The charmingly named Shitbirds didn't last long, but the Los Angeles-based trio are important to fans of French pop chanteuse April March; these early '90s pop-punkers featured the delectable March as their lead singer under her real name, Elinor Blake.
Blake's first recordings were made in New York in the late '80s as part of the girl-group pastiche the Pussywillows, but the Shitbirds started in 1991 after Blake moved to Los Angeles to work as an animator for Spumco, the company that produced the cartoon series [RoviLink="VW"]Ren and Stimpy. (Spumco's head, John Kricfalusi, drew the covers for most of the Shitbirds' 7" releases, and Blake co-wrote and sang on several songs from the three [RoviLink="VW"]Ren and Stimpy albums.) While working for Spumco, Blake simultaneously began her career as April March and formed the Shitbirds, named for Vietnam-era Army slang for new enlisted men chosen for the worst duties. Blake sang, often under the name April Shitbird, while Phil Maynes (Phil Shitbird) played guitar and Steve Savitsky (Uli Shitbirdsky) bashed the drums. (Maynes also played bass on most of the recordings; a revolving door of deputy Shitbirds filled that role on-stage.)
The Shitbirds' first release was an untitled three-track EP released on the Seattle label PopLlama Records in September 1992. That EP's leadoff track, "Theme From Shitbird," also appeared on the four-track 7" Oh Joy in December of that year. (Oh Joy, augmented with four more tracks including a reworking of the jingle for the '70s-vintage Icebird shaved ice maker called "Scheissebird," was reissued as a 10" EP in February 1993.)
Although the trio did stay together for a while after that initial burst, their productivity slowed considerably. A version of the traditional "Christmas Is A-Coming (May God Bless You)" appeared on the Sympathy for the Record Industry compilation Happy Birthday Baby Jesus in 1993, and two songs, "Faster and Shorter" and "Unterschall," showed up as a limited-edition five-inch single in May 1994. One more song, "Kickback 1812," appeared on a split 7" with Simon & the Bar Sinisters a month or so later, and that was that. Although Maynes and Savitsky played on the April March albums Chick Habit and Paris in April, the Shitbirds effectively retired in 1994. A posthumous collection of all 15 Shitbirds recordings, Famous Recording Artists, was released by Sympathy for the Record Industry in late 1995. ~ Stewart Mason
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