Tracing the evolution of Shaven Primates is not a complex task. On the surface. However, if you choose to delve into the music, you find it to be more layered than the idea of socialism. This band has made an original sound, while paying ode to all their heroes. The result is an EP this time, that shows a sound post pandemic that might define an era, or maybe just a year. Time will tell, as it always does. This is their latest release, Birds Aren’t Real.
From Child of Dirt to Birds Aren’t Real, what musical impact has the pandemic given that you think is discernable in this album?
Child Of Dirt was pre-pandemic in its writing, but the message in that of people being isolated from normality was pretty close so we did some work to tie that together. But with Birds Aren’t Real, it became entirely driven around the polarity of doubt, denial, and disdain that drove the political aftermath of a cynical society, and I think we delved deeply into that and the ways that people took advantage of that difficult time.
This comes after their 2021 album, Child of Dirt. Just an opener like Fade Away is enough to see the new sound unravel. The open, playful riff promises a wrecking ball filled with confetti. Party time, I guess. From all the phony politicians, Shaven Primates present this particular single. While the sharp, concise lyrics showcase the lies and words peddled to the common man-there is also a play within the brilliant instrumentals showcased. The groove created hence complements what is to proceed in the lyrics. The chorus is a mixture, a shade made with two others-that paints the room ultraviolet blue. Secret’s out, chump.
Shaven Primates love the tone
You pay special attention to tone, as heard in the opening of Fade Away or Unmasked. What is the most exciting aspect of recording songs like this?
Both those songs had “eureka” moments in the switch between verse and chorus, where each one of us noticed a new trick that could be used in parts and we got to talk about them as a group, feel it through, then put the pieces together. Doing something artistic like that is definitely one of the most exciting parts of doing all this.
A Decision comes next. With a Steven Wilson like aura, this track works around a delicious groove. The lyrics are sensitive, decisive yet very literal. There is a study, an observation and meaning behind actions. The song is a perfect addendum-if anything a metaphor for the event. It has been choreographed with a certain mastery. You would appreciate the lyrics if you breathed into a little more. The shoes to try on are just beside the door.
Playing with styles
While writing these songs, how important is the band’s input as well as additional elements during live shows?
I think for us to move forward, we have to be ourselves with our instruments, but also meet in the middle and understand everyone’s process. It’s pretty clear with the outcome that we managed to do this, and whilst there were some creative differences, that’s just another part of the process. For live shows, we do what we can to copy what’s there – I have a lot of tech as the vocalist, as does Neil, our keyboardist. That can be a blessing and a curse! But we are all pretty good with improv, thinking in the moment about how to tie something back together when we make mistakes, or coming up with crazy ideas on the fly.
Writing lyrics with impact
If you were absorbed into the weight of A Decision, Silicon Implants comes next. In some way, it is definitely a morphine rush. Shaven Primates call it a middle between Homesick Blues and McLusky’s Lightsaber Cocksucking Blues. The result is something fun and energetic, a rise from the eventual ebb and flow this EP is creating comfortably. The lyrics have a We Didn’t Start The Fire kind of vibe to it, with the references and style of vocal delivery. Expect Pink Floyd like transitions in Unmasked. The bass line especially stands out. Drum grooves space out incredibly well in this song, even with the piano making it seem like a pseudo ballad. The Porcupine Tree trajectory is accessed again, peculiarly in how the melodies evolve.
The punk energy of Silicon Implants is a change from the opening tracks. How does a song like this come about?
This song was purely for our entertainment, and totally worth it for that reason. The beat, the bass parts, it wasn’t serious to begin with, but having listened to some Japanese punk while getting a tattoo done with a guy who loves Japanese art, I realised there were elements of 2 things we could do with it, so I tried to basically do a low down of what’s going on in the world right now, targeted at McLusky’s Lightsaber Cocksucking Blues meets Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues, but with a British twang. I now have a large, colourful manga style shrimp on my right arm to commemorate this.
Turning experiences into melodies
The pointed visuals of A Decision change the feel quite a bit, especially from the debut album. From a funky tone to a rock breakout-it combines everything. Tell us the process of creating this song
This was the first song we put together as a group writing together after the writing of Child Of Dirt, which I made most of the templates for. It was a little dreary but I knew the suicide subject matter fitted well with that. I think with this and all our songs, it’s about imagery that’s produced from the sound to draw people in, which makes it Art Rock. I find if I can’t visualise a song, I don’t like singing it, and the direction of this one just came about because that was the big picture.
Doom, dark wave, gothic influences, a lot of that was done so well in the 80s, so a lot of those sounds were used for this purpose. Birds Aren’t Real as an album is shaped around so many images because we want to try stuff, do our thing, give no apologies, be genuine, and it’s a bonus if people like it.
Close with the banger. The closing track is the cumulation of many styles. The funky and groovy track is like a salsa tune, revived. The simulation theory expands itself in this track. The alt-rock fold out that this track provides is immense in energy and captivating in style. Shaven Primates have come together in breathtaking style for this album. From approaching it in different styles to the themes that the pandemic might only have been an essence of. This EP would be great in Trainspotting (1996) for the various themes and kick-ass transition scenes. Listen to the album above and check out their first release as well!