Q&A - Sleaford Mods
To shatter the false consciousness and decadent illusions of any dominant societal ideology we look to those who can articulate the discontent. The last 60 years of contemporary music has thrown up quite a few - from the dust bowl blues of Woody Guthrie to the anarchism of NWA - intelligent pop music seems able to rouse our rebellion and provoke our passions. These musicians become conduits through which we can express our frustration and outrage at what is deemed to be unfair and what is known to be unjust. In ‘austerity Britain’ there are precious few voices willing or able to expose the scars and the traumas that have been wrought by David Cameron and his cronies.
In Sleaford Mods we have one of the most piercing and insightful voices of recent times. The Nottingham duo of Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn have created a stripped down array of primitive beats and poetic punk vocals to forge a sound that mixes anger with the darkest of humours; creating vivid portraits of life in modern era Britain. We spoke to Jason Williamson about his recent expulsion from the Labour party, his thoughts on present-day guitar bands, their upcoming tour and their forthcoming EP release T.C.R.
Q. You signed to Rough Trade Records this year. Can you talk about how this came about and why are they the label for you?
They have a bigger scope and we wanted to spread the word more. They're one of the only decent labels around who won't kill you. They love music. Perfect label. They don't bother you but will step in from time to time with advice. I've learnt a lot from them.
Q. Your first release with Rough Trade will be upcoming new EP TCR. Can you tell us a bit about this new record and the is idea behind it?
Basically, a song about boozing and getting nowhere with it. Using that to escape. Which is what we all do. The pointlessness of it all, the dross of living under control. Caged pets. No options. It was recorded with Andrew on drums and me on guitar. We jammed the riff then looped it. Andrew added the bass and made the tune.
Q. In Liverpool, we are still talking about your performance at Kazimer last year. This was one of many small venues that you toured around the country. What are your reasons for choosing the venues you do and can you talk to us a bit about the pressures on smaller venues and why it is important to you as artists and as fans to preserve them.
Smaller venues are under threat obviously but I think they will always survive, resistance survives. We play larger venues to now and some are O2s but it's unavoidable. We'll always gig small venues when we can, it's our intention to never ignore that type of a gig.
Q. The mainstream media label you a ‘working class band’ and seem to view you (exclusively) through the prism of class struggle. You seem to be the ‘go to guys’ for media outlets who want a quote from ‘representatives of the poor’. Please discuss.
Yeah, it's a pain in the arse. I don't care for class pride I think it restricts but I'm obviously more inclined towards W/C culture because it's in me. My present environment however is middle class, that's just how it is. But so Fuckin what. Social mobility curses all who's wages improve, at least that's what my guilty consciousness tells me. We are in-prisoned in class. It's a ball and chain that allows others to ridicule us if needs be. I get fucking sick n’ tired of it.
Q. Some people have commented on the commodification and aestheticization of some guitar based bands in which their look and their viability to key markets are lauded above what music they are producing. Jason - can you tell us about your evolution from guitar based music to electronic/hip hop and what did you see in this music that spoke to what you wanted to express?
Guitars are ancient, they have reproduced for too long and now they are dying. It takes a special idea in 2016 to make the axe look vibrant and I ain't seeing many. A Handful of acts are good with the guitar today but the rest are just lazy rehashes of old shit. I don't care if these people genuinely believe they love the 13th Floor Elevators and wanna mimic that but with a slight minor twist. It's boring and demonstrates a limited vision. Alright I sound like a cunt to some people reading this but let me tell you, if you use that tired mimic formula then you will never achieve what those bands you are copying did in whatever bygone year. That is what music means to me. It should be hardcore not macho lad culture pub pleasing bollocks.
Q. We are more than 6 years into the austerity ‘project’. We have seen stark rises in poverty, 1m people accessing foodbanks, vulnerable and disadvantaged people being savaged by the attack dogs of companies like Atos and G4S and people dying as a result of the social, cultural and economic impacts of elites bolstering elites. How important is the artistic (musician/writer/painter etc.) response to these developments.
To include the tension and misery this landscape has thrown on us by putting that in the music. Simple.
Q. What do you see when you look at the artistic landscape in Britain today?
Same old. Young kids doing fuck all. Mostly. Being used to act like a pop star by Barry big bollocks and his nice Fucking life. Same old.
Q. In recent years, we have seen a sort of reminiscence-tour with many bands from the 80s and 90s coming back and releasing new material. This has ranged from greats such as The Verve and the Stone Roses to lesser lights such as Travis and Dodgy. It seems almost irrelevant whether you have even had ‘past glories’ to make a comeback. What are your thoughts on the return of such bands, what it says about the present ‘music scene’ and whether the essence of something can ever be truly re-captured?
I suppose some of these bands actually wanna jam I guess but the result is always shit. Roses tune wasn't bad but you know, it's never gunna be what it was with any of the greats. Wouldn't mind The Jam reforming though. Lol.
Q. Invisible Britain – the documentary film you released last year – shows the connection you have to your fans and highlights just how important your music is to a lot of people and how resonant your music has become. What do think it is that people see in SMs and does this relate to how you see yourselves?
The film was made by a separate body, they just asked us if we fancied being in it. I like the doc don't get me wrong but it wasn't our project. I dunno what people see in us to be honest. A good band? It's honest and not unreachable and I think people need that a bit, especially now.
Q. Like many of people, you were recently expelled from the labour party in what Corbyn supporters are calling a “rigged purge”. What are your thoughts on you’re your expulsion, what the ‘rigged purge’ says about the increasing numbers wanting change and the establishment’s response it?
Gone off politics. I Like JC but I've lost interest. They win.
Q. It seems to be said (a lot!) about your live performances that Andrew has the ‘best job in the world, just standing there’. Does he ever get pissed off with this?
He's cool with it. It's obvious to people now that he's the geezer. He's not arsed about some tit mouthing off. He knows. He'll bring the music and I'll bring the words.
Q. Finally, with a new EP and tour to finish off 2016. Can you tell us about what your plans are for 2017?
New album more gigs. Onwards. The dirty fight continues.