Music – Interview – Adebisi Shank

Posted December 11, 2008 in Music Features

Downstairs in Frazers, Adebisi Shank are celebrating the launch of their debut album, it’s a pure drunken tantrum of a night and from about 10pm the venue looks and feels mentally over-subscribed. It’s all faces rammed in arm pits, and bodies reluctantly pressing against each other. The guy in front of me has had his head split open. Blood streams across his forehead and down his face. But he turns with a smile to the dude that flayed into him and both of them lurch forwards. The crowd continues to jostle manically to the on stage trio as they rampage through frenetic rhythm changes. Having recently recorded their debut album with a renowned Baltimore producer and benefiting from a mushroom’s legion of followers at home, the gods are certainly shining on the Shank. Here they talk about touring Japan, HBO addictions, and a very odd young American fan on Myspace.

Two of you were in Terroradactyl before forming Adebisi Shank, so where did the need for Adebisi arise and just where does the name come from?

There wasn’t really a “need” for Adebisi, it started as a fun project we could do away from other bands and projects and the main aim was to just have as much fun as possible with it, yah know, we just wanted to do as much music as possible with as many different bands and projects we could. It just turned into our main focus over time when it started to take off. The name comes from a show called OZ, Lar is a HUGE fan.

You’ve toured quite extensively as a band that’s only been around a year, making it even as far as Japan. What sort of venues and crowds were you playing to over in Japan? And how did that tour come about? And then there’s England next week…

I think it’s closer to two years now but yeah, we try to keep as busy as possible, as a wise man once told me “bands are like sharks, as soon as you stop swimming, you sink”, so I guess we have that in our heads, we need to keep swimming. The crowds in Japan are amazing! So enthusiastic and up for anything but so respectful of bands, we can’t wait to go back to be honest. The Japan tour came about because we played with a Japanese band called Lite in Dublin a year ago and they really liked us, them and their manager organised a full tour for us. We really can’t say enough good things about them, they are touring Ireland right now, so check them out!

So one of the tracks, DODR, is named after the Dawn Of The Dead remake, fans are you?

Me and Vin are big film nerds, so we were talking about the fact our song (DODR) wasn’t actually that bad after we remade it, much like Dawn of the Dead. You really can’t go wrong with a few zombies in a film though can you?

Just how much graft is involved in releasing your record independently, like how difficult is it to get your album from the studio and out into the stores?

Well, it’s all just hard work and finding funding, I think funding is the most difficult part. We were lucky that the Wexford Arts Council invested in us for our recording in America but we still had to front more money along with that investment. I think that’s the most difficult thing, but you just use whatever means you can and it seems to work out in the end… but I don’t know how long our luck will last.

What are your main Irish musical influences as a band and do you think things are healthy in the city at the moment?

There are a lot of Irish bands I’m influenced by for many different reasons, I can’t speak for the whole band but for me I suppose the obvious would be Thin Lizzy, and then independent bands in Ireland at the minute would be Bats, We are Knives, Enemies, Giveamanakick, Crowd Control, And so I watch you from Afar… I think the two biggest influences in Irish independent music would be Kidd Blunt and Puget Sound, they opened my eyes to a different way of doing things, and they are/were amazing bands.

Who’s this J. Robbins character over in Baltimore, and why were you so excited to work with him on the album?

J. Robbins is a musical hero of mine, he was in Jawbox, Government Issue, Scream, Burning Airlines and more. At present he is in Channels and has produced records by Faraquet, Clutch, Yeasayer, Ponytail, Against Me! and loads more. He has golden ears and is my favourite current producer, so it really was a dream to work with him. It also helped that he was one of the nicest people we have ever met as a band.

Doubtlessly, some of you at least, must be fans of The Wire. Did you get much of a buzz visiting Baltimore from that angle? What did you see of the city and what was it like?

I don’t think so! I definitely amn’t, most of our other friends are including Owensie (Terrordactyl), who won’t shut up about it. I get stuck into shows too easy and HAVE to watch them, sacrificing practice, gigs etc. I’ve lied to people many a time telling them I had to be somewhere while secretly turning off my phone and watching a boxset of Lost or Heroes. I really don’t need another series to ruin my life. The city of Baltimore seemed a bit rough to be honest, but there were parts that were really cool.

So, who’s this Colin Skehan person and why do you have a song named after him?

Colin is a gentle giant who can be seen at the front of every Adebisi gig in Dublin, I guess that song’s is Colin Skeehan in song format haha…

And finally, I’ve seen pictures of that kid from the States with his “this is a tattoo of a band called Adebisi Shank”, and still I can’t accept he’s for real, are you sure it’s not faked and just some ingenious piece of viral marketing from you lot?

I honestly wish it was a photoshop for that guy’s sake, but we’re pretty sure it’s real. There is no way to prove it until we go to the States, it’s super flattering but also quite crazy that someone would go to those lengths…

Adebisi Shank – This is the album of a band called Adebisi Shank is out now.



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