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Bringing the noise to Cairo from the gritty south east of London, Punk band SHOT! will be debuting at Cairo Jazz Club on 27th February. We talk to frontwoman May Mansour about the fuck-you genre and the band's best moments...
They say Punk is dead; the age of insouciant 20something mowhawks screeching out caustic lyrics with fast hard-edged rhythms to a crowd of charged up anti-establishment, anti-authoritarian, anti-fashion, anti-sentimental, disillusioned youth seems to be over, replaced with 20something repeated tracks on a USB. Of course the Punk Rock era may have faded from the mainstream's collective consciousness, but it never really belonged there anyways. The idea of Punk, that youthful, rebellious attitude, can never really die, and based on recent events, Egypt is probably the most 'Punk' place in the world right now. But we don't need to give you a history of the acrimonious subculture, we'll leave that to the music of SHOT! The British Punk Rock outfit born in the 'hard-knock pits' of South East London, is headed up on vocals by Egyptian May Mansour and they'll be touring Egypt through out February. We have a chat with Mansour about putting a middle finger up to the powers at be, drunk crowds and robbing banks...
Who's in the band?
Tom is my fiancé - he plays the guitar and we both sing and write lyrics together... Jeremy's our third half! He plays the drums and we've lived together since we first moved to the U.K. James Hull plays a second guitar, and Tommy Simpson's on bass; both do backing vocals and write the music with us!
How did you guys meet?
Tom was actually on vacation when we first met in London and he decided to stay, called Jeremy to join him (both are from Basque Country). We were first looking for bands separately until we decided to give it a go together! SHOT! was formed within a year, and we played our first few gigs without a bassist. We got to know a whole crew from South East London and got to know James who initially played guitar and eventually decided "how hard could it be to play bass?" and joined us! Enter Tommy Simpson the magnificent, then James switched to a second (very killer) guitar and Tommy took over bass playing. We finally became a five-piece and lived happily ever after.
Are you signed?
No, we're doing everything ourselves for now from recording to packaging and screening Ts! Tom set up a recording studio, Vagrant Punk Squad or VPS Recordings, where we've done all our upcoming releases.
Why the name SHOT?
All the integrity specific to social behaviour, the arts and politics in the modern day that has been "shot down" by political corruption or the global corporate take over. Meanwhile, the minorities who take on political or musical activism and anti-fascism and anti-fashion notions pose as the metaphorical ammunition against those exact same poisonous forces! We're all shooting at each other here, and someone's bound to lose... You should listen to the song SHOT to gain a better understanding of our wishful thinking!
Give us one interesting tidbit about each of your band members?
Hmmm... I got way too many, but if I have to pick the most impressive ones I'd say Tom is, 80% of the time, in his own head thinking of music (really... it's frustrating to deal with sometimes) and nothing makes him angrier than Andy Warhol, a five minute video of Andy Warhol talking would genuinely ruin his entire day. Jeremy listens to Arctic Monkeys every morning in the shower and is the youngest member of a killer Hardcore band called Smack Battalion where he also plays the drums. James is in a hell raising post-riot-grrrl-punk-dubswing-rock band called Leagues Apart from Manchester and has a SWEET AS FUCK folk solo project going on (Seriously check out the song Riot Girls by James Hull on Soundcloud), and Tommy Simpson plays guitar with our best-friend band The Exhausts and is the most interesting drunk you'll ever meet!
Where have you played so far? Do you have a big following in the UK?
We've played almost all our favourite Rock n' Roll venues; Astbury Castle which is actually our friends' house where they host international and local punk bands in their kitchen that it's become quite a recognisable venue! We played the Bird's Nest, 12 Bar, squat gigs of all sorts including political/solidarity gigs, we played a roof across Camden Town station...that was a riot, literally! Closed down the street and all that! We've played Cambridge and Liverpool, and we're looking forward to playing some festivals across the U.K in the near future! Do we have a large following? No. In the London squat community maybe, and I don't consider it a large following either! The lot of them have shown us incredible support though, and the bastards know how to make every gig we play a massive riot!
What would you say to people who think Punk is dead?
How and when did you get into Punk Rock?
I got into Punk Rock when I was 16 I think. A friend of mine gave me over 20 or 30 albums back then of all the different Punk bands and Punk sub-genres to check out. I found myself getting the most kicks sitting in my room listening to all it rather than going out and doing anything else with my time, everything just started making sense then.
