Mindful profanity. Existentialism. Lyrical tom-foolery. These are the less than subtle subversions of local
band, Shaun Gambowl Walsh and the Plagiarists, whose often satirical performances have been regularly
tickling (if not disturbing) unsuspecting audiences across t’greater West Midlands areas and beyond.
From Pop song’s about Ketamine to jazzy tales of woe. Psychedelic space punk to fuzzy political
jabber rock. This rabble really digs ‘Avin it!’ Some say to redundancy. Some say pineapples to it all.
I followed a trail of chance meetings with them and arrived for a tiny taste of what they were
peddling at, John Bright street’s latest trendy spot, Manhattan Avenue. It was just another drizzly day in
June and the end of another right-wing calamity. I gazed out of the window onto the street where my
memories of being fifteen were loitering around Eddies No.8! The musical legacy is just about hanging
around, kept alive by a few dream chasers. I had a can on the house (cheers Ruby) and sank back to catch
a wider scope of the evening.
Poet Shaun Hill, a self proclaimed ‘Soy Boy’, stepped up and announced over the mic his
intention to start his performance as soon as everyone had sufficiently ‘shut the f#*% up!’ He got going
with an uncomfortable but ballsy rant, raising the cheeks of an unsure and semi-captive crowd. He
continues with a type of Found Poetry referred to as Black Out Poetry – created by redacting words from
Theresa May’s resignation speech. This cruel and dispassionate confession of a sadistic soap box preacher
was spot on for ‘Teresa May’s leaving drinks’ and was met with ample applause, ready for the musings of
a second poet.
Jack Crowe, jumps right in with ‘A prayer dedicated to our esteemed leader… who is finally
f*#%ing off!’, grabbing us by the funnies. He manifests apostles, pays homage to the Beatles and with
John Cooper Clarke vibes at times, he charms the ebb and flow of punters.
Next up came acoustic grunger, Kieran Bott. He strummed through a few covers, ending his set
with an original, eyeing up his muse who sat close by at the bar, contently eyeing him right back.
Eventually, The Plagiarists pluck, hum, bang and tune as the crowd squeezes in. Guitarists
Tubes, Dave Timms and Nick Clarke collectively raise good vibration. This is accented with the tings
and splashes of drummer Matt ‘no middle name’ Moxom’s cymbal machinations. Front man Shaun Walsh
leads us down a rabbit hole of fictitious team scores… Beans on Toast vs Theresa May (3-0 apparently).
The crowd are riled up and cheering on his every colloquial moan.
Out comes ‘Cracking Spread’ – a political ode to pineapple and cheese on a stick. Timms
harmonises beautifully like a cherub on the shoulder of a psychiatric patient. Many liquidly charmed
friends wobble hips as Walsh exclaims ‘she came from out of nowhere, from outer space.’ The dance floor
was a mandala of people.
In crept the Tick Tocking of ‘In Cahoots’ – a dark tune, heavy in gain and slow to bloom, with a
dash of sinister whistling to top it off. Timms sets the pace of the engine. Instruments are swapped for an
intergalactic interlude. Walsh’s upbeat poetry and Timms’ pop rock chorus ‘Takes us higher and higher’
and faster and louder and crazier into Ska beats and skitch riffs. Finally, in true Plagiarist fashion, they
end the medley with an instrumental cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’.
The peak of the evening in sight, wah-wah guitars and intense drums cascade around Walsh
and Timms as they go from whispers to wailing out ‘higher and higheeer’ like in the film Warriors (‘come
out to playyayyy!’). A casual mosh pit forms. A low-light, late night madness washes over the audience.
As the evening comes to a close, Alisha Yasmin Kadir graces the joint with a short and sweet cover set…
and I drift into the next part of my night, full on Red Stripes and Brum.
A few days later I caught up with Walsh and Timms at Perfection Snooker Club, Stirchley. We sat in the
dark darts corner and they spoke thusly:
SW – ‘I grew up in South Yardley, ends, and I’ve been all over the shop since then, but Birmingham,
mainly completely. I was running around, taking drugs left right and centre, going out and avin’ it, not
enjoying work. I was doing a bit of work as a water spider. Sounds much better than it is; just working in
a factory. It was boring… so I started a club night up!”
DT – ‘I’m from Sheldon, a Sheldon soldier! I’ve lived in Nechelles, Kingsheath, Stirchley. From the age of
nineteen I’ve been back and forth. Nechelles is where it all came together though. We’ve known each
other knocking about Birmingham a while. I was introduced to Shaun through a group of about ten of us.
We used to go to Snobs a lot and Shaun always referred to me as the man with the face and I was happy
SW – ‘Dave created Shaun Gambowl Walsh and the Plagiarists and asked me to join.’
DT – ‘He was the third member. In 2015. We went to the studio with Tubes, and his guitarist from his
other band, Matt ‘No middle name’ Moxon, was sat playing drums, but he’s not even a drummer, which is
brilliant, cause he doesn’t splurge all over the kit, and so we asked him to stick around. Then, Nick had
been ear marked, which was all part of a big plan of mine, and he went for it too. I sweetened the deal
with a bargaining chip, my Samburg Bass.’
SW – ‘We were in the mists of an M-Kat session. Time flies by when you’re on a concoction of ten
DT – ‘Well , sometimes it goes very slow. When we first started making tunes I had a job thing in the
way. I eventually got sacked from that, which was great. Then Shaun and I moved back into Shaun’s
house that he owned, and lived there without a job… but in that year we wrote about fifty, sixty tunes. We
were really prolific. We used to make tunes together on a laptop which sounded very different from the
band. All the demo’s are on Soundcloud, like the first song we wrote together called ‘A Dark Thursday
Evening’. There’s a back catalogue on there…we have tunes for days.’
