Armitage Shanks: Loud, Crude, and Rude

Armitage Shanks: Loud, Crude, and Rude, Now with Hippie Repellant

Armitage Shanks: Loud, Crude, and Rude,  Now with Hippie Repellant
Venues & Businesses

Who: Armitage Shanks
What: garage, punk
When: 2010-09-20
Armitage Shanks: Loud, Crude, and Rude, Now with Hippie Repellant
T.J. Jones

Armitage Shanks are a quintessential punk-rock band. Their loud, angry, and boisterous sound is a crashing screw-you to those who stand in the way of their powerful musical presence. Formed in 1993 in Snodland, Kent, U.K., Armitage Shanks have spent nearly two decades decapitating music fans with their raw and rambunctious live shows and numerous releases.

 Gearing up for their Medway to Memphis Tour, Armitage Shanks will play a free show at Chicago’s Bottom Lounge Saturday, September 18, then continue on Monday, September 18 to perform at PK’s. A Saint Louis performance at the Crack Fox follows Wednesday, September 22, and their final show will be at Gonerfest in Memphis.

 Several local musicians will also take part in the Shanks’ mayhem— Hippie Repellant, which includes local greats Tim Beatty and Dave Marquis of the Dammit Boys and Malcolm Robertson and Patrick Rollinson of the Bourbon Knights, will perform alongside Armitage Shanks for the Midwest tour. Marquis says that the Shanks have gone through a few incarnations, but their attitude has remained the same.

 “When they started, they were mocked by promoters and critics for being out of step with the times,” says Marquis, who will also play rhythm guitar for the Shanks. “They weren’t shoegaze, grunge, or Britpop. They stood firmly apart, proud to be taking inspiration from and playing what they loved, raw punk rock. They are all proud to carry this sentiment into their second decade of doing what they love for  others who love it, too. In 2010, they are touring when arena country and mall punk abound, still just as determined, just as proud to take their brand of brash, noisy rock ‘n’ roll to the stage for our benefit.”

 Nightlife recently communicated with the one and only Dick Scum via email. Find out more about Armitage Shanks at <>. As the British would say, interviewer and interviewee see who can take a bigger piss.


 There is a toilet manufacturer that stole your band's name. [The company has been around for nearly two centuries— ed.] Are you going to sue those bastards?

 After our first success in the 1940s, we put the money we made into a Spam-fritter factory and restroom facilities. The Spam fritters are now a staple of U.K. meal times and also enable us to control the internet. The toilets, well, every time  you go for a nice long rest in the U.K., you have to pay twenty pence. All those twenty pences are added up and sent to our castle in Snodland. We will, however, be suing those bastards Green Day for use of our name and the two chords we have copyright on.


 You guys formed in 1991. Have you had any experience with younger performers who have said they grew up listening to the Armitage Shanks? If so, how does that make you feel?

 It is true that many performers grew up listening to the Shanks. Harry Dean Stanton is a big fan and he introduced us to Frank [Sinatra]. We got on well, and he was planning on releasing an LP of our songs called Shanks for Swingin’ Shaggers. Unfortunately [the White Stripes’] Jack White got hold of the demos for this album and has been peddling our ideas ever since.


On a similar note, it's no secret that you gentlemen aren't kids anymore, but you still put on one hell of a show and could probably outplay many a young punk-rock group. Do you take that sort of thing, your age, into account when creating your music?

We can outplay any young punk group. Bring ‘em on. We put the Ramones in the ground and blew those young upstarts the New York Dolls off the stage when we supported them in Canterbury last year. We have discovered the secret of eternal youth. Unfortunately, a side-effect of this secret is that it makes your hair fall out. Goner Records’ motto [is], “If the kids don’t hate it, it ain’t rock ‘n’ roll.”


You guys have toured America quite a bit. Do you find the States enjoyable when you visit? What are some of the surprising differences of playing the U.S. and at home?

As fully paid-up members of the Chuck Berry Fan Club, we love coming to the good ole U.S. of Stateside. All our best friends are here. Our manager Ernie Taintsniffer is American, as are Adolf Puke and Benny Dangerous, our American guitarists. They really give us that whole REO Speedwagon sound that we just can’t replicate. The main difference is that we get paid here. Sure, it’s in the form of Canadian dollars, but it still counts. Playing at PK’s will be just like Hastings. Not playing in the town of Hastings, the Battle of Hastings.


Having been together for nearly two decades, what is the secret to staying together? Is there even a secret to it? I see that you guys took a five-year hiatus. Why was that?

The secret of staying together is sacking the bass player every three years. We have had seven so far. Being poor, talented, and handsome keeps us going.

I had no idea we had taken a five-year break. That must have been during the Diet Mountain Dew years. I couldn’t get enough of it. If I wasn’t drinking it, I was trying to source it at gas stations and on the internet. If I wasn’t doing that, I was on the bog or in the Betty Ford Edsel Clinic, Chatham branch. Finally, I found out you were not supposed to use it as an enema.


Being together for nearly two decades, you guys must have seen it all. What is one of the crudest, rudest, craziest, most far-out thing you guys have seen while in the midst of performing or while touring?

Well, once we stayed up to two in the morning! Admittedly, it was because the van had run out of petrol and we had to walk back to my mum’s.


For those of us in the States who have never seen Armitage Shanks perform before, what can we expect when you guys come to Carbondale, Illinois, on September 20?

It will be wild and fun. We’ll be setting light to people’s beards— we understand you have an annual beard-growing competition in September. We’ll be in the company of the greatest band you never heard of, [Carbondale’s own] Hippie Repellent. We also intend to first save and then move into Lost Cross and direct our empire from there.

On a slightly more serious note, most of your questions seem concerned with our age. The questions haven’t changed in twenty years apart from the “as you are over forty, are you still relevant?” That question may have been relevant in 1957/67/77, but my point is you can be totally relevant at eighty like Bo Diddley, or an irrelevance at seventeen like Jedward or whoever the Yank X-Factor equivalent is. We were not relevant to anyone in 1990 when we were just by ourselves in the church hall or when we were getting letters from promoters laughing at us for trying to start the punk revolution singlehandedly. If Kurt Cobain or Jack White or Mudhoney or REM or Billy Childish decide we are good, does that make us better or more relevant than we were before they heard us? I judge our relevance by the fact that twenty years in we leave our wives and kids and jobs and get together to make a racket, because we enjoy the sound we make together and because we enjoy each other’s company.


who: Armitage Shanks

what: garage, punk

where: PK's

when: Monday, September 20 w/ Hippie Repellent


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