The Who, Sex Pistols and Pearl Jam Members Spur Sshh Debut

Ringo Starr's son, Zak Starkey, and Sshh Liguz helm this amorphic supergroup

SSHH-0880 LORES Santi


In the final weeks of 2016, modern punk duo Sshh finally released their debut studio album. It wasn’t the one they expected to be first. But fans of this decade-long collaboration between drummer/guitarist/rock royalty Zak Starkey and Australian vocal powerhouse Sshh Liguz will not be disappointed.

They’d planned to release an album earlier this year consisting of songs they’d spent years writing, perfecting and finally recording. But when that deal hit a few snags, they turned their attention to the promo project they’d been asked to do for a Sirius radio series on the songs that had influenced them over the years. They quickly decided it wasn’t enough to just talk about the music. They needed to recreate it.

But Issues wasn’t destined to be just any old covers album.  For the Sex Pistols’ 1977 song “Problems,” Starkey and Liguz invited Pistols drummer Paul Cook and bassist Glen Matlock to record with them. And the project took off from there.

“It’s incredible,” Starkey says, explaining the whirlwind two weeks it took to record 11 classic rock, reggae and electronica songs in both L.A. and London. They started by calling in friends Cook, Matlock and Blondie’s Clem Burke. Then came old bandmate Dale Davis, who played bass for Amy Winehouse, and Starkey’s onetime Oasis co-conspirator Gem Archer.  Even Kenney Jones—who preceded Starkey as Keith Moon’s replacement in The Who—mans the drums on an old Small Faces tune. And a few new friends came on board as well. Starkey and Liguz called up Gil Sharone and Twiggy Ramirez from Marilyn Manson’s band; the two helped Sshh record a knockout version of the Big Pink’s “Dominos,” and introduced the duo to the Wailers’ Carlton “Santa” Davis. “Things sort of happened like chain reactions,” Starkey says. Davis brought in Fully Fullwood of Peter Tosh Word Sound and Power and together they recorded an epically punk version of “Get Up Stand Up,” with Eddie Vedder rounding out the sound on backing vocals.

“We’re not sticking to any rules about having to play our record,” he continues. “As long as we play a few tunes off it and everyone in the room has a good time and we have a good time, we’re happy.”

Sshh has performed a handful of shows around the U.S. and U.K. to promote the album, with all the proceeds from the shows and the album itself going to Roger Daltrey’s Teen Cancer America and Teenage Cancer Trust. And they’re hoping to add more dates in the new year. But scheduling can be hard when you’re working with three separate touring bands. “In London, we played with Paul Cook and Glen Matlock and the Sex Pistols,” Starkey says. “In New York we played with Glen again and Clem Burke. And in L.A. we played with the Jamaican guys. So it’s really great fun. You’d think it was hard work but it’s been great having three different bands. When we’re playing with the Pistols, we do all the punk songs off the record. When we’re playing with the Jamaican guys, we do more of the reggae tunes. It’s not the same set every time. And then we also do a bunch of songs that we really like that sound great [like Fleetwood Mac’s “Rattlesnake Shake”]. Just have some fun. Whatever sounds good with the band.”

“We’re not sticking to any rules about having to play our record,” he continues. “As long as we play a few tunes off it and everyone in the room has a good time and we have a good time, we’re happy.”

The project resulted in several more covers that didn’t make the album, but don’t expect to hear those anytime soon. Next up comes the album of Sshh originals, due out in 2017.

— Stephanie Wargin

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