Interview by Mark Bell and Sarah Williams.
The Shell Corporation are an ascerbically political, enticingly fast meldodic punk band from Burbank, California, who our podcast host Mark Bell is a particular fan of. They’ve just released an incredible new album fucked. on La Escalera records, and they’re taking a trip over to the UK for the first time in May!
We spoke to Jan (vocals) and Curtiss (guitar) to learn more about the awesome new record, their relentless touring and how they function as a band. As it turns out, they make great jokes as well as great music.
Thank you for talking to us! You’re on the road promoting the new album fucked. at the moment. How’s the tour going so far?
- JAN: The tour went well! It’s good to get back to places that we’ve been before and see old friends. I’m always pleasantly surprised to show up at a gig and there are twenty people there to see my band, and I don’t even know any of them.
- CURTISS: Ya, this last tour up the West Coast was really fun, but I’m really looking forward to Europe in May. We are getting to play a lot of new places and this will be the first time we are going to the UK so we are pretty stoked. From what I can tell, this upcoming tour has no places where I have to shit in a hole, so everything’s coming up Milhouse.
What’s the strangest (or most notable) thing to happen to you so far, on this tour?
- JAN: Thankfully, nothing notable or strange happened to us on the tour. The van didn’t break down, we got paid at almost every show and nothing got stolen. I’d call that a win.
- CURTISS: Hmm… This tour was pretty tame on the weirdness scale actually. Which is kind of a bummer (as a guy in a punk rock band) but a total blessing at the same time (as a guy who also has a mortgage to pay). In the past we’ve always had stuff like Sean’s toe being ripped from his body, Jake nearly dying in a German hospital, getting shaken down by border cops and accidentally destroying a farm town’s prize squash. But nah, besides getting yelled at by methheads for not sharing our Jameson, this tour was pretty positive.
How long have you know each other? Have you always been in bands together?
- JAN: Curtiss and I have known each other since 1988 or thereabouts. We’ve been playing in bands together since we were in high school. I met Sean when we started this band (he was a friend of a friend of Curtiss’), and Curtiss and I met Jake on tour in Europe. He was playing drums for The Briggs and we were playing guitar in another band. When we were putting together Shell Corp., we ran into Joey Briggs at Punk Rock Bowling. He mentioned that Jake was looking for a band, and so we made Joey call Jake right then and there to get him on board.
- CURTISS: Ya, like Jan said, we’ve known each other since we were wee little kids. I think we traded Nintendo games. Then later we were the only two kids in town who liked Propagandhi and Dead Kennedys but also John Coltrane and Miles Davis. It makes for a strange mix of patches on a leather jacket, but apparently a long lasting friendship. I first met Sean in Las Vegas. He was onstage at a karaoke bar singing Poison by Bel Biv Devoe in a Jawbreaker shirt. Instant friendship. Jake however, was too talented to be in our band. However, alcohol makes us very charming and we convinced him to make a terrible career choice and join us.
Can you describe your song writing process?
- JAN: I write the lyrics and melody and usually some kind of an outline of an arrangement. I record that on my iPad with maybe a track of backups and some guitar or bass – whatever is needed to convey the idea of the song. Curtiss, Jake, and Sean take that sketch and write their parts and work out the arrangement for the song, which usually ends up being totally different than how I had envisioned it. Some of the fastest burners on fucked. started out as ballads.
- CURTISS: For this record, I bowed out of the writing process and just focused on the production side. Partly because I thought it would be better to have Jan’s singular vision drive the songs, but more than that it was probably just me being lazy. Don’t tell him that though… if he asks it’s because of a more “pure artistic” process or some shit.