Grab your Converse and get ready for a right old knees up because Buster Shuffle are about to give you the time of your life.
Something new, refreshing and fun has been brewing in East London pubs and clubs and now the band are ready to unleash the rockney magic on a greater scale – without any kind of record company involvement. The proactive lads have decided to take matters into their own hands after a flirtation with a major label. They haven’t got time to wait around for budgets to get signed off, they just want to gig, gig, gig. Give them a postage stamp and they’ll play on it.
The four-piece have been energetically slinging a piano, double bass, guitar and drum kit all around London for two years. And with their ska, rock’n’roll sound and feel-good songs, they already have a huge fan-base, especially in the East End.
Jethro Baker, on piano and lead vocals, “the best drummer you could find” Terry Mascall, on drums, Tim Connell aka Popeye Doyle, on double bass and Danny “I-love-a-rollie” Piper does the knee-bending at the front whilst playing the guitar.
When they supported Jersey Budd and Goldie Looking Chain at top indie club night “This Feeling” in January 2008, a member of the Welsh rapping band told the boys: “Don’t take this the wrong way but my Mum would really like you and so would my Girlfriend.” But that’s alright because this is the charm of the band and piano stomper Jethro was told by another fan that, “Everyone’s got a bit of Buster Shuffle in them.”
Meanwhile The Pixies frontman Frank Black has told the Madness-esque band that he’s a mega fan and Damon Alban requested them for his “Monkey Journey to the West” production’s wrap party.
You can’t fail to have a good time at one of Buster Shuffle’s gigs with beer-swilling-in-the-air-tunes like, “Me, Myself and I” and “You’re Alright”. At gigs, the crowd are a mixture of young girls in 50s get-up, lads with their beers in the air and the odd old geezer jumping around in the corner.
It’s their no-nonsense, unpretentious, stuff-your-wingeing-skinny jean-boy lyrics that has caught the eye of likes of Art Brut guitarist Ian Catskilkin, who produced their DIY first album out in September. Buster Shuffle decided to follow in the footsteps of American bands like Vampire Weekend and The Fleet Foxes, who also put together homemade albums. Jethro says: “We did two days in a studio to get all the drums and the backing tracks down, nailed it and then spent two weeks in my bedroom in my sleeping bag – used as a sound-booth, gaffer-taped to the roof.
“Ian the producer, Ben the engineer, Danny and the cat all in my bedroom for two weeks – oh and the china frog. Going fucking mental. Cabin fever set in by the end of it. I’m glad we had Ian on board to give us some direction because otherwise, we might have ended up like the Stone Roses, and spent years fiddling around with making the perfect album and we didn’t want to turn into bedroom warriors.”
The result is an eclectic mix of high-spirited rocking songs about everyday life aimed to make their audience laugh at the simple things in the world around them instead of taking things too seriously. Arguments, buses, cats, relationships, mates, America, political love affairs, dirty older women. Anti-social behavior, fish’n’chips, you name it, they’ll sing it.
It’s no surprise then that they have been compared to Chas’n’Dave, who they played with at Kent festival ZOO8, “which went bankrupt on the first day,” jokes Danny. He reckons they’re more like The Clash in terms of the anything-goes spirit they bring to the stage.
At times they seem more English than The Queen, which is reflected in their music and venue choices, like The King’s Head in north London, the Dolphin pub in Hackney and the Bethnal Green Working Man’s Club, where the debut video for ‘Me, Myself and I’, was filmed along with a scene set inside their 60-year-old agoraphobic next-door neighbour Kay’s Hackney home. Kay, Jethro’s next-door neighbour, was born and bread in Hackney, has lived and stayed in the house for 60 years and fell in love with Buster Shuffle. The bonafide Eastender has inspired and interacted with the band on a daily basis. Kay saying: “Buster Shuffle? Ohh, They’re lovely boys!” is even sampled on the beginning of the album.
Due to their contagious enthusiasm and obvious talent, Buster Shuffle, who have also supported The Rumble Strips, now have a young talented team of various independent music industry heads around them, who the band are managing to pay with a the odd bit of wages, some dole money and gigging fees.
And it seems to be working. The first single hasn’t even been released yet and the title track from the Album “Our Night Out” has already been snapped up by American film producers for use along with a Bloc Party number, in a new flick called “American Standard”. “That helped pay a few bills, I don’t know how they got hold of it but they really wanted it,” says Jethro.
Other gigs such as playing at the Ben Sherman shop launch in Carnaby Street has helped keep the clothes on their backs.
“We went there in rags and they took us into the shop and said get dressed. Terry managed to get about 280 quids worth of new gear.”