Having recently released their first album for five years, Public Disorder: Act 1, it's time for Seeing Your Scene to catch up with Leeds' punk/ska/rave nutters China Shop Bull to reflect on their 2015.
You recently did a 10 date UK tour... How did it go?
We toured with a Czech ska band called Chaska and as it was a DIY tour, arranging two buses, drivers, places to sleep, equipment, set times, other support bands, a rider for 18 people for 10 days in a row basically it was logistical nightmare trying to organise it all plus the language barrier between some of the Czechs and us. Despite all that the tour itself was probably one of our most successful. It was great to get out there and play all our new songs for the first time. It is always interesting to see reactions and hear feedback from people whenever we play anything new so to get the amount of positive feedback that we did was great. Some of the places we played were new to us as well and to have such large audiences in towns we have never been to before was really encouraging. Every single night was busy and as far as I'm aware neither of the buses broke down and no equipment blew up. So in short, the tour went well.
Public Disorder: Act 1 is your first album in 5 years, how do you feel your sound has developed in this time?
Well, one of the reasons it took so long to release a new album is because we had so many line up changes. With new band members come new ideas and new/different styles of playing, a new chemistry between us and I think that can be heard in the music, especially in the lyrics and in Obi's rapping style. Public Disorder has way more vocal harmonies and the brass is much bolder than on Rave to the Grave. Songs like "King Kong" and "Gravy Train: would sound out of place if they were on Rave to the Grave and actually I sometimes I hear those songs and it sounds like a completely different band. But then there are songs like "Crunchtime" and "Stone in a Sock" which are heavy, fast, aggressive, upbeat, in your face classic China Shop Bull songs. We've developed more of a dub sound and Billy has introduced a more relaxed drumming style which fits the bands personality a bit more. Our new bass player Tom (we call him Tommy Tender Touch) works well alongside Billy's drumming too and something between them has just clicked I think that as far as writing songs goes, with the new line up and the new developments in our sound, we understand each other as musicians much more than we used to. he guys who were in the band before were great, we really enjoyed the band with them, but there's just something about the new line up which just feels a bit more right.... Does that make any sense? I hope you know what I mean!
Do you think it's important to include a political element in your music?
Not necessarily. I think that its important that for you as an individual and as an artist to sing songs or write lyrics about whatever you feel is important or relevant to you at the time of writing. These days we are way more political than we were in the past but I think that's because the political landscape has changed over the last decade and also Obi is way more politically minded than our old rapper Pete. You could also say we are a lot wiser than we used to be! Some of our songs have social elements to them and not necessarily politics such as "Rotten Tomato Entertainment". The song is about trash TV, in particular Jeremy Kyle. Then there is "Gravy Train" which is about different peoples different perceptions of things, how one person might see a painting as a beautiful expression, and the next person might just see blobs of paint. One things for sure, I doubt you'll ever get a China Shop Bull love ballad coming your way!
You have always had a good festival following, what is your favourite festival to play and why?
It would be Boomtown Fair hands down. That place is crazy! It is non stop party central. he ideas and the creativity that goes into making that place is incredible. It really is what China Shop Bull is about. We feel at home there. All the different genres, the different parts of the town, the arts, the carnival atmosphere, it is just totally bonkers. It's more than just a festival.
What is your most crazy tour story?
What are your favourite albums/EPs of the year?
To be honest, I haven't actually heard as many as I would have liked. I've heard a track or two from Random Hand's new album and I've heard lots of good feedback about it. We actually shared the stage with them at Boomtown Fair earlier this year and they played some new material that was great. There is a band from Scotland called The Mickey 9's and their stuff is absolutely awesome. Their album The Party Manifesto is really good and I'd recommend that to anybody. Their live show is better though and if they're ever in your area I 100% guarantee you'll be impressed. Also The Dancing Morons. They're from Belgium and have a new album called Monkey Face.
What are your plans for 2016?
First off we are doing a few gigs in some of the places we sadly weren't able to get to on the last tour (Check band pages for the dates in Jan and Feb) and then we're really excited as a re-mix album is currently being made called Bang Out Of Disorder so that will be good. We have already started writing new songs for the next album which could be out within a year if all goes well. We have a European tour in April and then we will be at a load of festivals across the UK and Europe throughout the summer. We do hope to be making a video for "Gravy Train" at the start of the year too.