[interview] THE SHABEEN – FOLK IS DEAD Debut Album Out Now

[interview] THE SHABEEN - FOLK IS DEAD Debut Album Out Now

Cape Town based Folk Punk band, THE SHABEEN, has released their debut album, FOLK IS DEAD. The band consists of Jon Shaban(guitar and vocals) and Ryan McArthur (upright bass and backing vocals). They were joined on this album by Thomas Glendinning on drums and Stelth Ulvang (of The Lumineers) on accordion.

“We decided on the name ‘Folk is Dead’ as a play on the saying ‘Punk is Dead’. We’re essentially a folk band but we draw a lot of influence from the ethos of the punk culture and bands who influence us are also described as being ‘Folk Punk’. We value and embrace the DIY attitude and easy going nature of it all. It’s also a statement of how we feel about the current exploitation of the ‘folk’ sound as a tool in mainstream pop music. We feel that the current wave of folk/pop/dance/rock has become so far removed from the sincerity and unpretentiousness which folk music stands for. This is the same thing that happened to punk music as it became more and more mainstream… hence ‘Folk Is Dead’.”

The album was written in late 2014 and early 2015. Jon plays a lot of solo gigs and it took a while to write enough material to separate the repertoire between his solo set and the THE SHABEEN‘s set. But once the band decided on recording a full length album, they were committed to writing and choosing 12 solid tracks which resulted in a consistent sound on the album. The album was recorded at Vanguard Studios in Hillcrest, Durban in May 2015 and engineered and produced by the band themselves. The album was mixed by Adam Hawkins at Right Heel Music in Denver, Colorado.

The band drew inspiration for the lyrical content from life experiences and describes the album as upbeat folk / country music with a punk influence. The honesty and rawness found in their lyrics are quite different to what most bands are doing.

“We like to sing about things that are real and easy to relate to. It’s important nowadays amongst the bullshit that the mainstream music industry is dishing out for someone to actually write music that people can relate to. It’s not all about sex and love and how high you can throw your hands in the air before you care. There are things to be liked and disliked and things to be happy about and things to be angry about. If our music can make anyone feel anything, then we’re doing things properly.”

[interview] THE SHABEEN - FOLK IS DEAD Debut Album Out Now

FOLK IS DEAD Track Listing:

  1.  Stop Me
  2.  Glass Half Full
  3.  Quit Your Job
  4.  Run Away
  5.  The Maths
  6.  Ahead of the Game
  7.  Get Some Rest
  8.  Stick Together
  9.  Footsteps
  10.  Swords
  11.  Our Father’s Sins
  12.  You Never Listen
“Fans can expect a really fun listening experience. We didn’t hold back on production. We added in extra vocals, guitar parts, accordion and even glockenspiel. We’ve never been more proud of an end product before. The amount of hours we put in writing, recording, engineering and producing the album ourselves, really got us attached to it. It’s time set it free into the world now.” 

Buy FOLK IS DEAD on BandCamp here: https://theshabeen.bandcamp.com

THE SHABEEN has also released two music videos from the album:


