Jamie: If they overdubbed Sanford And Son with the original,and far superior, Steptoe and Son dialogue - I would laugh heartily. Besides, we have Chris Morris and you don't.....

IF: Why do you hate the term powerviolence?

Andy: It's lame and sounds like a term for right wing heavy metal. I get the feeling that most of the bands referring to themselves as power violence are doing it to be lumped in with some scene they think's cool. Remember when any band with a blast beat was called grindcore, even Infest? We do.

Jamie: Personally, I think powerviolence is a term more confined by geography and time more than anything. Neanderthal, Crossed Out, Man Is the Bastard and Spazz (and, by virtue of being around at the time No Comment and Capitalist Casualties) were Power Violence - I don't think anyone else can lay claim to that title....

IF: What if it's just used for fun, like using it to identify with a love of fast hardcore or if other people label you and it sticks?

Jamie: because we don't really sound like a powerviolence band, although we did used to have a couple of Crossed Out moments. If I were to hear us for the first time I wouldn't describe us as a power violence band  - even purely in terms of the style of music we play. I mean, I love all those bands - the original PV bands - but that is only a small part of our sphere of influence. Personally I like the description in the MRR review of the split with Minute Manifesto - "punk fucking rock" - that suits me!

Andy: We have been labeled already and it's kinda stuck, well, more "the power violence band that hate being called power violence" and having to defend our stance has almost become as cliched as using the word in the first place, I give hereby up. Give me Negative Approach over Black Army Jacket, give me Neos over Lack of Interest, give me BGK over that dreadful, dreadful band Acrid and I'd choose Shitlickers every time above The Locust.

Shank c/o Andy Stick
Flat 1/1
274 Kilmarnock Road
Glasgow G43 2X5
Scotland
simian@globalnet.co.uk

The official Shank website:
http://uk.geocities.com/linesonmaps

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