Over the past eight years, we’ve had the pleasure of meeting lots of American bands while they were touring our side of the pond, and the way they react to our weird little Britishisms never ceases to amuse us.
It’s one of the reasons we do our legendary UK slang quiz with bands from overseas, because even though we all speak English, there are always going to be words that mean different things depending on which side of the Atlantic you’re on. We love imparting local knowledge on our foreign band friends – I mean, you’re dealing with the people who taught All Time Low the delightful euphemism ‘feed the pony’ right before they went on stage at their sell-out show in London, needless to say their between song banter was heavily influenced by what we taught them and for that we’re
Ahead of Army of Freshmen’s UK tour this month, frontman Chris Jay penned us a helpful guide for American bands touring the UK. Chris came up with a list of things to avoid if you want things to run smoothly, based on his many trips here. This got us thinking about how we could better educate our friends from the States, so here’s a helpful list for AoF and any other bands who will be hitting our shores in the coming months…
You’re not shit, we’re northern
If you’re from the county of Yorkshire, then Yorkshire pride is a big deal. Hailing from the Leeds area, that’s where I’ll see the bulk of the gigs I attend and I don’t think I can remember a time when the Yorkshire chant didn’t exist. Yes, Yorkshire folk are so proud of being from Yorkshire that they will chant ‘Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire’ at gigs, sporting events, out on the town, during sex, etc. The only problem with this is our accents, and when we’re shouting ‘Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire’ American bands mishear this as ‘you’re shit, you’re shit, you’re shit’. Many bands have been taken aback by this out-of-the-blue ‘heckling’ including Bowling For Soup and The Dollyrots. So embrace the chant, safe in the knowledge no one thinks you’re shit.
Watch your fannies
UK slang is a strange beast that is evolving at an alarming rate. You only need to hear a word or phrase casually mentioned during an episode of The Inbetweeners once and suddenly everyone is saying it (only two days ago I was walking past a bus stop when a car full of lads drove past, shouting ‘bus wankers’ at the people queuing). Here at Flecking, we love testing bands on their UK slang, and our favourite words are the ones that sound dirty, but have a perfectly innocent meaning, and vice versa. Some words that you guys use freely in the States have a very different meaning here in the UK. For example, a ‘fanny’ isn’t a butt here, it’s a vajayjay, so ‘get your fanny over here, young lady’ suddenly takes on a much different tone. ‘Spunky’ is another word you want to avoid, because over here ‘spunk’ is our delightful way of referring to semen. Oh, and if you’re disappointed, do not say you’re ‘bummed’ because ‘bummed’ means you just took it up the Aris (that’s Cockney rhyming slang for arse).
Yes, there are subcultures here that talk like Sacha Baron-Cohen’s character, Ali G. ‘Well sick’ might seem like an oxymoron, but in fact it means ‘very good’. ‘Innit’ is widely used too. Do not, under any circumstances, make light of this way of speaking, as you can’t appease real ‘rude boys’ with Chicken Dippers, and you will almost certainly get your head kicked in.
Don’t go dogging
Animal lovers beware, dogging is not an activity where you get to pet man’s best friend (unless said man’s best friend is his penis). Dogging is one of those great British pass-times that Americans either find hilarious or alarming (it’s most often the latter). Dogging is the practice of watching or engaging in exhibitionist sexual activity in a public place, so if you’re driving down a dark road and you see someone flashing their headlights, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have a puncture they need help with – it might not be their tyre that needs blowing, if you know what I mean.
You’ll need a slang dictionary to get sexy
Like our slang words generally, our sexual slang words are out of control too. ‘Feed the pony’ probably isn’t going to be a phrase you need to know (but if anyone has heard it used in a serious, sexy context do let us know) but if you’re thinking of getting down to bid’ness, then know that ‘shagging’, ‘banging’ and ‘having it off’ are some of our favourite ways to discuss doing it. Your words for girl parts include ‘knockers’ and ‘chebs’ for the upstairs stuff and ‘minge’, ‘gash’ and the aforementioned ‘fanny’ for the downstairs – you can thank the Inbetweeners for popularising the first two. For the gents, you might refer to your ‘tackle’, your ‘pecker’, your ‘todger’ or your ‘willy’ – but only if you want to sound like a twat, obviously.
Fight, fight, fight
It’s very much a part of our culture to get pissed and do stupid shit on a night out. This will almost certainly involve a late night trip to a kebab shop (which you must choose wisely, lest you eat an animal you’re not used to eating/you weren’t expecting) and know that Brit boys (and some ladies) love a good scrap. If someone says they’re going to ‘twat’ you, despite ‘twat’ meaning vagina here, it means they’re going to hit you – not with their vagina, just generally. Oh, and if you do wander into a bad neighbourhood and someone ‘hard’ starts on your, probably just leg it (run).
Army of Freshmen return to the United Kingdom this month with Lit. Tickets on sale here. Check them out on Facebook, Twitter, check out their weekly podcast, Fresh Talk on iTunes, see their latest video, and check out their upcoming comedy film, Betting on Baker.