[interview] THE SHABEEN - FOLK IS DEAD Debut Album Out Now

  • Hey gents….  it is so rad to be chatting to you guys… Everyone doing well??
Yes thank you. Very well. We’re super excited about this countrywide album launch tour we’ve got coming up
  • Before we get started, please can you introduce us to the whole band, tell us where do you guys come from in SA and how you guys met to form THE SHABEEN?
We are from Cape Town. The band consists of Jon Shaban and Ryan McArthur as permanent members. We were both in Captain Stu and have been playing together going on 14 years now. The Shabeen is only about 4 years old though. For the album and all local gigs we have had Thomas Glendinning join us on drums. He’s toured with us as well and played a huge part on the album.
  • Who plays what part in the band? 
Jon plays guitar and sings and Ryan plays upright  bass and backing vocals.
  • What are some of your influences and inspirations to the music that you guys make?
Lyrically we draw a lot of inspiration from real life. We like to sing about things that are honest and real and easy to relate to. Musically we draw influences from artists such as Frank Turner, Against Me!, Mischief Brew and even some older folk musicians such as Simon and Garfunkel.
  • Do you mind telling us a bit about the name, THE SHABEEN?? Is there a funny story behind it or was your first band gig in a shabeen haha? 
The name comes from a play on Jon’s surname, Shaban. Jon has been playing solo gigs for slighly longer than the band has been around and the plan was always to separate the repertoire and have the band as it’s own thing rather than just a backing band for Jon’s solo material. We thought The Shabeen was quite apt because it’s nice and quirky and signifies a good time. It’s also very South African.
  • What are your thoughts on our local music scene at the moment?
We can go on about this for hours. Unfortunately it’s in a bit of a state at the moment and it’s very difficult for new bands to find the resources to get going. If it wasn’t for our successes with our previous band, I don’t think we’d be able to launch this band under the circumstances. Thankfully we’ve made lots of mistakes and have learnt from them and we’ve also built a solid network over the years. BUT…the scene goes up and down all the time. No doubt it will be thriving again in a little while
  • Are there any local acts that you think need a special mention?
Definitely Hog Hoggidy Hog. The amount of gratitude we have towards those guys for what they’ve done for us as musicians over the years is hard to express. Then Fuzigish and Rambling Bones up in JHB for having our backs and being solid friends. And lastly Shortstraw and Grassy Spark. It’s been amazing watching those guys succeed and stay so humble and down to earth. They’re proving that bands can still ‘make it’ but the work that has to go in is intense.
  • You guys have recently released your debut album, FOLK IS DEAD… Can you tell us a bit about the album?? Who did you work on the album with and what we can expect from it?
Folk is Dead is our first full length album. We recorded, engineered and produced it ourselves so we’re super attached to it. It’s a great selection of songs and an accurate representation of who are and what we stand for. The album was mixed in Denver, Colorado by Adam Hawkins at Right Heel Music and half the album also features Stelth Ulvang from The Lumineers on accordion. Other guest artists are Thomas Glendinning on drums and percussion and Sophie Doherty and Jessica Munna on backing vocals.
[interview] THE SHABEEN - FOLK IS DEAD Debut Album Out Now
  • Where can people get themselves a copy of this album?
For now you can buy a copy at shows and it will be available on iTunes and Bandcamp as well
  • Anything that you are currently working on that we would be interested in hearing about?
We are doing a month long country wide tour in March and then Europe in July. Keep an eye on our FB page and website for more details.
  • Where can we follow you on Social media?
We are most active on Facebook. Just search for The Shabeen. And you can find us on all other social media sites as well. Also www.theshabeen.com is a good central place to see what we’re up to.

Website: http://www.theshabeen.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheShabeenMusic
Twitter: https://twitter.com/theshabeen
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theshabeen
SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/the-shabeen

  • Thanks for your time guys…!!
Such a pleasure. See you at a show


Date: Thursday, 3 March 2016
Venue: Neighbourgoods Market First Thursday

Date: Friday, 4 March 2016
Venue: Rumours, Johannesburg
Entrance: R50
With: Fuzigish and Satanic Dagga Orgy
Time: 8PM
Facebook Event: http://tinyurl.com/gmsfjf2

Date: Saturday, 5 March 2016
Venue: Arcade Empire, Pretoria
Entrance: R40
With: Rambling Bones, Japan & I and Bark
Time: 8PM
Facebook Event: http://tinyurl.com/h3g9wgo

Date: Sunday, 6 March 2016
Venue: Street Cafe, Johannesburg
With: Japan & I and Misled
Entrance: FREE

Date: Tuesday, 8 March 2016
Venue: La Casa, Pietermaritzberg

Date: Wednesday, 9 March 2016
Venue: Khaya Records, Durban
The Shabeen DJ Set

Date: Thursday, 11 March 216
Venue: The Rock Music Bistro, Umzumbe
Entrance: FREE

Date: Friday, 12 March 2016
Venue: The Plant, Durban
With: Harbingers and Roachy
Entrance: R50
Time: 8PM

Date: Wednesday, 16 March 2016
Venue: Mystic Boer, Bloemfontein
Entrance: R30
Time: 8PM

Date: Thursday, 17 March 2016
Venue: The Occidental Pub, Kimberley
Entrance: FREE

Date: Friday, 18 March 2016
Venue: Malt & Metal, Middelburg
Entrance: FREE

Date: Saturday, 19 March / Sunday, 20 March
Venue: Mieliepop Festival, Ermelo

Date: Monday, 21 March 2016
Venue: Goodluck Bar, Johannesburg
With: Nomadic Orchestra and more!

Date: Wednesday, 23 March 2016
Venue: House Show, Johannesburg
With: Bye Beneco

Date: Thursday, 24 March 2016
Venue: Arcade Empire, Pretoria
With: Grassy Spark and Diamond Thug

Date: Friday, 25 March 2016
Venue: Outland Festival, Mooi River

Date: Saturday, 26 March 2016
Venue: Sundowners, Johannesburg
With: Slippery When Wet, Bark, The South Shore Ramblers and more!
Entrance: R40


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