Existential Bread, the debut LP from Leeds DIY punk trio The Shakamoto Investigation, so enraptured Joyzine’s Paul F Cook that it led him to exalt readers to “Check back in December as I cannot believe this won’t be in my top albums of the year list” – you can read the full review here.
Given Paul’s exuberant praise, we thought we’d better check in with the band to see what on earth is going on here. They’ve responded with this handy guide to the LP.
Take it or leave it
Ellis: This is one of our oldest tunes and still one of my favourites. I think it encapsulates everything about us musically in one track – fast, loud, funky and pulling in influences from everywhere. I wrote this one about a dude I knew who really made a habit of getting on my tits. I didn’t really dive heavily into this one lyrically to be honest but I absolutely love the main hook with the call and response of “take it or leave it”. All our pals who’ve seen us a bunch of times love getting involved with the backing vocals which always puts a smile on my face.
Ellis: This is another old one, maybe the second ever song we did? Short, snappy and simple straight up punk tune. I built this song by smashing two other tunes together that I’d previously wrote, which is why the two verses lyrics are kind of about two different things, but I think still flow nicely together.
Ellis: Potentially my personal favourite Shakamoto tune. I was nervous about adding this to our repertoire as lyrically it’s much more serious and dark it is next to our other songs. ‘Beheaded’ is written about the desensitisation we’ve developed in regards to tragedy. I was particularly thinking about graphic videos that get shared around online of terror attacks, gruesome accidents and cartel murders and how passive and even amusing an experience it seems to be to see footage that horrifying.
The ridiculous bridge we threw in still makes me piss myself laughing as we go from dark as fuck verses about beheadings and the like to a country/Chas and Dave tribute. I think we had to do this so we didn’t come across as taking ourselves too seriously, which is a cardinal sin in Shakamoto.
Ellis: I think ‘Beheaded’ is my favourite song, but ‘Rats’ is my absolute favourite to play live. The lyrics are so fucking stupid and I love it. I wrote this about a dream I had about my house being full of rats and taking over my life. I wish I could elaborate but that’s literally it.
This one has a darker edge musically which lays down the perfect canvas to just fucking scream our heads off. After every verse the chorus gets wilder which results in all three of us giving ourselves permanent throat damage by the end. I love playing this one as no one seems to be sure if the song is done after every chorus as it drops to silence and we get a little half-arsed applause every time before it kicks back in, followed by a sea of groans that were still not finished.
Jake: ‘Nails’ is one of them we put together in the studio with main man Phil Booth (JT soar) we had some rough ideas for it and played a rough version live a couple of times but it did kind of drag a bit. Phil worked his magic and made it into more of a Shakamoto song rather than just some ‘jam’ type thing. I like it. I like the guitar parts.
Jake: ‘Loch Ness’ is my favourite thing we’ve ever done and probably will be for a long time. It’s so fun to play and is utterly ridiculous. One of them that always seems to stick with people. Sam is always mcing, it’s etched into his brain. We all think that kind of stuff is punk as fuck, probably more punk as some of these turd fashion punk bands kicking around at the minute. so we tried to incorporate it into a song. I don’t know if it worked or not but I love it nonetheless.
Existential Bread (Jake)
‘Existential Bread’ is another one we worked on in the studio. we just had the riff and a chorus and just had a bit of a dick around with it. Pulled the piano out and some weird percussion stuff. I think it’s funny, it’s annoying but funny. What is ‘Existential Bread’? Fuck I don’t even know
Half Time Draw (Jake)
‘Half Time Draw’! we constantly get compared to Minutemen, which is fine, but it starts to do my head in. We are defiantly influenced by Minutemen but we aren’t just some carbon copy. That was 30 years ago, been so much in-between but ‘Half Time Draw’ is the song that I completely agree with that comparison. Structure-wise and sound-wise it reminds me loads of ‘I Felt Like A Gringo’, and it’s probably some subconscious rip off. But it means a lot to Sam and Ellis. ‘Half Time Draw’ is something synonymous with Barnsley.
Sam: This one we’ve been playing live for a while now, but never recorded it until we were in the studio laying out what tracks we had to work with. If I’m right, Ellis wrote it from outer-body experience he had in his student accommodations, haha. It’s probably the most serious track on the album, plus its nice to wind down once every so often innit.
Sam: I wrote this one a few year ago while I was at uni, I’d just moved into a new house in Hyde Park and about two weeks into living there we got all the water cut off from the house, drinking water, shitting water, you name it. I’d ring the landlord and they’d say it was nothing to do with him and to ring Yorkshire Water, and when I did it was back and forth vice versa. Fuck me all I wanted is a cup of coffee in a morning and be able to use my own toilet. So, after two weeks of pure fuckery from the landlord, I went to the office to enquire about it and he must’ve took it the wrong way me turning up cos he went fuckin’ barmy screaming shouting, told me to fuck off out of his office and never come back. So, this one just came from sheer anger at Mr Williamson at Apex Leeds.
Sam: ‘Hot Tamales’ was one of them we just jammed one day in practice room, and Jake thought it’d be funny to do blast beat over it and it sounded sick, we loved it. Short, snappy, fun, daft just like us.
Sam: ‘Dead Already’ we’ve played live for ages, and we always finish with it. Like some twisted less sophisticated ‘I Am The Resurrection’ album finisher. But, buckled. When we used to jam it at practice, Ellis started buying these cream trousers and shit from ASOS, so in the ending part of the song me and Jake would shout ‘A.S.O.S’ and die with laughter and it just ended up sticking haha. I love Phil’s spoken word in this one too, when we were in the studio we came up with the idea and ended up reading random pages from James Joyce’s The Dubliners. I love playing this one live too.
Introduction by Paul Maps