EC claims he’s not usually one for talking about new tunes these days. Too old and too wrapped up in keeping on keeping on. But his ears recently cocked to The Sleaford Mods and now he’s gone full evangelical. He filed this interview for us.
The Last few days I have been aching to tell people about an act I came across semi-randomly while passing time on the net. They’re called The Sleaford Mods. Despite the name they’re not mods – at least in a The Lambrettas kind of way.
They’re a pair of angry muso 40-somethings from Nottingham and their name references Thatcher’s place of birth. The ‘singer’ – Jason Williamson – has been performing under the S.M. moniker for more than half a decade – and for the last couple of years has been teaming up with Rambo T-Shirt wearing, vaping, England’s answer to Flavour Flav Andrew Fearn.
Andrew constructs deceptively subtle stripped to the bone backing tracks which Jason spews surreal stream of consciousness diatribes – reminiscent of a low rent mash up of William Burroughs and David Peace – over. The only other element is a friend of theirs adding streetpunk style played on an actual bass basslines to the mix. Someone somewhere referred to them as a ‘demented dystopian Pet Shop Boys’. There’s something in that. I’ve spent most of a week listening to their two most recent albums over and over. ‘Austerity Dogs‘ was released last year and ‘Divide and Exit’ released in the last couple of weeks. They are unreal records. Raging, witty, profane, grim portraits of dead end austerity England under the thumb of a malignant overclass. They make the most of a target rich environment to say the least.
I’m not the only one who has them on a loop. There is a slowly building bushfire building under them. All their upcoming shows in the UK are selling out if not sold out already. Rave reviews are popping up all over the place. One online publication – The Quietus – stated this week that “the only vocal opposition (in the UK) is an unlikely alliance of the church, food banks & The Sleaford Mods”.
Who do they remind me of? Cos that always helps with this kind heads up of thing – right? From around our parts – Jinx Lennon and Dave Lordan. From the recesses of my superannuated muso brain – Johnny Rotten in his prime, early Dizzie Rascal, The Specials, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Ian Dury, The Fall.
Now that list is all a bit dated. But here’s the thing. What these 40 somethings (yes 40 somethings) are making of that stew of past UK musical glories is resolutely absolutely totally of the minute. They piss all over anything – besides maybe The Bug’s London Zoo album – that I have paid any attention to in the last half a decade coming from across the water.
My enthusiasm got the better of me so I got in touch with Jason online and threw a bunch of questions at him.
What are the crowds like turning up at your gigs? Old? Young? Old Punks? Stray Mods?
Mixed. Stray Mods? Hahaha yea plenty of them about.
What if a big label came along and said we want to put thousands behind you but ‘enough with the shit/cunt/arse side of things’?
Is it strange being a breakthrough act getting all this attention when you’ve already past 40?
Yea. We’ve always been told by the industry that only the young have the correct energy but thanks to this last stage of Capitalism anybody born after 1990 is having a real problem with their compass. My generation still remember the dogshit.
Have you given up with the blatant chunky samples? That ‘The Mekon’ tune with the probes and chickens and the Sex Pistols riffs banging away behind you is unbelievable.
You like that? Nice. Yea to me samples began to sound dated and as I worked through that early period it became more and more obvious that it was a spent force.
I’m over 40 myself and I wonder what a 20 year old would make of the music. I hear touches of The Specials, Ian Dury, Johnny Rotten, GBH. Stuff like that. Is this for the ‘geezers’ as someone said in some writeup about you? Do you even think about an audience that the music is aimed at?
No We don’t. We just do whatever sounds the most conflicting with general expectation. It’s important to record the non event, the anti climax.
What comes first the riffs or the words? Are the words improvised and then tidied or worked out on paper?
The music comes first then I add vocals which are pre written and just thrown on top of 3 or 4 offerings from Andrew. One usually fits and we move forward that way.
That trip to the North of England that someone made a video of looked bleak? Any hotels yet?
Yea it was bleak as mate. It snapped me. Hotels are starting to appear yeah
Do you say ‘big up the riots’ at the end of ‘Tied up in Nottz’ or am I imagining things?
Yes I did say that. I got it from a news clip at the time of the Tottenham riots. Some bloke jumped in on the camera whilst a reporter was droning on and said it.
Yea I’ve grown up a bit I think and express things with more definition
‘Divide and Exit’ sounds like it was made with a few ‘rules’ to keep it simple. Voice/drumloops/bass/very little else allowed beyond bits on keys. Thoughts on building a band around yourselves next time?
We don’t worry about the next angle we just pick up where left off and that usually steers the route
What kept you keep going over the years of no attention?
We might sound like cunts but we love music. And in that sense we are no different to anybody who undertakes music because they love it
I get a grime buzz off the music. Were you interested in all that when it happened? Any Favorites?
Yes I like grime. I’d watch endless homemade videos of kids doing it from Notts in bus stops and their back yards. Really good. I don’t know any names as such. Just randoms.