Art Brut

It's a Bit Complicated Bang Bang Rock & Roll Art Brut vs. Satan

Art Brut
Art Brut in 2006. From left to right: Feedback, Future, Catskilkin, Breyer (behind), and Argos.
Art Brut in 2006. From left to right: Feedback, Future, Catskilkin, Breyer (behind), and Argos.
Background information
GenresIndie rock, Britpop, art punk
Years active2003–present
LabelsFierce Panda
Mute Records
Downtown Records
Cooking Vinyl
Alcopop! Records
Associated actsThe Art Goblins
Keith Top Of The Pops & His Minor UK Indie Celebrity All-Star Backing Band
MembersEddie Argos
Ian Catskilkin
Freddy Feedback
Toby MacFarlaine
Charlie Layton
Past membersChris Chinchilla
Mikey Breyer
Jasper Future
Stephen Gilchrist

Art Brut are a Berlin-based English and German indie rock band. Their debut album, Bang Bang Rock & Roll, was released on 30 May 2005, with its follow up, It's a Bit Complicated, released on 25 June 2007. Named after French painter Jean Dubuffet's definition of outsider art - art by prisoners, loners, the mentally ill, and other marginalized people, and made without thought to imitation or presentation - South London's Art Brut were tagged by NME as part of the "Art Wave" scene that also included bands such as The Rakes, Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party. The band released further albums, Art Brut vs Satan in 2009 and Brilliant! Tragic! in 2011. A fifth album, Wham! Bang! Pow! Let's Rock Out!", was released in 2018.

The band's sound is characterised by their straightforward guitar rock setup, as well as frontman Eddie Argos' enthusiastic sprechgesang-style vocal delivery, and his humorous, often self-reflexive lyrics about music, relationships and other personal interests.


The band was formed in London in 2003, after Eddie Argos met guitarist Chris Chinchilla at an afterparty hosted by London indie rock band Ciccone in 2002. Argos also invited Ian Catskilkin, whom he knew from the Bournemouth music scene, to join on guitars. They were joined by Freddy Feedback on bass guitar and Mikey Breyer on drums. The band played their first gig in May 2003.[1]

The band self-released two Brutlegs promos in 2003. The first was produced by Keith Top of the Pops and contained the first versions of "Formed a Band", "Modern Art" and "Moving to LA". A second, released as Brutlegs 04, contained versions of "Good Weekend", "Bang Band Rock & Roll" and an acoustic version of "Moving to LA".

Angular Recording Corporation had released a compilation ("The New Cross: An Angular Sampler") featuring "Formed a Band" in November 2003. NME journalist Anthony Thornton heard the song and sent an MP3 to Rough Trade, and the label offered Art Brut a deal to release it as a one-off single. It peaked at number 52 on the UK Singles Chart, in May 2004.[2] Blender described them as the best unsigned band in the UK.

The band were soon signed by Fierce Panda. A double A-side of "Modern Art" and "My Little Brother" was released in December 2004, charting at 49, followed by an album, Bang Bang Rock & Roll, in May 2005. The next single, "Emily Kane", made number 41, missing the top 40 only by two sales, later attributed by Argos by a failure to properly register iTunes sales. It remains Fierce Panda's highest-charting single.[2][1]

Bang Bang Rock & Roll was produced by John Fortis, who has also worked with artists such as Razorlight, Maxim Reality, The Pipettes, Neneh Cherry and Assembly Now; and features rerecorded versions of their early material.

Art Brut played extensively in support of their album in 2005. Chinchilla left due to the pressures of touring in September 2005, and was replaced at short notice by Jasper Future, guitarist from Argos' old Bournemouth band, The Art Goblins, for Bestival. This new line-up toured Europe, including two support slots with Oasis in October 2005 - the band made the cover of the German edition of Rolling Stone magazine in September 2005.

In 2006 Art Brut signed to Mute Records (then owned by EMI) in Europe for the release of another album, with Downtown Records covering the United States. This second album It's a Bit Complicated was produced by Dan Swift (after an attempt by Russell Senior was rejected by the label). The first single from the album, "Nag Nag Nag Nag", was released on 20 November 2006, featuring the b-side "I Found This Song in the Road" and five live tracks from the Eurockéennes de Belfort Festival 2006. The song made Single of the Week in The Guardian 's "The Guide" section. In 2007 they played on the American NME Rock and Roll Riot tour with The Hold Steady. The second single "Direct Hit" was released a week before the album, featuring the B-sides "Don't Blame it on the Trains" and "I Want to be Double A-Sided". The album was released in June 2007. In the United States, the album reached No. 14 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart and No. 32 on the Independent Albums chart.[3]

EMI had been under financial problems 2007 and was acquired by Terra Firma Venture Capital Partners in August 2007. The label released "Pump Up the Volume" as a third single for It's A Bit Complicated in February 2008, as a digital-only release with no video, apparently without telling the band.[1] This led to the termination of the relationship between the band and the label.

In late 2008, Art Brut returned to the studio to record their third LP Art Brut vs. Satan which was released on 20 April 2009, on Cooking Vinyl. The album was produced by Frank Black, in his favourite studio in Salem, Oregon. Art Brut vs. Satan was released to mainly good reviews scoring 75 on Metacritic. There were two singles released from the album "Alcoholics Unanimous" and "DC Comics & Chocolate Milkshake". The band toured throughout the year and played the Glastonbury Festival amongst others.

