Interview: Stinkin Slumrok & Bill Shakes // Cult Of The Damned

Since these interviews took place on February 28th, this feature could be dubbed long overdue. But then again, what’s the rush? The evening went down at Camden’s world renowned Jazz Cafe, where Cult Of The Damned gave their first live performance since the groundbreaking Civilised Tour of 2018. From April to August, the Cult culminated with their final live performance of the year on Boomtown Festivals infamous Poco Loco stage, which thousands of fans turned up to witness. It may have been considered incredulous that the Cult could follow up on that occasion so spectacularly, however the Cult smashed pre-existing expectations with a hectic four hour performance. If you haven’t already, take a read of our live review to find out specifically how the night went down. Inebriated from more than a few victory drinks, backstage Stinkin Slumrok and Bill Shakes spoke separately on their highlights from the Civilised 2018 Tour, exclusive insights into the new Cult Of The Damned album and much more.

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It was Shakes first live gig of 2019, momentous for many reasons. One, for having all the Cult together to perform in one place. Two, for being held in one of Camden's most prestigious music venues. Everyone was here,” grinned Shakes, letting people who missed out know what went down. “Mcabre Brothers, we had Stinkin Slumrok, we had Black Josh doing an opening set. Then we had the whole Cult, every man was there. That's rare, to get everyone there. It went off man, The Jazz Cafe is the way to set off the year. The crowd was hyped, energy was live. It's such a prestigious, like... I remember coming to watch heads like, De La Soul and Pete Rock here back in the day. There have been some greats who have blessed that stage. We tried to give the fans a bit of everything, from Tourettes Camp to Brick Pelican. We did COTD, we did Part Deux. We did other little bits, with Barebase opening with Damnednation, one of the lead tracks off Tourettes Camp.”

On the other hand, it was Slumroks “fifth or sixth set of 2019.” Having performed a couple solo sets, Slumrok looked forward to performing alongside Cult members again. “The sets so far have been good but for us,” replied Slumrok, when asked about the crowd reactions. “Because this is a Cult Of The Damned set and they are always a highlight because they're bigger sets. The sets have been good, the reactions have all been nice and that. But we got some more of them ones from 2018 coming this year. Can I flip it to 2018? Boomtown was fucking crazy, the whole tour was crazy. Big up everyone who came out for the tour and that.”

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Cult Of The Damned made waves on their Civilised UK Tour of 2018, reaching multiple cities for intimate, no-holds barred performances. In August, the Cult performed their biggest live showcase to date at Boomtown Festival. “Boomtown was live obviously,” said Shakes, looking back to his most memorable experience from touring in 2018. “It's a mad festival. There was thousands of people there going crazy, the whole set-up was mad. But don't get it twisted, the tour was good - it was more intimate. It went off on the tour, but I'd say the ending with Boomtown was probably the highlight. We didn't do any other festivals over 2018. We are probably going to hit the circuit., we are probably going to do another tour. We'll see what happens.”

Can I say the story without saying the name?” Slumrok laughed, about to reveal his most memorable story from touring in 2018. “So one of the mandem yeah, I can't remember where we’re going. We done a show but then one of the camp went missing, we're like, ‘Where's this guy? Has he gone for a wave and that without the tour bus?’ We've gone back to the hotel after the activities but still ain't seen this brudda. In the morning the next day, Sam Zircon was doing a bit of driving so he couldn't get too mash-up the night before. I ended up waking up early, like 8AM. I was like, ‘I can't go to sleep, who can I bell, who's about to get a munch?’ Obviously Zircon comes to mind, I bell him and he's up. We went to go find a little Greggs or something, bopping down the road for about 10-15 minutes. We saw the brudda who I'm talking about sitting outside of a Tesco's in his socks, just chatting to some random brudda. My man must have been on a mad one all night, he hasn't even got his trainers - must have got them locked up in the hotel room or some shit like that.”

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“Because of the reaction,” explained Shakes, answering why tonight was the night for a Cult gig. “We released music that had a good reaction. Last year was a big year for us, we released an album after not releasing an album since we released an EP, the vinyl in 2015. Then with releasing the album, we wanted to come back with a tour. We hit all different areas of the country, old fans and new fans, we just thought that was the one. Then this year, The Jazz Cafe came up. We got offered that and said boom, let's do it to start the year off - may as well start it off with a bang. As soon as The Jazz Cafe thing came up, we were just like yo, let's do this thing. Now we're here.” … “We're showing everybody love,” Slumrok answered, to the same question. “It was just a nice time to do it - anytime is a nice time to do a Cult Of The Damned show in my opinion. I don't think it was any specific reason, things are always in the works and coming soon. Nicole just come out, so why not is the question really.”

