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October 2022

Joe & The Shitboys: "Everybody loves everybody; we're all friends"

Faroese bisexual vegan punk band Joe & The Shitboys catch up during a trip to G! Festival.
Published: 9:29 am, September 05, 2022Words: Jake Hawkes. Photos: Jonas Persson.
Joe & The Shitboys: "Everybody loves everybody; we're all friends"

Faroese bisexual vegan punk band Joe & The Shitboys are exactly the kind of nonsense we enjoy. The Faroe Islands, where the sun barely sets for the whole summer and puffins flap around the hilltops, is also exactly the kind of place we enjoy. To marry these two enjoyable things, we went to the Faroe Islands' very own G! Festival to chat to Joe and Ziggy from the band about the unique music scene in the North Atlantic. Here's what they had to say about the festival, making music, and… bowling.

We're here at G! Festival, what's it like?

Joe: It's at this tiny village on the beach, and there are mountains all around us. The vibe is just so amazing because we live in the Faroe Islands, and our whole shtick is that we come from an incredibly conservative place. Here at the festival, though, it feels like people are more themselves. You see people walking around in very colourful clothing, and everybody's loving it. This is a place where I once got called a hipster for knowing it was Disturbed who did 'Down With the Sickness'! But G! Festival had all this weird music, and nobody questions it, it's so cool.

A lot of the bands here seem to share members, why do you think that is?

Joe: I feel like people here are just really creative, and they want to do music. It can be punk, rap, it doesn't matter. Also, everybody loves everybody, and we're all friends, so all the people who come on stage with, we hang out all the time.

Why do you think the Faroes are such a creative place?

Joe: *laughs* What else are we supposed to do!
Ziggy: It's definitely the boredom of being in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do. But also interestingly enough there is a very long tradition of music here, going back about 1000 years. We have the chain dance, which is the national dance where we tell all these sagas and sing while you dance. Then 100 years ago, instruments finally came to the islands. There are no trees here, so you have to get your instruments from somewhere else.
Joe: Think about that. 100 years ago, it was 1922. Jazz had been invented by the point we got our first instruments.

Does all that creativity translate to a lot of music being released?

Joe: I wish people would release more music, but there is a shit-tonne coming out all the time. I work at Tutl, the record store here, and they release multiple tracks every week. Sometimes there's an album coming out almost once a week, too. There's a joke in the record store that tourists always come in and ask for the Faroese section of the store, but we literally only sell Faroese music.

What do you think it is that stops all that music being known internationally?

Joe: If you want to make music into a career, it's a gamble everywhere, but here the odds are way slimmer than somewhere like the UK. It's also quite expensive, although there have been some programmes to get people out of the Faroes, which is great.
Ziggy: There's a huge geographical component to how difficult it is to get out of here. We've grown up completely outside of the music industry. There's no real industry here, no managers, no bookers, only one record label. It's just you, and you're cut off from everything, so you have to do it for yourself. I mean, you don't name your band Joe & The Shitboys if you're expecting it to go anywhere!
Joe: What's really beautiful about Joe & The Shitboys is that I was actually about to quit music before we started it. I was in another band and had put a lot into it, but it didn't go anywhere because not everybody put the same in. It was a burden, just really hard mentally. I was just like, 'fuck music, I'm done with it. Then Ziggy wrote to me and said, 'do you wanna do a shit punk band? We're gonna be called Joe & The Shitboys, and you're gonna be Joe – just one 7" single.
Ziggy: We thought two people would buy a copy, and that'd be it, and now we've sold out the full run of both albums and the repress.

Finally, for the most important question of all – how do you feel about bowling?

Joe: I hate bowling. People always say how cool it is, and the fun is hanging out and drinking a beer and talking. But why don't you just do that without the sucky part, which is the bowling itself?
Ziggy: I like bowling; Joe just sucks at it
Joe: Crazy golf is good, and I suck at that, so being bad at bowling isn't why I hate it.
Ziggy: Yeah, crazy golf is great. We can't play it here because there's only one course and it's at the airport where it's always windy. There was another one, but it blew away in a storm. There's a third one, but it's at the jail, so unless we start misbehaving more than we already are, we won't get the chance to play. So at the moment, it's a touring-only sport. Crazy golf is the best part of touring. Although the bowling is good as well.

Taken from the September 2022 issue of Upset, out now.

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