Yorkshire grit lives on in Leeds bands

The Shakamoto Investigation playing at Chunk

The UK government may be telling people to retrain in an area away from their creative fields, but it hasn’t stopped some from continuing with their art. 

While the pandemic has forced many artists to give up touring and push back releases, some bands have dug in and remained on top with their music, despite not having played a show for months.

Sam Horton is the bassist and 1/3 of Leeds based DIY punk band, ‘The Shakamoto Investigation’ who are in the process of releasing their debut LP ‘Existential Bread’.

“In 2018 we released our first EP ‘NRRRR’ + two other singles ‘Take It or Leave It’ and ‘Dead Already’ recorded by our good mate Edd Wilding (Thee MVPs / Soft Jocks). We had absolutely no merch, and were managing to play a few gigs up-and-down the country with the likes of Roxy Girls & Drahla, we thought sod it and made the ‘Gregg’s Demos 2018-2019’ at the end of last year. These were horrible Gregg’s bags with a CD stuffed inside featuring all the demos, EP’s, singles and live tracks, basically everything we’ve ever recorded. We’ve just released the pre-orders for our debut LP record ‘Existential Bread’ which is out on Eeasy Records on the 4th of December, it’s a lot more professional, no crumbs or meat stains on the CDs this time.”

The Shakamoto Investigation playing at CHUNK in Leeds last year. Source: Alec Aarons

Before lockdown, the band were set to tour the UK, including an intimate show in their hometown of Barnsley.

“We had recorded the album before lockdown at JT Soar in Nottingham and were about to set sail on a 9 date tour of the UK to promote the tunes. Ellis (guitarist/vocalist) couldn’t get time off with his work, so he quit his job to come on tour and then a day or two before the tour, the whole country went into lockdown. We had aimed to release the album at the beginning of the year, around April / May time to coincide with the tour. It’s been a learning curve for us as it is as this is the first album we’ve properly released, so with the added stuff that comes with an international pandemic, it’s been a pain at times but it’s been worth it.”

Earlier this year, The Shakamoto Investigation signed to Leeds based record label Eeasy Records, ran by fellow musician and Thee MVP’s frontman Charlie Wyatt.

“We’d already had a half agreement with Charlie at Eeasy Records that we’d release this album through them, then just as we were getting things coming together, everything got put on hold when we were put into lockdown. We threw a bit of a strop because we’d been holding on to the album for quite some time already and were eager to get it out but Charlie talked us round and in the end made the decision to hang on and do it properly.”

Soft Jocks are another Leeds punk band enjoying levels of success despite the pandemic. Hailing from different cities and eventually settling in Leeds, the three-piece signed to Sheffield based label Elephant Arch Records back in August.

Soft Jocks frontman Joel Currie spoke about the troubles that the pandemic has brought. “At first I felt like with doing a new EP as well as writing and recording a lot, we were doing well and we weren’t missing a lot but I think that’s all changed in the last 3 months or so. Obviously everyone expected [the pandemic] to be happening til September and that’s when every band started rescheduling their tours for. Now to be in October and to be going into almost the biggest lockdown that there has been, it’s a little disheartening.”

‘Existential Bread’ by The Shakamoto Investigation is out December 4th on Eeasy Records. Soft Jocks’ double EP is scheduled for release in January.

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