Meeting the Band
Five semi-coherent minutes with the Shanks at O’Leaver’s
By Chris Aponick
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The Shanks don’t require the cover of darkness, though the City Weekly had planned on giving it to them.
Instead, Omaha’s gutter garage punk kings rolled into town Sunday from a Lincoln recording session nearly five hours ahead of a 7 p.m. meeting time.
The band had just holed up for a weekend at DnA Studios with the Terminals’ Brooks Hitt. The mission was to record songs for an upcoming full-length, with plenty of booze on hand to grease the wheels of progress.
The band has already released two vinyl-only singles and a self-released CD EP called “Urine Heaven.” Armed with a new van, the band is ready to take its hedonistic show across the open road.
The four-piece features John Vredenburg, Jeff Ankenbauer, Todd Stup and Steve Sampley. All but Sampley, the band’s quiet guitarist, sing and they all often switch up instruments.
It’s the live show that has garnered tons of attention locally. Originally, the Shanks’ sets were violent affairs that occasionally ended with thrown fists. Now, the Shanks have found the love. Mid-set make-out sessions and indecent exposure add to the band’s strange brew.
Inside midtown Omaha’s O’Leaver’s Pub, the band members rushed to re-tell the weekend’s events, which easily turned any attempt at recording the conversation into a mess. Meanwhile, Ladyfinger singer and bartender extraordinaire made sure drunkenness quickly entered the equation.
Still, a few moments of clarity broke into the mid-day festivities.
When you write lyrics, what do you think about?
Todd: The worst things you could ever imagine.
About the recent recording sessions in Lincoln:
Jeff: (to Todd) Dude, Brooks was making fun of your hair last night.
Todd: I don’t remember anything about last night.
John: Baldo Baggins!
Todd: I don’t even remember recording vocals last night. Baldo? F**k you guys.
Jeff: God, can you tell we’ve been drinking all week?
Todd: We’ve been drinking too much, that’s what I think. (to John) Wait, did I punch you in the balls?
John: I was about to hug you and you socked me in the balls.
Jeff: (to Todd) Dude, he jacked your ass.
Todd: Did I go down?
John: You punched me twice. You stood up, hit me twice, in the shoulder and ribs.
Does this mean a return to the violent Shanks?
Todd: It just happens sometimes, I don’t know. So, look at Steve’s arm, look at Steve, Steve fell on the door last night. Dude, Jeff broke the door. Jeff fell into the door and broke it off the hinges.
Jeff: Dude, I just got stitches out. (Editor’s Note: This injury, on the leg, stemmed from an earlier glass-throwing incident that the Shanks would probably love to tell you about.)
Chris Machmuller: And somehow you emerged with 13 recorded songs.
Todd: In a weekend!
Jeff: We weren’t like jumping around – just all of us fell into things.
Todd: I was wasted, I don’t even remember doing vocals.
Chris: Because you didn’t!
Todd: I have to go back and do them. I was listening to them this morning and I was like, “Wow.”
Jeff: Everybody already knows how bad we get hurt and how f***ed up our lives are, what else are we suppose to say?
So what’s going to happen with this album you’ve been recording?
Jeff: I think Brooks (Hitt) at Boom Chick Records is going to put it out, but I wouldn’t put that in stone or anything. We’re going to shop it around.
So you went down on Friday?
Jeff: Yeah, we went down on Friday, and recorded five songs Friday. Then we finished it up on Saturday.
Todd: We christened the Homo Van, too.
When did you buy this van?
Jeff: John bought it.
John: We got it like two-and-a-half months ago.
Todd: Does that mean we’re like serious now, like Thunder Power!!!?
Jeff: It just solidifies us going on tour more. We’ve only been on one tour.
Is that a dangerous proposition?
Jeff: Going on tour, no one can pretty much party with us. It’s dangerous because, tour with us consists of playing good, we play OK shows. It’s a lot of f**king partying. Completely out of our heads, I mean we’re in a band of psychos.