Featured Artist: Sh’Bang – Interview and Review of ‘Sex Files’

Powerful, passionate, playful, poignant pop punk that has serves a poet-philosopher profound punch atop juddering dance along rhythm.

Sex Files‘ is the perfect marriage of two songs from the band’s catalogue that both dive deep into the filthy skid marked discarded underpants of sex that isn’t sexy.

Both tracks have a distinctive raw roaring ferocity that prickles in both the open vein honesty of the lyricism and riotous joy from the instrumentation.

Makeup Sex‘ is the pre-drinking party, only a little tipsy, it is still a fair bit morose, recalling a particularly dark period of time living with people that really didn’t care about our protagonist at all.

It is painfully relatable to all but the lucky few who were blessed with genuine human beings instead of animals in there first enforced shared living situation.

It has elements of folk, indie rock, emo, and punk all mixed together into a beautiful witches brew of influence and inspiration.

The instrumentation is on a steady evolution and progression that builds and builds into the cathartic release of the freakout choruses.

The drums are a particular delight, with furious fills that flutter and flex like butterfly wings stitching together the frenetic and furious frenzy of the track.

If ‘Makeup Sex‘ was the pregame then ‘Stop Getting Naked (In Front Of My Mom)‘ is the end of the night finale. Is explosively energetic and charged with a boisterous bounce that is as infectious as it is infinitely engaging.

Lyrically it’s a witty and humourous account that has that playful punk cheek but with a rock solid message and depth when out into context.

The entire band goes into a complete feeding frenzy on this one, tearing into riffs, solos, and shredded vocals that establish the live wire energy they clearly brig to the stage.

This is a unique sound that is tender but tough, it is harder than rock, and more powerful than punk, but at its core is a lyrical and poetic honesty that is incredibly rare.

The EP speaks for itself. But the band do a fairly good job of speaking too and you can read our interview with them below.

Sh’bang: from left to right, Dylan, Alex, Noah, and Ryan.

So, let’s start with the basics. Sh’Bang sounds like a quirky catchphrase from a 90’s comedy movie. What’s the story behind the name?

Alex: So originally, Sh’Bang was actually “Strawberry Jamz”. But upon a quick YouTube search, we found out that Strawberry Jamz and blank, I forget what it is, but they were already a thing. So we were really bummed out because we were like, damn, now we can’t be Strawberry Jamz.

And when two bummed people are just hanging out at their friend’s house, and their friend is asleep, what do they do? They start playing GTA.

Noah was messing people up in a semi truck, specifically Mini Coops, and in one of them, he just yelled — I’m pretty sure it was Noah, we still don’t remember if it was me or Noah — but one of us yelled “Sh’bang!”… Instant, like just stop. Turned. Looked at each other, both said “Sh’Bang”, and we’re like “Sh’Bang, that’s it.” That’s the band name, “Sh’Bang”.

Noah: Just a mutual acknowledgement of the perfect name.

Alex: Got even more specific and went, “not Shebang, Sh’ Bang.”

Noah: Yeah, we had to quick clarify the spelling on it too.

Alex: Yeah, it was instant like that, so “Sh’Bang”. Because there’s no “e” in “Sh’Bang”, that’s messed up.

Alex: Yeah, sounds weird.

The production on these two singles is incredibly professional, yet it retains that fuzzy distorted garage rock feel. Where and how did you guys record?

Noah: Alright, so I don’t remember — I don’t know, like the specific, specifics, but Alex met someone at college. And that person at college was like, “hey, you’ve got a band, right? I know, a guy who records things for bands.” And then Alex says, “cool.” So eventually, we met up with this guy named Drew who runs SmallFace Studio. He showed us his basement, and we were… No, at first it was just his bedroom. And then it was his basement. For the new one, it was his basement, but for the first one, it was his bedroom. SmallFace Studios.

