Disaster rock and performance art

The Manic Shakes are a Kijiji-founded band and proudly give themselves the label “disaster rock.” Members David Skene, David Van Den Bossche, Paul Shirtliffe and Billy Elias are attempting to bring the suspense back to rock and roll by embracing all the imperfections and mistakes.

“We never play bad shows, we only play good shows,” says Skene (Ex-Modern Teen and Mary Jane Stole My Girl). “A bad show isn’t whether or not we make mistakes, a bad show is when we don’t have fun.”

The band was formed after the two singer/guitarists named David connected via Kijiji; drummer Billy and bassist Paul joined shortly afterward. While the Davids share the front man duties, the band writes their songs collectively. They all come from various backgrounds and are influenced by genres such as alternative rock, stoner rock, garage rock and pop punk—“And that would be pigeonholing,” adds Skene.

The Shakes are releasing their first, self-titled, 7” record on June 22 at the Negative Space gallery (253 Princess). Supporting their show are local talents Kato Destroy and the Gunness. The record will have three original songs by the Manic Shakes and is one of the first albums to be released through the No Label Collective, a skill sharing collective consisting of about 10 bands, Home Street Recording Company, and No Pie Publicity.

The No Label Collective was founded by Skene and friend Charles Granger (Ex-Modern Teen) on the basis that a collective could be started including their multiple bands, their members, and the other bands the members were in. There was a realization that the members within this group of bands have additional talents outside of music, such as music recording and production, film, photography, and graphic design. The two friends saw this as an opportunity for bands to help other bands succeed in a skill-sharing environment.

In addition to helping individual bands with their projects, the collective also works on group projects such as the Neil Hope tribute compilation with songs dedicated to the late actor’s character Wheels on Degrassi Junior High. The release date is still pending but original songs have been contributed by about 20 bands such as Kato Destroy, Hey Pilgrim, Crusty Cat, and Johnny Sizzle. The proceeds made from the compilation will be donated to the Canadian Diabetes Association.

“The Manic Shakes’ song is called ‘Excerpts From a Diary of a Teenager in the 90s Who Watches Degrassi Every Day After School’,” Skene laughs. “It takes longer to say the title than to play the song.”

The members of the No Label Collective have many faces, literally. The collective involves fictional members such as the Boss, Afro Starchild, and brothers Lloyd and Selleck. Afro Starchild is an intergalactic traveler created by Skene and Granger. Skene performs as Starchild during Ex-Modern Teen’s live shows and with a fictional band called the Intergalactic Noise.

“The goal of the characters is the same as disaster rock,” says Skene, “to make music exciting again.”

For Skene, who is trained in theater, music crosses over into performance art. “I would like to make Afro Starchild into a fringe play,” he adds, “With different venues shutting down, Winnipeg has produced alternative spaces where you can go see shows. Moving rock and roll into a theater just makes sense because there is no where else to have it.”