Creem Circus + Hey Guy (featuring Boris Pelekh of Gogol Bordello)
1100 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107
Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:30 PM
This event is 21 and over
“The present-day composer in America refuses to die,” was a famous statement from French
avant-garde musician Edgar Varese quoted by Frank Zappa on the Mothers of Invention’s 1966
album, Freak Out!
New Haven, CT-born, now New York City-based David Roush is living proof of that adage with
his own musical project Ecce Shnak (pronounced Eh-kay Sh-knock) – the name taken from both
Frederick Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo (“ecce” meaning Latin for ‘Consider” or “Look At”) and a
word derived from the Yiddish schnockered, meaning inebriated, but repurposed as a teenager
for anything he needed it to describe.
That may well be the best way to describe Ecce Shnak’s unique mash-up musical universe, a
world of his own design he describes as Chamber Punk -- “one part popular music, another part
classical and a third part punk” with songs “about love, death, sex, change, bravery and food.”
Having established Ecce Shnak six years ago with fellow students at Temple University, lead
singer and creator Roush now has a steady, seven-person outfit – two guitarists, two “chamber
singers,” a bassist and drummer – to play the music he composes almost entirely note-for-note.
This musical mash-up offers a host of influences, including Gogol Bordello, Bjork, Deerhoof,
Bad Brains, the Clash, and the Roots. He dips is toes in grindcore and metal here and there, and
also counts some titans of classical music as his teachers: Claude Debussy, Franz Schubert,
Benjamin Britten, Igor Stravinsky, Heitor Villa-Lobos, and Leo Brouwer, among others.
Roush has been working on new material since 2013, when he released the EP, Letters to
German Vasquez Rubio with previous personnel. He is about to release the fruits of that labor
with two new efforts, Joke Oso, scheduled to come out in April, and Metamorphejawns, slated
“One of my bandmates has joked, pretty accurately, that there might not be another group in the
world who has a larger gap between what they have yet to release and what’s available online,”
admits Roush, but that’s now about to change.
Joke Oso and Metamorphejawns were recorded and produced by Philadelphia-based engineer
Jeff Lucci of Mo Lowda & The Humble in his living room, then remixed, respectively, by Bryce
Goggin (Pavement, the Apples in Stereo, Luna, Swans, Antony and the Johnsons) and John
Agnello (Kurt Vile, Sonic Youth, Alvvays, Dinosaur Jr. Andrew W.K., The Hold Steady), with
Fred Kevorkian (the White Stripes, Sonny Rollins, Iggy Pop, the National, Ryan Adams)
mastering the former, and Greg Calbi (Interpol, Kacey Musgraves, Yo La Tengo, David Byrne,
The Breeders, The National, The War on Drugs, Arcade Fire) mastering the latter.
Roush calls the 10-song EP Joke Oso “sort of a sequel to 2013’s Letters. Both EPs share two
kinds of Ecce Shnak songs, “Harassments” and “Dingleberries,” he explains. “The Harassments
are short, jocular, moody pieces; the Dingleberries (pardon the yucky nomenclature) are slightly
longer and the most furious of Ecce Shnak’s songs.”
Roush has collaborated with several Brooklyn-based film-production studios to create five music
videos, including the first single, “Dingleberry III, One on Tito VII: Trite Song.” In a short blurb
about the piece, Roush states that it is a “tragicomic ‘study’ of psychosis, nascent fascism, and
the madness of the modern day.” Regarding the composition of the song itself, he acknowledges
a “slightly more-than-half-embarrassing, middle-school-era” influence: “System of a Down!
Eek! Don’t judge me! I, like you, have an undying snotty/kind of cool/wise-in-his-own-silly-way
teenager in me. Don’t judge us!”
Roush’s tongue-twistingly long song titles include homages to friends who inspired his songs, or
even obscure references to riffs by the former Sigur Ros drummer, Orri Páll Dýrason. If you
haven’t already gathered, Ecce Shnak offers the astute listener an endless rabbit hole of arcane
references, in-jokes and a bit of sincerity in the most unlikely places. Their music ranges from
the Weezer-oid of Joke Oso’s “Larry Sleepover Friend,” the 1
-wave-ska of “Spooky,
Ruudplaad Homegirl” and the Clash/DEVO/Rancid pop-punk hooks of “Liberty Bell Forever
Stamp” to more experimental jawns (Philly dialect for joints/jams) like the fantasia-like art-rock
stomp of “Gringodante Bingochampion” or the musique concrete aural collage of the three-part
“Three Laughghirmations” (pronounced La-firmations).
Roush took up drums as a youngster, which explains the durability of his rhythmic nature. His
rhythmic focus is evident in: the pointillist b-boy quickie, “Harassment IX, Epilogue: Automaton
Mailman Jawn;” the frenetic looniness of the 5th Harassment, “18-Second Song” (which,
confusingly, clocks in at 30 seconds; I bet he has some funny reason for that untruth. The avid
Shnak fan will look around and find it); and the lazy-but-grooving, scattified Bell and Sebastian-
inspired strophic pop-song, “Xtina: a Foolish Little Prayer for the Broken-Hearted, the Over-
Pious, and Queer Kids worldwide.”
And now, with two new releases about to hit, Ecce Shnak will shnak you, and imminently,
through these albums, music videos, and in their live set.
“The ideal Ecce Shnak live experience is one that inspires bodily delight, something like a
catharsis and a wish to dance, or at least nod and smile,” explains Roush. “There’s a way down
the rabbit hole, but hopefully, a way out, too. We hope to be a Virgil to your Dante, dear
audience member, but hopefully through an even wilder landscape than the one those two
Listen to David Roush’s music and take a journey from light-hearted to gravely serious, from
order to chaos back to order, a meticulously constructed music universe that can only be
described in its own terms – Ecce Shnak. Once heard, it will be impossible to unhear it. Ecce
Shnak takes its panoply of musical, literary, personal, and other references, and allows us to
connect the dots.
$10 Advance / $12 Day of Show