SW – ‘We have tunes we wrote in a Nechells basement too. My favourite example is ‘In Cahoots’. The
Soundcloud version will trip you right out, make you feel like you’re on acid without even dropping
anything. We were five days into the sesh.
DT – ‘I was pouring custard into Shaun’s mouth, and he thought he was a soldier, we went insane, there
were a lot of clock sounds on that one.’
SW – ‘Yeah I thought he was shooting me, I was off my rocker. We went with our mate Adam to buy a
bed. We were sat in the bed place and we could hear clocks left right and centre and the tick-tocking sent
us mental. Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock!’
DT – ‘ It was Me Shaun and Nick, living in a house in Stirchley. No jobs. Lots of time to make tunes. In
house engineer. That’s when ‘Better than the Beatles’ came out, cause Nick was at Uni doing Production
and stuff, and had access to all the recording studios. ‘In Cahoots’ was one of his Uni pieces, and Alister
Jamieson of Park Studios was his tutor marking it. In a band you need something interesting, and Shaun is
Interesting! He was the greatest front man to never have a band and so I gave him one! We played at, Get
The Fear. All Shaun did was roll about the stage for forty minutes… and it was amazing, everyone loved it.’
SW – ‘Good job I said yes to joining… It’s all anyone talked about… no one gave a F#%* about the
DT – ‘We Want Less Magazine; we did about four issues, you know what it is, Rez, we come up with
these things, like doing the Magazine and TV show, it’s really good, we start out doing it for ourselves
and then people get interested and want it and talk about it, and then it takes the edge off it. As soon as we
have an audience…’
SW – ‘It’s F#*%ing annoying. Nick, our art director, ennit, the guy is the blue tack that holds the whole
operation together, we have it, and he puts it all back together, he’s basically the utility man, but this isn’t
about Nick. He’s done some good drawings I will give him that.’
DT – ‘He does the music videos and the art work. ‘The Broth’, tells a story of Shaun and I, arguing about
too many cooks spoil the broth…ah yes but many hands make light work, etc. talking to Jeremy Corbyn about it while flying about the room.’
SW – ‘I was there for that Owen Jones and Jeremy Corbyn chat off. Just outside Birmingham. Jeremy
Corbyn loves ‘We Want Less’!’
DT – ‘Shaun had a copy of ‘We Want Less’ held up, and there’s a picture somewhere of Jeremy Corbynpointing at it.
SW – ‘There was a moment after we played [with Goldie Looking Chain]; we had a back stage area, about
fifty of us in this room, and they were hanging around outside looking for the sesh. They had no one back
stage and really wanted to join in, but apparently they couldn’t cause they had to take turns looking after
DT – There was a moment after we played, we were going back to our chamber and they were going on
stage, and it was a kinda changing of the guards. One of them later came and joined in with us, Maggot I
SW – You know what, our mate killed himself and I snorted a line of his ashes and I wrote the lyrics to ‘In
DT – ‘He really inspired me, he was real doer. On YouTube, one of our early videos, we filmed at
midnight, with him playing the role of death… and then six hours later he pumped us full of Acid, left us
and jumped in front of a train. We lived with him ennit, and he’d been banging on about taking Acid with
us for a while… but this shows the mark of the man. |Which I respect and love. Two days before his death
we went on a beautiful outing to Costco, looking at hot tubs. It was a beautiful day and he bought a fuck
load of fish – the yellow, really bad smelling stuff. Then he put it in the fridge and goes and kills himself,
knowing full well that me and Shaun would never clean it out… that’s the sort of guy he was.’
SW – ‘My lyrics mainly come from anger and depression, but the most ridiculous ones comes from when
I’m happy, and that’s the stuff people tend to remember.’
DT – ‘I’m from a background of relative normality, I never really wanted for anything, grew up with
parents who supported me financially and gave me lifts to different cities with PA’s… but it’s been too
easy, and because of that, I’ve got no drive. I’ve got no angst. That’s where Shawn comes in.’
SW – ‘My Dad’s been in prison most of my life. Pretty sure he robbed a bank in Malta, had loads of
money because of that… but basically he wasn’t in my life. We were momentarily rich from bank
robberies (and where ever else his money came from) but we weren’t rich in other ways. We got put into
private school for a few months, but were kicked out of there – St Bernadette’s in South Yardley. My dad
got arrested at the Bill and Bull, just around the corner. I remember being there – the police coming in and
taking him away. The police didn’t care back then, and so I was left, stuck in this pub.’
DT – ‘People get caught stealing stuff cause they steal too much of the same thing. I wanted to do mash
up beats for Shaun, that was the idea, and I thought Plagiarist would be a good DJ name for a mash up DJ.
If you go to Soundcloud or YouTube and check out ‘Record Machine Dream’ it’s made up of loads of indie
tunes, but making it was really really hard, so I didn’t do it again. I was really inspired by an album by a
DJ called Girl Talk, but it was so good, it inspired me and killed my dreams at the same time. Got a two
and a half minute piece of work out of it though, only took six months, but I finished it on the day of the
Goldie Looking Chain gig.’
SW – ‘In life, everything you are and do is based on your experience, crossing paths, it will all change
your experience of life, we are Plagiarists, and everyone else are Plagiarists too.’
It seems that despite their somewhat dastardly natures, these lads have found a creative avenue
that allows them to turn some dark materials into catchy rock’n’roll tunes worthy of headlining shows and
a cult following, becoming local legends (for better or for worse) along the way.
Check out there tunes here www.sgwandtheplagiarists.bandcamp.com and keep up-to-date with their
latest gigs here https://www.facebook.com/shaungambowlwalshofficial/
Words by Reza Arabpour
Pics by Reza Arabpour and Israr Ahmed