Who are your bands main influences? As Tom usually says we like to think of our music as a melting Punk-pot of various genres! The five of us together listen to pretty much everything from Classic music, Jazz and Blues to Old school Hip-Hop, Hardcore, Rock n' Roll and Garage. Separately we're influenced by different forms of Punk music while agreeing on a good few essentials like Rancid and The Clash so it works well for us, this diversity, when writing our music.
Punk is inherently a fuck you to the man. You've been performing in UK but you're an Egyptian... with all the Governmental scheming and political oppression that has blighted Egypt of late, if you had a choice to put your middle finger up to either Egypt's interim government or UK's government - who would you flip off? To which to you hold more aggression?
I definitely hold a greater grudge towards the Egyptian government and society! Police brutality, sexism and male dominance everywhere! Religious delirium and a very natural sort of racism that isn't even acknowledged as a remote issue to be dealt with at any point in life. You've got corporations to join or bohemia by the sea! Complete control and limitations towards one's choice of lifestyle so you're basically working in an office, inherited a family business or you're fucked! An elitist, bourgeois or a nothing from the very bottom of society: i.e. working class. The social gap is incredible and it's quite sad to have to adapt to that. Egypt in black and white movies is beautiful in comparison to what it is nowadays! Anyway.. I'd still have to give my middle finger to the U.K government for their remarkably racist border agency! Have you seen the set up of the border controls over there? U.K. + EU passports in one section, "All other passports" in a whole other space where they interrogate the fuck out of you! And, if they could, they'd escort you to your destination and supervise you a few days! Wire-tap you while they're at it.
Is there any sort of Punk scene in Egypt?
Okay so you're called SHOT. Now if you were in a room with The Clash, Sonic youth, Black Flag, and Misfits and you had to shoot three of them down, who would you shoot down and why?
Fuck! I'd have to shoot myself.
This is the point where we ask you stereotypical questions about being a girl from Egypt and playing in a Punk band. Maybe we can do it like those memes if you know what we mean so, we'll say a statement on your behalf and you can follow it up...
What my friends think I do...
Either wasting my time in lala land or making things happen (depends who).
What my Mum thinks I do...
What society thinks I do...
Egyptian Society?Splitting Atoms.
What the Government thinks I do...
Spending daddy's riches on endless shopping and dry Martinis
What I think I do...
Enjoying myself; bigger-picture wise!
What I really do....
In London? Struggle every fucking day of my life that I've managed to bypass my own physical and mental capacities by a milestone. Sometimes I just want to get hit by a bus.
What is the most 'Punk' thing you've ever done...
What's the weirdest thing that's happened to you during a gig?
There's always an out-of-this-world drunk who makes it weird or, better said, interesting during a gig! A very significant pissed up bloke came up to us mid-set during a squat gig once, screaming agony in our microphones, hugging us and trying to chat us up while we're playing, but not entirely pissing us off. Eventually he grabbed one of our mics after the last song and said we changed his life forever! Which was awkward and hilarious as we were incredibly wasted after an earlier gig so I'm not sure how we changed anyone's life at that point unplugging our guitars and tripping over each other on stage! Great night!
Do you have any pre-gig rituals?
What's the main difference between Punk music and Aston Kutcher's infamous prank show Punk'ed also featured on MTV who once punk'ed Punk drummer of the Punk band Transplants, Travis Barker?
Sometimes the only thing that gets me up in the morning is the idea of robbing a bank.
What gigs do you have lined up during your Cairo tour?
We're playing Cairo Jazz Club on the 27th of February, Vent on the 4th of March. Sakkia at some point in between those dates and we're also planning a gig in Alexandria. Dates to be confirmed.
Alright, so The Ramones have come back from the dead and they're going on an international reunion and they want you to be on vocals with Joey but you have to ditch these white guys. Do you do it!?
The Ramones are one of my favourite bands ever! But I'll take SHOT! and our angst-ridden lives any.fucking.day! Those boys are all I need.
Finally what's the best drug to listen to your music on?
Based on last year's market analysis; Speed.
Check out SHOT! and keep up to date with their upcoming gigs on their fanpage here. Check out all the details of SHOT! debut gig at Cairo Jazz Club here.