“We’re in the dressing room opposite The Fall”. The interview with Sleaford Mods is momentarily broken as Lia from Fat White Family leans in to have a chat with his mates. Both acts are at the forefront of a new wave in music which is leaving established bands thrown off their feet- and applauding them for doing so. It’s hard to find a band’s twitter that doesn’t say something along the lines of “Go see Sleaford Mods tonight, best band in years”. They’re not wrong, Sleaford Mods are on to something.
On stage, saying your lyrics, you sound really wound up and excited, how do you get that before writing them down?
Jason Williamson: It’s just the energy of it, the memory of recording it, the memory of rehearsing it, you just get it into it; occasionally you’ll home into things that currently piss you off and that aids you, but there’s no real effort to try and do it.
It’s not a textbook thing it’s just a description like everything else, it’s just a pigeonhole…
Do you find it hard being a ‘spoken word act’ of sorts but still having to write lyrics down?
JW: It takes two minutes, you can get them anywhere, a lot of them have been written in bars or at work or on tour. They come pretty much instantaneously.
Andrew Fearn: I think the term spoken word more just refers to the fact that he’s not rapping, he’s not a rapper, but then he’s not… I mean, it’s shouted word. It’s not a textbook thing it’s just a description like everything else, it’s just a pigeonhole, certain media try and define what it is and give it words for that. But it is spoken word in the sense that it’s not rap, it’s not delivered in that rubrical way.
JW: It takes a while…
AF: It’s kind of a bit of both though… sometimes you’ll get a burst of lyrics to write down 4, 5 sometimes 6, 7, 8 lines and it’s just all there, and we’ll have to write another verse for the end of it and we’ll have to write another verse for the end of it and quite often you’ll do that when it comes round. But the idea is almost fully formed in his head, and the last part of it forming in his head is when he comes round to writing it.
What don’t you guys like about the music industry right now?
JW/AF: It’s just shit!
AF: Just generally culture nurtures creativity and builds it up and then when they get hold of it they’re just going to ruin it every time. They don’t have any plans, they’ve got all the resources in the world to do something cool with bands that become bigger…
…eventually we need to pay the rent, you’re going to have to slightly compromise with the industry, but at the minute we’re not compromising at all and I don’t see why we should…
JW: But it’s shit… Everyone gets swallowed up, people are all so easily impressionable- without trying to sound patronising, they all get swallowed up so quickly. Still waiting for bands like 15/20 years younger than me to fuck all that off, who’ve got the power to over look it. Eventually you do get sucked in, you can’t help it, to be honest we’re looking at probably like a few years, where we’re like we are now… but eventually we need to pay the rent, you’re going to have to slightly compromise with the industry, but at the minute we’re not compromising at all and I don’t see why we should.
AF: Why would something like Bestival, for example, something… be such a rip-off like everything else. Surely people involved in the media who’ve got so much money, they can give something back in the shape or size of content by artists or something. You’ve just got people wanting to make £100, 000 by profit all the time and that’s what’s wrong with it all, those twats at the top just want to make so much fucking money. If they didn’t, you could have a more cultured festival and a more vibrant, interesting one. There’d be more money, there’d be more arts money for a start wouldn’t there.
Do you think Sleaford Mods will be able to make it in a music industry like that?
JW: Well, we all ready are, sort of, we’re doing it in our own way. You can exist within it and sell the albums without having to do it the existing way. It’s only because the industry entices you in with the promise of luxuries and fame, you don’t really need to go that way, you can do it on your own and get recognition…
AF: They don’t even do that, they do it through other, more unhanded ways of inclusion, you know like people wanting to help you with something and then advertise themselves via you and use your current popularity to big themselves up like they’ve discovered you- it’s not very genuine, they’re monopolising everything aren’t they, they say “we’re the people that can tell the whole world about you, but you have to play it our way”
We’re in an environment of capitalism- I know that sounds wanking- but we are.
JW: You’ve got to think about the tunes, it’s important to think about the music. You can make a living out of it, you just don’t have to be greedy, corporate is greedy, you just don’t have to go that way. You can pay the bills, get on, be all right and have a few nice clothes or whatever you’re into by doing it your own way- you’ve just got to think about it a bit more. You’ve also got to be coming out with the stuff that appeals to people in that way because then the right kind of people will look after you. Steve Underwood, our manager, he’s your fucking dream manager, he looks after you, he does it in a good way and he’s not an arse about it, and that’s what you need. You can be sucked up by fucking shark’s teeth out there. We’re in an environment of capitalism- I know that sounds wanking- but we are. I mean, let’s face it, it is fucking oppressive and it’s shit. So if you’re writing something that’s talking about that to people in a way that they can connect to then you’re halfway there. You can make a living out of being observant, don’t get sucked into it, because you just become a bit wallpapery. And nobody’s fucking bothered. You just get your cock sucked, get some drugs if you want, get your cock sucked- that’s fine. What’s that? It’s shit! It’s fucking wank.
Do you think there’s a disparity between Sleaford Mods’ fanbase and the lyrics? Students singing along about being on Jobseeker’s when they’ve probably never experienced that?
AF: It doesn’t matter about that, I mean I’m speaking for Jason here, but he doesn’t give a fuck about what anybody thinks. It’s not like saying to a fan “Do you understand it? Oh I’m glad you understand it.”
You guys seem to want to distance yourselves from Mod fashions yet you’re called Sleaford Mods, what’s all that about?
AF: Why’s it called Sleaford Mods? Before I joined Jason was from Grantham and I’m from Lincoln as well, if you’ve ever been there you always see a sign post for Sleaford.
The mod reference there is the mod sensibility, the mod sense of progression in some ways…
But the ‘Mods’ part?
AF: Well he used to be a bit of a mod- a fringe mod, he’s got a little bit of an insight to mod culture, but he’s not exactly a mod, and I’m not a mod at all. The mod reference there is the mod sensibility, the mod sense of progression in some ways, because being a mod was all about being quite aggressive about things in some ways.
Do think mod culture today does the original movements justice?
AF: No, I don’t think it does, I don’t see how it can, it’s evolved and that’s it.
I mean once you get a formula, obviously as a musician it’s like: this works.
Coming out of Nottingham took you 8 years, a lot of guitar acts came out quicker, so what was it like for you?
JW: Hard work, yeah. I mean once you get a formula, obviously as a musician it’s like: this works. It’s then trying to engage that with getting somewhere with it, but for me, and eventually when I met Andrew, I was convinced that it was something that was credible.
So it’s all about persistence?
JW: Persistence, persistence, and if you are persistent then you will learn. And you will always bump in to people that will help you to learn and give you advice, and most of the time it will be free. But it’s all about persistence and self belief really. And I know they’re cheesy words but people talk about positivity and all that bullshit.
But it’s all about persistence and self belief really. And I know they’re cheesy words…
Do you think guitar bands got in your way, trying to get out of Nottingham?
JW: Yeah, you know in the shadow of Oasis and Britpop and all that bullshit didn’t help. I mean I come from that, I love that, when I got in to this I got in to Hip Hop and saw the value in that, when I took stuff from that and made it my own there was no stopping and I was convinced that what I was doing was right, when I met Andrew I was off.
Feature Image from George Heaton
Sleaford Mods are playing Rescue Rooms on the 27th January
Ian is listening to: Thee Oh Sees – ‘Penetrating Eye’