Ryan: Yeah, so when I first joined the band, I only had this really shitty, super old Ludwig from the 80’s, but it was like, beat to shit. If it was in good condition, it would have been a great kit. But it was not, it was not well kept care of and everything. And so for the first one, Drew’s like “yeah, we have a drumkit there you can use,” and I’m like “alright that’s fine,” and I had cracked cymbals and everything. But then for this new EP, The Sex Files, I invested a lot of money over the past two years into my own kit, that I really worked hard on getting up and going and everything. So, I was very insistent on using my drums, so I had my personal sounds on the album. So, these are MY drums on the new one.

Noah: (jokingly) They’re MY drums!

Alex: Anytime recording with Drew is awesome — but, the fact that you mentioned how it still keeps that live garage feel? That is something that we wanted when we originally went with Drew, because we had tried recording by ourselves previously, the previous recordings we all did were really bad. Like really, really bad. And when we went to Drew, we were basically like: “We just want to make it sound like we’re live; like we’re actually playing in front of you, because I feel like that’s where we capture a lot of our appeal. We’re definitely a really good live band. We just needed to work on being a good recording band too.

At Yack! Mag recently covered a guy named “Knob Ross”, and we think he serves up a similar flavor of dark philosophical humour, and rip roaring riffs. What would you call your sound? Is this a conscious movement?

Ryan: I joined the band around the same time Dylan did. And it was more pop-punky, like, more laid back then, but me and Dylan are very into heavier music and have a lot of heavy influences in our playing. So I feel like as time has gone along, as me and Dylan have come into the band, the band’s slowly gotten heavier to the point I would almost call it like, “indie hard-rock.” We all have our own style and when it comes together, it makes something very unique.

Noah: I know early on, I had a lot of intentions to be like “a punk band”, or just like a heavier rock band. But nowadays I feel like a lot of people try to chase the sound, rather than just make the music. So I feel like recently we’ve just been more focused on making music rather than trying to sound like something, you know?

Dylan: I struggle to explain what our genre is. I say what I think, I describe it, and then say, “I don’t really know, we just like to make music”. We make music that we want to listen to and have fun with, and I feel like, you know, that’s it. We just like making music.

Noah: Our genre is “not shitty.”

Alex: It all depends who you ask too, because I feel like we’ve asked so many people what genre they’d say we are, and they’re like, oh, Emo folk, punk. Or… the fact that I play an acoustic guitar always drives some sort of folk; our lyrics tend to drive some sort of emo or, I don’t know, punk-pop vibe. And then just the usual music itself is usually, like, inspired by people that play metal music. That’s what they enjoy, so it’s always heavier in the back, it’s always driven. So it’s like a… I don’t know, it’s weird. It’s good, but it’s weird.

Alright, so there’s a distinct punk flavor to the growling guitars and thundering drums, but with a happier indie rock edge. How do you go about building that sound? And who are your influences?

Dylan: I have a ton of influences because I don’t listen to specific genres of music. In fact, when I describe what I have on my playlist, it’s literally just “not country”. That’s it. I don’t listen to country. So back when we were making the album, I believe I was listening to a lot of Arctic Monkeys. I was listening to a lot *inaudible*. I was listening to a lot of Mac Miller. Those were kind of the influences that went into my guitar playing.

Ryan: I have a lot of heavy influences from getting into hard rock in middle school, and then slowly that developed into heavier and heavier, like metal core and that sort of stuff. So that’s where I get my power, my speed, and everything, but for like dynamics and stuff, I’ve grown up playing at church and I still play at church. Where it’s a very different style of music that gives you that different flavor. Like a lot of the tom (driven-beats) parts I do — there’s not too many in these two songs, but in future songs we’ll have coming out — it’s a very popular style within worship music. So it has two opposite spectrums that I bring together a little bit.

Alex: I would say in terms of the lyrics, that’s always kind of been our style. I would say if Sh’Bang does have one style, it’s music that you can dance to, but lyrics that if you actually sat down and listen to or read and really broke apart, they might make you cry. Because all the songs have to do with shit that either me or Noah have been through. We’re trying to get more into group writing, so we can get some Dylan and Ryan shit, but it’s just basically our brains and how we handle a situation, or how we look back at a situation, and we just try to put a positive spin on it. Why be sad when you can be happy and dance around?

Noah: Sometimes things suck, and if you can listen to a thing that sounds like it sucks but you still like it? Then, fucking that’s that’s what I’m here to do, baby.

