Papa Shango are saving live music – with clown cars and a gorilla playing saxophone

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Papa Shango, above, have a unique approach to live entertainment

“We have recently been doing lots of interviews for various magazine in Germany and America and there has been much confusion,” muses Papa Rob as he delves into the gloriously bonkers world of Papa Shango.

“Particularly when I explained I like to make an entrance on stage on a trapeze while the rest of the band try and catch me in a clown car.”

According to the NME, “the internet is killing live music and Papa Shango are saving it”.

And they’re saving it with their unique brand of circus rock and outrageously barmy live shows that include voodoo make-up, pillow fights, a saxophonist dressed as a gorilla and more. Much more.

Hailing from Hertfordshire and North Essex (“if you draw a line from Welwyn Garden City to Bishop’s Stortford and then to Harlow, we are from various stops along it,” explains Rob), the zany 12-piece have been causing musical mayhem since the early noughties.

The past year has been tough on the entertainment industry but their mischievous sense of fun remains firmly intact and they’re looking forward to playing The Half Moon in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, this summer and have a new album in the works.

Papa Shango’s devilish approach to life makes finding out more about the band a little tricky.

Answers are often as straight as the banana costume you’ll find one of their number wearing on stage. But that’s all part of their charm!

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“Three original members – myself and the other two, Paul and Tony – have been together for about 16 years,” explained frontman Rob Scatchard, aka Papa Rob.

“There are now 12 of us, but an absolutely fantastic 12.

“No issues at all, I think it’s all because we are a little older, and if they start getting ‘ideas’ I dock one of their ‘stars’. We have a complicated merit system.”

Papa Shango’s out-there persona is guaranteed to mainline fun and enjoyment into the audience’s veins – but what exactly is their mission?
“Sometimes I want to answer honestly, and for this one I think I will,” says Rob.

“I will be brutally honest, there is something inside all 12 of us. Mostly it’s soil, but aside from that it’s a combined desire to show off and when you’ve got 12 people doing it loudly and at the same time, it works.”

It certainly does work, as anyone who has seen them live will testify.
“The internet has killed live music,” added Rob, “no one goes out to see anything new. They are frightened.”

So what’s more important – the music or the show?

“It used to be the show,” replied Rob, “and from out of nowhere we have produced Risk Assessment.

“I had no idea I had such talented friends and musicians.”

Risk Assessment is the band’s new album and it shouldn’t be too long before it’s out.

“This will be our mark, our future and will see our grandchildren through private education,” quips Rob. “Seriously it’s beyond good. Should be released, maybe a Tuesday.”

And now that the journey along the roadmap out of lockdown is underway, thoughts are turning to live music too.

And on Saturday, August 28 Papa Shango will be playing at the Half Moon in Bishop’s Stortford with The Lucy Dream, Busking 5 and Parallel Lines.

Tickets are available here.

“Bishop’s Stortford is home, home, home, they know us, we know them,” says Rob.

“We step on stage, the audience grins because they know what to expect and we grin because we know what we are going to give them.

“Last time we played Bill Bailey, Alex Horne and Richard O’Brien turned up to see us – true. An incredible night.

“I do believe we will be having one or two special guests turn up again. Hopefully Dean Austin from The Strangerhood, who is rumoured to be one.

“Get a ticket quick. We are playing with some outstanding local talent.
“Like our page, buy a ticket and watch us play kiss chase on stage for 45 minutes.”

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And there could well be a new song debuted at the gig.

“I’m pushing Papa Shango to work on a new song called Sex Robot for the Half Moon gig,” revealed Rob.

“My good lady, Pappette Sally, nailed how to perform it.

“Pappettes are our female singers, we play frisbee at the weekends with them to keep fit. Like our page, buy a ticket and watch us play kiss chase on stage for 45 minutes.

To find out more about Papa Shango, click here.

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