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The gig was a full-bodied Cult showcase, featuring every COTD rapper onstage at once. With more than 10 members, it can be difficult the catch the Cult all in one place. However when you do, they will connect like Megatron and always deliver on live sets. Although the support for COTD was hype, with Stinkin Slumrok, Black Josh and Mcabre Brothers aptly riling the crowd; Trellion was the only piece missing for a potential Cult Mountain performance. “We did bring through Trelly last year for a few of the gigs,” replied Shakes,  after Trellion was brought up. “The London one we brought Trelly through, he did a little Cult Mountain set. Whenever Trelly is in the area we bring him through, he's family. Obviously Trell is doing what Trell's doing, Mcabre Brothers have just released an album after a long time. I think tonight was more to hype the Mcabre Brothers vinyl that they released, because it's been a while and if you've heard that shit, it's fire man - go buy it.”

I think what you find is when you have a crew with so many man in it,” continued Shakes, “You're always going to have people doing this and that. Might be a holiday, might be business. So when we do get together, it is a good thing. If you see a line-up with us all together, get to that. Big up Reklews, Morriarchi and Sumgii, we've got a lot of sick DJ's who we roll with. So when one can't come - not that anyone replaces anyone, everyone does their own thing - we've got a lot of sick DJ's on the roster. Big up Jazz T as well obviously.”

“To be honest,” began Slumrok, letting people know what they missed with his setlist. “It was kind of an old set list apart from one tune, even that one tune is old just unreleased. I think people respond well to ‘Franks’ even though it's not released yet. Even when I went Romania a couple times last year, even there the people clearly never heard the tune before. But come after, man saying the only line of the hook one time, them man are saying it every single time it dropped in. So, it connects with some people and that. It's a good one to try throw in there, a little one that's not out yet. Then there was Madness, I nearly always drop that - Pipedreems, I always drop that one. I have to drop Word 2 Wazu almost in a way, a motherfucker taught me about hip-hop when I was like, 14 and that along with other people. A man’s got to pay homage, also people like the tune as well. Then the ‘Run’ verse, I just like that verse so we dropped that.”

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Rumours circulated after last years Civilised Tour that Cult Of The Damned had already almost finished a third album. However, there were no exclusives in tonight’s COTD setlist. You know what, you didn't hear any exclusives tonight.” smiled Shakes, about to give exclusive insights into COTD 3. “'Cult Of The Damned 3' is basically done, it's going to be up for press - 'Cult Of The Damned 3' will be coming soon. No, we didn't drop no exclusives tonight. But all in due course my friend, we will release that. This year, it is happening. On a music front, I think you will really like the new album. For me personally, it is probably the most polished album we have done. There is more samples on it, so it is all produced by instrumental people on the synths. This album has a lot more of a solid sound and vibe. The other albums were sick for what they were, don't get it twisted. We were just spitting heat back in them days, it was about lyricism. Now with this new album, it is more of a complete album.”

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We cold sag,” Shakes shrugged, when asked if the album had specific subject matter. “We've cold sagged since day, so I think we'll always have that subject matter. COTD - whether it's Children Of The Damned or Cult Of The Damned, we have always brought that cold sagging shit. On this album, there is loose themes for the tracks. There's themes, but there's vibes to the tracks. You know what, there are a couple of tracks that will go off. ‘Hymns’ will go off, 'Straight Henny' will go off. There is some tracks that will go off. There is a vibe to the album, I think there's probably more than 10 tracks, we've always stuck between 10 to 13 tracks or something. With beat-makers on this one, we're talking Nobodies Home, which is Lee Scott, Jack Chard and Sniff. From my memory, a lot of it was done by those guys.”

Yeah,” replied Slumrok, answering if he had fresh material in the pipeline. “I'm working on a project with Sam Zircon that's basically finished, Swamp Harbour is basically finished, just need to do some bits on it. The Nobodies Home project is nearly finished, need to do some bits on it... A project with Nick Black is finished, just need to some artwork and shit like that on it. COTD 3 will be out when it's done. That's the thing, it's family out here. There could be something in the plans, but I have a feeling the Nobodies Home thing, but don't put it in stone because it doesn't matter. Whenever everything's done, whatever I feel at the time and whatever the people at Blah and all them man feel, that's what will happen when whatever's nice at the time. Sometimes you might have an album that's hard, ready to go in the winter - but then you do all the other shit, by then it's the summer. But it's a winter album, know what I mean? That's just one perception of it really, the icing. So I don't really like to say it's all there, when it's ready, it's ready.”

Stinkin Slumrok, Bill Shakes, thank you both for your time.

Don’t sleep on the Mcabre Brothers ‘Bring A Friend Tour 2019’ ft. Stinkin Slumrok - Dates & Tickets HERE

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Interview by Evo @ethanevo
Photography by Dan Griffiths @visualati

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