Alex: How much does it really suck then? Hmm?

Noah: Exactly. Like, I can’t be that terrible.

Alex: One person said they like my song. I must be pretty cool.

Noah: Yeah. (laughs)

Alex: It was my dad.

Lyrically both songs on the EP have a strong emotive narrative… who hurt you?

Noah: Who hasn’t hurt me bro?

Do you really have an issue with someone stripping for your mum?

Alex: I wrote ‘Stop Getting Naked In Front Of My Mom‘, and it’s 100% based on a true story. I was at work on like Memorial Day Weekend or something like that. It was Sunday after work, or Saturday after work, because we went back to work the next day. I was like, “Yo, my Aunt has people at our beach house, if we want we can go down maybe try to hit a bar before work. We got out mad late, and I was gonna go with my buddy Bugs. My buddy Bugs liked this other girl that we worked with, so he invited her to come with us. I’m not gonna give a name. But, we ended up going to the bar, when we got to the bar, the bar was closed, so we went to a casino. The casino got a little crazy. I got pulled into the bathroom like two times by this girl, the ladies room, because she was trying to like, make out with me or fuck me in the bathroom, I guess. Like one time I left and the big security guard was out there, and I was like, “Dude, I’m really sorry. I promise I’m not trying to be in there right now.” And then she immediately came and tried to pull me back in and I was like, “Stop, like, I cannot go in there with you. And so luckily, I didn’t get kicked out of the casino.

Alex (Continued): But, when we made it back home, my mom had the brilliant idea that we would share a bedroom together. Me and her, instead of me and Buggs and she could sleep in my sister’s room, with my sister. So she gets a set up in the bedroom. She’s clinging on me like crazy. I go to the bathroom. And in the time that I was in the bathroom, she stripped her clothes in front of my mom three times. And my mom dressed her three times. Like she just started getting naked in front of my mom, and my mom put her clothes back on. She did it again. My mom put her clothes back on. She did it a third time, my mom put her clothes back on, and then I walked out of the bathroom and my mom told me that, and was like “what is going on?”

Alex (Continued): Yeah, she tried to jump my bones, but I was like “uh-uh-uh, my family’s in the house, that’s weird.” And so now we have a story called “Stop Getting Naked In Front Of My Mom,” because someone tried to fuck me in front of like half my family. So, alcohol is bad. If you if you drink kiddos, make sure to do it responsibly and don’t try to fuck people that don’t want to fuck you.

Is makeup sex about someone in particular? Because it also is an incredible exploration of the self rather than focusing on a particular other.

Noah: You know, people. Sometimes you make life decisions with other people, and those people don’t exactly have the same interests as you. Like, for example, maintaining a rental property, selling drugs on said property… just people being shitty. I’m not about it. Everyone hurts me in some way, shape or form. And you know, for anybody that comes into contact with me, please be nice to me, or else I will write a song about you. (laughter) That’s my input.

Alex: All I can say is I’ve known Noah for years now; I’m mean to him all the time. I don’t think there’s a song about me yet. So, don’t know how true that really is. (Laughter, then faintly) I love you.

Your music has a playful feel to it, like it doesn’t take itself too seriously, both lyrically with the deep yet cheeky questions and humour and sonically in the feel good rhythm and musicality. Are you doing this for fun, to make a mark, or for the dollar?

Noah: I’m doing this because I hate myself.

Alex: I kind of agree with that. Like, all the lyrics that I have are just over self-analyzing certain situations. And yeah, it’s just like, I hate that, but it makes you feel better afterwards. So it is for fun, but you just take a bad thing and you make it good.

Noah: It’s more or less therapeutic.

Ryan: I personally am doing it for fun.

Dylan: I do it for fun. I don’t know, I got bored and joined a band.

Noah: Dylan was too good to be a YouTube guitarist.

Dylan: (Laughing) Yet, I’m still trying to be a YouTube guitarist.

It’s been a strange time for making music the past couple of years. Has it changed the way you work collaboratively? Is there anything that’s worked well that you’ll keep doing or anything you’ve missed that you can’t wait to get back to?