In late 2010, Art Brut recorded their fourth album, Brilliant! Tragic!, released on 23 May 2011. The first single from the album was "Lost Weekend". The album was again produced in Salem by Frank Black.[4]

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the band's first gig, in 2013, Art Brut released Art Brut Top of the Pops, a two CD best of compilation album, including B-sides and rarities, such as the Brutlegs versions of some early songs. The album title refers to the band's chant during live performances of "Art Brut! Top of the Pops! Art Brut! Top of the Pops!"[5][6]

On 13 September 2013 it was revealed that Breyer and Future had decided to leave the band, and that their replacements would be Stephen Gilchrist and Toby MacFarlaine respectively.[7]

Art Brut's fifth album, Wham! Bang! Pow! Let's Rock Out!, produced by Jim Moray, was released in November 2018, on Alcopop! Records. It was preceded by two singles: the title track "Wham! Bang! Pow! Let's Rock Out!", in August 2018, and "Hospital!" in October 2018. The band now features Charlie Layton from the Wedding Present on drums. After two dates in London in November and January, the band started their first tour since 2013 in February 2019: UK dates in February and March are to be followed by European shows in April.[8][9][10][11][12]

Relationships with other bands

Art Brut invited various bands to provide guest vocals on "Top of the Pops!", their contribution to the second Angular compilation, "Rip Off Your Labels: More Angular Product", including The Boyfriends, The Long Blondes, The Rocks, The Violets, Luxembourg, Ciccone, The Swear and Abdoujaparov. These bands had mostly provided tracks to the Angular compilations themselves.[13] Relations with Bloc Party, also an Angular band, were more strained: a dispute conducted by media between Argos with Bloc Party lead singer Kele culminated in a physical confrontation at a nightclub.[14]

Art Brut had a system of "franchises", whose names range from AB0 (the original Art Brut) to AB3.14/Pi, AB², AB17 or even to AB29600 (from Rennes and Morlaix, France), who perform and cover Art Brut songs.[15]

The band have released a split 7" with We Are Scientists in 2006, with Art Brut covering We Are Scientists' "The Great Escape", and We Are Scientists covering "Bang Bang Rock & Roll" (in the style of The Velvet Underground - in reference to the song's lyric of "I can't stand the sound of the Velvet Underground"). We Are Scientists also have an Art Brut franchise number, 47.[16] Art Brut resumed their collaboration with We Are Scientists in 2019, with a split 12" for Record Store Day, as "WASABI" (We Are Scientists Art Brut International).[17][18]

Argos and Black Box Recorder released a single, "Christmas Number One", under the name The Black Arts, in 2007.[19]

In 2010, Argos released an album with the side project Everybody Was in the French Resistance...Now!, featuring Dyan Valdés from The Blood Arm on vocals and keyboards. The album, called Fixin' the Charts was a collection of songs in responses to classic pop songs, including those by Michael Jackson, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas and Kanye West.[20]

The band's early supporter Keith Top of the Pops played his first gig in support of Art Brut in New York in 2006, with members of Art Brut acting as his band. Keith has now released three albums, under the name "Keith Top of the Pops & His Minor UK Indie Celebrity All-Star Backing Band", which variously feature contributions from most of Art Brut, Black Box Recorder, The Blood Arm, We Are Scientists and numerous other musicians, including members of The Boyfriends, Luxembourg, Ciccone and Abdoujaparov.[21]


Current members

Former members



Live albums

Compilation albums


Music videos


  1. ^ a b c Argos, Eddie (2015). I Formed a Band. ISBN 9783981734607.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 30. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  3. ^ Billboard, Allmusic
  4. ^ "Art Brut Release Their New Studio Album". Archived from the original on 2 March 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
  5. ^ Battan, Carrie (1 March 2013). "Art Brut to Release Best-Of Comp Top of the Pops". PitchforkMedia. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  6. ^ "Art Brut: Top of the Pops | Album Reviews". Pitchfork. 17 April 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 April 2015. Retrieved 4 April 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ a b c d Braudie Blais-Billie (8 August 2018). "Art Brut Announce First New Album in 7 Years, Share Song: Listen". Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  9. ^ "Art Brut - Earth Agency". Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  10. ^ a b c "ART BRUT ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM, VIDEO, AND UK TOUR DATES". 2 October 2018. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  11. ^ "Quatre dates in France pour Art Brut" [Four dates in France for Art Brut] (in French). Sounder of Violence. 5 February 2019.
  12. ^ "Art Brut gehen im April auf Tour" [Art Brut go on tour in April] (in German). 15 February 2019.
  13. ^ Top of the Pops documentary. Eight Pictures. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
  14. ^ "Q&A: Art Brut's Eddie Argos". 2 August 2005. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
  15. ^ Tim Cumming (10 November 2006). "Art Brut: When the band is the brand". Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  16. ^ "We Are Scientists and Art Brut Split 7" completed". 30 August 2006. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  17. ^ "We Are Scientists vs Art Brut: WASABI discuss Record Store Day 2019 | Dork". Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ Michael Hubbard (13 November 2007). "Christmas Number One – by Black Box Recorder?". Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  20. ^ Kikic, Dana (19 May 2011). "Eddie Argos Speaks! (But Then You Knew That)". Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  21. ^ "The Coming of Keith". Artrocker. September 2011.
  22. ^ Murray, Robin (22 August 2018). "Art Brut Share New 'Wham! Bang! Pow! Let's Rock Out!' Video". Retrieved 22 August 2018.