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Named after French painter Jean Debuffet'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 make brilliantly simple, cleverly stupid art-punk. Tagged by NME as part of the "Art Wave" scene that also includes bands such as Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party, as well as other bands from Art Brut's New Cross locale, the group is comprised of singer (and Top of the Pops fan) Eddie Argos, guitarists Chris Chinchilla and Ian Catskilkin, bassist Frederica Feedback, and drummer Mikey Breyer. The bandmembers allege that they began writing songs five minutes after they formed, including their single Formed a Band, which featured lyrics like "I wanna be the boy/The man that writes the song/That makes Israel and Palestine/Get along."
Art Brut recorded a demo, Brutlegs, that attracted the attention of Rough Trade, which signed the band and then released Formed a Band in spring 2004. Around the time of the single's release, the band played a string of dates, including a set at the Rock Against Racism show; a gig supporting the Libertines' Pete Doherty's side project Wolfman & Pete; and dates with up-and-coming bands such as the Fades and Abdoujaparov, the latest project from Fruitbat of British indie stalwarts Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine. Art Brut released another volume of Brutlegs later that spring and continued to play selected dates throughout the summer and fall. Late in 2004, the Modern Art single arrived; in spring 2005, Art Brut were back on tour again and released the Emily Kane single just before their full-length debut, Bang Bang Rock & Roll, was issued that summer. The album earned a lot of critical acclaim from both the U.K. and the U.S., and the band made it across the pond to the States in fall 2005, coinciding with the release of Bang Bang Rock & Roll's fourth single, Good Weekend.
Around that time, Chinchilla departed the band to be replaced by guitarist Jasper Future. The revamped Art Brut embarked on a series of European and U.K. dates in late 2005 and early 2006, returning to the U.S. in support of the stateside release of Bang Bang Rock & Roll. The band moved to Mute for its U.K. label and worked with producer Dan Swift on its second album, 2007's It's a Bit Complicated. After touring the world in support of that album, the band went to Portland, Oregon, in late 2008 to record songs with former Pixie Frank Black as producer. The sessions took just two weeks, and Art Brut's third album, the fittingly raw Art Brut vs. Satan, was released in spring 2009. The following year, Art Brut went back into the studio with Frank Black and began work on their fourth album, Brilliant! Tragic!, which arrived in 2011. Two years later, the band's first retrospective, Top of the Pops, was released and featured B-sides, demos, and rarities, including a version of the Beatles' "Her Majesty" arranged by Black Francis.
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 was formed in 2003, and played their first gig in May of that year. The band recorded Brutlegs later in 2003 containing the first versions of "Formed a Band", "Modern Art" and "Moving to LA" and made it available. Angular Recording Corporation put out a compilation featuring "Formed a Band". 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 single. Frank Black of The Pixies stated he was a fan soon after hearing them.
"Formed a Band" was released in the UK as a single in May 2004 reaching No. 52 on the UK Singles Chart. It also appeared on the soundtrack to FIFA Street 2 - a game for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, Gamecube and PlayStation Portable. Blender described them as the best unsigned band in the UK. During the rest of 2004, they played gigs throughout the UK with The Fades including a first anniversary gig at the Tate Britain.
Another bootleg EP Brutlegs 04 was recorded featuring "Good Weekend", "Bang Bang Rock & Roll", and an acoustic version of "Moving to LA". A double A-side was released in December 2004 on Fierce Panda reaching No. 49 on the UK chart. The album Bang Bang Rock & Roll was released in May 2005 with "Emily Kane" as the first single. The latter missed the UK Top 40 by two sales, yet remains the highest-charting single on Fierce Panda. 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.
Art Brut have a quite widespread following 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). The band We Are Scientists are also an Art Brut franchise, AB47. These franchises often record and play Art Brut songs during performances.
Chris Chinchilla amicably left the band for personal reasons in September 2005, forming a new band, Macaca Mulatta. He was replaced by Jeff aka Jasper Future, guitarist from Eddie Argos' old band, The Art Goblins. The band appeared on the cover of the German edition of Rolling Stone magazine in September 2005.
Art Brut performed at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, on April 30, 2006, at Pitchfork Music Festival in June 2006, and at the Festival Internacional de Benicàssim and the Dour Festival in Belgium, in July 2006 and are due to headline the Two Thousand Trees Festival in July 2008. Art Brut also released a split 7" with We Are Scientists, which was only released in America. We Are Scientists returned the idea and covered Art Brut's song "Bang Bang Rock & Roll" on the single. Their version of "Bang Bang Rock & Roll" is also available on their B-sides album Crap Attack.
The band released their second album, It's a Bit Complicated, on Mute Records produced by Dan Swift, who has also worked with artists such as Help She Can't Swim, Victorian English Gentlemens Club, Kasabian and Snow Patrol. The first single to be taken 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. In the United States, the album reached No. 14 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart and No. 32 on the Independent Albums chart.
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". "Direct Hit" appeared on the soundtrack of FIFA 08.
In February 2008, EMI released "Pump Up the Volume" the third single from It's a Bit Complicated. There was no physical release of the single and only a video was released after the single had been issued. On 1 March 2008, Argos revealed on his blog that Art Brut have amicably left EMI. In August 2008, Eddie Argos announced on his blog that the band have been recording songs for the third album. Art Brut were also lined up to play various festivals over the summer.
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. The album was produced by Frank Black formerly of the Pixies. 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 2010, Argos released his album for his first side project under the name of Everybody Was in the French Resistance...Now!. 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. The band also featured Argos' girlfriend Dyan Valdes, who is a member of The Blood Arm on vocals and keyboards.
In late 2010, Art Brut recorded their fourth album, Brilliant Tragic, released on 23 May 2011. The first single from the album will be "Lost Weekend". The album was recorded in Salem, Oregon, and is the second to be produced by Frank Black. The tracklisting and release details were confirmed in early March 2011. In April 2013 Art Brut released Top of the Pops, a two CD "best of" compilation album including B-sides and rarities. 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!"