Ryan: I’d say we always have done things a little strange. Like, we’ll go together, jam, work something out, but then we usually flesh it out on our own, at home, by ourselves. We’ll flesh out our parts a little bit more there. Then when we come back, we jam it again, and it slowly evolves.

Ryan (Continued): For me, personally, all the free time I had over that lockdown… I played so much drums and got so much better, learned new techniques, and that sort of stuff, that it really helped me evolve as a drummer. I work full time, I have other things going on in my life, so during normal life, I don’t have all this time to dump into that. But, over COVID, I had all the time I could use when that lockdown was hitting hard and I couldn’t go and work.

Alex: Yeah, it’s tough to get together sometimes. I feel like Dylan, Noah, and Ryan can usually get together, and then I’ll get together with Noah on some random ass day. But it’s relatively rare that it’s all four of us, all together, for a practice. It doesn’t happen too often; I wish it happened more. Definitely on my part, for the most part, with the work schedule, I kind of have the opposite hours of everybody else. But we make it work.

So it’s a two track EP, Sophie’s choice time for every member of the band, which is your favourite and why?

Dylan: I’m gonna go with Stop Getting Naked In Front Of My Mom. I feel like the lyrics are kind of fun, it has a catchy chorus and everything like that. I feel like it’s just driven. Very driven throughout the entire song, so it’s a lot of fun. It’s just balls to the wall throughout the entire song. No dynamics. All gas, all the time.

Ryan: I would say I like both of them a lot. I think musically, Makeup Sex is very well done and Stop Getting Naked In Front Of My Mom is just really, really fun to play. Because like Dylan said, it’s really driven, you just get to go HAM (hard as a motherfucker). It’s just a lot of fun to play.

Noah: I definitely second Dylan on his opinion, because the lyrics are just my favorite to sing. Especially the way me and Alex sound together on that song, it’s just, it’s ideal. And I get to do my scream on it and, yes I’m very proud of the scream on the EP.

Alex: Yeah, so I always listen to Makeup Sex first, but it’s to get me ready for Stop Getting Naked In Front Of My Mom. That one’s definitely my pick. I just lyrically, it’s to date my favorite song that I’ve written, ever. I’m excited for the one that’s going to top it, because that means it’s going to be fire. But I need a good story to write about that so… Maybe not naked in front of my mom, but we could try something else.

Noah: Yeah, what’s your dad up too?

Alex: (Laughing) I can call him right now and see if he wants to join the zoom.

You’re walking home through a dark alley, Hulk Hogan jumps you and demands “all the money you have brotha”, what do you do?

Alex: Give him my $5

Noah: Damn Dylan, that was mine. I was gonna say give him my $3 and walk away.

Ryan: I was taking it a little more seriously and was going to say: “What’s going on your life?Let’s talk this out. What’s going on you feel the need to be robbing people?” And then if that doesn’t work, I’ll pepper spray him in the face and we’ll be good to go.

Noah: Mr. Hogan what life choices did you have to make in order to find yourself here? Seriously?

So now the EP is out, what’s next? Gigs? Feature length album? Where can our readers stay up to date?

Noah: Gigs is a given.

Alex: The next thing I think is a 6-8 song LP. I’m pretty sure it’s all our speedier songs, so it’ll definitely go well, with this EP, in terms of just kind of like a lot of upbeat jammy music, it’s going to be sick. In terms of where you guys can check more of us out, follow Sh’Bang on Instagram.

Dylan: Shout out to Dalton (@bottledup) our social media manager too.

Alex: He’s who you have to thank for our awesome Instagram, because it has definitely taken a drastic turn for the better.

Noah: Dalton’s maybe 50% of the reason we don’t suck anymore.

Noah: Check out our YouTube which cool shit will be coming out on soon. It’s also where you can find the music video for Tattooed Bombshell and get a little bit of context for what Makeup Sex is about.

Anything else?

Ryan: Tigers are cool.

Noah: I love you… Uh… Thanks.

Follow Sh’Bang on Instagram.

Check out the Sh’Bang YouTube channel.

For the decidedly less hip Sh’bang are active on Facebook.

Words by Matt Miles.

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