Let me tell you a tale of four very talented chaps who got dealt a bad hand. Dave, Olv, Apple and Wilson are the four members of Project Abner; an emo/pop punk/metalcore hybrid act who were functional from 2001 to 2004. The band toured and played lots of shows with bands like Days Ago, Zero Cipher, Eden Maine and Aconite Thrill. In 2002 to 2003 they wrote, recorded and released an EP called All My Love.
Now here’s where things get strange; the All My Love EP made it to press and some reviews also refer to it as the Follow the Pig EP. It would appear the EP was scheduled for a physical release in October 2003 but for whatever reason I haven’t been able to find anything as to the existence of physical CDs. This EP would have contained the songs As Kids Do, The Fable, Pour Fair L’Amour, Suited and Useless, Sighing Like Furnace and All My Love. Sighing Like Furnace and The Fable got released on a promotional CD-R that was given out at gigs.
Here’s where things take a turn for the worst. Project Abner’s management got them into a position where they were being blacklisted by promoters and booking agents. It’s not clear what had happened but the band were furious with their manager and decided to dump him and their name in the process.
In 2004 Project Abner are reborn as The Abner. With renewed energy and focus the band record an EP called Chinoiserie Lounge for Basick Records and it’s sprung on the world in 2006. The EP is a wonderful mesh of Horse the Band and early Enter Shikari and the band christen their special blend of noise as partycore. Sighing Like Furnace is also revisited and given a fresh coat of paint and renamed The Penitent Man Will Pass. Copies of this EP are still available from Basick Records and every household should have one.
The band continue to trudge on but it becomes apparent that the band’s live appearances are becoming more infrequent and it isn’t until 2008 that new material surfaces. The Abner release a new single called D.I.S.C.O and it’s a frightfully catchy slice of up-beat punk-metal. I remember seeing the song live for the first time at a Basick Records showcase gig which included Without Thought and Fell Silent and it was an absolute joy to behold.
Work began on what would become The Abner’s debut album but interest in the band seemed to have completely faded. The Abner were appearing at incredibly under-promoted shows and one show at The Hope and Anchor only drew about 5 people (myself included). This sort of reception is heartbreaking when it happens to a band you care about and by 2009 The Abner decided it simply wasn’t worth the effort.
The band split without a farewell show but they gave their fans one final gift in the form of 5 album demos and the previously released D.I.S.C.O single. This final release is even more tragic in the fact that it shows a noticeable progression in the band’s song-writing. The songs are all wonderfully unique and progressive numbers like A Cowshed Riot Against the Glutton sit side-by-side with straight-forward rockers like Whiskey Punchout. The songs were initially shared by the band via mediafire but thankfully Basick Records have seen fit to give the songs another lease of life and re-released them as an iTunes EP called If You’re Listening To This… Where Were You In 2008?
Did The Abner’s management kill the band’s chance at success? It’s difficult to say but in 2009 the UK lost one of the most original sounding rock acts to ever grace the toilet circuit. It’s not nice watching a band you love fall into obscurity and making heavy music in this day and age is a real labour of love. The Abner stuck with it for 8 years and they don’t deserve to be a footnote in UK rock’s history. Go and hunt down The Abner’s 2 EPs on iTunes and indulge in one of the weirdest rock bands ever birthed in the UK. You won’t regret it.
Andrew has kindly put together some additional information on the band which we present below:
“Our very last attempt at a show was in 2009 at the Water Rats where we turned up on a Thursday night to play and were told by the venue that they thought we would bring a crowd. We told them that they were sorely mistaken (haha), so they told us we wouldn’t be playing. We packed up our gear and that was that!
All My Love was a massive blow for us. We had been promised the earth by a con man and left out to dry with his dirty laundry. Basically we got an initial run of one hundred CDs and the printing was wrong on them. They never got a re-pressing because the label head hadn’t paid the bill. Almost cursed, you might say. One of the main reasons that Evolving Music (the label) collapsed is that they over stretched themselves time and time again. Properties in central London, full page adverts in Kerrang! and Rock Sound, t-shirts, stickers, you name it. All good stuff if the money is coming in. They booked a huge 30 date tour for the 3 bands potentially signing to Evolving (ourselves, Through Silence, and Shellshock) with 2 revolving headliners. Half the dates were scheduled for Skindred, and half for Mahumodo (with Mahumodo being the headliners for our shows, drawing a more suitable crowd for us). 3 days before the first show Mahumodo split up and the tour was a disaster as a result! Then we were lied to, etc etc. and the rest is history!
Basick Records saved us from the brink and we helped them by signing a free deal. They pressed our CDs and we bought them at cost. Any that Basick sold were their own. It worked for us and Nathan always had faith in us and our music. It was just a shame that the small piece of momentum we had left when we signed with them ran out before we managed to write a whole album.
Another note worth mentioning is that we toured with My Chemical Romance on their first 3 date UK tour (just before being blacklisted) and also with Skindred around the time that our label collapsed.
We got to the point where we had more fun being ourselves and we never ever fit into a pigeon hole from a visual perspective. We just enjoyed rocking out (and slagging off the crowd between songs).
I’d have loved it if we could have carried on but sometimes life just gets in the way. It’s really nice to know that there’s a little legacy out there though!”
PROJECT ABNER/THE ABNER WERE
– Dave Shanley (vocals)
– Andrew Wilson (bass)
– Apple (guitar)
– Olv (drums)
As Project Abner
2 Track Promo CD-R (2003)
Subverse Volume 1 Compilation (2003)
All My Love/Follow the Pig EP (2003)
As The Abner
2 Track Demo CD-R (2004)
Chinoiserie Lounge EP (2006)
A Day for Light Refreshment Promo DVD (2007)
D.I.S.C.O Single (2008)
If You’re Listening To This… Where Were You In 2008? EP (2009)
Do you have memories of Project Abner/The Abner? Let us know in the comments below or drop us an email at ukscumscene[at]live.co.uk.