POSTED ON APRIL 25, 2012:
Old, Bald and Drunk
Oi! Comes charging back in the Tulsa punk revival with The Shame
If you haven't heard The Shame yet, you're missing out. If you haven't heard of The Shame, however, you just haven't been listening. The latest punk band to cause a legitimate stir on Tulsa's music scene, The Shame may have only played a handful of shows, but the response has been swift and sweet.
This isn't your typical young punk band, however. Fronted by Chad Malone (Bring Down the Hammer, Larkin) with bassist Josh Troutman and drummer Kevin Gissendaner, it's a group of old friends who finally found reason to fire up a new band and start playing together. They aren't putting up any pretenses, either, instead embracing the town that they love and singing about the simple things in life: soccer, punk rock and drinking. If anything, it's a celebration of everyday life and the simple things that keep us going -- sports, revelry and our friends.
When discussing the band's formation with lead singer/guitarist Chad Malone and bassist Josh Troutman, Malone shared that "Josh and I have known each other since '86 and Kevin and I have known each other since '89. They didn't know each other, but I introduced them. I always liked Oi! music and thought doing something like this would be fun. The legacy of Oi! is terrible in Tulsa, though, with bands like Midtown Boot Boys. ..."
With that in mind, Malone, Troutman and Gissander set out to change that preconception, taking their inspiration from classic Oi! bands like The Business and The Oppressed, bands that they referred to as "basically football hooligans."
So we decided to start a band that's just about football, punk and drinking," Malone laughed.
After initial discussions in December of 2010, the group formed in February 2011 and played its first gig at Eclipse last June -- an appropriate starting point as the club was once known as Nitro, a club that all of the members had played at in their early punk acts. It also provided a low profile debut for the group as neither Troutman nor Gissander had played for 20 years; but that didn't dissuade them, and after just once performance the buzz started.
Since then, sporadic performances at Soundpony, Crystal Pistol, Mercury Lounge and even an opening slot for Against Empires at Reverb have added to the band's buzz, with old punk fans jumping on board to see the guys back in action. Every show seems to surpass the last as the buzz continues to grow and the legend of The Shame begins to take flight.
Back in December, The Shame entered Valcour Studios with Hank Charles and recorded its 15-track debut, The Plan, with eyes on a 2012 release. Stacked with raucous tracks like "Midtown Catastrophe," "Blacked Out (On Cherry Street)" and "The Old, Bald and Drunk Brigade", it's a disc that local punk fans will be clamoring for -- but will have to wait on for a few more months.
As luck would have it, the band posted a few songs online and was approached by the independent punk label, Skinhead Retirement Plan, with a record deal. After signing the deal a few weeks ago, release is planned for late summer, although it could be moved up as the band already has the entire package complete.
As Malone shared when discussing the band, "I've got my other band, Bring Down the Hammer, to sing about working- class politics. With The Shame, this band is about working- class life." As a result, although Malone still broaches the hardships of everyday life, there's a more celebrative spirit with The Shame. Drinking songs like "Midtown Catastrophe" and "Blacked Out (On Cherry Street)" bring a chuckle even as they face the harshness of everyday life.
What makes the songs so enticing, however, is the band's embracing of Tulsa with references to Midtown and Cherry Street. Even the soccer anthem "Victory in '83" is a history lesson as it celebrates the Tulsa Roughnecks as the reigning champions of the North American Soccer League (which folded the following year).
According to Larkin, who also fronts Larkin, "I feel like now I've got my three angles covered. With Bring Down the Hammer, I've got the political side. Larkin covers the more poetic, almost romantic side. With The Shame, it's about the here and now and practicality. This is how life really is: at the pub with the boys, watching football and having a pint."
"At the end of the day, we all just want to go have a pint with our friends," Troutman agreed. "That's what makes this band so perfect."
The band even takes a shot at its image with "The Old, Bald and Drunk Brigade," as song that has quickly become a theme song for the band and its fans. It's just that sense of humor that has won the band such a loyal following in a short time.
The band's voracious appetite for soccer can't be overlooked, however, as it closes the album with "Sam's Army (The Gang's All Here)" a song about the American national team. When discussing the song with Malone and Troutman, they shared that Sam's Army is the larger of two major US National Team supporter groups.
"It's Sam's Army and the American Outlaws, but the American outlaws are a little more fanatical," Malone explained. "You see them at all the games, though, and we thought they needed a theme song."
Thus, "Sam's Army" came about, a celebration of football and beer -- the band's two favorite things. Now, Troutman is on a mission to get the song to the US National team and get the band a sponsorship or feature with Budweiser, which sponsors all of the World Cup games.
As for now, the band continues to tear up the local club scene with a show this Friday night, April 27, at Soundpony with The Brave Boys. It's a free show and the music starts at 10pm, so come check out The Shame and join the celebration of beer, football and punk rock -- and become part of the "Old, Bald and Drunk Brigade."
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