Shoun Shoun Interview: “the last couple of years revealed the monsters and the heroes among us”

We talk to the Bristol-based four-piece about their debut LP.

While January was a sparse month for new releases, one band that did pique our interest was Shoun Shoun.

Hailing from Berlin, the Bristol-based four piece (Annette Berlin – vocal/ guitar; Boris Ming – keys, violin; Giuseppe – drums, backing vocals; Ole Rudd – bass), released their debut EP, A Hundred Trips, in 2019, with their following growing steadily after a spate of shows around Bristol and the surrounding South West.

The pandemic hasn’t thwarted Shoun Shoun’s momentum, kicking off 2022 with the release of their debut album, Monsters and Heroes.

On Monsters and Heroes, Shoun Shoun reach for the past while injecting their own interpretations of the present, both in lyric and sound.

Opener, Did I Play Games, drips with shoegaze inflections coupled with the West Country blues of PJ Harvey. The Polly Jean influences shine through even more on Sway with Me and later with Refresh & Replay – songs that could have formed sonic backdrops to a scene out of Peaky Blinders.

Meanwhile, Toxic contains a different shade of darkness, mixing Dirty-era Sonic Youth with outlier indie-pop. It’s Monsters and Heroes most confronting moment.

For the most part, Monsters and Heroes may fly under the radar, but with a tour schedule that seems to be filling up, including new dates in Preston and Leeds just announced for November, don’t be surprised if Shoun Shoun end up here in Liverpool at some point, showcasing their own blends and tones in what feels like the ideal comedown record from Dry Cleaning’s New Long Leg.

Ahead of their album launch show at Bristol’s Rough Trade at the end of January, we asked Annette some questions.

Stuart Cook interview: “I love connecting the dots and chasing down influences”

Sun 13: Happy New Year! How did you spend you festive period?

Annette Berlin: “We were meant to go to Berlin to celebrate a proper lovely German Christmas, but that didn’t work out so we spent a few days in totally gorgeous Snowdonia instead. Wales is stunning!”

S13: The band name instantly struck a chord with me. What is a Shoun Shoun and how did the name come about?

AB: “One day I just thought, I want to start a band called Shoun Shoun (‘shoon-shoon’). It’s inspired by this amazing Japanese artist called Yamamoto Shōun. Nobody knows how to pronounce our band name though… Slight downside I suppose, but I think it looks cool.”

S13: What was the inspiration behind Monsters and Heroes?

AB: “The album is a collection of songs… a bit like a story book filled with different tales. Two of the songs were created to simply fight depression and loneliness during lockdown. It kind of worked. A spark for a song can pop up so randomly, for example when I read the news, hear a drum beat I really like, watch people in the streets… There’s no overlying theme to the album. All the songs are pretty much moments in time. One thing is certain though, the last couple of years have very much revealed the monsters and the heroes among us.”

Cassels interview: “I don’t really have a sense of our wider place in the musical landscape”

S13: What strikes me about Monsters and Heroes is how democratic it sounds. It sounds like everyone in the band has a wide range of influences and it’s all here on tape. Do you feel that this is the case?

AB: “Yes. Well… Usually I bring the initial song idea and the lyrics and then we take it from there and work on it together. Also Boris and I regularly jam to come up with random noisy and weird bits. And then I take the rehearsal recordings home to tweak and twist the arrangements.”

S13: Did your songwriting approach change from your 2019 EP A Hundred Trips to this?

AB: “The process is very much the same. But our band and especially our sound have changed and grown. We might have become a bit more experimental…”

Shoun Shoun - Monsters & Heroes

S13: Any anticipated album releases for 2022?

AB: “I’m not sure… We’re always writing new stuff. There will probably be a couple of new singles coming your way at some point, possibly even during 2022.”

S13: Favourite boxset over the last 18 months?

AB: “The Outlaws is brilliant (and set in Bristol). And check out The Mandalorian and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. Especially The Marvelous Mrs Maisel!”

S13: What was the last book you read?

AB:“Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett. It’s a story about whaling set in early 1900. Just imagine, people would sit up to their neck in a fermenting whale carcass to treat various ailments such as arthritis. Now that’s different…”

S13: Which band in Bristol should we be listening to? 

AB: “There are sooo many cool bands in Bristol. Here are a few: GlueHorse, Repo Man, The Sounds Of Ursa, The Brackish, Annie Gardiner, Flag Fen.”

Monsters and Heroes is out now. Purchase via Bandcamp.

Shoun Shoun tour dates 2022:

  • Thursday, February 10: Le Pub, Newport
  • Saturday, February 12: Paradiddles, Worcester
  • Saturday, March 19: Glastonbury Calling, Glastonbury
  • Saturday, April 30: The Royal Oak, Bath
  • Sunday, May 1: Astral Fest, Bristol
  • Saturday, July 9: Somerstock, Somerton
  • Saturday, July 16: The Godney Gathering, Glastonbury
  • Saturday, September 3: BOSfest, Burnham On Sea
  • Friday, November 4: Vinyl Tap, Preston
  • Saturday, November 5: The Grove, Leeds

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

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