Imagine the stage at your local venue is empty aside from two guys. One guy is sweating out, red-faced, and hurling a severely iambic rant down a microphone, reminiscent of your coke fuelled mate going off on one about life after a night out; and the other lad stands there in shorts, beer in hand, comfortably skanking away to a consistently lo-fi beat in front of his laptop. When watching this ‘anti-performance’ you can’t help but get a refreshing, punk rock esque, impression of un-bloated ego and honesty to the fact that whilst this band’s presence is literally small, it is figuratively humungous and fucking smashing.
Any of you out there that have recently picked up a free copy of the NME know I’m talking about Sleaford Mods- the most courageous act to come out of Nottingham since Robin Hood. The coming together of these lads is the latest step in each of their individual creative processes, years in the making. Their current line up consists of Jason Williamson (Vox), who has a solid history of playing in bands- check out tracks on YouTube off of Unity Crescent’s, ‘Holding Off The Fear’ (2006)- and as a session musician; and Andrew Fearn (Beats) who’s background is in electronica mainly. Extnddntwrk/Infant are his aliases, playing a broad selection of styles- ambience, noise, “folkronica”, drum n bass, dubstep, punk and industrial to name a few. I think it may just about be safe to say that these boys are veterans of their craft.
Sleaford Mods album, ‘Divide and Exit’ (2014), was named by NME as one of their “Albums of 2014”; the band itself describe this release as touching on, “the delusion of grandeur and the pointlessness of government politics” (NME.com). The song You’re Brave is a great example of this, it depicts a first-hand account of Williamson being invited to some rich man’s flat- we’re talking Gossip Girl rich, “big mirror, lumps of drugs, his own private lift, shit pieces of art”- only to disrespect the place and not take the “twat” seriously, “I ain’t listening to ya mate…you connoisseur… I’ve conned you sir, [I] nicked ya biscuits, laughed with ya mates, wanked in your toilet, you fucking tit rifle”. The rich man can’t see this disrespect, served by Williamson on behalf of the rest of the working classes, because he’s a “kid [stuck] in wonderland”. Williamson’s brash, swear-y and unapologetic lyrics are illustrative of the reality-reflecting nature of their art as, “A lot of the lyrics come from day-to-day conversation at work or pub banter… [Not] just swearing for the sake of it.” (Guardian.com).
On the topic of swearing, you might have heard about Williamson’s suspension from the labour party in September. In March Williamson tweeted “Dan Jarvis can lick my Fucking arse too. Posing cunt.”. The party became aware of this in September and suspended him. Williamson claims that Sleaford Mods are “…not a political band in the sense that we align ourselves with any political parties”, and that he, “only joined the labour party to support Jeremy Corbyn.”. In a separate interview, Fearn says that “It’s everybody’s responsibility to [demand change], isn’t it? It’s not people’s responsibility to just listen to someone else and say “yeah I chose that” (C4 news). The suspension has left Williamson unable to support Corbyn in the leadership election, but Williamson brushes it off as, “One of them innit, what can I expect, I broke membership rules…it’s not my party” (C4 News).
Slaves have also come into Williamson’s firing line, “[They are] Fucking appalling …They do my pose in photos… They asked [at Beacons Fest] if [Sleaford Mods] would be interested in writing something for the album, and I said no. They look like Matt Bianco…trying to play this working class game.” (NME.com). Opinions on Slaves aside, I think the appeal- dare I say need- of Sleaford Mods in the UK live-music scene is principally the fact that they’re a breath of realness and unapologetic fresh air.
Sartre wrote that “Existence precedes essence… man first of all lives, encounters himself, surges up in the world- and defines himself afterwards”, this is true for Sleaford Mods. Together they are the product of their individual creative processes and hard work coming together and forming Sleaford Mods. The opposite to the modern phenomena of internet or X-Factor superstars whom achieve fame without ever having to put the years in. We live in an age where Facebook accounts and Instagram pages show more about people’s lives than their very existences do, and this has seeped into modern music. As an underground musician myself, I would like to tip my hat to these lads, after all what’s the point in having thousands of Facebook followers and no one at your gigs?