I get quite nauseous with the state of music culture. Maybe I am jaded and fuelled by jealous cynicism. Perhaps I have a stomach ulcer. I find most of todays music absolutely dead boring, with its vegan-organic-ethically-charged-politically-correct homogeneity that says nothing and is terrified to go beyond themes of love, fashion, sex and free-range fondling. It is mostly derivative backwash and transparent tasteless phlegm to my tired ear-holes. It is all a bit too safe, scared, generic, and moth-eaten. What went wrong? I blame John Howard.
Street Art is much much more interesting than music culture today.
However, sometimes, occasionally, I find my sceptical wax-filled earknobs glued to some musical vomit which makes me realise that it is not all regurgitated rubbish. One of these few instances came a few years ago when I saw a video by Melbourne band The Shabbab – Mi Casa Su Casa – four bobbing darker-toned fellas in a field of backyard marijuana hollering about a truthful world and bemused at the horrific divide religion and politics creates amongst humankind.
The Shabbab sing about issues beyond their own navel. They’re not interested in fashion or squawking about their sex lives on stage. They have an LP coming out soon titled “Garlic” which was recorded in a caravan in the bush and recently dropped the first single “We Keep Coming”. Their vocalist, Shuki, is an amazing dancer and captivating little figure with a lot to say. He also makes the best felafel in Australia. I interviewed him via the internet.
Anto: When did you first come to Australia and what were the circumstances?
Shuki: First time I got here was about 10 years ago. I was on a tourist visa and i was selling remote control cars in shopping centres in Canbera, I could barely speak English and I’d just point the car and say “good good very good” when people asked how much I’d say” forty dollar buck”.
Anto: You are the only band in Australia worth listening to right now in my opinion. Convince me that there are other bands worth paying attention to.
Shuki: 2 Steps On The Water are a good Melbourne band singing about Gender and Transness and also Hideous Sun Demon or Shit Narnia from Perth who I really like for their live shows.
Anto: What was the catalyst behind putting the band together? Are you all quite politically charged individuals?
Shuki: It started very romantic with Jad and I realising how we are from countries who bomb each other and go to war every now and then (Lebanon and Israel) but when we met outside his bakery we became aware how much in common we have and how in this lonely new place we were in, our cultures are actually very similar. Jad and I could live in peace back home. All the bombs and all the death and all the wasted years we both spent doing compulsory military service were just games to gain more money and power. We definitely started the band in order to write about political issues and hoping that we might even change something or someone. Kosta and Vito are both very politicly aware as well and together we got a lot to talk about…
Anto: Do you think because most Australian bands are made up of white people, perhaps privileged white people, that they have nothing to express beyond themes of broken hearts, shoe fashion, and internet related issues?
Shuki: I would never put my hopes in the central bank when it comes to the monetary system. I would never put my hopes in Chevron when it comes to the environment. I would never put my hopes in the military when it comes to end wars and I will never put my hopes in privileged white people when it comes to end white supremacy, land rights, or ending wars in the (middle) east but they will always be there to change their profile picture to the French flag you know… There are a lot of amazing people of course who feel the pain through any kind of skin or border but the change will always come from the oppressed. Shoe fashion is a big oppressor for some though.
Anto: With your mixed cultural backgrounds are you guys ever witness to the current socio-political arguments and miscommunications?
Shuki: Jad seems to be the one coping most of that shit in the band, he’s been called a black cunt and some crazy dudes in Tassie tried to punch him coz he asked them too many questions about fishing Abalone. Living in the inner north of Melbourne we feel pretty good here, it’s when we go on tour that we feel it like on the beach in Perth where people literally grabbed their kids when we arrived and gave us those looks that make you feel you don’t belong.
Anto: Do you feel a duty to take the piss out of the media hype surrounding different cultures and the way the media basically encourages and fuels divide and fear?
Shuki: Mate that country we in can give all Terrorists a workshop on how to kidnap and torture people on deserted islands, invade and terrorise countries across the globe against the will of the public here and of course how to almost extinct a whole civilization. Seen those divide and rule games enough back home and they not good to us, gotta hate that hatred you know. So, yes you have to piss on that shit.
Anto: Two of you are incredibly good cooks and Vito has just finished uni. What does the drummer do outside of the band?
Shuki: He lives in a caravan on a farm in wattle glen, compost his and his girlfriend’s shit and study to be a Steiner teacher or something like that. He always has a lot to say and a lot to drum and we love that intensity. By the way its in his caravan that we recorded the album.
Anto: Do you think the music scene today is as boring and self-interested as I think it is?
Shuki: First of all I think it’s great that there is such a big music scene here and everyone is playing in a band you know it can be much worse like it is in Israel where everyone is a psy trance DJ… You’re right that the motivation behind most of it seems to be very selfish and when people who didn’t experience much sing about themselves it can be a bit boring. I usually enjoy the music and make up new words in my head. But music is always going through waves of boredom right into the next best thing that’s gonna shake you up and make you fall in love with it again, I reckon good news is just around the corner.
The Shabbab’s debut album “Garlic” is out on 29th August via Hive Minds
You can find The Shabbab here.